Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Last Minute Dick

Image representing Seth Godin as depicted in C...Image by


via CrunchBase

Pal Carrington shared this post from Seth Godin's blog. Just in case you don't know him (cue screams of 'don't know him? Don't know him?' from the neologists and social media gurus out there), Seth Godin is a frequent, respected and much followed commentator on social media, marketing and suchlike. He's a big, major league US business guru.

In fact, there's something of a Seth Godin cargo cult going on out there. If Seth says 'Hey! Stick pins in your eyes to enjoy success on the Social Web', you'll hear the sounds of screaming from all over Silicon Valley.

But I do have to take issue with the Sethmeister over this one. He says:

I hate going to the post office in the town next to mine. Every time I go, they look for a reason not to ship my package. "Too much tape!" "Not enough tape!" "There's a logo!"

The same thing happens with the tech crew before I give a speech. About 75% of the time, the lead tech guy (it always seems to be a guy) explains why it's impossible. Impossible to use a Mac, impossible to use the kind of microphone I like, impossible to use my own clicker, etc. And then, the rest of the time, using the same technology, the producer asks, "how can I help make this work for us?" and everything is about yes, not no.

To get the full effect, you'll have to go to his post - I shortened it.

Now here's where I got the issue. While I agree with the general (and, I thought, rather obvious) point that people who say 'yes' are nicer to deal with, and more successful, than people who say 'no' by default there is, as Berthold Brecht tells us, an exception and a rule.

Nearly every major conference event I have organised, moderated or otherwise been involved with has resulted in the appearance of the Last Minute Dick, or LMD.

The Last Minute Dick ignores all calls for papers, all emails asking speakers to please note down any special requirements and all requests for their PPTs and other materials before the event. The LMD will miss the speakers' briefing the day before because he's way too busy for that kind of thing.

And then he'll turn up on stage with less than an hour to go before the start of the event (always less than an hour, from 55 minutes to 15 minutes) holding his memory key with a 90 page PPT on it that integrates to five embedded videos, requires a simultaneous sound track to trigger using SMTP time coding and absolutely needs us to download and install SWIFF player from the Internet on the stage laptop. His videos will need the newest Vidalia Codec to be installed and support for Flash Version X, where X is the version above the one you actually have installed on the stage system.

He'll also need an intro video to be played from another file that will invariably crash the carefully pieced together sound/light integration that the team has been working all night on to ensure it's stable. It's on a Blu-Ray disk.

He'll pull a full John McEnroe on you when you tell him that you don't actually have Flash Version X.

"Whaat? What kind of two-bit penny-anny dump is this? Call yourself conference organisers? Jeez! Everyone got Flash X! And Blu-Ray? What do you MEAN you don't have a Blu-Ray player set up? I don't need to tell you to get a Blu-Ray player, surely? I mean, every organiser in the world has a spare Blu-Ray player! Do you know how often I speak at these things? Proper ones? In big cities? Do you? Do you? I mean, do you know who I am?'

Yes, I do. And you're a dick.

You can guarantee, by the way, that his requirements will ensure that something goes horribly wrong for the next speaker. And that you'll be around to hear him telling everyone who'll listen what complete gherkins you and your crummy company are for messing up the stage settings like that.

I'm with the guy on the stage, Seth. If you didn't tell 'em you want your own Mac, clicker or wombat on heat up there on stage, he's totally right to tell you 'no' when you pop up demanding it as the gig's about to start. And I'd back him for telling you to get off his stage, too. Because the event's always bigger than the one, lone and invariable LMD...

Zemanta Pixie


Mita said...

I know exactly the kind of person you mean!!

Anonymous said...


Mars said...

hate people like that.

Tim Burrowes - Mumbrella said...

I saw someone get her comeuppance (admittedly it was my event which spoilt it a bit) for arriving late and wanting to change at the last minute.

There were two versions of her presentation on her usb stick. A very very short version and one to fill the hour.

The tech person uploaded the short version and buggered off out of the room. Rather than tell the audience what had happened when it all went wrong, she tried to wing it and make three slides last an hour.

It was a most spectacular car crash.

alexander... said...

The revenge of the technician. A wonderful thing! >;0)

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