A few days have passed since the closing ceremony of the first District 95 Spring conference in Borås. We, Åsa Rydhard and Neal Greenspan, conference chair and vice conference chair, have had some time to allow the 48 hours or so we all spent together to really sink in. Here is some last thoughts to summon everything up, written by the eminent and hardworking Neal Greenspan. I’m very happy to have had him by my side when preparing the conference in Borås.
Enjoy and see you in Prague! /Åsa
A mixed wave of emotions comes over me when I think that more than 18 months of planning, preparing, managing, battling, working and performing have come to an end, but, that’s what it was all about right? To put on an incredible conference that left 270+ people tired, spent, emotional and… smiling!
Hosting a District Conference is difficult. It is a wonderfully hard and challenging process that sees you grow in ways you never thought possible. It’s also one of the most rewarding things I think many of us on the team feel we have ever been a part of!
To put it mildly, I think we did a marvelous job. I am so proud of every single person on this team. It is me who is honored and humbled to have been a part of it.
There is an English saying that hindsight is 20/20. That means that when you look back at things it’s very easy to point out what you would have done differently and be critical of some of the choices you made, but that’s not what I will take away from this experience. Of course in true Toastmasters fashion, we will have an evaluation at some point so that we can learn from our mistakes, but in this final blog post, I want to focus on the bread in the evaluation sandwich.
From the amazing organization of the registration and welcome teams who made people feel at home before their conference experience ever started, we were off on the right foot.
As a keynote speaker, setting the tone for the conference, we couldn’t have asked for more than we got from our champion, Dananjaya. His performance and presence was outstanding!
I was fortunate enough to spend much time with him and I can tell you that as many requests as he got for pictures, autographs, or for him to share his wisdom, he never said no, never was impatient and always gave his attention to the person he was interacting with. His speech ‘I See Something’ made him a speaking champion but to me, his heart is what makes him a true champion.
Contests went off without a hitch. Many people probably don’t realize that the conference committee doesn’t have much to do with the contests. This huge task is managed by the contest chair, in this case Peter Henrich. The best compliment a conference organizer can give the contest chair is to say that we were minimally involved in the planning, organization and execution of the contests. A wonderful job done by you and your whole team Peter!
The Gala Dinner is always a highlight. Here we had a team and responsible people as well. There is a lot more to putting on a dinner of that scope than simply choosing the place and the food. Annitta Damsted did a wonderful job in all aspects of this planning.
There were so many others, Robert Axelsson whose registration team got all of us in to the conference in an organized and timely manner. Alexandra Olsson who worked with me on choosing and organizing 12 world class workshops. Monica Einegren who took her own valuable time to make sure that Dana was looked after. Jesper Caron who allowed the use of his personal equipment to make sure the event would be filmed. Monica Markinger who had the difficult job of treasurer to make sure we never busted the budget. Jeanette Aronsson who created our fabulastic website and kept our IT side working. And, of course the leadership from our District leaders, Kees and Tuire!
There are more, there are many more whose efforts helped us put on a spectacular event. I apologize for not being able to mention you all but know, and I can speak for Åsa as well, that you have our everlasting respect and gratitude! These people sacrificed being able to see certain parts of the event for the benefit of the conference as a whole. These are the TRUE heroes of any district conference! They are Toastmasters of the highest order.
If I’m allowed to put in some personal thoughts, I got minimally involved before the bid in Budapest. I was also asked to help bring in a keynote speaker but my real responsibility started after the conference Frankfurt when I noticed how much work really needs to be done for an event of this nature. I asked Åsa if she needed help and if I could be her vice chair. This conference was her dream, her vision and it was never my intention to make it otherwise but I was hoping that she would be open to me stepping in while trying to not step on any toes. From day one I can say that Åsa let me in without any conditions. Her acceptance, leadership and friendship are 3 of the most lasting things I will take away from my experience.
Receiving my DTM on my ‘home field’ was a goal I set a little more than a year ago when I realized it was possible. It made it even more special to see my Division G family standing for me. A feeling I’ll remember for a life time. The journey would not have been the same without you!
For it is you, my dear Toastmasters family, that makes these events so special. As Åsa so eloquently thanked you for making the event what it was, she is 100% right. Without you, your engagement, your energy, your warmth, openness and love, it’s just another conference.
I love Toastmasters and get so much out of what I put in to it but, at the end of the day, at the end of this conference planning journey, it is the people that I meet, shake hands with, dance with, drink with, talk with, laugh and smile with and then, hug as we say our farewells that make the difference. It is you that makes it all worthwhile.
And, now that it’s over, how will I keep smiling? Just try and stop me!
See you all in Prague!