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A Healthy Approach to Trade Shows and Industry Events

Published: April 25, 2024
Steve Greenblatt and Brittany DiCesare champion support for those who abstain from alcohol at trade shows.

Editor’s note: The article was written by Steve Greenblatt, CTS; concept by Brittany DiCesare, CTS, and Greenblatt.

In March of 2022, Brittany DiCesare and I attended our first trade show together representing the Control Concepts team. We arrived at the social event together the night before the show started and, of course, were asked what we wanted to drink. While I had a beer, I noticed that Brittany went with a seltzer with cranberry and lime. This made me curious because I knew that Brittany wasn’t a non-drinker from past interactions.

As the event progressed and Brittany continued to have non-alcoholic drinks, thoughts raced through my head ranging from her not feeling comfortable at the event to thinking it was inappropriate to have a drink around me or at a work function to concerns about medical conditions. I also found Brittany’s preferences rubbing off on me as I began opting for non-alcoholic beverages to help make the situation more comfortable.

This pattern of not drinking alcohol continued for the duration of that trade show, and a similar occurrence happened at the next event we attended together except that time Brittany ordered a single martini at the conclusion to celebrate a successful achievement (a regimen that continued at future trade shows and has become the routine for any business functions).

Since we were still getting to know each other and becoming comfortable working together, nothing was discussed or explained regarding Brittany’s preferences. I just respected her decisions, supported her, and found myself following her lead by opting to drink minimally, if not at all.

A New Perspective

For those who know me, I’m not an avid drinker of alcohol.  I’ll have a beer occasionally, but often prefer to abstain even when it is freely available. It tends to make me feel lethargic and causes me to lose focus. Consequently, I have to work harder to engage with other people which is not ideal in most situations. More often than not, I tend to take on the responsibility of ensuring everyone is taken care of and gets home safely.

As I’ve gotten to know Brittany better by work closely together, I’ve confirmed that we share similar values, beliefs, and perspectives on business and professionalism. Among those are the importance of acting responsibly and being accountable for your actions and behaviors.  What I’ve witnessed from Brittany is certainly indicative of her commitment to her convictions.  a commitment to these beliefs.

Should We Have Alcohol At All Times?

Since we are now more familiar and I’ve overheard Brittany explain to others her desire to not drink alcohol during business events, I want to share this thought-provoking and inspiring point that Brittany offered: “If I don’t prefer to drink alcohol in our normal day-to-day life, why would I feel more compelled to drink at business functions or trade shows? I also don’t have to drink to feel comfortable or have fun.”

Brittany went on to share that business events are the times that we should be at our best, making good impressions, acting professionally and exercising sound judgement.  When we’re at an event presenting ourselves and representing our company, shouldn’t we be our best selves? If where alcohol is typically served, we tend to be around people we respect, value, want to get to know, and only get to see them a few times a year, shouldn’t we be keenly aware of how we want to be perceived and the impression that we want to make?

As a big believer in the mantra that “you never know when you will be making a first impression” and “it only takes one mistake to ruin reputation that it takes years to build,” I’ve staked my career on always presenting myself in the best way possible. I’ve learned from experience that opportunities are precious and I don’t want to misstep or not capitalize on an interaction if I am not at my best.

Adapting a Different Mindset

Attending business events with Brittany has led to a real enlightenment and mindset shift for me and I thank her for this gift. What I learned is that Brittany’s choice to refrain from drinking at trade shows or business events was not by chance, it was part of her secret weapon and success strategy to bring her “A” game allowing her to be at her best when it mattered most.

While being sober was responsible and admirable, it was only part of Brittany’s master plan that included eating protein, hydrating, sleeping well, re-charging when needed as an introvert, and treating herself properly so she could rely on her mind and body to come through for her when the game was on the line.

With so much time and money that goes into preparing for an event, it could all go for naught if the execution is not proper. It’s hard enough to endure the long days, the physical and mental strain, and the stress of being away from home. It doesn’t have to be made worse by acting recklessly or excessively drinking alcohol just because it’s available and seems like the thing to do.

Also Read: Control Concepts’ Steve Greenblatt: AV Living Legends #19

With so much talk in the AV industry about bringing light to incidents of improper behavior at trade shows and business conferences, a correlation can be made to the over-indulgence of alcohol. While we are not admonishing those who partake, we are encouraging those who prefer to stay sober to feel comfortable doing so. The notion that one “cannot have fun if they are not drinking” is a fallacy and is nothing more than peer pressure.

There is often a discomfort and peer pressure associated with not drinking in situations where alcohol is commonly consumed and openly available. I think that one of the brightest assets of the AV industry its supportive circle of people. Let’s show consideration for those in our industry who choose not to consume alcohol at trade shows or simply prefer to stay sober by showing support, making them feel comfortable and encouraging event hosts to provide more non-alcoholic offerings.

Creating a Safe Space for Non-Alcoholic Drinkers

Join Brittany and me in leading an effort to make those who opt to abstain or stay sober be part of a community and feel comfortable being themselves and feeling comfortable at AV industry events.

The AV family and industry as a whole are precious to both Brittany and me, thus, we take it personally when others disparage it or its reputation is tarnished. With that in mind, we are reaching out to those who want to join the movement of taking a healthy approach to trade shows and industry events by encouraging participants to take care of themselves, be kind to others and make more health-conscious decisions about eating and drinking. We are also putting a challenge out to party hosts, event planners and supporters to provide more non-alcoholic options including mocktails and varieties of water, coffee and soft drinks at industry sanctioned events.

Let’s connect at InfoComm 2024 and step up to help support each other who seek a healthier approach to events. Stay tuned for more information about how to get involved.

For now, you can reach out to Brittany and me via LinkedIn, on X/Twitter or via email to show your support and your interest in joining this healthy trade show movement. Reach Brittany DiCesare @brittdice or brittanyd@controlconcepts.net. Reach me @stevegreenblatt or steveg@controlconcepts.net.

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