In the Neutral Zone with John Ward, Executive Director of GAMA.

IN THIS SERIES, WE TALK TO KEY FIGURES IN OUR INDUSTRY IN AN ATTEMPT TO GET TO KNOW THE PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITY. WE HOPE YOU ENJOY IT.

Q: What is on your desk this week/month?

About 45 days before the GAMA Trade Show, it seems like everything is on my desk right now. This is the time we lock down everything for the event.  We have menus and meals to finalize, items for the retail appreciation box for attendees that participate at Reno, hotel rooms, and a slew of other critical tasks that the staff does such a great job managing.

Q: What is something you wrestle with regularly?

Time management is a critical issue for all of us.  As the hobby market grows and faces new challenges, it seems that none of us ever have enough hours in the day.  The worst part is that all of it is important.  i must accept that whenever I put my time into one endeavor, it means that another important task is falling behind.  Identifying the high payoff tasks is challenging.

Q: What's something most people don't know about you?

I'm old.  This is really my third career.  At 53, I have been in the military over 23 years, served in state government for over 14 years, and I owned and operated a martial arts school for over 20 years. All that time I was a hobby business owner so I understand the challenges our retail store owners face every day.

Q: What is the most important lesson you learned in the past year?

Family is more important that anything. My parents are gone and my wife lost her father a year ago today. When it is all said and done, the best thing we can leave behind are positive memories.  It is much more important in how we conduct ourselves during the journey than in the actual milestones we pass.  I am hopeful that I will succeed in that legacy.

Q: What would you be doing if you were not at your current job?

I must admit, I love what I do.  I have never had a more competent team or a more enjoyable job. If I had to find something more rewarding than GAMA, it would be spending all my time with my family.  Most likely in the Carolina Mountains and probably in retirement mode.