Roll the clock back 20 years, to when many of us were getting our contracting businesses started. Where did we go to learn more about the trade? If you were one of the fortunate ones, you stepped into a second- or third-generation family operation, where you continued to build on valuable experience. Some of us went to work for other builders, and many were lucky enough to find good mentors willing to share their knowledge. There were a few content-oriented magazines around — JLC was one of them — where once a month we could pick up a few insights from other builders. But, beyond a few construction management courses, which we didn't have time to take anyway, that was about it. Most of us learned building the hard way, mistakes and all.

There was certainly nothing around like JLC Live — an educational conference, tool and product fair, peer networking opportunity, and builder carnival all rolled into one. I can't think of anywhere else you can listen to an expert tell you how to write contracts to protect yourself against mold liability (advice that you'd pay a mint for), while...

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