Hello everyone!! To those of you who don’t know me, I am Matt’s assistant. I answer the phone, schedule appointments, and do paperwork, all that fun stuff. Recently, our department, along with Sharon Archie, the CFO of Family Trust FCU, went to San Diego for the LPL Financial national conference. This is my story of the trip and all the things I learned, both work related and personal. Please note that I am just a teensy weensy bit ADHD….ok, a lotta bit, and I apologize for any “jumping around” or changing subjects in the middle of a paragraph.
I’m packing my suitcase on Thursday, yet we don’t leave until Saturday night. A little anxious? Maybe, just a tad bit. Of course, I just want to be sure it’s not over 50lbs and that I can strategically smash everything into every inch of the suitcase I have. Nevermind the fact that when I arrive in San Diego, my clothes will be completely wrinkled. That’s why I have Downy Wrinkle Release.
I succeeded. At home, according to my scales, my suitcase weighed 48lbs. I have enough clothes and shoes to last at least 2 weeks, but that’s beside the point. I am a “newbie” at flying on airplanes and going to big cities. My biggest adventure was driving down I-85 to Atlanta. Did you know it becomes like 8 lanes once you get close to the city? I know right? You’re shocked too!! (really…this was my experience with big cities)
I arrive at the airport to meet my co-workers and check-in, board the plane, all that good stuff. Conveniently, there is a scale in the airport where you can weigh your own suitcase. Lovely!! I’ll test this sucker out and see how awesome I packed. Results: 49.5lbs. Oh, there’s a Starbucks! I must grab a Caramel Frapp, because what if they don’t have another Starbucks after we go through security? Speaking of security, do pre-packaged contact lenses count as liquids? What about gum? Did I remember some eye drops in case I get something in my eye? Oddly enough, security was a breeze and was much easier than I had expected.
Look another Starbucks! It’s like a mall in here! Who knew? Well, everyone but me apparently. I am like a 6 year old at this moment, pointing at everything as if I’ve never seen it before. We get a couple of waters and wait to board the plane. A few minutes later, I’m boarded and ready to go. I have my seatbelt on, my tray in the upright position, my bag under the seat in front of me and I’m listening attentively to the announcements of what do to should we have an emergency. All the while, Matt and Sharon (my co-workers) are stifling their laughter at me. I’m sitting here thinking I pull what down from where and attach it to this? I hope we don’t actually have an emergency, because I’m pretty sure I didn’t hear anything that woman said. I was too interested in the little knob that you twist to make the air come out. And…we’re taking off. It felt like going up on a rollercoaster, but never coming back down.
Now, what do you do on a 5 ½ hour flight? I brought my iPad with thoughts of reading. Good idea, except that was kind of boring when everyone around you is watching movies on theirs. I want to watch a movie too. Maybe I can look through my iTunes and find a movie. Nope. Why you ask? Because this genius decided to put all of her music on there instead. I wonder if you can delete music from your iPad without deleting it from your iTunes? Yes, you can. This will make space for movies and I can download them once we’re in San Diego, then I will have movies to watch! Mental note to do this ASAP.
Awesome, so now what do we do? Turbulence is a new concept to me. It feels like going over a million speed bumps. I don’t normally get carsick, but I just might on this plane. Ginger ale please. Ooooo!! Sharon has Goldfish. I didn’t know we could bring food. I assumed that since we couldn’t bring liquids, we must not be able to bring food either. I’m starving. We left at 6:00pm Eastern Time and we will arrive in San Diego at 11:30pm Eastern Time. Needless to say, I need food. We eat lots of goldfish and now I’m back to being bored. I promise you this next part is not fiction. Matt, having three young children of his own and knowing this boredom will only get worse, decides to start asking questions that we all have to answer. Such as, what is your favorite color, who is someone you wish you could meet, what would you do if you won the lottery, what is something you would go back in time and change? This killed about 30 minutes of time. And, Matt, Sharon and I learned a few new things about one another.
Guess what? We’re landing. Hurray!! I look out the window and see lights, lots and lots of lights. Wow, this city is nothing like Charlotte or Atlanta. We literally fly right into the city. It feels like we’re going to hit the buildings! We land safely and unload to go collect our baggage. About 15 minutes later, bags are collected and now it’s time to get a taxi, another new experience for me.
