Guilty as charged: I’m a huge Beatles fan. I grew up knowing every song by heart. If I needed someone to listen with me, there was always an older sister available. I could probably turn many dozens of their songs into conference themes; how many song titles can you find on this page?
I want to tell you that I normally don’t bother with themes, because our event is one big magical mystery tour all by itself. But this year, the long and winding road that has been 17 seasons has me thinking of all the ways that people team up to create great presentations.
The word is collaboration and while I’m sure that you think for yourself just fine, we often do better with a bit of help. You won’t see me go it alone—it’s all too much and I need you! There’s a place for solitude but this conference is not it.
Ask me why there are boys and a girl here and another girl there who all return year after year and I will show you how we can work it out better all together now. Every little thing we do at this conference is about the two of us being better than any one of us. Because that’s our ticket to ride, we’ll carry that weight. It was that way yesterday, the night before that, all the days in my life, and so it shall be when I’m 64.
And do you want to know a secret? Just from me to you, it won’t be long until you’re feeling that special something that few other conferences offer. Our motto is simple: any time at all that you need help, you will never hear us say “you can’t do that,” or “don’t bother me.” Our always-open Help Center is well staffed so you’ll never have to wait. And with amazing artists such as Julia Terberg, this will feel like a birthday party, or perhaps a taste of honey.
Yes it is true that for these four days, we will let it all rain down. You’ll feel like you’re flying because what you’re doing is getting better by the minute. A day in the life of a conference patron is such a rich experience, I’ve got a feeling it will seem like eight days a week for you. And because I don’t want to spoil the party, more than a few of you have uttered those words, “hey, here comes the sun.” Yes, what goes on at the conference might make you run for your life, but it’s all part of the helter skelter experience, so just let it be. And when I call your name, don’t let me down—you’ll have plenty of time to say “Good night, I’m so tired” when you get back home after the end. When I get home, most likely I’ll cry instead.
We do all this so you can learn the most important presentation skill of all: to act naturally. I feel fine fixing a hole in any of your slides, with a little help from my friends, of course, and I’m down with the notion that we can all find our best selves here. Across the universe, you won’t find anything quite like these four days.
I want you to know how grateful we are to see you. Baby, it’s you that we do this for! I want to hold your hand through all of it. And if you were to ask me where I’d rather be, the answer is simple: nowhere, man.