Some Thoughts to Embrace and Guide Us in 2021

Dave Kilby

Wow! What a year—2020 was whitewater times on steroids.

Time and time again we were reminded that we had no idea what was around the next bend. And even when we thought we knew the rules, government would change them or “move the goal posts” at a moment’s notice.

Unfortunately, I don’t see things slowing down or getting any more predictable any time soon.

Even with that reality facing us, it’s obvious that our work as chambers of commerce has NEVER been more important.

Maybe we (W.A.C.E.) were ahead of our time when we introduced the 3Cs in February 2017—but being a CATALYST for business growth, a CONVENER of leaders and influencers to get things done, and a CHAMPION for a thriving community has NEVER been more on point.

With the good (yes—there were some good things), the bad and the ugly of 2020 now (finally) in the rearview mirror, we MUST keep our eyes focused on what lies ahead. There will, undoubtedly, be more bumps in the road, but there will also be tremendous opportunities for us to truly make a difference.

This is our time to embrace “The Chamber Is…Courage, Community and Commitment.”

Words of Wisdom

Related to that theme, here are some thoughts from others that resonated, and which I will take with me into the new year:

“Advocacy is the differentiator. If you don’t have an advocacy program, I don’t see how you can remain relevant.” —J.P. Moery, President of The Moery Company.

“I used to say we are collaborative. Now I say that we are an unapologetic voice of business, actively working on our members’ behalf.” —Gail Zurek, ACE, President/CEO of the Visalia (CA) Chamber.

“Never let the Board (regarding membership) say NO for someone else. They could be projecting something they feel—their own stresses, situation and fears onto others.” —Kyle Sexton of ChamberThink Strategies.

“I’m asking you to not lose hope, because together we’re stronger. I’m asking you to step up to the plate with us and let’s be stronger together. 2021 may not bring exactly what we’re looking for, but we do know this—we have a choice. We are going to lead. We are going to lead with courage. We are going to lead with anticipation. We are going to lead with hope. Because again, together we are stronger.” —Kelly Hall, President/CEO of the Longview (TX) Chamber.

“We are one day closer to normalcy—or better yet—exceeding normal by reimagining improved methods to conduct business, more efficient, inspired ways to be productive, and creative approaches to growing our economy.” —John Brewer, President/CEO of the Billings (MT) Chamber.

“Earl Nightingale famously said, ‘we become what we think about.’ Looking back at 2020 and remembering what we were all thinking about leads me to believe we better start thinking more like Walt Disney when he said, ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’” —Brad Hicks, President/CEO of The Chamber of Medford & Jackson County (OR).

“How we treat each other determines the kind of community we live in, which determines the kind of country we live in, which determines the kind of world we live in. Being kind and doing good are among the most powerful tools we have. We need to use them.” —Chris Romer, ACE, President/CEO of the Vail Valley (CO) Partnership.

Stay safe; stay strong and let’s knock it out of the park in 2021!

Dave Kilby is president and CEO of W.A.C.E. and executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.