All The Latest News from NECA

Oct 09

Ex-Boston Police Chief Shares His Boston Marathon Bombing Experience

NECA 2016 Boston

Among the highlights on Day 3 of NECA 2016 Boston were remarks made by the city’s former police chief, Daniel Linskey, at Sunday morning’s General Session.

Linskey, was in charge of Boston’s police during the Boston Marathon terrorist attack in 2013, spoke about how he has learned to handle leadership in times of crisis and his experiences during the bombing and its aftermath.

“All I ever wanted was to be a Boston cop. I got to live my dream,” Linskey told the audience. “The best way to learn leadership is to lead.”

Chief Daniel Linskey at NECA16’s Sunday General Session from NECAnet on Vimeo.

As he moved up the ranks, he did just that, saying he’s been on a quest for leadership “his whole life.” He didn’t pass on opportunities for leadership posts and made sure to step outside his comfort zones.

It’s important to “find out where you are” before the crisis and to be prepared to think differently if necessary, he said. During a crisis, among the things to do is to come up with a list of five actions to take.

“You better be the calmest and the coolest you have ever been and have a plan – or make your team believe you have a plan even if you don’t – because they’re going to want you to lead,” he said.

After the crisis, he added, keep your promises and be a human. Document what you did right after the action occurred and honestly identify what you did wrong and avoid repeating those mistakes.

As Managing Director at Kroll, Linskey now serves clients in diverse industries with experience in investigations, crisis response planning and risk management as well as personal, physical and operational security strategies. He’s also a homeland security/law enforcement news analyst for the local Fox affiliate in Boston.

Linskey praised the people of Boston who came together during the horrific attack, which killed three spectators and injured hundreds.

“I cannot tell you how cooperative our citizens were,” he said.

The show floor opened again Sunday – with more than 300 exhibitors interacting with NECA members – and a range of education course continued throughout the day.

Approximately 60 attendees gathered for the 2016 Women In NECA Roundtable, an annual event that brings together women in the industry from around the country.

Marie Arcidiacono presented on “Let’s Talk About It: Communication, Gender & Powerful Speech.”

Later, Women In NECA combined forces with NECA Future Leaders to host a reception for female and young members of the community.

Jul 07

Chicago’s Must-See Sights: Part 4

Historic Water Tower

img src:

Built in 1869, the Chicago water tower is 154 feet high.  The building was originally commissioned to hold the 138 foot tall standpipe that would help the water flow and pressure for the pumping station.  While the standpipe was removed in 1911, the pumping station is still in use.  The importance of the water tower and pumping station is that they are two of the only buildings in the city that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  The water tower’s importance is that it stands as a symbol for the rebuild of the city of Chicago which gave it the nickname “Second City”.

More “Second City” Happenings:

Join NECA for a very special lifestyle program presenting the best of the Second City, Monday September 29 at 10:00pm.


Celebrating 50 Years of Funny

The Second City, America’s first improvisational theater troupe, has helped launch the careers of countless stars, including Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell, just to name a few. This year’s Lifestyles program is a revue featuring the best sketches from their stages, along with improv games that will allow the audience to make suggestions that the performers will spin into comedy gold.

May 21

Invest in the Full Registration Package; Invest in Your Career and Your Business

Why Investing in NECA 2014 Chicago is a Smart Investment for Your Future

As an attendee of NECA 2014 Chicago, you’ll want to experience the total package, including this year’s can’t-miss networking and special event offerings, technical resources and track-specific education and the largest industry trade show of its kind, the NECA Show. So, how can you take advantage of everything there is to offer at this all-inclusive event? Sign up for the NECA 2014 Chicago convention & trade show full registration package: your all-access pass providing you with the information and power you need to shape your future.

Explore Chicago’s past with NECA as we transform Chicago’s historic Field Museum into a lavish Roaring ‘20s scene for the NECA 2014 Chicago opening reception. Dance to the swinging sounds of the Z Orchestra or showcase your own talents at karaoke surrounded by prehistoric finds and modern-day discoveries and snap a picture with the most complete and preserved Tyrannosaurus-Rex in the world.

Be sure to attend this year’s General Sessions, where attendees will join opening general session speaker, Chris Gardner on the subject of the blockbuster memoir and film “The Pursuit of Happyness. We’ll learn how he worked through homelessness and single fatherhood to gain an internship at Dean Witter Reynolds and later became one of Bear Stearns’ top earners. In 1987, he established Gardner Rich & Co. in Chicago. Today, he is a multimillionaire, international businessman, philanthropist, and motivational speaker, sharing what he has learned and why passion is prerequisite for success. Catch his passion at our Opening General Session. Gardner will sign his book in the NECA booth on the Show floor after he speaks. Books will be available for purchase.

