Sunday, April 22, 2007

SES New York 2007

Ron and I arrived in NYC on Monday night (4/9) and although we really wanted to attend the charity event sponsored by TLA & BOTW, we couldn't. I think we made it to the Hilton some time around 9:30 or so...thanks to "Antonio: the 1983 Town Car hustler." After a long flight and the beating that was Laguardia airport, we decided it best to just grab a bite at the hotel and call it an early night. Smart call...this was gonna be a long week.

After a quick workout, we went down to get some grub and check in at the show. After being disconnected repeatedly at the not-so-hot spot that was set up as a wifi lounge, we blew off trying to communicate our people at the office and decided it was show time. Umm...yeah. We quickly found out the Tuesday was a "session only" day and the exhibit hall was still just being set up. Seriously? Well, there's that. Wait, hold on a sec....we've got nothing scheduled for the rest of the day and we're in New York? SWEET. Things are looking up!

I called one of our long-time clients (who lives in NYC) asked if he could meet us out later for some dinner and drinks and we made plans to hook up at 8pm. It was now about 1:00pm. 7 hours, huh? Cool, we've got some time to kill. So we walked around Manhattan for awhile until the executive decision was made to duck in to a really cool bar called Faces & Names. This would be our home for the next 5 hours until we had to meet Jeff at Smith & Wollensky.

At about 7:45 it was time to stagger a few blocks to meet for dinner and food was definitely in order by then. We had an awesome dinner with one of the best waiters I've ever seen. (And I spent years in that biz...this dude was impressive.) My every request was met with an emphatic "DONE!" spoken in a thick New York City accent. Man, I need this guy on our sales team. Whatever, though, the night is's time to do some drinkin.

Jeff took us on a tour of several local bars after dinner and I couldn't tell you the name of a single one of them. (**As a quick side note, Jeff is an old friend of ours who we used to work with in Dallas. I happened to cold call him a couple years ago and he's been with us ever since.) We stacked plenty of beers, whisky, and shots on top of each other for the rest of the night until we ended up at this one bar known for its peculiar draw: Boggle. Yes, the game with all the letters. You shake it up, turn the hour-glass upside down, and write as many words as you can find.

It's 3:30am, I've been drinking for more than 12 hours by now, and you want me to do what?

A couple of Jeff's friends had joined us, one of whom works for Google, ironically. So we played teams. This was short-lived because we all sucked. Understandably, right? Ron had bailed at the last bar and I was beginning to fade, too. So, I somehow managed to tell the cab driver where I was staying and he got me home safely. I assume, anyway.

I'll admit that I've felt better, but now was no time to be hungover or incapacitated. We had meetings to attend, people to see, an exhibit hall to peruse, and yes....this was our day to hit a session or two. (OK, it ended up being just one, but we all know that they can be somewhat redundant if you've gone to enough of these things.)

Our breakfast-turned-lunch meeting went well. A belly full of Reuben sandwich helped me rejoin the human race. It was time to visit the exhibit hall that had turned us away the day before. We visited with several folks for awhile, grabbed a pair of those cool magnets that ABC Search had, and went to our one session: How to Make Money From Contextual Ads.

We're not publishers, but we do sell contextual ads and it made sense to hear commentary on this subject from some of the power-hitters in the industry. Namely, Shoemoney and JenSense. I'd never seen them speak before and I quickly realized how much they knew their shit. I was especially impressed with Jeremy...who I'd be briefly introduced to later this evening. He's got a very cool, laid-back way about him and it's no secret that he's got a terrific head on his shoulders. Sharp cat, to say the least. I enjoyed his insight and even learned a trick or two.

Conference + over = Bridges. We were set to meet with Patrick Gavin at 6:30 and this was another conference highlight for me. I've met Patrick before and we've spoken several times by phone and email, but it was great being able to hang out with him for an hour or two. When I went to grab Patrick in the lobby bar, he was talking to Jeremy Shoemaker so I was able to at least shake his hand. I hope to spend more time with that guy at some point. We also met several members of the TLA crew and I've got to say, he's got a good group. Jay, Chris, Scott, and the others were all really cool and I'll look forward to seeing them again at another show down the road.

After those guys went out for dinner we realized we should probably eat again, too. So we went to the critically acclaimed Halal gyro stand at the corner of 53rd and 6th. All I can say is, "Wow." I'd never had a gyro and these bad-boys are really something special. Give me white and red sauce, brotha! It's hot, but daaaaaaaaaammmmmmmnnnn good. Now, back to the Hilton.

After a smoke, I was meandering back through the lobby and saw Rand Fishkin and Neil Patel. I know it's rude and all, but I had to briefly interrupt them to introduce myself. After years of lurking, you kinda feel like you know people. You don' all...but you know what I mean. It's like listening to local radio. After awhile it's like these guys are your friends yet you have no real reason to feel that way! Anyway, I wanted to mention that because I was really glad to meet those guys. And it was a great way to finish the day. Need sleep. See ya tomorrow.

After dealing with a shit-storm at the office remotely for a few hours in the morning, we were finally able talk to everyone at the exhibit hall. New York has a weird set-up with the booths scattered throughout 3 different floors. From most accounts, this year was slower than years past. This was magnified by the fact that you had people dispersed in 3 different areas. But, I don't plan these things and I doubt you can find a place in NYC that can do it all on one floor anyway. But we talked to everyone and I look forward to cultivating some of these new relationships.

After what we considered to be a successful few days, Ron and I decided we'd go out tonight on our own. And since we're in a band here in Dallas, it made sense to go check out the local music scene. I forget exactly where we were, but we went to a couple clubs before making our way to The Lion's Den. We saw this one band that we instantly dug. They're called The Vanguard and their sound is very similar to one of the bands Ron plays in called Pull Eddy. It was bizarre how many similarities there were! After their set we started talking to these dudes and they were really cool. We bought 'em a couple beers (maybe a shot....I don't remember) and chatted awhile before moving on.

We wrapped it up at some point and headed back to our favorite gyro stand for a night-cap. What's funny about this is once we were back in our room, we both wanted another gyro. So we farkled (rock/paper/scissors) to see who had to leave, walk down to the stand, and pick up two more. Well, I lost. Screw me. But it was worth it! Those bitches are tasty!

This was supposed to be just another travel day but as it turned out, Ron and I had been invited along with our wives and a few other couples to attend the Mavericks vs. The Jazz at the AAC in one of the Platinum Suites. Although I really wanted to hang out with my kids that night, it was too hard to pass it up. So, we landed in Dallas at around 5:30, headed home through tornado weather, grabbed the girls, and headed south to downtown.

Mavs won. I got drunk again. Good times. Long week.

No comments: