I have been attending the DMA Conference for the past 14 years, and I’ve been to my share of opening sessions. I would like to say that I have made them all, but the reality is I have missed few – generally due to some Sunday night social event that went far longer than it should have. But I can say that I have made more than I have missed.
I can’t say that I have been overly impressed throughout the years, but despite the content, I felt it was important to attend the annual address of the association’s leadership and whomever they had hired that year to inspire a very difficult group to impress. Generally there were some opening remarks about how great our collective industry is, then some interesting (or sometimes not so interesting) anecdotes about how someone succeeded in life and business. As I type this I am even more impressed with my attendance record.
This year was different. If the attendance and content of this session is a bellwether for our industry, then I would say that it is very strong. DMA Chairman, Joanne Monfradi Dunn, shared opening remarks about where our focus should be and what is critical to the future state of the direct marketing industry—they hit the mark and were far more effective than a group “pat on the back.” I felt her message of “Don’t Market Alone” really captured the true value of the Direct Marketing Association. With her comment that the DMA is a place “where brilliant ideas combine with best practices,” I felt like someone really captured the true value of our collective association and made me very excited for the DMA’s future under her stewardship.
The keynote address from Magic Johnson was simply magical. I think it be would very hard to find a more dynamic and entertaining speaker. Frankly, I had expected to hear stories about college basketball and the NBA, particularly what it felt like to prepare for and win on the biggest stage. There was some of that, but the true message was how Magic prepares himself and his business to compete in the marketplace. His message of preparation, dedication and over-delivering for your customers and investors really kept everyone’s attention throughout his presentation. As he worked the room and took numerous photos with everyone, he remarkably stayed on his message. It’s no surprise that he had to endure the “Dumb Jock” perception; I may be somewhat guilty of having that perception myself. I’ve never been a Michigan State or Laker fan, nor am I one now, but after experiencing what Magic is like as a leader in business, it’s not hard to imagine what he was like as a leader for all of those great athletic teams.
Well done, DMA! I plan to be at the next opening session in Boston at DMA 2015, and my expectations are much higher.
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