Every time I meet with my chamber president for breakfast, great podcast episodes result. The last breakfast with Steven Hunsberger produced Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable. Why should our August 2021 breakfast be any different? I was sharing with Steven my recent camping trip and the profound influence my phone has on me. He totally related when I said my goal was to simplify my life. I started the next part of the conversation with this. "Steven, I'm trying to do too much and I'm missing the simple things in life. And I really wasn't missing that much but I was convicted at camp. I got back and did my best to not return to where I was. I was changed and I wanted my life to reflect that change. All the things I thought were so important can all wait, my kids are growing up and they won't wait. It's what are the essential things I need to do to hit our goals but not steal from this valuable time with my kids? That's the question we should ask ourselves? What are the 80/20 opportunities in my life?" Steven loved this and wanted to apply that way of thinking to how he runs the chamber.
"Ken, how can we create more value for our members? How can we get more participation in this post-covid world?" My answer was reflective and originated from my time at camp with no phone, my son, and unlimited time on the lake with kayaks. I told Steven this. "I've had Lyme disease for 8 years. My bucket is overflowing with health stuff and my body and immune system has been overwhelmed. I haven't been operating at 100% for many years. It's been more like 60-80%. But I've been trying to carry a work load of 90% thinking that I'd have 10% margin. That's not reality. I've been overloading myself without realizing it. The constant need to ALWAYS have my phone connected is a huge percentage. I've had no margin in my life and this has slowly worn me down. I realized that I had to reverse course. I had to prioritize my health and get back to 100%. I had to look at my workload and start over with a blank sheet of paper or an empty bucket. This was the only way I could take the biggest rocks and fill the bucket until I reached my max level. It's a new approach and it's simple." Steven had little to say, except to nod in agreement. "Steven, Covid has worn us all down. Many of us in the business community are operating on less than 100% with disease, disorder, mental illness and we're also operating on no margin. Maybe we should come alongside people and see how they are doing and see how the chamber can support them gaining margin." He liked the direction I was going. Then I shared how this profound gift of camp and simplicity caused me to think like this. I turned over the table advertisement. The front was full of businesses. The back was all white space. I said. "What if we just turned over the page to be all white space. What would we allow back on and what would we do based on the knowledge and data we have?" This opened a great conversation on connecting with each member to see where the chamber's greatest value was. We even talked about moving the chamber into a service first, community service chamber not just serving the businesses, but the businesses taking the lead to serve the community. He thought this was awesome. This could be the piece that was missing. Then I used the following metaphor. "Remember the old tape deck. You have a tape in it that you're listening to. You have 5 buttons. Which do you press? Do you press play and do what you are doing and hope it works? Do you press rewind and go back to what you were doing before the pandemic and hope it works? Do you press fast forward to attempt futuristic things and move to a virtual chamber? Do you press stop/eject to remove the tape and put in a new tape? I proposed that the chamber use the 5th button that is the most underestimated one on the tape deck. Press pause and assess. Gather information and decide what is the best stuff to put on the clean white sheet of paper!"
I never thought I'd use a 80's tape deck metaphor, but this one landed big time with Steven. His final comment to me was this. "Ken, I feel like when I talk to you it's like drinking from a firehose." I think that's a compliment.
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