Thursday, May 12- On this episode, Jim and James catchup on May happenings, and EWNCON is the elephant in the room.
Jim Schauer: [0:24] Good morning, everyone. Welcome to this episode of “Coffee with Jim & James.” James, it’s a freestyle. I thought I would venture out from my normal comfort zone.
James Cross: [0:37] I thought you were going to do some VO opportunity, some voiceover out there.
Jim: [0:42] It sounded pretty good. I think I might give Troy a little run for the money, and others.
James: [0:46] Yep. It is May, Jim, and we have something very, very rare that’s going on. That doesn’t happen very often, but back in the day was super common. In fact, I would say it was a weekly occurrence, and that is that we are recording on the same week that we are putting out this episode.
[1:09] Today is Monday, May 9th, so we’re dating ourself. I hope we get this out.
Jim: [1:17] We have to now. We’re committed.
James: [1:19] We’re committed. We should be committed. I think it’s more accurate.
Jim: [1:25] That’s a true story right there. We are doing “May Freestyle.” We do have the opportunity, which not a lot of people know, but a little insight is that we do do a lot of day recording so we can maybe free up our schedule. Versus two years ago, we would record these every week. It was…
James: [1:42] Exactly. Spoiler alert, we ruined it. Now we have a production week, and we have the whole thing. It is what it is, but we’ve leaned into it.
[1:56] Honestly, Jim and I talk about this all the time, I’m not surprising him at all. We talk a lot about, I’m going to be honest, how it feels a little dishonest, a little disingenuous to be recording a bunch of episodes.
[2:11] They come out over time, but it allows us to travel, which is very important. I don’t mean just for fun, but it does allow that, too, but to take the show on the road and do things. We’ve made that shift, but it also has made it odd, a little bit, when we have to jump back in and be the show for a couple of days and then jump back out.
[2:37] We’ve discussed that with each other a little bit and worked through that, but that’s the reality to pull this off, as we’ve had to be creative in how we deliver it. Today, it’s like old times, Jimmy.
Jim: [2:50] That’s pretty good. It is good. It’s nice doing this. We have a ton of stuff to recap for already, and they just began. We have some really big events coming up. One of them is beginning next week. I think you called it the elephant in the room, is that what you called it?
James: [3:12] It is. I think we need to address it. Let’s get past it.
Jim: [3:16] That’s correct.
James: [3:17] Next week at this time, hopefully, I’ll be on a golf course at EWNCON at our kick‑off day, but that’s the reality. I joked with the internal team the other day in internal Q&A about EWNCON.
[3:35] I said, “You always know it’s real when the expiration date on your milk is in that timeframe.” I joked about, I have a bunch of old milk around the house because I don’t want to buy a new one, because I know its way past it.
[3:51] Next week is EWNCON, and that’s the elephant in the room. There’s been a lot of work, a lot of time and effort put into this one because we’ve had it due to the pandemic.
[4:05] We were forced to have a little bit more time with it and work through it. We are ready. We have a team of people that are ready to deliver this conference point blank period.
Jim: [4:19] I’ve been traveling a lot lately and a lot of people have been asking those have been to it are biennial event every two years. Again, this one got a little delayed because of COVID, but for those that haven’t had the chance to participate in the past events, I know we have a lot of newcomers that are coming this year.
[4:36] I personally have invited a whole bunch of folks in the industry, they’re coming and they’re like, “What should I expect? What’s going to happen there?” They’re here, Energy Worldnet, EWNCON. I was thinking it’s Energy Worldnet, but it’s an industry event.
[4:50] The easiest way I say is, think of a gas association trade show, in that mix. Best practices, safety topics, all over the board. It’s panel discussions, presentations.
James: [5:03] I’ll tell you for me, I’m on the agenda myself and so are you, Jimmy. No offense to our own spots, I love the panels because I love hearing from people that are out there living it, doing the work.
[5:20] There’s such amazing panels and the people that are on it. We’ll tag some of those folks in the comments. They’ve grown to be my favorite parts. It’s no different when I go out to conferences.
[5:33] I like to go watch panels. That’s one of my favorites.We have some great, cool stuff. I can’t talk about some of it because I don’t want to be the spoiler guy.
[5:49] I’ll tell you this, Jimmy, the numbers, I’m proud of the numbers this year. I won’t go into specifics yet, because I don’t want to again be that guy.
