A Hard Lesson for Exhibitors on Booth Duty

October 5, 2013

I’ve heard folks in their 20’s and 30’s complain about how exhausted they are from staffing an exhibit. I doubt very much that Walt Bentson, a retired IBM division vice-president, would complain or, for that matter, even be exhausted from booth duty.

Some months ago I wrote a couple of posts, one of which made the case for staffing your exhibit with “seasoned” personnel, the other advocating the use of “yoots”, as Cousin Vinnie would refer to a younger generation. Which is more valuable on the showfloor, the supposed skill and wisdom of we elders, along with the sense of duty perhaps more common in the older generation, or the stamina and enthusiasm of twenty-somethings?

A recent visitor reminded me that occasionally – very occasionally – you will witness someone that has that rare combination of skill, wisdom, enthusiasm, and most remarkably, stamina.

My friend Walt Bentson had caught three innings in the past two weeks in the SFGiants Sunday over-30 Fantasy Camp Baseball League. He had gone 3-for-6 with a walk in 7 at bats. What makes this remarkable is that this baseball league has virtually all the players in their 40s & 50s, and Walt is 83. That is not a typo.

Walt plays baseball, not softball, against guys who are half his age. In the past 26 years, he has played over 500 games, in senior and fantasy camp settings around the country, and in Hawaii, and Cuba as well. He pitched until he was 80, and still catches.

“At the LA Dodger Fantasy Camp in 1996, I won the batting championship, and in both 2000 & 2001 there, I was the Cy Young Award winner as the Best Pitcher in camp. I played in several Senior World Series over-50, and over-65 in Phoenix Arizona at age 65 to 75. All-in-all, it’s been a wonderful experience for the last 25+ years ... literally a dream come true,” Bentson said.

Couple of more things that make Walt’s feats all the more extraordinary: Walt has had a knee replacement and in April of this year he underwent double bypass surgery.

So what’s this got to do with trade shows? Just this: Trade shows done right are physically and mentally demanding. You probably have traveled a distance to attend, you may not sleep well in an unfamiliar bed, you stand for hours, often on unforgiving floors. Sometimes you go for many hours without a bite to eat. At other times, you entertain customers and prospects, in the course of which you may eat and drink a tad too much.

Oh, did I mention that Walt works out 1½-2 hours three times a week? With Fitlinxx computer-assisted weight stations, he has recorded over a 12 yr. span that he has “lifted” over 44 million lbs. (22,000 tons) of weights in the course of his workouts.

Now, have I shamed you into getting into shape for your next trade show? Gee, I hope so.

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