What Adrienne learned from getting to ABAicon18 way later than everyone else: It won’t be what you think

I can’t believe it is over a week since I returned from San Diego where I attended the ABAi annual convention and Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies annual meeting. Unlike previous years, I missed the initial days of the convention, arriving at the airport late on Sunday evening after taking a red-eye from New York following my brother’s wedding. Two cross-country flights, less than 12 hours of sleep in 72 hours, a family wedding, and a whirlwind 2 days of networking, meetings and meet-ups left me exhausted for days. While expending what felt like 3 weeks worth of energy in a few days may not be something I initially planned, I knew going in that this convention was going to be different.

Each year I attend ABAi I find that I learn a great deal I didn’t expect to learn. This year was no exception. And so keeping with tradition I present:

What I learned from getting to ABAicon18 way later than everyone else: It won’t be what you think

Less was definitely more
At some point during each of my previous convention visits I stopped going to presentations to head out on walks in the host city or for meals and drinks with colleagues. Making the most of my trips meant trying to balance checking out the area with spending time with others, presenting AND going to other events. This year, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I didn’t have to worry about trying to do it all. With only one full day at the convention, I had less to choose from presentation wise, less pressure to visit the city, and for the first time in a while, went to the conference as simply an attendee (I was actually a presenter as well but participated in the panel I committed to via web conference before my plane took off from NY). The benefit? I got A LOT out of the presentations. In the future, I may sign up for only one day of the convention and work everything else around it.

It pays to find the hidden gems
I gave myself one rule during my day at ABAi, don’t waste time running between the hotels that the presentations were held in. I stayed in the hotel that housed many of the OBM, theory, and EAB presentations. What a surprise to find that tucked in between all the other presentations were hidden gems presented by people I have been following for years and people whose work I never read. These weren’t the packed rooms with people seated along the walls but most of them should have been. I feel honored to have attended them and have already had meaningful post-event conversations with a number of the presenters.

If you miss a day or two or even skip the convention one year you will be okay
I wasn’t sure I would be. ABAi is a big event for me and for my business. My presentation was also scheduled for the day of the wedding! Leading up to the evening I flew out to San Diego, I made every effort to focus on the festivities leading up to the gorgeous, fabulous, wonderful wedding day, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t checking in once in a while on social media to see what people were up to in San Diego. While I was quite convinced that I would miss something crucial, in the end, missing out on most of the convention wasn’t a bad thing at all. I wonder if we should all take a break from it once in a while. (Or maybe they are forcing us all to take a break? Anyone else wondering why 2020 and 2022 are missing from convention schedule when 2021 and 2023 are scheduled? I have no intel. Just getting it in there because there was no place else to put it.) I am already planning on being at ABAi next year, but I am taking my family and making it more of a visit to Chicago as opposed to a marathon that I need to train for. (Sneak peek – next year’s post will be titled “What I learned at ABAicon19 by bringing my children: It is exactly what you would think”).

People didn’t read my post about what I learned at ABAi2016
I said it then and I will say it again. Carry cards please! Actually I recommended people tell their graduate students to carry cards. Now I am recommending everyone pack a nice set of business cards with them and carry them with you.  There were a few people who didn’t have them who I would have loved to touch base with in the future. Now, embarrassingly enough, I can’t remember their names. I promise, cards are less clumsy that trying to exchange contact info using phones that have only 7% battery left that the phone owner is trying to conserve so they can get a Uber. Alright, maybe that particular scenario didn’t happen (it totally could have) but the message is the same. Carry cards. If you are not convinced here is my public service announcement for the year. Awkward phone users with three different lenses* in their progressive glasses who don’t want to hold their phone up close to their face to enter in your contact information because it kills the moment will thank you if you could just hand them your card. Just sayin’… for a friend… 🙂

(*Oh yes…three. I don’t wear fabulous glasses to make a style statement. I need sturdy frames to keep my lenses close to my eyes so I can see.)