Pay It Forward

In the last few weeks, our industry has seen the passing of many of its leading figures – people who were important in the building of AV as an INDUSTRY, rather than just as a niche business. People like Kevin Collins, Barry Halligan, and now the legendary Fred Dixon, to name a few. These people influenced the direction of our products and our industry far beyond their commercial role in it – they did it by influencing the REST of us at the same time, by giving their time to educate us, create standards, and in general help the rest of us out in doing better.

Of the three, Fred Dixon was the one who influenced me the most, by teaching me, and many of my friends, the basics of AV systems design. He had a gift for addressing complex, important subjects in ways that made them understandable to the rest of us, and then by influencing US to also give time researching, teaching, and participating in our industry and in InfoComm. I was unable to attend Fred’s funeral, largely because i’m involved in designing a performing arts center using skills that he helped build in me. So I was unable to say “thanks, Fred”.

Then I realized that you can never pay the people like Fred back for the time they gave us, or the things they taught us. Instead, you pay them forward. You do it by doing what THEY did – by helping others gain the skills you have, and building the industry they started just the way they did – one person at a time.

You can do it the way guys like Gary, I, and many of our closest friends have – by getting involved in the industry, teaching, volunteering and writing. It’s been one of the most rewarding parts of our careers, and we’d all tell you that, I think.

But if that isn’t your style, do it one person at a time. Pick out a young person, learning our industry, and help them discover it.. the parts that make it interesting, challenging, and even fun. Help the brightest of them discover WHY they should make a career in our business. But most of all, help them, by setting an example yourself, learn that when they give back, they grow and learn in ways they can’t even see yet.

Pay it forward.

Thanks, Fred.