I went to Mission Viejo High School in Orange County. Forty-four year old Dara Torres swam for the Mission Viejo swim team. I went on to win exactly zero Olympic medals. Dara’s earned 12 (so far). I went into the printing business. As far as I know, Dara didn’t.
Thirty years later, I went to Dscoop, an annual conference for users of advanced digital printing platforms. Dara went there too. Crazy how Dara goes where I go.
You should have seen this six-pack.
Anyone who goes to industry conferences knows as the days drag on and us professionals with A.D.D. grow weary of the breakout sessions, the attendees’ minds start wandering closer to the bar. Everyone starts thinking about the evening’s party plans. However, the six-pack that everyone was buzzing about at Dscoop7 had nothing to do with Heinekens. [Watch the video of Dara's appearance to get a little gander at her Olympic-strength gut.]
Dara showed us her rock hard tummy.
Why was a respected international swimming star flashing the crowd? She was trying to make a point. The muscles she was flexing delivered some solid evidence of what it means to persevere. Dara will soon attempt to freestyle her way into the pool at the London Olympic Games for the sixth time. You might call her crazy, but she’d prefer “perseverant.”
Life is about perseverance.
It’s easy to quit. Beating athletes 25 years younger than you for a chance to compete in the world’s most exclusive athletic games? Not so easy.
Dara didn’t follow me to Dscoop to teach me about digital printing technology. Nor did she want to show me her world-class strokes. She came to inspire middle-aged professionals who have largely been beaten down by a dreadfully prolonged slump and seen many a compatriot go under in an industry that was once about paper and ink, evolve into one of .jlt files and .jdf extensions.
She spoke of the joy of finding ways to stay competitive, to stay on top of your game, regardless of the price you must pay. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Seek and ye shall find. You’ve heard speeches like this or seen the corny inspirational posters donning the walls of executive offices everywhere. But here before us stood a living motivational poster girl telling you and me and perhaps even herself, everyone has competitors gunning to finish ahead of them in lanes to their left and right. They might be younger, or smarter, better financed. They might even be luckier.
Some things you simply can’t control. However, preparation isn’t one of them. Nor is dedication. Dara’s question: do you want to win and keep winning? Do you want stay relevant 25 years after you proved you had the chops? If your answer is affirmative, Dara’s interview affirmed there’s only way to do so. You have to keep working at it. The medals in Dara’s trophy case won’t get her into this summer’s games. But ten million meters in the pool just might.
Other speakers offered some golden ideas as well.
I learned many things I think I should share with you…
The keynote speaker, Sally Hogshead fascinated a crowd of more than 2,000 on the topic of “fascination.” The main message being we’re all fascinating in some way. “You don’t need to learn to be fascinating, you need to unlearn how to be boring,” she said. Sally wasn’t trying to insult us, she was telling us our environment stomps out our creativity as children, and somewhere along the way we learn to conform (we learned to be not so fascinating).
Other keynote speakers Chad Dick and Josh Linkner inspired the attendees with talks on “How Challenger Brands Succeed” and “Unleashing Creativity: The New Currency of Brand Success.” The day after we returned, my business partner called for an all-hands meeting focused on creativity.
Chris Morgan and Alon Bar-Shany shared many exciting developments about where HP and the graphic arts industry are headed in the future. Alon had the honor of introducing new product enhancements and the game-changing technology of the HP 10,000 digital press, available for sale in early 2013, and previewing at Drupa next month. Alon also showed his musical skills by joining the band on stage and showing off a few guitar riffs at the cocktail party.
All of the speakers, events, education sessions and activities added up to a great value for the attendees. But for my dime, the most valuable part of every Dscoop conference is the networking time with all the great folks in our industry. Customers, suppliers, speakers and community peers provide endless hours of conversation, entertainment, and opportunities that one just can’t find back at the office.
If you had the opportunity to attend, or would like more information about Dscoop, I would love to here from you.