Do you remember having roommates at conferences?

Ah, the good old days of conference roommates – those were the times, weren’t they? Back when we were conference butterflies, flitting from one event to another, racking up memories, pictures, and laughter. From international balloon conventions, swing dancing at YouTube Vidcon, SXSW, CES showcases, to the National Speakers Association – I was living my best conference life.

Now, Dr. K (that’s Kristin Malek) is out here singing the praises of co-living, and I can’t help but nod in agreement. She did a episode on the Power of Co-Living at events. Remember when roommates were a thing? Before “adulting” took over and solo rooming became the norm? I will speak for myself, but back in the day, if I wanted to attend 12 conferences a year and if I were not speaking at them, then that is a lot of coin to throw down. So getting roommates was not a choice; it was a necessity. Now, as we are older and more mature in our careers, we may have more leeway financially. I can’t remember the last time I had a roomie. That is why Dr. K’s podcast stood out to me. I am missing that “Show and Tell Time.”

Dr. K talks about the joy of discovering new products, learning about quirky routines, and engaging in a grown-up show-and-tell. It’s like being a kid again but with a sprinkle of adulting wisdom. When you listen to her podcast, I think this will spark more sharing.

I’ll admit, there’s something magical about those late-night slumber parties with three other roomies – debriefing on sessions, dissecting encounters, and uncovering the hidden gems of conferences. We’re missing out on so much value because, let’s face it, adulting is convenient, but shared experiences are more valuable.

The real treasure, though, is the nighttime escapades at the bar from 6 pm to 4 am. Sure, my bedtime might be 10 pm now, and I can’t function on four hours of sleep, but Dr. K is onto something. There’s gold in those relaxed lobby moments, where connections deepen, and friendships are forged over a shared laugh or a failed karaoke attempt.

Victory of Co-Living

Take my 40th birthday bash on the Soul Train Cruise, for instance. It was in the lobby lounge of one of the National Speakers Association Conventions (I went to every single conference). I was chatting with a speaker friend, Ed Robinson, he and his wife convinced me right then and there that I must go on the Soul Train Cruise. I trusted Ed because of our convention hall interactions and I had an epic experience, twice.

Regarding “Co-living,” I didn’t have anyone who would enjoy the music-filled Motown fest on the sea, so I randomly roomed with a stranger. Fast forward to annual adventures with a fantastic, highly religious Black Lieutenant Colonel from Florida who looked like Michelle Obama. Our worlds were different, but that’s the beauty of co-living. We sang, we danced, we shared cultures, and I learned about bedtime head silks and she translated some of Bill Bellamy’s jokes. All because we were roomies, breaking down barriers one dance move at a time.

Our silliness from instant roommate bonding on the #SoulTrainCruise

Because of our co-living situation, we have traveled the world together.

So, here’s to reviving the conference roommate camaraderie – because sometimes, the real conference magic happens when the sessions end, and the lobby becomes a stage for shared stories, laughter, and maybe a little Motown magic.

In group discussions, steering the ship of moderation can be a powerful skill that not only keeps conversations on track but also ensures everyone gets to join in.  Skillful moderation, executed with finesse and respect, can redirect conversations that veer off track or become dominated by a single voice. This skill is crucial for cultivating equitable group dynamics.

Questions to Ponder

  • If you’ve ever randomly roomed with a stranger, what was the most memorable part of that experience?
  • What are your fondest memories from the times of conference roommates?
  • Can you recall any unique or quirky routines you discovered while co-living with conference roommates?

Do you remember having roommates at conferences?

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