Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Entreprenurrrr – My Morning in Corporate Americaland

This post is work related. I try not to mention any specifics when talking about work – I don’t want people searching the web looking for my company only to stumble across this blog – and as a result this post may be a little vague at times. So, I guess this is a ‘sorry in advance’ in case I lose you. Check back tomorrow! Maybe I’ll find a funny picture somewhere.

Anyway, a certain company that employs yours truly was recently invited, along with a couple of other companies, to a big Chicago business breakfast at a certain hotel to be recognized by a certain publication for certain achievements in the realm of making money. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I was offered the opportunity to represent our company along with some of my fellow employees and to attend aforementioned breakfast event, which took place at 7:30 AM this morning.

‘Free breakfast…,’ I thought to myself, ‘yeah, what the hell.’

Our company is very casual. Casual like we have meetings to discuss using the bathroom and then everyone makes jokes casual. Casual like the C.O.O. wears flip flops and white t-shirts to work casual. Casual like I haven’t worn a tie in years casual.

But today we were showcasing ourselves to the business world. So I rolled out of bed early and I hopped in the shower and then put on a shirt that requires buttoning and, after searching desperately through a pile of forgotten clothing, found a tie that requires tying. Then I shuffled off to the El and went down to the loop, a place where I almost never go, and arrived at the hotel.

I found a sea of people in business suits, exchanging business cards and talking business while waiting in line for some free Starbucks Coffee. It’s weird how different people are when they’re wearing their different hats. Everyone was clean shaven, the ladies were made up, the men had their hair combed. It was kind of incredible looking around at all of the people talking seriously about serious things. I don’t know, I guess I’m just not used to it now. I mean, even their jokes told seriously and in serious tones.

In short, I was out of my element.

But I had my breakfast – luke warm scrambled eggs and a slice of cold ham but, you know, free – and got some swag out of the deal – a wireless mouse and then some random stuff I’ll never use – so I had just enough to keep me interested in the speeches and panel discussions. It was rough going there for a while. One guy – a writer for this publication – had a well written speech but not idea how to deliver it. Another guy – can’t remember who he was or why he was there – knew how to deliver a speech but not how to write one.

The general topic of discussion was how America needs more entrepreneurs (pronounced by many with a ridiculously overstressed last ‘r’ sound) to take advantage of these difficult financial times. This was a good point, although I thought that it was a message better served for somewhere other than a hall full of people who are already entrepreneurs.

‘Hey Everybody! We’re awesome!’

The highlight of the panel discussion was the Irish guy who came over and started his own construction company. He was actually personable, entertaining and possibly a little bit drunk. Gotta love those Irish.

The rest of the speakers? Eh. I kind of zoned out for a lot of it and played with the coffee cream on the table. Then I started looking around the room full of respectable business people in their serious business suits and casually pictured what the room would look like full of apes.

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