It’s January, and that can mean only one thing—the annual Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) Sales Conference
And this year, my employer—Acme Low Carb Tongue-Depressors, Inc.—held it in a new location. Look at the photo on the left. Can you guess where? Can ya? Can ya?
No! Not in a Catholic High School! It was in Edinburgh, Scotland.
That’s me on the left, and my boss—who, despite my ruining the finish on his desktop with a hot pizza in 1998, graciously gave me permission to publish this photo—on the right.
At the risk of being called a brown-noser, this year’s conference was far and away the best I’ve attended. In fact, it was better than many of my past vacations.
Sure, the conference was full of technical presentations, goofy new buzzwords (e.g., “proofability,” “changing fact,” “learnings” and my personal favorite, “best of breed”) and skull-crushing hangovers. But there were three things that made this year’s conference especially memorable: kilts, whisky and haggis.
First, the kilts. For the awards ceremony dinner, Acme rented traditional Scottish attire for all of the men. It was my first time in a kilt, and I must say...I liked it! Kilts are warm and comfy, and they come with a little goat-skin purse (called a “sporran”) that holds your wallet, mobile phone and whisky flask. All in all, it was a helluva sight...100+ newly-enlightened men—from locations as diverse as the US, Finland and Lebanon—dressed in kilts and strutting around like peacocks. Not one embarassed soul in the lot.
This shouldn’t have been surprizing. When you think about it logically, it makes far more sense for a man to wear a skirt than a woman. Men do, after all, have certain design features that make them more susceptible to being squeezed, pinched or chafed
by the inseam of a pair of pants. And I don’t need to mention the unique danger that a carelessly tugged zipper presents.
The only downside to wearing a kilt is the logistical challenge posed by the inevitable wee-wee break. Three hands are needed to manage this task. I now understand why women go to the bathroom in pairs.
The second highlight of the conference was the Scotch whisky. No, that’s not a cultural stereotype. Scotch whisky is, in fact, as bountiful in Edinburgh as is Dr. Pepper in Galveston. The menu in our hotel bar sported at least forty different brands. And all of them were single malt.
The third highlight was haggis. Haggis is a black, peppery mixture of sheep’s heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, spices and oats that’s stuffed into a sheep’s intestine and cooked. The photo on the left shows the plate of haggis that I was served. It was an exciting event in my life. Haggis is one of two disgusting foods (the other being durian
) that, for years, I’ve been dying to eat. It was worth the wait. Haggis is great stuff!
What a trip! What a country! I should’ve known that Scotland had more to offer than the Bay City Rollers.