I write this flying high above the United States, shortly after the conclusion of what may well have been the most frantic and stressful week in the almost five-year history of CEE Legal Matters.
On Monday, June 4th, we hosted a Round Table conversation with four eminent Czech and Slovak practitioners at the offices of Kocian Solc Balastik in Prague to discuss the idiosyncrasies and challenges of the Tech/Start-Up market in both countries (report on page 34).
On June 5th, we began the set-up process in the Czech National Bank for the first-ever Dealer’s Choice conference scheduled to begin the next day and the Deal of the Year Awards Celebration scheduled for the Slovansky Dum banquet hall the following evening, then went for tuxedo fittings, before meeting early-attendees for drinks and conversation at a popular Czech beer garden.
On June 6th, our team gathered at the Czech National Bank at 7 am for the Dealer’s Choice conference – a full day of expert panel presentations, networking, and debate – then, after everyone left, we scrambled to change clothes, put on the tuxedos, move the banners and other accoutrement to Slovansky Dum, make final changes to the slides, and greet friends at the big Awards Banquet.
When that revelry concluded and we pulled down all the banners and gathered all the remaining awards, changed back into normal clothes, and retreated to our airbnb at about midnight … we discovered that we had locked ourselves out of the flat. Exercising remarkable strength-of-will, we restrained ourselves from casting aspersions and hurling accusations, and finally, at about 1:30 am, we checked into a Prague hotel.
The morning of the 7th, as you can imagine, was a bit of a challenge. I was lucky – I had gotten about four hours of sleep. Radu, however, who was only able to direct his attention to final preparations for the fourth annual General Counsel Summit after we checked in, only got about one and a half. Thus, at 7 am on Thursday we were back at the Czech National Bank, putting the banners back up, and preparing the hall for the beginning of that annual.
That evening we attended a wonderful Gala Dinner put together by our Events Producer Vaida Stockunaite at the Convent of Saint Agnes, and then, while I went home to collapse (our keys for the airbnb back in our possession), Radu – driven by enthusiasm, youth, and an unerring social instinct (and not a little Red Bull) – led the annual post-gala revelry until the early hours of the morning.
The next morning – June 8th– I was back at the Czech National Bank again at 7 am for the beginning of Day 2 of the GC Summit – having mistakenly remembered that it began at 8 am, instead of 8:30. Radu and the rest of our team, reaping the benefit of their superior memories, came in a bit later.
Friday evening, at the conclusion of the GC Summit, following the taking down of all banners, removal of all pads, pens, and back issue of the magazine, and withdrawal of all signs that CEELM had ever been at the Czech National Bank, Radu and I went out for a hamburger and a beer, then watched the sun set over Prague. We were both sound asleep well before 11 pm.
Thus. Five separate events over five days. Little sleep. A surprising amount of heavy lifting and carrying. Running from one place to another. Last minute scrambling to prepare audio-visual content and put out fires with caterers (no croissants!) and address concerns of attendees (problems with wifi!). It was frenzied and exhausting, and, in all honesty, a bit much. We are unlikely to schedule events like this back-to-back in the future.
But damn it was fun. These events – as physically draining as they can be – are, always, energizing. Seeing so many friends at once, and seeing the results of our efforts, hearing how much attendees appreciated the content of the events and enjoyed the social events, and how glad they were they came, is profoundly rewarding. I am already thinking of ways to refine the Deal of the Year submission process, improve the Awards Ceremony, and strengthen the value and content of the Dealer’s Choice event, all looking forward to next year’s event (tentatively scheduled for March 28, 2019, in Budapest). And Radu left Prague with renewed energy, already bubbling over with plans for what he promises will be the best GC Summit yet next year in Vienna.
So, as my plane begins its descent into Charlottesville, and as I look forward to spending a week with my family before returning to Budapest, I look back on the week of June 4th in Prague with not a little relief that it’s over – but also, more, and fundamentally, with pride. It was great. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did. We’re never ever doing this again, and … see you next year!