As The Saw Turns column by Jim Obermeyer
I am writing this in late October. And I have to admit, this is one of the few times since I started writing this column that I have been affected by “writer’s block.”
I have been staring at this monitor for 45 minutes. The deadline for submitting this column is tomorrow morning. I don’t normally wait until the last moment to submit. Usually something happens in my daily work life that triggers the subject of the column, and I end up having to edit it to keep it from getting too long.
But not this time.
In the last six months, I have written in this column about perseverance, restoration and personal branding, all in an effort to maintain a positive approach to what life has dished out to us this year, and all in anticipation that times will change and things will improve. In March of this year, we thought everything would be back to normal by June. When June rolled around, we were all hoping we would see a return by the fourth quarter of this year.
A few weeks ago, I researched and wrote a blog for the EDPA Alert newsletter on the global return of events and exhibitions. I’ll save you the long read: bottom line is no one really knows what to expect and when to expect it. While some countries around the globe are seeing events and exhibitions start to return, others continue to postpone all activity, and there is no clear picture for the future.
So, what now?
I scroll back through past columns looking for something that triggers a thought that can be turned into something worthwhile. Nothing is working for me. That’s when it hits me: It has been exactly 20 years since I wrote my first column for Exhibit City News. October of 2000. What were you doing in October 2000? I guess I was sitting here trying to decide what to write about in my first column.
I ran into Don Svehla, publisher of Exhibit City News, at a reception at the now-defunct TS2 show in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2000. Somewhere during our conversation, he asked me if I would be interested in doing some writing for his tradeshow industry newspaper. We talked about me doing a monthly opinion column. I agreed on one condition: I could write about anything I wanted, as long as I tied it to the industry in some way.
Over the last 20 years, the column has gone in a lot of different directions, but always I tried to make that link our industry. Sometimes it was quite a stretch to make the connection, but I have enjoyed the challenge of trying to come up with something worthwhile to write about each month.
I’ve written columns at home, at work, in hotels, in airports, in airplanes; wherever and whenever the idea for a column struck me. Sometimes I’d have an idea and write the piece well before the monthly deadline. Other times I’d be staring at my monitor desperately trying to come up with a kernel of a thought to write about.
Going back and reading through this library of work, I realized two things: (1) for industry folks, it is a bit of an historical look at our industry and the issues—some serious, some not so much—that we’ve dealt with in the last 20 years; and (2) for family and friends, it gives a clue about just who I am, what I really do for a living.
For me, it has been an outlet for what’s on my mind3what’s bothering me, what’s interesting to me and what is important to me. Whether readers find it of any interest has always been a question…
But with all the change that has occurred in our world and our industry and in each of our lives in the last 20 years—and in the last 10 months—this is one constant for me: I am still honored to be a part of this industry and to be able to share my thoughts in this publication.
There. I feel better now. Another column in the books. All I need now is a nice glass of bourbon and all will be good again.
Please enjoy the upcoming holidays and See you on the show floor!
Jim Obermeyer has been in the exhibits and events industry 39 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house owner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This story originally appeared in the Nov./Dec. 2020 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 12. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_nov-dec_2020