Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How would you say it in 125 words or less?

I was privileged to work recently on a slideshow for the Workers' Compensation Institute program next week. The slides will be shown during the morning of August 19, 2013, as attendees find their seats for the opening session of the Workers' Compensation Educational Conference in Orlando. I was humbled as I worked to compile biographies on some of the luminaries of our industry, those who have been inducted into the WCI Hall of Fame.

I was particularly impressed with the "Legends" members of the Hall. These are people who contributed a career to this industry of ours, but who retired over the years. And "Legends" they are. They played roles in the founding of insurance companies, in the inception of self-insurance, in the founding of law firms, in the  beginnings and development of mediation, in the operation of the Industrial Relations Commission and so much more. 

Part of the project involved including a picture of each of the Hall members, both the active and the Legends. Finding pictures from the current Hall members was not too difficult. They are part of the digital generation, whether they embrace it or not. I found pictures of them through the internet. Many had digital photos handy to send me. It is incredible how many photos come up when you search the internet for someone's name. 

Finding photographs for the "Legends" was more difficult. Some of these folks have been retired for more than a few years. Several have passed away. I had the chance to speak with and exchange emails with some children of the Legends, former business partners and associates, and more. They each had something to say about their fathers. Their expressions of gratitude at their father's inclusion were gratifying and likewise humbling. 

A couple we had incredible difficulty with. We owe a debt of gratitude that some folks at The Florida Bar helped us with chasing down the last photo, Dudley Burton.  Here is a man who practiced workers' compensation coast to coast in Florida for fifty years, and we could not find a photo. The Bar had one in their archives from the date of his 50 year recognition, as published in the Bar News. It was a bit grainy. They then reached out to his law school, and through their efforts, we will display a copy of his composite photo from law school graduation next week. 

Another challenge was the biographies. We all keep a current resume or bio around. There is no telling when it will be needed for some program we may present or panel we will serve upon. Some of these run into the double digits in length. But this project was a slide show, intended to be viewed in the biggest conference room of the Marriott World Center. The letters and words had to be large for visibility. The space on each slide was limited. About 100 words, with some tinkering 125. I sent the draft out to the Hall members so that they could each proof their slide. 

This gave them the opportunity to make amendments, to choose what to include and what to discard. After a career of forty years, what would you list in your 125 words? Try it this morning, it is not easy. There are so many achievements, involvements, projects, presentations, organizations. So much in which you are involved, and which you find important and relevant. Try to reduce all of that down to 125 words. If you had only that space to convey who you are professionally, what would you select?

It was a humbling process, I say it again. Hundreds of years of professional achievements and contributions to an amazing volume of organizations. The slides took a lot of work and time, but the work brought me closer to the industry, and to those who have played a critical role in it in Florida. With their editing, I also know better what they think is important about their careers.

Certainly, there are many who deserve recognition in this Hall, and in time they will likely receive it. Understanding the achievements and contributions of so many has added to my perspective on this thing we call workers' compensation. I hope that seeing the slides next week in Orlando will add to yours. After the conference, I am going to find a way to make the show available on the internet.  Stay tuned to this blog for an announcement of how to access it. 

Who knows, maybe someone will find the slide show in coming years when they are looking for one of those elusive pictures?

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