Spending a day with Michelle Obama and giving back to my community

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Spending a day with Michelle Obama and giving back to my community

“Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” – William Shakespeare

Bill says it best. Listening is so important. This month, I attended the PA Conference For Women and it was truly extraordinary. I had the honor of listening to former First Lady Michelle Obama speak, along with other fantastic women like Dr. Brené Brown and Shonda Rhimes.

Talk about inspirational! Their words impacted me very much. Their stories and their advice – I wish I could have bottled up the positive energy I felt in the room that day and carry it with me every day.  Each one had a message about being their best and also about giving back to their community in some way. What I heard encouraged me to also continue to listen to my community.

There are four very important organizations in my life and I am going to explain how giving back has given me more than I could ever have imagined.  With each of these organizations, I am not only a member, I am an ACTIVE member. I am involved and by being fully involved, I not only give, I receive.

1. Rotary.

“Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who come together to make positive, lasting change in communities at home and abroad.”

I’ve been a member of the Upper Main Line Rotary for four years and currently serve as treasurer and on the board. This club is active and vibrant. The Rotary motto is, “service above self.” Our club does an active service project once a month. I’ve planted trees, pulled the harvest from a farm for a local food bank, served breakfast to families with special needs children and most recently, participated in the annual Oktoberfest, which netted over $25K for our rotary foundation.

That money will be used both nationally and internationally to help many people in need. That money has funded research into eliminating polio (which now exists in only 2 countries), that money has funded businesses like ShelterBox, which offers emergency shelter and tools to people who have lost everything in natural disasters and that money has helped bring clean water to parts of the world in dire need.

It’s a really remarkable thing. To know that you are a part of something like this. Not only has the rotary provided me with the gift of giving back, it has helped me build friendships and connections with people from many backgrounds and industries. And yes, it has helped my business. I have had referrals and even signed clients on from these relationships. And I’ve been able to connect many of the people I have met with other connections in my network. Simply a bonus to the feeling I get as I serve.


2. The Chamber.

I am a very active member of the Main Line Chamber of Commerce. I’m on the ambassador committee and also a member of a Chamber Connect Group. I have the great opportunity to welcome new members, talk to existing members and even call members that no longer are in the Chamber. Sometimes it’s a brand new business and other times it’s a veteran entrepreneur. Hearing their stories and getting to know them personally and professionally is so important.

It’s always a welcome break from the day-to-day to attend a breakfast meeting or an after work function.  The people I know through this Chamber are colleagues and friends. We are all out here, doing our best and having a support system and others who “get it” to talk to, is so encouraging.

3. Beacon.

I am a member of Beacon, a networking organization in the Philadelphia area, and I serve on the Membership Committee, interviewing potential members. I attend meetings and functions and get a chance to meet all the new members in person.

Another welcome break from the day-to-day and another place to meet new people, listen, and form relationships that go in all different directions from client, to friend, to referral and more.

4. FemCity.

I am a member of FemCity, in the Philadelphia Chapter, a national networking organization. I know many of the women in this organization through my years networking in and around the Philadelphia Region. Recently, I was asked to moderate a panel discussion at the first ever Philadelphia FemCity Business Conference. This organization is truly about encouraging and assisting professional women to be the best that they can.  Again, I am active in this organization, by attending meetings and functions and follow-up with the people I meet afterwards, as well.

Just paying dues in an organization and expecting people to call you for business does not work. With each of these organizations, I am active. In order to know people, you must have a relationship with them and it all starts with a connection.   After meeting people, I follow-up, whether it’s virtually or in person. In fact, I had coffee with another woman I met at the PA conference last week and now there’s a potential for us to work together and give each other referrals.

Yes, all of these commitments take time, money and energy. And they are 100% worth it. Giving back, meeting other business owners, doing what I can to help another person succeed – it’s what life is all about.

On another note, it’s the fourth quarter. It’s time to look at your numbers because the end of the year is right around the corner. Have you met your goals? Do you know where you are financially? Call me if you need to chat.