It’s been three days since I returned from the 2012 Roche Social Media Summit in Indianapolis and I’ve been thinking a lot since. It was an experience with a lot to digest. I think there may be some notion that the diabetes summits held by companies like Roche are nothing but fun and games and hanging out. Before attending, I honestly never thought that. But after being an attendee, I can say it’s certainly not all play and no work. The first morning being in the meeting room, I looked around and saw everyone at their respective table, iPad or laptop at their fingertips, taking notes, tweeting to their followers, sharing what was being learned. Most importantly, taking the summit seriously. Monday was the only full day however activities did begin Sunday evening and lasted throughout Tuesday afternoon. There was a lot packed into less than 48 hours.
I’ve heard from past attendees that having speakers wasn’t the tone set each year. Having nothing to compare to, I felt having Josh Bliell and Steve Richert share their stories with us was extremely moving and inspiring. If you haven’t heard of Josh, he is the community spokesperson for the NFL Indianapolis Colts. He is a marine who lost both legs from a bombing in Iraq and although he doesn’t have diabetes, he shared his story of having courage and hope when your “normal” completely changes. If you haven’t heard of Steve, he is a fellow type 1 diagnosed as a teenager, with a mission to climb a mountain every day for 365 days to raise awareness about diabetes. These guys are so admirable. They took a bad situation and made the best of it. Something that everyone should have the guts to do.
We all got to know each other better. When we registered for the conference we were asked to provide a brief description of ourselves. Using those descriptions, they were put on the screen anonymously and we had to guess who wrote it. I have to say that most of them were guessed correctly. That showed me that even though we may not be together in person always, we know a lot about one another from our online relationships. And that’s pretty cool. Roche was getting to know us better as well. As Todd stated, the attendees to these summits play an important role in their partnership with patients. They want to interact and understand the patients. Rob said he sees every day how we motivate ourselves to interact with others and motivate others. To quote him “we want to be the arrows pointing to all of your resources, not competing with them”. This is what separates companies like Roche from others. Their interest and initiative to reach out to patients. They get what the diabetes online community is all about.
Of course there was bonding. And laughing. Crying. Hugging. That was all icing on the cake. There were also serious discussions. Important questions asked. Ideas shared. Motivation gained. All this happened for the good of the diabetes community everywhere.
(photo courtesy: Chris Snider)
Disclosure: Roche paid for my travel, hotel and meal expenses for my trip to Indy. They have not however, required any blog posts from any of us. Feedback provided by me is completely my own opinion.