This year' MPI WEC was interesting on many levels. Every year the association takes a few more risks, does a few more intriguing things, and brings back some old favorites (puppy cuddling!). Here are a few random thoughts as I attempt to recuperate from all the learning, fun events, and long trip back home (not crazy about those 3 a.m. homecomings).
• To start, love, love, love the meeting's motto: "When we meet, we change the world," and the way a montage at the opening session illustrated all the world-changing things that happened as a result of meetings, from peace accords to civil rights to environmental advances.
• I also loved the way the Brave New Workshop players began the opening session by playing to, and then against, what people stereotypically think about Minnesota—hokey Fargo-esque accents and ice fishing, which they somehow followed down a rabbit hole to hobbits and murderers in a hilarious bit. Thanks for the Post-It notes, Minneapolis!
• Also in the opening session, emcee Dave Sharpe (who was excellent throughout) did a very thorough job of not just pointing out the emergency exits, but also what to do in case of an emergency while at the show and off site. And he did it all in a very charming British accent, to boot.
• Incoming chairman Kevin Kirby's invitation for people to #ownit when it comes to their experience at WEC14.
• Nothing gets the juices going more than a group game of Pong (thanks SwarmWorks!). Just be sure to set expectations about how long people are going to get to play. It ended up being cut short because the general session was running late, and both the audience and the person running the game didn't seem to know it was going to end so abruptly. But we got to play again at a later session, which just ratcheted the energy level through the roof again. So much fun!
• If you ever get a chance to see Barbara Dunn and Lisa Sommers Devlin—esquires extraordinaire—do a dueling attorneys session, do it! They are both founts of legal wisdom and a lot of fun to watch.
• Minneapolis may not have the glitz that Vegas provided last year, but the city did a great job in showing us its personality, gifts, and meeting and event options. I had a chance to walk around a bit on Saturday afternoon, and the Nicellet Mall was hopping with people, shops, restaurants, and rolling Pedal Pubs were everywhere (there also was a big Paul McCarthy concert in town that night, which may have accounted for some of the ruckus). And the people were so nice it was kind of startling for this North Easterner. People lounging in the shade in front of the convention center greeted me as I walked by and were so friendly that at first I suspected they were plants put there by the CVB. But no, the whole city was like that. And the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was as cool as it looks in the pictures, too. A special shout-out to Kelly the housekeeper at the Hyatt, who found the Fitbit that I thought I had lost forever and nicely laid it out for me on the bedside stand.
• Kudos to San Francisco for the final day luncheon! The rolling fog, gorgeous table settings and decorations inside and outside the ballroom, and wine tastings (a WEC first, I hear) were a huge hit with everyone at my table.
• And Deepak Chopra, just wow. I was told by many he's the first WEC general session speaker to get a standing ovation in recent memory. And he deserved it.
• It's extraordinarily frustrating to be at the mercy of on again, off again Wi-Fi, especially at airports! (Ancillary learning: Always double-check that you have your phone before leaving your car at the airport.)
More to come when my brain reaches the East Coast—I think it's still hovering somewhere over Milwaukee, but I hope it catches up with the rest of me soon! In the meantime, thanks MPI and Minneapolis for a great conference.