Derek & Scott Chat About the CMEpalooza Agenda

We’ve had some good blog posts and we’ve had some bad blog posts, but I’m not sure that we’ve ever had a blog post with a more riveting title than this. I mean, just take a moment and read it aloud. “Derek & Scott Chat About the CMEpalooza Agenda.” Wow. Can you feel the excitement?

I don’t have too much more to say about this, really. The title pretty much covers it. It’s a 12-minute video of Scott and I talking about the CMEpalooza agenda. Why are we talking about the agenda? Well, we have a number of sessions this time around that are weirder different formats than we have had in the past and thought it might be helpful if we gave a little more description as to what to expect. What is CME Mythbusters? What are Casual Conversations in CME (if you’re like me, you may be disappointed to find out that it does not involve people sitting around in smoking jackets with snifters of brandy, talking about which level of outcome they find most charming)? Tune in to the video to find out!

Beat the Summertime Blues with the CMEpalooza Archive

Folks, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s hot out there. I mean real hot. It’s so hot, I cracked an egg on my sidewalk and it jumped up and ran away. It’s so hot, planets are starting to orbit around us. It’s so hot, my pet camel asked to go back to the desert to cool off. It’s hot.

My advice? Just stay inside. Don’t even bother to go outside. What’s the point? You’ll be sweating so much, the sidewalk will look like a fire at Madame Tussauds. You’ll be sweating so much, Captain Ahab will shoot a harpoon at you. You’ll be sweating so much, the Coast Guard will put up “No Wake Zone” signs behind you as you walk. You’ll be sweating a lot.

What’s that you ask? What can you do with all your free time while lounging around inside in the cool A/C? Well, just mosey on over to the newly updated CMEpalooza archive, where you can find hours and hours of free (FREE!) educational (and entertaining!) videos that you can watch to your heart’s content. I suppose you could binge watch old episode’s of Bob Ross’s “Joy of Painting” on Netflix like Scott does every night (that dude loves painting happy little trees), but why do that when you can binge watch over 50 episodes of CMEpalooza?

Every session from every iteration of CMEpalooza is now available for your viewing pleasure. That includes 2 PechaKucha/Puntua Lortu sessions, 4 QI sessions, 13 sessions on educational design, and 18 sessions on outcomes! What more could you ask for? (Don’t say a pony. My daughter has already asked for one and those things are expensive. I have a small backyard. Where would I put it?)

So grab your favorite internet viewing device, mix up a tropical drink with a little umbrella in it, find the nearest chaise lounge, and prepare to spend a little quality time inside with the CMEpalooza archive. You’ll be so glad you did, you might even start painting some of your own happy little trees.

Exposing the Lies About Sponsoring CMEpalooza Fall

In this cycle of “he said/she said” divisiveness where tall tales linger around every corner, it can be extremely difficult separating truth from all the lies. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, Derek and I have been slandered with CMEpalooza sponsor-related rumor and innuendo, and much as we hate to rake muck with the dregs of society, we feel that’s it’s time to speak up. Most of this information you can find for yourself on our Sponsor tab, but to save you time and energy, I’ll do the dirty work for you.

Here is the truth behind the vicious lies:

