It’s time to reconnect with the future.
Sounds like yet another sequel to Michael J. Fox’s classic movie “Back to the Future,” but we’re actually talking about FMI’s Future Connect, chapter two.
Despite being bugged by the flu, the inaugural edition (2009) of the alternating-year conference was a success. You might recall that, scheduled for the usual May date for an FMI event, reports of H1N1 flu infections in Texas forced then new FMI President and CEO Leslie Sarasin to postpone Future Connect’s premier to that October. Despite challenges with rebooking hotels, flights and people (both attendees and presenters), Sarasin and staff made it happen.
At a time in our society when “disconnect” is used more often as a noun than a verb in discussions or reporting of domestic and international politics, it’s an antonym when applied to social media. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, among others, our younger generation has never been more connected. While insatiable appetites, if not obsessions for more information fuel the stream, it’s hard to hide “news” of any kind in the global village. (The downside would be riveted viewers who consider “Entertainment Tonight” hard news.)
Back to the future, however.
If Dallas, the Hilton Anatole, May 10-12 is your destination, you’re in the right place. I dare say there will be an impressive array of top executives and aspiring managers in our industry attending—those who lead their companies, and those down the ladder who want to learn how. There is no better time for such a convocation as we face a challenging economy, the wake of natural disasters and a geopolitical order that begs for leadership.
Yes, if you are scratching your head, the ramifications can trickle down to your local supermarket or neighborhood grocer faster than you might think.
For all these reasons and more, bringing those young men and women to Dallas who are eager to learn, to listen and emulate the great leaders in our industry is not an expense. It is a credit to those CEOs who started for the most part exactly where these young achievers began: on the front end, the front lines of the most important industry in the world. Teach them, show them, engage them. Likewise, Future Connect is perhaps the most important investment you’ll make this year in the future success of your company, retailer, wholesaler, manufacturer, distributor or broker. Wall Street can wait.
One of the best quotes I’ve seen in a wave of FMI promotional material is that of friend Bill MacAloney, chairman and CEO of Jax Markets in Anaheim, Calif. Also former mayor of his hometown of Villa Park (2000-2004), Bill’s wealth of knowledge and stature in our industry is exponentially more than the three stores he operates.
“Networking for several days is instrumental to what we are doing. We might think we are the best, but when you get around some of the people who are on the FMI board and attend FMI conferences, you learn a lot. You learn how to deal with issues that come up, and not all of us have the expertise to take care of issues quite as well as we think we can. For me, it’s always an education.”
A humble man, Bill is a leader who is always learning. Two dots worth connecting.