What I learned from hanging out in the exhibit hall at TMEA (instead of avoiding it)!

Good morning and Happy Tuesday! 

Last week, I attended the Texas Music Educator's Association (TMEA) conference in San Antonio and had a GREAT time! I love catching up with friends and seeing presentations and performances, and also learning about new products on the market for musicians. 

I love to network and chat with people, and to connect with people I haven't seen in FOREVER, but I usually avoid the exhibit halls like the plague. 

They're loud, crowded, busy and even though they're usually MASSIVE, I always feel kind of claustrophobic.

I had even considered setting up shop (or holding court as I have been calling it) outside of the exhibit hall to catch people as they entered or exited the exhibit hall because of my desire to avoid. 

Weirdly though, I spent most of my time IN the exhibit halls this year. 

I guess its perhaps not THAT weird, but for someone who has historically been fairly disinterested in the "gear" and "gimmicks"  for my instruments, it was weird. 

By hanging out in the exhibit hall this year, I learned a whole bunch of new things which I am excited to share with you all over the coming weeks. The biggest takeaway from this year though?

Everyone in that hall, behind those exhibits were there making their career work for them in a totally unique and awesome way.

For many of the exhibitors, they had created products to solve a unique problem they saw in their world. You look around the hall and realise that there is so much more that goes on behind what we all do, and that there are ENDLESS possibilities for us in our own careers. 

These exhibitors had spent time identifying WHAT it was that someone was struggling with, and HOW they could create something to resolve it. They saw a pain point, an opportunity to help, and created a solution. 

This is one of my own personal challenges to myself. I even have a post-it note stuck to my computer that says "What is your biggest problem, and how can I help solve it?" see?!

 
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Its a well loved, not-at-all-subtle post-it, but its a daily challenge to myself to be thinking bigger than my immediate space. 

Anyway, after spending time in the exhibit hall this year, I realised that by avoiding these places in the past, I had missed even greater opportunities than just seeing the products being showcased. I had missed opportunities to connect with some AMAZING musical entrepreneurs. 

So, over the next few weeks, I'm going to share a few of these stories with you. Not only because these products are SO COOL, but also because I was inspired by these incredibly exciting, young, music based entrepreneurs and I know you will be too. 

I'm also going to fill you in on a couple of my other discoveries from TMEA about continuing to grow my own career, and hopefully these experiences will get you thinking creatively about your career too!

The moral of today's post? Put yourself in uncomfortable, (sometimes claustrophobic) environments, and figure out what you can learn from the people in those spaces. You might surprise yourself!