GP Lyon 2018

GP Lyon 2018

How do you raise the blood pressure of an experienced Grand Prix road warrior? You cancel the train that forms the bed rock of their entire travel itinerary and then add insult to that injury by literally insulting them when they try and resolve the issue. This forms the basis of my Thursday morning on the way to Lyon for my first official event as Registration Lead.

As Lyon falls on Valentine’s Day weekend flights in and out of the city as well as the popular alternative, Geneva, being incredibly high I decided to try Eurostar for the first time and get the train from Cardiff to Lyon via London and Paris. Trains are cool and I prefer them to flying, but they tend to be time consuming and expensive, so having a similar timetable and a cheaper cost made it an enticing offer.

The lead up to the event was much less stressful than that of London in January and I was able to participate in a lot more of the planning and preparation aspects of the role. I sent out my pre-event briefing a few days before the event, handled any questions that came out of that and then reviewed the set-up documentation so that when I came in on Friday we would be ready to deliver for the players straight away.

After having my train from Cardiff to London cancelled, I was able to make up the time and enjoy my Eurostar experience (although the WiFi was patchy and the luggage racks awkwardly sized). Luckily, I checked my tickets for my connection from Paris to Lyon and was able to change stations in time to make it onto my final leg and into Lyon for dinner.

Friday mornings of non-team GPs on registration are busy! Trials (tournaments where the winner gets byes in the main event) are popular and they open when the halls open so the heat map goes from zero to maximum in almost no time at all. This is often compounded by the fact that you are usually still setting up and finding everything – we did the first ten minutes with no cash boxes! I was warned before the event that getting through the trials rush was the key to a successful weekend as registration lead so I came to the event with a plan – to have dedicated lines and an express lane for cash only (cash is much faster to process than card payments) and unlike some shows we were only taking a single currency.

Despite the plan, trials were a challenge. CFBE use a timed system where trials fire every thirty minutes regardless of the number of players unlike the older system where trials were fired sequentially every thirty two players. This meant we were often asked which trial players were in, especially if they registered either side of a cut-off point. These questions were also challenging the scorekeepers because players would show up at the wrong time and in the wrong place. We solved this by giving players tickets with their trial start time on – an obvious solution many would think, but sometimes the obvious gets missed when designing processes.

Beyond the challenges posed by trials, Friday played out quite successfully and I even ended up enjoying myself and the experience of leading a team really sparked that leadership passion in me (it’s been a while since I’ve had direct reports professionally). I spent most of the afternoon planning the rest of my weekend and coming up with some solutions to the problems mentioned above. I have a few new things to try in Madrid in March.

Saturday was hard. Not because of any issues or challenges but because we were so quiet that I had to keep on top of motivating my team and keep them productive and professional. I think this part of team leading is harder than the heat of battle where the individual team members can also step up and be leaders. I learned a lot about myself too, I definitely work better under pressure and this is probably something I should work on as in an ideal world we want to build towards reducing pressure. I spent a lot of the day brainstorming some new processes for Madrid and beyond and working on my sales pitch for CFBE.

Sunday was my favourite day of the weekend by some margin. We were crazy busy registering people for the PTQ and we put in place all the lessons we had learned from Friday and the team worked amazingly well to implement my ideas. We were steady enough that my motivation issues from Saturday didn’t return and quiet enough that I was able to talk to the team and get some great feedback. I was also able to learn some more scorekeeping tricks and even solve and Excel problem!

That evening was a highlight of a great day. At the traditional post event staff party I was asked to give my first public recognition and it was a wonderful, if bittersweet, moment. The person I wanted to recognise, I learned almost immediately after congratulating, is leaving the judge program for a while and this was their final event for the foreseeable future so was an emotional time for them. I usually get quite awkward when people cry, especially when it’s my words that have contributed to it, but it was also a real privilege to be able to stand up with the senior staff from the event and call out some fantastic work.

Overall, the weekend was a success from a work point of view – I received some really great feedback and also felt that my work left a noticeable and positive stamp on the event. The event was also a boon for my confidence. Being trusted to lead is a powerful thing and it helped with my anxiety and difficulty talking to people which meant I got to have some really constructive conversations with people that I would normally avoid.

I’m still torn between my desire to be involved as a leader of people and to see through the work I have started as a registration lead and my desire to push on as a scorekeeper and be recognised in that field too. My next two shows are one of each, so hopefully I will have resolved this particular battle by then!

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