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Countdown to National Conference 2016

In summary, National Conference is coming up soon and you should start preparing now. Pampered Chef requires that you dress business casual, so you'll need to pack a light blazer or sweater. You also have a few weeks to search for sales, resale shops, and consignment shops for whatever you need. If you're one of those people who easily wears just about anything, don't worry, you can still attend. Remember to include your loved ones in the excitement and make sure they know you'll miss them.


Staff member
Today is June 10. There are only 34 days until the start of National Conference.

If you’ve never gone to NC before, you’re in for a real treat. They treat us well. I’ll be sharing travel and NC tips in the coming days.Feel free to ask questions. Feel free, too, to add any hints or tips you can think of. Soon there will be all kinds of things on CC that you can download. You might not need them all, especially if you've been to NC before. It doesn't hurt, though, to read things over. After all, things might have changed since last year.

I haven’t seen anything about dress code for this year, but I’ll assume that it will be similar to what it’s been in the past. Here’s the official word from past years:

Pampered Chef requires that at all official Pampered Chef functions you dress business casual. No shorts. Rosemont can be hot in the summer, but keep in mind that you are indoors most of the time and the air conditioner can be chilly. Packing a light blazer or sweater is a good idea since you can easily take it on and off when needed.

Start now to take a good look at your available wardrobe in light of the rules. If there’s something you need to add, you have a few weeks to search out sales, resale shops, and consignment shops for whatever you need. If you start now, you won’t be as tempted to spend a lot just to get something.
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Bonus Post

Are you getting excited? I am. I’ve printed off the agenda. I’ll be checking CC every couple of days for more tidbits of information. In years past they’ve given a few nuggets at a time.

Begin now making a list of the things you hope to learn at NC. If you’ve never been before, think about what you most want to know. Write down your questions. Read them over frequently. This will plant them in your brain, and you’ll be more likely to recognize an answer when you hear it. That’s one of the best things you can do to prepare your mind for NC.
This will be my first NC and I'm beyond excited and ready to attend
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Today is June 11. There are only 33 days until the start of National Conference.

If the only clothes you have that would be appropriate for NC aren't comfortable, you need to do something. You can have the clothes you already have altered, or you can buy new. Just remember that it can take lots of time to find clothing that fits your body and your budget. That is, of course, unless you’re one of those people who easily wears just about anything. If that’s you, don’t tell me. I’m afraid it would alter my good feelings toward you. LOL!

Remember that comfortable doesn’t have to mean sloppy. I know your shorts, tank top, and flip flops are comfortable; they just aren’t appropriate for NC. Clothes that fit well, and that includes shoes, can be business-like and still be very comfortable.

It probably won’t surprise anyone that I already have my NC wardrobe planned out, right down to the unmentionables. That reminds me—make sure your unmentionables are comfortable, too. Ladies, a bra fitting between now and NC is a wonderful gift you can give yourself. A well-fitted bra is comfortable and can make you look even more fabulous.
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  • #5
Bonus Post

If your loved ones are questioning your desire to go to NC, do your best to include them in the excitement. Have them help you brainstorm about things to take, things to ask, things to see, . . .

Use CS to talk incessantly about NC. Yes, I said to include your family, but they probably don't want to hear constant chatter about it. However, do make sure they know that you'll miss them; you'll bring them souvenirs; and they'll benefit from the extra money you'll make because of the business boost you'll get.

If you haven’t already, start a file. I keep 2 NC files--1 in a file folder, the other on my computer. This is where I keep all NC materials--confirmations, receipts, lists, etc. I use the computer file for anything I don't want to waste a lot of paper on. The folder is for anything I might want to take with me (like a hotel confirmation, registration confirmation, etc.).

Getting organized now helps me to stay organized all the way through NC.

Also, take a close look at your business. Pay attention to your shows. Here’s why:

1. You'll know what areas to target when you're asking questions and taking workshop notes.

2. You'll know what's working well. You're likely to be asked for tips and advice while at NC. By really studying your business, you'll know what to tell those who ask.

3. You'll have a chance to make your business better before you even go. You may discover areas where you can change or streamline to make your business what you want it to be.
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  • #6
Today is June 12. There are only 32 days until the start of National Conference.

Always double-check. It's easy to get used to relying on your director, your recruiter, your teammates, or your friends here at CS for information. We're good, but we're not perfect. The best source of information is the HO. Make sure you're reading what they send and what's posted on CC.
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  • #7
Today is June 13. There are 31 days until the start of National Conference.

Several years ago Ken Davis shared these ideas on a blog. He was talking about how to get the most out of the conferences he does, but I think they translate well to NC.

Make these resolutions to help you maximize your experiences:

1. Resolve to Relax

So many times we go into new situations tense and defensive, fearful of change and concerned about what people will think. We assume a negative posture that stifles creativity and inhibits learning.

