Friday, September 13, 2013

The Final Chapter

"Experience is the best teacher of all.  And for that, there are no guarantees that one will become an artist.  Only the journey matters."
- Harry Callahan
Good Day EWI!
Well, this will be last blog for the year, and what a year it has been!  The journey I have taken as your 2012-2013 Corporate President has been a true blessing and joy in my life!  I cannot thank those that walked beside me enough!  Ronwyn, Darlene, Benita, Cindy, Cortney, Mary Helen, Lisa and Wendy have all been an incredible inspiration to me...your support has made it such an easy role to fulfill!
When we started this year I gave each of our Chairs a key chain as I truly felt they would be the "keys to our success" and I was not wrong!  The work these caring women undertook with their Vice Chairs and Committee Members was astounding!  You are the true heroes ladies!  My deepest gratitude to Pat Evans, Darlene Banogon, Carolyn Woodmansee, Kerry Feltenberg, Darlis Vauble, Jenni Burns, Jeanette Davis, Kim Fankhauser!  Additional heartfelt thanks to Lisa Stokes as Nominating Chair and Nancy Harrison as Credentials Chair.
I would also like to thank the staff members for their unwavering commitment to EWI!  Brittany, Kim, Bonny and Ashley - thank you for all that you do for EWI!
My deepest hope in undertaking this weekly blog was that through this exercise, I might inspire other members of EWI to read it and think to themselves, "I can do that too!"
As our great Founder Lucille Johnson Perkins and the first Board of Directors said so eloquently in our Chartering documents, "She profits best who serves most."  To me, that is the golden nugget of EWI.  For without stepping into servant leadership you are missing out on the greatest learning tool available through your membership. The lessons and skills that I have learnt throughout my time with EWI have been some of the most rewarding lessons in my life.  Is it a time requirement?  Absolutely.  However nothing worthwhile comes without dedicating your attention to it.
Heading into the final 48 hours before I fly to San Diego, I am sure my time will be looking like yours...trying to pack, manicure/pedicure, banking, etc.  As I count down the hours I will also be thinking of all the members I will be seeing next week as we celebrate our 75th Anniversary at LCAM!  I am very excited to head into this final week of my Presidency because it is a week dedicated solely to EWI and its members.  I cannot wait to spend this time with 355 other EWI member representatives!
For those of you not attending, I know you will be with us in spirit.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support this year!  I have never been so proud of being a part of EWI as I have been this year.  Thank you for the honor of serving as your Corporate President!
Keep the faith and please... continue to 20 Mile March!
Over and out.
- K

Friday, September 6, 2013

International Literacy Day

"To be a leader, you must be a reader!"
- Executive Women International
Good Day EWI!
Sunday, the 08th of September is International Literacy Day!  What a wonderful "day" to truly celebrate!
A friend just asked me why literacy is so important to EWI and I replied with our mantra that "to be a leader, you need to be a reader".  What a powerful slogan that is!
In visiting the UNESCO website about this special designated day, I read with interest the message from Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Literacy Day.  She says,
"Literacy is a basic right and an essential motor for human development.  It paves the way to autonomy, the acquisition of skills, cultural expression and full participation in society.  Literacy is much more than an educational priority - it is the ultimate investment in the future and the first step towards all the new forms of literacy required in the twenty-first century.  We wish to see a century where every child is able to read and to use this skill to gain autonomy.  On this International Literacy Day, we call on governments to work together to achieve this dream.  The progress made in recent years shows that this is possible, and UNESCO is committed to doing all that it can to make it happen."
The UNESCO website also quotes the following stats I thought I would share with you today:
  • 774M adults are illiterate, 2/3 of which are women (493M)
  • 123M youth (age 15-24) are illiterate, 2/3 of which are female (76M)
  • Of those 76M young girls, 54M of them live in just 9 countries with India having over 50% of them!  27M young girls in India cannot read or write

What about the children?  While visiting UNESCO's site I also enjoyed an interview from Wednesday with Room to Read.  The Founder of which, John Wood, is our keynote at LCAM on our own "EWI Foundation Literacy Day"!  Room to Read was the laureate of the UNESCO 2011 Confucius Prize for Literacy.
In the interview Room to Read states that, "There are currently 250M children of primary age who cannot read or write.  Literacy is the foundation for all future learning and we need to work hard to ensure these children are not shortchanged for the entirety of their education.  Room to Read's vision is for all children - no matter where they are born - to have access to a safe, effective school that can provide them with trained teachers and the tools need to develop literacy skills and a habit of independent reading."
I am so excited to hear John speak on Friday of LCAM week!  If that were not enough, we also get to hear from Inocente, Mark Shriver and Alaina Podmorrow that day!  WOW!  I sure hope you are coming to LCAM to help us celebrate our 75th Anniversary with this special day dedicated to Literacy!
In closing, my wish for all of you is to have some quiet time on Sunday with a book, or grab a youngster and sit down to read to them and share this incredible gift of literacy we have all been so blessed with just by virtue of where we were born.
Have a wonderful weekend reading!
- K

Friday, August 30, 2013

Be Prepared!

