Blisters, sleepless nights, menacing men in cowboy boots, food poisoning, 3:45 AM wake up calls, seven hours of travel, tripping over curbs, schlepping hundreds of pounds of stuff… Sounds like a nightmare vacation, right? Now couple that with hugging some of your favorite people in the world, learning from some of the most brilliant and esteemed minds in your industry, meeting new people to expand your growing understanding of the world around you, fun events and experiences, AND finding out you are a triangle with a circle on top—which makes you a yummy ice cream cone—and you have a perfect ALA Annual Conference and Expo.
Every year, Affinity Consulting Group sponsors ALA Annual. We begin our planning six to eight months in advance. We select our space, pick a message that we hope will resonate with ALA members to help them solve a challenge they are facing, and appoint Affinity team members to join us in the booth—not because they are on our sales team (though some of them are), but because we want to fully immerse them in the ALA experience.
Most of our team this year had never been to an ALA event, and boy, were they blown away. In typical ALA fashion, everyone was welcomed and enfolded into the ALA family. I am always overwhelmed with the inviting and accepting nature (yes, even you squares in the room) of ALA members. Every member of our team was instantly drawn into ALA as an organization for the warmth and intentionality with which members go about nurturing relationships, not only with other members but also with business partners.
While sitting with friends from the Minnesota chapter, waiting for the most amazing Brezina Memorial Session yet (thank you, Michelle and Inky!), I was reminded of my experience at church camp as a youth. For those of you who didn’t go to church camp, you can insert Girl/Boy Scouts, sports camps, or horse camps. I suspect the experience at those are much the same. You go to the same camp every summer. You see the same kids every year. You sing the same songs together every year. You do games and crafts together every year. You go to fun parties and learn lessons together every year. At the end of the camp, you feel incredibly energized, then go back out into the world and try to make it through another year, counting the days until you get to come back together again.
This is how I feel as I sit on my back deck enjoying a lush early summer in northeast Ohio with my dog, who is finally speaking to me again. I reconnected with the amazing people of ALA, who are the thought leaders of the legal industry. They have led their own firms through challenging times in the last few years and continue to lead their teams into unknown futures armed with new tools from speakers, peers, and mentors they reconnected with over the last week. I learned more about myself, my team, and others around me, and can’t wait to apply what I learned. I am re-energized and am ready to get back out into the world—blisters and all. I’ll be counting the days until Seattle!