For those of us who attend a lot of trade shows and conferences, let's be honest: sometimes they can begin to feel a little bit stale or create a sense of déjà vu kind of like what Bill Murray experienced in the movie Groundhog Day. But The NAFEM Show, which took place last month, had an atmosphere that future shows will strive to emulate. There was an unmistakable energy that permeated the show floor as manufacturers put their best foot forward to engage a willing audience of foodservice equipment and supplies dealers, consultants, operators and service agents.

The NAFEM Trade Show Advisory Council and the entire NAFEM staff deserve special recognition for putting together a great show. There is an old business cliché that only seems truer as the years fly by: timing is everything. And the timing of this show was perfect. Attendees seem genuinely weary of participating in a recession and the overarching mood was one of moving forward toward the next steps in our shared economic recovery.

I do not wish to minimize the many challenges that lay ahead, nor would I want my comments construed as predictive. Despite the potential setbacks and challenges ahead, there is also the undeniable sense that some significant shift in attitude has already occurred and the upbeat mood at The NAFEM Show is further evidence of this.

Social Media Speeding the Flow of Information
Meanwhile, halfway across the world in Egypt, a 30-year old dictatorship was brought down in a mere 18 days in a nearly bloodless revolution purportedly started by 30-year-old Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim. This came on the heels of a similar uprising in Tunisia that generated breathtaking results.

No matter your political take on the ramifications for the Middle East and the world, the manner and speed of these changes should give all of us pause to reflect. The indelible image from these historic events in my mind is that of a middle-aged Egyptian standing in a sea of smiling faces with a simple placard written in Arabic saying, "Thank-you Facebook".

If you believe the movie The Social Network, social networking is a concept originally designed as a way for slightly nerdy college guys without the heretofore requisite good looks, money and/or status to meet college girls. It should be noted here that the goal was never virtual connections, but real and, perhaps, sweaty ones. This pretty straightforward and very basic idea has become a movement with unimagined power and significance.

At this point, we know that social media works for its originally intended purpose, and now we know that it works really well for uniting people around big ideas, like overthrowing governments. What remains to be seen is how well it will work for influencing purchasing decisions and creating brand awareness in the business to business marketplace.

I can only tell you that we are glad to be part of the experiment moving forward. Continue the conversation with us via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and, of course,