Anticipate a great experience.
Believe that you will learn something helpful.
Don’t set yourself up to compete. You have nothing to prove. Learning is not competition it is
absorption. Become a happy Sponge Bob Square Pants. Soak it up!

2. Resolve to Disarm

We put it this way, “Leave your guns at the door.” All those little tricks and stories and shortcuts that you usually use when the pressure is on; the candy stick, shoot from the hip easy way out solutions that keep you from trying new things, leave them at the door.

Open yourself up to learn new techniques. Risk by exploring new ideas. When you leave the conference you can pick up your guns and take them with you. You may not need them anymore. OR, you may find them more affective with the new material you have learned. By leaving them at the door you will resist the temptation to depend on them and miss out on learning something new. [I’d like to add something here. The basics are always going to be the basics, so also leave your “I’ve heard that before/I’ve tried that before” attitude at the door. Be open to trying out the tried and true. It got that way for a reason.]

3. Resolve to connect

Dive in. Introduce yourself to instructors and other attendees. Ask questions, offer insight. Eat and talk and laugh with other people. TURN YOUR PHONE OFF!

In twenty years of doing workshops I can count on one hand and half of one foot the number of people who said they got nothing out of it. ALL OF THEM remained isolated and refused to get involved with the people around them. Some felt they knew it all. Usually those were sent by someone who knew they didn’t. Others never disconnected from phone - computer - business, so even though they were physically at the conference, mentally they never left the office.

4. Resolve to commit

I ask our students to commit to what we are teaching just for the length of the conference. Long enough to try the principles, get past the discomfort of doing something NEW, and experience the difference it will make in their performance. Once they leave, I give them permission to dump the whole thing and shoot me with the guns they left at the door, BUT BY THEN THEY ARE HOOKED.

The new grip suggested by a golf pro seems intolerable until you commit to practice it until it becomes natural. Only then will you hit the 250 yard drive or sink the 15 foot putt.​

Try these resolutions the next time you are at a conference.
I have found that these tips work for just about any conference or training. Hope you find them helpful.
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Bonus. I like to look my best at NC. Since I have colored hair in a fairly short style, that means making sure that my cut and color are reasonably fresh. I've already set my appointments so I can make sure I'm looking as cute as possible for NC. If this is a concern for you as well, you might want to make your appointment now. Make sure your stylist will be available when you need him/her.

Be sure you also do what you can to feel good. NC is physically and mentally stressful. It's good stress, but it's still stress. You have a few weeks to prepare yourself. Here are my suggestions:

Make getting rest a priority. If you're not well rested when you arrive, you're likely to struggle. After all, there are lots of things to do. You might be staying up late and getting up early. Most people don't sleep as well in a strange bed. Most of us will be sharing rooms with others, which can impair your sleep. These won't be as much of an issue if your sleep bank is full to begin with.

Start walking. There is a lot of walking at NC. Get moving now so you won't feel like you've been hit by a truck on day 2.

Eat well. Fueling your body with good food in the weeks ahead is a good way to make sure you're healthy and energetic when you arrive at NC. You know what that means. Eat your fruits and veggies. Go for lean proteins and whole grains. Avoid overly processed foods. Avoid empty calories.

Who knows? It's possible that these good habits that will become part of a healthy lifestyle that lasts long after this NC.
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  • #9
Today is June 14. There are only 30 days until the start of National Conference!

Where is your suitcase? Is it stored away in some deep, dark corner of your attic? You might want to think about getting it out sometime soon. Air it out so it doesn't make your clothes smell like, well, a hot, stuffy attic.

This might seem early, but I’m going to suggest that you start packing long before you leave. By starting your packing early, you are less likely to forget something.

You might also want to slip a nightlight in your luggage. You can plug it into the outlet in the bathroom to help everyone find their way to the potty in the middle of the night. I do this whenever I travel. Now I rarely have to do the stubbed-toe dance in the middle of the night.

Very few hotel rooms have enough convenient electrical outlets. If you're staying four to a room, you may want to make sure at least one of you brings along an outlet strip. That way everyone can plug in cell phones to charge for the night. Also, if the only outlet is under the desk, you'll only have to crawl under there twice (once to plug it in, and once to unplug it) instead of twice a day to plug in and unplug your cell phone. While I said to do this if you're staying four to a room, I do this even when I'm traveling alone. It really simplifies things. As a matter of fact, I have two small outlet strips that simply live in my suitcase—one for the main room and one for the bathroom.
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  • #10
Bonus. One of the things we’ll probably get when we register at NC is a tote of some kind. There may be an announcement soon about this year’s tote. If you're registering on the first day of NC, take the things you want to be sure to carry with you (paper, pens, and such) in a plastic bag. This way you can fold up the bag or toss it as soon as you get everything situated in your new tote.

