With deadlines looming, I can’t put this column off any longer. I’d considered waxing nostalgic about attending the ADA convention in Orlando last month—my first hearing industry event (which was exciting and enlightening). I’d debated elaborating on what it was like to launch and deliver Hearing Product Report’s first-ever Weblog while I was there (no quacks about The Peabody Hotel’s ducks, please).
But instead of allowing me to softball you, the voice inside my head is making me remember the voice of Henrik Nielsen, national sales manager for Unitron Hearing, who I met, along with Unitron regional sales managers Sue Ekstam and Josh Fieldman, at their booth on the second day of the convention. But it wasn’t Nielsen’s voice that was specifically memorable, it was what he said to me when I introduced myself to him as the wide-eyed editor of this magazine. And what he said was bluntly critical and brutally honest.
He told me when he gets his copy of our sister publication, The Hearing Review, he explores it thoroughly and then puts it on a shelf for future reference, just like it was a copy of National Geographic—and rightfully so. HPR? When that arrives, he flips through it, “and then I throw it away,” he said. And after picking myself up from where I’d fallen, I thanked him for his opinion and went off to the dessert table at the back of the exhibit hall to drown my sorrows in chocolate chips.
No, not really. I’m tougher than that—not much, but enough. Certainly, in the Unitron booth, you could have heard the proverbial pin descend those first moments after he’d administered such a frank assessment, but instead of breaking down in tears, I opted to break the slightly uncomfortable silence by saying that I welcomed hearing his opinion and that I looked forward to making the magazine into a resource that would ultimately have more of a shelf life for him. He nodded appreciatively in return, either because he liked that I could take a punch or because he liked what I said. Maybe both.
I shook hands all around, bade my farewells—and then headed straight for the cookies.
In sharing that episode with you, I realize it’s somewhat unorthodox to put something into a magazine that doesn’t reflect positively on it, but if I’m not kicked out of my office for doing so and am allowed to continue in my present position, you’re going to find I’m someone who doesn’t pull any punches, nor do I run from them. So, instead of dwelling on the dark side of Nielsen’s point of view, I’m going to use it as a rallying point to do what I said to him: develop this magazine into a richer resource. And it’s a challenge I’m passing on to you as a subscriber as well. Let me know what you think is good and what isn’t about Hearing Products Report. What would you like to see covered in these pages? How can it serve you better?
Go ahead. I’m all ears.