A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to speak on a panel at a conference in New York City and was given a free pass to attend the all-day conference. Usually, I tend to go to these just for my panel, shake a few hands and drink coffee, then leave—no more than two hours tops. But, since it was a train ride away and they had some great discussions planned on topics like email marketing and big data, I decided to go for the day as a participant. The morning of the conference, my bag felt too heavy to lug around all day (laptop, charger cables, notebook, etc). So, I ditched my backpack at the hotel and showed up with a pen and a pad of paper. I took a deep breath and told myself I was ready to just absorb.