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Musings about the ATA conference in Orlando November 9, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings, Translation Sites.

Greetings from sunny Florida, where I have deliberately tacked on an extra day after the conference to my trip. The original plan was to go to Epcot, but the more I thought about it the more sense it made to simply lay around by the pool and relax. I’ve been to Epcot and enjoyed it, but it’s expensive and frankly I am exhausted after two consecutive days of very late nights and very early mornings. This night owl isn’t used to getting up early, and I closed the hotel bar two nights in a row and woke up very early for two consecutive mornings to drive friends to the airport.

My first ATA conference was Atlanta in 2002, and I haven’t missed one since. They are very addictive for numerous reasons – the biggest one being the pleasure of being around intelligent, like-minded people. I don’t necessarily go there to meet new clients or learn something new, but it inevitably happens. I was mulling over everything I learned at this conference and thought it might be fun to share it with you all in bullet form.

What I learned at the ATA conference:

  • I met a lot of great new people and was able to put lots of faces with names.
  • The hotel bar (and/or hotel pool) is the best place to get to know people.
  • I enjoyed visiting with old friends. Ted Wozniak, Michael Wahlster and Susanne Aldridge (III) are absolutely hilarious and fabulous people to hang out with. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Every lunch, dinner and drinks in the bar with them or a combination thereof as well as anyone else who ended up joining us was an absolute joy.
  • I need to schedule a lunch or dinner with Jost next time. I really wanted to talk to him more than I was able to.
  • No matter how hard I try I will never be able to spend as much time as I want with everyone I want to spend time with.
  • Being the only sober one in the hotel bar at 1 a.m. because you have to drive to your off-site hotel can be quite amusing, because you can sit back and soak in the drama and heightened emotions of the artificial conference setting and alcohol-induced behavior.
  • I’m staying in the conference hotel next year – damn the cost. Drinking one or two drinks and then just ginger ale ensures you can function after four hours of sleep, but it isn’t as fun. Plus you should try to get to the morning yoga session, because it is apparently very invigorating.
  • I will be doing yoga every day at home from now on to try to loosen my taut muscles. And Nina G.’s suggestion of two-hour massages every two weeks is also going to be a serious consideration.
  • The massage therapist in the Exhibit Hall taught me some easy ways to loosen the muscle in my forearm and get rid of the tendonitis. She was shocked how tight it was all the way down to my wrist.
  • I will be buying a T-Mobile Dash this week, because they are really cool. Three of my friends had one, and I was able to test it out.
  • Thea Dohler’s presentations were just as good if not better than I have always heard they are. Thanks to her time management seminar, I learned how to manage my time better and schedule my work based on my biorhythms. Her Attracting Clients from Germany seminar gave me some very useful tips for approaching German direct clients.
  • The one session you are really looking forward to may not be at all what you expected. I should have really read the session description for the social networking session closer, because I assumed it was something it was not.
  • I will be submitting a proposal on social networking tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (in this case urging it not to be used for business purposes) for next year’s conference. It gives me a year to really study how they can be beneficial to translators. Judy Jenner and I will most likely present it together.
  • I will also be submitting a proposal for a session with Susanne (and hopefully Marita) about optical character recognition, ABBYY FineReader and other OCR tools, and word count tools.
  • Presenting two sessions is just enough. Any more than that is pure insanity. I really enjoyed doing a preconference session and the first session, because I could enjoy the other sessions without worrying about my presentation overlapping with a session I really want to attend.
  • It is much better to present with someone else, because I easily forget to mention things and the co-presenter can chime in with a brilliant insight that might not have been mentioned otherwise. Corinne McKay is really good at that. It also livens things up.
  • We will be having another blogger lunch again next year. It was a really fun lunch. I’ll be posting my photos later, because I forgot to bring a cable to upload them from my camera and my laptop is so antiquated it doesn’t have a suitable photo card drive.
  • Wearing a t-shirt to advertise your blog is a waste of time. I felt sloppy, and people looked at me funny. Or I will plan ahead better and really get a sharp t-shirt that has the graphic as it is in the header of the blog and not just the address and a really tiny graphic that can’t be recognized.
  • Reservations for lunch or dinner should always be for a (much) higher number than originally planned because your friends invite two friends who invite two friends and so on and so on…
  • I’m going to let others organize the lunches and dinners, because I don’t handle change or delays well. As a double Virgo (Sun and rising sign in Virgo), I can become quite cranky, irritable, and nervous when things don’t go as planned and others are surprised when I do so and don’t realize I get over it again quite quickly. And it spoils the mood somewhat.
  • I will be adding graphics of the book covers I have translated to my web site.
  • I will be posting several of my LinkedIn references on my web site’s References page.
  • I will be tweaking my web site a little better to attract German clients.
  • I need to market more to direct clients.
  • I need to work more on focusing on the person I am talking to and really concentrating on what they say. When I did that I found it much more rewarding.
  • Bring ear plugs to the conference dance, because the music is simply too loud to enjoy without them. I would have loved to stay longer and actually dance, but my ears hurt.
  • Don’t expect to eat well at the division receptions unless they are off-site. Hotel-catered receptions suck. And if you can’t eat cheese or drink lots of wine they suck even more. Think of the attendance fee as a networking/advertising expense and not as payment for the “refreshments.”
  • Harangue your friends to stay for the conference dance, because it isn’t as fun without anyone to dance with.
  • Consider staying until Monday. After four days of networking and being “on” it feels wonderful to just relax and do nothing. I had a nice chat with several folks by the conference hotel pool this morning. I also loved sitting by the seafood restaurant in my hotel facing the fountain with a good book and several banana coladas and having a blue heron try to beg for some of my seafood. It also allowed me to take a much-needed nap by the pool and then in my room at my hotel this afternoon.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that have sprung to mind so far today. I’ll be going into more detail about several of these list items in the coming weeks.


1. Corinne McKay - November 10, 2008

Great post! And I agree, this conference was definitely one of the top two I have attended (New Orleans is just hard to beat!). I agree about having a great co-presenter (that’s you!), I thought the seminar went really well. Have a safe trip home!

2. Susanne Aldridge III - November 10, 2008

While I haven’t seen your presentation this year, I really enjoyed it last year. You two are a great team. And once you get your Dash, check in with me to learn the little tricks that make it even better (and less expensive) – for example here on Howard’s Forum. Just don’t play around with your phone all the time, or people may get upset with you *cough*

3. Melissa - November 10, 2008

It sounds like you had a great time! It was nice to see you in real life, even just for a minute. This was a fun conference, although I was often torn between doing things with my family versus taking advantage of all the great opportunities to network and have fun at the conference.

Agree with you on the point about staying in the conference hotel. I think it’s usually worth the expense, although something within walking distance would be ok, too. It’s just so convenient to be able to dash upstairs to stow your bag, grab a jacket, brush your hair or whatever.

Anyway, back to real life … and work!

4. Abigail - November 11, 2008

I just wanted to stop by and say that it was lovely seeing you and the other bloggers again in Orlando. I very much enjoyed the blog lunch and would love to see it become a regular feature of the conference. Hope you are settling back into the routine again after the extended break.

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