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Posts Tagged ‘Chamber of Commerce’

The Future Of Business – The Chamber Of Commerce & The Tribe

Most of us have routines, I have a regular habit of stopping into the same place for my morning coffee, no it’s not Starbucks or Tim Horton’s. It’s the Roasted Grape, the coffee is amazing and the food is even better. People think I own the place I’m there so often, or have shares in the business….I don’t.

One morning I stopped in for coffee, there was a networking group meeting at the time, I knew at least half of the people there. I sat off to the side drinking my coffee when I heard my name, they asked me to join them, I asked…are you sure? I know me, I’ll talk if you give me the floor : )

After the session was over, a number of people approached me to chat, that’s why we go to these types of events right? I tend to ask more question when I sit at these round tables, mostly to make people think, because that’s what I do. Much of my work is reviewing business plans, asking a thousand questions, consulting, and public speaking. Sometimes, 4 – 5 times a year I will hold a workshop on the future of business – the open and free business model.

After chatting with a number of people, I posed the concept of, I think your local Chamber of Commerce should adopt the Tribe Model. I was asked the big question of course, what would that would that look like to you? I had to stop myself, I didn’t want to just blurt out a bunch of thoughts without actually thinking it through more. I’m not even sure I have it clear in my head right now, but I want to get it down and ask you what you think of the idea?

The biggest difference between a tribe and a community is….PASSION! The leaders and the members of the tribe have a high level of passion for something, it could be anything, as long as it benefits the tribe. It could even be a cause. Communities are more of a “gathering place”, they’re kind of stagnant and are formed from common interests of community members, or the squeaky wheels. Great tribes are always in motion, communities are not, they tend to be pretty static and have a hierarchy that operates from the top down.

Communities are like churches to me, they think in terms of programs and projects rather than being in a constant state of flux. Flux merely means flow, and that flow is always forward thinking.

We should look for tribes within communities, but don’t assume the community is a tribe. Great tribes tend to be formed by people with expertise, desire and passion, but don’t put to much emphasis on expertise.

These are a few initial thoughts, it’s very high level, but you know who the people are within your communities that are passionate about something in the business community. The Chamber should let these passionate people build, rather than try to control them. But that would mean chaos, and very few are willing to let chaos happen, why, it feels to out of control.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this concept, or your ideas on how your local chamber could adopt a more open and free model, one where the members are in a constant state of flux. It would mean a radical new way of thinking about chamber.

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Searching, Seeking And Belonging

We all have this in common, we all are searching for something but we don’t know what it is. We all are seeking something, and we don’t know what that is either. And in the end, we all want to belong to something. Does this sound like you?

SEARCHING

We are never really clear on what it is we are searching for, we give it a name though, we call it happiness. Some of us will go for days, months, years, and even a lifetime searching for this unknown feeling we have. This feeling is like a call to nowhere, we hear a howling wind calling us, so we follow the howling wind only to find ourselves right where we were when we heard it. We go in circles.

Some of us think this search is about our jobs, our homes, our cars, our friends, and even our spouses. The truth is, when you make those changes, you are usually exchanging one set of problems for another. But that’s the way life is right? We have this emptiness inside each one of us, you describe it differently each time, but it’s the same void we keep trying to fill with things that make us feel good. That’s one of the gravities of human behaviour, we like to feel good all the time, so we search for that which gives us that emotion.

We are searching for the wrong thing, we all are spiritual beings, we are searching to fill a spiritual void! There is nothing you and I can buy that will fill that void, I know, I’ve tried. We do the same thing with our businesses, we think we can buy, trick and cheat our way into making huge sums of money just to be called a success. That’s not going to fill the void you feel every waking minute of your life.

SEEKING

Seeking is not much different than searching, except it’s deeply personal. Here you feel your searching has failed you, and now you are seeking because you are hurting at a much deeper level. The void feels even more empty, and bigger, to the point at times, you feel actual depression. This seeking takes on many looks, it shows up when you unexpectedly lose your job, your spouse, a child, and even your home or business, it runs deep.

