Friday, June 14, 2024

Published on Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Has It Really Been This Long?

Nomadic InstandIn January, I will be celebrating 34 years of being involved in the trade show industry. Yep, in January of 1983, I was introduced to the Nomadic Instand. The Instand, according to Exhibitor Magazine was one of the “10 Ideas That Changed the Trade Show Industry”.


If I would’ve known 34 years later I would still be involved with that same product, along with a library of different types of useful tools and services, I would’ve committed myself, right then and there.


I have always loved what I do. I loved my customers and making them happy. After all, Prairie would not be here without them. Sure, there were and still are, bumps, blips and challenges - what industry or line of work doesn’t? Maybe the challenge is what keeps me coming back every day. That, and the fact that my wife would’ve kicked me out of the house years ago.


Trade show floorI also enjoy sharing what I’ve learned, especially with those who are new to the business, on the industry or client side. When I step back and begin to appreciate the practical knowledge gained over the years, it’s like being an expert safe-cracker who relies on his experience and gut feeling to break the combination.


Given enough information, time, a dedicated internal team and a carefully selected group of vendor/partners, I feel anything, within reason, can be accomplished.


Best practicesBest practices are important too. They are important for staying the course and being your best. Take what I have written below, for what they are: habits, actions and behaviors that just seem to make sense.


-Get to your desk or work space early. It’s amazing how much you can get done before everyone else comes in, the phone starts ringing or the emails are flying. My father had an amazing work ethic. He instilled that in me.


Sales time-Have a client meeting? Be at least 5 minutes early. If you’re actually earlier, stop in at a neighboring business to drop off your business card. I found a valuable, long-time customer this way.


-Have a mentor. Find someone who has been doing what you do, but longer. Talk to or email them frequently. Ask their opinion of what they would do in certain situations. My mentor has been gone a number of years now. I still remember some of the great advice he sent my way. Being 5 minutes early was one. He actually had his watch set ahead 5 minutes. He called it “sales time”.


-Join and be active in  two professional organizations. Interaction with existing or potential customers should be the focus of one organization, while the other should be one that helps you expand your skills and knowledge of your industry and profession. A LinkedIn group doesn’t count as a professional organization.


Chicago bike path-Have a hobby. Do something for pure enjoyment that has nothing to do with what you do on a daily basis. You don’t have to do it every day, but try to do it as often as you can.


-Make time for family and friends. If you don’t, your family will start to forget who you are and the number of friends will start to dwindle. Maybe if you come in early, you don’t have to stay late? Look at your calender. Make dates with your wife/significant other in advance. Most importantly, keep them.


-Take a class. Your local community college has some great continuing education or adult enrichment classes. Subjects are varied, the tuition is affordable and best of all, you don’t have to worry about grades. My mentor was the one who reminded me that learning should be a lifelong pursuit.


-Walk, when you can. We are fortunate enough to live in a town where I can easily walk a few blocks to a store, restaurant or post office. If you do need to drive to your destination, park a little farther than you think you need to. Every step counts.


-Smile. Laugh, too. As much as you can.


There are many others, but here is one I learned a few weeks ago.


Toastmasters logoAt a Toastmasters training session, a presenter made this statement about “excuses”:


“Excuses are the tools of incompetents that build monuments to nothingness and those that use them seldom accomplish anything.”


This quote has been attributed to many famous people, including Benjamin Franklin. She said it several times during her presentation to drive the point home.


Poor Richard's Almanack“Excuses are the tools of incompetents that build monuments to nothingness and those that use them seldom accomplish anything.”


Something to think about the next time you hit a bump, blip or challenge.


I know I’ve made my share of excuses over the past 34 years but I don’t see any monuments around, so I must have kept them to a minimum.


Here’s to an exciting, busy and challenging 2017. No excuses here.


Steve Moskal


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Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

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Full biography

Steve’s journey in the trade show and event world started in 1983 with one of the original Nomadic Display sales organizations in North America. In 1994, he co-founded Prairie Display/Chicago.

Steve was an Allied Board Member of TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) from 2007 to 2011 and recipient of the TSEA President’s Award in 2009. He also served as Financial Chair of the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (formerly the Chicago chapter of TSEA) and as a commissioner with the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 2011 to 2016. Currently he is Vice President of Education for the Addison/Elmhurst, IL Toastmasters Club.

When not working with customers and co-workers at Prairie, you can find him trying to spend more time biking and pursuing other creative endeavors. Steve lives in Oak Brook, IL with his beautiful and equally understanding wife of 26 years, Shelley.

Steve is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a B.A. in Journalism and a Fine Arts minor.


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