Do you know that feeling you get when you’re at a work conference and it seems like everyone has an ulterior motive? Like they’re selling something and you kind of want to take a shower when you leave?
I have and let me tell you – it’s not fun. Well, it’s ok for a little while. I’m reconnecting with the people I haven’t seen in a year, picking up free goodies from the venders, and maybe seeing some of the town.
Ok – not anymore, but that was part of the deal when I was more mobile.
People didn’t seem to be reciting their resume and courting the big companies like they do in the corporate world.
They were just looking to help each other. To pool resources and share the most valuable and relevant information so that we could all leave there in the best possible position.
I went to the National MS Society’s 2015 Leadership conference.
It was something that I hadn’t planned on doing but got a call from someone at the Wisconsin Chapter a few weeks before. I was honored that they even thought of me and went with the intention of making the best possible use of the time.
The energy was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I spent a lot of time with three other volunteers/fundraisers/leaders from the state and a number of Wisconsin Chapter MS Society employees, including the president of the Wisconsin Chapter. They were all fantastic!
I even met someone on the elevator who said “Jim Turk – sure, I know who you are…” I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but any recognition is good recognition, right?
The meeting itself was very informative and open. There were several “general” sessions where we all (900 total participants) got together in one main room and several “break-out” sessions, which was a little more like an a la carte line at lunch. We got to pick and choose which sessions seemed the most interesting and attend those.
The general sessions were filled with stories, awards, and even a performance by country music star, Julie Roberts. She has MS and told us a story about it before treating us to a number of songs. We saw a video by comedy great Amy Schumer, whose father has MS and keeps the cause very close to her heart. At the end, we were treated to a song performed by the local award winning high school A Capella group, “Volunteer Voices.”
The break-out sessions that I attended were how to leverage your strengths and your
story to get more community support and donations, research legislation and funding (this was a little on the dry side), the future directions of managing MS (really focused on health and wellness), and the strides that have been made in research and how we can talk about it in a way that people will understand.
There were networking opportunities – well, “networking” is something that I think of as a work term. This was more about making connections and sharing stories and ideas. I’m sure some would say “potayto – potahto,” but it was different… trust me, and poster sessions, which is an opportunity to meet many of the MS research up-and-comers and hear about their findings.
All-and-all, it was very cool. I hope to get the opportunity to go again and will definitely apply what I’ve learned! Oh yeah – I recorded much of it (audio), so I’ll try and get some of the relevant things posted in the near future.