Saturday, February 28, 2015

How's your heart??

My "space" for February has been heart. It's been a wonderful month of exploring just what that space means to me. I have learned and observed a lot about "heart" in work, in relationships, in my life and most importantly when I look in my mirror. That look, the one in the mirror, is one that most of us avoid at all costs. Because I find myself at a time when it is just me most days, I have forced myself to look in that mirror more than I ever have and I have decided I like what I see. 
That girl has heart!! 
My sister recently took a new head shot for me; it is my current profile picture. I had a really quiet moment when she shared it on Facebook. Honestly, it took my breath away. 
Because I recognized her! I actually, finally, KNEW the girl in that picture. She's strong and confident. She believes in the best in people and in herself. She has been vulnerable and survived. She has loved and lost and revels in the lessons and memories of both. She is living in this moment, now, but she has complete confidence in the path she is on to the future. She believes in her gifts and celebrates the gifts of others. She has absolutely no fear. She has seen success and failure. Neither slows her down. She works hard and believes in her ability to help others through her work. She has amazing family and friends. She is on an adventurous journey and loving every minute of it. She laughs and she cries. She is blessed and grateful. 
She is human and owns it. 
She is real and not ashamed.
Who are YOU? Do you recognize yourself when you look in the mirror? Until you do, no one else will. On this last day of February, how do you find your heart??

Monday, February 23, 2015

Membership Monday February 23, 2015

Your weekly tip for living the life of a Membership Management Professional!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

It’s not for you, it’s for your community!

(re-posted from February 4, 2014)

Our travel experiences over the last two months have taught us many things. They have opened our eyes to the many gifts that are given on behalf of community and sustainable growth and how closely linked the success of these endeavors is to the individuals engaged in the process. We had the opportunity to be surprised, yet again, by one of those very individuals last week in Kenya.

We took a bucket list vacation to Kenya and the Masai Mara Reserve. Our safari driver and guide was Tom Ogilo. He was an amazing guide; very knowledgeable and informative about our surroundings, the wildlife, their environment and habits. But, when we had time to just sit and talk, what we discovered about Tom was that he is, at the very core, a benevolent entrepreneur.

Tom is a Luo from the small village of Abimbo in Kenya near the edge of Lake Victoria and the Tanzania and Uganda borders. His heart became entangled with the problems that arose from an epic AIDS crisis in his village. He saw a community that was deprived of whole families. A community filled with single Mothers and orphans. A community that needed a plan. Tom could have just lived in Nairobi and left this little town to it’s own devices. He chose instead to invest; his time, his intelligence, his business acumen AND his finances. He decided to invest in the sustainable growth of a community into a future that he sees as very hopeful.

Tom is building on the innate capacity of this community. They had come to depend on what the government provided them and he was determined to show them there was more to their future than that limited dependence. He sought to help them develop skills that could be used to provide for their needs and once the needs were met the surplus would ultimately provide a source for revenue that would sustain them. He has installed water systems that they can tap into, but they have to do that work themselves. He has purchased seeds for planting and developing an agriculture industry for them, but they have to do the work of planting, nurturing and harvesting. He is now looking into a press for turning seeds to oil using native grown nuts and seeds and producing again for their own sustenance and for a product to be sold. We have brought back that task with us; locating a press that he can purchase for the village.

The dictionary definition of entrepreneur is this: “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so”. No one asked Tom to do this, but he is compelled to make a difference for his people. To have them stand on their own and to have the children see a promising future. So you see how I would be drawn to the similarities. You are doing this in your pursuits for business every day through the work of Chambers of Commerce. It’s not for you, it’s for your people. You take risks, you have vision, you pursue development for the greater good, you work to empower others to take ownership of their destiny. You aren't that different from Tom, although your resources are far greater. In all my years in this business it is THIS that I am so fundamentally attached to. It is the need of people to make the world a better place by giving and working and always without seeking personal glorification and often with the knowledge that no one will even know it is we who started the movement in the first place!

We have decided to send Tom a contribution to help him reach his goals; to honor his efforts and to try to make a little passionate difference of our own. If you want to help us in some small way please let us know and we will connect you with Tom. Even a very small investment in the work he has started will go a long way toward the ultimate sustainability of this small community. And ultimately…….an investment in passionate, benevolent entrepreneurs is an investment in a bright future for the world.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015


My Mother will tell you that I was a ridiculously inquisitive child. The phone would ring, I would listen intently to her side of the conversation; the call would end and the inquisition would begin. A six year old Annette would say “Who was that? What did they want? Are you going to do it? Why?” Why, why, why. I always have to ask why, I always have, and that’s not going to change. Unless I know why then how can I possibly know what comes next?

If you aren't questioning things then do you really know what you believe or what’s behind your actions? If you can’t answer why then how can you expect others to understand and believe in you or what you do?

In business, in our personal lives, in our interactions with complete strangers. What motivates you, what do you believe what is the answer to your questions of why?

I am a huge fan of Simon Sinek and recommend his Start With Why to everyone. Sinek says “people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it!” If you don’t believe or understand your inspiration, motivation or need to do something then you can hardly expect anyone else to be eager to join you.

Before you begin a project.
Before you take on new volunteer work.
Before you make a significant life change.
Before you open a new business.
Before you enter a conversation with someone in the hope of engaging them with “what” you need, want or ask.
Before going into a meeting.
Before dealing with conflict or potential conflict.
Before walking out your front door to greet the new day.

Ask yourself why and make absolutely sure you can answer the question. Then when entering any of those situations listed above or others make sure that you can answer the question why with “because I……. or I believe……”.  If you can’t provide the answer then there is more work to do on your part.

One three letter word with incredible power. One three letter word that will make the difference in your ability to lead or to find resolution. One three letter word that will provide the foundation for you to really succeed.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Snowed Under?

I'm home today and like much of the country waiting for the snow storm. It's always been amazing to me that something so light and clean and beautiful can literally bring a community to a complete halt. It comes down slowly and delicately or swiftly and fiercely. I lived in Rochester, NY back in the day. I got up and went to class early one morning and when I got out of class my car was completely buried under snow. The southern girl in me was totally unprepared, no shovels or sand in the car, no experience dealing with suddenly being dumped with feet of snow. I panicked; I was literally snowed under and didn't know what to do. I figured it out of course and thinking about that experience today reminded me of what it feels like to be figuratively "snowed under". It is something we frequently experience and for which we are often unprepared. It may be from beautiful things in our life or fierce ones, but either way we are buried and looking for a way out from under the weight and burden of that storm. These circumstances can indeed bring us to a complete halt! So, if a storm comes your way and you are suddenly buried and unprepared there IS a way out. Stay warm with feelings of gratitude and the love in your life, look for the tools you need to dig through and remember that the world is still moving around you and the sun will indeed shine through and clear the remains of the storm.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Does Business Have a Heart??

It's the month of warm fuzzies. It's the month that all the cynics in the world soften up a little and "allow" us to be occasionally mushy. But I'm spending time this month not on the romantic notion of "heart" and not on the word "love" but on allied heart words like....


Is there room in the hard work world for these soft words?  Is it unrealistic to believe that a person who is driving a hard bargain, negotiating a huge deal, advocating for a major issue can also exhibit "heart" words?

Absolutely NOT!!

In fact, I think that creating a business culture that emphasizes these "heart" words would open up greater success, better member, employee and customer retention, smoother negotiations, new business, new opportunities.

I'm not suggesting you become weak, or unprofessional, or ineffective or a push-over. I'm just suggesting that if you have a "heart" the world becomes your oyster and your ROI will be many pearls!!

Come on lighten up........have a heart!!