This was my second time attending IWF,  I focused on researching and pricing CNC machines and software. In order to grow to the size I want my company to be, software and a CNC machine are key ingredients.

My IWF show this year began a day early. I was one of 6 panelists on an all-day symposium, created by Bill Esler at Woodworking Network, focused on the topic of business owners who have invented new products and methods for running their business.

This was my first formal presentation since college (8 years ago), so to say I was nervous was an understatement. Actually, I believe I spent more time preparing and rehearsing for IWF than I ever did for any of my papers or presentations during college! Priorities, I guess.

Being invited to be on the panel was a huge honor and incredibly humbling. There is also no better way to make you question your methods and ideas, than to stand up and share them with others. It will force you to separate what you truly believe as a “business truth” or “key to success”, and what is just filler.

The most surprising thing that I took away from the symposium wasn’t how amazing of a presentation I delivered, because I was solid enough, but didn’t knock it out of the park. Or, how much I know about running a woodworking business, because I know some stuff, but am constantly learning more.

The most surprising benefit to the symposium was the interaction and the back-and-forth with other shop owners. I cannot stress how good it was to talk about what issues they deal with on a daily basis, and how they work to overcome those challenges.

So often, we are secluded in our shops and offices, doing our best to keep our companies running as smoothly and profitably as possible, that we fail to come up for air and look at the world around us. That is one of the benefits to a show like IWF. We are able to expand our horizons, in regards to products, via the show floor, and with education and networking, via seminars and symposiums.

Thank you to Bill Esler for putting on the Woodworking Inventores Symposium, to Blum, Timber Products Company, and Waltzcraft for sponsoring the event, to the other five panelists who delivered entertaining presentations, and to all the audience members who showed up a day early to listen to us.

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