The Remote Way of Life

Lucky for me, every year I get to go to the EY Entrepreneur of the Year forum in Palm Springs, California. As most of you know, I’m not a big event guy, but because we won this award 15 or so years ago, I get invited back and it is one of my favorite things. I never miss it.

This year, of course, it will be “remote”. And it got me to thinking—even though they have their usual incredible roster of speakers, and even though I’m sure I will enjoy it and learn something from it, it is definitely NOT going to be the same experience as being there. The “mixing and mingling” in the halls; the chance to sit at lunch with other entrepreneurs and CEO’s and “just talk” will be missing. That, plus actually meeting business leaders like Hadi Ulukaya, the founder of Chobani Yogurt, or famous athletes like Shaquille O’Neill in person, is def better than seeing them onscreen from home.

I’ll love it this year. But it won’t be the same.

Which got me to thinking…what really IS the same remote vs being there? I don’t get that. And I don’t get how some folks are trying to make it seem like it’s even close.

Is “going to” a wedding remotely the same as being there?
A funeral?
A grandkid’s birthday party?
A dinner at Red Lobster?

No. No. No and No.

So, how are we to believe that working remotely or going to school remotely is the same as being there??? (I know that in my case, I went to school and had a hard time paying attention—could not even imagine how my ADD attention span would work trying to learn onscreen from home!)

And at work—true, you can DO some of the same things you do from the office. But SO MUCH is lost by not being there. Not seeing each other to stop and chat in the hallway. Or hearing what’s in the air. Or the serendipity that often occurs when paths intersect.

You know, most of what I’ve learned in life was not from a textbook. And in business, I learned a lot just by “being there” and watching the way Fred Rizzuto or Gretchen Seth or Dan Lynch (and many others) simply “handled things”. Oh, THAT’S how you deal with something like that! Sitting home, how do folks learn what the others have already learned and are eager to pass on? I don’t get it.

And, full disclosure—I travel a lot, and am “remote” probably half the year. So I KNOW it’s not the same. I can do it. And it works. But it’s nowhere near the same experience about being here. Not even close.

That’s my rant. Not that it matters. And nothing really I can do about it. Seems like the “smart” thinking nowadays is lots more things remote. But, I think that’s a big mistake, and I do believe that just like many “good ideas at the time” this pendulum will swing back and down the road, we’ll realize that humans are social animals, who need interaction and the support/lessons gained from the pack.

Guess we’ll see…