Jun 21, 2012

Conference report - MRA Annual (San Diego June 4-6)

Being part of Research Panel Asia, I was excited to recently attend the MRA Annual Conference in San Diego (June 4-6).  Sunday night, the fun began with a Pub Crawl led by the SoCal Chapter in San Diego’s famous "Gaslamp Quarter District," known for its great bars and pubs. We had an awesome time networking there, meeting up with new and old friends for the conference.

The conference itself was held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, located right on the ocean not far from downtown. The two keynote sessions I saw on the first day were by Bill Walton, the legendary college basketball and NBA player from the 70s/80s, and Dave Goldberg (with Survey Monkey).

Bill gave an inspiring speech covering a lot of details about his days where he experienced unthinkable struggles. To be honest, due to my (still young) age and nationality (Japanese), I was one of the very few in the crowd who didn't know anything about Bill prior to his talk.  Just from his little over an hour-long session (and the additional hour where everyone made a long line to speak with him), I now well understand his fame and achievement. 

Meantime, Dave's presentation was a helpful overview for those interested in DIY surveying but who may not have been quite able to step into it yet.

On the second day, I really enjoyed the "Speed Learning" session where 6 presenters shared their 20 slides in 5 minutes. I believe it was a new approach for MRA which worked very well, especially after the lunch time.  I always appreciate having the chance to get the scoop about some good business books and more ideas on great client service. The Expo area, meantime, seemed to be buzzing more than the last two MRA conferences I attended. I thought it was a good mix of online/offline as well as US national and international – including some folks from Europe who flew in!

Last, but not least, the last night of the conference included a Sea World networking event. While I certainly didn't expect glasses of wine and dinner at Sea World, they made it happen!  We had a wonderful night watching the Shamu show exclusively performed for the MRA attendees.

Overall the conference was well organized with good business and networking going on. I think it's important to have both "formal" time and "casual" time in these events to get to know the company and the people at the same time - MRA definitely did a wonderful job in this aspect! We look forward to the next event.

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