The Difference a Year Makes

What a difference a year makes.

Last year wasn’t just my first GSX conference, it was my first trade show ever. I wrote about the whiplash of going from working from home in my two-bedroom apartment to the massive spectacle of the show floor. I was a little over six months into my position here at Security Today/Campus Security & Life Safety and hadn’t made many professional contacts—or set any booth appointments. I spent most of the show doing laps through the aisles, starting conversations at random, collecting freebies, and trying to keep busy.

This year, I hit the ground running. I had booth appointments every 30 minutes all day long. I bounced like a ping-pong ball from row 1100 to row 800 to row 2300 to 600 to 1700 to 1900, back and forth across the floor. I wrapped up half the editorial for our last print magazine of the year in about five hours.

When I checked in with my girlfriend after the show, she asked with a combination of dread and amusement how many goodies I was bringing home to stuff in my desk drawer. She seemed surprised when I told her none so far—I was too busy working.

To be fair, my time at the conference is pretty front-loaded. My Tuesday is (only slightly) less busy, and Wednesday is almost totally open. But Monday was one of those days that flew by because I had so much to do that I lost all track of time passing. Before I knew it, it was 4:30 p.m., and we were headed back to the hotel to change and rest our feet before the after-show events started.

It’s nice to have my feet underneath me and a little clearer idea of what I’m doing. It’s nice to feel like I’m accomplishing something instead of spinning my wheels and running out the clock.

But before I leave, I’m gonna have to make time to strike up a conversation with whatever booth is handing out those canvas Moleskine notebooks. Those things are really cool.

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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