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Pointing Out the Value of the NAED LEAD Conference

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine


Two quick notes as I begin this week’s column.

One, in case you haven’t heard, a few years ago I was late to my older son’s volleyball game.  When I walked in the gym, a dad greeted me and said the words I will never forget.  “You so missed it.”  My son had a big day. I vowed from that moment on, no matter what the event, I was never going to “miss it” again.

And two, I write a lot of these columns based on what people are telling me.  The latest I heard was that not all of the value of “niche” meetings is understood by the upper management at some NAED member companies.

So, I am going to take a shot at both issues in one column by letting you know what you will miss, and the value of the upcoming NAED LEAD Conference in Chicago July 15-17.

The LEAD Conference “unofficially” starts on Wednesday, July 15 with a networking opportunity in the afternoon.  It’s optional, but it gives the people who will be attending a chance to meet each other and spend some time in a great area of Chicago.  Since the “official” activities start with Thursday morning’s breakfast at 7am, we understand many of the attendees will have to arrive on Wednesday.  The networking will get everyone ready for a full day on Thursday.

The other event on Wednesday is the “Welcome Dinner”.  We are fortunate to have Glenn Goedecke be the host and speaker for the dinner.  He will tell the LEAD attendees about his career in the industry, what it took for him to get where he is today, and what it will take for them to build on their success.  Just getting that advice alone, from the current NAED Chair, is worth the price of attending.

Thursday morning kicks off with John O’Leary, a motivational speaker and coach.  O’Leary was told by doctors that he was about to die, and turned that into critical lessons about creating goals through your thoughts, words and actions.  Any young employee in this industry should hear his message as a way to build a long and successful career in distribution. 

After that on Thursday morning comes our panel discussion.  Think about this for a moment… You get to go into a room and ask any question you want to these four people:  Glenn Goedecke, Doug Borchers of Dickman Supply, Kathy Jo Van of Southwire-Coleman Cable and David White of Shealy Electrical.  What would you pay to have the opportunity to have those four people tell your young employees what they need to know to succeed?  This is obviously one of those “you so missed it” moments, because your employees are not going to have this opportunity again.  Plus, the advice they will bring back to the office certainly has “value”. 

And we are only halfway through the first day of the LEAD conference.

After lunch, we have an education session for your employees, where they will learn everything that is available to them through NAED.  From other conferences to benefits to educational tools that we have to allow them to grow as managers and leaders. This will help you grow the next generation of your workforce and put your young employees on a path toward upper management.

The rest of the afternoon, the LEAD Conference attendees will share what they have learned with each other as they talk about best practices in small groups before they attend the tED magazine “30 Under 35” awards that night.

Friday morning has a half-day communication course that will not force your employees to work away from their communication strengths, but instead highlight them so they can be more effective leaders.  This session, which is led by Janine Smith of JS Performance Strategies, will tie together everything your employees learned in the past 36 hours and allow them to bring it back to your office and put a plan in place.

I always fear sending someone off to a conference or meeting, and when they return to the office, their reaction was “it was OK.” The LEAD Conference this year is way better than “OK.”  I strongly recommend you send your best and brightest young employees, because if you don’t, they will be a year behind those who did attend.

In other words, “you so missed it.”


Please feel free to leave a comment below or you can always contact me at scosta@naed.org.



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