We had a great conference on Saturday - great speakers, solid turnout, substantive presentations.
On January 7, we (myself and Karl Rehn of KR Training) reached a milestone: five years of annual preparedness conferences in Central Texas.
We started our first one in 2013, in many ways as an experiment. We didn't know how much interest there would be for the first event and whether there would even be a second one. Yet every first Saturday after the New Year since then, we've hosted this event. We've learned a lot about putting on conferences and about the prepper culture along the way.
The conference has also served as a laboratory of sorts. I beta tested the thesis of Pivot Points during the 2015 conference in large part to see what kind of response I would get. The data we get from the evaluations has also been insightful, allowing us to drill down a bit into areas of interest for this audience.
This year's new twist: we featured an out of state speaker. Omar Hamada, M.D. spoke to the group on two topics: Prepper Medicine and Building a Home Preparedness Plan. As I told the group when I introduced him, I could live five lives and not accomplish what he has accomplished in one. A true Renaissance man, Dr. Hamada cut through a lot of the wishy-washiness that can sometimes accompany the standard medical presentation at a prepper conference and got down to it, telling us what medications we should have on hand and when we should take them. He also covered efficacy of drugs past their "expiration date" and how to have conversations with your physician about getting an extra presciption for medicines you take on a regular basis.
One of the big weaknesses in the prepper community is the ability to find physicians who will provide candid and actionable advice on medicines and training for a prepared citizenry. Needless to say, he did a stellar job outlining exactly what we needed to know and what we needed to acquire.
I then gave a presentation on Interacting With 911. As many of you know, my mother suffered a heart attack while visiting us over the Thanksgiving holidays. My father and I performed CPR and, with the help of the first responders, were able to revive her. I shared over six minutes of the recording of my 911 call with the audience, so they could hear for themselves how challenging it is to not only peform high quality CPR, but also to get your house ready for the arrival of first responders in the middle of the night all while appeasing the 911 call taker's instructions and questions.
My key messages in my presentation included:
Karl Rehn served as our lunchtime speaker, outlining many of the new course offerings at KR Training in the coming year. We expect more training opportunities in preparedness and fitness, along with more opportunities to have on site consulting at your home or business.
Tarek Saab, Chief Operating Officer of Texas Precious Metals, spoke on Basics of Gold And Silver Investing For Preppers. Tarek is the Chief Operating Officer of Texas Precious Metals and a co-founder of the company. It's not often we can have a finalist from The Apprentice as a speaker at our conference, but we had that opportunity with Tarek.
I've been reluctant to bring in a speaker on gold and silver investing, in large part because I never felt like I could find anyone that I felt comfortable putting in front of our audience as a source of reliable, non-fear based information. Tarek's presentation really demonstrated why he has accomplished so much at Texas Precious Metals in such a short time - by providing clear guidance and explanations of how the precious metals markets work. I highly recommend you download their buyer's guide, which served as the basis of much of his presentation.
Mike Legatt, Ph.D., spoke on human resiliency during periods of extended grid down operations. Formerly an engineer with ERCOT, Mike applied the technological realities of an extended grid failure with the psychological factors that affect both the employees of the grid as well as consumers sitting at home in the dark. Understanding how the grid works is key for anyone interested in preparedness, and Mike's insights helped educate attendees on what to expect during the next significant blackout.
Kelli Kochan spoke on the issue of getting reluctant spouses more involved in prepping. I get this question quite a bit, and so I was thrilled that Kelli agreed to share her thoughts on the subject.
Despite what many think, convincing your spouse to get on board with prepping isn't best accomplished via osmosis. As Kelli pointed out, it's imperative to find common ground and to find ways to make preparedness seem less like prepping and more like other activities your reluctant spouse might enjoy, such as camping or gardening. Allowing your "reluctant" family member time to adjust to your preparedness efforts is critical as well.
Darrell Ayers of Texas Law Shield provided guidance on how to react during an active shooter situation. A recently retired law enforcement officer, Darrell pointed out that police response times to active shooters may very well require citizens to fend for themselves for an extended period of time, during which the shooter could inflict significant harm.
Taking action during an active shooter situation requires a tremendous amount of mental focus. Darrell pointed out that you must be able to calm yourself, breathe and shift your emotions to be productive rather than to be fearful.
I concluded the conference again this year with my usual "locker room" presentation to help motivate people to get better prepared in the coming year. In "Is 2017 The Year Of The Prepper?" I made the case for the fact preparedness is now more mainstream than ever before. I cautioned attendees not to slow down in their preparedness efforts. I also encouraged people to start talking about preparedness not only in their own homes, but also in their churches, work places, and community groups.
Another twist to this year's conference: this year in the course evaluations, we asked attendees to tell us what they did in 2016 to get better prepared. The three most common answers were:
This is a good data point, in that it helps us understand what people actually "do" when they say they are getting prepared. These are three good activities that can pay big dividends during an emergency.
Here's where I tell you what I think about things I think about.