  1. You have one – and only one — sponsorship option. Baloney! There are three primary levels of sponsorship for CMEpalooza Fall – gold, silver, and bronze. As you move up the rungs, you get more for your money. We also offer sponsorship of our CMEpalooza text line and are always open to other innovative sponsorship suggestions (though we’ve never gotten one of those… yet). You can find out all of the specific details in our short Sponsor prospectus.
  2. All of the premier levels of sponsorship are gobbled up quickly. Bollocks! While we have 1 Gold and 4 Silver sponsors locked in for CMEpalooza Fall, there are currently sponsorship opportunities at every level. It’s all there for the taking people!
  3. No reputable organizations sponsor CMEpalooza. Poppycock! I guess it’s up to you to determine how “reputable” our sponsors truly are, but the 19 organizations who have currently aligned themselves with our Fall event come from a variety of different segments of our industry. They can’t all be flimflam artists, can they?
  4. If you don’t sponsor CMEpalooza at least 3 months prior to each event, you’ve lost your chance at visibility. Malarkey! While the sooner you confirm your sponsorship with us, the sooner you get listed on our Sponsor site, we regularly attempt to drive traffic to all of our sponsors. Of course, the most eyes come on the day of our CMEpalooza broadcasts themselves, so even coming in the day before will give you plenty of visibility.
  5. You guys don’t do anything creative to drive attention to your sponsors. Preposterous! Surely you remember our Fun Fact Challenge from the Spring where we gave away nearly $400 in Amazon gift cards. For the Fall (big announcement alert), we’ve got the Sponsor Scavenger Hunt coming up. Details coming later. It’ll be like that Pokemon thingie, but better (note from Derek: My 12-year-old strongly disagrees).
  6. It’s too hard to sponsor CMEpalooza. Horsefeathers! In fact, nothing could be easier. Just send Derek or I an email indicating which level of sponsorship you are interested in committing to and we’ll let you know what information we need from you (ie, company logo, description, etc.). For many sponsors, they make the formal commitment and have their sponsorship up on our site the same day. Yeah, yeah, we’re good like that.
  7. It’s too expensive to sponsor CMEpalooza. Rubbish! Our bronze-level sponsorships cost only $500 – that’s $1.37 a day for 1 year. I mean, really people.

I hope that was helpful. Naysayers, consider yourselves exposed.

Turning the Page and Turning Your Attention (to Us)

When the calendar moves over into August, it’s often a bittersweet time. Yes, it’s still summer, but you can see the warning lights on the horizon – the nights are getting shorter, your favorite baseball team has thrown in the towel on another season, and the “BACK TO SCHOOL SALE: YOUR CHILD NEEDS THIS $75 LUNCHBOX OR ELSE HE’LL GET BEATEN UP AT RECESS!” flyers start to jam your mailbox.

From a work perspective, August’s arrival means that things are soon going to get serious again. No longer is your inbox going to be filled with messages that read, “I am currently on vacation and will not be checking email for the next month. I know you probably have a deadline you need to meet, but it’s the summertime, pal. I’m well into my 5th margarita of the day. Go away.” Instead, things will actually start to get done again, which is admittedly kinda nice.

Here at CMEpalooza headquarters, we’ll soon be saying goodbye to the lifeguards at our rooftop Olympic-sized pool as we start getting serious about our Fall meeting. Fortunately, we’ve been getting ready for a while. Unlike many other folks, the summertime is not “shut-it-down” time for us, not with our crack summer interns yearning to stuff more envelopes, send more Snapchats, and find every friggin’ Pokemon that they can on our expansive, 300-acre campus.

Here is what you have been missing in the last few weeks while applying your SPF 80:

  • Our Fall agenda is out. We’re trying out a bunch of new formats and bringing to you a cadre of new presenters. It’s gonna be awesome.
  • The deadline for our Puntua Lortu session has passed. Derek is busy qualifying and quantifying the merits of the thousands of submissions he received. You should soon see who has been lucky enough to be chosen.
  • Our Sponsor page is filling up. We’re up to 1 Gold sponsor, 3 Silver sponsors (1 more is coming soon), and 13 Bronze sponsors (several more to be added shortly). Believe it or not, sponsorships remain available at every level, though if you are interested in joining us at one of our more premier levels, there are only a few spots left. More coming soon on sponsorships, and our special plans to provide added exposure for those organizations wise enough to align themselves with CMEpalooza with a neat little activity in September.
  • Our Archive is bigger than ever. You can view and learn from every session that has ever been presented at CMEpalooza in its history. For free. Whenever you want.

Harnessing the Power of Introverts

NOTE: Portions of the blog post below were originally used in an August 2014 CMEpalooza newsletter that approximately five people read. You can call it self-plagiarism if you want, but if Donald Trump, Jr’s speechwriter doesn’t have a problem with it, then I don’t have a problem with it, either.

In Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts, she postulates that 30-40% of the members of any audience would identify himself or herself as an introvert. That’s not a small percentage. Now, think about the primary methods most conferences still use for audience engagement with the faculty. At smaller sessions, you raise your hand; at larger meetings you go up to the nearest mic and wait your turn. Either way, a certain amount of aggression is needed to get your question asked and you’re required to talk in front of an audience. Many of you are able to do this without a second thought and have little difficulty with hopping up in front of a crowd of people to ask a question. It is a method that definitely favors the communication style of the extroverts in the audience.

But for that 30-40% introvert audience, getting up in front of a group of people and asking a question is just not going to happen. It’s not. It’s not that we don’t have questions (yes, I’m including myself in this group) – we often do – but if the only way we can get it asked is by being put in a spotlight with everyone around us waiting to hear what we have to say, well, we’ll just wait until later and figure out a different way to find an answer, thanks. To be fair, more and more meetings I attend are starting to include alternative means for audience interaction, such as notecards for questions or the ability to send in questions via an iPad. But in general, most of the engagement still comes via live questions, and that’s fine. Live conferences cater to an extroverted audience, which is understandable since that is the dominant cohort.

One of the (many) things I love about CMEpalooza is that it is a haven for introverts. You can attend a day-long conference without ever leaving the comfort of your home, office, or home office. You don’t need to arrive early to grab a “good” seat (i.e. in the back) and then spend the next 15 minutes looking at your phone in order to avoid awkward small talk with the person next to you. No walks through the exhibit hall to refill your coffee, avoiding eye contact with any of the exhibitors you see watching you out of the corner of your eye. And no standing up in front of a crowd of people to ask a question. You can ask questions, sure – just not in the usual “stand-up and be recognized” manner.

During every version of CMEpalooza, we have three designated methods for the audience to ask questions: the Google Hangout Q&A app, #cmepalooza hashtag on Twitter, and our text line. All three have worked well for us and provide a means for our audience to engage with our faculty.

Moving beyond just the audience, we have found that the Google Hangouts format has appealed to some of our more introverted presenters, as well. The thought of standing up in front of a live audience, regardless of how large or small, and delivering a presentation can be very intimidating to some. I’ve talked a number of people into presenting at CMEpalooza simply by reminding them that there’s no audience to look at or to look at you. The only people you will see is me (or Scott, which is another issue entirely, but I digress) and the other presenters. That has proven to be a comfort to some and I’ve been pleased that we have had a few “first-time” presenters participate in what they felt was a manageable environment for them.

I’ll close with a reminder that we are still accepting abstracts for our Puntua Lortu session at CMEpalooza Fall. If you are someone who has been looking for an opportunity to present in a casual, low-stress environment, I’d encourage you to consider submitting an abstract. The due date for abstracts is July 29, so don’t wait too long!

A Little Something to Get Your Blood Boiling

Poor Derek.

There are few things in life that get him excited – the prospect of his beloved Philadelphia 76ers winning more than 20 games this season, a 24-hour Quantum Leap marathon on the Sci-Fi Network, signing a petition to remove green clovers from boxes of Lucky Charms.

And Puntua Lortu. Don’t forget that.

In case you have been sleeping (or ignoring us), Puntua Lortu is Derek’s CMEpalooza pet project. Introduced as Pecha Kucha last fall and then reborn as Puntua Lortu in the spring, it’s our session where presenters are put under the heat lamp and asked to do a lightning-round presentation with 20 slides that auto-advance every 20 seconds.

It’s 6 minutes of your life that you’ll never forget… if you dare to be bold enough (queue the eerie Scooby Doo music).

But the session only happens if people stand up and are willing to give it a go. We’re still looking for a few abstracts to fill out our Fall roster, and you’ve got until July 29 (that’s next Friday) to cobble something together. What’s a good topic? I dunno – that’s up to you. Something that is simple and straightforward and compelling. Tell a story. Do an impression. Pantomime.

Surely you’ve seen all of the other cool people involved and interesting topics we’ll be talking about at our Fall event. Join us, and them. Before Derek starts crying again and curling up in a fetal position. It’s not pretty – trust me.