"To achieve great things, two things are needed:  a plan and not quite enough time!"
- Leonard Bernstein
Good Day EWI!
Well, I am not sure about the rest of you, but my pre-LCAM to-do list seems to be getting longer, not shorter!  I am very thankful a long weekend is ahead with no commitments other than me and "my list!"
Please note, I am not complaining, just really in awe of all our Past Corporate President's who have gone through this process before me!  There are so many minute details as you can all imagine, and role is so insignificant in the planning department vs. our staff's.  A huge thank you to Wendy and her team for keeping me on point and for always making this seem effortless to those of us who attend!
I want to make sure though that you, the attendee are also well-prepared for LCAM!  If you are attending you too have a long list I am sure!  If the following points have not yet made it to your list, you may want to add them now:
  • Do you have your 1930's hat/outfit lined up for the Opening Reception?  Remember when choosing your attire that this event is being held outdoors.
  • Does your Chapter have their stamps or stickers prepared for the Passports?  This was really fun last year so we have brought it back again!
  • Have you ordered the corsage for your President and any VIP's from the Chapter for the Saturday Gala event?  There is a special discount for corsages with our official florist and they will deliver them to the hotel, as usual.
  • Have you booked your ticket for the tour/dinner cruise on Thursday night?
  • Have you booked for any of the special tours of San Diego being offered?
  • Have you ordered a pin for your outgoing or incoming President?
  • Do you have a budget in mind for the purchase of any EWI board installation gifts you might buy?  Speaker gifts for the year?
  • Have you jotted down some burning questions/challenges you have that you want to bounce off other members/Chapters?
  • Have you got any great success stories/best practices to share with others at LCAM?
  • Do you have a list of people you want to connect or re-connect with?
  • Has your Chapter made plans for the Friday night?
  • Have you familiarized yourself with the Annual Meeting materials?
  • Have you discussed the materials with your fellow Chapter members?
Being prepared to make informed decisions at the Annual Meeting is critical for the organization.  The Annual meeting is the primary purpose for our conference, so if you are serving as your Chapter's delegate, please come prepared.  We will be dedicating Thursday afternoon to our Town Hall session, followed by the Delegate session.  Both sessions are avenues to ask questions of the Corporate Board and staff about our current state, about our future and of course about the agenda items for the Annual Meeting.
I am really looking forward to celebrating this special LCAM in honor of our 75th Anniversary with you!  In just three weeks time we will be well into convention week, making new friends, reacquainting ourselves with other members and hopefully, enjoying a wonderful week of fellowship!
Until then, keep ticking off those items on your list, whatever they may be!  It will be here before we know it!
Have a wonderful long weekend everyone!
- K

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Silver Linings

"We'll be friends forever, won't we Pooh?" asked Piglet.  "Even longer," Pooh answered.
- A.A.Milne
Good Day EWI!
Well, yet again, my Friday seemed to get away from me, so I am penning this early Saturday morning before I head north to Edmonton to watch the LPGA's CN Open for the weekend with my dear friend and our Corporate Advisor, Lisa Stokes, who is visiting this weekend.  Our agenda is all about golf this weekend; a round at my home course yesterday with our Calgary Chapter President Jacquie Stephens, the LPGA today and then representing EWI on Monday in a celebrity charity tournament for our local Children's Hospital.  We were blessed to have a team in EWI's name donated to us and we will be playing in this National Canadian women's tournament that hall-of-famer Sandra Post organizes each year.  Lisa, Jacquie and I are all very grateful and excited for this opportunity. 
On top of all this, of course, is the chance to spend some quality time together reflecting on this past year, sharing our dreams and laughter too.  Like is so often the case in EWI, it is the relationships we form with one another that keep us engaged and provide that priceless value inherent with membership. 
Whether it be friendships formed through Chapter meetings, Chapter board or committee work, Corporate board service or at LCAM, there is an invisible thread that binds us together in one common shared purpose...EWI!
Quite often, when I am asked to describe EWI, I use the analogy that membership is like belonging to a have a group of women for life that you know you can count on to support you through times of joy or sorrow, encourage you to succeed in whatever goals you set and hold your hand when the road gets bumpy.  As I said, that is a priceless benefit of EWI. 
Finding true friends is one of the hardest things in life to accomplish and how blessed are we all that we have an avenue to do so through this great organization?
LCAM is now just three weeks away!  I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by!  As we enter into these final weeks, we are busy at both the Chapter and Corporate level, preparing to hand the baton to the next group of leaders stepping up to the plate to assume our responsibilities.  I know this can be bitter sweet but it is the start of entering into that third stage of Learn, Lead and Mentor...mentoring. 
As I have said before, mentoring is probably the most critical piece and a huge responsibility.  Share what you know gladly and without reservation as it will only make us stronger.  Like the goose video I played last year at LCAM, it is now time to fall back in line and let another set the course...however that course cannot be reached unless you stay engaged by providing added encouragement.  Geese do this by honking.  We can best do this by cheering on those who will now lead, with our true respect for their servant leadership.  Remember, we want to empower others for positive change...not only in themselves but also in what is best for EWI!
I wish all of you a wonderful weekend as we wind down summer! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ready, set, GO!


