By  Steve Moran

There are so many reasons that the two annual NIC conferences, along with the Senior Living Innovation Forum, are on the top of my conference list, but two stand out:  great conversations, (I talked to around 165 people), and thought-provoking content. Below are some takeaways.

My Big Takeaways

    1. It Starts with Hello — Every year I run into people who really struggle to meet others at NIC. Take heart, it takes time and a willingness to walk up and introduce yourself. I would also add that if your a reader and see me talking to someone you want to meet, feel free to come over and say hello.
    2. Much Less Frantic — At every other NIC I have attended there was this underlying current of “gotta make a deal . . . gotta make a deal today . . . gotta make a deal right now”, and even “gotta make a bunch of deals”. This NIC it was about making the right deals, about relationships, and strategic partnerships.  
    3. More Sophistication — We seem to be getting better about seeing that we are part of the healthcare system, part of the longevity economy, and a part of the senior care economy. This means thinking more about partnerships and relationships.
    4. Fewer Vendors — I did not see the numbers, but in thinking about it, there were several vendors I am used to seeing at NIC that were not there. I don’t think they are people who are going away or even in trouble, but it may simply be the increasing cost, particularly for vendors. 
    5. Creating Experiences — There is a growing recognition that rather than bigger, bolder buildings, we need to be focused on creating experiences for residents, their families, and team members. This will impact life enrichment programs and how we think about building design and interiors.
      It’s increasingly clear that most senior living leaders don’t want to live in their own product as they grow older, they don’t want to live in anyone else’s product either.   
    6. New Opportunities — There seems to be a growing awareness that building more of what we are already building (or more elaborate versions of them), is not a great business strategy. Middle market is an obvious market but people are thinking about other things they can do.
    7. Culture = Money — For perhaps three years, when you asked senior living leaders to talk about their biggest challenge, hiring and retaining staff was at the top of everyone’s list. Yet when you started talking to leaders and watching the behavior of senior living organizations, it was clear this was not true. Organizations were willing to put significant resources into sales and marketing efforts, but very little into leadership and culture development. 
      In talking to leaders about our 2020 Culture 2100 mastermind group the level of interest is maybe 4 or 5 times what I have seen before. It makes sense. When a senior community has a great executive director the building makes lots of money. So if you can attract more great executive directors or create them, the ROI for leadership development is exponential. 

If you attended, I would love to hear your thoughts.