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Editorial: The Facilitators

By Len Monheit

Returning from this year’s NBJ Newport Summit, as usual, my mind was spinning from the thoughts triggered by high level networking and out of the box concepts stimulated by among others, futurist Andrew Zolli, the event’s keynote speaker.

The execs gathered for the event represented a good amount of clout, encompassed a lot of vision and commitment, and in more than a few cases, were legends and success stories in one, two or more previous opportunities. Their availability at this event is truly unique and the insights they share, in many cases, put current events and challenges into a very different context.

The Summit and events like it are not only meant to be a series of presentations from the front of the room. They are meant to involve active networking, thought provoking conversation including debate, and the generation of ideas, synergies and massive not-obvious leaps that create truly novel platforms for the future.

My own experience suggests that some (but certainly not all) participants ‘get it’. They make full use of the opportunity and resources made available, while others do not. Perhaps most significantly, they recognize an underappreciated piece of the industry, which, for the purposes of this particular column, I’ll call the ‘facilitators’. (By one definition “someone who makes progress easier”.) Most obvious in this category would certainly be the event hosts and primary sponsors – in this case Nutrition Business Journal, New Hope Natural Media and Health Business Partners.

There are obviously others who fall within this definition, including trade associations, media, authors and other communicators. Obviously, good consultants and other service providers must be included too, and when one starts to think about it, the list gets rather lengthy. Ironically and sometimes perversely, many facilitators perform this activity for others, even when embroiled in their own operational dilemmas. Some do so subconsciously, it’s just part of their personality, while others might be giving back to the industry, or fundamentally understand that the exercise is a cycle, and that by facilitating, you can become part of an expansive relationship. And sometimes, the process can become an all too time consuming vortex that seems to just suck up time and resources – with no ROI in sight, and people can begin to actively avoid this environment and role. (Where there are facilitators, there are also those that abuse the facilitation offered.)

One of the cultural aspects I like most about this industry is the environment of active facilitation I’ve experienced. I’ve personally and professionally benefited and count many of these active facilitators as personal friends, invaluable resources and in most cases, engaging personalities with experiences to share. As an industry, I suspect we’d be absolutely rudderless without these individuals, who while operating their own businesses, keep one eye on the lookout for ‘who should know someone else’, and ‘who can learn from whom’. With more of these individuals in our midst, perhaps we’d be struggling with more growth-based challenges, where often we seem stuck making the same old mistakes.

Just a thought….

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