Business travel. Was it worth it?
I ask myself this often, and I am sure many of you do as well. Whether you’re talking about yourself, or one of your teammates that you send to a professional event, you know a few things might take place.
You hope that the event will be a 10 out of 10 experience, accomplishing all goals with a perfect batting average of an ROI, and you will return back to the office like Super Bowl champions, or how General George S. Patton described Roman conquerors returning home:
“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians, and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him.”
Okay, maybe not the dazed prisoners part.
But, your experience was probably something like this:
- You met some people, had a few meaningful conversations, and you’re glad you made the trip
- The event sessions were a dud, but the people and locale made it worthwhile
- You realized in short order that the event hosts haven’t quite gotten their post-pandemic mojo back
- You wonder if any of it has meaning for you, and no longer wonder why your peers didn’t show up
Of course, I also say this knowing that our own reporter Adam Zaki is currently at FinovateFall 2023 to scope out potential sources and story leads, while also likely hearing from many of you whether the event falls in any of these buckets above.
And if I may use Adam’s experience this week, as well as all the events our CFO team is planning this fall, it is about this — we’re all looking for a story.
Perhaps it is literally the written story kind to be told to our readership, but I think it also extends to finance executives, or any leader, who is leaving the nest to explore the business landscape. What story is out there? After all, that is why these events feature a plethora of speakers, including keynotes who often have nothing to do with the industry. I still remember getting a chance to hear one of my childhood idols, tennis legend Andre Agassi, at an education conference, of all places.
I know that there is knowledge share, networking, and after-parties, and all that. But I think we’re all hunting for the story that energizes us personally and that we can take back to our charges on the home front to energize them as well.
I think it’s also a similar reason we still seek congregation and fellowship in a variety of arenas, be they corporate events, the golf club, places of worship, or sporting events. There is a personal connection to be had and a story to be shared (or re-shared, or even re-re-shared).
In some mystical way, business travel, or any travel really, is a providential experience with hope and a promise. It is a hope that we’ll encounter a new story that affirms, energizes, and challenges us to continue to grow as leaders and a promise that we will encounter others where we can encourage the same. It is an existential question about self-worth and an affirmation of why we matter.
On an (even more) personal note, a word of remembrance to those people who died on September 11, 22 years ago. I know where I was on that day, in Pentagon City, Virginia, less than a mile from where a plane struck. I’m sure many of you remember as well. And I know that event, that story, will always be remembered.
Are you heading to an in-person business event in the upcoming weeks? What stories are you looking to hear, and to tell? Let us know.