It is hard to believe that the AAMI Annual Conference is just a little over a month away; how time does march on! While making my travel plans, I sat back in my chair and contemplated why each year I schedule a week out of my work and personal schedule, which both have enough to keep me busy, to attend the conference.
Sure, I always enjoy spending time in the Expo, visiting with vendors and seeing the new or enhanced products they bring with them. Unquestionably there are great presentations and educational sessions every year, and those alone would make the trip worthwhile. Even so, I receive numerous e-mails about product updates every week. I have also participated in several webinars and have found them to be very informative, and they are proving to be an economical way to stay current on a variety of topics. So I had to ask myself, “Is that why I invest the time each year?” Frankly the answer is no.
While the e-mails with links to websites with product information and educational webinars are good and economical ways to get information, neither of these is a substitute for face-to-face interaction. My personality is such that I want to have that personal interface. I want to see the expressions of people when they are speaking, and it helps me to see their reactions to my comments. I like the instant feedback. I enjoy the times when between sessions my colleagues and I are sharing our thoughts on a particular subject and others join in on the conversation sharing their experiences and opinions. I like those impromptu, spirited, and good-natured debates. Many times, I have also shared with my colleagues issues for which I am seeking a solution only to find out that they have had a similar experience and are able to offer insights as to how they dealt with that issue.
It is through these types of interactions over the years of attending the annual conference that I have made several friends. That meeting is often the only opportunity we have each year to experience that personal interaction. Some might say that I could get the personal experience over the phone. It isn’t the same. I’m reminded of my time in the U.S. Air Force when I was stationed in Germany. I was able to call my family from time to time, and it was always nice to hear their voices. But when I was able to go back home while on leave and visit with my family in person, it was clear that the phone calls, while nice, were no substitute for seeing them face to face.
No, there really is no substitute for being there, which is one of the primary reasons I will pack my bags in a few weeks and head to Long Beach. I am looking forward to seeing my long-time friends and colleagues again and I hope to make even more new friends this year!
Vice President of Strategic Partnerships
ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies