If I learn just one new thing…


Back in my days in the software industry, I used to put on a lot of educational seminars. One day, I was teaching an all-day session and noticed one of my customers, a gentleman by the name of Ken Combs, sitting about fifteen rows back in the audience. At the first break, I went over to him and said, “What are you doing here, Ken? You could be teaching this seminar!” I absolutely loved his response: “I figure if I can learn one new thing, then the whole day is worth it.” Before using this insightful little anecdote to segue into the subject of this blog, I have to tell a little tale of that seminar. It was, as I said, an all-day seminar. I’m pretty good at projecting my voice, and when I’m dealing with small groups, I usually eschew microphones. This particular day, however, I had an audience of about 120 people and we were in a hotel ballroom with dubious acoustics, so I had a sound system. Like most hotel ballrooms, this one had accordion-style dividers that could separate it into smaller rooms, and we were using about a third of the room. The morning session went well, but the afternoon became Public Speaker Nightmare #23 ™: there was a wedding reception in the other part of the ballroom. They had a live DJ. He had a much more powerful sound system than I did. After about an hour with my sound system cranked up all the way, shouting into the microphone, I called a quick break and strolled over to the reception, where I asked the DJ if he’d mind taking the volume down a bit because he was making my job impossible. “Not my problem, dude,” he said as he cranked his volume up higher. We tried everything. We appealed to the bride. We called the hotel’s booking desk. We tried to find the weekend manager. And throughout it all, I shouted my voice raw trying to be heard in the back of the room. I couldn’t talk for two days after that (I’m not sure whether my wife wrote a thank you note to the bride for that or not), and we did end up getting a portion of our rent for the room refunded, but it made for one miserable seminar. Despite all of that, Ken learned his one new thing and I applied his philosophy from my side of the lectern and got much more careful about room bookings for future events. Remember I promised to bring this back to tea? Well, fast forward twenty years or so, and here I am at the World Tea Expo. I still try to follow Ken’s philosophy, and it serves me well. I attended two good educational sessions yesterday, which I’ll probably be writing more about: “Le Nez du Thé” (the nose of tea) and a tea blending workshop. I certainly learned more than one thing in each. After the exhibit hall closed, I went to the Tea Bloggers Roundtable. Mostly, I went for networking purposes, to meet some of these people I know only through their blog posts and tweets. It was a wonderful networking event, but even without that I learned something.

Tea Bloggers Roundtable

From left to right: Jo Johnson (Scandalous Tea), Jason Walker (Walker Tea Review), Robert Godden (the Devotea), Chris Giddings (Tea-Guy), Jen Piccotti (An International Tea Moment), Linda Gaylard (the Tea Stylist), Geoffrey Norman (Lazy Literatus), Rachel Carter (iHeart Teas), Naomi Rosen (Joy’s Teaspoon), and Michael Coffey (the Tea Geek). Barely visible behind Jo is Darlene Meyers-Perry (the Tea Enthusiast’s Scrapbook) — sorry about that, Darlene.

Yes, there was a bit of the mutual admiration society going on there, and the interplay was fun to watch (Godden and Coffey should take their show on the road), but it was also a very worthwhile session. There were more bloggers in the audience — including yours truly, of course — and the format was flexible enough that the distinction between panelist and audience member blurred. As everyone talked and questions were asked (and sometimes answered), it became clear that no two bloggers in the room really had the same objectives. For all of us, the blog is a representation of our personality enveloping the world of tea. Some of the blogs consist almost entirely of tasting notes (e.g., Nicole Schwartz’s “AmazonV” blog) and some have no tasting notes at all. We talked about tea, but mostly about the art of blogging, the expectations of our readers, and the trials and tribulations of trying to keep up any kind of a schedule for blog posts. I hope there’s another blogging event like this one again very soon!

About Gary D. Robson

Gary Robson: Author, tea guy, and owner of Phoenix Pearl Tea. I've written books and articles on a zillion different subjects, but everyone knows me for my "Who Pooped in the Park?" books.

Posted on 8 June 2013, in Tea Biz and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to attend but the picture in this post is heartwarming. They are live in different parts of the country and around the world, yet they are all together celebrating what we love, tea! I think that is the common objective of all tea bloggers 🙂

    • Sometimes I wonder if our blogging is a way to make up for a lack of face-to-face interaction with our fellow tea lovers. Since World Tea Expo accomplishes that same goal, a blogger roundtable at the Expo seems like a no-brainer!

  2. Great post! Thanks for attending and I am so glad you found value in the Roundtable. Also, I couldn’t agree more about Godden and Coffey they really should take that show in the road. 🙂

    • They could call it “Tea & Snark: an international multimedia video-aroma blog celebrating the sensual and sarcastic side of our favorite caffeine delivery system.” Of course, somebody needs to perfect Smell-O-Vision first.

  3. Wait: which one of us in snarky?

  4. This picture brings me so much joy. So many of my favorite bloggers in one place. It broke my heart not to be with everyone at WTE but I give tremendous credit to Jo and Jason and the rest for bringing this great idea to life.

  5. I love your use of experience and story here it really drew me in.

    It’s great to hear feedback. The Roundtable came about from a desire to have bloggers speaking to bloggers about our trials and tribulations as well as get some perspective on each of our styles beyond just what we read.

    I’m glad the panel served its purpose. I had a lot of fun behind the table, I’m glad you enjoyed it as well.

  6. Great summary, Gary. I wish I was able to attend this year. Of all the workshops and sessions, this was one of the main ones I was curious about. I would have loved the chance to meet, hang out, chat with other tea bloggers and learn from each other’s experiences. Maybe another round table will be planned for next year’s WTE 🙂

  7. So good seeing you there, Gar. You were quite a vocal participant. You should be on the next panel. If I had my vote.

  8. Thanks for the mention. I hadn’t seen your blog before the expo but will be following it closely. 🙂

    PS: My website is Tea-Guy.com not TeaGuySpeaks, though William Lengeman is brilliant!

    • Thanks, Chris, and I’m sorry about the link to your blog. I have fixed it.

      That’s what I get for moving too fast and not checking the links when I enter them. I actually do follow your blog (and Lengeman’s, too) — I just goofed up this time.

  1. Pingback: World Tea Expo Day 1 « AmazonV

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