I was sitting in the back of an Uber beginning to throw myself a pity party. I was tired. It was late, and I’d been traveling a lot, too much. I just wanted to be home, get back into some form of normal routine. I missed time with my family and longed for the solitude of my office, a space where I feel creative and productive. In a simple word, I was drained.
I stepped into my hotel room, opened the shades and looked out at the rain shrouded skyline of Montreal. Taking a deep breath, I turned, sat down at the desk and opened Skype for a late night overseas call with a client. Did I mentioned the word drained?
Morning came too soon and the pot of coffee not soon enough. Showered and sufficiently caffeinated, I jumped into an Uber and headed to New City Gas, the venue where I would be working over the next two days.
I climbed out and was immediately greeted by the oft-described FoodBytes family, a well-deserved moniker. It was as if a light switch was flipped. I don’t know what it is about FoodBytes in particular, but it always seems to catch me limping in and sends me home energized and refreshed. These two days turned out to be no different.
I am so incredibly fortunate to do what I do. To work in support of passionate entrepreneurs who are giving everything they have to change the way we feed the world. How can I possibly feel sorry for myself or allow a bit of travel to wear me down?
The first day of FoodBytes, I spent the morning with the twenty pitch companies in mentor sessions helping them think of new creative ways to reach their ideal customer or consumer. We did this in small groups, and the conversations were lively, brilliant, and just plain fun!
That afternoon I spent in pitch rehearsals. Each of the twenty companies mounted the stage and gave their best 1.5-minute or 3.5-minute pitch. They received immediate feedback from the judges and us mentors circulated around the room offering our thoughts, suggested revisions, and encouragement.
The next day, the pitch companies were encouraged to book private meetings with the mentors. My dance card was full. How cool was that? In those private meetings, we spoke in detail about growth and go-to-market. We reviewed last-minute deck revisions and discussed the key messaging that needed to be included in their pitch. That afternoon, as they stood on stage, they were the stars and I felt like a proud parent, witnessing the progress they made from one day to the next.
After the winners were announced, all in attendance, pitch companies, mentors, judges, investors, and industry luminaries, joined for a cocktail reception. 48-hours ago, these entrepreneurs were strangers. Yet now, as I strolled drink in hand, we greeted each other with hugs, smiles, and genuine affection. There is something special about an event that has that kind of power.
As I write this article, it is Sunday afternoon and I am once again on a plane. This time however, I don’t feel in the least bit drained. Nope, I just feel excited, invigorated, and extraordinarily blessed to be doing this for a living. Thank you FoodBytes family, I needed you last week.