More than 16,700 physical therapists, students, and industry professionals came together for CSM 2019.
How many actually connected?
In 1986, Steve Jobs bought a little animation studio called Pixar from Lucasfilm. Less than 10 years later they produced the first hit Toy Story. 14 years later, under Steve Jobs’ vision and design, they built their main building which would become known as the Steve Jobs Building.
Why is this relevant and important?
Over the years, Pixar has grown into a multi-billion dollar creative powerhouse. The Steve Jobs Building houses over 1000 Pixar employees; all in one place, all producing amazing, collaborative results — and, that’s the point.
Steve Jobs understood that creativity and growth happens through collaboration. Often the best results do not come from scheduled meetings, they generate from spontaneous connections. Pixar employees have an opportunity to see and interact with any and all fellow team members. They connect and they create.
As I walked around CSM, I saw waves of confused strangers. The one piece of connection that signaled “Hey, I’m one of you” was a lanyard dangling across the neck. Amongst over 16,000 thousand of strangers gathered, were countless opportunities to connect; and yet, I did not see many new connections. I saw students who stayed with their friends, classes, and cohorts. I saw colleagues stay with colleagues. I saw old friends gather and reconnect. All which is great. Yet, the biggest opportunity CSM presents is the ability to bump into a stranger and say “Hi.”
At a time where our most common source of interaction is a screen, the opportunity to connect in scale should be a no brainer. CSM is an ideal physical therapist connection playground.
Aside from spontaneous collisions, CSM provides several unique moments of opportunities for attendees. Let’s go over a few.
Moment #1: Holy Shit!
When you are a student, you’re forced to learn. You are in a tunnel with a clear beginning and ending. Everything between is a means to an end. You learn how to learn. You learn foundations. You learn what you need to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy or Physical Therapist Assistant; and, pass a board exam. It’s stressful, mundane and often times tedious. That’s reality of learning medicine and becoming a healthcare provider. CSM allows you to take a breath of possibility. You can get a taste of the beautiful nectar of nuance. Between the sessions, poster presentations and/or exhibit, you will have at at least one raw moment.
You will have a conversation with someone that makes you go “holy shit” that’s amazing. This is not unique to students. Many clinicians on the verge of burn out or even worse, complacency, have this opportunity to get an excitement ass kick. Becoming reinvigorated and excited for your profession is worth the price of admission.
Moment #2: Humanize the Theory
As alluded to earlier, majority of our modern interactions are digital. And, digital is not ideal for subtle. Since CSM brings every corner of our very expansive industry together, you can humanize ideas. The likelihood is high that a leader of a concept that you’ve raged about on Facebook is in attendance. Are you willing to ask a question that you can’t delete? Or, have a face to face conversation with a person you can’t push a button and block? I hope so. Most are willing to have that conversation with you. On the flip side, you can get depth on a topic or concept you’ve been excited about — hear about the challenges people have while integrating new theories.
Moment #3: Culture Code
CSM attendance continues to skyrocket and that’s in large part because of physical therapy students. That’s very exciting. At least it should be.
Students can and will set a culture precedent for the industry. What it means to be a physical therapist and physical therapist assistant is being fine tuned and redefined every day. Our leaders will be students. Physical Therapy struggles with messaging because we are so diverse, yet incredibly similar. Students from all walks of life, experiences and skills will set the new culture code. CSM can be a spark of taking what works and getting rid of what does not.
CSM is a unique opportunity. Once a year you can connect with nearly 20,000 other fellow physical therapy colleagues. Once a year you can explore any and all dimensions of the industry at once. Once a year you can collide with 20,000 strangers you have at least one thing in common within 24 hours. As will with all opportunities, it’s what you make of it.
Did you attend CSM? What were your thoughts? Tweet at me @Therapyinsiders.