NORWALK Conn.—IDOC's Connection 2021, the alliance’s annual national conference, took place for the first time this year via a virtual platform that featured general sessions, exhibitor booths, nightly entertainment, and networking opportunities for the more than 1,100 attendees. The three-day online event included live chat rooms, continuing education and a roster of noteworthy keynote speakers, who were selected for their relevance to the current environment and the industry’s need for innovation and adaptability.

Overall, the Connection meeting’s agenda included 85 sessions in eight concurrent tracks, 43 event sponsors and over 600 pieces of downloadable content. New and popular this year was a Wellness Track that featured sessions focused on individual health and well-being, including “Parenting in a Pandemic,” “Couples in Business,” “Communicating During Stress,” “Preventing Burnout,” “Running 101,” and more topics.

“This year’s virtual format exceeded our expectations in every way,” IDOC chief executive officer Dave Brown said. “Not only did we attract more than a thousand attendees, we were able to connect both members and non-members to content that addresses some of today’s most pressing issues. Just as important, The Connection 2021 offered a much-needed forum for the dynamic exchange of ideas.”

In his general session address, Brown picked up on the theme of keynote speaker and author Kim Becking, who discussed the importance of "change" and being adaptive. Brown noted that he believes the popular quote from the management consultants James Belasco and Ralph Stayer stands out as quite appropriate during these times. The quote is: “Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up." (For more on Brown's comments, read the VMAIL story about his talk here.

Access to the Connection 2021’s recorded content is on-demand through the end of the month, providing valuable opportunities for session review and sharing. In addition, ODs and their staff can still register and access the on-demand material by visiting the site at
The new virtual format also offered some unexpected benefits for attendees, including greater participation among staff members, according to ODs who attended.

“The fact that all my staff was available to watch the classes was a big win,” said Dr. Vijay Shenai, an independent OD from Port Richie, Fla. “Normally, only half of my staff can join me in Orlando. We were all able to be part of it this year.”

Dr. Stacy M Hinkemeyer, of Sartell Minn., agreed that the new online venue provided a positive and productive experience: “Although a virtual event, I really felt connected,” she said.

The Connection’s three keynote speakers were a highlight of the conference, winning praise from attendees for their inspiring messages and pragmatic advice. Becking, the first speaker and an attorney, leadership expert and best-selling author, presented on the topic, “Punch in the Gut Moments: How to Get up, Grit Up, and Conquer Change,” an exploration of response to change and adversity. Jay Baer followed with his presentation of “4 Ways to Win: How Small Businesses Can Outflank the Big Guys and Thrive,” revealing lessons about how shifts in technology and consumer expectations can be used to advantage by independent practices.

Keynote speaker Jay Baer presents 4 Ways to Win: How Small Businesses Can Outflank the Big Guys and Thrive during the second day of The Connection 2021.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith shares keys to thriving in the midst of change with attendees during the last day of The Connection 2021. Her talk covered: The Power of Resilience in Cultivating Healthy Leaders and A Healthy Team.Musical duo Acute Inflections entertains attendees with a live performance during The IDOC Connection 2021.

On the final day, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith presented “The Power of Resilience in Cultivating Healthy Leaders and A Healthy Team,” an exploration of how to boost productivity, avoid burnout and live your best life.

Industry partners also embraced the new virtual format, replicating their previous on-premise booths with special offers and engaging interactive content.

"We are proud of the teamwork and collaboration between the IDOC and CooperVision teams that helped deliver a wonderful experience for attendees,” said CooperVision’s Evan Schwarz.

The Connection 2022 is scheduled to take place live Feb. 23-26, 2022, in Orlando.

For more information about IDOC, and to learn more about IDOC’s year-round calendar of events, call (203) 853-3333 or visit