That said, I always take along a lightweight tote I can use in case they don't provide a tote at registration. That's happened a few times. As you know, I like to be prepared.

Years ago Tracy99 had a great suggestion. Take along something with which to mark your bag. Maybe this year's will have the little window for your business card like some in the past have had. But, a luggage tag or bit of ribbon will really make it easy to pick yours out.

Speaking of registration, I love when they allow us to register the day before everything starts. This gives me a chance to really sort through and look things over before things get started. It also means that I don't have to take everything in a plastic bag. I can take everything back to my room and take my time getting things situated.
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Today is June 15. There are only 29 days left until the start of National Conference!

If you’re not taking along a bit of technology that will allow you to check your email, go ahead and set up your email auto response today. A lot of email services let you set a start and end date for vacation responses. I usually set mine to start the day I leave and end a couple of days after I get back. That gives me a little time to read through all of the emails. I have simply said that I’m off learning how to become an even better consultant and getting a sneak peek at the new products that will be out this fall. I leave my phone number so they can get to me if they have a PC emergency.

If your email doesn’t allow you to set yours up ahead of time, you might want to set yourself a reminder to do this the day you leave.
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Bonus. Make sure you have your roommates' and teammates' phone numbers programmed into your phone. That will help you keep track of one another and adjust plans if necessary.

Many of us Cheffers will share phone numbers. I have them categorized as a group in my phone. Makes it easier to find the person I'm looking for.

I also take a hard copy of all of my pertinent numbers (hotel, roommates, additional teammates, friends I’m connecting with, etc.) just in case I have trouble with my phone. If something happens, I want to be able to use another phone to call.
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Today is June 16. There are only 28 days until the start of National Conference!

I want you to make me a promise. If you take a picture of me at NC you’ll make sure that you’re taking it from slightly above my eye line and not below it. People photograph better from this angle. With cell phones and digital cameras it’s common for people to hold the camera down just under their own eye line or even under their own chin level. If you’ll hold it slightly above your eyes (or even better, a little above your head), your subjects will look better. People will love you for it. Start practicing now so it will be habit by the time you take pictures at NC.

Speaking of cameras, be sure to clear your digital camera or get new storage for NC. It would be a shame for you to miss out on a great shot because your memory was full.
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  • #14
Today is June 17. There are only 27 days until the start of National Conference.
Bring along contact information for your shows in the few weeks after NC and postcard stamps. While you're in Rosemont, pick up some postcards and send them to those hosts with a note that you're learning lots of great things to help make their shows a success.

Think ahead tip: Buy extra postcards this year and put them away. Before your next NC trip, write, address, and stamp your postcards. That way you’ll just have to pop them in the mail once you arrive.
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Today is June 20. There are only 24 days until the start of National Conference!

Make plans to hit things hard when you get back from NC. You'll want to take advantage of that enthusiasm. My suggestion, though, is that you allow yourself one day (a full day, if possible) to rest and assimilate the information from NC. Go over your notes. Talk them over with a fellow consultant. Get the info into your head so that you can really benefit from the workshops you attend.

Block out a bit of family time before and after NC, too. A little extra attention to them before and after your trip will make the trip easier on them.
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  • #16
Travel can cause, um, digestive issues. While at NC, it would be easy to eat too little fiber and drink too little water. Plan ahead. Take some high-fiber snacks with you. Dried fruit, snack bars, and the like are portable and tasty. Make a conscious effort to drink lots of water. If you're picky about your water, take some of your favorite with you. Otherwise, just take along a refillable sport bottle. There are usually conveniently placed pitchers of water at each workshop. You'll feel better if you’re well hydrated.

Don't forget to pack sunscreen. Chances are you'll be doing a bit of walking around Rosemont. The sun can be brutal in July. We all want to stay comfortable and healthy. Sunburns are definitely not comfortable, and skin cancer is not healthy.
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Today is June 22. There are only 22 days until National Conference!

If you haven't started a packing list, start it soon. It's probably best to make sure your list is portable so you can jot things down as you think of them. Don't over pack, though. How to strike a balance? Talk with your roommates. You can probably share some things.

What to pack? Make a plan. You'll need business casual clothing with comfortable shoes for three days of workshops/sessions, something slightly dressier if you’re participating in the awards ceremony, plus attire for anything extra you’re doing while you’re in Rosemont. You’ll also need toiletries, a pen or two, and paper (note pad, loose paper, whatever you feel comfortable taking notes on). In years past they’ve had a great booklet in which to take notes, but I still found my notebook handy.

Now that you know what type of clothes you'll need, make your plan. Plan out each outfit down to the underthings and jewelry you'll wear. Can you wear the same shoes* for more than one of your outfits? How about the same jewelry? Every decision either takes up more suitcase space or allows you more room.

