Baseball Trick to Survive Tech Conferences

I’ve shared this with a couple people, but after having Matt Brender comment on it again at dinner after the EMC Forum in Boston last week I thought I’d share with everyone…

For those of you who don’t know, I played baseball for most of my life.  After moving to Charlotte post-college I found that playing softball sucked, so I started, ran, managed and played in a semi-pro men’s league in Charlotte for close to 10 years.  Between family and work, spending 20 hours a week on baseball isn’t possible anymore, but maybe someday…

sleeping-baseball-playerThe hardest part of baseball, for me, were the tournaments.  Multiple games per day, multiple days, many, many hours of baseball, typically with a nuclear sun shining down.  After the first couple days, especially as someone who was asked to pitch some of those games, everything hurt.  Everything ached.  Getting prepared mentally for the next game got to be more and more of an effort.

In many ways, it’s a lot like one of these week-long tech conferences.  As someone who probably attends 10 or more of these a year, including EMC World, multiple Cisco Lives and VMworlds, it can definitely be a test of endurance.  Different time zones, crazy schedules, lots of…entertaining, early mornings, late nights, a little too much Steve Chambers in the mix possibly…  VMworld SleepingCome Wednesday or Thursday, the last thing you want to do is get out of bed, put on your public face and start walking around a conference center again, but that’s the job.

Next time you are there, try this trick from my baseball days.  Find somewhere quiet, and sit down.  Close your eyes and do a complete inventory of yourself.  Be completely honest, and identify everything that hurts, everything that’s aching.  Take your time and make as complete a list as you can, examining each one and really feeling how much it’s hurting.  You want to have complete awareness of where you are and the state you are in, so no lying to yourself.

woman-excitedThen, tell yourself that none of it matters.  Tell yourself that you are going to take a huge breath, and that when you finish exhaling you are going to open you eyes and throttle the living shit out of the rest of the day.  Nothing is going to hurt, nothing is going to get in your way.  Tell yourself that your mind is by far the strongest muscle you have, and there’s nothing your body can do about it.  Focus on what you have to do and how you are going to do it, then let all the rest fade away.

And then get up and do it again.

And yes, this was the only way I made my 8:00am flight the morning after the EMC Forum in Boston.