E-mail can be an incredibly fast and convenient way to transmit information, but it's at a disadvantage when it comes to the art of conversation.
For example, it can be hard to tell if someone is responding sarcastically when you're just reading the words in an e-mail and don't hear the person say them.
I'm sure many of us have been guilty of overusing e-mail at times. In some cases, what could have been a quick and clear phone call was instead a long and at times confusing e-mail thread.
Call me old-fashioned, but I still think the ideal is to talk face to face. It's the best way to make a real connection with someone.
Along those lines, the upcoming Annual Summit of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) is one of the best ways to make connections and talk face to face with school bus industry peers from all over the U.S. and beyond.
The gathering is an excellent opportunity to catch up with colleagues you see there each year and to meet people who have recently joined the industry.
We often hear the phrase "putting a face with the name," and the Summit is a great place to do just that. I can't tell you how many times I've been introduced to and communicated with someone by e-mail or phone and then actually met him or her in person at the NAPT conference.
In addition to the networking aspect, the Annual Summit is a top venue for hearing — in person — from some high-profile speakers and government offi cials who impact our industry.
Among those slated to speak at this year's conference is Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Hersman has served as the NTSB's representative on the scene of some major school bus
accidents, and she holds a CDL with a school bus endorsement and certification as a child passenger safety technician. (At press time, Hersman's confirmation to serve a second two-year term as chairman was pending in the Senate.)
Delivering a keynote presentation will be Jodee Blanco, who is known as "The voice of America's bullied students." She is the author of Please Stop Laughing at Me: One Woman's Inspirational Story and has developed a widely used bullying prevention program.
Another speaker on the agenda is Mark Aesch, the CEO of the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority and author of Driving Excellence.
Of course, one of the key components of any industry conference is educational workshops, and the NAPT Summit offers dozens. They typically cover a wide range of relevant topics, sharing best practices in safety, management, maintenance and other areas.
Attendees can also sign up to take part in some additional programs at the conference, including the Leading Every Day initiative, which brings NAPT members together — face to face — in a "cohort" group structure to further develop their leadership skills.
If you haven't already made plans to be in Cincinnati Oct. 22-27, it's not too late. For more details on the event, go to www.naptonline.org.
I hope to see you in person at the Summit.