Jim: [5:58] It vindicates…The dogs were excited.
James: [6:01] The dogs were pumped. I will say this is the largest EWN conference in its history which we’re very proud of that. I would put it attendance wise larger than most state‑level events.
Jim: [6:20] Yeah, I’m going to agree.
James: [6:20] I’m proud of that. Over 300 I would say in attendance, and coming out of the pandemic and it being a vendor specific, we are a vendor. There’s no hiding that. It is an industry conference and we bring a lot of thought leaders in.
[6:39] We have a lot of amazing training content the second day or the final day as well, that is vast and totally different. From one session to the next, it may be about leadership here, or project management here or compliance here and auditing.
[7:03] You name it. There’s probably something on there that you can learn from every hour. Jimmy, you have a slot in there for Tracer, where you’re going to be pulling the curtain back there. Having some different vantage points within that group for the Tracer workshop as well.
[7:23] I don’t know. I know it’s partly my baby, but a lot of work has run in. We’ve had a lot of time. This is our polish week, so this is where we get super nerdy and think about all the little things and the back up to the little things and so on and so forth.
[7:42] Those little touches we’ll see this week for sure. Lots going on, man. Lots going on. A lot with the show too, Jim.
Jim: [7:49] I was going to bring that around. What about Coffee with Jim & James? Are we going to be there, officially be there?
James: [7:56] We are there. We’re having a reunion. On the first night the welcome reception, we’ve invited a lot of our folks there that have been on the show in the past that supported us.
[8:14] We’re excited about getting those folks on there. We’re going to record live from the reception on Monday night after golf and everything. We’ll be there and that’s at Texas Live.
[8:26] We’ll get a sneak peek of the venue that night and we’ll pull on as many people as we can. We hope to put that episode out. That’s some content after the fact, Jim. What else are we doing, Jimmy?
Jim: [8:38] We’re doing that. I think we have a couple there more and we want to do some segments, almost like we’ve been doing James at some of the AGA and SGAs, and then doing it.
[8:48] The Monday night will be reunion having past guests on which right now I think we had a third of our guests have said they’re going to stop by.
James: [8:57] It’s impressive how many people are there. I hope everybody’s schedules work out to where they can be there for that part. If not, we’ll grab them another time.
[9:06] You nailed it the main day. After we get done with our parts of that, Jimmy and I are going to sneak off and do a live episode from there. We’re not going to be disruptive or anything, but maybe during the breaks and exhibit all time, we’ll grab some folks and again attempt to bring people there.
[9:30] We’re going to do that right in the middle of it. I’m excited. I always like a little crowd noise and little chaos. I know it makes the audio a little hard for our podcast listeners, but you know what? That’s what it’s like out there.
Jim: [9:44] We’re working on that, where we’ve learned from a lot of them in the past. I tell you, from my perspective and your perspective, doing them live at the shows as well as from the guest perspective, as well as the people walking by, that don’t actually want to get on, but they sit out there and watch it, it is fun and it does give it…Again, nothing against Zoom.
[10:05] This is where we began. This was our birthplace due to the…let’s just call it the lockdown so to speak. We are continuing out because it’s great medium to go out onto the social media platforms and all the podcast platforms, etc. I can’t wait, James, I’m excited.
James: [10:26] We’re good. Just think, Jimmy, you and I together next week. It’s always better when it’s live.
Jim: [10:34] Absolutely.
James: [10:34] Always better. We’re going to sneak that in. There’s a lot going on. We’re recording some other content today, might make it into the conference. We’ll see.
Jim: [10:43] We’ll see.
James: [10:45] Maybe we can bring a little humor, a little fun to a place, but excited to see…I don’t know about you Jimmy but for me, it’s so humbling to…
[10:56] I didn’t even work it into the plan for the conference myself. Coleman came to me one day and he goes, “What are we doing in regards to the show and the conference?” I was like, “What show? What do you mean, the conference?” He said, “No, the podcast.”
[11:16] I was like, “Oh, man. We’ll probably mention it, but it’s not about that.” He goes, “Y’all should be really proud about what you built. We need to find ways to work it in.”
[11:29] After sitting in it a little bit, I was like, “You know what? He’s right.” Working that in and people getting excited about that, making some of that is really neat.
