this article is written from the perspective of Mike Brewer.
Emerging leaders become business leaders.
Several team members from different departments and I had the opportunity of attending this year’s ASA Emerging Leaders event in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had never been to New Orleans before, but had certainly heard all about the rich culture and exciting night life that the city had to offer. My colleagues and I arrived early enough to drop our bags off at the hotel, hosting the event and strolled down to a perfectly southern themed “newcomer” breakfast for all the first-time attendees. The breakfast was a great opportunity to hear what other first-time attendees assumed the conference would be about.
After the breakfast, we attended the “State of the Industry” opening panel. Walking into the panel room felt more like walking into a well-run business than a room full of people who didn’t know each other. The perfect symbiosis of attendees networking while also preparing notes and documents filled the room as the speakers began to take their place on stage. The panel was extremely interesting and several different speakers gave their opinions/insights/expertise on everything from management, to manufacturing and supply chain issues. Thoughts on the current climate of supply chain being a recurring theme throughout the week’s discussions.
After a short lunch break and walk around the beautifully green parks next to Lake Pontchartrain, Jack Shaw took the stage for his presentation. He presented on many subjects that I wouldn’t have originally thought directly related to our industry or the leadership side of it, but his talk impacted me the most of all that I attended at the conference.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G Wireless, Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented/Virtual Reality, and 3D printing are each driving accelerated rates of change in our industry. Jack shared how these emerging technologies will impact manufacturers and distributors, while doing it in a fun and eloquent way. It is no wonder why he’s a successful author and is constantly traveling the world to speak to people in many different industries.
After Jack’s session, every attendee was assigned a spot for the roundtable discussion with our peers. Men and women of all ages and backgrounds were there to give their personal insight on the topics at hand. ASA had given us all prompts if we felt like we needed them to get the conversation going, but our table had no problem getting started on our own topics and questions of challenges we currently deal with in the industry. It didn’t matter if you were a manufacturer or a distributor, or if you worked in sales or in marketing, everybody was able to give valuable insight from one source or another. It was quite eye opening to hear from young sales representatives and experienced managers alike, some of whom had been in the game for longer than I’ve even been alive. I personally wanted to ask everybody how they expected innovation to change and help adapt in their perspective roles. I kept thinking back to Jack Shaw’s presentation about innovation. I wanted to be better while learning more about topics that could help grow our business, and grow myself personally. Many new LinkedIn connections were made with the common goal of industry improvement.
The event came to a conclusion with more networking opportunities and events to see other parts of town. My colleagues along with new friends, strolled around the city and ended up at a little restaurant to finish out the trip. We discussed what we had learned, what we took away and what we will do differently as a result to this conference. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to the new connections we had made, but at the end of the day, I feel extremely blessed to have been chosen to attend one of the prestigious ASA events, and I cannot wait to go back again next year.