Click here to submit your Puntua Lortu abstract

We STILL Want You to Puntua Lortu

A month ago I wrote a blog post announcing that we were accepting abstracts from people interested in presenting a Puntua Lortu session at CMEpalooza Fall. I established a due date of July 1…and then proceeded to not mention it again for the next four weeks. Really dumb.

I’ve done this enough now that I know how it works. You have to remind people of deadlines with the frequency and intensity of my dog (Barkley the Labradoodle. No, he’s not named after Barkley from Sesame Street. Yes, he’s named after Charles.) watching me eat pizza.


The deadline came and went, and we still have some openings for the Puntua Lortu. We still have plenty of time until CMEpalooza Fall (Wednesday, October 19 in case you forgot), so I’d like to try this again. The new deadline for submitting an abstract for our Puntua Lortu session is July 29. We are looking for at least three more people to do a Puntua Lortu, so if you have any interest, go ahead and submit an abstract or contact me with any questions.

Here are the details:

  1. What is a Puntua Lortu? It is our version of a Pecha Kucha. You can read more details about the format and the name here. My fake Basque grandfather implores you.
  2. No really, what is it? Sigh. It’s a presentation format where you get 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, and the slides automatically advance. You can see some fantastic examples from CMEpalooza Spring 2016 and Fall 2015.
  3. What do you need from me? If you are interested in presenting a Puntua Lortu at CMEpalooza Fall, we need you to submit an abstract here.
  4. What topic should I present on? Anything related to CME. The more creative the better.
  5. When is it? CMEpalooza Fall is October 19 (another reminder) and the Puntua Lortu session will begin at 4 p.m. ET. You can view the full agenda for our Fall event here.

These sessions are always a lot of fun and you can be as serious or as silly as you want (I’m not kidding. Last time we had someone who did part of his presentation in the voice of Yoda and another person who ended his presentation by flicking on his lighter and raising it in tribute like it was 1990 and Poison had just started playing the opening notes to Every Rose Has Its Thorn. It was great.) If you want to run your idea past me before submitting an abstract, feel free to shoot me an email.

Click here to submit a CME Puntua Lortu abstract. Click here to submit a CME Puntua Lortu abstract. Click here to submit a CME Puntua Lortu abstract. Click here to submit a CME Puntua Lortu abstract. Click here to submit a CME Puntua Lortu abstract.

The Wild World of Educational Design

For those of us who live and die by the fickle nature of grant applications/approvals/rejections, designing potential educational initiatives is both an exciting and frustrating endeavor.

Exciting because we get to put on our creative hats, map out new approaches to educating healthcare providers, and collaborate with colleagues to come up with innovative solutions that (hopefully) will improve patient care.

Frustrating because if these proposals are not funded, well, we all know what happens. The ideas die on the vine, never to see the light of day. There are few things more frustrating in our industry than proposals which take weeks to put together, all amounting to nothing. My virtual trash can is full of these.

And then there are simply some ideas that are “not fundable” either because they focus on an educational area that is too niched and for which funding is unavailable, or because the design is so unique that no one would take a chance on funneling money into something whose outcome is largely unpredictable.

This isn’t me whining (OK, maybe just a little), but rather a little bit of insight into why serving as the co-producer of CMEpalooza is so professionally energizing.

My proposals always get approved! I can implement every new idea I want to!

As long as I make sure to ply Derek with his monthly supply of Fifth Avenue bars, I always get the same reply to every kooky idea I come up with – “Well, if you think it will work, I guess it’s fine with me.”

Those of you who have looked over the Agenda for CMEpalooza Fall that we first put out earlier this week were presumably dazzled with the variety of approaches we’re trying out (and if you weren’t, just pretend please). Really, there are currently only 2 “traditional” CMEpalooza sessions on the agenda with a moderator and a group of panelists, and even these have unique twists. For the others, we’re either trying out something new or improving upon something previously piloted in earlier Paloozas.

