Quick Thoughts from NENA 2013

Perhaps this post would be more aptly entitled “Delayed Thoughts” rather than my traditional “Quick Thoughts” title as the NENA conference I am reviewing ended a week ago. To make matters worse, my attendance was sporadic due to the fact it was held in Charlotte close enough to my home that I didn’t spend all my time (or attention) there. While I enjoyed it, I’m sure I got a very different feel for the week and admit that I missed some things (like the special screening of the movie “The Call” starring Halle Berry which benefited the Friends of 9-1-1 foundation), so I will begin with the official Conference Wrap-Up summary link direct from NENA.

Okay, now that you know what really happened, here is my take. The Monday plenary address started with the idea that the key to success – whether in the PSAP, comm center, or even in the field – is that we don’t need to be an organization composed strictly of the smartest people or even those who are always the best at what they do. The most important ingredient for success is building a team that supports each other. When we can achieve this level of cooperation, we can do more than any of the stars employed at other organizations could do by themselves. This was an encouraging thought, especially to those organizations who cannot always attract the most outstanding talent. The idea really works for me because I know that public safety is definitely a “team sport!” Later that morning, once the exhibit hall opened, I felt the rush of excitement to learn about the latest technologies and offerings (and of course the mad dash to get their bingo cards punched.)

Tuesday had an interesting start. The keynote was delivered by Marlee Matlin and I felt as if I was the only person not familiar with her work as a Hollywood actress or her activism for Next Generation 9-1-1. I was even more surprised when her “talk” was entirely done in sign language with a male interpreter for her voice. It turns out that Marlee is an advocate of NG911 because she is deaf and cannot currently reach traditional 9-1-1. It was probably the most poignant message I have heard in a while. The only thing that made the day even more special for me was to have my friend Mark Fletcher of the Avaya Podcast Network do a podcast with me (you can listen to it here.)

The highlight of my Wednesday was hearing from Jason Dorsey a “PowerPoint-free” speaker who loves engaging audiences and spewing facts about the Millennial generation and who bills himself as the “Gen Y Guy.” I thought I understood the new generation recently coming of age and entering the workforce (and subsequently discounting their motivations and abilities.) But I now have a much better appreciation of who they really represent and how they can strengthen the team concepts I bought in to on Monday. This was an appropriate closing thought as it brought the entire conference full circle for me while ultimately leaving me in a much different place than where I started the week. I hope I can make Nashville next year!

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