A charm offensive?

Charming. Self-deprecating. Hilarious. Insightful. Inspiring. All of those adjectives describe Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.) and the keynote address he delivered during the opening session of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living annual meeting today. So would you call that a charm offensive?
Gen. Colin Powell speaking at American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) annual meetingI included the question mark in my headline because I certainly don't want anyone to misconstrue my assessment of his talk as critical or negative. To the contrary. Those of us who have attended numerous healthcare meetings over the years know that, although big names can attract the attention of conventioneers, not all of them can produce remarks that are relevant to the audience being addressed. The 77-year-old former national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state, however, managed to be both relevant and entertaining. Along the way, he shared anecdotes about his life, stories from his books and thoughts on varied topics, all peppered with a healthy dose of humor. Key points distilled for those who couldn't hear him in person (and for those who did):
  • Long-term care. "There's no greater purpose than to take care of your fellow citizen" as he or she ages, he said. "What would we do if we didn't have these people so dedicated and committed? I have the greatest respect for what you do. It's remarkable and necessary, even more so as we watch the population age."
  • Healthcare. Powell expressed gratitude for his military healthcare plan and said that all Americans should have the opportunity to have the same level of insurance coverage. "With all that we spend and all that we need…all I know is that our Congress needs to come together and solve whatever problems are out there and make sure every American has healthcare," he said. "It's doable," as other countries have proven.
  • Immigration. Immigration reform is "desperately" needed, Powell said, adding that immigrants are vital to long-term care because they will work in the industry and by doing so will support the financial structure needed to pay for healthcare as Americans age.
  • Congress. Saying the inaction of Congress is "a disgrace" and unprecedented in his memory, Powell said: "We the people are the ones who have to stop putting up with this nonsense and vote them out if they're not doing anything."
  • Leadership. Leaders treat everyone with whom they interact with respect, trust those they hire to do their jobs, and inspire those who work for them, Powell said. "Nobody should be considered unimportant," he added.

​Powell's opening ceremony remarks followed those of AHCA/NCAL leadership, including President and CEO Mark Parkinson. Parkinson told attendees that it was time for AHCA/NCAL to "go on the offensive." Powell proved just what an attractive place that is to be.

Topics: Advocacy , Executive Leadership , Leadership