To Toronto and back

Hey all —

What’s been going on?  In the last few weeks I voyaged to Toronto and back all for a lighting factory tour.

JD and CT at Metalumen

Did you know LEDs use (man-made) sapphires as the base?  That’s why LED is such a blue light.  We learned that the future of LED involves a switch to a purple base for a more natural appearing light.

Metalumen LED boards

Above are some LED boards being manufactured.

We didn’t actually end up in downtown Toronto like I thought we would, the factory was in Guelph, Ontario and the first few nights we stayed in a nice hotel (the Delta) in Guelph.  The last night we moved to a Holiday Inn in Kitchener to be closer to Oktoberfest.

Octoberfest

The majority of the tour group went to a farmer’s market and shopping place on the last day of the trip but my lighting rep host and another pair of travelers and I slipped away, rented a car and went to Niagara Falls.  It was great to see it from the Canada side.

View from the restaurant

We went out on one of the boats and rode pretty close (but not under) the Falls.

Group at Niagra

We also stopped in nearby Niagara on the Lake to try ice wine.  I had never heard of it before – it is a sweet dessert wine that is made with grapes after they have frozen on the vine.  It was super yummy but I didn’t bring a bottle back as I was trying to travel light.  It might have been better if I had purchased something because the customs agent who questioned me on the way out was very puzzled as to why I had not done any shopping.  (See getting out of Canada was difficult below.)  Note to said customs agent – not all women who travel only do so to shop.

It was a whirlwind of a trip (getting out of Canada was somewhat difficult and we had to really RUN through the airport to catch a connecting flight) and I am lucky to have been invited.  My host paid for everything and I got him and the other lighting reps talking about all of their client-schmoozing adventures.  They have basically had to become enablers in the name of business.  Beyond drinks and expensive dinners, some of their clients demand strippers or hookers and the reps end up baby-sitting a bunch of spoiled  and often extremely drunk specifiers.  (That was not me, I stayed relatively sober and my host only had to indulge me by buying a plate of French fries at the bar after each buffet dinner where there was nothing vegan but salad …)

It makes me wonder if this is the old school of doing business (the Donald Trump school we might call it) and if there isn’t a new school on its way in.  I was one of only a few women on the trip which I’m sure changes the dynamic but we still had a couple of older guys cab out of Oktober fest in search of a strip club.  More than anything though, I think we should all consider thinking about value-added opportunities rather than just additional value items.  What on earth are you rambling about CT?  The other day JT and I met with our financial planner.  She graciously brought in lunch and even catered to my particularity and had a vegan option and even a vegan cupcake for desert.  This was great but I think I would have much preferred a value-added exchange where perhaps she came to our house to meet rather than providing us with lunch.  It seems more and more of our business is being driven to after hours activities where we’re trying to forge connections with potential clients over cocktails.  I would rather work hard and give them a great project than schmooze with them in the evening.  Maybe that’s just me.  Is anyone else seeing this in their work life?  This may be just normal growing pains as my employers push me towards project management while I try to dig my heels in and stay in the creative realm.  Dunno.

At the end of the day it’s all first world problems.  I was given a free trip (and a bonus day off work) to travel to a cool destination and learn some things and now here I am quasi-complaining about it.  It just seems like we all have a long way to go on this work/life balance thing and it’s not just about personal decisions – the whole corporate culture needs a shift in my opinion.  But that’s enough about opinions.  It’s Friday.  Time to head out into the weekend and live up the life side of things!  Cheers – CT

Fiver Floats

(PS – Above is a Canadian $5 bill.  It’s some kind of plastic or polymer or something.  It sat in the beer for a few minutes and then I wiped it down and then the nice Canadian gentleman showing me this party trick put it back in his wallet.  Also the exchange rate was such that everything was about 25% of a discount so maybe some shopping wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all.)

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