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Executive Director's Message - Honor the Past; Manage the Present; Create the Future

The Officers and myself recently attended the NFDA Leadership Conference. This meeting allows us to meet with funeral service leaders throughout the United States and to share ideas regarding the future of all our Associations.

As always, this three day seminar gave all those present a smorgasbord of ideas to bring back to our members. Here is a sampling of ideas exchanged and discussed.

The facilitator challenged us to "stand up on our desks" like Robin Williams' character did in the movie Dead Poets Society. In the story, Dr. Keating (Robin Williams) did this and encouraged his class to do it in order to see the world in a new way.

Why is it important to view the world through a new perspective? One of the statements made was that in 1993 there were only 130 web sites in the world. In 2007 there were 135,000,000 registered web names!! That certainly tells me people gather information different than they did 15 years ago. This led to the second major point the facilitator stressed THERE IS NO GOING BACK!

We have to embrace this change. However, what I really liked about our discussion was the fact we were challenged to use our tradition as a platform for innovation.

In other words, don't reject the wonderful traditions that make funeral service so valuable to our families. Rather, find new ways to enhance these experiences for families living in a web-based culture.

A couple of ideas expressed to help us achieve this goal were:

1. Listen, Listen, Listen; every family has a story;
2. Speak to your families from your mind and your heart;
3. Challenge you and your staff to find services to START DOING and identify anything you may need to STOP DOING (this is HARD).
4. Identify possible new collaborators such as vendors, allied industries, hospitality industries, energy management, hospice, etc.

The bottom line is we need to keep our thoughts open as to how we are going to serve our families in this rapidly changing world of ours. Be creative and have fun as you go through this process.

The really good news is we can do all this without abandoning our own values and culture. We can Honor the Past, Manage the Present and Create the Future.

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