Representor Spring 2023 - From the Top


Like déjà vu all over again

by Chuck Tanzola, CPMR

As I start writing, I am struck by the feeling that this is “like déjà vu all over again.” Just as I was four years ago, I am truly honored and humbled to have the distinction of being elected your President at the ERA Board meeting, following the 2023 ERA Conference; and as a result, I find myself once again writing The Representor’s “From the Top” article as opposed to the “Viewpoints” column.

Before I go further, let me also ask each of you to join me in offering thanks, congratulations and well wishes to both Dave Fitzgerald and Craig Sanderson for their insight, wisdom and service to ERA as they end their terms as members on the ERA Executive Committee. We welcome John Hutson and Gary Zullo as they bring their incredible talents in filling those positions.

Speaking of the ERA Conference, I can only say kudos to the entire team for producing a world-class event full of opportunity to learn, network and exchange ideas. My LinkedIn feed has been overflowing with an ongoing recap of the many great moments shared by the record-breaking crowd of attendees. One of the subjects that I found particularly interesting from Austin was the discussion of OpenAI and specifically ChatGPT. I opened this article with what I know as a “Yogi’ism” – and as I thought about both of these factors, I decided to experiment. I asked ChatGPT, “What is a yogi-ism?”

The result: “A yogi-ism typically refers to a phrase or saying that embodies the teachings and philosophy of yoga. These sayings are often attributed to prominent yoga teachers or gurus and are meant to inspire and guide practitioners in their yoga practice and in their daily lives.

Some examples of yogi-isms include ‘Be present in all things and thankful for all things,’ ‘The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments,’ and ‘Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.’

These phrases often emphasize the importance of mindfulness, self-awareness, compassion and acceptance, and are meant to help practitioners deepen their understanding of themselves and the world around them.”

That was not the result I expected, so I made a subtle, yet what proved to be significant, change to my question and asked, “What is a Yogi-ism?” (See what I did there?)

“A Yogi-ism is a witty, humorous, or insightful statement made by the late American baseball player Yogi Berra. He was known for his unconventional statements that were often paradoxical or contradictory but contained underlying wisdom and truth.

Examples of Yogi-isms include ‘It ain’t over till it’s over,’ ‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it,’ and ‘It’s like déjà vu all over again.’ While these statements may seem nonsensical or confusing at first, they often have a deeper meaning and can be interpreted in different ways depending on the context. Yogi Berra’s unique way of expressing himself has made him a beloved figure in American popular culture, and his Yogi-isms have become famous and widely quoted.” Better.

If the world has Yogi-isms, ERA is blessed with the memorable and witty sayings of our CEO that we affectionately call “Walter-isms” – some of which leave me shaking my head with amusement; others of which leave me in awe for their wisdom and intelligence (I’m certain none of which is artificial).

So, not being content to leave my Chat- GPT exercise where it was, and thinking of ERA, I decided to go a little further and asked, “What is a Walter-ism?” The result: “I’m sorry, but I’m not aware of any specific term or concept called ‘Walter-ism.’ Can you please provide more context or information about what you are referring to?”

Okay. I went further and asked, “What are Walter Tobin’s favorite sayings?” “I’m sorry, but as an AI language model, I do not have access to personal information about individuals. I don’t know who Walter Tobin is, nor do I have any way of determining his favorite sayings.” Your loss, OpenAI!

One favorite saying that Walter has been using consistently in leading us, and I find most profound is, “Skate where the puck is going.” This direction has served ERA well, such that as we move forward as an association, we do so from a position of unprecedented strength.

Our financial position is strong. ERA membership across all segments of our industry is broad and growing. Our educational programming, both at the local and national levels, continues to provide valuable opportunity to our members for personal and professional growth and development. After many years of industry lament about the lack of new people entering our profession, our Association has taken tangible and productive steps to address this issue. Our chapters are increasingly active within the industry, as well as making significant charitable contributions to their local communities. We have benefitted from the wisdom and increasing input of our manufacturers and distributor partners, and within the structure of our organization, we will be encouraging expansion of those inputs. Finally, our ERA staff is simply unparalleled. By every measure, we have reason to celebrate!

We have great opportunity ahead of us as well. Consider the introduction of ERA at the conference. This tool will prove to not only be a great differentiator and a valuable resource for our members, but a model for future efforts. If you are not aware of ERA, I strongly encourage you to reach out to the ERA staff for an introduction. And thank you, Sam Richter, for your partnership with ERA!

As we move forward, we will undoubtedly come to forks in the road, and we will take them, but in closing, I want to leave you with another hockey reference from the 2004 movie, “Miracle.” Kurt Russell, portraying 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks, said, “Great moments are born from great opportunity.”

As always, I can be reached at and welcome your comments and feedback. (I’d enjoy them much more than speaking to a machine!) If you attended the ERA Conference, I would love to hear your thoughts. If you didn’t attend, you will get another chance next February and I encourage you not to miss it. More great moments to come…but sign up early!

Oh, and in the meantime, I hope to see you all in Las Vegas at EDS!