As I write this blog post I’m in the beautiful city of Raleigh, in the great state of North Carolina, attending the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) annual convention. Once a year professional chamber leaders descend on a different American city to whoop it up on behalf of chambers, learn how to be a better chamber leader, how to work with neighboring chambers and how to do a better job of helping their chamber members. And since 90% of the membership of the typical local chamber of commerce is small business, most of which have less than 25 employees, by extension, these folks are also whooping it up on behalf of my heroes, small business owners. Ergo, where else would I be?
Recently, in this blog and on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I’ve written and talked about my respect and admiration for local chambers of commerce. But when you see chamber professionals gaggled up in one setting, like an ACCE convention, you see what a supportive and motivating family they are to each other. From this vantage point, you can appreciate the dedication of these folks as they talk about their local issues and challenges, while launching or participating in initiatives that have a national impact. For example:
1. A national program to help chambers be more effective with social media so they can ultimately help their small business members with this hot topic.
2. A national initiative to help chambers help their members “go green.”
3. A national program to teach school children leadership skills based on a plan our friend, Stephen Covey, talks about in his new book, “The Leader in Me.”
While here, I’ve met chamber leaders from around the world, such as Vietnam, Cayman Islands and Norway; all with the same motivations and passion as their U.S. counterparts, and all encouraging relationships and trade between countries. When I talk with these people I think of the words of 19th century French economist, Frederick Bastiat, who said, “When goods cross borders, armies don’t!” The possibility of achieving a peace dividend is yet another reason to admire chamber leaders.
Recently, I’ve conducted several interviews with chamber leaders: Steve Millard, with the Cleveland, OH chamber (COSE), and I talked about the social media project. Harvey Schmitt, with Raleigh Chamber, and I talked about hosting the ACCE event. Aaron Nelson, Chapel Hill Chamber talked with me about the GreenPlus program. And I interviewed Wil Pineau, CEO of the Cayman Islands Chamber and Lars Legernes, with the Olso, Norway Chamber, about their countries. Take a few minutes to listen to these world-class leaders, and be sure to leave your own thoughts.
For Stephen Covey’s interview:
For Steve Millard’s interview:
For Harvey Schmitt’s interview:
For Aaron Nelson’s interview:
For Wil Pineau’s interview:
For Lars Legernes’ interview: