As you prepare to hit the road to travel to the MASFAP conference, you might ask yourself, “Why am I going?” Or in my case, I have the cutest 4-year-old little boy asking, “Daddy, why are you going to a conference?” Having gone to a number of these things over the last several years, I’ve begun to actually think about my answer.
I used to say I was going for work. That was sufficient for a 2-year-old…but a 4-year-old, that’s not going to cut it. Because inevitably, I’ll get the follow-up questions, “What do you do at a conference?”, “If it’s for work, why do you have to go somewhere?”, “Who goes to your conference?”, “Do they have a pool or a playground?”, and lately, when I say Nick Prewett will be there, I get the question, “Will my friends Maddi and Collin be there?” (we visited Columbia a few weeks ago and they are now, in his mind, his BFF’s).
While the incessant questions can wear me down at times, it has provided me the opportunity to think a little more in depth as to why MASFAP is important to me. I have developed friendships, allies, colleagues, mentors, and a host of other nouns with people who get me and what I do between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday (we all work completely regular hours, right?). My wife is a brilliant and accomplished person, who will listen to me talk until the cows come home about my day, or until that adorable 4-year-old needs to interject to tell us something of “great importance”. But I don’t pretend to think she finds it interesting or that she completely understands the in’s and out’s of our world. That’s why these conferences and these networks are so important.
I’ve been on text strings with Nick, Angela, and Justin about a work topic at 7:00 in the evening that will go on for hours (often resulting in an emoji war that I just can’t keep up with). I know that I can send an email out to what I have often referred to as my “Circle of Trust” and know I can ask anything, and I’m bound to get back three or four responses, sometimes varying, but always helpful. I can pick up the phone and ask for help, advice, or a differing view point and not feel like I’m putting anyone out. And in return, I can be on the receiving end of those calls, texts, or emails, and try to give my take on situations. At this point in my career, I am more of a taker from MASFAP, but my hope as I move along in my career and become more seasoned, I’ll be able to give more than I receive. That’s why I go to these conferences and why I try to do whatever I can to stay involved in MASFAP. I need it and we need it, but MASFAP also needs us. So I encourage all of you, if you aren’t already, please volunteer, attend events, and engage with the rest of the membership. You won’t regret it.