Jim: [11:40] I think it’s really cool. The cool part about it is that you and I are pretty humble. We don’t necessarily like to push the show on others. When entities ask us, even our own company, Energy Worldnet asks us to be there, it’s like, “Yeah, we’ll do that.” We don’t want to be too bold. We’re not that type…
James: [12:02] We’re always down to help, right?
Jim: [12:04] Absolutely.
James: [12:06] I don’t want it to seem like I’m pushing my own agenda out here. I’m just thankful that there’s people that still want to talk to us and people that want to listen. We’re blessed for that. [laughs]
[12:17] Jimmy, look, EWNCON is here. It is awesome. We can’t wait for it. It’s a week away.
Jim: [12:31] I need a week to recoup a little bit. I spent as well as…I think we had a delegation of seven total Energy Worldnet team members attend AGA Spring Committee Meetings and Ops Conference in New Orleans last week.
[12:47] I tell you what, there were 1,300 approximately AGA member attending that last week. That was action packed. That was a whole week of committees.
James: [12:58] That was in New Orleans, correct?
Jim: [12:59] Yeah, New Orleans. I’ll tell you a fun thing. Is that at the Riverside Hilton, which is a huge complex. Big hotel and then attached to it, is a whole conference center. Three floors. I think it’s three, three or four floors. For a couple days, we have the whole thing.
[13:19] There was something. Scott Landis was there, our friend. He saw me from a distance but we never had the chance to connect. They were so busy and so spread out type of thing.
James: [13:30] I saw all the post, I had so much envy. I was texting Jim all week, he wouldn’t text me back for a long time. I knew he was with everybody having a good time. I’d see pictures online and I’d be looking in the background everybody else. I was definitely missing it.
Jim: [13:45] It was great. It was a good mix of seeing people networking, but the important thing was a lot of the committee involvement. I tell you, the more that we, the industry get involved and stay involved with the committees, with associations and such.
[14:00] It’s really important because you get people that from all over the United States that had different ideas, different conditions, different mindsets, different ideas and they all get together and collaborate in these committees.
[14:14] The AGA committees are no joke. We had two full days, 8:00 in the morning till pretty much 5:00 at night. That was some heavy committee stuff, which is good. It’s gratifying to be able to share the knowledge skills and abilities that we have, and share those with our colleagues.
James: [14:34] It’s always good to get out there. We say it all the time but it’s never a bad thing to say it again. If you’re wondering how to get involved, wondering who to talk to, if there’s something or an angle that you can provide your insight, knowledge and skills and ability, yes, [laughs] there’s a spot.
[14:55] There’s a seat at the table, say the word, we have plenty of connections. We will point you in the right direction and make sure that you can pull a seat up at that table.
Jim: [15:07] Definitely.
James: [15:08] Absolutely. Jimmy, I heard there were some good times that we had there as well here in New Orleans. I heard through the Grapevine. Scott Brooks told me that we had a pretty cool event, after hours event. They had AGA. Tell us a little bit about that?
Jim: [15:26] That was really cool. It was held at the House of Blues in the French Quarter. The hotel that we were staying at the host hotel is down by the river at the end of Canal Street.
[15:36] We were all getting together. At first, nobody thought about it, but once people were saying, we have over 1,000 people, 1,300 people to go about a half a mile into the quarter. We’re all thinking, “We can Uber. We’re all going to walk or maybe walk in spurts or whatever.”
[15:55] The AGA pulled off a dossier, great thing. They said, “We’re going to have a parade from the Host Hotel Conference Center over to the House of Blues.” We’re like, “OK.” We all met downstairs. It was like 5:30, 6:00, 6:30 at night, went outside or started inside. Again, 1,300 people they went outside…
James: [16:15] I saw the pictures.
Jim: [16:17] They got a band, a local band and they also had police stopping traffic on the street. We had a parade that went through into the quarter. It was great. People were taking pictures and yelling and cheering.
[16:33] I think they were cheering. They might have been heckling, but that was just for me. I got to hold the sign, an AGA sign to help lead everybody, so nobody got lost. It was wonderful that we spent the evening there.
[16:45] Again, a fun event, a fun experience to do that, not many people. A lot of people that was their first time in New Orleans and to be in “a parade” with a band and horns and the whole bit. We got some great pictures.
[16:59] David Love and I were messing around and we got our pictures taken with the marshals, and it was fun. It was a lot of fun. Great experience. That’s what our industry brings. It brings a good mix of getting serious but also having some fun.
