I had the privilege and pleasure of speaking in Buffalo, NY last week for the Project Management Institute (PMI).

At the end of my keynote, the conference organizers surprised me with a trophy.

And not just any trophy… a solid, wooden block engraved with my name, topped with a large, brass buffalo, standing 13 inches tall and weighing 3 pounds. It is not insignificant.

I gushed in delight. And then I wondered… how was I going to transport it in my small carry-on luggage?

Determined to take it home, I opted to carry the Buffalo Trophy through the airport, like an Emmy.

And as a result, I made a lot of friends:

  • The TSA security agent and I laughed about bringing bigger luggage next time.
  • The waitress and other patrons at the airport restaurant congratulated me, wanting to know more about my award.
  • Passengers in the boarding area enjoyed the ongoing banter sparked by the buffalo.
  • Two guys on the airtrain loved it so much they insisted on taking a selfie with me and the buffalo.

Here’s what I discovered from carrying the Buffalo Trophy:

1. Significant and Personal Recognition is Powerful
The trophy is an indisputable statement of PMI’s appreciation. And it was unnecessary… I received a nice fee for my keynote. But PMI went out of their way to ensure that I felt recognized, appreciated, and special all the way home.

2. People are Eager to Connect but Need a Reason
The Buffalo Trophy is noticeable and peculiar – an instant conversation piece, making it easy to connect and engage with complete strangers. I had so much fun carrying the Buffalo Trophy that I am might take it with me on my next trip.

And rest assured, when PMI-Buffalo calls me again, I’ll make time for them!

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