I recently received a notification from the company we use to track employee hours. It congratulated me for 15 years at the company. Fifteen years! Fifteen years since that day in September 2004 when I joined the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce staff.
In some ways, it was a lifetime ago. I was still in my 30s, with boundless energy and enthusiasm. Social media barely existed. We used basic cellphones which were cutting edge at the time. Smartphones and much of today’s technology did not yet exist. Employees did not have access to their email after leaving the office, so time off was actually time off.
Fifteen years ago, office hours were strict and attention to work culture wasn’t common. Do the work, be grateful for your job. Staff meetings were rare and generally focused on a specific task. Today, our culture doesn’t watch the clock when an employee leaves the office for lunch. We expect our team members to get their work done and we are grateful they are part of our team. Weekly staff meetings are focused on our team. Sure, we discuss tasks, but we also discuss our lives, our feelings and our experiences.
Instant access has taken over my life. There are so many different ways to communicate with people that, for me, it can be exhausting at times to try to keep it all straight. One person prefers text, another wants a call, one sends messages through LinkedIn, yet another prefers email.
I use far more online platforms than reasonably make sense—yet to Gen Z, and our millennials, this is the only life they’ve known, and it all makes perfect sense. This Gen Xer is constantly trying to keep up. Sometimes I get it right, other times, I just have to laugh at myself. And while there’s been incredible change, some things about my time with the chamber have remained the same.
The organization is more than 100 years old. We are an established entity that exists to strengthen our business community and therefore our region as a whole. We are a strong advocate for business. We provide access, influence and educational opportunities for our members. We recognize business accomplishments and leaders.
An award received from the chamber is among the highest honors for members of our business community. We are led by a group of dedicated men and women leaders—our board of directors. They create the strategic plan that guides the direction of the chamber. We host an annual gala that kicks off each year with a fantastic celebration of our business community.
After 15 years, I still wake up each day motivated to make a difference for our community. A plaque has been displayed in my office for nearly the entire 15 years. It is a quote from Maya Angelou: “I believe you can only be great at something you love.”
I love our Chamber of Commerce, I love the team I work with, and I love our region. Over the next month, I will begin working with my 13th class of Leadership Fredericksburg fellows and the chamber will launch its first Discover Your Future workforce event. It is an honor and a joy to lead this wonderful community organization!