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Chamber Executive Article Archive

From The Chair: Our Responsibility - Relevance and Value

Timothy Sheehy, CCE

I violated one of Mick Fleming’s cardinal rules by using the R word in the headline of my first column as ACCE chairman. Mick scribbled over it with a flourish, reminding me that the R word can express perceived weakness that most chambers don’t have.

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I violated one of Mick Fleming's cardinal rules by using the R word in the headline of my first column as ACCE chairman. Mick scribbled over it with a flourish, reminding me that the R word can express perceived weakness that most chambers don't have.

I agree. The fact that chambers are valued—or essential— is underscored in this month's cover story spotlighting some amazing behind-the-scenes chamber work in disaster response and recovery.

Of course, disaster work is not your chamber's focus unless the unthinkable happens. The usual course of our business is smoother—and maybe too smooth if you lack laser focus on what your members want and need from your chamber. The same goes for ACCE and what you want from your association. If you think about what you want from ACCE, two words may come to mind (but neither starts with an R!): they are "fit" and "value."

We want ACCE to be the right fit for your career needs, at every stage, to help you do your job better. We want ACCE to be of value to the wellbeing of your chamber, to help you grow and make your organization more valuable—and ultimately essential—to your members and community.

Twenty-seven years ago, I took my first chamber job. Today I look back at the countless ways in which ACCE was invaluable to me in my career, and in helping build what our members view as an organization essential to their economic prosperity.

In my 17-year tenure as CEO in Milwaukee, we have easily made a six-figure investment in ACCE, a level of commitment asked only of the largest active members. Even in a challenging economy, ACCE is viewed as a strong investment in our future, not just an expense item. The sidebar conversations with peers outside of meetings, over a beer, or after a presentation kept me out of trouble, or more in the black, many times. I share this experience in hope that whether you're new to the chamber world, new in your role, or needing to recharge your battery, ACCE has something to offer. It is a lifetime guarantee I would stand by.

Value and the right fit come from ACCE though "brain picking" and best practice sharing, through our new on-line resource center, and from attending the convention and participating in peer councils and other virtual meetings. So if ACCE can do a lot for you, think about what you can do for ACCE.

At the core of ACCE's value proposition is the willingness of members to share their individual and collective experiences. It is a responsibility I hope you will join me in fulfilling over the next year.

Twenty-five years ago, and two years into the world of chambers, I was on my way to Institute in Bolder, Colo., with former ACCE Chairman John Duncan, my boss at the time. We stopped on the way to visit chambers he had run during his long career: Muskegon, Mich., Shenandoah and Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Broken Bow, Neb., (no stop lights). The long car ride was peppered with stories of his ACCE buddies. It was a trip back in time, reminiscing about old friends for John, a spark of insight into a future for me. I will never forget it, or John for his mentorship.

Today the chamber world is changed in many ways, but we will all be better prepared for those changes through the personal contact, as much as the programs, from ACCE. I look forward to serving our membership with Mick and his talented team.

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