From Conception to Convention Part 2: The Only Ship That Won’t Sail, You Say?

The next entry in Marc Specter’s continuing column chronicling his journey to organizing a new gaming convention in Michigan:

In my last entry I mentioned how across my gaming career, it was only recently that I got involved locally with gamers who did not first begin as friends.  Gaming with strangers, albeit gamer strangers, is another matter.  Despite being in sales for the past 12 years, my desire and ability to interact with complete strangers is limited, and walking into a room full of strangers who have known each other forever is a bit out of my comfort zone.

That is again perhaps why I founded 3rd Wednesday Gaming (3WG).  Now, let’s be Wayne and Garth for a moment and take our wayback machine back even a few years further.  3WG actually began its life as Man Game Night.  A group of buddies were invited at intervals that fit my schedule to meet at B&N and hang and game.  We had a good but limited run.  Life got busy, and after enough aborted attempts at Man Game Night, it petered off.

Still wanting to keep something going, and having joined and enjoyed my few times with the Yahoo group GrandGamers, I introduced 3WG and I was lucky enough to have them glom on.  3WG moseyed along relatively well, when last year in October a man by the name of Brian Lenz hit the scene.

Bryan was not just dipping his toes into the boardgaming pool, he took a flying leap to do a full-on cannonball.  And what a splash!  Bryan set up a fantastic MeetUp group (West Michigan Tabletop Gamers), and in short order 3WG was being advertised there as well.  Bryan was also going to many and varied other gaming events and constantly growing his MeetUp group by preaching the gaming word.  He was nice enough to give me a position as the organizer of 3WG, and away we went.  Because of his work 3WG grew from a regular meet of 2-5 to a meet of 10+ regularly.  Pretty sweet.

Here it is worth mentioning that this was not the first time our paths had crossed.  The first time I met Brian was when I was moving and trying to sell my comic books.  I placed an ad on Craig’s List, and he came to purchase some of my books.  Brian also happened into my way on another occasion when I walked into his place of business.  It seemed that fate kept putting him in my way.

When the convention seed planted within me began to germinate, it was to Brian I went with my excitement.  I called him up and bombarded him with the scattershot flurry of ideas that I could not keep from spilling out.  And he listened.  He also mentioned how he too had been interested in putting together a convention and looked forward to being a part of making it happen.

But for some reason my ears or mind or both were closed.

Days passed, and I intermittently checked in with Brian for gaming things, and regurgitated on him more and more information.  He kept getting excited as well and feeding me ideas and I thought, “Wow, this is great, someone who wants to see this happen and is willing to help me out!”  You see, I was hearing what Brian had to say, but apparently I was not listening.

After a few exchanges I received an e-mail from Brian that made me listen.  I’ll not quote here, but essentially it said, “Look buddy, I REALLY want to be a part of this, not just your sounding board.”  And I pondered.

A convention is a busines; it is not just a hobby.  You can’t just make a convention happen without a lot of work, and this was all work that I figured I’d just do myself.  I had never considered the idea of having a partner.  And not just a volunteer partner, but a business partner.  So I thought and I worried and I said to myself, “Self, what do you really want?”

And the answer that I provided was that I really wanted a most excellent convention.  And small or large, any convention takes a lot of people to pull it together.  And here I was, talking to a guy with a good heart, organizational skills, and saying “I will work for this. “ I would be a fool to reject this kind of overture.

The next morning I called Brian and said that I had to apologize for mincing words.  I felt I simply had not been clear to him on what I expected or wanted out of his participation.  I also had to apologize because he had presented me with at least one concrete idea that I initially doubted, decided to research, and then flat-out presented back to him and said I was going to run with.  What an ass I was!

I also told Brian my fears about partnerships.

Fear #1: I don’t want to be held accountable to anyone.  If I was going to do this all on my own, I’d only ever have to be accountable to myself (and my eventual attendees).  I was not sure how I would react to a partner to whom I had an obligation.

Fear #2: I did not want to have to hold anyone else accountable.  I am a perfectionist.  I can’t even do home projects because I get so worked up over every aspect that does not go just so.  I am afraid of having an expectation of someone, it going unmet, and how I will react.

I know these long held issues are not gone, and they will rear their heads, but at least I have laid them out in the open.  And after that great conversation, Brian and I verbally shook on it and the convention will move ahead as a partnership and not a sole proprietorship.

So unfurl the sails and all that other nautical talk.  This partnership is headed out to sea!

Marc Specter
Manager, GrandCon
Recorded April 2012

Related posts:

  1. From Conception to Convention Prelude & Part 1: How I Got Here
  2. MACE 2011 Convention Wrap-up
  3. MACE Convention Wrap-up
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