View Full Version : Keep the Cufflinks - The cultural conferencing gap

03-01-2007, 08:03 AM

The best conference I ever attended was in Texas, where the top salesman for Carillon Importers drove off with a brand new Rolls Royce Grey Ghost. The runners up received gold Rolex watches, and the soon-to-be-Grammy-queen Dixie Chicks serenaded the crowd. Since it was held in Texas, Carillon gave us all Stetson hats, cowboy shirts, and those bullet deflector shield belt buckles. We all doffed our cowboy hats and shouted yeehaw when a salesman won a prize. Itís the most fun Iíve ever had at a business meeting.

In the 15 years Iíve stomped around the Baltic, Iíve yet to attend a fun conference. Often, someoneís idea of an exciting time is to drive a car on stage. But nobody actually gets to keep it, which makes the event about as exciting as going to the dealership and looking in the window.

People sit so still at Baltic conferences, I often wonder if I havenít stumbled into some kind of Buddhist retreat. But thatís not fair criticism. I have a cultural bias. Americans, as the world knows, are always eager to hoot and holler, and we will, more often than not, agree to make fools of ourselves.

In this special issue of City Paper Business Centre (how Ďbout that classy British spelling?), our Vello Vikerkaar tries to bridge the cultural conferencing gap, offering some affordable ideas which can spice up a Baltic conference but will still allow most participants to keep their dignity.

By the way, you may be wondering what I took home from that Texas conference. In addition to all the cowboy wear, I got these Absolut Vodka cufflinks, which as the American saying goes, beats a sharp stick in the eye. But of course I would have rather had the car.