This is the kind of stuff that makes our careers interesting. I mean really, after maybe 3 times of getting a group of faculty together to talk about “New and Emerging Therapies for Treatment of Disease XX,” the same old/same old can get pretty dull.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing with everyone more details on some of our new educational designs for CMEpalooza Fall, giving insight into what we were thinking when we came up with each idea and how we envision things playing out. Undoubtedly, the vision in our mind isn’t exactly how each session will truly come together – that’s the unpredictable nature of education – but we’re hopeful that we have the right people in place to make everything work and keep people interested in watching.

Now Presenting… Our Fall Agenda

A few months before every iteration of CMEpalooza, Derek and I organize a brainstorming session in a secret location a few miles off the Amalfi Coast. It’s in a cave. Underwater. You’d never find it in a million years.

But I digress.

Our agenda during this session is rigorous – we each bring mounds of spreadsheets, cases of 5-Hour Energy shots, and enough technological might to power a small country (like Liechtenstein, for example). By the end of the day, we’re both exhausted, but during these powwows, we’ve always managed to accomplish what we intended to and put in motion the plans for our next event.

Subsequently over the course of the next few months, things start coming together. Emails are sent, invitations are proffered, negotiations are carefully massaged with agents, sponsors, and all of the major networks. It’s a full-time job (and yes, we have other full-time jobs, too)

I won’t lie – planning for this fall was perhaps the toughest challenge yet. With a variety of new session formats and twice as many faculty as we’ve ever had for a previous Palooza, there were a lot of bumps to overcome.

But overcome we did. Overcome we did.

And so without further ado…


(Clearing throat) Hear ye, hear ye… On behalf of the esteemed CMEpalooza planning committee, we are proud to present the agenda for CMEpalooza Fall 2016 (click the link, dummy).

You’ll be hearing more about each of our sessions in the coming weeks, including what we were thinking when we chose the topic and format, who the people are that you’ll see in front of the camera, and all the way that things might (but won’t) blow up in our faces.

Needless to say, we’re excited about the Fall meeting. It could either be really cool and interesting, or it could totally blow up in our faces (but it won’t).

Just in case though, I’m going to start pushing #Liechtenstexit.

We want YOU to Puntua Lortu (at CMEpalooza Fall)

Yes, all has been quiet on the CMEpalooza front, but never fear! Our minions have been hard at work behind the scenes starting preparations for CMEpalooza Fall (coming Wednesday, October 19! Save the date now!). Here’s a clip of them I filmed earlier today:

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The agenda is starting to round into shape and I think this is going to be the most fascinating ‘palooza we have ever had, with all sorts of new formats and topics being tackled. I won’t go into too much detail at this point as we are still firming up final topics and faculty, but I can say that we will be doing another CME Puntua Lortu and it is open for anyone to submit an abstract to present. I’ll take your questions in order:

  1. What is a Puntua Lortu? It is our version of a Pecha Kucha. You can read more details about the format and the name here. My fake Basque grandfather implores you.
  2. No really, what is it? Sigh. It’s a presentation format where you get 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, and the slides automatically advance. You can see some fantastic examples from CMEpalooza Spring 2016 and Fall 2015.
  3. What do you need from me? If you are interested in presenting a Puntua Lortu at CMEpalooza Fall, we need you to submit an abstract here.
  4. If I submit an abstract, am I guaranteed a slot in the CMEpalooza Puntua Lortu? No. We have five open slots, and we will review all the abstracts and pick the five we are most interested in. That said, we typically don’t get a lot of proposed sessions for this format, so unless a cavalry of brave CME soldiers appears on the horizon, if you put in a proposal, your chances are reasonably good. But no promises.
  5. What topic should I present on? Anything related to CME. The more creative the better.

We ask that all CME Putua Lortu abstracts be submitted by July 1. After that, we’ll review them and let you know if your abstract has been accepted for a presentation at CMEpalooza Fall. If you have any questions about the format or the abstract process, feel free to ask them in the comments or to send me an email.

Click here to submit a CME Puntua Lortu abstract.