There are a select number of healthcare marketing events every year that I can’t wait to attend: the Spring Conference of the New England Society for Healthcare Communications, the Fall Conference of the Carolinas Society for Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing, the Forum for Healthcare Strategy’s Healthcare Marketing Summit, and the annual conference of the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD). Each of these gathering is a highpoint of my year.
The last time I missed a SHSMD Conference was in 2007. I skipped the conference to hang out with a friend who was undergoing chemotherapy. Every year since then I have either been a speaker at the event or have participated by hosting roundtable discussions and serving as a session moderator. I love this event because it’s a chance for me to catch up with so many of my close industry friends. Every time I attend one of these conferences it is like going to a reunion. Frankly, it is better than any reunion I’ve ever been to.
So I can’t tell you how disappointed I am to be missing this year’s SHSMD Conference. Although I had every intention of being there (booked a flight and a hotel room), on Sunday I made up my mind that life has gotten too complicated and that I need to be at home with my family. When I finally came to that conclusion, it put my mind at ease. What a relief. It shouldn’t have been a hard decision at all. Family comes first. There will be other conferences. But it was still a hard decision. This conference only happens once a year and I had planned for it. It provides an important marketing platform for my company. For me, it was hard to let go. At first I debated flying up for the day on Wednesday and Thursday and flying home each evening to be with my family. I know, crazy idea. I kept coming up with possibilities, but none of them were realistic.
“The thing about family disasters is that you never have to wait long before the next one puts the previous one into perspective.” – Robert Brault
On Sunday I finally gave up trying to force the issue and reconciled myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to Philadelphia. The reality was I would need to cancel client dinners scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and cancel a number of meetings with various vendors and potential business partners. My colleagues from Jennings, Dewey Mooring and Mike Allen, are carrying on without me, manning our booth and attending interesting sessions. Meanwhile I’m following the Twitter feed from my desk in Chapel Hill.
Here’s the important point: I made the right decision and it wasn’t easy. There are far more important things in life than attending the annual SHSMD Conference. My family needs me at home right now, so I’m here. And, if all goes well, I’ll attend SHSMD next year. Or not.