September 21-23, 2021
Austin Convention Center | Austin, TX
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The Leaflet Article

Featured Article:

Mr. Rolls and Mr. Royce

Dr. Wayne Ruga, FAIA, FIIDA, Hon. FASID

If you ever have the delight of visiting the Midland Hotel in Manchester, England, just as you enter the building, you will encounter a substantial commemorative plaque with a lifesize bust of Mr. Rolls and Mr. Royce. The plaque explains that, ‘on 4 May 1904, Mr. Rolls first met Mr. Royce at the Midland Hotel for lunch, and the rest is history’. Of course, no one needs the history of what happened as a result of this meeting to be explained….

This historical note is extremely relevant in terms of the Symposium. The stories that I can share about when X met Y at the Symposium might not have the historical significance of creating the world’s greatest car, but – I can tell you of transformational business associations, lasting friendships, and even marriages - amongst other notable stories. Perhaps you have your own story of a Symposium meeting that has had great significance for you.

It is my hope in writing this, that if you have not yet registered to attend this year’s Symposium, the prospect of meeting your next partners will move you to action – and, my greatest hope is that you will register for the Executive Leaders’ Program (ELP). There is still time, and your good-company is valued.

Everyone who attends the Symposium is investing in the possibility that they will be able to take something of value home. For some it is new ideas, for others it is new business opportunities, and for still others it is new connections. However you might define your desired ‘take-aways’, they all require the contact and exchange with other attendees.

Because the Symposium has all the accoutrements of a conventional ‘conference’, some attendees tend to behave as one would at a conventional conference – however, the Symposium is not a conventional conference – and never has been. It does, for sure, provide all of the conventional elements of a conference and yet there is much, much more to it.

The cornerstone of the Symposium is its function of being an organic, self-determined ‘community’ – a place that provides a meaningful focus for its attendees to engage throughout the entire year, in ways that matter most for each individual.

Of course this means that the more you invest in engaging with others, the more you benefit – this choice is always yours. And, to be simplistic – if you don’t attend, there is no benefit!

So, let’s say you do attend – then what? You can select a wide range of learning programs to attend, you can walk through the Expo, you can attend networking events, and maybe even take a tour. Other attendees might engage with you, as you avail yourself to these choices – but, here’s the secret – the more you reach out to others and build a shared bridge based on a common interest, the more valuable your return on your investment will be…especially if your bridge extends beyond the time limits of the actual Symposium event, and provides a mutually meaningful connection throughout the rest of the year.

Attendees have often said that simply extending themselves and asking: ‘Is this your first Symposium? or ‘What’s been most interesting to you, here, so far?’ has opened up unexpected exchanges that have expanded into to collaborations with far reaching long term value. If you can extend yourself and initiate the connection with others, the discussions that will unfold and the relationships that you will build can be amazing – all, with the potential of fulfilling your own Symposium aspirations.

If ‘community’ is the cornerstone of the Symposium, ‘relationship’ is its keystone. One of the remarkable characteristics of the Symposium is the quality of the connections that attendees make with each other, and the professional and business benefits that unfold as a result. I would describe this quality of connection, as ‘the feeling of being valued’.

It may be the result of the ethos of the Symposium – always featuring ways that the environment can be designed to improve lives – that this driving passion for improving lives gets expressed, also, in the quality of the experience of Symposium attendee engagement.

Perhaps you are still not convinced that attending this year’s Symposium and reaching out to meet new colleagues is a worthwhile investment – maybe you already have everything you need, maybe you don’t want engagement, and maybe you have already made plans for 17 – 19 September that can’t be changed.

Whatever the case, I can – personally – assure you that: (1) the Symposium could not have existed as well as it has, for its now 32 years, if it didn’t offer something that inspired individuals to action – both, new individuals every year, and alumni to return year after year; and (2) as the Symposium founder, I love meeting attendees and building new connections – if we have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, if you do attend this year, I would welcome your introducing yourself to me (and I might even introduce myself to you – first - before you have the chance to extend yourself to me). It would be my absolute delight to meet you.

When Mr. Rolls and Mr. Royce had their lunch together, neither of them had any idea that the result would be as it has been. This is the power – and the magic – of two people coming together and exploring what might be possible through collaboration. Taking a risk, and extending ourselves to another individual sometimes creates magic and sometimes does not. But, if we are not willing to take the risk, than we can be certain that the magic of collaboration will not illuminate our onward journey.

I look forward to the possibility of meeting you in Boston.

PS: If you have a story that you’d like to share about a collaboration, as a result of your meeting someone new at the Symposium, please let Jenabeth know. You might even want to offer writing an article about it for a future issue of the Leaflet.

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