We all check in at the Hilton Bayfront hotel, take our separate elevators up to our rooms, dump our bags and head back out for food. Where should we go? Where do you want to go? What are you in the mood for? What do you know you don’t want? The questions begin. We are so tired and hungry that none of us really cares, so we go into a place called MaryJane’s. Looks decent and not crowded. We wait for approximately 10 minutes for someone to come and take our order. I am about to start eating the condiments on the table. After what seems like 7 hours, we have food, burgers, onion rings, fries, and of course my favorite, RANCH!!
Wait….I just remembered a key moment from this meal! When the waitress took my order, I told her I’d like the cheeseburger with fries. She then asked the question, “How would you like your burger cooked?” Me, being tired and hungry, replied, “regular?” As if there’s some other way to prepare a burger. Just cook it lady, I’m starving here!! Sharon and Matt look at me as if I have no brain. What she wanted me to say was medium, medium well, something of that sort. I can’t remember exactly, but I think Sharon came to my rescue and said medium well for me. Little did I know, this would become quite the joke. Regular? Yes, regular, as in cooked so I don’t get food poisoning. Thus begins the adventures of local a Rock Hill girl who goes to San Diego.
That night, Sharon and I got back to our room tired and full from our late dinner. I normally unpack my suitcase as soon as I get somewhere, but I was entirely too tired to do so. I scrambled around to find the necessities, brushed my teeth, and collapsed onto a bed of soft, feathery pillows and a cushy blanket. You’d think I’d sleep like a baby since it was really 2:00am Eastern Time when I finally went to sleep. Nope. I woke up at 6:00am and couldn’t get back to sleep. Finally, I got up, showered and met everyone downstairs for breakfast. I am what most would call a picky eater and don’t like my foods to touch each other. I scan the menu of about 10 items, all of which have weird toppings or strange side items. Um, I just want French toast, some bacon, maybe a muffin and some eggs. Oh, what the heck, I’ll just get the buffet.
I grab my plate to create my own personal feast of breakfast. Which was really like lunch in my head. I get some eggs, and then realize they are making omelets!! Awesome!! I’ll take a ham and cheese please. As I wait on my omelet, my eye catches the French toast station. I make my way over there and proceed to get a piece of toast and then look for the syrup. My omelet is ready, so I scoop it onto my plate. Back to the syrup. For whatever reason, this restaurant has the syrup in a large pitcher, but it’s silver on the outside so you can’t see how much syrup is in there. Great, I’ll just ease it forward and hopefully a dab will come out. A dab came out indeed….a whole cup full came out and covered my entire plate with syrup and it’s running over the edges. I am FREAKING out, because as I said before, I don’t like my food to touch, let alone syrup cover EVERYTHING! I get a clean plate and sneakily rescue my omelet from the ocean of syrup. I leave the rest on my syrupy plate and slyly push it over to the end of the buffet. Now, I’m laughing at myself as I quietly get a piece of bacon and go sit down. Needless to say, I did end up eating French toast on it’s own plate with a tiny little baby bit of syrup. Moving on….
Sharon and I decided to site see since we don’t have any conference events until the evening. This was fun and I began to realize this LPL conference is kind of a big deal. The banners on the light posts even said LPL. You know, like the ones we have in Rock Hill when Christmasville or Come See Me is going on?
We grabbed lunch and headed back to our hotel to prepare for what was to come that evening. Yes ladies and gentlemen, we were going to a concert where Journey would be performing for us and only us. Of course we all shoved ourselves in there like sardines. The room was plenty large enough for all of us to probably have at least a foot of space around us, creating a “personal bubble”. However, we chose the sardine method as if we were teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert. Sharon is standing behind me, I am standing next to a couple of people who were actually from Charlotte, and Jamie Cox is standing on the other side of me. At this point, we still have a small amount of personal space as we’re all just getting there. But, as soon as Journey hit the stage, I swear we must’ve moved forward at least 8 feet. After standing for maybe 30 minutes, I decide to take off my shoes. Great, now I can’t see. Thankfully, the giant standing in front of me leaves. I am laughing at this whole situation, because there are so many phones out taking pictures, videos it’s ridiculous. Of course, I’m right there with the rest of them. Holding my arms up and standing on my tippy toes to make my 5 foot 4 inch height seem taller. I get a couple of good shots and then realize there is a grown, adult woman sitting on a man’s shoulders with her phone held high making their way through the crowd. I’m all for having a good time, but holy cow. I was a bit concerned for this woman’s safety. I’m still wondering what kind of pictures/videos she ended up with.