"The future depends on what you do today."
- Mahatma Gandhi 
Good Day EWI!
My apologies for writing this a day late everyone!  After a wonderful trip last weekend to my families cottages, I returned to a week of technical madness which was not  resolved until last night, with just a few more wrinkles to iron out next week.  Not being one for dipping my toe into things, I went all out and moved to a new Android phone along with a new Ultrabook laptop with all the latest programs on it....touchscreen via Windows 8, Office 2013, etc.  Shaking it up completely!
You see, the reason I had this mess to deal with and had no choice but to jump into a new learning curve, is that I was clinging to the past with Office 2003.  Un-beknownst to me, 2003 is not compatible with Office 365, our companies new server system.  Not a fun experience when you suddenly have 14K emails trying to download into your inbox!  I was so adamant when I got my last laptop with Vista to hold on to my "old and familiar" Excel and Word.  Now that I have the new versions, I am not sure what I was so scared of, other than the change itself?
Amidst all this chaos this week, I was SO heartened to receive an email back from the Chapter President we had a board to board call with last week.  As I reported last week, they are struggling with <25 firms and were looking for suggestions and strategies of how to get back on track.
In her email to us this week, she shared that her board had a special meeting and implemented many new changes.  They hit the proverbial "Go" button with strategies laid out to:
  • Use some of their reserve funds to invest in their Chapter's future by sending a second representative to LCAM.
  • Eliminated their Fundraising Director role and voted to just proceed with two long standing initiatives;  poinsettia and spring flower sales which is handled by one of their member firms.  Reps just need to place their orders.  Combined this raises about $2K for them which they will use for their scholarships. Simple and effective!
  • Increase their membership by 50% next year through improvements to their website and social media presence, targeting new businesses from the list that Corporate forwarded for their area, involving their Executives through Connect interviews, meeting attendance, guest speaker engagements, etc.  They are also going to revamp their Connect to meet the current standards and most importantly, ensure their monthly programming focuses on one of our 3 C's.
  • A move to accept credit cards for meeting fees.
Talk about change!  Kudos to her and her board for making the decision to refocus their efforts, simplify and move forward!  I cannot wait to see the outcomes!
We also had another change to deal with this week in one of our LCAM speakers, LeVar Burton having to cancel.  He unfortunately has to be on set for filming that day now.  However, being a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, I am SO happy that we have been able to confirm Mark Shriver as the replacement!  Mark, like all the Shrivers and Kennedys, is very focused on giving back.  He acts as a VP for Save the Children U.S. and will speaking to us on domestic literacy issues.  Very exciting!
Next week is a busy EWI one for me.  Monday we have our Chapter's annual Charity Connect Classic golf tournament which is always a fun day.  Tuesday is the call with Delegates to review the proposed Bylaw amendments and Operating Budget for 2013-2014.  If you are a delegate and unable to make the call, or have any questions about any of the materials for Annual Meeting, pleas do not hesitate to reach out to any of the board members or staff.  We are more than happy to hear from any member that has any questions!  Wednesday is our board meeting, so as I said, a very busy EWI week ahead.
In closing, I encourage you to embrace change and hit the "Go" button in your world too!
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mentoring Matters

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."
- Benjamin Franklin

Good Day EWI!
I am penning this a day early as tomorrow I am off to my family's cottage for a relaxing weekend with loved ones.  I am nervous though, as it will be our dog Emma's first flight on a plane and since she is now three years old, I am not sure how she will do.  Please send me your thoughts and prayers for a quiet and smooth hour-long flight!
Tonight, I had the pleasure of participating in a board to board call with one of our Chapter's who are currently with <25 member firms. The issues and predicament they are in was all too familiar.  As always though, what was heartening was to hear the pride and commitment these board members have to their Chapter and to EWI, as a whole.
Sadly, I fear we have become an organization of fund-raisers.  On the call, my corporate board colleagues, our ED/COO and I shared some winning strategies that we have been seeing utilized by other Chapters to simplify and refocus on recruitment.  It was a mentoring session at its best, and as with any mentoring relationship, there were things to be learned by each party.  Sharing with a true intention of listening is such an amazing exercise!

