I flew to Pittsburgh on Wednesday this week in order to give two speeches on Thursday. They both went well, though they had a very different vibe. As I build my business as a speaker I am becoming ever more aware of how audience dynamics (percent men vs. women, age, how full the room is) affect how I should present concepts to people and how I should engage with them.
In any case, the speaking was fun, if tiring (two speeches in a row take some energy!) but I also really enjoyed a personal upside: reconnecting with one of my old college roommates. She and her husband and their daughter live in Pittsburgh, and so I stayed with them overnight. We chatted over wine at night, and breakfast in the morning. They have fixed up their cozy-yet-stately old house, and various properties in their neighborhood (that they rent out). And they had renovated what they call the “barn” on their property so it was a nice little guest studio, complete with hotel-style amenities such as a coffee maker, a hair dryer, etc. It was the best of all worlds: staying with friends and still feeling like I am at the Hyatt!
The sad part is that I had not seen her since our 10th reunion in 2011. We are just gearing up for the 15th now. Her daughter was an infant then and is currently in her last few months of kindergarten. Oh my.
The Pittsburgh airport is a ways out of town, so the event organizers and I had built in quite a bit of time after my second speech to get there, and then the traffic was a lot better than it could have been. So I had time to eat one of the best burgers of my life at Bar Symon (past security, in the central hub area, if anyone reading this is connecting through or flying into Pittsburgh soon). It was this bacon-topped, onion crunchies monstrosity on challah. I washed every last bite down with a nice pinot noir. After 3-plus hours of speaking, I felt I needed it.
In other news: I am writing a piece next week on how to take a compliment well. Have you learned how to be more gracious in accepting praise?
You can also check out two other pieces I wrote recently. First, What You Should Do When Someone Takes Credit For Your Idea. I love the idea of a redemption fantasy, rather than a revenge fantasy, even though this is an incredibly tricky negotiation.
Second, The Secret To Creativity: Become An Intellectual Middleman. Often, highly creative people root their ideas in common knowledge. They are just combining disparate concepts in new ways.
Photo: scene from the roof, and the very nice guest room.