One note about packing light. It is incredibly rude to expect the people with you to help you with your baggage. (The one exception to that is if you have a physical disability or limitation of some sort.) Pack no more than you can comfortably carry by yourself. I don’t mean what you can barely lug from your front door to your car. I mean what you can carry from baggage claim to the shuttle, from the parking garage to the front desk, etc. It’s also a good idea if you’re flying to talk with your travel companions. Ask if they check their baggage or do carry-on only. They may be ticked if they are planning to head right from the plane to the shuttles but unexpectedly have to wait for you at baggage claim.

*Since we do so much walking and quite a bit of standing, it would probably be best for your feet if you alternate shoes. Wearing the same shoes several days in a row can worsen foot pain. If your shoes are comfortable except for the fact that the balls of your feet seem to take a pounding, consider cushions. They can save your feet.
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Today is June 23. There are only 21 days until the start of National Conference! Three weeks, people!

I know there are lots of fun things to in the evening after the sessions. You’re probably already starting to make plans. Just remember to get plenty of sleep. It's hard to believe, but learning is actually one of the main reasons for NC. It's more difficult to absorb all that great stuff if you're too tired to listen.

The following was originally shared years ago by ChefAnn. Some of these we have little control over for NC. For instance, there are a certain number of activities already planned for us, and that might be too much for you in one day. Also, not every one applies directly to NC. Still, they’re good general travel tips.

8 mistakes that can spoil any trip

1. Winging it. Know where you're going to stay for at least the first night, especially after a long flight.

2. Packing too much. Limit yourself to one suitcase and one carry-on. Put a change of clothes and your daily medication in the carry-on in case your luggage gets lost.

3. Forgetting essential items. Make a list of things you frequently forget and put it in your empty suitcase.

4. Trying to do too much. Limit the number of activities you plan into each day. Schedule free days for long trips.

5. Trying to get too much work done at the last minute. Spread things out. You'll never have enough time to finish everything the day before you leave.

6. Calling the office too much. This can be a sign of insecurity or trying too hard to control everything. Your boss and co-workers know how to reach you in an emergency, right?

7. Misplacing essential items. Keep boarding passes, identification, passports, trip itineraries, and other documents in one small, easy-to-get-to pouch or bag. Put a bright sticker or ribbon on your luggage to make it stand out.

8. Leaving town without making arrangements to have the mail and newspaper picked up - a sure sign to would-be thieves that your house is empty.​
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Bonus. Make sure you leave the hotel and conference center info for your family. They'll feel more secure knowing where to reach you in case of an emergency. Cell phones are wonderful, but they aren't perfect. Knowing exactly where you'll be is helpful. I’ve also started leaving an agenda for The Furry Guy. Several years ago he called my cell phone in the middle of the night because he was thinking I’d be home that day. He was concerned when it got late and I hadn’t returned. Knowing my general schedule helps him not to worry.

Traveling by air? Photograph your luggage and its contents just before you leave. If it gets lost, you'll have a record for the airline. (And, just being prepared often wards off this type of bad luck. You know, it’s the same principle as carrying an umbrella so that it won't rain.)

It's also a good idea to squeeze the air out of your toiletry bottles before packing them in your luggage. It lessens the likelihood of them exploding because of air pressure changes.
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Today is June 24. There are only 20 days left until the start of National Conference!

Once you've arrived at your hotel room, unpack. I know it's tempting to drop your bags and run out to meet all the other consultants and, especially, the other Cheffers. However, if you'll take just a few minutes to hang up your clothes, put your toiletries in the bathroom, etc., you'll save yourself time in the long run. Plus, if you're sharing the room and you're the first one to arrive, you get to stake out prime real estate for yourself.

Take just a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Where are the light switches, and which lights do they control? Where are the AC controls, and how do they work? Where is the emergency exit in relation to your room?

One odd thing I do as soon as I arrive is clean my room. I take along a small travel pack of wipes and use them on the light switches, doorknobs, phone, clock/radio, and remote. These are things that aren’t necessarily cleaned by the housekeeping staff. I feel better giving them a quick wipe.

Once you get to your hotel be sure to ask for the phone number for a good cab company. Program that number into your phone. That way you can call for a cab without any problem, no matter where you are. You may not need it, but it could be a lifesaver if you do.

While you're in Rosemont, be sure to carry your hotel's address with you. After all, there is more than one Sheraton or Hilton in the area. And, while PC is very important, not every cab driver will know where we're staying. This is important whether you’re planning to take a cab or not. Things happen. It’s better to be safe. I simply print the info on a small piece of paper and tuck it in my wallet.

Talk about morning routines with your roommates. Who’s getting up first? Will you go to breakfast together? If so, what time will you leave? Knowing what you'll do helps you to avoid a mad dash in the morning and helps you stay out of one another’s way. It also can cut down on misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
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  • #21
Today is June 25. There are only 19 days left until the start of National Conference!

