Birth of a Salesman

Periodically during the summer, my son sets up a lime-aid stand (not a lemonade stand!) outside our city rowhome. We are in a neighborhood with a lot of foot traffic so sales are generally rather brisk.

We have our standard protocol well set by now – I serve as the cheap (very cheap!) labor in the kitchen squeezing the limes, mixing up the ingredients, putting out the cups, etc. while he handles sales out front. People are generally rather generous – we charge $2 per cup ($3 for two cups – learning the value of bulk sales), but I would say more than 50% of our customers gladly pay double or more as a bonus. It’s a pretty easy, sweet gig for a 10-year-old.

I don’t mind being the brawn behind the sales – in fact, I rather like it that way. I’d rather be the doer in the background while letting someone else handle the schmoozing and chit chatting with potential customers. That’s never been something I terribly enjoy.

And yet, here we are in Year 7 of CMEpalooza and I am still the one regularly responsible for drumming up interest in our sponsorships. Why is that, you ask? Well, perhaps because while I would rather be the behind-the-scenes guy, Derek would rather be the way-way-behind-the-scenes guy. So I stepped up out of necessity (note from Derek: You’re doing a great job, buddy!)

Quite frankly, it’s gotten easier and easier over the years to attract sponsors to CMEpalooza. Whether it’s the affordability, the value, or simply the fact that we’re such a likable duo, we tend to get a barrage of companies who rush towards us with fistfuls of cash to lock in our sponsorship packages when they are announced in the spring. You can check out our Sponsor page to see all of the companies who have already latched on for CMEpalooza Fall.

But what about you over there, you who chose to wait or simply forgot to lock in a sponsorship package in the spring? Well, I’ll be honest – there isn’t a lot left. But we have gotten creative in adding a few new opportunities for the Fall that you can read about in our Updated Sponsor Prospectus. You’ll learn about things like CMEpalooza King for a Day, CMEPalooza 5 Questions With…, and some other goodies. And hey, we’ve always got our most popular standby with our Bronze sponsorships, which is essentially an entry-level gig – we take as many of those as people want.

Sound interesting? Just shoot me an email with the subject line of “CMEpalooza Top Salesman Alert” or something else that is aimed at the Willy Loman in me and give me an idea of what you’re interested for. I promise to get back to you within 12 hours – I mean, if you send the email at 1 am, it’s going to wait until morning.

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you need to add a tip to any sponsorship, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you don’t need to add a tip to any sponsorship either. You do you.

Why Do Some Things Succeed and Other Don’t?

When last we spoke, Derek was extolling the virtues of independent bookstores and bragging about how he has an uncanny ability to “lift heavy things.” I encourage you to take him up on that boast the next time you have a move across town planned – please take a video of Derek huffing and puffing down the block with a sofa on his back.

While I did my fair share of furniture moving back in the day (way back in the day), I have retired from that arena. But where Derek and I do still have something in common is our love of bookstores – well, sort of. Being that I am not the independently wealthy sort like our good friend Mr. Warnick, I rely on libraries to feed my literary tastes. I honestly don’t get people who spend money on fiction – do you really go back and read the same book over and over? I can count on one hand the number of books I have read more than once in my adult life (The Count of Monte Cristo and, um, I think that is it). The library is free, people. You can read as much as you like. If you are lucky, your town/city has eliminated late fees, so you don’t even have that excuse anymore.


You don’t know how badly it pains me that, a good 18 months into COVID, Philadelphia still has not figured out how to safely reopen its libraries to the public. You still need to put books on reserve and then you have a very narrow window on weekdays to pick them up. It is super frustrating. The books are all there on the shelves, but whoa nelly! Don’t you dare try to actually browse and pick anything out you didn’t reserve days in advance that has been set aside in a special area! Masked, unmasked, vaccinated, nonvaccinated – it doesn’t matter. Stay back, hombre!


Anyway, here is how much of a book dork I am (and maybe how cheap, too.) Back in the late ’90s, the big chain bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble used to have very comfy chairs all over the store where you could sit and read. I basically treated the local B&N as my personal library. I would grab a book, sit in a comfy chair and read for an hour or two, put the book back on the shelf, and then pick up where I left off the next day. I’m sure others out there did the same thing, which is why there are no longer comfy chairs in bookstores. There were many times where I took dates to Barnes & Noble to sit and read (even women I liked!). Alas, I wasn’t exactly the leading Casanova of my day, though to my defense, this was in central Illinois where there wasn’t exactly a plethora of entertainment opportunities.

