Six days ago I left for Portland and the 9th International Symposium on Environmental Concerns in Rights-of-Way Management (ROW9). This event rolls around about every four years and is the only professional conference specifically addressing environmental issues affecting linear facilities (pipelines, power lines, etc.). Consequently, we have been active in the leadership of this conference for years and send as many as six of our staff to present papers at the symposium.
Last December, I was recruited to step in as the "acting" Chair of the ROW9 steering committee. Soon after that, "Acting Chair" became "Chair" because who would want that job? I agreed because I value the symposium, have tremendous respect for some of the people on the steering committee, and appreciate the value of this event to the industry (and, at the rate things were going, this may well have been the last one, so someone had to do something).
I have never done anything like this in my life, and it was a scary learning experience, but the upshot is that it was by all accounts a rousing success - we had about 350 paid attendees (which amazes the hell out of me since the economy has been so bad) and we were able to bring in a number of well-done research and case study papers this year.
As intimidating as some people find it to speak in public, or to stick their neck out at a major professional event, I found having to be "on" all of the time to be more of a challenge. Opening the event is easy -- but being energetic and interested at the end-of-the-day mixer, and then going out to dinner with a client after that, and putting in two more full days is Another Thing Altogether...
I proved to myself once again that I am no extrovert; I can bluff it for awhile, but eventually I have to retreat to my cave and gather back my energy.
I am really happy it all went well and our staff's papers were well received, and now with the momentum from ROW9, I am certain we'll have a ROW10 that is bigger and better, but for at least the next couple of days, I plan to pull back into my shell and keep to myself for awhile.