I have never been to the circus, not even one of the dozens of Cirque du Soleil acrobatic spectaculars. Over time, what I imagine the circus to look like has changed. From big-eared flying elephants to fire-breathing, tight rope-walking sideshow acts, all centered around a fantastically and eccentrically dressed ring leader who brings everyone’s attention to his stage of characters. Never, did I picture the circus as a tradeshow floor.
Twelve months and 15 tradeshows into my new career in the Install and Dismantle Industry, I realize I attend the circus every day I walk through the freight doors with my highlighter colored wrist band and (very) large cup of coffee. If you have attended a convention, exposition, tradeshow, or private marketing event but have never seen it from conception to destruction, well you are missing out on the business (tech, medical, political, etc., etc., etc.) world’s finest show.
My coworkers laugh when I tell them about my analogy—comparing our jobs to that of the bearded lady or the lion tamer. But then I see them think about it for a moment, and they, too, realize that what we do is exactly like the traveling circus. The industry has its own cast of characters—the high-flying rigger walking the beams of the upper ceiling to hang a twirling sign, or the grizzly forklift driver you better make good with if you ever want your freight to show up in the right place at the right time.
“Step right up, folks! Come see the greatest show on Earth! Three days only!” We build double decks, espresso bars, and mini theaters in a 400-square foot space, complete with vinyl or hardwood flooring. Corporate CEOs and VPs stand on podiums and deliver powerful speeches to their shareholders, and professionals and fanatics from all areas of the globe walk the aisles to discover the next great thing (whatever that may be). When the show is over? Taxis line the streets to take the CEOs and VPs to the airport. The professionals and fanatics go to their homelands to tell everyone of their latest and greatest discoveries. And who is left? The high-flying rigger. And the grizzly forklift driver you better make good with if you ever want to get your crates off the floor. The carpets are rolled, the double decks disassembled, the espresso bars packed away for the next barista at the next show—all of this in half the amount of time it took to put it together.
This industry brings business, technology, medicine, philanthropy, and awareness to the people. I never attended the circus. Until now. And what I have learned about my professional traveling circus is that I am a part of the world’s greatest show.