We spoke of retention strategies for brand new member representatives and one of the most compelling acts of engagement you can undertake is to assign a seasoned mentor to that shiny, new, and perhaps young, member representative.  The simple act of calling someone up and asking if they are going to the meeting, or asking if they need a ride can go a long way to establishing engagement.  As Director Mary Helen Johnston shared, the best thing we can do after a meeting is to phone those members who did not attend and say, "We missed you tonight!"

One of the best practices that I have witnessed the success of is wherein Chapters set aside operating funds to offer a grant to member representatives to attend LCAM.  EWI of Chattanooga has done this successfully for years and attributes this very activity to their ultimate success in growing their Chapter.   This particular Chapter we spoke with tonight, while having only 22 member firms, has over $40K in their operating account.  What on earth for?

Yes, a nest egg is nice to have but perhaps $10K would suffice?  A general rule of thumb is to have at least one full year's expenses covered.  Given this relative healthy state, we encouraged them to make the investment in their Chapter by sending not one, but two representatives to Leadership Caucus and LCAM...preferably one of their newer members who has not been before.  I hope that happens as there is nothing more invigorating for us as members than to attend that glorious week in September when we gather and mentor one another;  Member to Member, Chapter to Chapter.

The other message we tend to impart in conversations such as this is to encourage the Chapters who are struggling to cease fundraising activities, or at least scale back so that the work is not too onerous on those few member representatives they do have.  There is nothing that will kill a Chapter faster than the "Eco-Board" syndrome...having not enough hands to serve and thus burning out those that do, over and over again.

We must all remember the phrase my Chapter uses to describe the role of an EWI member... "Learn, Lead and Mentor"....the most important of which, for the greater good of all, is mentoring.  Share the knowledge and passion you have for EWI with someone sitting next to you!  Guaranteed, you will learn from the experience too!

We must also make sure we are focusing our priorities on the 3 C's of EWI; Connections, Careers and Community, in that order!  Especially if we are struggling with a lack of member firms.  Recruitment is every one's responsibility, not just the R&R Director's.  So, in keeping with the last few is this month's challenge...invite at least one guest to your August meeting, introduce them, thank them and then follow up with them.

Before I close I want to send a special thank you to all the Chapter Presidents who took the time to attend the Open Forum call on Wednesday. I sincerely appreciate your ongoing engagement, support and dedicated service.

It is hard to believe that LCAM is just five short weeks away!  Have you found your special 1930's hat yet for the opening reception?  I wish you lots of fun shopping for that!

Have a marvelous weekend everyone!
- K

Friday, August 2, 2013

Patience Is A Virtue

"It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop."

- Confucius
Good Day EWI!
First and foremost today I want to thank all of you who responded to my call to action and birthday wish to increase the "Likes" of our Corporate Face book page!  While we did not crack 1000, or the modified 600 I asked for by the end of July, we did break 500!  That in itself is huge gain, so thank you to all who participated!  Our webmaster Bonny Steele and the office staff work so hard to post relevant and newsworthy items of interest on that page and I know they will be heartened by the increase.
Speaking of numbers, I owe a huge thank you to all of you who read this blog!  We have had over 4700 page views of the blog site!  WOW!  I am amazed!  Thank you to all of you who take the time to visit the site.  I am sure that by the end of my term it will have surpassed 5000 views.
We also had great engagement with the recruitment campaign which ended on Wednesday.  Thank you SO much to all of you whom referred a new member to EWI!  I am sure the winner of the LCAM trip will be announced in the Connect due next Wednesday, August 07th.  It will be exciting to see the winner's name, but congratulations to all of you who were entered.  Your efforts are propelling your Chapter and this organization forward!
If you were thinking of attending LCAM, now is the time to register!  Our room block is gone in a couple of weeks and the registration fee goes up after the 12th of August.  Don't hesitate!  I know of two members who I chatted with this week that were thinking of going but needed a room mate.  If you are in that situation, just let the office or a board member know and we will try to match you up with someone, if at all possible. 
Well, I got the BEST birthday gift ever on Monday in the form of an email from our Attorney.  He had received notification from the Attorney Generals office of Utah that charges have been laid against our former Executive Director.  Good things do come to those that are patient and persevere!  When the board made the decision to pursue all legal avenues, we did so knowing it would take time and money to see it through.  What propelled us though was that we felt we could not allow any other non-profit to be a potential "next" victim.  I am thrilled to see that decision proved to have been the correct one.
The perseverance required to see a goal through to completion is often difficult, but it does make the success all that much sweeter.  We must persevere in our "20 Mile Marching" and grow our organization.  I look forward to celebrating 5,000 engaged members one day, as I know you do.  One step at a time and as this quote says above...never stop!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
- K