Mindfulness at NEECOM – A review of the May Conference from a co-sponsor’s perspective!

by Shandra Locken

The EDI Alliance had the opportunity to visit the spring NEECOM conference in Boston a few weeks ago.  Being my first time, I didn’t know what to expect.  First of all, you cannot beat spring in New England.  The snow has melted and the flowers are blooming.  The humidity has not settled over the region yet and there’s a light breeze in the air.  Between the beautiful weather and knowing one of our nicest clients, Northeast Delta Dental, would be in attendance, I had hopes.  

Brian Blood, GM for GraceBlood, and I arrived at Logan International Airport within a couple of hours of each other and rode together out to Westborough on Tuesday night.  For those of you who missed it, GraceBlood recently partnered with CoEnterprise to be the nation’s first reseller for their EDI visibility tool, Syncrofy.  CoEnterprise was also in attendance so the first item on our agenda was a nice dinner collaborating with COE team, comprised of Steve Brzezinski, Tauni MacLean and Joe Mandato.  We have big plans for Syncrofy – check back here because we’ll have more on that later.

Ira Keltz, President of NEECOM, does a great job putting this event together.  Day one is comprised of a series of speakers on various topics relevant to what’s happening in the industry.  They hit a home run right out of the gate with Tom Raffio, CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, and his presentation on mindfulness.  The gist of it was that as a society there’s so much pressure to get as much stuff done as you can in the smallest amount of time.  I know I have been guilty of multitasking (taking a conference call in the car), working through my lunch and not managing an appropriate work/life balance.  This is the polar opposite of mindful, and what happens when we’re not mindful?  Mistakes…typos…the dreaded wrong CC…stress…compromised immune systems…unhappy clients, both internal and external…unhappy families.  So what is mindfulness?  Raffio described mindfulness in three ideas: effective communication, using time wisely and meditation.  He was quick to point out that meditation doesn’t have to be “hippy dippy” or to use his phrase “wearing your earth shoes” but can be whatever works for you.

Of these three, effective communication stands out for me.  Raffio pointed out an old Stephen Covey quote that still holds true, “…most people do not listen to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.”  I have both been guilty of that AND have encountered this in others.  Effective communication means listening to understand, do not judge, do not interrupt.  When speaking, allow for new ideas to emerge, don’t be wordy, avoid negativity.  Time management is another one most people struggle with.  Raffio suggests rather than multi-tasking, “unitask” instead.  Do each task with purpose and with your full attention.  Limit reply-all and keep meetings brief and to the point.  Remember to breath and stretch during transitions.  Lastly, meditation can help keep your mind clear and keep stress at bay.  Raffio suggests meditating twice a day.  For more on this, check out Tom Raffio’s book, Mindfulness, cowritten with Annabel Beerel, available on Amazon

Although, Tom Raffio’s presentation was clearly my favorite, the rest of the day was well worth our time.  We saw presentations on Maximizing Your Office Influence; Fully Automate Your Vendor Direct Supply Chain; With a Little REST and SOAP, You’re Fresh and Ready for Web-Services (see what he did there?); Using B2B Middleware Applications to Manage Surges for Black Friday Online Ordering; and lastly Creating Supply Chain Synergies to Meet Omnichannel Consumer Expectations.  That final presentation, by Susan Pichoff, Senior Director, Retail Apparel and General Merchandise for GS1 US, was fantastic.  What a treat to have someone from GS1 right there to answer our burning questions!  We talked about everything from traceability via RFID to the changing GS1 standards.  

Day two is geared toward the EDI newbies so we didn’t attend but I have no doubt that it’s well worth the investment in both time and resources.  To wrap this up, if you’ve ever been on the fence about going to NEECOM, I would encourage you to check it out.  In this industry, there’s very little opportunity for face-to-face interactions since we help B2Bs all over the world.  Events like NEECOM allow us to meet our peers, gain valuable insight from speaker presentations and make contact with potential prospects over cocktails, all while practicing mindful communication. ๐Ÿ˜‰  The next NEECOM meeting is on October 17, 2019 at the Doubletree Hotel in Westborough, MA. Save the date!