Last night over a glass of wine on our back patio, I gave my wife a glowing report about the LTEN conference (from which I had just returned). And it struck me afresh how upbeat this year’s event truly was.
I mean, it was in Scottsdale, Arizona – so how could things NOT be bright and sunny?
I know that the LTEN staff (always great to see Dawn, Christine, Miki, Gregg, Nanette, and Tim!), who worked so hard on the event, were thrilled with the attendance numbers, including a growing number of folks from medical device and other related companies.
Board Members and Advisors were actively engaged throughout the week, constantly visible in sessions and on the exhibit floor.
This was John Sjovall’s last conference serving as President, although his imitation of Elton John (LTEN John – get it?) did not put him on a yellow brick road to Vegas for nightclub bookings, we all appreciated his steady leadership over the past two years.
This year, I didn’t attend a lot of workshops, instead focusing on networking with individuals on both the client and vendor/partner sides. And that was wonderful. In fact, the main keynote was by Keith Ferrazzi, on the building of community through networking. Keith’s material was solid and very practical – I’m always going to applaud encouragements to build professional networks.
The most creative and interesting workshop that I did attend was put on by the folks at Campbell Alliance Learning Solutions (John Bye and Celeste Mosby) – a very cool board game to teach market access fluency. Some of the talks I attended were too didactic, but this one was full of energy as the various teams worked together to try to figure out where the decision-making power resided in a simulated managed markets setting.
And then there was the conference app – a quantum leap above any other mobile application we’ve had in the past. This one, created by DoubleDutch, encouraged direct person-to-person interaction and easy posting of updates/photos. For years, getting social media integrated into the LTEN conference has been a slow ride, but I think we finally crossed the river this year. Utilization of the app was off the charts!
The evening social events (Monday and Wednesday nights) were very pleasant and relaxed networking times. Monday was a bit weak on the food side of the spectrum, but Wednesday certainly was not! The Learning Labs (mini sessions in the exhibit hall during lunch hours) seemed to be received quite well; and, for the first time, there were LTEN Excellence Awards, including posters of entries. Nice touch.
Since my Impactiviti business is about matchmaking life sciences companies with optimal vendor/partners, I tend to spend a lot of time on the exhibit floor, interacting with my many vendor friends. Having been on the provider side for many years, I’m acutely sensitive to the mood of our vendor colleagues, and often there have been complaints about how little traffic there is in the exhibit hall. But this year, we seemed to hit an inflection point. The mood among vendors was very upbeat, all week – lots of solid interaction happening. I think the combination of better scheduling (more free time in the hall); a simple and intuitive layout of the facility (exhibit hall centrally positioned and all meeting rooms extremely close); and the lack of “outside” distractions at this particular resort made for a much better community experience. Also, it was a privilege to be able to connect many vendors and clients “live” at the conference, which is always a highlight of my year.
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-Steve Woodruff, President, Impactiviti – the eHarmony of Life Sciences Training