Joe Morgan died yesterday. He was one of my earliest baseball heroes as he began his career in Houston in 1963, way back when they were the Colt 45s. Two years later they became the Astros and have soared ever since. Morgan was diminutive, 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds and was originally known Little Joe. According to his New York Times obituary, he “was among the smallest great players in the history of the game. He was also among the greatest second basemen, and some, like Bill James, the groundbreaking interpreter of statistics, say he was the greatest of all.”

Traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1972, in perhaps the worst trade in the history of Houston sports teams, he went on to achieve baseball immortality on the vaunted “Big Red Machine” of the 1970s which played in three World Series, winning two back-to-back in 1975 and 1976. The first one was one of the greatest World Series ever, in a seven gamefest with the Boston Red Sox. The second was a four-game sweep of the Reggie Jackson led Yankees. The Reds also lost to the Oakland As in 1972.

According to his Houston Chronicle obituary, Morgan had a “lifetime batting average of .271, 268 home runs, 1,650 runs scored, 1,133 RBIs, 689 stolen bases and an on-base/slugging percentage of .819. He was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1975 and 1976 on World Series-winning teams, a five-time Gold Glove winner at second base, a 10-time All-Star and a 1990 selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.” I will leave the final word to his fellow Big Red Machiner and Hall of Famer, Johnny Bench, who said in a statement, “Joe wasn’t just the best second baseman in baseball history, he was the best player I ever saw and one of the best people I’ve ever known.” Good-bye Little Joe and to all those nights listening to Gene Elston and Lowell Passe describe your greatness on the radio in Bryan, Texas.

CONVERGE20 is in the books and I have now had a few days to collect my thoughts on what made it the top compliance event in this seemingly never-ending year of 2020. The greatest thing about this conference was not the fabulous speakers or inspiring keynotes but the engagement. It was like something I had never seen before and presented attendees with some great opportunities for not simply networking but real engagement with their peers. In every session there were three conversations going simultaneously and overlapping. The first conversation was the speakers and their presentations. The second was the questions/comments posed to the speakers by the audience. The third was comments by the audience on the speakers remarks, the content and the audience experience. It was this third conversation which I found incredibly rich and powerful. It was if I was on a panel in an auditorium of 500 or more, making a presentation, answering questions while simultaneously the audience is having a conversation between itself.

I was watching the chat box while the talks were ongoing and this third conversation was fascinating. It provided a level of engagement I had not seen at any of the virtual conferences in this or any other year. Attendees were able to raise questions to their peers and receive almost immediate feedback. Another function allowed attendees to contact each other for private chat follow-ups.

But one example was Matt Galvan, Global Vice President, Ethics & Compliance, AB-InBev, who, in his panel on The ROI of Ethics & Compliance: The proof is in your program, talked about how he has worked to improve the BrewRight system each year and with each improvement, he has been able to demonstrate to management the return on investment (ROI) from the tool. In other words, creating the ROI of compliance is not a one-time change where compliance goes to profitability but a slow building process to achieve that goal. I had never heard any Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) talk like that previously. I found it to be a powerful message. As powerful a message as this was for me, it was equally powerful to the attendees who not only posed questions to Matt but also started sharing their experiences with him.

In this year of 2020, this engagement is what compliance professionals crave. It is not the lecture format of so many other compliance conferences, which are essentially webinars. But real interaction with other compliance professionals. I virtually connected with many people I have not physically seen this year. Even virtually, it makes all the difference to interact with your peers and when you can do so in a meaningful way; the experience is all the more powerful.

I asked, before the event, “What makes Convercent’s CONVERGE conference so unique and, indeed, so special? It is the Converge Community who attend the event. This year will be no different as you will have the chance to experience that Converge Community in the most unique way yet presented in a compliance conference.” This was more on point than I ever dreamed.

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© Thomas R. Fox, 2020