April 13, 2023

Lessons Learned: Memorable Meetings (121)

Lessons Learned: Memorable Meetings (121)

Are you a club president or in charge of planning meetings for your beekeeping organization? They always go well, don't they? No... of course not. They don't. What do you do when they don't? In this episode, Kim and Jim discuss their most memoriable...

Are you a club president or in charge of planning meetings for your beekeeping organization? They always go well, don't they? No... of course not. They don't. What do you do when they don't?

In this episode, Kim and Jim discuss their most memoriable meetings where anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. What did they do in that situation? How did they adapt planning for future meetings?

Listen today to hear how they met the challenge. How would you do things differently? How can you change your plans to accommondate a similar situation.

What do you think? Add your thoughts to the comments below!


Thanks to Betterbee for sponsoring today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com


Honey Bee Obscura is brought to you by Growing Planet Media, LLC, the home of Beekeeping Today Podcast.

Music: Heart & Soul by Gyom, All We Know by Midway Music, original guitar music by Jeffrey Ott

Copyright © 2023 by Growing Planet Media, LLC


Honey Bee Obscura

Episode 121 – Lessons Learned: Memorable Meetings


Jim: Kim, good morning to you.

Kim: Do you know what today is?

Jim: I have no idea.

Kim: It's the first day of spring.

Jim: Is it officially the first day of spring?

Kim: Yes, it's officially the first day of spring, so already my day is better. [chuckles]

Jim: Well, I got to get back to you on that. There's nothing spring-like here, but it's all right. At least it's blue skies. I was thinking as I was getting my day started today, apparently, my first day of spring, how it comes to mind that the meetings I remember, of all the meetings I've been to are the ones that made them unique and what makes a meeting unique, Kim is usually something blowing up figuratively.

Kim: [chuckles] I think you have that exactly right.

Jim: Do you have any blown-up meetings that come to mind where all of a sudden the thing that you never thought would happen did happen and what are you going to do now?

Kim: Oh darn. Doesn't solve it. [chuckles]

Jim: No. You want to talk about this for a few minutes to see if we have people listening?

Kim: You're probably one of the few people that have been to a lot more meetings than I have, and I've been to a lot of them over the last 40 years, so I bet you got a bunch of them.

Jim: I can't say I can go there with you, but let's talk about it.

Kim: Hi, I'm Kim Flottum.

Jim: I'm Jim Tew. If everybody's in agreement with this, we'd like to talk about meetings that we will never forget and why they come to mind when we're talking spontaneously.

Kim: They are.

Introduction: You are listening to Honeybee Obscura, brought to you by Growing Planet Media, the folks behind Beekeeping Today podcast. Each week on Honeybee Obscura host Kim Flottum and Jim Tew explore the complexities, the beauty, the fun, and the challenges of managing honeybees in today's world. Get ready for an engaging discussion to delight and inform all beekeepers. If you're a long-timer or just starting out, sit back and enjoy the next several minutes as Kim and Jim explore all things honeybees.

Jim: Well, I don't know how to go about this. I don't want to offend anyone. Nobody ever said, "Hey, hey, let's have a bad meeting. This is what we can do to have a bad meeting." I don't know anyone who's ever said that. Anything that went wrong was because something went wrong. These things happen.

Kim: You can't prepare for everything, for every meeting. You got an average preparation. What events could happen? Well, it could happen, but it probably won't and then it could go the other way and it probably won't.

Jim: You don't know how to prepare for what you don't know to prepare for.

Kim: [chuckles] You don't know what you don't know.

Jim: You can quote me on that. I was minding my own business. One of 50 meetings comes to mind. I was minding my own business and things were running smoothly. All systems are a go, operating temperatures are normal. This thing looks like it's off the ground and we're going to get through it okay. Someone came running up all out of breath using my formal title, "Dr. Tew, Dr. Tew, your speaker just fainted in the auditorium." Well, the whole world knows my hearing is terrible. Okay, you've got to say that again because you won't believe what I thought you said. I thought you just said that my speaker had fainted in the auditorium.

