You know the old game, you’ve probably seen it depicted in movies if you’ve never actually seen it in person. There’s typically 3 cups, sometimes 2, with a ball, nutshell, something under that gets moved around erratically hoping to catch you unaware in your betting of where the ball has ended up. I feel like in today’s world we are all just playing a big shell game. We’re all so busy, there’s so much technology, social media and just plain work to do that we’re always watching the right hand of the trickster just trying to stay afloat, forgetting that the left hand is moving too. One of the definitions I found for the game actually calls it a “confidence trick used to perpetuate fraud. A short-con because it is quick and easy to pull off.” This seemed to fit overwhelmingly with what I have observed of late.
I recently received a letter from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), an impressive document on heavy paper with a beautiful gold seal, the works. This letter informed me that I had been selected to join SHRM “because of your commitment to successful HR practices.” An honor, right? Of course this a great thing, SHRM exists across the country and its members carry a great deal of weight as concerns employment and human resource management. It would certainly be impressive to my Chamber members as well that their CEO was asked to join such a prestigious organization. I could do a Facebook post, a press release, I could really milk this “selection” for quite a while if I wanted to. For the low, low cost of $184 for the year (and I get a free tote bag!). It’s more panache to an already impressive track record of service to our members. So will we do it? Most likely. Will we completely blow the importance of the “honor” out of proportion….no.
I also asked a new professional in our community in the last year what the initials behind her name meant on the signature block of her professional, company email address. I get most of the common ones, but hers were unusual. I even Googled (cause who doesn’t?) to see what they meant and came up with zilch. So me being me, I just asked. Guess what they were? A certificate course that she had taken in college literally 10 years ago. Again, being me, I wondered aloud why someone would do this and could I seriously take a college certificate from that long ago and “make myself” into a Leah Poole, BSP because I took a class and received a certificate on Basic Social Policy a million years ago? I think I like it, please refer to me from hence forward as Leah Poole, CEO, BSP, the Princess (I added that last one, just making sure you’re keeping up, watching that ball under those cups, I am now royalty).
For me I take much more pride and value in the integrity of an award or honor that is given freely, without dollars exchanged in return for the benefits received. Having the Governor of the State of Georgia hand me an award for tourism leadership, being nominated by Rep Al Williams, carries much more value in my book. In fact at our offices for the Chamber/CVB we have so many of these I had a hard time rounding them all up. And these are just ones earned in the last 7 years.
And again frankly, while a lot of our honors are displayed a good many more are stuck in a cupboard in my office because instead of the ostentatious display that would produce, I much prefer the picture of a Sunbury sunset that hangs over the mantle in my office taken by local John Henderson with a mat signed by local business and community leaders (and my staff) celebrating my 5 year work anniversary. Because it’s the people that motivate me to continue to excel and it’s the people that I therefore must look to for affirmation of a job well done, not the volume of stuff we can hang on our walls.
My reward and true pleasure comes from talking to the 60 year old lady I spoke to for an hour on the phone Friday before last who remembered my name at the end of the conversation because in her words I had just “made her dream come true.” This caller wanted to start a business, had been told she was probably too old and had absolutely no clue how to even start the process. From business licensing to SCORE Counseling to how to choose a business name, she and I covered it all in that hour. We talked about the equipment she might need to purchase for her business, the license expenses, the insurance, the marketing costs, literally anything and everything you could think of. At the end of the hour long conversation my first thought wasn’t “damn it I’m so far behind because I’ve just walked this lady through something that was not my job” it was joy at the ability to help someone find their way in a complex system that is difficult for a 25 year old to navigate, let alone a 60 year old with no computer skills and little confidence. I made that happen. And I will be there for my new friend when she opens her business because officially a member or not she is not a part of our Chamber family.
My reward comes from knowing that Claudette Schomburg works tirelessly to keep our website calendar as up to date as possible, filtering in events from all over the county, doing what I think could be a full time job in and of itself some days, in addition to her other duties. So that people know what’s going on in their own backyard.
My reward comes from having Erin Johnson livestream the Liberty County GA Rock Hunters this past Friday morning as they hid rocks on our front lawn and knowing that this weekend families will enjoy the scavenger hunt of finding these colorful displays. And having the two ladies who came out to share with us say “thank you for what you do for kids.”
My reward comes from having Valerie Forrester take the time to go meet with a potential member who decides for whatever reason not to join, but she still helps the person set up a SCORE appointment for free small business counseling in our offices because she knows that member or not we want our local entrepreneurs to succeed.
My reward comes from having Mary Prince jump up from her desk to greet two little old ladies from Nashville who are out front swinging on our porch, learning about them, chatting with them about their visit to Liberty County, our gorgeous office and things they could go see while in town.
My reward comes from being able to tell you that the Department of Public Safety does not license funeral transport services, although they do license taxis. I know this because I spent 45 minutes bouncing between phone calls with a local government, Mr. Bacon who wants to start this business and the Dept of Public Safety. He had been to see a business license tech who was unable to help him further, an attorney who was also unable to assist and finally got to the Chamber when he was good and frustrated and deliriously confused. Ten phone calls later Mr. Bacon can now go to his local government and get his homebased business license and start his business. Is he a member of the Chamber…no. Did I mention membership…no. Why not? Because our “brand” is to help those that need it and when we need it reciprocated it somehow finds its way back to us. Mr. Bacon will remember the Chamber helped him, he’ll remember we were patient, kind and able to navigate a system that he was lost in. And maybe he’ll join and maybe he won’t, but at least he’s out there starting a new business and contributing.
As I am sure you can tell, I would not be good at the shell game. At least the part of being the trickster.
-Written by Leah Poole, CEO, Liberty County Chamber of Commerce/Liberty County Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Right Blend Blog is written by three different authors employed by the Liberty County Chamber/CVB. As we are able, we rotate weeks and each write about our individual experiences, opinions and let our writing reflect our personalities and creativity. All content provided on The Right Blend blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.