Posidonia, it’s a marathon not a sprint

Simon Ward from Ursa Shipbrokers on his six steps to getting through this hectic week in Athens.

Here we are on the eve of Posidonia proper and already the sight hot and thirsty visitors is a common occurrence, both on the streets of Piraeus and Athens, as well as the parties themselves. The suits have been pressed, the dresses have been cleaned and aired, hair coiffed and nails manicured (and that’s just the men) and off we go again. It’s my eleventh Posidonia and I view its approach with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Anticipation because it’s great to get out there and meet people we haven’t seen for a while, or met before, and catch up with news. Dread because of the necessary sleep deprivation and dehydration, and that numb feeling as you attend your tenth function and realise that most of the people there you have seen at the previous nine.

I smile knowingly at my younger friends’ excitement before they attend a top class function; they cannot understand my cynicism. They understand more a few hours later as they are having the same conversation for the tenth time, and wonder how I, old hand that I am, can be having such a good time. Yes it’s true; I do love Posidonia once I get out there, because it is about meeting people and as I have been on this planet, and in this business, longer than many I have far more people to talk to.

I do have a few basic rules for Posidonia however that may be worth following:

1)     Beware of FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out). There is always going to be a better party than the one you are at. You will waste precious time trying to get cars in and out of parking, or getting a taxi, so that by the time you get to the next party you it will have lost its spark, or just not be as good as the one that you were at when you were called by your friend.

2)     Don’t get drunk. Sure, have a few drinks, relax, enjoy yourself, but drunkenness is not an attractive look. If you really want to let off steam, go and do it with your friends away from the functions at your own expense.

3)     Invest in conversations. Make sure you get the most out of everyone you talk to. You cannot possibly talk to even a small proportion of people at an event so make sure the conversations you do have are meaningful.

4)     Go to the exhibition. It always surprises me that brokers, particularly sale and purchase brokers, do not make the effort to go to the exhibition itself. We should know our product and the latest technological developments, and be interested in them. It may give us new ideas. At the very least you never know who you will meet walking around.

5)     Watch, listen and ask questions. Posidonia is a unique opportunity to meet new people, but also to learn. Rather than trying to impress people with your stylish wit and good looks, use the opportunity to find out what they think and see who their friends are. It may prove useful. And always remember to pay attention to them when they speak to you; don’t scan the room for someone more interesting and important whilst they are telling you their plans. You may miss a big opportunity.

6)     Don’t be afraid to go to bed. If you cannot keep going then stop. You will not gain much by being the last person to leave if you are too tired to talk, or remember what was being said. See also 2 above. A good night’s sleep will always serve you well the next day, and put you ahead of the competition. It’s a marathon not a sprint, and remember the marathon was invented here.

There is more of course, but I share these few with you as a veteran of many Posidonia campaigns. These are rules I have learnt from bitter experience: I have been guilty of not following all of them at one point or other, and lived to regret it.

But above all relax and enjoy yourselves. The weather is wonderful, and there is nothing better than spending an agreeable evening in Greece at this time of the year with good friends. It is a reminder that this truly global business of ours is stimulating and fun, but more than that it proves that shipping is indeed all about relationships, and we can mix business and pleasure better than most.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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