· Check out the Rosemont weather a few days before you leave. That way you won't feel a need to bring clothes for everything from snow to a heat wave.

· Now, I’m a natural list maker. I keep my lists on an app so that all I need to do is update my National Conference Packing List from last year. However, if you’re not like me, I’ve found a great app--packing list. The "lite" version is free. It offers a general list. You can add or delete items. You can rearrange the list. It’s pretty user-friendly.

· Peanuts? Granola bars? What snack helps keep you going? You might want to bring some along. With everything going on at NC, a healthy snack to boost your energy mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon may be just what you need to stay alert and get the most out of those great workshops. I’m sorry, but sodas, donuts, and candy bars don't count. Think protein and complex carbs. In case you’re wondering, my favorites are RXBars. They're delicious and easy to carry. They aren’t available at many retail outlets, so I order them online. If you decide to give them a try, be sure that you don’t confuse them with MetRX Bars; they aren’t the same.

· We've been concentrating on our arrival, but departure is important, too. Get everything but the bare essentials packed the night before you leave NC. It will save you time that last morning when things may be a bit rushed. It will also lessen the likelihood of leaving something behind
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  • #22
Today is June 26. There are only 18 days until the start of National Conference!

Whether you're traveling by plane, bus, or train, be sure to have your identification handy. Depending on your mode of travel, you may need to show that ID several times. You may need more than one form of ID. You will most likely also need ID handy in order to check in at the hotel.
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  • #23
Today is June 27. There are only 17 days until the start of National Conference!

You might want to check with the hotel (or others who have stayed at your hotel in the past) to see what amenities they offer. Some offer a hair dryer, an iron and ironing board, etc. If you're not picky about those things, you could leave yours at home. That will give you more suitcase room for your shopping spoils.

Think about the toiletries you're going to bring. It can be a good investment to pick up a travel kit. You can get them fairly inexpensively ($5 to $15) at discount stores. They save space and time, since you can move everything into and out of the bathroom easily. Mine will even hang on the towel rod or the hook on the back of the bathroom door, saving precious counter space. An additional perk to these is the convenience. I leave mine packed. The only thing I have to add is my makeup, so I’m ready to go at a moment’s notice.
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  • #24
Today is June 28. There are only 16 days until the start of National Conference!

Want to make things easiest on yourself while you're getting ready in the morning at NC? Pack your clothes in outfits. Fold together all of the clothes (slacks/skirt, top, undies, etc.) that you're planning to wear on a particular day. Need to hang things up when you arrive? Put everything for that day on the same hanger—underthings and all. No need to rummage through your suitcase when it's your turn in the bathroom.

Some people pack their own hangers. If you have 4 people in your room, you might not have enough hangers for everyone—especially if everyone hangs pieces separately. This would be a good thing to discuss with your roommates.

Remember that a bag of wadded up dirty laundry takes up more room than neatly folded laundry. I know it sounds weird, but fold your dirty laundry before you put it in your laundry bag. It will make it easier to get your suitcase zipped before you leave.

Oh, and here’s something to watch for. Make sure you only bring home your own laundry. Several years ago one of my roommates used a PC bag for her dirty laundry. So did I. We were packing near one another to go. I thought I’d packed my laundry, but there it was, right by my suitcase. When I got home I realized I had two laundry bags. That’s right; I’d brought home her dirty laundry, too.

Label each piece of your luggage, both inside and out, with your name and phone number, but don’t put your home address on the outside. This can be a safety issue. If an address is required by your transportation, try not to use your home address. Use your office address, a post office box, etc., if possible. Flying? Don't forget to remove old claim checks to avoid confusion. After all, you may want to return to your last vacation spot, but do you really want your luggage to return before you do?

If you haven’t already done so, print out all of your paperwork now—hotel confirmation, NC registration & workshop list, travel stuff (plane/bus reservations, maps, etc). Gather everything together so that you’ll have all you need in one convenient place.
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  • #25
Today is June 29. There are only 15 days left until the start of National Conference!

Remember to pack things together tightly. Packing loosely wastes precious space and encourages your clothes to wrinkle. If you’re trying to leave room for things you’ll want to bring home, fill a few large zippered bags with air to take up room. The bags will fold flat when you are ready to travel home. You could even put a few of your purchases in them.

Now that you've been reminded to pack everything tightly, don't waste any hidden space. Tuck things into your shoes, into the corners of your suitcase, etc. These are great places for socks, undies, jewelry, etc. But, on the other hand, be sure to leave an empty pocket or two in that suitcase, so you can fill it with things you may buy while in Rosemont!!