We continue to live like we can buy our way out of it, you can’t, you have to work your way through it. You truly have to look in the mirror and admit you are out of control, you really don’t have a clue, a clue of the big picture, why you are here, and what your purpose is for living. You do have a purpose, you do have a role to play, you do matter, and your voice needs to be heard. But more importantly, you have to listen, and that’s where we as people get it wrong.

There is a spiritual voice calling to you, talking to you, but you can’t hear it, because you don’t know how to listen for it. You see, each one of us was created and designed for a purpose, a plan was designed for us, but the only way to understand what those are, you have to listen and admit your destiny is not in your hands. We all ask the same question to, what am I supposed to do with my life? I can’t tell you what that is, but this I can tell you, when you do what you were created and designed to do, you make the world a better place. You don’t make the world a better place because you made money from it, you make money because you helped other people. if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll probably be OK.

Your business has the same problem, who decides if your business is successful financially? You? If your product or service truly solves a problem, your customers will decide for you, after all, they are the ones with the money. You can follow a system like a franchise, but in the end, the product or service has to useful, it has to solve a problem, or that system fails. Your business has to help people, not always sell people something.

We all seek to be liked, loved, and important. We tend to seek it from other people, therefore, we need to be validated, given permission, or wait to be picked. That system is why we hurt more often than we don’t. What we seek doesn’t come from people, we just think it does.

BELONGING

Another gravity of human behaviour, we crave to be accepted, to belong. I don’t have to say much here because we all like to be a part of something larger than our selves, to be in a tribe if you will. We want to be where people are, do what they do, and feel useful within that environment. We sometimes think we will find what we are searching and seeking for in these groups or tribes. You might find something, but you won’t fill the void here either, unless you all understand that you are seeking something spiritually, and not physically, something way bigger than you & I.

If you need more evidence that we need to belong to something, just look at the industrial age system, why do we have a Chamber Of Commerce, or hundreds of thousands of non-profit organisations. They all have something in common, they all try to build tribes, pull like-minded people together for a cause. So admit that you are in these groups, but not for them, for you! You need it, those organisations will and can survive without you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t belong to any of these groups, I’m saying, admit the truth as to why you are involved. The truth shall set you free, it always has.

Searching, seeking and belonging feels different for each one of us, but yet it’s the same for all of us. We all want the same things, we just go about it differently. I’m no different than you, I have to admit the truth, the truth about my motives, how I feel, and why I do what I do, even if I don’t make money from it. Money is not the answer, it’s a tool, we all need it, but our purpose, our role, and our happiness does not come from having lots of it. If money is your motivation, you will eventually tell an untruth, you will eventually stop caring about people, you will only end up caring about yourself.

So, amongst all the searching, the seeking, and the belonging, listen to your spiritual voice, it will tell you what to do, and where to go. I challenge you to join me on this journey together, one where we together make the world a better place, we will go on a faith walk to figure out what we were meant to do with our lives. The future of business, no, the future of your business is at stake, are you up for it?

Get started by signing up for my updates (on the right side bar), you’ll be able to download my 1st attempt at writing a book, and you will be the first to hear about my new venture, one where you may discover how to be free and make a living.

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Businesses Need To Grow Up!

I don’t get all in a flap very often but, while driving into Vancouver one morning I was listening to CBC Radio, I’m not sure who the host was but it was during Rick Cluff’s time slot. The interview was with the Executive Director of the Coquitlam Chamber of Commerce, the discussion was about all the construction parallel to United Blvd. How the new Port Mann Bridge and the freeway construction was hurting business on the boulevard. Now I’m not sure what prompted the host of the show to suggest this but it got me, he asked the Executive Director of the Chamber if the government was going to bail these businesses out or help them out in some way. Say WHAT!

