I can’t believe that we’re already into March. The eternal Monday which is January and February went faster for me in 2016 than it ever has before. They say that, as you get older, time speeds up. I don’t know if there’s a mathematical calculation for the theory, but it feels true.

MRA has two major things currently in the works. Maybe these initiatives (and our recent board meetings) contributed to the time-speed vortex?

The annual Insights and Strategies Conference (ISC)1 is coming up very soon – May 18 to 20 in the Big Easy. Michael G. Scott once said, “This is not just another party. This is a leadership training exercise, right? I’m going to combine elements of fun and motivation and education into a single, mind-blowing experience.” I think the same can be said about the upcoming 2016 ISC conference. There’s definitely education.

We’ll be hearing from Adam Alter, New York Times bestselling author of “Drunk Tank Pink” along with our industry friends Rob Stone, Jude Olinger, Paul Allen, Monica Zinchiak and Scott Baker, who will represent MRA, CASRO, QRCA and PMRG on a brilliant panel on the state of the industry. We’re sure to come away brighter and more informed. Speaking for myself, I’m sure I need it!

There will be motivation: Brian Little is a distinguished scholar from Cambridge and an acclaimed motivator; there’s also Derek Thompson, Senior Editor at The Atlantic, who will be looking at Millennials. Hopefully, he’ll be able to explain why they are the most educated yet most underemployed generation in modern history (is it a motivation issue?). And we’ll have a blast with The Second City giving us some tips on storytelling for insights leaders. It’s bound to be funny.

The second initiative is the likely consolidation (if you, the members, approve it) between MRA and CASRO. In February 2016, MRA and CASRO signed a mutual letter of intent to merge the two organizations. This represents a very strong move of solidarity for the research associations in the U.S. and a real opportunity for the researchers who look to associations like ours for advocacy, best practices and education. This move is about inclusion   inclusion of associations and verticals, inclusion of researcher types (corporate, agency, scientists, etc.), and inclusion of the research companies and corporate organizations that provide insights for a living.

The aim is to produce an association that meets the needs of all researchers and I’m awfully excited about it. We’re all so different, but a U.S. industry that is united is far stronger in what we can accomplish than one that is segregated. Malcolm Forbes said, “Diversity is the art of thinking independently together.” I like this idea, it’s kind of punchy, and it’s about time that the research associations that represent the U.S. recognize their similarities and come together into something that is stronger than they are separately. And, it’s a wonderful opportunity for all researchers to interact on the same plane. I hope that you’ll endorse the merger; I believe it’s in the industry’s best interest.

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to serve and represent you. So far, it has been a humbling, enjoyable, stressful, fun and rewarding roller-coaster ride. Great things are yet to come from the MRA. The association truly has your best interests in mind in every decision that is made. It’s the litmus test for every conversation. Thank you for your support and watch for more really exciting things in the coming months.