Think about your wallet. Take only what you’ll need while you’re gone—one credit card, your id, cash. Don’t take along your children’s Social Security Cards or other vital information that you won’t need. Now, lay the contents of your pared-down wallet in orderly fashion on the glass of a copier. Make a copy of the front and back of everything including your driver’s license. Leave the copy at home in a secure place. Imagine how grateful you will be if your wallet is lost or stolen

You might also want to carry your plastic separate from your cash. This way if you get robbed there’s a good chance you still have either the plastic or cash so you won’t be stranded.

I’m not trying to say that Rosemont or NC is unsafe. It’s just that it’s a good idea to be prepared. To be honest, I’m much more likely to lose my wallet than to have it stolen. These ideas would still come in handy for a lost wallet.

What not to take is as important as what to take. Leave the family heirlooms at home. While your hotel should be secure, theft does happen. If it's an irreplaceable piece of family history, you may want to rethink bringing it along. If you're being recognized for a special achievement, and you really want to wear great aunt Bertha's diamond-encrusted brooch, ask about the hotel safe.
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  • #26
Today is June 30. There are only 2 weeks to go until the start of National Conference! Two weeks!

Okay, so you have your list done. Gather together the clothes you're planning to take. Check each piece carefully.

  • Does anything need a good cleaning? Check for spots or stains.
  • Is everything in good repair? Check for dropped hems, hanging threads, and seams in need of repair.
  • Do you have everything you need to complete each outfit? Don't forget any special undergarments (slips, strapless bras, etc.). [Sorry guys. I'd include any special undergarments for you men, but I just keep picturing some of our CS guys in strapless bras.]
You don't want to be at NC, in the process of getting ready, and realize that you've forgotten something or that something needs to be cleaned or repaired.

While you're checking all of your clothing to make sure they’re clean and in good repair, why not see if you can eliminate an item or two? If you're bringing sweaters or jackets in case the rooms are chilly, do you have one that will work with every outfit? Remember, the less you take with you, the more room you'll have to bring stuff back.

DO NOT take brand new shoes to NC. We will be doing a lot of walking. If you buy new shoes for NC, be sure to take at least one day to really walk in them. Make sure it’s a day of serious walking—like power shopping. This way you’ll know if they’re comfortable enough to wear all day and whether or not they rub in any areas. If they’re miserable, don’t take them. It’s not worth it. If they simply have an area or two that rubs, you can probably get by with wearing a bandage in that area. If they’re fine but the ball of your foot aches, try an insert. If that’s the route you go, try taking a second day to wear them with the bandages and/or inserts to see if that works. I’m serious. Miserable feet can ruin NC.
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  • #27
Today is July 1. There are only 13 days until the start of National Conference!

Don’t arrive at NC all frazzled. Take a good look at your schedule leading up to your departure. Have you been realistic? Be honest. Can you really get everything done in the time allotted without driving yourself insane? If not, be ruthless. Eliminate. Delegate. Do whatever it takes to make sure you get some rest and a little time with your family before you leave. You’ll get more out of NC if you aren’t exhausted.

If you live outside of the central time zone, start making the adjustment soon. After all, people on Eastern Daylight Time will probably be sleeping in at NC. Those to the west will probably be getting up earlier than usual. If you adjust your schedule 15 minutes every few days, you’ll feel better than if you have to make a two-hour adjustment overnight.
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  • #28
Today is July 2. There are only 12 days until the start of National Conference!

Here’s a great idea adapted from Julie Ann Jones that I’ve used for years. Take three index cards with you to each workshop. Label one “Wow! Do it now!” for things you can implement immediately. Label the second “Great idea! Do it soon,” for those ideas that will need a little planning and/or research before your start them. Label the third “Think about this.” That third card is for things that you think you’d like to do but will need a lot of planning or re-adjustment to your current way of doing things. When you’re sitting in a workshop and they give you a great idea, write it down on the appropriate card. Or, take some time that evening to go over your notes and transfer ideas to the cards. Either way will make it easier to implement the ideas once you get back home. Remember, no matter how great the training, if you don’t implement the ideas you’ve wasted time and money.

Kristi shared a great idea several years ago. She made a care package to leave behind for her family—little treats and gifts to be opened each day. Now, The Furry Guy is used to being on his own, so some cookies, a pan of mac & cheese, and a few phone calls to touch base while I’m gone will be just fine for him. However, if you have young children at home or a spouse who’s not used to being on his or her own, a few treats could help them deal with your absence and may make them more willing to let you go next time.

Want to make things nice for your roommates? Give them a little something. In the past I gave each roommate a survival kit on our first night together. It included ear plugs in case I snored, breath mints in case they needed to offer me one, and chocolate to elevate their endorphins after a few days rooming with me. These days I’m more likely to do pillow gifts—something small each night. My group has three nights together, since we drive in the day before everything starts. Here’s what I’ve done in the past:

Night 1: Water bottle with tag “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Stay hydrated to stay successful.”

