S2E25 – VacationCast – Stories from the Plato Elevate Conference

Show Notes

While Andy is away, Mon-Chaio shares anecdotes and stories from his time at the Plato Elevate conference, snippets that didn’t make their way into the prevous episode.


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Mon-Chaio: Hello everyone, and thanks for tuning in to this week’s VacationCast episode. Andy is an Ireland attending a wedding and so I’ll be your host and monologues today. Last week, Andy and I recorded and published an episode reviewing the Plato Elevate conference. As we’ve gotten more experience and more episodes under our belt, Andy and I’ve decided that the 40-ish minute mark is the sweet spot for episode length. But what you may not know is that we always record more than 40 minutes of content. I mean, if we’re a succinct and to the point we’ll end up with about 50 to 55 minutes of content, which of course never happens. Generally we’re around the hour plus five minute mark. And then we end up editing down to our sweet spot.

For last week’s episode, that meant a lot of content got cut. But beyond that, there was also a lot of content that we scrapped prerecording and that never even made its way into editing. I thought today, it might be interesting for folks to listen to some of the tidbits that we left out, things that happened in and around the Elevate conference that were funny, or strange, or just at least to me, interesting to share. And maybe you all will also find parallels to your own conference attending experiences. If so, definitely, definitely let us know.

I’ll start out with one anecdote that was left on the cutting room floor. And that was a really strange and awkward roundtable I attended. At the Elevate conference, the roundtables were intended to be small, intimate gatherings of around 10 people to chat through a topic moderated by a host. Now I ended up attending three roundtables total. For the other two roundtables that I attended, the hosts really leaned into the moderation. They posed questions, they prevented the conversation from getting off track, and they added their own thoughts when they thought appropriate. But for this particular roundtable, this really strange one, the host seemed like they wanted to be a keynote speaker or a consultant-slash-coach instead of a moderator. So it went something like this.

The host started the roundtable by having everyone introduce themselves and why they wanted to discuss the roundtable topic, which so far so good. And as you might expect most people’s reasons for attending that particular roundtable topic, tied back to some challenge they were having in their day to day jobs at their offices or at work. Once we’d gone around the table, however, the host then decided to go around the table at another time. But this time the host ended up telling each person how they would solve that person’s work challenge. The funny thing was there was one other attendee at that roundtable that appeared to have worked closely with the host previously. And the host would often prompt that former coworker for their thoughts as well … but nobody else’s thoughts. So once the two of them had quote-unquote finished with one of the attendees challenges, they then moved on to the next attendee in line. And that whole 45-minute roundtable was basically 90% of the two of them talking and nobody else really talking, everybody else listening. Just a really strange and different experience than what I was expecting.

I also did have a couple of interesting experiences during the post-talk happy hours as well. So at the end of every day’s scheduled sessions, the conference would host a happy hour for folks to mingle and network and whatnot. On the second days, happy hour, I was chatting with a group of folks and felt someone come up and tap me on the shoulder. And I looked around and it ended up being someone I’d met on the first day, it was either at lunch or at the first afternoon’s happy hour or something like that. Anyhow, invited him to join our circle and he said, no, no, he was on his way out, but he wanted to tell me that after I’d introduced him to it the previous day, he listened to his first episode of The TTL Podcast that previous evening, and really enjoyed it. I definitely was not expecting that, to have someone randomly find me again at happy hour to tell me that. And neither was my networking circle and those folks asked me, does this happen to you a lot? Uh, well, unfortunately the answer is actually no. But that was still a pretty cool organic moment, you know, one that I couldn’t have planned better myself if I hired a PR firm or something.

My other happy hours story was at an offsite happy hour that was not hosted by the conference. It was very typical of these types of things. If you’ve been before, you know, some networking, a sales presentation followed by more networking into the evening, that sort of thing. So later into the evening, I was chatting with one of the folks from the sponsoring company and he mentioned that he and his colleagues were from France. So of course I mentioned I’d just returned from two weeks in Paris and tried to use Duolingo, uh, you know, to learn some French for the trip. His response was essentially, I hate non native French speakers speaking French, I can never understand them. Uh, which seemed pretty vehement to me. I was kind of surprised. But then he proceeded asked me if I went anywhere else besides Paris. And I mentioned I went to Giverny … you know, trying to pronounce the name of the city correctly. Uh, so he said, huh? I said, Giverny. He said, huh? Again, uh, you know, Giverny, Monet’s hometown. Finally, his colleague chimed in that it was a small city in Normandy and my French conversation mate dismissed it and he basically said, oh, um, I don’t know any small cities. Definitely made me pretty self-conscious about my French pronunciation as terrible as it is, made me feel like it was even worse than that.

So my last story that I want to tell today is around the travel planning for the conference. Timing ended up being pretty tight for me. The conference was Wednesday and Thursday and I wanted to maximize my networking opportunities. So I wanted to stay late into Thursday evening in case conference attendees weren’t quite flying back or traveling back to where they were from and wanted to stick around and network. I had also planned to host a karaoke party at my house that Friday evening for a bunch of friends, so I actually needed to get back to Seattle in time to be able to get everything ready.

So I ended up booking a flight out of the Oakland airport for 5:00 AM Friday morning. Which means I had to figure out what I was going to do the night before, figure out transportation to the airport, that sort of a thing. And I decided that didn’t make much sense to stay at my lodgings and just sleep for a couple hours and go to the airport, especially because public transit wouldn’t be running at that time in the morning and I’d have to cab or Uber. So my apparently ingenious plan ended up being to see if I could network into the evening, preferably someplace in Oakland so I’d be closer to the airport when it was time to get going. Probably a terrible plan. Uh, luckily parts of it worked out for me. There were folks that were interested in networking across The Bay in Oakland. So I did that, and I ate and I drank and I networked til about 2:00 AM and then Uber-ed to the airport for my flight.

What I didn’t take into account though, was what that amount of drinking would do to my voice, especially on limited sleep. Definitely didn’t drink near enough to be hung over, but my voice was very horse that night at the karaoke party and my singing, uh, was even more subpar than normal. So, uh, but you know, I think it was worth it. I enjoyed the networking Thursday night and I really did enjoy the Friday party. So maybe if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t push them so close together, but it ended up working out.

All right, well, that’s all I have for this week’s episode. Andy will be back from Ireland next week and we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programming. As always reach out if you have any thoughts or ideas you’d like to share with us. Email us at hosts@thettlpodcast.com or message anywhere we’re on social media. See you next week and, until then, be kind and stay curious.


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