100 One-Night Stands
21 hours in Finger Lakes. 19 hours in Grand Rapids. 24 hours in Ojai. 18 hours in Orlando. 20 hours in Hilton Head. Sorry I couldn't stay for the dancing!
My road trips since our convention in August have involved meetings with wonderful folks in great settings, but the proximity of ETA to ETD has begun to wear on this old road warrior. Arriving in time for sunset over Canandaigua Lake or the Pacific leaving the next day before lunch isn't exactly an ideal schedule. Many thanks to the McKinney Chamber and the chambers of North Texas for forgoing one such scheduled trip, thus allowing me to be in the hospital waiting room for the birth of my first grandchild. Lovely Lilah Catherine is out of NICU and beginning to add a few ounces, but she's still a wee little thing. Your prayers and good wishes for mother and child were answered.
Anyway, it's time to spend some extended quality time with ACCE volunteer leadership this week as the Board meets in Lexington for a couple of days, instead of a couple of hours. Discussions will range from global to local -- from party politics to party planning. It should be good. Debrief to all members on those discussions coming soon. Regular updates on Lilah too.
"I wish I was . . . homeward bound"
Though my friends (and the data) say Iím crazy, I still think Iím more likely to experience a flight cancellation or seriously delay in summer than in winter. Trip home from Michigan not going so well this afternoon, but Concourse D in Clevelandís airport is more comfy than most.
The actual visit I just finished in western MI was great. Breakfast session with nine chamber leaders, followed by podium appearance at the regional policy summit. As everyone knows, the most dangerous place in the world to stand is between Mick and a microphone.
Today was a bit of an exception because I had trouble adapting to such a diverse audience. Most of the time, this job calls for addressing chamber professionals, not ďcivilians.Ē It didnít kill me, so it must have made stronger, right?
What made the trip cool was witnessing the resilience and can-do attitude of the oft-battered Michigan gang. From Amway executives to insurance brokers, the company people I met were impressive and determined. From Muskegon to Kazoo to Saginaw, the chamber people find genuine reasons for hope. They also work to get/maintain every job. They also fight hard together at all levels of government to improve the business climate and investor appeal of their region and state.
In this, they are like the chamber people I meet all across the country . . . only more so. Congratulations, Jeannie Englehart on a great event and all yíall on MIís west coast for your indefatigable spirit. I think I will need similar character in order to get home tonight.
Everyone in the chamber world understands the excitement, work, stress and fear of failure when planning for a big event. When the climate in which such an event takes place is volatile, the apprehension is even greater. You also understand the feelings of accomplishment when the magic works -- when the buzz and feel of the event is like a family gathering. The largest meeting of chamber executives in the world took place in Milwaukee last week. Nothing like this is ever perfect, but it worked.
Big Week for ACCE
Nearly 1,000 people traveling to the ACCE family gathering in Milwuakee this week. We'll try to keep those of you attending satisfied with brats-- whatever they are! City scene there can help; downtown all walkable and cool. It's going to a great event, but Ihave to contantly remind myself and my staff that more members are unable to attend the annual meeting than can in a typical year. That's why we try so hard to ensure that the staff keeps up its contant with members across the country during pre-conference time.
If you're not taking the summer trip up to the eatern shore of Lake Michigan, holler out to me anyway this week; I'll get back to you somehow from the show. If you are coming to Muh-Wah-Kee this week, corner me in a hotel hallway for a chat. If you hadn't made plans either way, be spontaneous. We'll find you a room.
Deer Creek to Blowing Rock
Where will you meet great people in beautiful settings? In deep woods at the center of Ohio or among the hollers of northwestern North Carolina? Both.
The chambers in Ohio met last week in the wonderful lodge in Deer Creek State Park near Columbus and the Carolina execs traveled to the tops of the Blue Ridge for their annual meeting. With only a modest travel marathon, I managed to make both getherings.
Some of ACCE's best friends and mine filled the ranks of both meetings. Jordan, V'Soske, Sartelle, Millard, Nelson, Davis . . . the regular gangs were all there, but so were the new kids. Whether chamber virgins, aspirational sophomores or seasoned pros, they all asked the same questions: "What's happening 'out there'?" "What's working?" "Who's making money? How?"
Were my answers from the podium adequate? Doubtful. Was I motivated by the energy, courage and intellectual curiousity of these leaders of businesses and communities? Absolutely.
The sliver of a moon over Hickory and the clear bright sun through the hardwood branches in the Buckeye state had their own inspirational powers.
Happy Holiday to everyone on the Mick Met roster, as well as those tuning into my BLOG. Short story. Due to a weird set of circumstances, I was in Istanbul on the 4th of July in 2007. There was a party put on by the American consulate at her offices (fortress) during which I was talking to a group of local business people. One guy, who I was later told runs a huge international company, took the opportunity to tell me how much he loved the US, but how vehemently he hated the President. He held forth for a while and then said he felt it was the duty of any citizen -- "and especially someone in a position of power like you (I let that go), to try to overthrow a leader causing so much pain and embarrassment in the world and his own nation. In good conscience, you can't support that government." When he finally took a breath in his soliloquy I said: "Well, Sir, I am a patriot." It's probably the only time I ever will get to say that phrase and I sure don't want to spend another hour at a cocktail party explaining the baffling American system of executive branch succession. Looking back at it, it seems corny that I would say such a thing, but I meant the words on that Independence Day. As much as I openly groan about things going on in our country, I still do. Have a good holiday.
