'Tis the season from trade shows

It's the end of the season for most of us.

Late fall and early winter is the time when our industry gets to take a step back, relax a little, recharge — maybe even spend some time in the hot tub, reflecting on the busy year that's largely behind us.

But few of us are really any less busy; it's just that our attentions shift to other things. The holiday season (which now apparently starts with Halloween!) diverts our attention to friends and family. And, to quote my favorite convict, It's A Good Thing™.

It's also back-to-school time for the industry. Whether you're a builder, a retailer or a service professional, there are scores of opportunities to learn new techniques, explore new product lines or simply raise your level of professionalism. Where can you accomplish all this with one trip. The trade shows, of course. More than ever, trade shows are emphasizing education, training and certification to go along with new product introductions, time for networking and the opportunity to do business face-to-face. And many shows bring the legends in their fields — experts you probably can't meet anywhere else. For example, the AQUA Show this year hosted Anthony ArcherWills, one of the world's foremost authorities on pond construction and water gardening along with James van Sweden, the legendary landscape architect and co-founder of the firm Oehme, van Sweden & Associates. I was front-row, center for those seminars.

Even if you can't make it to a trade show, give yourself the gift of education this season. See what's available at the local community college or through continuing education programs. Many offer one- or two-day workshops, or evening classes that run just a few weeks. Choose a class or a workshop that will make your brain grow. Whether the topic is the history of architecture, bookkeeping, drawing or personnel management, it's a gift that keeps on giving. And you deserve it.

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