Night 2: Purse-size hand lotion with tag “Hands down, you’re one of the best. Thanks for helping me succeed.”

Night 3: Box of mints with tag “Your help has ‘mint’ the world to me.”​

If you are looking for inspiration, I’ve found great ideas on Pinterest.
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  • #29
Today is July 3. There are only 11 days until the start of National Conference!

Don’t forget to bring along a bit of cash for tipping. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of singles. Here are some rules of thumb:

Skycap at the airport—$1 per bag (double if your bags are carted to the counter or elsewhere)

Taxi/Limo drivers—10% to 15% of the fare

Doorman—It’s not necessary to tip the doorman unless he takes your bags inside for you. If so, tip $1 per bag.

Bellman—$1 to $2 per bag

Parking valet/attendant—$3 to $5

Concierge—It’s not necessary to tip a concierge for directions. However, if he/she has helped you with tickets or reservations, $5 to $10 is customary.

Wait staff—The etiquette site I use suggests 15% to 20% of your bill before tax. That said, in many larger cities such as Chicago, 20% is considered a minimum for good service.​

And, remember to tip your hotel housekeeper. Generally speaking, $2 a day (or a dollar a day per person, if that’s more) is considered standard. I used to just leave one tip at the end of my stay. I don’t do that anymore. Hotel staff assignments can change daily. The person who took care of your room on the first night may not be the same as the last night. As a matter of fact, one person could pick up after you for all but the last night. I now take envelopes for each morning labeled “Housekeeping.” I put my tip inside (along with those of my roommates) and leave the envelope on the bathroom counter where they’ll be sure to find it.
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  • #31
Today is July 4. Happy Independence Day! There are only 10 days until the start of National Conference!

I know that I keep harping on the “pack light” thing. Now I’m going to tell you to bring something extra—a small first aid kit. A blister, a headache, or an upset tummy can really make it difficult to enjoy NC. If possible, make it something small you can carry with you during the day. A few Band-Aids, some aspirin, and some tummy tablets will fit in a small zippered bag, or even the new Tea PackIt, and are well worth the space they take up.
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  • #32
Today is July 5. There are only 9 days until the start of National Conference!

Take just a moment or two to think about your goal for yourself at NC. What do you hope to get out of it? Fun is fun, and I’m looking forward to lots of fun and foolishness. It’s important to remember, though, that the real purpose of NC is to learn from the workshops and from each other. Be prepared to meet your NC goals.

Think about what you want to learn. There’s an exercise that some coaches use. They have people look around the room they’re in. They have participants close their eyes and think of everything they in the room that is green. Then they have participants look around and notice everything that’s green. They almost always notice more green things when they’re looking for them. Knowing what you hope to learn helps you to notice it when it’s presented.

I plan to write down a few questions for each workshop. I’ll look these over before the workshop starts so I’ll remember what I hope to learn. It will also help when they ask for questions at the end of the workshop, in case one of mine is still unanswered.

Write down some additional questions you have, and go over them a time or two so you’re ready to ask them of the people who’ve achieved the level to which you’re aspiring.

Think about what you do well and what changes you’ve made in the last year that have helped you. This will help you to have an answer ready when someone turns to you for advice. Brand new and don’t feel like you have any advice to offer? Think about one or two things you wish someone had told you when you signed up. This is great info for people who are recruiting.

Finally, one of the most important things about NC is implementing the ideas. If you don’t make any changes, if you don’t implement some of what you’ve learned, you’ve simply taken a delightful vacation with your PC friends.
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  • #33
Today is July 6. There are only 8 days until the start of National Conference!

Arriving early or staying an extra day? Talk to your team or traveling buddies about any touristy things you want to do—shop, see a play, visit a museum, etc. Check online for special savings, coupons, and even ideas.

Be sure to wear comfy shoes when you travel to and from NC. Flying? ALL footwear must be removed for x-ray screening. Shoes that slip off and on easily will save time and frustration. Well, at least some of the frustration.

Merrill will be at NC. Yes, they’ll have clothes, but they’ll also have oodles of other products. Is there something you want to check on? Something you’re running low on? That Merrill area can get crowded and chaotic. Make a list. You might even consider going to their website. Write down anything that piques your interest. At NC you can check those things out to see if you want to buy them. Often there have been specials. At the very least, you'll save shipping. Make the most of your time in the Merrill area.
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  • #34
Today is July 7. There are only 7 days until National Conference! One week, people!

Do you snore? Sometimes I do. Talk to your roommates about what to do if someone’s snoring is disturbing you. I usually tell my roommates that if I’m snoring too loud they are welcome to shake me, wake me, turn me over, or suffocate me with a pillow—whatever it takes.

