I travel some with this gig. Most of that travel is either to teach something or to make connections with potential customers. This week, I’m at the one event I attend that’s as much for my own benefit as it is for the benefit of my work or of others. I’m at the annual SITE conference.
If you don’t know it, SITE is the Society of Insurance Trainers and Educators, an organization dedicated to the professional development of insurance educators.
SHAMELESS COMMERCIAL MOMENT: If you’re an insurance trainer, educator, instructional designer, training manager, professor, etc. you should consider joining SITE. It’s an investment in yourself and our industry.
I’m guessing that you’re asking two questions.
- Why do I attend this conference?
- Why am I passionate about this organization?
I’m glad you asked.
I attend for the connections.
This is the only place where I can get together with people who do what I do. Other events let me get together with other insurance professionals or other learning professionals. I love it when I get to teach people in person because I can connect with other insurance professionals. I get to teach. They get to learn.
It’s great when I can go to agent conferences because they can help me to understand what their needs are. They can help me to help them. I want to provide the learning that people need and want. Without connecting with them, I may not easily find out what they really need. I’m building connections there as a way to learn how to best help them.
This conference brings me back to my peer group. These are the people who are doing what I’m doing. They are dealing with the same frustrations. They are working on similar goals. They are celebrating the same wins. It helps me to feel less like I’m by myself and more like I’m a part of a community. It’s a time to laugh and learn. It’s a time to listen and hear. It’s a time to reconnect with old friends and make connections with new friends.
For me, this year, I was able to take the time to meet so many new people. I spent time with first-time attendees. I connected with people who had served the organization for year. This was a year for connections.
I attend for the challenges.
Another aspect of the conference has been the speakers. Of course, I couldn’t help myself. I had to get in on the fun and speak at a breakout session myself. But there were so many more sessions than the one that I taught.
I got to spend time in one session that challenged my idea of using role playing as a learning tool. Oh yes, there was virtual role-playing software that showed us the 21st century application (and improvement) of this much maligned training tool. I got to learn how to create an escape room for a training event. And, yes, I think I can figure out how to do this virtually so watch out for that at some point.
The biggest challenge for me was a session that we called “X-SITE” talks. They are what you think they are. These talks were long enough to make one big point, but short enough that the speakers didn’t have to create a full talk. In the end, these talks connected with me in ways that I wasn’t fully prepared for. I saw and heard my friends open their hearts with one big point that seemed designed to help me personally.
I attend for the creation.
One last reason that I like to attend this conference is the creation that my mind opens up to. There’s something about getting out of the normal routine that helps me to be more creative. When I’m away from my desk for a few days, it seems like I have more ideas.
I didn’t say better ideas. I said more ideas.
Let’s face it, the daily grind and routine can make it hard to be creative. When I’m sitting at my desk, I’m so concerned about what’s going on today, this week, and next month that it’s hard to come up with new ideas.
As I’m writing this, I have had to stop writing more than once to deal with an idea that popped in. Yes, I had to write it down (text it to myself) to make sure that it didn’t pop out of my head.
More to come sometime in the next few months (or so) on those.
One last thought, why am I so passionate about this group?
Go back to the three reasons that I attended. I’m passionate about the connections that I can make. I’ve heard people say that they have too many friends. I’m not one of those people. I don’t know all of the people that I want to meet. I’m passionate about the challenges that come up. I don’t know everything. I only think that I do. I need to stay open to new ideas, new methods, and new technologies. I’m passionate about the creation that comes to mind. As I meet people and they challenge my thoughts, I get new ideas. Of course, I steal some from them, but that’s ok because they said I could.
I’ll be at the SITE conference next year in New Orleans. I hope that you’ll join me because you already missed out this year.
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