It is very strange to be attending the International CES as a senior. After all, just 47 short years ago I was the cute, effervescent junior reporter who got all of the news scoops. My older men friends in the industry helped me succeed by getting inside information that turned into my page one stories.
There was no pillow talk going on. These guys were just friends, and I had plenty of them. Some were fellow journalists, others were owners of mom-and-pop electronic stores. The mom-and-pops were the independent neighborhood store owners.
Richard Ekstract, the Hugh Hefner of the electronics industry, labeled me “Queen of the Sweaty Arm Pits Crowd” because I found my calling amongst hundreds of retail entrepreneurs who I knew on a first name basis. I spent 11 years telling their stories, collecting news from them, going to their weddings and parties. I was in my element.
I didn’t know it at the time, but covering the retail beat all those years provided me with a strong business sense. I can deal at any level and know if something will work. The indie retailers taught me why a product sells and what it takes to get it sold.
It was great being a part of a segment of the industry that made things happen. When my retail friends walked into a booth at CES, you would think Frank Sinatra showed up. All of the manufacturers would lay out the red carpet and want to wine and dine them. I miss the excitement of watching all of this take place.
It’s a different world at CES today. Everything is impersonal. The place is so large that it’s like going to a foreign country. You have to learn a new language and customs every year. Everything changes very quickly.
I’m totally up for it, but i can’t possibly be as engaged as I used to be. At 66, I am not hanging out in lounges until two in the morning, nor am I participating in a round of shots. Unfortunately, that is where a lot of the business takes place at a trade show. I think back to the many nights when I had one or two hours of sleep and then had to get up early for a full day of business. What was I thinking?
I am no longer popular and very few people know my name. If I want to stay in the game, I have to make adjustments. I swallow my pride and watch others get all the glory. At the end of the day, I shouldn’t really care. It’s really about the journey, not the round of applause.