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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Hidden Value

It has been a hot and stormy weather summer in the US this year.  The State of Texas seems to be in a perpetual sauna, and storms race across the prairie, one after the other.  But soon the cool days of autumn will be here and these hazy days will be a distant memory.  

I am in Washington DC at the moment at the ASA annual conference to which I was an invited guest.  What a nice gesture from a sister organization to ask myself and Todd Sigety to be their guests.  The program is good (not as flush as the ISA programs are) and there are many fine appraisers to meet.  But it brings my mind to ISA conferences of the past and the one we are currently planning for 2012.

This brings me to my thought about conferences.  Conferences are not only important for the information a member comes away with for their work process.  Conferences are important for the people we meet and make connections with.  Members who become our life long friends and colleagues.  

I remember my first conference was in Boston.  I was excited to attend and had scraped the money together so that I could go.  I attended with my mother, Gloria, so we could share a room.  At this point, Gloria was an accomplished appraiser, but I really was just a novice who didn’t know anyone other than her and the few members from the Greater Illinois Chapter who attended.  That first day was for committee meetings so I was on my own, kind of wandering around trying to get my bearings.   There was a woman there who also looked like she wasn’t quite sure where to go and what to do, but we both had these tags on, so we knew we belonged the same group.  We introduced ourselves, and said “what are you doing today?”, “don’t know, think I might go walking around , would you like some company? That would be great” And off we went, looking and shopping around Boston – Joanna Stearns bought a Mont Blanc pen that day;  funny what you remember.  But we had connected and we had become friends that were joined together because of this strange profession we both were in. 

Through the years I have met many of my friends that way.  I can’t remember when I first met Christine Corbin. I think some times I have known her forever.  We seem to have walked the same path in ISA for many years.  She doing her committee work, me doing mine.   But we truly got to know one another when we went to New York one year together.  Christine was the board representative to the AAA conference, and I was going as a speaker.  We shared a room together and got to know one another and found that we had many things in common.  We have worked together on the board now for four years, and I have watched as Christine in her unassuming way has transformed the boards thinking on USPAP and the Foundation which has become her professional passion.  I have listened as she changed her professional profile and went out on her own to run her appraisal business.  I am proud that she is my friend and colleague that I seem to have known for ever and certainly first met her through a conference.

I had met every member of our current board through ISA’s annual conference long before we worked together on the board.   I remember being at a conference dinner where this particular board member who I did know well was talking about the items being offered for auction.  He was witty and quick; very funny.  I sat at the dinner table thinking, who knew that Fred Winer was so funny.  As I got to know Fred from working as Education Chair and then on the board I grew to know how very smart he is, how tenacious he is about a passion, and how very kind he can be.  What an honor it has been to work side by side with Fred during these years of transition.  He was truly the leader in our change but knew how to gracefully hand over the reigns when the time came.  I am hoping that I have learned the lessons he taught me and can also step back and let the next President move in their direction with the support and guidance they might need when asked. 

That first year in Boston, there was this tall red haired young man (we were all new young members once)  who I met casually, he was a jeweler and I didn’t hang out with that group, don’t know why, just didn’t.  The next year we met again, and from that moment on Jim Poag and I have been friends.  We know each others families, we have certainly worked together on the education branch of ISA as well as on the board together these past three years, and we have shared many many laughs together.  Jim is one of the special people in our society and I am lucky to have him as my friend.  I will miss him dearly when he steps off the board this fall.  I will miss his guidance, his business sense and his straight forward attitude, he was such an important part of what we accomplished during his tenure and for that ISA will and should be forever grateful.    

So, I think my thought is this – scrape together whatever you can to get to the conference.  The conference is not just about the seminars – it is about the people.  In a world that has become more secluded in its social interaction due to the internet and the fast pace we all live, it is important to make those connections.  Meet, listen, talk and enjoy.  I promise you, you could not have a better investment in your profession than attending conference.  See You There!

Judith Martin, ISA CAPP

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