Happy Holiday to everyone on the Mick Met roster, as well as those tuning into my BLOG. Short story.
Due to a weird set of circumstances, I was in Istanbul on the 4th of July in 2007. There was a party put on by the American consulate at her offices (fortress) during which I was talking to a group of local business people. One guy, who I was later told runs a huge international company, took the opportunity to tell me how much he loved the US, but how vehemently he hated the President. He held forth for a while and then said he felt it was the duty of any citizen -- "and especially someone in a position of power like you (I let that go), to try to overthrow a leader causing so much pain and embarrassment in the world and his own nation. In good conscience, you can't support that government." When he finally took a breath in his soliloquy I said: "Well, Sir, I am a patriot." It's probably the only time I ever will get to say that phrase and I sure don't want to spend another hour at a cocktail party explaining the baffling American system of executive branch succession. Looking back at it, it seems corny that I would say such a thing, but I meant the words on that Independence Day. As much as I openly groan about things going on in our country, I still do. Have a good holiday.
After a week off the road, I'm off to CT at the end of this week. While the trip is not to Hartford, I hope to see how our friend and board member (on leave) Oz Griebel is doing in his bid to become Governor. He's giving it a good run for the Republican nomination. Go Oz!
There was a story in the Washington Post today about the "unthinkable" becoming almost-routine reality in recent years -- monster earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods of biblical proportions, scandals involving iconic political, sports and entertainment "heroes," state deficits unmendable and, of course man-made disasters so terrible that the impact (short- and long-term seems nearly nuclear. Unthinkable political alliances. Unthinkable corporate mergers of competitors. Unthinkable swings in Wall Street fortunes. The loss of an unthinkably large chamber sponsor. Unthinkable global interconnectivity causing every unthinkable thing in every place to be OUR thing.
When I get to CT for my visit, just as during my recent meetings in Texas, Georgia, California and Kansas, I expect to find the audience questions and side conversations to be focused not only on these mega matters, but also on the crises people in one region and each town are facing. Mostly, I expect to hear how they're handling them. That's what chamber people do -- they handle it. Whatever it is, they deal with it the best they possibly can for their members and communities. They (you) don't get to gasp and feel your belly drop out from under you when you hear about these unthinkable things. You've got work to do. Unthinkable? Nah!
You're not in Kansas -- No, not THAT Albany
Okay, spending most of two days in Lawrence makes the saying "blue dot in a red state" make sense. When wandering through one of this prototypical college towns in America, the feel is more like Berkeley and Ithaca than it is like towns in the rest of Kansas. A couple of times, following gaggles of students in jeans and T-shirts along the sidewalk, I had terrible bouts of deja vous, or was it a pharmaceutical flashback?
After having spent 15 years working in Albany, NY, I didn't know what I would expect in Albany, GA. Trip proved interesting and rewarding. Both cities have a river and near proximity to pristine country-side -- that's pretty much where the similarities end. The chambers in both towns actually share a lot: programming, priorities, volunteer engagement level, CEOs with New England roots, talented teams and "interesting" relationships with elected officials. Thanks for the hospitality Catherine and Wendy!
Memorial Day 2010
Holiday greetings to everyone on the "MickMet" roster, as well as those viewing my blog. To newbies and long-time pals, have a great Memorial Day weekend! After the rollercoaster we've been on the last five (19?) months, you deserve a long weekend.
This is now the ninth consecutive Memorial Day that I have felt compelled to send a wartime Memorial Day message. Living in northern VA, with so many neighbors in uniform, some in harm's way, we know that new heroes are at work around the world today who would just as soon not be part of a future Arlington ceremony.
Maybe as you're grabbing a kielbasa off the grill or a MGD out of the cooler you'll think of some young lady in a funny looking jacket driving along a hot street in Kandahar this weekend, or a former cornerback on the local team breathing stale air in a sub off the coast of Korea. Maybe you'll wonder about the newly re-assigned reservists joining a long thin line along our border, or those who are plying USCG cruisers through an oil slick the size of Maryland. That's all they want Ö to know we think of them from time to time.
Be safe. Be well. Be good. Onward.
The moose says you're closed . . .
"The moose says you're closed. I say you're open." A little confession: Those immortal(?) words, spoken near the conclusion of the original "Vacation," have been my secret inspiration throughout my professional life. Listening to the wonderful conversation during the ACCE board meeting in Salt Lake City last week, I realized that Chevy Chase's determination as the comically heroic Clark Griswold is actually shared by chamber people everywhere. They face the gates and walls of pessimism in their regions each day, but like me and the goofy family in the National Lampoon classic, they're determined to get into the park and ride the damned roller coaster.