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High Performance: Best trade show ever

January 27, 2014 -  By

Several years ago I took my team on a road trip to the best trade show ever. Advanced planning began several months before with the selection of attendees. The trade show was out-of-state but within driving distance. Because of this, we decided to send our entire management team. Hotel arrangements were made. Education sessions were carefully chosen for each attendee. Tickets were purchased for extracurricular activities. Everything was set. I was feeling good.

I arrived at the host city a couple of days before the rest of my team, as I had other obligations. They were set up to drive in groups and spend two solid days at the trade show. The only thing we didn’t plan for was the weather. Sure enough, a snow event delayed the departure of my team, causing them to arrive late the first day. In fact, they arrived so late after “this, that and the other thing” they missed the first day of the trade show.

Not a big deal. Snow events were profitable and always a priority. There remained another full day of the trade show the next day. Plus, everyone made it in time for dinner and the evening’s preplanned activities. Like many in our industry, my team works hard and plays hard. Even though they missed day one of the trade show, we were going to have some much-deserved fun—and we did. I should have known the evening’s activities would last well into the morning. Did I tell you that we liked to have fun?

Needless to say, my team was not rested enough for day two of the trade show when the doors opened. Most of them looked like they would be sleeping all day. Some did and we let them. When everyone finally woke up, it was time to hit the road for home. In other words, they never made it to the trade show at all. Thus, my entire management team drove four hours to party it up in a foreign city and then drive home the next day. Obviously, not Plan A, but in the end it was the best plan ever. During this brief road trip, my team solidified and became one. I couldn’t have scripted it better myself, and the ROI was tenfold. What appeared to be a complete failure turned out to be a homerun.

I believe in planning, education and staying on schedule. However, when our reality changes, I believe we have to be flexible, make adjustments and be open to finding what we’re looking for in a different place than we assumed it would be. My team found unity on a road trip to a trade show they never attended. It was the best trade show ever.

 Photo: Adam Fagen/

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About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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