A misdirected meeting at CES

Who are these people?

LAS VEGAS--On the Internet, no one knows if you are a dog. And at trade shows, no one knows if you are Jeff.

I had to meet Jeff Ziegler and Jake Player, the CEO and president, respectively, of PC recycler TechTurn, for a breakfast meeting at a restaurant. I had exchanged e-mails with the company but had never seen them in person.

While waiting outside the appointed restaurant, two guys approached me, and one pointed his finger at me. "Jeff?" I asked. "Yes," he said.

We sat down and exchanged pleasantries. Then another guy joined us. I hadn't expected that.

"Are you guys from TechTurn?" I asked.

No. They were from a speaker company. I excused myself and waited outside. Minutes later, my real meeting had arrived.

Trade shows are like that. Invariably, you have to go to hotel rooms and other places where you don't know the people. In a way, it's kind of like being a gigolo.

"Are you Mike?" someone might ask.

"I can be whoever you want me to be," I have to reply.

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