Why is it that everyone believes the government should give people money when most of the businesses could have done something to at least minimize the damage. Hell, I’m certain these businesses in question knew for months if not years this construction was coming, that it was going to happen. The perception now is that they did nothing to prepare, they figured we’ll wait and see how it goes, and if it doesn’t go well, we will put pressure on the government to give us money. I can with all certainty tell you that the future of business will not tolerate this model, in fact, this entitlement thinking will keep our country broke and even bankrupt if allowed to continue.

I would love to know what crazy ideas came to the table behind the closed doors of these businesses, to help get through the next 12 weeks, how many ideas were shutdown and squashed due to fear. There is a huge Casino on this boulevard, the Red Robinson Theatre too. There is much that could be done to partner all these businesses with their hands out, they could work together, now there’s a concept. I’m willing to bet my lunch money The Red Robinson Theatre  & The Casino will do just fine, why, people will do anything, go anywhere to feed the need of entertainment and gambling. If that’s the case, then these businesses on United Boulevard should work together to strategize how to work through the next 12 weeks, the big anchors could lead the way.

As you can see, my perception of this dilemma, this was a marketing agencies wet dream, the opportunity is/was huge, but did anyone approach this group of businesses. I suspect not, to my knowledge there has been absolutely no marketing to my neighbourhood, I haven’t seen, heard a Radio or TV ad, not a Tweet about anything to entice me to shop United Boulevard. With all that is availabe to these businesses to market themselves during this construction, I have yet to find any ads in traditional media let alone digital, no crazy awesome deals to make me venture into the construction soup. Maybe I’m not looking in the right place, maybe I don’t care, or maybe they haven’t reached out to make me care.

I shared this story with a group of marketers, the look on their faces was enough for me. So is construction an excuse, is it really the root problem. Or is being prepared the real issue at hand, if you have read this blog regularly, you would know that the future of business has the upper hand. The problem isn’t construction, it isn’t the business, it is however, the owners of those businesses, how they think, and it possibly reveals a lack of foresight. I would like to give the business owners the benefit of the doubt, but, in times like this, businesses need to grow up!

I know, I’m ranting a bit, but this is a great case study don’t you think? So how could these business help themselves, what would you do if you had the opportunity to help these businesses? What crazy marketing ideas would you bring to the table? Would you let road construction be the reason the doors closed your business?

The Future Of Business – Technology & Tourism

Seth Godin made the statement, While We Weren’t Paying Attention, The Industrial Age Just Ended. If that’s true, the masses of the world are in for change never experienced before. Although technology appears to be driving this change and new world of business, it’s more about how you and I think, to be more specific, how younger generations think.

In The Future Of Business series, I have been sharing insights on various industries, what we might expect to happen in the next 3 – 5 years. In this post I’m going to take a look at Tourism, this is an interesting topic because it is such a huge buisiness, somewhere around a 6 Billion dollar industry. But how will this shift from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age impact Tourism? It’s hard to tell at first glance but lets look at some obvious things that technology may introduce.

I can remember as a kid looking forward to summer, every summer my Mother & Father would take us someplace and it was always far enough away you couldn’t walk home. I could hear Mom & Dad discussing, planning and strategizing months in advance, we were going east or south, that meant Manitoba or the USA. My Dad would never stop either, if we were going from Calgary to Winnipeg (14 hours of driving) he was going to do it in a day, if we were lucky we might stop for potty breaks. The stops were never at a fancy restaurant or hotel, they were rest stops with smelly unclean outhouses. I know this sounds like abuse by todays standards, but that’s what it was like travelling with my family back in 60’s and early 70’s.

One of the saving grace’s on those trips were Tourism Offices, a place where we could pick up a map, a coffee or candy. More importantly, they had washrooms! Something I noticed in these kiosk like buildings was, you would find things there you couldn’t find anywhere else. Local artists would have paintings and or carvings, jewellery and what have you, interesting and talented people figured out it was a great place to sell their work.

Jumping ahead to today, and not much has changed in these groovy little Tourism Kiosks, why? Interestingly enough, the problems the Tourism Industry had back when I was a boy, they still have today. It’s always about funding and how these non-profit organizations have to conform to some very rigid groups and influencial people. I understand the problem all to well because, I used to be Vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of  Tourism some 20 years ago. Tourism used ot be under the Chamber domain, today they are independant, out on they’re own.

