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Where are they now: Trading "Best of Show" for … what?

Well, one thing I know for sure, is there are many others out there in tradeshow land who are pretty close to embarking on the same journey I have found myself on.
I never really thought about retiring per se. and I am not what you’d call a strategist. I’ve always just put one foot in front of the other and somehow to got where I wanted to go. However, there was something about that word … retiring. Personally, I didn’t really like the sound of it; not for me anyway. I loved what I did (though I had many titles, the reality is, I sold exhibits), I loved the industry and I loved the fast-paced, always-different, never-boring, what’s next world I lived in. How would I ever go from that to “retiring?”


I remember my first business trip, taking the Eastern Airlines shuttle from Boston to LaGuardia. I sat in a window seat looking out and thinking; wow, this is really something. A new experience for me, and certainly a first for anyone in my family for that matter.

Considering I had about seven jobs in the first couple of years after college, it was pretty amazing that for the next 30 years I would be pretty much with two companies; one of them being my own. I guess I liked what I did.

Well, many years later, having learned a whole lot of things about a whole lot of things, not the least of which was how to finagle a first class seat on those planes whenever possible, I still look out the window and think; wow, that really was something.

So, when it came time to leave my office for the last time, I was ready for something different. The trouble was, I didn’t know what. Yes, I was excited initially about not having to get on another plane for a while, not having to be on a show floor, or eat show dogs for a while. I was even excited to not go to Las Vegas for a while. I really like Las Vegas, in spite of having had to deal with it in those Comdex days.

I’d be able to sleep late, get up when I felt like it or maybe go to the gym (yuk), take more tap dancing classes, cook in a little more, or go visit friends. Oh, but wait, they’re all still working!
Well, it took a while to figure this out. The truth is, I didn’t know what to do with myself and people said; don’t you have a hobby? I’d ask; who had time for a hobby? I just spent 30 years pretty much working 24/7. A hobby? What I know now, what I know for sure, is that you don’t spend that kind of time on something unless you have a passion for it. Anyone in the industry knows that. Once you’re in this business, you’re really in this business.
So, I thought I’d write a column about the journey; maybe it’ll be fun to reflect and project … and maybe some of you in the same boat will have some ideas.

Susan Hill was in the tradeshow industry for 30 years before selling her company, Hill & Partners, at the end of 2007. She is now a licensed realtor with RE/MAX Harbor Realty in Punta Gorda, Fla. and with Meridian Realty Group in Boston, Mass. Contact Susan Hill at susan@letsgo2puntagorda.com.

 

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