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Starting the year in Dallas, Texas

It’s a New Year and I’m at the ‘More Heart Than Talent’ conference in Dallas, Texas organized by Jeffery Combs. Accompanying me is my newest mentee, Bruce Bian – recent MBA graduate from my Alma Mater, Schulich School of Business.  Bruce came to Canada to study for his MBA plans to hold an equity position as part of a quickly growing business.

Every year I take on three mentees.  This year Bruce Bian is one of them.  After many meetings over the last few months, we’ve agreed that Bruce will work with one of the organizations I support – MetroActive Lifestyle Network as the Chief Information Officer.  In return, I will help him build his management team and position him for appeal among potential investors.

We arrive in Dallas on Wednesday, January 4th, 2006. It is my first time in Dallas and like most Torontonians my perception is based on the 80’s show ‘Dallas’, as well as media portrayal.  So, my expectations are that there are ‘BIG’ things to do in Dallas.

We’re staying at is the Westin Dallas Galleria.  It is a four star hotel located within a large, upscale mall that has a skating rink in the main gallery. After unpacking we visit the hotel concierge to plot out our free day before the conference begins.  That’s when we’re introduced to reality.  Apparently, Dallas isn’t what we expect it to be. Everyone that we ask says the same thing, “There are only two things to do in Dallas – eating & shopping.”

“Okay Bruce, what would you like to do now?” I ask my mentee.

“Let’s shop”, he says in his thick Chinese accent.

Now I think to myself, there’s no way I’ve come all this way to eat and shop.  But, what else can I do.  The mall is very large and the stores do look great. We end up walking the Galleria all day.  And surprisingly I find a great store that sells home and personal gadgets called Brookstone.  So, now I’m sitting in a luxurious reclining chair that’s vibrating me into another level of awareness.  I mean this thing is running rollers up and down my back, pumping my hips, squeezing my feet and legs.  Ooooh, it’s great!

As I continue through the mall I come across all kinds of restaurants.  If you visit the Dallas Galleria, I suggest that you stay away from the Mexican restaurant on the bottom floor by the ice rink.  Other than that, the other restaurants are great!

The locals are generally friendly, however, I did get the comment from one store clerk that the United States military is what allows Canada to be a free country.  I’m not sure what she thinks that they’re protecting us from, but I think about asking if she’s ever been to Canada.  But, I already know the answer to that.

The conference is full of a combination of struggling entrepreneurs and wannabee entrepreneurs.  If I get approached my one more network or multi-level marketing prospector I’m to sell them shares in the London bridge. One man, after sitting at my table for lunch, totally ignored what I was saying and bulldozed along his canned sales pitch. After a while, I just ignored him – why not? Since he was ignoring me anyway.

However, I do learn about some interesting innovative business concepts that are making entrepreneurs some interesting money.  Actually, they’re making the speakers some interesting money.  The attendees are eating up the material, hungry for a reason to get excited about their lives and goals. Do I sound cynical, well I can’t help it, especially after seeing attendees spend thousands of dollars and lots of time without addressing their real barriers to success.

It is so obvious to me that most of the attendees are held back by a number of items, such as: low self esteem, lack of vision, indecisiveness, inaction, poorly developed skills, lack of research, fear of success, fear of commitment, limiting self-perception, lack of understanding of basic business concepts.

I vigorously take notes and talk to as many individuals as I can as part of my research to develop programs to assist these individuals with their challenges.  The conference turns out to be a big success for me as I come back with lots of market and client research.

…and thanks to Bruce the bargain sniffer, I also get some great buys. My mom and nephews will be very happy with the gifts I have for them.

Like I said, there are only two things to do in Dallas, Texas – eating and shopping.

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