Wir werden zu früh altes und zu spätes intelligentes

I don’t know that my German grandparents (the Gruenig side) ever said it that way to me, but I’ve certainly heard the English version often enough:

We grow too soon old and too late smart.

I’m not sure why, but Roy Tennant’s response to my comment on this blog post brought that saying to mind. To wit:

  • Roy said “I’ve been to more ALA conferences than I care to count, and know exactly how I can be most effective there (even if I don’t always completely follow through…)”
  • I commented (among other things): “You know exactly how you can be most effective at ALA? I’ve been going for 33 years, and I’m still not sure…”
  • Roy responded: “Yes, Walt, I DO know how I can be most effective, and I can say it one word: Bars. That’s right, I can be most effective having conversations with people over our favorite drinks, whether it be diet soda or The Macallan. You won’t find it on the official schedule but there it is. Set up your meetings in advance with the folks you most want to hook up with. The rest is, well, up to you. As I’m sure you know. 🙂

Now, before you think I’m poking fun at Roy Tennant for achieving age before wisdom, be aware that the title of this post is reflexive: I’m talking about myself, not Tennant.

I’d guess I had no bar-style meetings set up in advance with the people I should have been meeting with for most of the Midwinters and Annuals I’ve attended (and certainly not for most conferences I’ve attended as a speaker). Oh, sure, some of them–but even then, maybe one or at most two per conference. And I suspect that’s been a mistake all along the way–that I’ve let my introversion get the better of me, failing to do enough networking.

I won’t say “and that’s why Roy Tennant is Roy Tennant and I’m not.” There’s much more to it than that. But it probably plays a small part.

So am I going to reform–make sure that Anaheim is chock-full of bar sessions with people I want to hook up with, for our mutual benefit? And Denver after that? And Chicago, Boston, Washington, San Diego, New Orleans… (Hey! Where’s San Antonio? Dallas for Midwinter but not San Antonio? Really?)

Probably not. I don’t think I’m angling to be the next Walt Crawford, whatever that might mean.

But that’s my failing. As they said in the old country, “wir werden zu früh altes und zu spätes intelligentes”

Update: Title and last line modified, although I have no idea which “original saying” is really original.

2 Responses to “Wir werden zu früh altes und zu spätes intelligentes”

  1. I can tell you why no San Antonio. They decided that they really don’t care about ALA. I was on the Exec. Board the last time we were there. San Antonio became harder for staff to work with, they booked other big events on the “shoulder nights” which caused huge problems for ALA with the rooming lists.

    You may remember that was one of the first times that ALA had web booking for rooms. There was a lot of stir about how quickly the rooms filled up, and how many were on waiting lists, especially those who were coming in early and/or staying late (like most of Council!).

    I’ll also remind you that you had a “bar event” there where you posted where and when and invited people to stop by (on Monday night). I remember sitting and chatting with you and Jessamyn West and other in the Menger bar.

  2. walt says:

    Michael: Thanks for the comment–and yes, I do remember the “bar event.” So, yes, I’ve done it–but rarely and oddly.

    Too bad about SA. If the city doesn’t want ALA, that’s the way it is, but it sure was a great place to have Midwinter–for the conferees, that is. At least now I know why.