Published on May 09, 2018
Written by Brad Crandall
The Servion Group's CEO, Brad Crandall, discusses the value of industry conferences and how you might get the most out of your experience.
My team and I recently attended a conference put together by NACUSO, the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations. It’s one of the many industry gatherings I attend in any given year, and it was my twenty-second time at NACUSO.
As we prepared for the event in April, I began thinking to myself: Why do we as leaders take time away from our businesses to participate in these conventions? What is it about conferences that we actually find valuable?
Aside from the fact that many conferences seem to be held in warm, sunny locales, I came up with a brief list of important things that I believe business leaders, their employees, and ultimately their companies stand to gain from conference attendance.
Exposure to innovation
When something works, it’s easy to keep doing it that way over and over again. After all, why fix something that isn’t broken? Well, what we’re doing may not be broken, but there may be something out there that is about to make our solution obsolete, even if it technically still gets the job done. There may be a new tool or a new philosophy that makes life easier for our clients and employees. Conferences offer a chance to break from our day-to-day and look out across the business landscape to see what opportunities and challenges may be on the horizon.
Networking – realizing you’re not alone
Conferences are full of engaged, accomplished, talented people who work in the same field as you do. They get excited about the same things that excite you, and they face some of the same challenges you may be trying to overcome. Conferences remind you of this easy-to-forget fact, which in turn opens the door to some great conversations with peers. Some of the best ideas and inspiration tend come from casual exchanges with people during or after an event.
Learning never ends
No matter what car you drive, there’s always someone with a better one. Your house might be big, but someone else’s is bigger. And no matter how long you’ve been in a business, there is always someone out there who can teach you something new. Conferences give you the chance to do some out-of-office learning and thinking with some of the best minds in your industry. I’ve found that going in with an attitude of humility and open-mindedness allow you to readily absorb new knowledge that is critical to your company’s future (and the future on the employees who rely on you).
Those of us who have been in leadership for a long time tend to grow fond of certain phrases. We say certain things when we give speeches, we expound on some philosophy that has helped us succeed. There’s nothing wrong with that. But at one conference when I was a younger leader I was reminded, while listening to a talk given by a Disney executive, that people pay attention to more than your words. They pay attention to your actions, your demeanor, the direction you steer your company. Without hearing that perspective from someone more experienced than me, my own leadership style may have been less effective in future years.
I believe investing in conferences is a good thing for business and personal growth, and if you are able to bring employees with you or allow them to attend seminars on their own, you are making a wise choice. You’ll discover that there is a big world outside the four walls of your office, and you’ll be energized to try new things and make real progress.
By the way, Servion is hosting a lending conference in September in St. Paul, Minnesota. Feel free to reach out to LeAnn Case, our director of marketing, for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
At that NACUSO conference I mentioned at the beginning, I’m proud to say The Servion Group was named 2018 CUSO of the Year!