They dutifully repeated it for me. I went rushing to the auditorium and of course, you got to push through people, you got to squeeze through the crowd. They want to talk to you about a swarm they got, or the last time they saw you, you got to be terse because you got to go see what's going on. I finally got down to the front and the guy in front of hundreds of people, I don't know Kim, I'm probably 500, 600 people in the auditorium was climbing back up the back of the podium.

I got to him, and I'm going to call him a different name. I'll call him Tom. I said, "Tom, are you okay?" He said, "Yes, Jim, I don't know what happened. I was standing here about to start this talk on queen production or whatever it was, and I just suddenly felt very sleepy and then I found myself waking up behind the podium," and I said, "Well, let's get you out and let you sit down," "No, no, I'm fine. I'm fine." I said, "I think you ought to take a break. Let's just don't go right back into this. I don't know what--," "No, I want to do this."

Well, Kim, the odd thing is the microphone of course was live. While Tom and I were having this personal talk about whether or not he should go on, everybody was hanging on intently for one of the most entertaining presentations they had recently been to. He managed to recover from it and he managed to get through it okay. I got to tell you, I sat there like a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs, my grandfather would've said, anxious throughout the remainder of Tom's presentation. That's not the first time and not the only time that I've had presenters faint in front of the group. There's that. You go with one, you tell me something.

Kim: I'm not sure I can go that way. Let me ask you a quick question. Why wasn't half the audience up there giving him a hand before you got there? That's what I wonder.

Jim: They had. That's how I got the messenger.

Kim: Okay.

Jim: Normally there's somebody with medical ability in the audience and they usually come forward, but I don't remember a medical person coming forward. There are a few people standing around, but it was an area of confusion, Kim. Other than me seeing my speaker on the floor, I didn't really take a toll of who else was standing around being involved. He did have incidental help there, including the runner they sent to get me. They should have probably gone straight to 911 or something but they did-- Whoever did it, did the right thing. The guy apparently just fainted.

Kim: All right, well, I used to work a lot with the Eastern Apicultural Society, EAS and I think you probably remember this.

Jim: I remember.

Kim: We did an EAS meeting at Worcester College in your hometown. It was the second hottest week on record in the history of the world and we didn't have air conditioning in the dorms. Let me tell you about a lot of grumpy people all week long.

Jim: I remember that well because I live in Worcester and every night I went home and my house, it's a modest house, but it's air-conditioned. Then every day you had to come back and see wet people who had perspired all night. There was a run, Walmart and all the local places, I remember it well, Kim, they thought that something had just gone wrong because they sold 400 fans in three days with people trying to cool their rooms down. All you're doing with that hot air is cooking yourself evenly to run those fans over you. Why would you bring that up? That's my story too. I remember that very well. Very well.

Then while we're still in Worcester, at another meeting it was right here in my hometown, I had a participant have a heart attack right as the speaker was starting. A participant in the very back of the auditorium had a heart attack. What's the protocol, Kim? During a meeting, a participant has a heart attack. What's the protocol? You know everything about meetings. You've talked about them, written about them. What as the meeting organizer are you supposed to do when somebody in the back room is down for the count?

Kim: Was this before or after cell phones?

Jim: This was in the earliest days of cell phones. They existed, but not like today. This was 20 years ago.

Kim: Not everybody had one. Well, if it happened today, I'd probably grab my cell phone and call 911 or I would tell somebody sitting in the front of the room, call 911 we got a heart attack. If cell phones didn't exist, then I would get behind the microphone and get people, I say, "Anybody here got experience with-- What can we do to help? Get over there and take care of this guy?" Then I would go over there and help them.

Jim: You were actually more organized than I would've been. I was probably just completely mind addled at the time. We did call 911 and 911 did show up, but I stopped the meeting. I asked everybody just to stay where they were in their seats. Let us deal with this. Don't leave the room because I've got a speaker ready to go. PowerPoint system, even primitive that it was, was loaded up. Kim here's the rub, the guy said he was from Michigan. I'm like, "I'm not going to the emergency room here in Ohio, if I'm going to have to go to the hospital, I want to be at my home."

I said, well, Ohio State, this happened on their property and they're really going to want you to see medical attention before you try to make the trip back to Michigan. "Absolutely not." Well, I have the emergency squad people there, all primed up all their gear, their carts, their wagons. I got this guy who's ashen-faced weak looking adamantly saying that he's not going to get in that ambulance. All this time there's 500 or 600 people waiting for us to get this sorted out and a speaker who's got to have enough self-assurance and presence of mind to keep going after all this happened. The guy got in his car and he left. Here's the oddity, we didn't know who he was. We had no way, there was no name tag. We never knew who he was or his friend who had to leave the meeting to drive him back to Michigan and I can't tell you what happened to the man. That story ends there unsolved. To this minute, based on that, I wouldn't really know what to do about a heart attack other than he called 911.

Kim: Yes, I think that's all you can do. You got a first aid kit there, but that's not what you need. You need 911. I don't know what I would've done different. I don't think anything. I think what you did was about as good as it can get.

Jim: Well just stand back and take a break. All right. Take a deep breath and sort it out. Let's do that right now and hear from our sponsor.

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Jim: You know, it's unfortunate the meetings that go right. I've been to hundreds of meetings that go right, not because I'm an important guy, but just because that's what I did for many years. I know you did it too. Isn't it odd how it's the meetings that have a personality, that have a flare that you remember? I want all meetings to be forgettable. Does that make sense? A good meeting is a forgettable meeting. The meetings you remember are where the food didn't show up or it snowed 10 feet.

Kim: I got a food that didn't show up meeting. It was an all-day Saturday meeting and we'd organized the food to arrive at 11:30 so we could eat at 11:45 or so. I'm looking at my watch, the speaker's going to finish here in about 5 or 10 minutes. I'm looking at my watch, I'm looking at the clock on the wall and there isn't a food truck pulling into the parking lot. Being naturally paranoid, I called up and the lady that answered the phone, she said, "Is that this week?"

Jim: Oh no, that is not what you want to hear.

Kim: We skipped lunch that day. Okay, so what do you do? You got 75, 80 people in a room. You're supposed to take an hour for lunch or so, and while you're eating lunch, you got a speaker who's going to be doing a light talk, not a heavy-duty pheromone chemistry thing. Just a light my day in the bee yard talk. Do you have him go on anyway? Do you let people say, okay, why don't you go out take two hours and take a break and go out and try and find a restaurant that you can all get into? What do you do? Well, I haven't forgotten that meeting either because we had everybody do everything. Some left to get lunch, some stayed and listened to the talk some of them got up and left the room. I didn't know where they went. It took us until two o'clock to get organized again.

Jim: I want to say this just the right way, Kim. Don't think I'm being funny, but I'd rather deal with a heart attack than deal with the whole crowd not having lunch. People are serious about their food now.

Kim: Beekeepers are serious, even more serious about their food.

Jim: I was thinking those people who got up and left probably skipped lunch or skipped breakfast because then you then have lunch at the meeting and then you say, "Nope, there's no lunch. There's those groups. This chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, who's eaten? Who hasn't eaten?"

Kim: Yes.

Jim: Who gets low blood sugar? It's going to be like a flushed covey of quail. There's going to be people going in all different directions dealing with this. I don't want to have to deal with that.

Kim: A lot of them are headed for the vending machine, which was empty in about a minute and a half. Well I got another one that was memorable and I'm not going to share names, but a speaker's giving a talk and showing his PowerPoint and he makes some statement about a chemical to treat some disease and somebody in the back of room stands up and I'm quoting him, "The hell you say?"

Jim: Oh my stars.

Kim: He took a deep breath and he says that, and he used a four-letter word here. "Stuff is crap." What do you do?

Jim: Well, instead of calling the squad, you may want to go ahead and call the police because just in case this thing spirals out of control. I want to go back to that comment I made. I won't stay in the heart attack category. I don't want to deal with people who are angry and people who are hungry. How did you resolve it?

Kim: I went back. Of course he's sitting second row from the back, so he is way in the back of the room, and the only way you can get there is up the middle aisle. In front of everybody, I walked up the middle aisle and I walked up to him and I said, "I know you disagree with that, but this guy's been doing the work. Let's take this outside after he's done." The guy said, "We don't have to, I'm out of here." He stomped out of the meeting and left.

