I spent the majority of last week scribbling a mountain of notes, largely unreadable to anyone but myself, as I sat among a group of 23,000 or so colleagues at one of the largest annual real estate conventions in the country. Being a perpetual learner, it’s the kind of event I look forward to as it gives me a chance to revisit my business, feel guilty about the things I know I need to improve, and gain insight from other successful operators in my field.
But despite absorbing a tremendous amount of knowledge from the myriad of speakers, panels and well-crafted presentations, the most pervasive experience of the week had little to do with entrepreneurial improvement, but rather was a revelation of human observation.
As the doors opened at the conclusion of the week’s first segment, I was carried out into the corridors of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center by a sea of departing peers in a furious rush to beat the crowd to the next event. Looking down the quarter-mile walkway I clocked the line for the descending escalator already backed up by a swarm numbering in the several hundreds.
Now if you’re anything like me, lines have always presented themselves more as a challenge than an obligation, so I instinctively began searching for an alternative route to make my way to the mezzanine. After a few moments of exchanging ‘excuse me’s with a handful of attendees, as I fought sideways against the masses, I stumbled upon a not particularly well-hidden exit door and proceeded through into the stairwell beyond, hoping it would be at least somewhat less packed than the bottleneck up the hall.
To my surprise, I found the set entirely empty, trotted down a single flight, and washed out just few feet from the first arrivals, trickling down from the restless mob above.
Thinking little of the ordeal, I patted myself on the back for a mediocre display of heads-upery and strode quickly on to Ballroom C.
But as the week progressed, and I made a habit of circumventing the obstruction in this manner, something became undeniably apparent. I assumed that luck had granted me a sporadic token of its acknowledgment and that by the time I took the return flight up for the afternoon’s final offering the stairwell would be packed to the gills with other convention goers lacking the patience and willingness to share personal space for fifteen minutes for the luxury of having the stairs move for them.
I was wrong.
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