Note to self:
It’s okay to take a step backwards
By Rita Kataroyan, Vice President of Marketing and Communications
It’s an honour for me to share the experience Luc Maurice and I had during our participation in an event that took place last week in the United States. We were members of a panel and round table discussion addressing important issues facing the PSA (Private Seniors’ Residences) industry. And truth be told, people are talking about Le Groupe Maurice!
Luc and I recently returned from Napa, California, where we attended the bi-annual Senior Living Innovation Forum 2022. This influential meeting brings together some 300 participants comprising executives and suppliers working within our industry. The forum’s purpose is to serve as a networking platform and exchange information related to innovation and the future of seniors’ housing. The event organizers have solicited us for at least 4 years, and this year, we finally decided to accept!
Leaving you all wasn’t easy.
I’ll be honest with you. Recent events, combined with professional and personal issues, had exhausted Luc and me to the point that the mere thought of having to travel was not only an unwarranted undertaking but also a seemingly unrealistic one. It was as if we were going backwards… with guilt-ridden heads and hearts for leaving our teams, who were also overworked and tired. After a 6-hour flight and two-hour drive, we finally arrived in Napa. Immediately, the heat and the sun reminded us of the importance of letting go and fully appreciating the unique moment and enchanting environment we were in. Even though we’d only be there for 3 days, we would be very busy; still, it was an incredible opportunity to be in one of the world’s premier wine regions!
A fantastic forum for learning.
The event started in earnest the next day. Meetings, conferences, short coffee breaks… and then we’d be back at it again. We absorbed everything we could so that we’d come back home bursting with new ideas, trends and inspirations to share with our colleagues. As the conference title promised, several meetings were focused on innovation. Some comments really opened our eyes to future realities we hadn’t even considered. One phrase in particular by Scott Stratten, an internationally recognized “marketer”, stuck in my mind. He said: “There is no innovation without disruption”. He is so right! How many new ideas were proposed by employees and residents, to make up for shortages in our complexes during the pandemic? In fact, several of these ideas were so beneficial, we decided to continue using them! Isn’t this a prime example of innovation in a time of disruption?
An especially rewarding round table.
The event organizers asked me, at the very last minute, to moderate the round table on Changing the Public’s Perception of Senior’s Living. I was quite honoured, as it is a subject that I know well! As we at Le Groupe Maurice suspected, our brand strategy, social campaigns, service offerings and distinct way of looking at aging set us apart from other key industry players. That said, we all agreed that none of us is out of the woods in terms of perceptions: a lot of work remains to be done with the public to change people’s prejudices toward retirement residences. Finally, at the end of the round table, numerous participants expressed their interest to come visit our residences in Quebec to learn more about our business model. It was extremely positive… and especially rewarding for Luc and myself!
The panellist with phenomenal passion.
Well, I’m proud to report that our dear president Luc Maurice, along with four other panellists, engaged in a lively discussion titled State of the Art. It was here that leaders of different companies responded in an interactive and dynamic way to a plethora of questions regarding seniors’ residences. You know Luc; he’s not one to shy away when it comes to defending seniors’ freedom of choice and the lack of resources they are allocated – not to mention disproving the myths surrounding aging. His insights were so passionate, informative and eloquently stated that both the public and the participants LOVED him! Luc is our visionary. His courage, confidence and especially his authenticity were warmly applauded. I can already guarantee you that he’ll be in high demand for next year’s forum!
The secret’s in our sauce.
We also had inspiring encounters that resulted in both confirmations and unexpected findings. For instance, the issues related to the development and management of retirement residences are the same on both sides of the border: we’re all suffering from the labour shortage, inflation and increasing regulations – especially since the pandemic. However, what really surprised me (and what we were proud of), is that, unlike our neighbours to the south, we’ve emerged from the health crisis with our heads held especially high. All the participants asked us how we managed to maintain our customer loyalty and ensure our growth. They wanted to know what was in our “secret sauce” that allowed Le Groupe Maurice to attract so many customers!
Le Groupe Maurice was therefore not perceived as an inexperienced small player in the field – as was the case in past years in events of this kind. Quite the contrary. In fact, we were now seen as representatives of an innovative company with a certain “je ne sais quoi” that deserved to be heard, respected and even imitated! Several major American developers were indeed intrigued by our business model and expressed a serious desire to personally come and visit some of our residences. Impressive!
Taking a step backwards, to move forward!
Although our initial motivation to participate in this forum left something to be desired, we are beyond pleased to have contributed. In fact, Luc and I returned with the expressed desire to embrace this kind of experience more often. Forums such as these are exceptional opportunities to engage and exchange with others and to learn about different realities, trends and research – to open up to the world! The fact is, no opportunity to learn should be overlooked, however busy one may be. Sometimes, it’s by taking a step backwards that we actually advance. Being open to others is, in fact, being open to oneself… which is essential if we are to evolve. So I wish for all of us to accumulate opportunities for self-improvement and education. It’s food for the soul. And Luc and I were certainly served a full buffet in Napa!