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Polishing Our Advocacy Rocks
I’ve just returned from Newark where we held the second of our 2018 APHA Summits Networking Events. About 30 advocates attended, with backgrounds ranging from leaders (long-time advocates who have built successful advocacy businesses) through a handful of folks who are just getting started and who arrived as sponges intending to absorb everything they could. The experience was, in a word, magical. The energy in the room was electric.There was a constant buzz and hum of shared ideas and experiences. There were the usual words of advice that everyone has read or heard in the past, mixed with some surprises when the leaders were asked, “What do you wish you had known when you started your new practice that you didn’t know then?” There was laughter, there were stories, there was joy, there were “on no!” moments, and there were “aha!” moments, and there was, as attendees departed, a sense of companionship, collaboration, and growing confidence, as in “I got this.” I came away from this experience as I did from the networking experience in San Diego last month, with a stronger belief than before that private, independent advocacy is maturing, and that the phrase “paying it forward” is alive and well. This is a change, by the way. A huge one, worth noting here, because I haven’t always been confident in that notion. When I began to move into the world of healthcare in 2005, having spent decades working in the corporate world, then into advocacy by 2007, I was repeatedly stunned by the observation that too many would-be-advocates are afraid to, or simply refuse to collaborate and help each other out. I’ve witnessed the b*tching, backbiting, bullying, and avoidance. I’ve worked to connect people who I know can help each other only to learn that one party simply refused to reply to an email or phone message. Too often I’ve listened to one advocate make a giant leap to an uncalled for negative conclusion about another advocate. I’ve been told by dozens of would-be-advocates that they contacted existing, working, advocates only to be summarily dismissed with “I don’t…