I recently had the opportunity to attend the CLLA conference with my colleague, Randy Nicola. Not only was I a first-time CLLA attendee, it was also my first time in New York City. What follows is a first-timer’s view of both.
The CLLA Conference – The warmth and excitement of CLLA members who welcomed me blew me away. There was even a moment when pride and inspiration brought a tear to my eye, as one of our valued attorney members, Mark Sheriff, was honored with the Bob Cain award for leadership. I looked around the room and saw the tearful eyes of other members who were as touched as I was by Mark’s acceptance speech. This conference is definitely about new and experienced members coming together from all over the country to share insights about their common passion, commercial collection. The wisdom that a first-time attendee can attain from long-time members can be overwhelming, as everyone is so excited to share their vision and stories. As a person new to this industry, it was very exciting to be a part of one of the first associations in the collection industry, going back to over 100 years.
The Big Apple – I was awed by the city lights, the hustle and bustle of New Yorkers, the smells of ethnic food filling the air, the predominantly black dress attire, but most of all by how surprisingly safe I felt walking the streets. Because I was there on business, I didn’t get to take in much of this beautiful city. I was fortunate to have a member, whom I now call a friend, take me to MOMA (The Modern Museum of Art). Words can’t express the overwhelming feelings I had when standing in front of the work of artists such as Van Gogh, Rockwell, De Koonig, Picasso, and one of my favorite paintings, “Christina’s World,” by Wyeth.
It was Veterans’ Day, and on the way back to the conference, I watched with pride as our troops marched through the center of New York dressed in their uniforms and carrying the American flag high in the sky. The streets were filled with people cheering and saluting the troops. As the blare of trumpets from the marching bands filled the air, I could hear the sniffles and see the tears of the people standing next to me. I was so fortunate to experience a very moving Veterans’ Day in New York City.
Randy’s Input – One of the programs that both Kacey and I enjoyed and found to be extremely valuable was the agency/attorney networking day. The easiest way to describe the event is to liken it to “speed dating.” Forwarders (agencies) sat on the outside of a U-shaped table. Every six minutes or so, the music began, and lawyers on the inside of the U moved to meet a new forwarder and share information about their respective law firms and the services they offer for collection work. The entire event was about two hours in length, and both the lawyers and forwarders that I spoke to enjoyed the event very much. My hat goes off to the originator of this concept. I hope this continues to be an ongoing program for League members for many years to come.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience CLLA &/or New York City, I hope that Randy and I have inspired you to do so.
by Kacey Rask, Account Executive with Randy Nicola, Vice President, The National List