Our closing general session speaker is former leader of Navy SEAL Team Six, Rob O’Neill, who has kept America safe having been deployed more than a dozen times and held leadership roles in more than 400 combat missions in four different theaters of war. In his talk to NECA conventioneers, he’ll translate his elite SEAL training and combat experience into high-impact, actionable insights on leadership, decision-making, operating in uncertain environments, and becoming the “best of the best.”

This year’s Labor Relations Special Session is all about Workforce Development. Workforce development continues to shape our evolving industry.  NECA will take a hard look at the labor relations issues that matter to our members in a special session, bringing together the leaders that make decisions and tough choices that keep our industry moving forward.

Though, the most exciting part of attending NECA 2014 Chicago would have to be the expansive offering of educational sessions, pre-convention and technical workshops geared to prepare you for today’s ever-evolving industry. New this year, educational programs will be separated into tracks or, job-specific categories, that are designed to align with an attendee’s education focus including: business management, estimating, executive management, leadership and communication, project management, standards and safety, line construction, and technology, process, and innovation. We are opportunity to help members further their company and the education of its employees. As if that’s not enough, NECA will be providing 19 technical workshops on the trade show floor giving attendees even more opportunities to gain knowledge while in Chicago.

While there is certainly enough during the convention to keep attendees occupied, there will be other events to enjoy as well.  This year’s lifestyle program will feature a visit from the world famous Second City comedy troupe.  During the convention attendees will have the opportunity to experience some of the restaurants that make Chicago universally known as America’s best food city. Chicago is one of the most exciting and architecturally unique cities in America and NECA 2014 attendees get to see this first hand with an architecture river tour down the historically significant Chicago River.

NECA 2014 Chicago boasts returns of fan-favorite popular events as well, including: the business development meeting, safety roundtable, and Women in NECA (WIN) roundtable, along with an exciting first-ever Job Fair, providing NECA’s 30 student chapter teams with a forum to meet with NECA members and prospective employers, providing employers with an opportunity to look toward the future of their business.

This year’s Showstopper Showcase will give attendees a select sampling of some of the latest electrical product innovations to help keep your company up to date.  This full-access pass will give you three days of the NECA Show including lunch to make sure that you get the opportunity to experience all that the 2014 NECA Show has to offer.

Those who like their rhythm & blues seasoned with a whole lot of soul and a Memphis sound are in for a treat at our Closing Celebration. Celebrate a successful week with NECA at the Chicago House of Blues where you can enjoy good friends, good fun, good food — and great musical entertainment provided by actor, comedian and singer Jim Belushi and the Sacred Hearts Band.

Registration Opens May 29 — Mark Your Calendars and Take Advantage of Early Rates!

Oct 14

When National Security Comes Down to a White House Chef and a Pair of Spoons

by Trent Evans

Three former White House chefs opened their lively and free-ranging discussion at the NECA13 Lifestyle Program with a joke about the recent shutdown status of the federal government:

“We are now officially closed, so there’s the exit doors.”

Guy Mitchell, Woody Raber, and Julianne Koski delivered an insiders’ account of life as chefs for the leader of the free world … duties which often include much more than cooking.

Koski and Raber both described having to serve on a security detail for the President. One encounter required Koski to hide a gun under her chef’s whites, and Raber standing next to the President in bodyguard mode at a meal with other leaders abroad.

“One time in history, national security came down to Woody and a pair of spoons,” he quipped.

Working with over 50 other chefs, a select group of culinary over-achievers is culled from the ranks of the Navy. Once they make the cut, they are responsible for feeding 350-400 people per day in the West Wing from a kitchen right below the Oval Office.  The chefs worked a 12-hour shift from 3:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. when in D.C., and they were on call at a moment’s notice to travel with the President around the world.  They explained how in addition to their cooking duties, they rotated other jobs including dishwasher, waiter and maître d’.

“You might get called back to be dishwasher at the White House after having been executive chef for the President on the road the day before,” said Raber.

The chefs explained that after the events of 9/11, they could no longer have food delivered to the White House.  Currently, staff dressed in plain clothes fan out in five or six vans to different suppliers in the D.C. area. They always pay cash for their ingredients, never letting on that they are working for the President.  “No one can know who we are buying for,” explained Raber.

Throughout their lighthearted exchange, the chefs prepared recipes from the kitchen of the White House and ended the session by raffling off a taste of the presidential fare to one of the lucky attendees.

