I am back from my very first business trip, and I must say that it was much better than I had anticipated. Well, that's not really true. I honestly had no idea of how it was going to go, or what I was going to do. I left with my co-workers at 5 am on Sunday morning to go to the airport. Security was a breeze and we ended up having an entire hour before our plane started boarding. I would like to point out that I was quite happy that there was a Starbucks in our terminal. I was not so happy that they only took cash, but didn't tell you that until you got up to the counter. After waiting in line for five minutes that can be extremely irritating (especially when you haven't had your coffee yet!). The dilemma was solved because there was a cash machine spitting distance from the Sbux. I got my coffee and was much happier, and more awake. We got to Atlanta at about 10 am -- sanity and luggage intact. After checking in to our hotel --the Westin Peachtree--we got some lunch at the Hard Rock cafe across the street. Being the loving sister that I am, I picked up a HR shirt for my brother because he collects them. After eating way too many tasty fries, we set off to the convention center for registration. Now, being the naive first-timer I really had no clue how big this place would be. Suffice it to say, it was HUGE! We got registered and headed back into the heat and humidity to track down the World of Coca Cola--a museum of that aforementioned tasty beverage.
Even though we were tired from the flight, the walking, and the generally being awake for far too long, it was really fun. There were a few theatres inside--one of which was a 4D theatre. The seats moved, we had funky glasses, we got sprayed in the face with water, and we were bitten by dragonflies (you'll have to go to find out). At the end of the tour there is a tasting center with a number of different stations representing the various continents where you can find Coke products. Some were extremely yummy (Fanta Exotic from Africa) and some tasted like mouthwash (Menthol flavored soda from Italy). We spent a while in the tasting center trying out different sodas and trying not to get stuck to the floor permanently (imagine small children with multiple soda fountains and you'll understand the stickiness factor). After all of the fun at the Coke museum, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and make our way to our respective evening events. Sam and I went to the Worship Now event at the convention center. Travis Cotrell and Avalon led worship and Ravi Zacharias gave the message. It was really powerful and such an awesome way to start the week. All of us together were reminded that we are in this industry to bring people to Christ and to strengthen them in their walk--it's not just about making money. The evening really served to ground us all in our mission. After the service we made our way back to the hotel, where I promptly fell into a deep sleep the second that my head hit the pillow.
Monday was the first day of the show. After having a leisurely breakfast, we all headed over to the convention center to get started. Since Sam & I were newbies, our boss Jon wanted to walk us through the floor and show us the ropes. We were on the lookout for new products that weren't yet on our radar. We spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon walking the floor and checking everything out. There were more publishers there than I had anticipated, as well as many authors signing and promoting their books. In the afternoon we had a meeting with a publisher. Dinner, however, was the capstone of the day for me. All of us were invited to dinner with some folks from B&H and two of their authors--Jamie Carie and Vicki Courtney. These two ladies were so awesome!
Jamie is a first time fiction author (her book is great by the way) and Vicki writes parenting books. These two ladies were so gracious, well-spoken, funny, and all together wonderful. I had the privilege of sitting next to Jamie for dinner and we had a great time chatting about pretty much everything you can think of. Oh, and the food was good too. :) When we got back from dinner, some of us weren't ready for bed yet. So we enlisted the help of our concierge, and found a jazz club right down the street. There was a three piece jazz group playing and they were quite good. We enjoyed the music and the conversation.
Tuesday Sam & I were on our own on the floor. He had a lunch meeting, so I ended up walking around, checking out booths and meeting folks. This was a great time for me because I was able to meet quite a few authors and pick up some (free) great books--most of them autographed. Right before lunch I met Robin Jones Gunn. She signed a book for me and we had time to chat. We swapped business cards, and made a tenative lunch date for September. I had to restrain myself because I really wanted to do a happy dance after meeting her. I walked around a little bit more before meeting up with my people for lunch. As we were standing around trying to decide what to eat, I saw Robin waving at me from a table nearby. She was motioning for me to come over, so after I recovered from a moment of shock that I would be invited over by an author that I respect, I made my way quickly to her table. She introduced me to her lunch companion, Camy Tang, a fellow author. I haven't yet read Camy's book, but I'm really looking forward to it. We all chatted for a few minutes, and after another exchange of business cards (and a repressed happy dance) I rejoined my group and went off to lunch. Have I mentioned that meeting all of these authors was extremely cool? I think rad is the appropriate term here. I had a few more meetings that afternoon and another dinner with a publisher (no authors this time, sad). Afterwards, we all went up to the rotating restaurant at the top of our hotel for dessert and chatting. I had a great time hanging out with my co-workers. You know that you have a great job when you want to hang out with everyone outside of work. We enjoyed peach cobbler and watched the sun set from the 72nd floor. It was a nice end to a great day.
Wednesday was our last day in Atlanta. The morning went like this: eat, move luggage, eat more, move luggage again. We had lunch at the top-o-the-hotel restaurant again and I had the most amazing mushroom pasta. I capped it off with some killer peach cobbler (even better than the night before) and was thus so stuffed that I could barely move. After some drama with the airport shuttle (ie: we paid for it but it didn't come on time), we ended up taking a mini-van taxi to the airport. We made it through security without a hitch, but once at the gate had our flight delayed for almost two hours because of security check, instrument malfunction, etc, etc. The plane ride home was uneventful, and I was so excited to get home to my husband that I think I could have run home from the airport.
All in all, I had a great time. I learned a lot, not just about the new products that are coming out, but about my co-workers and most importantly about myself. Up until now, I'm not sure I realized how important my position is. Now I do, and I think that has changed my perspective on getting work done and making sure that I am at the top of my game and giving it my all. I'm looking forward the the next trip and more opportunities to meet folks and make friends.