The Only Reason You Need to Sponsor CMEpalooza

This is always one of the most challenging blog posts of the year to write. Neither Derek nor I are natural salesmen (especially Derek – his daughter pleaded with him last spring to ask his co-workers to each buy a single box of Thin Mints to support her girl scout troop. She was grounded indefinitely due to “the audacity to make such a preposterous request” [dw note: FAKE NEWS! My daughter has never been part of the girl scouts. The statement about my salesmanship, however, is wholly accurate. Carry on…]).

Meeting folks use all sorts of fancy tricks and numbers to substantiate why sponsors (or more commonly, exhibitors) should spend money to have a presence at their events. Typically, this surrounds attracting attention and potential clients to their organizations, and there is certainly nothing remarkably misleading about this tactic. Hey, we do it too.

So yes, you can look near the end of our Sponsor prospectus to get a sense of the CMEpalooza audience and our annual reach (spoiler alert: it’s a lot of people).

But at its core, the value of CMEpalooza sponsorship is the opportunity to be a part of something that is both valuable to the CME community and, well, fun. Let’s face it – we don’t exactly color within the lines when it comes to some of our promotional efforts. I’m particularly proud of my A Few Good Men parody from 2015 and my mea culpa last fall regarding old leaked audio of a conversation Derek and I had years ago. Derek gets giddy writing his bizarre awesome [dw note: fixed your typo] CMEpalooza haikus.

Last year, we extended some of the fun to sponsor “events” such as #CMEpalooza Challenge and CMEpalooza Bingo!! I have no idea what we’ll have in store as a spring promotional event, but I promise that there will be something and that it will be focused on bringing attention to the good and unique work all of our sponsors do.

Now a few truths:

We can’t promise that if you sponsor CMEpalooza, your business will grow by a guaranteed 20% this year.

We can’t promise that if you sponsor CMEpalooza, you will suddenly be flooded with phone calls saying, “Hey, I read about you guys on the CMEpalooza website and I’m really interested in learning more about your organization.”

We can’t promise that if you sponsor CMEpalooza, you will win Powerball this year.

What we can promise is that you will find your CMEpalooza sponsorship to have some value and that you will be proud to be associated with us. If your business does grow by 20% this year and if you do get that deluge of phone calls and if you do win Powerball, we’ll of course happily take all of the credit (and 20% of your winnings).

All we ask if that you are scratching your head and thinking, “Hmm, maybe…” that you take a gander at our Sponsorship Prospectus. We offer a bunch of different potential goodies – the higher your level of financial support, the more goodie-ness you get (please won’t someone save CMEpalooza Company Spotlight?)

Derek even promises to throw in a free box of Thin Mints for all of this Spring’s sponsors. Once his daughter is allowed out of her room.

The First Curveball of the Year

Technically, pitchers and catchers won’t report for nearly 2 months (it’s a baseball thing in case you are scratching your head and muttering, “Let me guess, another random sports reference? Don’t these guys watch Gilmore Girls?”). And while the first mitts won’t emerge from hibernation until the calendar trickles a little more quickly toward spring, it’s not too soon at CMEpalooza headquarters for us to throw out our first curveball of the year.

Now in truth, Derek and I saw no need to do anything differently with CMEpalooza Spring – I mean, why mess with a good thing? – but our crack team of interns begged and pleaded with us for many months to try something new. If the two of us have learned nothing after a combined 29 years of marriage, it’s how to put the seat down how to listen. So we caved.

Here is how we used to devise our spring agenda:

About this time of year, we would open up a call for abstracts on our website. People would spend many hours talking to colleagues to come up with something that would be eye-catching and worthy of a CMEpalooza session. We’d then open up the abstracts to peer voting, which would put about 7 or 8 sessions on the agenda.

Unfortunately, simply due to the numbers game, there were far more winners than losers, which we know is discouraging and leads people to think they’ve wasted their time coming up with an idea and coaxing their colleagues to join them on the prospective session. We saw interest in coming up with unique ideas for sessions dwindling, which isn’t a good thing. We loved the peer voting process and were determined to find a way to keep it, but we decided to tinker with the submission process.

