Following two years of COVID-19, the commercial AV community craves a return to in-person gatherings. Certainly, there have been some over the past six months. For example, I attended InfoComm ’21 last October and the Almo E4 Experience last November. But it’s still relatively rare for #avtweeps to get together in large numbers and participate in shared, in-person experiences. With NSCA’s Business & Leadership Conference (BLC) 2022, well over 300 integration business leaders gathered in Irving, Texas, for a few days of inspirational keynotes, intimate breakout sessions and casual networking. Those of us who attended certainly got all that, but we also got much more. BLC was an injection of energy and inspiration that could revivify even the most sclerotic of businesses.
I can testify personally to BLC’s transformative power. In my role as editor-in-chief of Commercial Integrator, I was scheduled to present the Excellence in Product Innovation (EPI) awards on February 23, but I missed the entire awards dinner because Delta canceled my flight. I managed to thread the needle and fight my way to Dallas, but my luggage wasn’t so lucky. Separated from my suitcase, I walked — bone tired — into the Four Seasons in my grungy street clothes and with a proverbial storm cloud above my head.
But then Control Concepts’ Steve Greenblatt greeted me with a warm smile and handshake. And I also saw Kelly Perkins and AVIXA’s Samantha Powell, both of whom outstretched their arms for a hug. CTI’s Tim Albright passed by and kindly welcomed me, saying he’d been following my travel travails on Twitter. I saw NSCA’s executive director, Tom LeBlanc, who said he was so happy that I’d arrived and not to worry about the EPI awards presentation. I even received an introduction to PCD’s Bill Graham, whom I’d collaborated with when I worked at Sound & Communications but whom I’d never met. The storm cloud didn’t stand a chance. I was among friends — we all were.
By February 25, even though I still didn’t have my suitcase, my mood was jubilant. During the morning session, Dr. Calvin Mackie earned the first standing ovation of BLC 2022, delivering a poignant message of hope and perseverance. His program, STEM NOLA, started in the family garage; it has come to help about 100,000 young people develop the necessary skills for success. He also spoke personally about being a young, aspiring ball player who suffered a traumatic shoulder separation and saw his dreams shatter. The adults in his life didn’t dab his tears, Dr. Mackie said; instead, they pushed him to outhustle everyone else and make a success of himself. He fought past mediocre SAT scores and a chorus of doubters to pursue becoming an engineer, succeeding beyond his wildest dreams. His story, Dr. Mackie said, underscores why children must be given pathways to lead them forward: Because everyone can be great.
Later that morning, advisor and coach Peter Bregman offered a master class on effective leadership, urging integration business owners to be confident without being arrogant, to forge strong connections with others and to exhibit a commitment to collective purpose. He urged us not to avoid hard-to-talk-about issues. Bregman observed that taking risks is precisely how we open the door to new possibilities. “If you are willing to feel everything,” he averred, “then you can do anything.”
Most of us left BLC 2022 feeling like we could do anything. Even being without my luggage for two-plus days couldn’t weigh me down. It’s my belief that integration business owners who invested in NSCA’s BLC will enjoy just the same weightlessness in the months ahead.
P.S.: Don’t search #BLC2022 Twitter for clips of us “weightless” BLCers dancing in the amphitheater. Trust me on this.
To learn more about NSCA and its good works, check out Commercial Integrator’s website archives.