Turn around! What are you doing? Watch out! Did you hear that? You will not make it out alive! My mind was racing, my senses were peaked, the hairs of my skin were standing tall, and I could feel the sweat run down my face as the cold nights’ breeze blew by. Standing in front of a dirt path alone, I was staring into complete darkness and could barely make out the many of trees in front of me. It was time to decide if I was going to be a man or face my fears, continue forward and be a warrior.
When I received word that I would be attending my first conference, I felt like a man staring straight into the depths of a dark forest, filled with fear and doubt that I had the right training and weapons. It was time to conquer my fears, erase my doubts, pull out my sword and step forward. I started by taking a deep breath and repeating “I am here, now” and “I do not know what is going to happen, but I will be alright.” Finally, my mind had calmed and I was focused. I could hear the crackling of the decaying forest beneath me as I continued to put one foot in front of the other. With every step, I had a heightened sense that I was being watched. It was now 10:45am Tuesday morning and I was just a quarter of an hour away from leaving for the 2011 IRCE Conference in San Diego.
I could now hear the echoing of the beast’s breath and knew I was only yards from its domain. It was time to face the beast but first I must prepare. I decided to set up camp a few hundred yards from the beast’s domain in a small and hollowly opening of the forest. It was time to prepare, sharpen my sword and rest until morning. Lying on the dying forest floor, in the warmth of a crackling fire, I was awakened by a rustling in the bushes. I quickly grabbed my sword, got into my fighter stance and screamed aloud. “Show yourself!” As the rustling became louder, my body tensed up, and my fingers were red from gripping my sword. Then, jumping through the bushes, with the light from the fire, I was able to make out the faces of my fellow men. My fingers regained their natural color, my body let and up and I realized that I am not alone. Together, as a team, we prepared for battle and my confidence levels rose. I realized that I was not alone, my sword was sharp, and I had been training for this since day one. It was now 3:55pm, just minutes away from the start of the conference and I was standing outside the double doors to enter. I took three deep breaths and with each one I imagined myself strapping on my armor and sliding my sword into its holster.
I walked in and joined the rest of the Wpromote team at our booth. Just when I thought my confidence level couldn’t rise any higher, I was given word that our leader, Michael Mothner, with the help of Cam Fortin from Wine.com won the first battle with the beast and had delivered one of the best speeches ever given at an IRCE event. Their session, Breathing New Life Into Old PPC Campaigns, uncovered techniques for driving new value out of established campaigns. Using real life examples, they discussed key tactics for running display and mobile campaigns and the importance of tracking, segmenting, localization, and testing out new ad formats. Its success was quickly proven by the numerous amounts of attendees who made the extra effort to stop by our booth and compliment Mike. We had slayed the beast and it was time to celebrate!
Overall, my experience at the conference was amazing. I learned so much from listening to my colleagues, became closer with my team members, gained confidence, and enjoyed San Diego nightlife. Most importantly, I faced my fear and for that moment, I was a warrior.