There I was, at nine years of age, shaking the hand and getting the autograph of Bobby Layne, a Detroit Lions football legend. Layne was the first "famous" person I had ever met. My dad had taken me to some local event at a car dealership. To attract more people, the dealership had brought several Detroit Lions football players in to meet and greet the public. It was clearly an experience I have never forgotten.
Even though I was so young at that time, I can still remember how excited I was. There is just something exhilarating that goes with meeting someone who has achieved some kind of fame.
As the years have passed, I've never lost that sense of excitement that attaches to meeting famous, or perhaps better said, "noteworthy people." I will admit that my definition of "noteworthy people" has changed considerably. For a nine-year-old boy, Bobby Layne was a god! Rest assured that I long ago left behind that kind of hero worship.
But I haven't left behind that feeling of anticipation and excitement that goes with meeting, and especially listening to, people who have something special or illuminating to say. Even better are those rare opportunities when I actually have the chance to ask these people questions that are meaningful to me. Somehow, these experiences make my life richer and more informed. And if growth is truly one of the greatest fulfillments to life, how can one not be grateful for such experiences? I certainly am.
I mention all this as a way to talk to you on a more personal level about what NEHA's upcoming Annual Educational Conference (AEC) really offers you. Yes, our conference offers what you would expect, such as a healthy measure of important networking, training, and learning opportunities, as well as the chance to become involved in a wide assortment of association undertakings that this year (since we are in Washington, DC) will focus heavily on policy development. But as worthy as these and other related benefits are (such as the experience of just being in our nation's capital, where one can access more spectacular free experiences than in any other city in America), that's not where I'm going with this column. Rather there's something much more personal that makes for the ultimate take away from a conference experience such as the one NEHA puts on. Drawing from my life story, I'm going to call it the Bobby Layne factor! The Bobby Layne factor represents nothing less than the opportunity to enrich one's life.