By R. Christopher Haines, President and CEO

Well, I recently experienced an out-of-body experience. I didn’t get abducted by aliens or flat-line on an operating room table – it was much worse than that. I was at a convention, but I wasn’t attending the convention.

As many of you know, as part of my job, I’m at a number of conventions (or conferences, if they’re fancy) throughout the year. Some of the places we go are actually pretty nice. So my wife Stephenie and I recently decided to spend a few days relaxing at one of our favorite hotels from the circuit. The only thing that makes this somewhat different from a typical vacation destination is that, of course, multiple conventions would be going on while we were there. I didn’t really think much about that before we got there. But pretty soon it was like I was on the outside of an aquarium looking in on my life.

I think it started the first night at the hotel bar. Lucky for me, Stephenie and I were just grabbing a drink before turning in for the night. But all around me I started to notice the sport-jacket crew or as I like to say sometimes – what in blue blazers. They were entertaining clients or conversing with coworkers from other branches or business partners they only see at these events. Probably just got back from eating too much at a private dinner or drinking too much at the open bar at the closing reception.

The next flashback happened after leaving the bar and heading to our room. I saw all of the late night arrivals pulling suitcases into the elevator lobby. You could tell they were exhausted. Probably traveling all day, maybe a missed connection or two. I’ve felt what they were feeling.

I think the most difficult part of the convention is being “on duty” for three or four straight days. Or being On Stage as Disney refers to being any place where you could be observed by your current or potential customers. It’s not like I’m Dr. Jekyll when I’m in front of people and Mr. Hyde when I’m not. But we all try to watch how we act and make sure we don’t say the wrong things when we’re in front of people.

All of this weighs on you and can be pretty stressful. So for a few days at least, I’m happy it was them and not me. But it didn’t last long. I was back On Stage two days later. Adding another nametag on a lanyard to my collection.