Now the Canadian Tourism Commission (which is well funded) has culled some series data about where and why people come to visit Canada, it’s called Explorer Quotient, something to put in your toolbox. Here is the EQ presentation made by the CTC.

These groups have something we didn’t have 20 years ago, not even 15 years ago, we now have the Internet & Social Media. Tourism is struggling in this space because they don’t have the resources to create, invite or listen to what we all want. The opportunities are unlimited now for tourism and other non-profit organizations. I learned recently that the Green Bay Packers FootBall team is actually a non-profit organization!

There are a number of tools tourism could take advantage, they are already in place, like Foursquare and Gowalla, these are the low hanging fruit today, but in the next 5 years we will see some very interesting technologies that Tourism will leverage. In the future, we will be able to travel to far away places in the comfort of our own home via Virtual Reality. You may stop at a Tourism Rest Stop and sit down with a virtual reality headset and walk around the very community you are about to enter. You will be able to get key information on the top tourist stops while there, enjoy a cup of coffee at the same time. You will have the opportunity to get special deals you can’t get anywhere else in that town, only at the tourism office. You will have the opportunity to opt-in while touring the area digitally, yes the tourism will be able to track where you are via a smartphone, they will be able to forward information and real-time specials happening for a limited time.

Through your smartphone you could contact them on Twitter to make reservations at a restaurant or hotel. Most businesses will be on these social networks, they will over special deals and opportunities you find in the local paper. Maybe these businesses will accept FaceBook & Twitter Credits as payment. According to those two social networks credits will be offered July 1st, 2011. We’ll see how to roles out but it opens the door for local businesses and especially the tourism societies to partner with local or far away businesses for visitors in the tourism kiosks. We could help our local tourism by donating FaceBook & Twitter credits for them to use with local businesses, so many ideas can come from this topic alone. And these credits or points can be used anywhere in the world!

The sky is the limit here, if you can think it, you can probably do it. Technology is making it easier, what other ideas do you think Tourism could do to attract visitors?

Am I Crying Wolf?

tidal_wave1After spending a couple hours downtown in my community today I was just vibrating with the thought, ” These poor business owners”. What do us Social Media Geeks see that traditional business owners don’t? I felt like standing on a box and screamming STOP IT! Stop what your doing and look up…pull your head out of that dark warm part of your anatomy and pay attention! It’s like a tidal wave is coming and these traditional business owners are looking the other way as if it wasn’t there. Is there something wrong with me, am I speaking to a brick wall, am I just crying wolf?

I couldn’t wait to get back to my office and write to you, it’s like venting I think but I’m wondering what it will take before everyone starts to actually pay attention. I look at how many people in Canada actually have Twitter accounts and I’m hard pressed to find many, with only 34 million people in the country you would think there are more than a few paying attention. I’m in Western Canada, ok Bristish Columbia, I live in a suburb east of Vancouver called Abbotsford. There’s not much out here if you are an executive like me, you have to commute to the bigger cities to find work, but that’s a problem too! Resume’s…do they even work anymore? Even these online job banks rarely work…why…because traditional thinkers don’t look there, they do look for referrals though.

Even the local Chamber of Commerce is looking the other way, they want traditional businesses (bricks & mortar) to buy memberships and insurance packages. My only chance is to try and influence through my online show, Owen Greaves LIVE! maybe. Maybe, just maybe, I can reach them and maybe you can help me. If you are a person who believe’s passionately our way of doing business is changing and care enough to get the message out, then contact me and I’ll invite you to share on my show. That’s the only way to get in front of them and get them to listen…on the Internet and that’s where I’m setting up shop, not downtown in a building. Thanks for reading and listening I guess, we will talk about this on Monday’s alot at 2PM EST / 11AM Pacific on Owen Greaves LIVE! Join me won’t you?