This is Why I Changed My Mind About Medium Day

It revealed a lifetime habit I didn’t know I had.

5 min readAug 4, 2023
Photo by Harrison Haines

She was so not into it — annoyed and bordering on angry.

She didn't want to wait in the long line. She didn't want to see the show she'd never heard of. She was tired and wanted to return to my San Francisco apartment and sleep. And the people standing near us in the line snaking down the sidewalk knew it.

Who's "She?" My mom. Who practically has to be spurting arterial blood before she'll complain, so I knew she was exhausted. Otherwise, she'd have given it a go without complaint.

My 20-something enthusiasm somehow won out, which is miraculous since I hadn't even seen this show we were waiting in line for at 9 p.m. — midnight in my mom’s timezone.

If you're from or ever visited San Francisco, you know the show: Beach Blanket Babylon, the musical revue. Think Saturday Night Live meets big hats. Even as I write this, I'm thinking, "Yeah, that doesn't sound so great. Who goes to musical revues?" Here's what happened.

The line started moving, we were seated, and by the time the actors took their curtain call, my mom was clapping the loudest and the longest. She laughed at all the jokes, even the ones about Willy Brown, who I’m not sure she knew. To my embarrassment, she even put her fingers in her mouth and whistled!

It was so long ago I can't even remember what possessed me to say, "Stay! We're doing this. Trust me. It'll be good."

"This is going to be bad."

That's what I thought when I heard about Medium Day. "Hmmm, a bunch of people talking. Sounds like hell."

Even though it's been over 20 years since we stood on that San Francisco sidewalk when I started looking at the Medium Day lineup, I flipped like my mom after Beach Blanket Babylon, thinking, "Damn, this is gonna be good!"

Why? Because it's a perfect chance to do something I've relied on for a lifetime but didn't realize I was doing until decades later.

Listen to experts, but not the ones you think.

What most people don't get — or get too late — is you learn things from experts even if the expert isn't in your field. It's as if being an expert is its own thing. Once you reach that level, anyone can glean some magic from it.

Here are a few highlights from a lifetime of stalking experts…

Eating dust for three days ringside in Steamboat Springs, I listened to Buck Brannaman help riders be better partners for their horses. I hadn't owned a horse in 30 years or ridden one in 20. Still, I learned so much that I started taking notes. He’s so renowned he was hired to consult with Robert Redford on The Horse Whisperer and then had his own documentary made, “Buck.”

A world-class negotiation specialist, gave the audience a free negotiation lesson one snowy morning. He taught us about "Anchors" and a catchy saying, "The longer it sits, the heavier it gets."

I'd been making a negotiating mistake at yard sales for years. That's the day I learned my mistake and how to ask for a lower price in a way that would get me one.*

Another lecture featured diplomat and all-around think tank brainiac, Christopher Hill discussing the refugee problems in Europe. He was the most quotable guy I've ever listened to. And finally, I understood the impact of what I was hearing about on the news.

In a re-purposed movie theater in Breckenridge, Colorado, federal forest rangers talked to a small audience about their experiences with the local black bears. Under the house lights, the ranger explained, "If you ever see a bear with three or four cubs, they're being fed or have found a human food stash." How did she know? Bears procreate using delayed implantation. I'd never even heard of it.

You can learn if you listen.

Peruse the schedule here, and you'll probably see something that makes you think, "That looks interesting." There's even an Olympian in the lineup.

Here are a few that caught my eye.

Giulia Sciota delivers "5 Questions You Should Ask Before Launching Your Website."

I've had a website for ten years, and I'm still going to that one 'cause I'm betting I have yet to ask or answer at least one of the five.

"What You Need to Know Before Visiting Sicily, by Two Sicilians." Since watching the second season of The White Lotus, Sicily is on my bucket list. This will be perfect prep.

An author, Kristal Brent Zook, is offering a session I'm seriously considering attending: "30 Years As A Professional Writer: Ask Me Anything!" I don't have questions but I can't wait to hear what others ask. That one's at 9:30 a.m. I'll be lurking with my coffee for that one.

Stephan Joppich is answering this question I've asked myself at least half a million times, "Should You Write Under A Pen Name? (And Why I Killed Mine.)" I'm there.

Tori Franklin, 4-time USA Champion and the former indoor and outdoor American record holder in the women's triple jump, is speaking.

You Anthem: Olympic Failures to American HerStory I'm sharing the journey behind my two most popular articles. The story of my failure at the Tokyo Olympics to the day I became the first American woman to earn a medal at a World Championship competition.

"Merely Bystanders: The Psychology of Courage & Inaction" is being presented by Catherine Sanderson, Author & Psychology Professor.

FYI — if any of these look interesting, search for them from the registration page.

Here's the best part.

The talks are only 15 minutes, followed by a 15-minute question and answer period. Since it's virtual, you can bolt if it's not your cuppa, and there’s no need to worry about the door squeaking when you leave.

Because I can't remember anything, I love the cool calendar link you can click and be reminded to hop on before it starts.

List of speakers for Medium Day 2023
Source: Medium registration page.

A few years ago was talking with a friend who said, "You know, a lot of people are talking, but not many are listening."

He's right. Here's your chance to kick back, listen, learn, and relax. And if you ever saw Beach Blanket Babylon, you know it's worth it.

*Instead of asking if the seller will take a certain amount. You ask, "What's your best price?" That way, the onus is on them to say a number, and you don't reveal your number. It seems simple, but I didn't know.