So here is our new and improved approach in devising our spring agenda:

We have come up with 6 session categories — Accreditation, Industry, Off-the-Wall/Potpourri, Outcomes, Educational Design, and Case-Based Formats — and are in the process of working with some of our most loyal fans to come up with ideas for sessions in each of those categories.

Our hope is that by early February we’ll be able to present to you a slate of options to vote on in each category. These will only be titles and descriptions of the focus of the sessions themselves – there will be no pre-determined faculty, so no one will waste time recruiting folks for sessions that may hit the scrap heap.

The voting process will work in a similar fashion to previous years, except that you will only be able to vote for 1 session in each category. The winning session in each category gets added to the agenda, and the process of recruiting faculty then begins (our interns will be busy).

This approach, we hope, has the added bonus of giving us a more balanced agenda with a greater variety of topics. While there is nothing necessarily wrong about having, say, four sessions focused on Outcomes, we are going to be moving away from that possibility. We understand if you will shed some tears, but we promise that, in the end, we’ll have a better, brighter program for everyone.

Now let’s say you have been sitting on an idea for a CMEpalooza session for months, just waiting for your chance to unleash it on the world. There is a part of us that would be worried for your sanity – I mean, come on, we know our limits here — but another part is thinking, “Great! We won’t let your idea go to waste!” Simply come up with a title and a brief yet pithy description of your proposed session, fire off an email with all that information to either myself or Derek, and we’ll include your idea in the voting process. We’ll even present it anonymously in case you are embarrassed of public ridicule.

The deadline for sending something to us is Friday, February 3. Don’t worry – we’ll send some reminders out.


We’re Back…

It’s been 73 days since the CMEpalooza blog has been active (we feel your pain), but rest assured that our crack team of interns has been busy with some rigorous data analysis and boots-on-the-ground research to come up with a variety of ways to improve the overall learner experience in 2017.

Plus, Derek spent the last 2 months busily charting the course for his ultra-lux private New Year’s week cruise to celebrate his 20th wedding anniversary, and he simply couldn’t tear himself away from his study of latitude and longitude for more than 5 minutes at a time to write one of his pithy missives. I believe he and his beau are somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle right now – I’m sure all of those warnings about mysterious disappearances are hocus pocus (at least that’s what I told him along with my “Bon Voyage!”).

Anyway, in the next few days, you’ll be seeing a variety of announcements in this space, but we wanted to kick things off by letting you all know about the broadcast dates for CMEpalooza in 2017. So without further ado…

  • CMEpalooza Spring — Wednesday, April 19
  • CMEpalooza Fall — Wednesday, October 18

Probably a good idea to clear your calendars now.

Two Bad Hombres Need a Favor Bigly

Sorry, I know that title is terrible, but I was trying to come up with the most clickbait-worthy thing I could to get more people to come and take our CMEpalooza Fall survey. Who doesn’t like taking a good survey, huh? Huh? A lot of people apparently. We got 44 responses (Sad!). Actually, not really that sad; 44 is pretty good, but we would like to hear from more of you. We know there’s more of you out there who watched CMEpalooza Fall. We can see the numbers of viewers. We’re not stupid (insert joke about Scott here).

Sooo…if you watched any portion of CMEpalooza Fall on Wednesday and have not yet taken the survey, we would really really really love it if you did. Really. It will take you 60 seconds. If it takes you more than 60 seconds, Scott will buy your kids a pony.


A Case Conundrum (or Two)

In preparation for tomorrow’s 3 p.m. ET session entitled Common/Not-So-Common Case Conundrums in CME (sponsored by CME Matters), we have included below two PDFs that lay out the details of each case.

The first case is focused on common issues encountered by those who work for medical education and communication companies (MECCs) while the second is focused on those who work in a hospital setting. Really, though, the issues in each case are relevant across professional settings and should give you plenty to consider and think about.

While it’d be great if our audience read through these cases in advance of tomorrow’s session, we realize that that is not terribly realistic, so we will be reviewing the nuts and bolts of each case before each panel dives in with their thoughts. But for you go-getters who like to, you know, be prepared and all, here are links to each case.