James: [17:14] Getting business done. It sounds like you all got some business done down there.
Jim: [17:19] We did.
James: [17:20] I like it.
Jim: [17:21] Absolutely.
James: [17:22] Man…
Jim: [17:25] Hey, it’s almost summer time, brother. Can you believe June is right around the corner?
James: [17:31] It feels like almost like [laughs] we’re kicking off the Coffee with Jim & James world tour. It is in our world. We’re going to make the rounds, and I mean that in a good way.
[17:44] I know we’re kind of like, “Woo” because we’re talking ourselves into it honestly, because it’s pretty much go starting next week. It’s already been go but for the show and for us in particular. We’ll be in a lot of shows together here over the summer and then into the early fall too.
[18:08] I think it starts big with the Texas Gas Association which I believe it’s in New Braunfels this year. June 5th it kicks off. Jimmy and I are going to go back to our stomping grounds, probably wear boots…
Jim: [18:25] I always do, brother. You know me.
James: [18:28] Me too. We’re going to go back and support our TGA brethren over there, and we’re excited for that. We’re bringing the show to that hall. We’re going to have a big booth there. I’m really excited about this one.
[18:43] We have a lot of friends there, Jim, and I’m excited to get some of them on my show to be honest. Make them get on there. They’re going to have to do it. Bringing the show to the reception there, and I’m also speaking at that show, Jim.
Jim: [18:59] Good.
James: [19:00] I have a breakout there on culture as well, Kickstarting Your Culture. A lot’s going on there, but that kicks it off. From that point, I feel like we run.
Jim: [19:13] Next week EWNCON, then TGA, and then we’re in St. Louis for the SGA…
James: [19:18] That’s going to be a big show. It’s sounds like it. Everybody’s talking about it, Natural Gas Connect.
Jim: [19:23] Even at AGA, people were asking me…
James: [19:25] St. Louis.
Jim: [19:29] People were asking me at AGA where James was. With our schedules, we can’t do them all, but I did tell them that we have designed and designated, chose to do it live. We mentioned TGA, SGA, and St. Louis. Then…
James: [19:42] That one’s going to be a big one right there. I’m excited about that.
Jim: [19:45] It’s going to be really big.
James: [19:48] We’ve got a big booth there. Same thing, we’re going to be running the show the whole time. I’ll plead to our audience, and I’ll say it for your own sake, is we would love to record some live episodes with you and your team.
[20:03] If you’re going to have some folks there getting some education or that you would like to have on the show, those shows are fun for us. We’d love to have them on because we are about maximizing our time when we go out there.
[20:19] What I mean by that is we want to capture as much content we can bring home and provide back. That’s our goal every single time. If you’re one of those people, reach out to us now because it’s booking fast.
[20:31] What I mean is that, like at SGA, inside that schedule, we’re going to be recording in the receptions for our own sake to bring as much of that content home, but if you want to record an episode at your booth, we have the stuff and can travel, so say the word.
Jim: [20:46] We have the abilities. Reach out to us.
James: [20:49] Like a commercial, but you know what I mean. Let’s set it up. Let’s do it.
Jim: [20:54] We’re always saying people say, “How do we get on the show?” Just say we want to be on the show. We like to have new ideas, innovation, best practices, safety items. No matter what your business is, there’s always safety items and best practices and new innovations. Those are the things that the audience want to hear.
[21:14] James, I have to tell you, though, after St. Louis, I don’t know if you know this, but you and I are going to be back in the Big Easy…
James: [21:21] We are, so be careful what you wished for. You wanted me there last week. You’re going to get me when we go to LGA Pipeline Safety. That’s in July, I think, or into June, one or the other.
Jim: [21:36] It’s in July.
James: [21:37] It runs pretty close. I know we have stuff in between, separately, but I’ve actually never been to that show. I’m excited. I’ve always heard really good things from a lot of people, you being one of them. Personally, I’m excited to go to it. It’ll be here like that.
Jim: [21:57] Other than COVID when it wasn’t held, I’ve been at every Pipeline Safety Conference that the LGA has held, I believe, since 2008, 2009. I’m looking forward to that. You and I are going to have a lot of fun there.
[22:11] It doesn’t end, though, James. It doesn’t end at LGA. We keep going.
