As we rapidly approach the first anniversary of life in quarantine and a work week full of video conferences, I feel a need to vent about missed meals. No, not missed meals like the less fortunate people on Earth that are struggling to even find food. I have enjoyed plenty of calories and have a waistline to prove it.
What bothers me with the new reality is the lack of sharing meals with others in our industry. Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner — or even a granola bar and a cup of caffeine — we used to talk in smaller groups more often than we currently are doing.
As a frequent presenter at industry events, it was common to receive a question or two from the audience at the end of a presentation or panel discussion. While that still happens in the virtual world, the previous common practice was that there was a line of people wanting to share a business card and a thought as you stepped off the stage. That is not happening nearly as much in the land of Zoom, Teams and blue jeans.
We also used to talk in the hallways of conferences and in booths at trade shows. When you are one-on-one and face-to-face, it is easier to have a conversation about what we agree on or what we don’t. It seems that we also are having less of the conversations about “wouldn’t it be nice if the new technology could do _______” or “what if we revised the software and we could also have _______ feature.”
With a tsunami of disruptive technologies impacting the transportation and energy industries, these conversations — both those that agree with our position and those that contradict it — are needed more than ever. Collaboration and teamwork move the ball forward.
“Negative Nancy’s” might seem like a pain in the backside, but there are certainly times when they keep us from hitting large pot holes in the road ahead of us.
How do we make these conversations happen again? That isn’t going to be easy.
The most obvious answer is to get our vaccines as soon as they are available and get back together again. The second half of 2021 seems to be filled with truck shows and opportunities to re-engage in these conversations, and I sure hope they all take place if it is safe to do so.
However, until we see each other in person again, please feel free to reach out to me and to each other. We need to know when we might be off base and we also need to share ideas in order to build a better future.
Open communications wins every time and serves as a great appetizer to any meal.
Dave Schaller is the Industry Engagement Director for the NACFE. His responsibilities include interfacing with fleets, OEMs and suppliers, writing reports, conducting workshops, giving presentations, and running the social media groups. Schaller works closely with the drivers and sponsors for the Run On Less demonstrations.