Case 1 link
Case 2 link

Where Do I Watch CMEpalooza Fall?

Where do I watch CMEpalooza Fall?
You watch it on the LIVE page.

Will people be able to hear me on the Hangout?
No. You are not on the Hangout. You are only watching a video feed of the Hangout. You can sing The Humpty Dance at the top of your lungs and no one will hear you except your neighbors, who might call the police, who might interrupt you while watching CMEpalooza. So, don’t sing The Humpty Dance at the top of your lungs while watching CMEpalooza.

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall at the office?

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall at home?

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall in a conference room with 100 other people?
Please do.

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall at the top of Machu Picchu? 
I doubt you can get wifi there, but sure, go for it.

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall with Hillary Clinton?
I don’t know. Let’s ask her.

I guess she’s busy.

Do I have to pre-register or register?

Do I have to pay anything to watch CMEpalooza Fall? I love paying registration fees.

No. You don’t have to pay anything to watch CMEpalooza.

Do I have to take a survey afterward?
Well, you don’t have to, but it would be nice if you did. It’s only seven questions and shouldn’t take you more than 60 seconds. If it takes you more than 60 seconds, Scott will bake you a shoo-fly pie and hand deliver it to your home.

How do I ask questions to the presenters?
Good question. There are three ways you can ask questions:

  1. Send a text to the CMEpalooza text line at 267-666-0CME (0263)
  2. Tweet a question using the #CMEpalooza hashtag
  3. Click on the Google Slides link on the LIVE page and enter your question there

Longtime CMEpalooza participants will notice that option #3 is different than in years past. When Google in their infinite wisdom made the decision to drop Google Hangouts On Air and merge the Hangout platform with YouTube Live, one of the things they dropped was their handy Q&A app. We liked using the Q&A app with our CMEpalooza sessions and were disappointed when they discontinued it, but we’re professionals around here and we’ve learned how to deal with adversity. Here’s video of my reaction upon hearing the news:


Fortunately, the Google Slides hack for asking questions is actually quite simple and should be a nice alternative to the Q&A app.

Do I have to watch all the sessions?
YES! No. Watch what interests you.

What if I’m busy during the day of the live broadcast?
All the sessions will be archived on the website, probably within 15 minutes of the conclusion of the session. How are we able to do it so fast? We have a new intern who is a real crackerjack on the interwebs. Here he is hard at work, writing our latest blog post.

It’s CMEpalooza Week – Here is What to Expect

Is CMEpalooza Fall really 2 days away (yes)? Are we really ready (I hope so)? Have you registered for every session you are interested in (I hope not, since there is no such thing as registration for CMEpalooza)?

We’re a little less than 48 hours away from the start of CMEpalooza Fall and we’ll be throwing a few things out at everyone as we make our final preparations. Here is what you can expect the next few days:

  • Tomorrow morning, we’ll be putting up the case studies that will be discussed during our 3 p.m. ET session sponsored by CME Matters, “Common/Not-So-Common Case Conundrums in CME.” Everyone is certainly invited to read through both cases in advance of the session, though we’ll be reviewing the nuts and bolts of each case during the session itself. Perhaps most importantly, tomorrow morning will be the first time that our case discussants will see their case — we’re trying to introduce some real-world time pressure into each scenario.
  • Derek will also put together his usual pithy primer tomorrow on how to watch CMEpalooza Fall and answer some of the more common questions we receive. Hopefully, he’ll also briefly review the new way we’re offering live viewers to ask questions of our presenters, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he forgets. Either way, we’ll be including details on this during each CMEpalooza Fall session.
  • We’ll be lighting up the usual social media channels with weird memes and promotional posts to remind you about all of the interesting things we have in store during our live broadcasts. Please feel free to help us by using the #CMEpalooza hashtag on Twitter.
  • At 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, CMEpalooza Fall will officially begin with our kickoff session sponsored by Global Academy for Medical Education, LLC, “The Brief, Wondrous Life of a Grant Request.” Derek put out a call last week to submit questions for this session. There is still time to add your question to the queue if you’d like. Keep it clean, folks.


