Written by Tobey Miller
So there I was, minutes from the front gate of the most “magical place on earth,” in a class about mail.
The National Postal Forum is held annually, in or near a resort destination, ostensibly because these locations have facilities large enough to handle the thousands of mail mavens that the event attracts. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt attendance either to locate in Orlando as opposed to Pittsburgh, although I heard that class attendance was quite low when the Forum was held in Las Vegas. I suppose they have to strike a balance between attraction and distraction. When I heard that I would be allowed to go to the NPF this year, I was thrilled, but not for the reason that you might expect. Yes, we were literally within walking distance of the gates of Disney World, but I was excited because the NPF was going to offer classes for the USPS Mail Design Professional certification.
If you have ever tested and received this certification, you know that the studying and testing is grueling, let alone the fact that you have to do it on your own. I was positively thrilled when I learned that there would be 8 hours of MDP classes offered at the NPF and I was not disappointed.
My first thought was, how would they condense the multitude of design rules in the Domestic Mail Manual into just 8 hours of class work? The answer came in the form of some very talented instructors who were as enthusiastic about us getting our certifications as we were. They were from the National Center for Employee Development (NCED) in Norman Oklahoma. In short, the NCED provides training and conference services to agencies and business groups nationwide. They have a training center to which an agency or business could send a group of employees to get training or they can bring the training to you. Here is a link if you’d like to learn more: http://www.nced.com/content/about-us
The NCED MDP trainers, Lisa Roth and Kyle Moore, at the NPF were terrific! They were knowledgeable, highly organized, flexible, positive, and humorous. Yes, I said it. They were funny. In my 10+ years in this industry, I have always thought that it helped to have a sense of humor if you work in direct mail. I think most of my colleagues would agree and I was glad to see that the instructors at the NPF embraced that philosophy. The humor definitely made it easier to tolerate the sub-zero temperatures in our conference room. While there’s nothing funny about stage 1 hypothermia, mail piece design can be quite humorous. As we sifted through the numerous “if/then”s of the Domestic Mail Manual, the instructors gave us many helpful insights. For instance, they told us that BMEU stands for But, Maybe, Except, Unless. We knew if we at least remembered that one thing, all would be well.
I did take other classes at the NPF which, while not quite as engaging for me, were packed full of important information and revelation. It’s easy to think that the National Postal Forum with its destination locations and seemingly endless, well-stocked networking receptions would be like one big party. It’s not. In fact, the networking is hard work and I have to give it to our Sales team for being able to be “on” every day, promoting our brand and making numerous connections. I was able to see our team in action at the NPF and I don’t envy them their charge. The things they ask of us pale in comparison to the work it takes to get to that point.
In the end, I didn’t get to Disney World but I did ultimately pass my final exam and received my MDP certification…which expires in two years. So I’ll see you in Washington DC, NPF, where I probably won’t get to experience any of the history but I’ll definitely be getting an education.
For more information on MDP certification, visit: https://www.usps.com/business/get-business-mail-training.htm