Jim: Okay, I didn't see any of this coming. I'm trying to think how I should respond in my moment of response right here. I guess it's good that he left, but I'm sorry that he left. I don't know how you'd handle that. I've seen angry people. I've seen angry beekeepers with their faces red and the veins in their neck bugged out over usually as some state meeting issue that they're worried about. People have strong opinions, don't they?

Kim: Yes.

Jim: I just, I do routine things. I have major snowstorms on the day of the meeting. How do you cancel? You got people on the road, you got people already here and hotels and you've got a foot, two feet of snow. You got interstates closed, so we went ahead and had the meeting with about a quarter of the participants, and as I recall maybe that many of the speakers, so we had to ask a few speakers who were there to double up for this cozy little meeting that we had. Of course, the food showed up so we had enough food for 800 people and we had about 200 there.

Those days come to mind but that's just weather related you just know those days happen and you shouldn't take yourself out trying to get to a bee meeting. Use good sense. If it's a bad day, bad roads don't do it.

Kim: Yes. Those that are trying to get there can't and those that are there can't leave it. As a person who runs the meeting, you just say, well, it's snowing folks. Our next speaker is. You go on for--

Jim: Yes, and in the middle of the talk, the fire alarm went off. Here's some advice for you. Don't assume that it's just a false alarm and you'll be right back in because I didn't pick up my jacket. We went out, I was with a well-known bee scientist, I shouldn't call names. We stood outside and the firetruck showed up and they stayed there and the lights kept flashing and it was cold. We're asking how long can we go back and leave standing in the lobby? No, you can't. The building had to be evacuated state law. Well, by the time we got back in, I had frozen to death, as had most other people.

It was a fire in the kitchen completely away from the meeting room but the regulations required the building be evacuated. My advice, if you're in a cool climate on a cool day and the fire alarm goes off yes, take your jacket. Probably everything else because you might just want to go home. This may be a meeting you won't ever forget.

Kim: We had a meeting one time and I don't know, there's maybe 50, 60 people there. The restrooms were just off the meeting room. You opened a door and you went down a little hall and there's the men's and there's the women's and that's it. It's just a little hall as a room with two doors going into the restroom and in the middle of a talk, this nice old lady gets up, goes through the door, and the speaker's speaking. I'm listening and I'm not thinking much about it until about maybe 10 minutes later, water comes out underneath the door of the little room with that had the bathrooms on them. It's not coming. It's flowing out the door. No.

Jim: I don't want to play this anymore, Kim, I don't want to do this anymore. You win. Your memorable meetings are more memorable than mine. I just knew snow storms and heart attacks you do fisticuffs and plug toilets. I don't want to compete with that. Oh, there are so many of these, Kim. Some of the time I guess we can finish this, but it's never finished. The guy who snored that I shared a room with the cat outside my door one night and thought I was in its room. It just doesn't end, does it? There's all these things that come to mind, and the sad thing is all the meetings that went right, all the visits that were right on schedule, everything was good, don't worry about it.

Kim: Between the two of us, we've done a lot of meetings that we can come up with only four or five that are memorables I think speaks pretty highly of the industry we were a part of.

Jim: That's a good way to end it. Thanks to all those organizers who had meetings come off flawlessly and who dealt with whatever issue flared and let the meeting go on. This bee show must always go on.

Kim: I got one thing I want to say before we go. I know I've alluded to this a couple of times, but changing the subject completely, there's a new blog out on the Growing Planet Media webpage, that's our parent company, growingplanetmedia.com, it's on climate change. I say this carefully, it's pretty good not because I did it, but because there's a lot of information and it's hidden. You have got to go looking for it to find out what's going on. I did it because I want to know what's going to happen to bees, beekeeping, and beekeepers. It's not just front level of the temperature's changing, it's the temperature's changing, and now what? If you get a chance to take a look.

Jim: That's certainly timely. I wonder if you can tell us if it has a happy ending or not.

Kim: I'll let you know in a couple of years.

Jim: I was afraid of that. Thanks for all the work you've done on that, Kim.

Kim: Until next time, talk to you soon.

Jim: Until next time, I'll talk to you soon. Always have a good meeting.

Kim: Please.

Jim: Bye-Bye.

[00:22:19] [END OF AUDIO]