Oct 01

“Prison doesn’t work for everyone, but it worked for me:” Chef Jeff at Lifestyle Session

“Prison doesn’t work for everyone,” Chef Jeff Henderson likes to say. “But it worked for me.” Henderson shared his inspirational story during the Lifestyle Session on Monday morning at NECA 2012 Las Vegas to about 200 people.

Born in Los Angeles to a single mother, Henderson was a drug dealer and went to prison at the age of 24. It was while he was sulking away in prison that his true calling in life was revealed to him. It wasn’t on the streets – it was in the kitchen.

“I discovered my gift in prison … once you know who you are, you can become anything you want to be,” he said.

His talk, a high-energy mix of inspiration and business principles, emphasized the realizing the power of potential. Henderson is undoubtedly a commanding presence and was alternately funny and poignant in his portrayal of a life, once lost, and now found.

Henderson is a best-selling author and continues to cook as the star of “The Chef Jeff Project” on Food Network. But he isn’t only passionate about food; he’s passionate about reaching out to young people who might be facing the same issues he did. He knows that he can help them out – because he was them.

“I’m not going to (play) the victim card,” he said. “I don’t justify my poor decisions because I grew up poor. I grew up with a dream.”

Watch Chef Jeff Henderson at 2012 Lifestyle

Jul 19

Cooked: Meet Chef Jeff Henderson at 2012 Lifestyle Session

Lifestyle Session: Monday, October 1, 2012
10-11:30 a.m.
Mandalay Bay

Growing up poor with limited options, Jeff Henderson took the path too often followed by inner-city kids in southern California – dealing cocaine, until he was caught and convicted on federal drug trafficking charges at age 23. But just as his dreams for success had driven him to become a top drug dealers at a young age, his urge to succeed couldn’t be crushed in prison.

“I didn’t get arrested – I got rescued from the streets.” – Jeff Henderson

When dealing on the streets was replaced with one of the least desirable prison duties – washing dishes in the prison kitchen – Henderson found himself challenged anew by the ebb and flow of food preparation. Gradually he learned a new trade and he promised himself that when he was out of prison, he would become a chef.

With no formal education and a criminal background, Henderson struggled for years in the hospitality industry. But with persistence and determination, he was able to achieve his dreams, eventually becoming the executive chef of Café Bellagio in Las Vegas. His story was first told in the New York Times best-selling memoir, Cooked: My Journey from the Streets to the Stove. His follow-up book, The Power of Potential, comes out this fall.

Jeff shares that change and success do not come easily. Achieving them requires tenacity, positive reinforcement, and teamwork, but with the right tools, anyone can reach their full potential.

Today, Henderson is the Food Network personality behind The Chef Jeff Project, which takes at-risk young adults and commits to turning their lives around. On October 1 at the 2012 NECA Lifestyle Program, Chef Jeff will offer  effective and simple ways to implement strategies to navigate through the detours and roadblocks along the way. Chef Jeff will not only cook up some of his favorite recipes for attendees at the NECA 2012 Lifestyle Session; he’ll share of the stories that shaped his dreams and determination and how he found hope and redemption among in a sinkful of dirty dishes.

Want more Chef Jeff? Learn about his Foundation, The Chef Jeff Foundation, which is due to launch this fall, just in time for NECA 2012 Las Vegas! >> 

Oct 25

Joan Embery Walks on the Wild Side

When you think about San Diego, you undoubtedly think of three things – sun, surf and the animals of the San Diego Zoo.

And in lots of circles, Joan Embery is the San Diego Zoo. That’s why when she joined us for our lifestyle session, “A Walk on the Wild Side”, on Monday morning at NECA 2011 San Diego, she had the crowd enthralled with not only her life story, but also the 20-plus animals she brought with her.

A native of San Diego, Embery always wanted to do something with animals. After graduating from high school in 1968, she realized that there were no women working with animals – a glass ceiling that was entrenched in conservation programs and zoos all over the world. After several years of hard work, including a special relationship with a star elephant named Carol, it’s safe to say that was a ceiling she shattered.

After racking up more than 100 appearances on The Tonight Show (the second most in Tonight Show history), it’s easy to realize that she’s achieved everything she’s set out to accomplish.

The real stars of her show in the minds of NECA attendees, from aardvarks and armadillos to snakes and sloths and everything in between, held the audience captive for more than 90 minutes.

As smart as she is funny, her care for animals is unparalleled. Watching her during the session, the audience could help but come away with the feeling that they really learned more about a San Diego legend. Joan’s warm demeanor and truly entertaining show was absolutely an asset to this year’s NECA show.

For more photos, check out NECA’s Flickr feed >>