James: [22:16] That’s just the summer. The fall, we’re going to be at a few shows, I think, APGA and KGA. We’ll be on our second wind by then. We’ll be recharged and ready to go. The fall, that seems like two years from now.
Jim: [22:36] I know.
James: [22:36] Ooh, one thing at a time. We got a lot of opportunity and a lot of friends to make and meet and get out there. I’m pumped. I couldn’t be more proud of the show right now.
[22:49] Jim and I were talking here recently. I’ve been listening to it myself. It’s something that I want to push a little harder. Jim and I have been talking about something. I hope it’s OK to talk about this, Jimmy, in front of everyone.
Jim: [23:07] Go ahead.
James: [23:10] There’s another element that’s manifested out of this show, and that is that we’ve been able to translate it live and bring excitement to receptions and to conferences. Some people have asked us to emcee events or, “Would you want to bring the show over to our booth or lead this conversation in this breakout session?”
[23:41] The more we think about that, that’s our love language, Jim, when people ask us that stuff. We love the thought leadership aspect of it. I don’t think a lot of people know that that’s even an option.
[23:57] We’ve hosted game shows. Remember the SGA one with UPSCO? We’ve done a few with TGA and SGA. They were fun. They were a blast. Also, you led a few discussions. Again, it sounds pretentious to say as a host of a podcast, but it is something we do, and it translates well live.
Jim: [24:25] It does. Anytime anybody’s ever asked me to participate, whether it’s you and I together or just myself, one, I think people see us on here all the time and figure that we’re not shy and timid, so we’re good to maybe step in. Magnolia River pulled me in at SGA, Groebner…
James: [24:43] Groebner a while back, last year.
Jim: [24:46] pulled me…
James: [24:47] There’s been a lot of conversations that have went on. It’s something that I want people to know that’s an option.
Jim: [24:58] Definitely.
James: [24:59] We can make it fun. We can make it serious. We would love to be involved. I guess what I’m saying is if you sit on a committee or you’re charged with setting up some of these events and you would like to have us involved, reach out.
[25:16] Again, if we’re going to be at the event, it makes it even easier. If you’re struggling with how you want to bring a new idea to the table or present or you want it to just break out of the norm, let us know. We’ll see if we can help with that, too.
Jim: [25:33] 100 percent.
James: [25:35] I want to tell our story. If somebody wants to sign up to hear the inspiration behind it all, I’d love to go out and you and I speak on that and be brave.
Jim: [25:47] Like a presentation on Coffee with Jim & James, how it began?
James: [25:49] Really, like being brave and stepping out and connecting with people when the odds are against you.
Jim: [25:58] It’s a great leadership/cultural topic, and it seems like the industry is embracing that more and more. I remember 10 years ago, every session I used to go to had some sort of, quote, unquote, nuts and bolts about the industry.
[26:12] We’re starting to see so much more about this thought leadership and culture and everything and that’s wonderful. I think it does tie into that.
James: [26:19] Think about it. If there’s some way that you can plug us in or you would like to lean in a little bit more, we’re always ears. We’re listening, and we’ll do anything we can to help support our associations and our listeners, ultimately, at the end of the day.
Jim: [26:36] Absolutely.
James: [26:37] Jimmy, there’s a lot going on, man. May is jam‑packed.
Jim: [26:44] It is. You know what, though? We’re blessed beyond what we deserve to be able to do all this and to provide that. If we’re positively affecting one person’s life by watching this or something or having them get an idea to do something better or safer, it’s all worth it right then and there.
James: [27:02] Absolutely. I hope for those listening today, when this rolls out, we’ll see you in a couple days. Those that are coming down, it won’t be long at all, excited. Reach out, let’s set something up. If you’re out there planning an event or need somebody, let us know.
[27:23] Also, Jim, you said it earlier about guests. If you know somebody who could tell a great story about our industry or anything not in our industry, let us know. We’re always interested, always looking for folks to bring on and tell their tale.
Jim: [27:42] We love to listen to stories as well as tell stories.
James: [27:45] Say the word. Cool. Hey, man, I’ll see you next week.
Jim: [27:51] I will, brother, absolutely. Until then, thank you, audience, for tuning in. Everybody out there, stay safe. We’ll see you next week on Coffee with Jim & James.
James: [27:59] Bye‑bye.
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Transcription by WatchingWords