Addressing the Controversy Head On

One of the nice features about YouTube Live (formerly Google Hangouts On Air) is that you get to gather presenters in a private, unrecorded “green room” prior to start of each official broadcast. Basically, until you hit the actual “Start Broadcast” button, what is said in the green room stays private.

Unfortunately, it was brought to our attention last week that while Derek and I were setting up for a CMEpalooza Spring session in 2015, one of us (Derek) unknowingly hit the “Start Broadcast” session and made our “private” commentary available to the outside world.

The video apparently has become recently unearthed, if only because our haters probably recognize that CMEpalooza Fall is coming up (next Wednesday, October 19) and they want to cast a pall over our tremendous event.

We’ve been receiving calls from major media outlets in cities such as Provo, UT and Rockville, MD, asking us to comment on our salacious discussion. So instead of waiting for the video and transcript to leak out, we’re being forthwith and presenting it to you, in full, today.

We’re not exactly embarrassed by it – I mean, the folks who run other CME meetings have told us way worse things in private moments – but it’s not something we’re necessarily proud of.

Warning: What you are about to read is the kind of locker room, guy talk that all of us know is totally harmless and meaningless. Proceed at your own risk.

(garbled crosstalk)

Scott: That meeting used to be great. Some years, it’s still very beautiful.

Derek: I tried to force it to move actually. Maybe to someplace in Palm Beach. I tried to force it to move and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and ruin it.

Scott: That’s huge news there.

Derek: No, no. No this was— And I tried to force it to move very heavily. In fact, I offered to buy furniture for all of their exhibitors. Exhibitors want nice furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’ I looked at the furniture they were offering – terrible. But I couldn’t get there. Then all of a sudden I see at the next meeting, all of their exhibitors have this fake grass and these big phony tiki torches and everything. They’ve totally changed their look.

Scott: Sheesh, what about this other meeting coming up? The one next month. That agenda is hot.

Derek: Yeah, that one, with the gold star endorsements. I’ve got to get out my credit card in case I want to register. You know I’m automatically attracted to great meetings — I just start registering as soon as I can. It’s like a magnet. I just register. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Scott: Whatever you want.

Derek: Pay the Early Bird reg fee, the full fee, the 1-day. You can do anything.

Scott: That’s right, my man!

As we wrote earlier, we are deeply embarrassed by our comments. We’re not perfect people and CMEpalooza is not a perfect meeting. We’ve said and done things we regret, and the words released today on this year-old video transcript are one of them.

Anyone who knows us knows these words don’t reflect who we are or what CMEpalooza represents. We have traveled virtually in CME circles throughout the United States talking about the need to change the way we educate our industry, but our events have also changed us.

Let’s be honest: We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we’ll be talking about during CMEpalooza Fall. The Sunshine Act is killing us, pharma funding is getting slashed and forcing too many people to lose their jobs, and the maintenance of certification system is totally broken.

We will discuss this more in the coming days.

See you at CMEpalooza Fall on Wednesday, October 19.

Submit a Question for Our Grant Request Session Now!

Below is a guest post from the esteemed moderator of our The Brief, Wondrous Life of a Grant Request session, Riaz Baxamusa. 

We are going to open this season’s CMEpalooza with a bang, but first, you have a homework assignment. If you haven’t downloaded your electronic copy of The Insider’s Guide to Medical Education Grants please do so and give it a quick review before our 10 AM session. Our goal is to answer as many of your questions as we can and hopefully provide you with a few tips and tricks along the way. The lineup of insiders we have on this panel will flip the presentation on its head to make sure you get your questions about the grant submission and review process answered first. Please use the form below to submit your questions:

And if we have extra time we may cover topics such as:

  • What happens after you hit submit?
  • What are some of the best practice processes from large and small pharma companies that you may be able to incorporate into your company’s process?
  • What is the life cycle of a grant?

So don’t be shy — let us know questions you have about grant requests. We’ll do our best to answer as many of them as we can!