CMEpalooza: A Look Back at the Beginning

Well, howdy friend. It’s good to see you again. I feared after you fell into the watering hole during Farmer McKenzie’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration that we might not see you again for a while. Glad I was wrong.

You picked a good day to come back to the award-winning CMEpalooza blog, because I’ve got the ye-olde time machine fired up and ready to go. It’s the fifth anniversary of the little-meeting-that-could, so I thought it would be a good time to go way back to the beginning, March 20, 2014, to see how far we’ve come.

Hop on in.

Something oblong and green zooms away (humor me people – I ain’t Ray Bradbury)

Over there you’ve got Derek Warnick. Sure he don’t look like much. The guy hasn’t shaved in about a week, and I think that yellowish stain on his shirt is left over from the nacho cheese he ate for breakfast 3 days ago. But give the guy a break. He’s trying to be what we call an in-de-pen-dent consultant, which basically means he checks his email every morning to see if anyone will pay him to do, um, something. No one is exactly sure what.

You can probably imagine how this has all gone. After a month or so, Derek has plowed through all 65 episodes of What’s Happening!! and he’s currently knee-deep into Season 3 of its ill-fated sequel, What’s Happening Now!! Needless to say, his wife isn’t looking too kindly at Derek’s new-fangled ‘career.’

“Will you get off your butt and do something today!?!?”

We cleaned up the language a little bit, but you get the point. It’s here that Derek’s life is about to take a major turn for the better. Just as with so many success stories throughout history, this one started with a nagging wife and a lazy husband.

You may note that Derek is grumbling as he peels himself off the couch. He had secretly been working on a manifesto he called “Believe in the Stages” that spelled out in detail how his beloved Philadelphia 76ers could tank the next few seasons, draft a few potential superstars, and transform themselves into a powerhouse franchise. He even emailed this strange document to a man named “Sam Hinkie” – not surprisingly, he never heard anything back. It was a pretty outlandish idea that would certainly never actually work in real life.

“So now what?” Derek, thought to himself. “Hmm, I just came back from the Alliance meeting where I spent our last $500 in savings buying Drambuie shots for everyone on the last night. I vaguely remember sitting in a session in my usual spot (back row, corner seat closest to the door) and noticing that there was very little energy in the room. I heard of lot of people complaining about how all of these live meetings suck up so much time and money that they just aren’t worth the trouble any more.

“Hmm, maybe there is something there… Nah. Better to focus on how Raj and Re-Run will get out of today’s pickle down at the diner. These guys are hilarious.”

“Move your butt, Warnick. Now!”

There’s that pesky wife again. Good thing, too, because that’s the thing that finally got Derek moving. And once he started with one good idea, the next came pretty easily. And so did the next. And so on.

By the time the day was over, the seed had been planted for the first CMEpalooza. This first extravaganza was a little different than what you may now be familiar with. Basically, it was a presentation free-for-all. You wanted a 15-minute slot to talk about the watercooler conversation you had with the, er, watercooler repair man about P values? You got it. A full hour to walk through every ACCME accreditation criteria one by one? No problem. Anyone who wanted to present on any topic got a slot.

Underestimating the overall interest of our little world, Derek was figuring maybe he’d get enough volunteers to fill a few hours. Instead, he got 2 full days worth of presentations. From “Why Adult Learning Theory Is Insufficient to Drive Learning” through “Implications, Applications and Approaches to Complying with the Sunshine Act,” there was a lot of ground covered.

Give the man some credit. He flew solo for the first CMEpalooza Spring. He learned the ins and outs of Google Hangouts On Air (with a little coaching from a certain someone we’ll call “Scott” – more on him later) and decided that would be the presentation platform. He created a website – the very same one we use today – and populated it with some very basic information, including an agenda and a live viewing page.

From the very start, CMEpalooza was a hit. Turns out that people like free education – who knew? The technology platform was stable and reasonably user-friendly. There were a few audio and video glitches here and there, but all in all, that first event was a success. People liked it.

Once a little momentum was generated, things kept rolling. That “Scott” guy came on board prior to the initial  CMEpalooza Fall and helped give our events a little more structure, introducing things like sponsorships, our typical panel format for sessions, and other important tweaks to further shape the CMEpalooza brand.

A little more than 5 years later, we’re now on the cusp of this year’s CMEpalooza Spring. We’re returning to our roots and splitting the event into 2 days with 4 hours of content on Wednesday and another 4 hours on Thursday. Some things have changed since Derek first came up with the CMEpalooza concept, but our core tenet – free education for all – remains the same.

We hope you’ll join us for the live version of our broadcasts this week. If you’re busy, we understand, and that why we have our Archives. Our sessions are usually dropped in a few hours after they are complete.

We’ll keep trying new things year after year, and we thank everyone in our audience for sticking with us, laughing at our (mostly terrible) jokes, and coming back time and time again to watch and participate in our broadcasts. This is how we have fun.

 

 

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