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Monday, January 24, 2005

Lovely, Lovely Puerto Rico!

So, we're home. I had an amazing weekend, filled with laughter and tears and the re-realization that I am a consultant for a wonderful company. Better yet, I think Dave finally gets it. Just to repeat what I've said before, it is against company policy for me to link to their site or even to mention the company by name. So, it will remain nameless.

We left Wednesday morning perfectly on time, only to realize at the airport parking lot that we were missing one bag - the one that would allow us to dress up and get into the formal functions on Friday night. There wasn't time to get home, it was rush hour after all. We had to decide if it was worth missing the plane. Finally, we chose to attempt to call TK to get him to break into our house and bring it to the airport. Shockingly, he agreed and we ended up getting on the plane with all of our bags and not a bit late. I owe him big time. I brought him home a bottle of rum, but I still owe him for saving us.

In Charlotte, we met up with KF, who is a consultant on the same downline as me and lives in Charlotte. The three of us went on to San Juan together. When we got there, we saw that it was raining. Suck suck suck. After a 1 hour 40 minute bus ride in the rain and dark, we finally made it to the resort and checked into our room. Our room had a king sized bed, big bathroom and private balcony overlooking the 9th and 18th holes on the golf course. It was gorgeous!! I wish I was still there. The rain (heavy downpours) was sucking, but beyond that, we had a nice dinner (slow service, but nice) and got to say hello to our CEO, JB. We also learned about coqui, which are frogs in Puerto Rico that make lots of noise.

Thursday morning, we took a tour of the El Yunque rainforest. KF was with us, along with SS, another consultant from Charlotte. El Yunque was very beautiful with very pretty waterfalls and flowers. We had a nice time and once we were through, the sun finally came out. We spent the afternoon on the resort's private island with KF and a consultant from West Virginia whose name escapes me. Thursday night was the welcome reception for the conference. It was supposed to be outside by the pool but the weather was questionable so it was in the ballroom. Once it was over, we went to the casino where I lost a bunch of money playing blackjack, and then to the hot tub. The hot tub was some wonderful networking, since SW, who was one of the speakers at the conference, was in it with us. Plus some other consultants.

The conference itself was worth every penny. I find it amazing that every conference that I attend seems better than the last and each one seems to have just the information and motivation that I am specifically needing right at that moment. Basically, I needed a swift kick in the pants. One thing I've realized is how my disorganization/messiness is hurting my business. I need to get things back in order (were they ever in order?) and get some parties booked so that I can do what I need to do. I need to start being a better leader to my team, I need to be their sponsor rather than their friend. I need to figure out what I truly can do with this business and then do it. The sky is the limit, but I am limited by my full time job, so I need to set my limits reasonably so that my business can grow but I can still get through things without too much stress.

It's amazing, too, that a company can appreciate its people so much. They recognize and say thank you in ways that no IT company I've ever worked for has done. People love this company and are loyal to it - people put all of their trust into it and lives up to every single promise that it makes. JB is an inspiring leader that is, as Dave stated, "Like no other CEO." I'm not considering leaving Arbitron permanently to work my business, but I think it will happen someday, even if it is years in the future. No one at Arbitron will understand or respect me for it because they haven't seen and experienced the things that I've seen at conferences, but I'll know and it will be right for me.

One of the more inspiring stories at conference was the story of Ann, who was a consultant from Wisconsin (? I think). She was a consultant for two years and made some of the highest sales and recruiting levels in the company. She died last year of cancer and all the while was working her business. She loved the company, if she was working so hard while she was dying, what is my excuse? I want to go to Cancun Cantinas over making phone calls? I want to watch 24 rather than get myself organized? I don't think that's going to cut it anymore. We saw more testimonials, which are always some of the most inspiring parts of any conference. I love hearing stories of women who were single or something very unexpectedly and make it through everything because they believed in this company and this company believed in them. These women make me want to succeed.

The difference between this conference and the others that I've attended is that since it was Leadership, everyone seemed so amazingly successful and driven. I got some terrific ideas and inspiration from so many people. I think Dave got it also - he said it was so different to be around people who are doing a job because they like it. He hadn't seen that before, and like I do at conferences, he saw the power of focus and positive thinking. I think the exposure to JB and other HQ members and so many consultants really made him see what it is that I love about this company and why it's worth it to me.

Dave also got to play in a golf tournament with other spouses. He did pretty well apparently, his golf has gotten better since I got him the clubs at Christmas. There were these crazy large iguanas on the golf course, which we walked around and looked at on Saturday afternoon. One of them looked ready to bite me, the rest seemed to be afraid of me.

Meanwhile, it was apparently snowing at home. We didn't have much information on the subject, but we knew that Saturday people were not able to get on their planes because flights were canceled. The rest of my family was in Florida, so there was really no one to give me information about the snow. We attempted to add an extra day on to our trip, but we couldn't get through to US Airways. So, we left on Sunday as planned and had no trouble getting home. It was just long and we had to face our car covered in snow at the airport (should have taken TK's advice and parked in the covered lot).

I doubt I'll return to Puerto Rico, honestly beaches are not my thing, but I am making it a goal to earn Leadership Conference free next year. I think I can do it.
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