Arrival in San Diego

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I arrived today in sunny San Diego at 9:40 am California time, but lunch time for me! However, with so much to do here today and being on my own for the first day of the show, I couldn't let a little hunger get in my way. After checking into the Marriott, I headed to the convention center, which was conveniently located right next door to the Marriott. I picked up my press badge and checked out our booth. I then grabbed a quick lunch before heading to my first appointment: an interview with Carl Liebert, CEO at 24 Hour Fitness, San Ramon, CA.

I had interviewed Carl last year on the phone for one of our Executive Insights columns. I was glad he remembered the interview, and I soon learned why it was so memorable for him. He was kind enough to allow us to post the tape of the interview as a podcast. One of the first things he told me after shaking his hand and the hand of Tony Wells, the senior vice president of brand marketing for the company, was that his podcast performance had added a bit of "coolness" to him in the eyes of his children.

We settled down for a 15-minute interview that I was grateful to be able to stretch by about five minutes. I asked him about the management changes at 24 Hour Fitness, most especially the departure of Mark Mastrov, founder of the company. He gave the standard answer that many people making changes at a company give: the company is moving in a certain direction and they need people on board who have the same vision. He says that he and Mastrov were friends and remain friends. The decision for his departure was mutual between Matrov and Forstman Little, he says. Upon later sharing this information with a few people in the industry, they weren't so confident that the departure was amicable, but we'll wait to see if we hear anything further in this area.

I'll share more on what Carl had to say during the interview in a news item to be posted in the next few days.

This is Carl's first IHRSA show, and I wonder how he will be received when Mastrov has been so well liked and will more than likely be present at the show since he's a big part of the Augie's Bash.

After the interview, I sat in on the Bob Woodruff keynote presentation. The former ABC News anchor shared his experience in Iraq in which he was injured by an IED. The injury left him unable to come up with words for things, something so vital to someone in his position. As he spoke to the crowd of several hundred, he showed only slight problems with his word choice. I would say he's come a long way in a short time.

Later in the evening, I attended the IHRSA opening night reception along with several hundred people. Nice band and some tasty food choices along with a cash bar. I saw several familiar faces in the crowd and got to speak with some of our columnists, advisory board members and speakers at our shows (as well as at IHRSA), including Jeff Masten and Ed Tock at Sales Makers, and Rick Caro at Management Vision.

I also spoke with Ron Poliseno at Checkfree (now part of Fiserv) about some interesting things going on at that company --although I'm afraid I can't say anything about that now. I'll be attending the Technology Summit that they sponsor on Friday. Maybe at that time I can say more.

Randy Ivey, marketing director for Checkfree, also had Bob, the mentalist they hired to be at their booth, to "read my mind." It was a little freaky in that he guessed the name of the living individual that I was thinking of, and he guessed the name of the deceased relative I wrote down, plus his cause of death and his relationship to me. He got everything right and added a few other details in for good measure. I'm not sure what to think about that.

Despite having my mind blown by that whole experience, I stayed 'til the end of the reception--and even longer, actually. In fact, Rick and I shut down the reception. Along with Stacey Orlick, the Club Industry show program director, Rick and I were the last to leave the room at about 11 pm, long after the band had stopped and the waiters had cleared away the food.

A good end to the first day of the IHRSA show. -Pam

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