Timeline: New England, Monday November 7, 2011.
I had set my alarm clock for 6.30am. Well, come to think about it, that is not strictly true. Only three sentences into this into this article and already I am having to correct a little white lie.
I don’t use alarm clocks any more and have not done so for many years. My “alarm clock” is my iPhone. I love the fact that this thin, flat little metal-and-glass rectangle turns into whatever I want it to be at the touch of a finger.
This morning it was to be an alarm clock, but as usual in circumstances like this, it wasn’t needed.
Circumstances like this? Well, I mean those times when I am about to set off on an exciting adventure…in this case four days in New England.
I had woken up early, it was still dark and I had no idea of the time so I groped around blindly for my watch, a device which doubles up as an iPhone and which in 59 minutes time would be my alarm clock.
I spent much of those 59 minutes thinking about what I might do during the four days ahead. Some people, when visiting a new location, will make detailed plans in advance setting out what they will do from hour to hour but that is not my style.
All I knew for certain was that when Amtrak’s Northeast Regional Service 170 pulled into Providence, Rhode Island, at 11.46am I was to look out for TimTech’s Justin Ledvina.
I had a reservation on the 8.30am train from Penn Station and I had two subway trains to catch in order to get there. I would take the Manhattan-bound 7 local service to the end of the line at Times Square and then change to the 1, 2, or 3 southbound service to Penn Station just one stop away.
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I like the New York metro service, it is like the London Underground, except more efficient and much, much cheaper.
I arrived early enough to get some breakfast at the station but with literally dozens of food outlets vying for my custom which one was I to choose?
Everyone else knew exactly what they wanted for breakfast, where to get it and they ordered their meals with practiced efficiency.
I, on the other hand, provided some early morning comic relief, for the regular commuters. I would wander into a store, check the menu, wander out again, check the menu at the next store, join a line for service, change my mind again, join a line at another store and still not know what I wanted to eat.
In the end I grabbed a turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich and an iced coffee to eat on the train.
I also purchased two newspapers and a paperback novel and boarded my train with two minutes to spare.
Different people have different routines for long train journeys; some must have music constantly playing on an iPod or similar device, others develop an almost irrational urge to shout into their mobile phones (“I’m on the train. I said I’m on the train. Yes the train. Sorry I can’t hear you we went through a tunnel. Yes the reception is bad. I think it is because I am on the train…”) but I like to read, look out of the window and then read some more.
I managed to get some work done, look out of the window and read both the papers during the journey and when I arrived Justin was waiting for me at the station.
We grabbed a sandwich for lunch, had a quick tour of the neighborhood and then went to Justin’s house to do some work.
It came as no surprise to me to learn that Justin is exactly the same in real life as he is in front of the camera on TELive and T3, if perhaps a little less pixellated when he moves.
I mean the guy is literally the same. There are no “airs and graces” for the camera; no quick switch to teaching talk or marketer mode and this is so refreshing to see.
Justin often speaks about how small his office is and he is correct; if it was a car the salesman would no doubt describe it as ‘functional and compact.’
When I visited, Justin had a three monitor workstation array in front of him and there was a large whiteboard on the wall immediately to the left of his desk. At the top, written in black marker pen and underlined in red was Justin’s personal mission statement.
If you want to find out more about Justin’s mission statement and why he has one, then he has recently made a video about it on his blog.
Shortly after I arrived I was allowed to listen in on a Skype video conference call with other members of the TimTech team where plans for the week ahead were being discussed.
One of the things I love about TimTech is that it just seems to flow so naturally. There is not this stuffy system where official memos are sent around and instructions handed down from on high.
Instead everyone knows their strengths, everyone knows the part they play in the development of the company and they just get on with it.
Without warning, Tim asked me how many miles I had flown from the UK to be in the US. He doesn’t tend to do ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ a lot but, instead, will often just start talking when he has something to say.
I guessed that it was “about 3,500 miles” but, to be honest, I wasn’t keeping track of the distance on the flight over.
It seems that Tim didn’t like my guesstimate and came back a few moments later to tell me it was actually 3,460 miles. I had no idea why he wanted to know and he didn’t tell me.
I got to find out a few hours later when I checked my email to discover that Tim had sent out this email to the TimTech mailing list:
I felt very honored to have been asked to take part in the seminar and it was touching to see that the email had been sent out mentioning me in it.
Justin had an idea for this evening’s T3 seminar and it was to ask people the question “Why are you here?”
We thought it would be an idea to just talk around that topic to come up with some ideas for the evening seminar but first Justin said it was time for coffee.
He disappeared for a while and returned with a small, rectangular cardboard box which had once contained sachets of cat food but which was now filled with individual servings of different flavored coffees.
The label on the box said something like: “whitefish and tuna dinner, liver and chicken dinner, savory salmon feast” so I put my hand in and hoped for the best.
I can drink virtually any flavor of coffee but I was hoping that liver and chicken was not really going to be one of the options.
I think I ended up with hazelnut flavor coffee, it was delicious and there was not even a hint of tuna dinner anywhere to be found.
In the next hour or so – and flowing from just that one question – we batted ideas back and forth just based on that one simple question.
I took notes in the big pink notebook I had bought specially for the occasion and that discussion we had just had, formed the basis for the T3 show which was to follow.
Like I said earlier, I felt so honored to have been asked to co-host the show with Justin and I was determined not to let him down but I kept thinking:
‘What if I can’t think of anything to say when we go live?’
After all it was then only about six months since I had signed up to CTP and now here I was in the home office of the CEO of TimTech preparing to co-host their live flagship weekly T3 training program.
We did not produce a script or decide who was going to say this or that – instead Justin made me another coffee from the cat food selection box – and we delivered the training in the form of a conversation between the two of us.
It was a great show with up to 96 people in the room, a mix of regulars and some new faces.
Well when I say it was a great show what I mean is that we received great feedback from people who were in the room. Actually my recollection is that I had been speaking with Justin for about ten minutes but when we looked at the time, the entire hour had nearly passed.
Earlier Justin had squeezed a camera and tripod in to the space between the main monitor and the back wall to record the show but we were both a little disappointed to learn that it had stopped filming after just five minutes.
After the show I was on a real high. It is a great feeling to feel passionate about something and to be able to communicate that passion to others.
It is what I want to do.
After the show Justin drove me back to my hotel and I was still on such a high that I just wanted to get back into the TELive room and see if the show was still going on.
Luckily it was so I listened to it to the end and then spent the next couple of hours working on my blog, responding to that day’s emails and checking Twitter.
It was great to see so many tweets from people who enjoyed the show. Here are just a couple of them:
When I checked in to the hotel I noticed that it had a pool but something told me that on this trip I would have no chance to find any time for swimming…and I was right.
Tomorrow I was going to meet Larry and Tim. It was to be another memorable, fun-filled and action-packed day, but for now it was already into the small hours of Tuesday morning and time to get a few hours sleep.
Next week: I will tell you what happened when I met two more of the TimTech team but, until then, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of the story so far.