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Three Reasons to Keep Coming Back: An Overview of PMA University 2005

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About eight years ago, as a new member of the PMA board of directors, I was enlisted by Jan Nathan to organize the PMA University. Back then, the program took two days, consisted of 45 courses and a banquet, and drew about 250 to 300 attendees.

The 2005 program features 70 courses over three days, including a free day for first-time attendees, the Benjamin Franklin Awards Banquet, a keynote speech, several networking receptions, and–new for this year–a special educational program for midlevel publishers. Last year, PMA University enrolled just over 650 attendees, and this year we hope to break the 700 barrier.

The planning for PMA University takes a lot of work. It requires coordinating more than 50 volunteer course organizers and 140 volunteer speakers, and a ton of emails going back and forth between New Jersey and Manhattan Beach every day; but I keep doing it year after year. And I really love the job. Why? Because I derive the same benefits that PMA-U offers everyone who comes–including:

Creative stimulation. I have learned more about publishing from PMA University than I have from all the other publishing courses and seminars I have ever taken. Every year I make it a point to teach one or two courses and sit in on as many new courses as I can. I always come away with my brain jam-packed with new ideas and fresh, creative solutions. A PMA member once told me, “Attending the PMA University is the equivalent of cramming an MBA in publishing into your brain over a long weekend.” Even though I have attended every year for the past eight years, PMA-U remains my number-one brain-food restaurant.

Giving back. My entire career has been spent in publishing. I’ve worked in large companies and small. Along the way, a number of people have taken me by the hand, been my mentors, and given me advice. They’ve helped me have a successful and satisfying career. So one reason I keep coming back to PMA University is to pass on to PMA members a little bit of what has been given to me.

And if you attend PMA University, you will find that I am not alone. All the PMA University speakers, course organizers, and members of the board of directors are volunteers. We do it to give back to the people and industry that supported us.

Often, the cycle of giving continues after the university is over. Last year, I met a wonderful friend and new publisher and was able to pass on some money-saving tips and guidance that helped him start a series of marvelous photography books. This PMA member’s ultimate compliment was to thank me for helping him on the acknowledgments page of his first book.

Meeting people. Over the past eight years, I have been rewarded and blessed by meeting thousands of PMA members–people with whom I have made friends, shared the podium, stayed up late at night talking, and exchanged many long phone calls and hundreds of tips. The PMA University attendees, speakers, course organizers, and board of directors are truly an amazing group, all with bright stars in their eyes, energy in their hearts, and high octane in their guts.

So now I have told you why I keep coming back to PMA University, but don’t take my word about what it can do for you. It’s time to grab the PMA University brochure that appears in this newsletter and online at www.pma-online.org. Check out what we have to offer, and see if attending PMA University isn’t something you need to do for yourself and for your business.

If you’ve never attended before, I assure you it will be the smartest educational dollars you have ever spent. If you haven’t attended in a couple of years, it’s time for you to come back and plug in to all the new courses and activities. And, if you came last year, you’ll be happy to know that 55 percent of the 2005 program is brand new. So come, join us. You won’t be disappointed; I never have been!

Robin Bartlett, chair of the PMA University Program and formerly a PMA board member, is the director of sales and business development for the American College of Physicians in Philadelphia. He is a frequent contributor to the PMA Independent. To contact him, e-mail robin@robinbartlett.com or visit www.robinbartlett.com.

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