How is next week’s IAPP conference like jumping out of a plane? 

Next week is IAPP’s annual conference at the Gaylord Texan.  Up to 2,000 financial professionals will be living and doing business all within a 1 mile radius of each other.  An ideal petri dish for best practices, catching up with colleagues and meeting new service providers that can take your productivity to the next level.  Whenever coming up on trade shows and conferences I always think back to an episode in my life about fifteen years ago when some friends and I thought it would be a great idea to  jump our of a perfectly good airplane!  We wanted to skydive, a right of passage for the adrenaline repressed.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the idea so, a few days before the big event I began to train my mind to de-sensitize itself to the thought of hurtling myself ground ward from ten miles up.  Every time the fear would bubble up I would overcome it and calm myself to minimize the apparent dangers.  It was probably some kind of defense mechanism, but by jump day I was pretty unaffected by the thought of skydiving.  Where my friends were sick with excitement, I was very non-chalant and clam about the ordeal.  Even as the plane spiraled is ascent I do not think my pule rose above normal.  We were all jumping tandem and as my instructor inched us closer to the opening on the side of the plane I felt nothing.

In the next moment we were tumbling in what felt like weightlessness.  At one moment, nothing but blue and then a flash of wing and then the earth below me.  Arms spread, wind in my face, man yelling in my ear…  I felt nothing.

So what does this have to do with IAPP?  Next week I challenge us all not to do what I did.  Do not detach, do not go into “play it safe” mode, do not spend time in the safety of your room or at dinner with only the people you know.  IAPP works around the calendar to put together one of the finest trade events in any industry and they absolutely pack the schedule from Monday to Thursday to delivery quality.  There is so much available to financial professionals at all levels at next week’s conference and I strongly encourage all attendees to experience every bit of it.  Be as present as you can, attend as many session as you can, and start conversation with strangers.  Every person in every room at the Gaylord Texan next week has something of value to offer and the information is only a hand shake away.

View next week as an opportunity to advance you career and to meet experts that ave been through all of the business problem you are facing.  Expand your personal network and jump in with both feet.