A couple weeks ago, as I attended the annual Lamplighter Awards Dinner of the New England Society for Healthcare Communications (NESHCo), I was stunned to learn that I was the recipient of their lifetime achievement award: The Evans Houghton Award. It was a very emotional moment for me, followed by tons of congratulatory messages via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and in person.
I want to give a special note of thanks to those people who went to bat for me by writing letters of nomination or simply by lobbying the committee. To give you some context, an individual who works for a consultancy or marketing firm had never won this award. It has always gone to people employed by hospitals, health systems of some other healthcare organization. So, this was a breakthrough moment in the history of the Evans Houghton Award. My thanks to Brooke Hynes, Tim Brennan, May Kernan, John Looney, Dean Browell, Jeff Steblea, Vanessa Stafford, Lynn Robbins, Jill McDonald Halsey, and the many others whose efforts made this recognition possible.
Receiving a lifetime achievement award from any group would be a nice thing, but to receive it from my friends and colleagues at NESHCo is extremely special. This group welcomed and befriended me a decade ago when I started attending their events. A few years ago, I was fortunate to be invited to join their board of directors and now serve on the executive committee. Several of my friends are people I’ve gotten to know through NESHCo: Jeff and Ingrid, Steblea, Vanessa Stafford, Mike O’Farrell, Chad Campbell, Kelly David, Dean Browell, Kelly Woodsum, Jill McDonald Halsey and her husband Ike, Roxanne and Donald Jones, and many more.
My wife and several members of the Jennings Team flew to Massachusetts to attend the awards ceremony. Sharing the evening with them made it even more special – and emotional. A few dedicated friends, like May Kernan and Stephen Moegling, went out of their way to be there. Stephen, a good friend who also happens to work for a competitive agency, flew up from Richmond, Virginia. That tells you a lot about Stephen and our friendship.
It is such a special thing to receive this recognition. To be honored in this manner is not a common occurrence. I don’t know if this is a universal truth, but my experience has been that the more advanced you are in your career, the less positive feedback you receive. Praise becomes a rare commodity. (Today, my daughter Meg humors me by feigning interest in my articles.) What I’ve learned is that to succeed in this world as a mature professional, you have to become good at motivating yourself, taking stock of your own achievements, and taking delight in the successes of your team. Fortunately, throughout my career at Jennings, I’ve been surround by talented people who regularly amaze me with their achievements, strategic thinking, and creativity.
Simply put, it feels good to celebrate our achievements with others. When my parents were still living I would send them printouts of every article I had published. I wanted them to be proud of me and my career, and it worked. When I would visit them, hard copies of my articles would be prominently placed on their coffee table and they would make a point of telling me how proud they were. Having their approval always meant a lot to me. Now, when I have a great success or milestone achievement, the first thing I want to do is call my folks, and then I remember that they are no longer with us. That’s how I felt just after winning the Evans Houghton Award.
In Truth, many more important things happened that night at the Lamplighter Awards Dinner. For starters, my firm’s New England clients won a total of 47 awards! That is amazing. The crowning glory came when our client, Lawrence General Hospital, won the Best of New England Award for their “Today” Brand Elevation Campaign. Only one organization can win this award in any given year. Finally, Jennings’ lead copywriter won the Owen J. McNamara Award – a “best-of-the-best” recognition for writing. Within the NESHCo community, this award is a very big deal. The winning entry was a series of brand affirmation cards we developed to support Spectrum Healthcare Partners’ brand launch. Not only did Steve write the copy for the Affirmation Cards, but he also came up with brand affirmation card concept.
Life is short. I am grateful for the recognition. I am grateful for my many clients, past and present, who have made me a better marketer. I am grateful for my family for putting up with my obsession for healthcare marketing. And I am grateful for my colleagues who make me look better than I am.