Monday consisted of several breakout sessions where we would listen to speakers present certain topics and how they can help our practice. I got the most out of a presentation by former Navy Seal, David Rutherford. He gave 8 missions to keep in mind as they relate to self-confidence:
- Have a positive attitude.
- Live healthy.
- Motivate yourself and others.
- Earn respect.
- Set goals.
- Live with integrity.
- Mentor others.
- Have fun!
Some tid bits I got along the way:
- Live by a standard that propels you forward.
- Never quit. Once you start quitting in your life, you’ll never have self-confidence.
- When you think it can’t get any worse, think of something positive & smile. Share that smile with others.
- You have to earn respect every day!
- Never rest on the success of your last mission.
- It’s not a me world, it’s a we world.
- If you love who you are and what you do, you will not fail. Get back in the fight!
Personally, I got a lot from this session. I’d like to start each day off with a positive attitude; then the rest can fall into place. This one may not have been related to finances, but it certainly can change how I interact with co-workers, clients, prospects, and so on. I give this breakout session an A.
After all the learning was done for the day, we got to explore the USS Midway. This was similar to the USS Yorktown at Patriot’s Point in Charleston. We climbed aboard and pretended to fly airplanes! Of course they don’t move and all of the power is disconnected.
It was a neat experience and I got to watch the sun go down!
Tuesday consisted of more breakout sessions. I would love to go on and on about what I learned, but it may bore you to tears. So, I’ll stick with the more interesting content. Each morning we had general session. This was where everyone was in one large room listening to the same speaker. This morning we heard from Lynn Heward, Director of Creation for Cirque du Soleil. I have never been to one of their shows, but I certainly want to go now!! It was amazing what these performers endure to create such a magnificent show night after night. She discussed getting outside of your comfort zone in order to reach new clients or market yourself to a new audience. Her four keys to creative transformation were:
- Work outside of your comfort zone.
- Try something different and take risks.
- Never repeat yourself.
- Apply creativity to everyday tasks as well as to those big new projects.
Now, if I can just apply these to Family Trust Investment Services.
After the breakout sessions, Sharon and I had the night to ourselves. We decided to go on an adventure to the outlets. They were similar to Tanger Outlets around Myrtle Beach and Charleston. Because they were not within walking distance, we had to take a taxi. With my new found experience with taxis, I feel like a pro as Sharon and I go downstairs and summon a taxi for our little excursion. We both sit in the backseat and tell the driver where we would like to go. I buckle my seatbelt and look over to Sharon who is yanking on hers, but it seems to be locked up. So, she scoots over to the middle seat and uses the lap buckle. Here we are snuggled next to each other in this taxi. I notice at this point that the front seatbelt doesn’t even have a latch to put the buckle in. My oh my…what have we gotten ourselves into.
Now, please realize that it’s about 5:15 in San Diego on a Tuesday. We didn’t consider 5 o’clock traffic when planning this adventure. Here we go!! All of the sudden, the driver slams on brakes and Sharon and I are speechless as to what could’ve possibly just happened. We seem to be on an exit ramp of some sort, so my thoughts are that we are going the wrong way and are about to be in head on traffic. Sharon’s thoughts were that we had run over something or somebody. Needless to say, we were both wrong, the taxi driver just made a wrong turn. Onto a bridge. Going to Coronado Island. Whoops!! This isn’t just a small bridge like we have in the Thrill. This was a 2.1 mile bridge. We drive to the island, go around the block, and head straight back toward San Diego. However, we didn’t realize we were so close to Mexico until we began seeing Border Patrol driving around. Yes, like on the Nat Geo channel. Woah baby. We made it to the outlets and were able to find some great deals!
