We have heard many presidents stand up at this and at other societies, and tell us that the most difficult part of the year was not the business of the society. As you will hear during my talk, I had a fantastic team, including physicians and nonphysicians, helping me run the Society. The team included staff in the Chicago office of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS), the Executive Council, and people at home. The hardest part of the President’s job is selecting a theme for the presidential address and subsequently creating the talk. I am not going to misrepresent that this task was easy for me. I went through a variety of topics, and Lester was way ahead of me saying, “I need the pictures for the intro.” My reply was, “Lester, I don’t even know what I’m talking about yet.”
However, ultimately, it went off like a light bulb when I realized that what has been important in my career is the global collaboration we enjoy in this small specialty—and we are small. In the American College of Surgeons, we are, next to the pediatric surgeons—no pun intended—the second smallest specialty group. We are a small group, which provides something very, very unique: a global collaboration that enhances the mission of this Society and ultimately the care of our patients.
So once I arrived at a theme, I had a lot of fun preparing this talk; hopefully, you will have fun listening to it. I will begin by expressing my gratitude to the many people who have made this past year both possible and enjoyable. I am grateful to the entire membership for having bestowed this honor upon me. Yes, I have derived significant amounts of pleasure in this role. I have learned a huge amount from my many respected friends and colleagues from around the world. You will see some of them featured in my address. I am thankful to each and every one of them, and to others not mentioned here, for their teachings, their time, and their friendship. I have gained a significant amount of wisdom from them, as well as from my colleagues at home and elsewhere, and from my residents—I am always learning from my residents—and alumni.