Which brings me to two weeks ago, when we took our annual family summer vacation to Chicago. The wife and I decided a few years ago that, on our summer trip, we would each get a day to do our own thing. Having been to Chicago’s main library before (called the Harold Washington Library Center), I knew exactly how I was going to be spending part of my day. I usually end up at the largest library branch in whatever city we are visiting, but Chicago’s is the best I have been to. It’s incredibly cool and worth a visit even for non-bibliophiles. I had been there before maybe 3-4 years ago and was totally wowed. It’s not how you think of a library, I promise.

Fortunately, unlike Philadelphia, Chicago’s libraries are still mostly open (some private rooms are closed) so I was free to spend hours wandering through the stacks and just grabbing random books to pick through. I ended up with a book by Kevin Maney called Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On and Other Don’t. It was written in 2009 (doubtful you’ll find it in any bookstore), and it had loads of interesting case studies. Amazon and Tesla were just beginning to break out, so it was an interesting look at how dicey their company prospects were once considered. Remember that Amazon was initially an online bookstore and not the behemoth seller-of-everything that we now know and love (like? tolerate?).

Anyway, the argument of the book is that, for a company/product to succeed, it has to offer one of two things: high convenience or high fidelity. Basically, it either has to be more convenient than anything currently on the market (McDonalds) or of better quality (Apple is the easiest example). If you fall in the middle and are sort of more convenient or sort of better quality (think Blu-Ray), it’s a tough slog. To excel, you need to focus on the tail end of either convenience or fidelity.

As I was reading the book, I started thinking about CMEpalooza and why it works. Are we of better quality than other meetings for CME professionals? Probably not. Of course, I am biased and would love to say yes, but I have been to some great sessions at other events. So let’s give this one a “No.”

What about more convenient? We are free, so no cost barriers. There is no registration, so no barrier in remembering to sign up. There is no travel, so that’s another winner. We have an easy-to-navigate website. So yes, I think I could argue that CMEpalooza is the most convenient educational event for our industry and is part of the reason why we continue to thrive.

Maybe when Mr. Maney writes his sequel, we’ll get a mention. But probably not.

CMEpalooza Spotlight: Your Final Checklist

It’s summer camp season here in the Kober household, and before the ring-a-ding kid is sent off each morning, we have to run down a mental checklist to make sure he has everything he needs for the day.

Bathing suit? Towel? Lunch? Water bottle? Sunscreen? Change of clothes? Extra masks? Check, check, and check.

It’s easy to forget something, although I will proudly say we’ve done pretty well this summer and avoided that pesky “So, this is Camp XYZ. Do you realize that you forgot to pack lunch for your son today?”

Being that I am now an official “Checklist Expert,” I figured I’d run down a few items that you’ll need to be ready for today’s CMEpalooza Spotlight featuring the grants team from Daiichi Sankyo. The primary topic of this discussion is the inner workings of a grant department during times of crisis (you can get which crisis we’ll be focusing on). Seeing as how we always tend to meander a bit during these talks, you can bet there will be lots of good tidbits for you and your team.

Here is your prep list:

  1. Set an alarm clock/online reminder for 10:55 am ET. This will give you a 5-minute buffer in case you need to grab a drink, hit the head, or get in some last-minute jumping jacks. Our broadcast will start promptly at 11 am ET and will last approximately 35-40 minutes.
  2. Make sure you have our Live page bookmarked or open in your browser. This is where you’ll be able to view the broadcast. We’re trying out a new way to ask questions for this session – hopefully it’ll work.
  3. Download the PollEverywhere app (search for it in the App Store or on Google Play if you don’t yet have it on your phone). You’ll need this app to be able to participate in the interactive questions we’ll be including within this session. If that’s too much work, an alternative is to open this link in your browser window:
  4. Think about what you want to eat for lunch before this session begins. We don’t want you to get distracted thinking, “Hmm, PB&J or corned beef on rye? I just don’t know.”
  5. Make sure you are nattily dressed and your hair is perfectly coiffed. Just kidding. You won’t actually be on camera so come as you are. Derek tells me he’ll be wearing his favorite T-shirt from Hanson’s 1999 Tour. You should see how he gyrates any time MMMBop comes on the radio.

That just about covers it. Now where did I leave the bug spray again?