Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Day, Another Offsite

Dateline: Tuesday, July 14th.

Greetings from the “City of Milwaukee Emerging Business Sustainability Conference.” I got here at 7 PM to set up. I’m the only vendor that has widgets to sell; everyone else is selling services. That left most other folks to leave their spaces and participate in the workshops, leaving me behind to read Richard Powers’ Generosity. Did you know Powers doesn’t sign books? For a second, I thought that meant he might still do readings, as long as he didn’t sign, but he doesn’t do that either, at least for me. He lives in Illinois so I thought we had a shot. We didn’t.

Maybe one day Powers’ cousin will stop by and say, “Did FSG say Rick doesn’t do events? He’s coming to my wedding next May and he’d do anything once I told him this was my favorite bookstore.” There’s a lot of fantasy involved in that statement. I feel like I’m writing fan fiction.

Hey, that's sort of what happened with David Rhodes, author of the wonderful and popular (at least in Milwaukee) Driftless. We were told he wouldn't be touring for the hardcover (it seemed like a shot because he lives in Wisconsin), but he's appearing at Boswell Book Company for the paperback, on Sunday, October 11th, at 2 PM. Go figure. I'm thrilled.

I brought some startup books of the entrepreneurial sort, some basic management stuff, some sales, some sustainability titles, and some business narratives. I played, “How many books have I read on the table” with Marc, the Associated Bank guy who led me to this gig. I read 12; he read more. I’ve got about 60 titles altogether, in ones, twos and threes. There’s no speaker. My rule of thumb is “No speaker, no offsite,” but I broke the rule almost immediately.

So far, the two titles most talked about are Good To Great and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. These are titles that appeal to companies and nonprofits alike. Everybody’s got a crappy coworker, I guess. Oh, and several folks have commented on Jeffrey Gitomer’s The Little Red Book of Selling. I wasn’t quite sure how far an emerging business would be, which is why I brought three copies of How to Write a Business Plan. I looked at a number of books on the subject when I was starting my business and I thought this was the best. (I sold one to a fledgling construction company owner, with just this endorsement).

So anyway, I think I’m supposed to be here all day. I got up at 4 this morning. I’m not sure I’ll make it.


In the end, I sold five books, two of which I threw in the kit at the last minute. I talked to some nice folks, several of whom were trying to sell me their services. And I finally got to go in the new Manpower Headquarters. They have a very neat display case with historical artifacts from the company.

I made it to about 2 PM.

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