Wednesday was the last day of the conference. We had a couple of breakout sessions and then General Session for the entire group. One of the breakout sessions I went to was “Building a Professional Practice” presented by Paul Blease. He discussed cleaning up your office both physically and mentally. What does your office reflect about you? How are you servicing your clients and prospects? He said to compare your current service level to the next financial advisor, or your competition. The competition is servicing their client well and keeping in touch with them, etc. He said something that caught my attention, “Are your clients as well insulated from the competition as this client is insulated from you?” Time to re-evaluate our service model and make some changes!
James Cameron, Screenwriter, Producer, and Director, spoke at the General Session. He spoke about having an idea and finding a way to make it happen. You don’t know what you don’t know until you go there. You have to try in life. He said you’ve got to believe in yourself and convince others to believe in you too. Take a leap of faith. I think this can be applied in the financial advising world, because you have to own your ideas and have the confidence to “sell” that idea to your clients. Your clients have to know that you believe in yourself in order for them to believe in you. It made me consider my own ideas that I’ve had in the past. If I have an idea, yet don’t believe in myself to execute it, then how am I supposed to get others to be on board with me? I think I’ll start believing in myself and see what happens!
After General Session, we ate lunch and decided to watch the San Diego Padres take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’ve been to afternoon baseball games before and was not too thrilled about going to this one. Hot, sunny, sweaty, a chance of rain and $5 bottles of water. No thanks! However, my husband is in love with baseball and made me promise to bring him a Padres hat. What should I wear to the game? Remember, I brought enough clothes to last a couple of weeks. After laughing in the hotel room with Sharon about what to wear, I finally made a decision and off we went. We ended up getting 2 free tickets from someone on the sidewalk. Sweet! I love freebies. So, we got settled into our seats and the game started. Fortunately, it was a cloudy day and the sun stayed behind the clouds for the most part. I purchased a hat for my husband, a t-shirt for myself and the Padres won!!
Here are a couple of side notes just for fun. First, please understand that Sharon and I shared a hotel room on this trip. I have a sister who is 3 years younger than me, so sharing with another girl is no big deal to me. Sharon, however, does not have a sister and was totally new to this sister-like thing I had going on. Every morning and every evening and pretty much all the time, I asked Sharon her opinion for everything. Do these shoes look ok? What if I get hot? Should I wear heels? Does this belt match? Should I tuck my shirt in or leave it out? What if I get cold? What does the back of my hair look like? Do you have blisters from walking so much? Should I lock my stuff in the safe or just leave it out? Do we tip the guy who got our bags? You get the point. I had a great time being roomies, but I’m sure she was ready for some peace and quiet after those 5 nights!
Second, as I said before, a lot of things about this trip were new to me. Some of those things include, the flight itself, riding in a taxi, having someone collect your suitcase at the hotel rather than getting the cart yourself, having your burger cooked “regular”, and so on. One of the things I discovered were these little red spike things that came up out of the pavement. It looked like it would hurt badly if you were to fall on them. Turns out, they are there to keep people from driving the wrong way. Their tires would be destroyed if they entered this exit. However, if you were going the correct way, they simply go down into the pavement and your tires remain intact. Interesting concept to me, so I took a picture.
Side notes completed.
Thursday we packed our bags and boarded the plane back to Charlotte. I learned several new things about myself, Family Trust Investment Services and how we can make changes to become the premiere choice for investment services. I experienced a lot of new things and made several new friends from around the Charlotte area. I can’t wait to see what the next year holds for our department and what new things we can learn at next year’s conference.
I wanted to include this before I close. I’m not sure where I heard this quote during the conference, but it was originally from Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. She mentioned it in her speech to the Harvard Business School graduates this past May. She said, “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat – just get on.”
In closing, the LPL Financial national conference was absolutely one that cannot be compared to others. Everything about it is so purposeful and planned. You can tell that a great deal of thought and preparation is put into making this conference the very best that it can be. I am thankful to work with such an outstanding company!