How to Find Your Booth in Timbuktu

July 7, 2015 - 3 minutes read

ISTE Cindy and Joy Hug

“All Your Hugs. In One Place.”

I snapped this photo with my iPhone and cleverly (at least I thought at the time) decided to call it “All Your Hugs in One Place”. It was day one of ISTE 2015, our team was assembling the massive booth, and I was feeling the love. It’s always fun to get the whole SchoolStatus team together, and an event as big as ISTE in a city as cool as Philly gets everybody excited. If only the rest of the week was as sweet as this first day… Here’s a little secret I’m going to let you in on kids…lean in closer…trade shows are HARD.

ISTE 2015 was our first giant trade show as SchoolStatus, LLC. The whole idea of ISTE is to share ideas, learn about groundbreaking technologies, and to ultimately propel the future of education. As a company whose main goal is to Change Education, Forever, we were right where we wanted to be.

Sure, many people in our team have been to big trade shows before- some had even been to previous ISTE events, but this was our first big event together. All our departments rallied together to make it happen. Sales polished their presentations, Dev burrowed deeper into their caves hoping we wouldn’t force them to come out, Marketing coordinated contests, printed materials and counted tchotchkes. We were ready.

I quickly learned, however, that Jon Snow and I know nothing. Things go wrong. Integral components of your booth are shipped to Timbuktu (ISTE 2015 was not in Timbuktu, dear readers). Wait times for materials grow from two to four to six and then eight (!!!) hours with little warning. And if the logistics of booths isn’t enough to make you pull your hair out, every team member can summon their inner ‘hungry-two-year-old-who-hasn’t-had-a-nap’ at any time.

There are some times that you will simply have to figure it out as you go along. And ultimately, that’s what makes our team so phenomenal. We don’t know everything, we don’t even pretend to. But we do know not to panic. We do know that at the end of the day, we are creative enough, strong enough, and resilient enough to turn a problem into a success.

My takeaway from ISTE 2015 was this: it’s not about coordinating everything perfectly so that you never encounter a traffic jam. It’s not about hiring an excess of people so that you can throw hands at a problem. It’s not even about having enough money to buy yourself out of a pickle. The key ingredient to success is a sharp, focused team with a shared goal. That’s it. Not a small thing I admit, but when a group of intelligent, motivated people get together they truly can do anything. Even if that means tracking down carpet in Timbuktu.