This may seem like a small thing, but in my travels I have roomed with people who snored so loudly that at least one of the rest of us had to move to another room. Different people have different noise tolerances. What goes unnoticed by one sleeper can be an intolerable noise level to another. There's no shame in snoring; it's involuntary. There's no shame in being disturbed by snoring; we all have our sleep needs. However, it is a shame (though, not shameful) to lose sleep over something that can be addressed.

That said, if you're a really light sleeper rooming with others, you might consider ear plugs.
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  • #35
Today is July 8. There are only 6 days until the start of National Conference!

You will have an opportunity to meet and learn from lots of people at NC. DO NOT spend all of your time with your teammates. You already know a lot of what they have to tell you. I realize that most people are a little more reserved than I. (Everyone who has ever met me has just fallen off their chairs, laughing at that understatement.) Using the buddy system is fine, but make sure that you’re surrounded by people you don’t know. Engage them in conversation. Go armed with the questions you want the answers to. (What is your best advice for getting bookings? If you were to name the most important thing you do in order to get recruits, what would it be? What are you hoping to learn at NC? What are the three things you’re anxious to try when you get home?) Who knows, you just might make a new friend. And, for heaven’s sake, if you’re sitting with a few of your friends and someone else joins your table, include him/her/them in your conversation.

As much as I’m looking forward to meeting up with CS friends, that sort of goes for Cheffers, too. After all, we do share a lot here. Just make sure you aren’t surrounded by Cheffers all the time.

BTW, are you driving? Make sure you check out your vehicle before you leave. Do this even if you’re only driving to the next town to catch a plane, train, or bus. The Furry Guy will be checking my oil, water, washer fluid, and tire pressure. Trust me; you don’t want to break down on the way, especially if it’s something that could have been prevented.
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  • #36
Today is July 9. There are only 5 days until National Conference starts!

You might want to take address labels with you. Some speakers might have handouts or offer additional information. If they run low they generally ask for names and addresses. A sheet of address labels is easy to carry and use. You might even want to bring a few self-addressed envelopes. That way, if you want someone to send something special to you, you can just write what you want them to send on the back of the envelope.

If possible, you might want to consider taking your own pillow along. I like my memory foam better than most hotel pillows. I sleep better, making me more wide awake and alert so I can absorb all those great ideas at NC! Of course, if taking a pillow switches you from carry-on only to checked baggage, don’t take it. Chances are good that your hotel will have very nice pillows.
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  • #37
Getting down to the wire. I got my nails conference-ready.


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  • #38
Today is July 10. There are only 4 days until National Conference starts!

Take some time while you’re at NC to simply enjoy the experience. You’ll be surrounded by wonderful PC people. You’ll be rubbing elbows with people who have reached the level of success you’re striving toward. You will never have that exact experience again (those exact people at exactly that place in their business). Be sure to take a few moments to just enjoy the moment.

Check out the weather report for Rosemont. This will help you narrow down your packing choices. One place you can check is: www.weather.com.

If you haven’t already done so, start packing now. It will give you time to remember the little things that may have slipped your mind. Don’t pack right into your suitcase, though. Lay everything out so you can see it. This way you’ll be less likely to over pack. For items that should be hanging on hangers until the last moment, gather them together. Section off a spot in your closet just for those items.

Now decide how you’ll pack. Rolling clothes is popular. I prefer stacking everything with plastic in between and folding it gently together (shopping bags work well and can be used later). Sometimes I use a garment bag, for my more wrinkle-prone items.
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  • #39
Today is July 11. National Conference starts in just 3 days!

Don’t forget your meds and vitamins. As a diabetic, I take several prescription meds and a whole passel of vitamins and supplements. If you have regular medications you take, make sure to take plenty with you. These are not things you’ll want to put in your checked baggage if you’re flying. I always make sure to take an extra day’s supply just in case something happens to delay my return.

I’m serious about the vitamins, too. If you’re used to taking a daily multi-vitamin, you’ll want to continue that even at NC. A tiny zippered bag would hold enough to get you through NC and would fit in just about any purse or bag.
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  • #40
Today is July 12. National Conference starts in 2 days!

Have you checked the fridge? This would be a great day to make note of anything that’s getting low so that you can pick it up. You don’t want their memory of your NC trip to be that there was no milk for their morning cereal. This will also give you an opportunity to pick up those healthy snacks you’re going to take along. You can unpack them from the grocery bags right into your suitcase so no one else will be tempted to eat them.
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  • #41
Today is July 13. National Conference starts tomorrow!

Don’t obsess too much about what you might have forgotten to pack. You’ll be in Rosemont. There’s little you could have forgotten that can’t be purchased easily near where you’re staying.

See everyone soon! I’m leaving in just a little while, and I’ll be praying for safe travel for everyone. The fun is about to begin!

Thank you for reading my notes and indulging me in my need to keep myself on track and to share tidbits of information.

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