"Ernest Hemingway called 'retirement' the ugliest word in the English language, and I agree with him," declared R. William Taylor, CAE, during the opening general session of ASAE Nashville 1998, held August 15 to 18 at the Opryland Hotel. Taylor, who officially retired after 17 years as president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives, was visibly moved when the ASAE chairpersons who had served under him lined up on stage and, with hugs and handshakes, paid him tribute.
Leaving behind his post at ASAE but not his passion for association management, Taylor said he was particularly proud of how female membership in ASAE had increased during his tenure. As for the future, Taylor told the audience, "Technology is our greatest challenge. You must change information into knowledge. I leave you with that challenge."
Taylor is avoiding that ugly "R" word by forming his own company, Bill Taylor, Association Consulting, which will conduct studies on association management. ASAE's new president, Michael S. Olson, CAE, officially started his presidency during the conference. A 30-year industry veteran who had been president and CEO of Olson Management Inc., an association management firm in Raleigh, N.C., Olson also served as ASAE chairman of the board during the 1985 to 1986 term.
Another leader who continues to serve after retirement, General Colin L. Powell, gave a passionate and humorous keynote address during the opening general session. Now serving as chair of America's Promise, an organization dedicated to providing children with health care, adult mentors, and other resources, Powell said, "We can't go forward as a nation and leave any child behind. It's time to stop building jails and start building children." Powell told attendees he wants every association to get involved in "Job Shadowing Day," where adults bring underprivileged children to work, exposing them to career possibilities. ASAE has pledged its involvement in that initiative.
Nashville may be the smallest city ASAE has ever met in, but it provided entertainment on a grand scale. The welcome reception at the Opryland Hotel Convention Center featured fireworks, a laser light show, and a high-wire act.
Opryland had reason to celebrate. "We're taking Opryland's tradition farther south--into the Mouse's territory," quipped Jack J. Vaughn, president of Opryland Hospitality and Attractions division, Gaylord Entertainment Company, at the opening session. Gaylord Entertainment has announced plans to build a 1,400-room hotel and convention center next door to Disney World in Osceola County, Fla. The area has been targeted for major development, including the privately funded World Expo Center, which, if plans come to fruition, will be the country's biggest exhibition center. Gaylord has also announced plans to build an Opryland hotel in Charlotte, N.C.
ASAE Nashville 1998 drew about 5,125 attendees, in comparison to last year's figure of 5,454. ASAE San Diego 1999 will be held August 21 to 24 at the San Diego Convention Center.