Monthly Archives: January 2018

Ask the right question, Get the right answers

The thing about asking questions is that you will get answers.  Not always the answers you are looking for, however.  My kids have taught me this precisely because their usual answer is “I don’t know”.  Why did you leave the toothpaste open?  Why didn’t you clear your plate after supper?  What were you thinking when you tried to ____? (paint the dogs toenails, create a twister with your spaghetti… You can fill in the blank!)  Kids have a fantastic way of keeping you grounded and in the moment.  I find that they are very literal.  And inquisitive.  Mostly because they are still learning about the world and the English language in all its intricacies.  My kids inspire me daily to stay focused on the here and now.  And to ask questions.

The trick is to ask the right question.  My new question to them is “what do you think I am going to say?”  It works famously!  I get their attention focused on the situation (example: the kitchen table) and ask, “what do you think I am going to say?”  Often there is no other words that I have to say, they know and fix the situation (example: clearing their plate) often with a grunt or a groan of course, but nonetheless, I got the right result

In my job, I enjoy asking questions and feel it is extremely important.  Why are we doing this?  Why are we doing it that way?  How can we partner?  What else can we do for our members?

Fourth quarter of 2017 as we were looking to update our strategic plan, we sent a survey to our membership and asked for feedback.  A good solid strategic focus for 2018 was determined by our staff and our board of directors out of that survey and additional member feedback.  It prompted us to start a new networking opportunity:  Network before 9!  We had our first meeting this morning at Gramma Sharon’s and we had a good turnout and even better connections.

Network Before Nine

We plan to continue this monthly – the 4th Tuesday of the month.  Our attendees got to make contacts, exchange cards, introduce themselves, their businesses and other things they are involved in and flat out just interact over coffee and caramel rolls.  Good old-fashioned face to face interaction.  What the Chamber does best – making connections happen.

I mentioned it at the meeting this morning but want to reiterate – the chamber is here for you, our members.  Any and all feedback is not only welcomed but requested and vital to our continuing to serve the business community.

So, some questions I have for you are:  What was the last Chamber event you attended?  If you haven’t attended any in a while, why not?  What can we add, change, or do differently that will help you?  What are your needs/frustrations?  What do you think the Chamber can do differently?

I cannot wait to hear some answers…

-Janna

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Mission & Meeting

Reflecting back to my first blog as Chamber President, I talked a lot about being excited and overwhelmed, which I suppose is appropriate for starting a new job.  A year and a half later, however, I still find myself excited and overwhelmed, only with a slightly different twist.  I am still excited to be working at the chamber, facilitating the programs and events that connect and engage our members.  I enjoy building those relationships in the community and connecting people.  As our area continues to grow, there are even more occasions to do so.  I am excited at the numerous and increasing opportunities to advocate and serve the business community.  Yet, I am still overwhelmed at the scope of this as more and more issues come across my desk.  I am overwhelmed at the generous volunteers and committee members, which give of their time and abilities which enable us to do so much more that would be impossible with just our small but dedicated staff.  As we prepare for our Annual Awards Banquet (in 10 DAYS!!), I wish we could give out more awards and recognize more people – we had over 28 nominations this year!  It is a testament to the quality of people living and working in this community.

Back in July of 2016 I wrote: “As I continue on the weeks ahead, I invite any and all feedback from our members…stop by, call or email me.  Keep an eye out for all the great things you are used to as well as the new things to come… I trust that I’ll continue to be excited and overwhelmed.”

True.  I always welcome feedback.  One of my biggest challenges is finding the time to meet with members.  There are still some I have not yet gotten the chance to visit.  I also titled the blog: Same mission.  Also true.  Our focus remains on our mission:  the Champion of the Williston Area United Business Community.  For over 110 years, the Chamber has been in the Williston area advocating for business interests, promoting prosperity for the businesses and likewise promoting the general welfare of the area.  One of the common misconceptions I have heard out there is that we are division of the city.  We of course have a very close working relationship with the city and county, however, at our core, the Chamber distinguishes itself in order to advocate for the businesses.  While often we have the same objective as the city, other times, we do not.  And likely, if something is impacting you, it is impacting others.  As a membership organization, the Chamber has a strong voice – it is the over 500 businesses united verses one person or business.  The Chamber is working on your behalf while you are working on your business.  We keep your interests near and dear to our heart and constantly work so that you don’t have to, especially alone.  We know how busy you are.

Reflecting on where we go from here, it is all about our focus.  The backbone of all that we do is our mission.  In 2018, our strategic focus, while tweaked a bit, continues to be focused on improving in a few key areas: Advocacy, programs and services, strategic partnerships, and organizational excellence.  Plan to attend our Annual Meeting on January 23rd to find out more.  And as always, please reach out – email, call or stop by!  We will continue to visit you, and of course, advocate for the united business community.

-Janna

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