As Matt mentioned in his most recent blog, the past couple of weeks have been acutely focused around preparing for and attending the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, which ran May 29 – June 1st. The annual statewide-focused rite of Spring provides an ideal opportunity for business leaders and policy makers to gather, discuss and act upon what is right and wrong with Michigan. The key word her is opportunity.
For rookies or those who have never attended Mackinac, we always recommend experiencing and participating in the conference to the fullest extent. And lest one thinks the conference is just about sitting in the theater watching sessions or late night revelry, it is, rather, if done right, hard work. To be sure, it is a marathon of learning, participating, meeting and introducing – aimed at collaboration and relationship building.
While speaking at Chamber member events I often extol the benefits of the conference including the late night opportunities for business-world bonding. After all, where better to truly loosen your tie and let one’s hair down and than at casual establishments with names like Horn’s, Pink Pony and Wild Mustang. It is there that productive conversations over great music and a cold beer could not exist as effectively elsewhere. Some often compare a few days on the island as akin to a year of lunch meetings. At Mackinac, you can only plan so much. It often happens organically, naturally, and, after hours.
What most people don’t realize or appreciate, though, is that this camaraderie occurs at its finest on the conference’s final night; you know, the evening following what is typically a mass daytime exodus from the island. In a recent year, I compared the final day’s late morning/early afternoon attendee exit as looking like the fall of Saigon (I half expected a helicopter to suddenly be pushed from the top of one of the Arnold Ferries). It is on this evening, though, that bonding happens most casually and effectively – with persevering attendees connected by their marathon-esque sense of accomplishment, knowing that sleep will come soon enough and the realization that a really good thing is about to come to an end for another year.