The Human Element

Last night, the Security Today team was lucky enough to attend a small, intimate dinner put on by i-Pro Americas Inc. at the Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse at the Venetian. After a brief welcome by President Bill Brennan, two tables of about 15 people each dove into a four-course dinner including the biggest ribeye steak I’ve ever seen and a half-pound slice of rich chocolate cake. (I’m still riding the sugar high as of this writing at 12:37 a.m.).

Most of us gathered were strangers. Shop talk lasted the first ten or fifteen minutes, but as the first course began soothing our stomachs, the conversation spun off in a dozen unexpected directions. We talked about Vegas, previous travel experiences, dream travel destinations. How we spent our lockdowns. Star Wars, the Marvel movies, the Big Bang Theory, Bob’s Burgers. We debated the minute cultural differences between our various home cities, from Rockford (Illinois) to Dallas to Charleston to London. The Beatles. Old college friends we used to be close with but now only talk on birthdays. Gambling addiction and alcoholism. The Russia-Ukraine conflict. By the time the waiters were removing our entree plates, it felt less like a work dinner and more like a gathering of old friends..

Anyone who’s been to a conference knows how overstimulating and intense they can be. You wake up and you’re on for 14–16 hours straight, from the conference itself to happy hours to dinners to afterparties. You’re pushing products and solutions and branding and messaging and networking and synergizing. You’re wearing your work mask from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. I clocked in at 20,165 steps on Wednesday and 18,489 steps Thursday. .

(Please don’t think I’m complaining—when these kinds of large-scale events only happen once or twice a year, it’s just the nature of the beast.).

We talk about the human element of security, but we don’t talk much about the human element of conferences. The last thing I expected to happen last night was to have an in-depth conversation about the stage-play sequel to the Harry Potter series. And by meal’s end, I was equally surprised to be trading business cards with my dinner companions—not for professional reasons, because work barely came up; but because I’d met some pretty cool folks and wanted to be able to keep in touch.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at

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