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ICCA Presidential Message // January 2018

The importance of people, the power of community
Nina Freysen-Pretorius

Dear ICCA members and Friends,

Towards a positive, inclusive and collaborative future -= Nina Freysen-PretoriusWishing you a healthy, prosperous and happy 2018! With the month of January behind us, I hope that it has been a good start and an indication of only more positive things to come for us all.

In the Southern Hemisphere our summer school holiday break is in December, as the temperatures rise and everyone wants to be outdoors. Similar to the European July-August summer break when everything on the work front shuts down and the outdoors become the attraction! So getting back to work and routine, with very hot temperatures to deal with and beautiful weather, is not all together an easy matter.

The other challenge is that when you don’t really want to be at the office working, everything seems to be a challenge. Nothing works like it should and the smallest task seems like a mountain to climb. For example, we assist our clients with their electronic banking, and once set up correctly it works like a charm. But if one has a challenge and perhaps the setup was not done correctly as you would have wanted it to on the bank’s side… oh my word – Frustration! After many electronic communications, telephone calls and bad language mumbled along the way, a representative from the bank came out to assist. A person – a real human being – came to deal with the problem. The matter that had been going on for months without any way forward was sorted out within a few pleasant minutes! The engagement with the representative from the bank was pleasant, engaging and a relationship was established to deal with future business and challenges. The importance of people and communication …

Most recently I came across a TED Talk by Susan Pinker on “The secret to living longer may be your social life”. Don’t get all excited and start ordering the champagne! Quitting drinking and smoking is strongly recommended by Susan’s study. The study researched the reason why in a remote village in Sardinia, Italy they found the largest number of centenarians. I won’t plagirise the talk, but rather suggest you watch it yourself.

But what interested me tremendously and what I believe has bearing on us as ICCA members, the ICCA community and family, is the fact that social face-to-face engagement is paramount to the human race’s longevity. With the advent of social media and technology, many of the face-to-face interactions we had in the past have been removed from our day-to-day lives. According to the study social isolation is one of the biggest mental health threats of our time.

The study found that the reason so many of the centenarians lived so long had to do with the fact that they had daily, constant social interaction with people that they loved, trusted and respected and whom felt the same about them. The importance of such close relationships was the key.

Today apparently a ¼ of the world has nobody that they have a close relationship with and hence no sense of belonging. The suggestion is that we have to have at least 3 stable relationships with people that we can trust and call upon in need, someone who will be there to listen and share the challenge or celebrate our achievement.

Bandying the phrase around of “The ICCA Family” therefore becomes more and more important and relevent in today’s day and age. Our sector is so specialised that other industry sectors do not always get what we are about and what our objectives are. Therefore, building our community of support for one another becomes more and more important. To quantify the ability to pick up the phone or Skype and engage with an ICCA colleague across the world about a conference or meeting, some new technology or merely asking advice, becomes important not only for our business but for our personal wellbeing. Belonging to a community, having commonality, is what will sustain us as individuals and as a collective.

So participate when possible in the Chapter and Sector meetings that you belong to, engage at trade shows with other members and plan to attend the conference. All these face-to-face meetings will ensure that you are building the ICCA community, enriching yourself and living longer at the same time!

Yours in ICCA (for as long as possible!)