So, here we are, just past the halfway point of my year as Chair of this great organization! As I get ready to head to Scotland for the inaugural PCMA Global Corporate Summit, the good news is that Johnnie White is saddling up to take over the reins, the bad news is that I have sorta gotten used to this and think I will miss (some of) it. I have met so many great people in the last six months and look forward to meeting many more, as the chapter visits start to pick up for the remainder of the year. As I meet and talk with people in our community the one thing that continues to surprise me is how many make reference to reading these blog posts. For every comment left, I receive at least three or four direct communications from people – some happy , some not so happy with what I have to say. That’s fine with me, as I really just want the community to talk, not necessarily to agree with me. I hope that future Chairs will continue to engage with you into the future.
Last month at the Education Conference I had the pleasure to meet quite a few planners that had never been to a PCMA event before, not even a chapter reception. I checked in with several of them throughout the time there and the consensus was that they were impressed with what we had to offer. I know we picked up some members by the end of the event, which pretty much says it all for me, as an association person. If you were with us in San Antonio you probably know that I couldn’t figure out where I was for a couple of days, as I continually made reference to being in San Diego from the stage. Talk about a mental block! My apologies to my good friend Cassandra Matej and the San Antonio CVB, who did an outstanding job! I am working on my U.S. geography for all future events – promise.
The Education Conference is the evolution of the Chapter Leadership Conference, which was all about growing leaders within chapters, had an attendance cap and had no cost associated with it to attend. I vividly remember being a new board member and discussing ideas on what that conference should become, while standing in the lobby of the Anatole Hotel in Dallas, where the event was taking place. To see the culmination of those discussions as the current Chair is something that signals the end of several journeys for me, both personally and professionally.
How far we have come as an organization and community since I was a new board member with PCMA is truly incredible. Of course the economy and technology have pushed us to become more and do more with what we have, but I have seen our entire community evolve into something much more professional and grown up than what it was when I escaped from hotel operations fifteen years ago. Then, most of us would have said that we just fell into this community; today, universities that offer industry related degrees have exponentially multiplied and students depart graduation committed to a career in our business. However, in my opinion, those of us that fell into what we do today have learned more through OJT than any university could ever teach.
How do we cultivate leaders today, vs. how it was done ten years ago? Is a degree in our business necessary to be a community leader and industry voice? From my perspective, my peers and other leaders saw something(s) more in me than I saw in myself, which has allowed me the opportunity of writing down my pearls of wisdom here! How do we keep that going? Being a leader in our business does not mean you need to be a board member, or that you have to serve on a committee, but it does mean that you have to be committed to what we do and have passion for what you do. It also means that you have to pay back the help you received on your journey, a sort of ‘pay it forward’ for people that need you to see more in them than they see in themselves. If that takes place, the volunteerism will naturally happen, as the need to be involved with something greater than oneself builds on itself.
Notice that throughout all of this I have not used the word mentoring, as I feel that there is some type of negative connotation around it. Who really wants to be mentored, coached, (insert favorite educating buzz word here) I believe that people, especially the generations we are talking about, would rather LEARN. So, I leave this installment with a plea to this great community to make the time to pass on what you know to someone that can use your knowledge to shape their own future. Who knows? You may end up learning more than you are passing on.