Cheers to our Volunteers

In honour of National Volunteer Week which was celebrated the last week of April, I wish to acknowledge our new Board of Directors:

Doug Walker, President (Cambium Leadership)
Gordon Benn, Vice President (Pearlman Lindholm)
Sheila Henn, Treasurer (Paterson Henn Chartered Professional Accountants)
Tara Keeping, Secretary (Tiger Lily Events)
John Treleaven, Past President (The Treleaven Consulting Group)
Dan Adair, Director (Island Savings, a division of First West Credit Union)
James Bogusz, Director (Victoria Airport Authority)
Andrew Bradley, Director (Itty Bitty Sign Shop)
Art Finlayson, Director (Finlayson Bonet Architecture)
Richard Flader, Director (Flader Chartered Accountant)
Joe Jansen, Director (Wilson’s Transportation)
Reg Mooney, Director (Penta Resources Group/Lifetime Member)
Doug Wedman, Director (Chamber of Commerce Group Insurance Plan)

At our AGM, in addition to welcoming new directors, we also said goodbye to three special people: Ginny Alger (Horizon Power) who had been a board member for more than 20 years and former Presidents Craig Norris (Victoria International Marina) and Ian Brown (Tower Kitchens and Millwork) retired from their board positions.

It is estimated that there are more than 12.7 million volunteers in Canada. Our organization has benefited from many generous people who have served as board members and others who have counselled visitors in our Information Centre. Without our volunteers’ generous gifts of time and expertise, we would not be able to operate – the positive impact on our organization cannot be overstated. We are fortunate on the Saanich Peninsula to have a large cadre of dedicated volunteers and the economic benefit to our community is considerable.

Perhaps less well recognized are the benefits of volunteering derived by the actual volunteers. Volunteering provides opportunities to make new friends and contacts and increase your social skills. It has been shown that volunteering has significant benefits to people’s overall psychological well-being. It can relieve stress, boost your self-confidence and endorphins and provide a sense of purpose. Volunteering can also have positive effects for those looking to advance their career. You might meet people who offer valuable advice or who introduce you to an exciting employment opportunity. You could learn useful new skills and build upon the skills you already have. Volunteering can be a great strategy for meeting new friends with whom you share interests. You might discover a new passion. It can be a very fulfilling, rewarding, enriching experience.

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”

― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

 

Denny Warner,
Executive Director, Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

Shut Up and Listen!

Many years ago I had the privilege to work on a community economic development project with Ernesto Sirolli. Lessons from that project and from his book Ripples from the Zambezi: Passion Entrepreneurship and the Rebirth of Local Economies, have long resonated. His lifelong passion for empowering entrepreneurs is inspirational and instructional when considering how we provide aid or assistance to countries or to people in our own communities.

A new generation of entrepreneurs is dying of solitude and our job is to figure out where they are and how to support them. They will appear if they can be assured of confidentiality and privacy and if they know their supporters will be fanatical about finding ways to help them. The supporter’s role is never to initiate or motivate rather, to act as a servant to the entrepreneur’s passion, the Family Doctor of Enterprise, if you will.

There has never been even one successful company started by just one person. You can think of a business enterprise as a three-legged stool: the first leg is your product or service, the second leg is marketing and the third leg is financial management. There has never been an entrepreneur born who could successfully make their product, sell their product and look after the money. Yet, if even one of these legs is not well supported, your stool will topple, your business will fail. That is why the most successful entrepreneurs are those who assemble a team to ensure each of these activities is well managed.

Ernesto’s vision of community economic development employs an Enterprise Facilitator (supported by a Project Management Board and trained volunteers) who meets entrepreneurs in informal settings such as their homes, in coffee shops, in pubs and restaurants and on benches by the waterfront. The Facilitator’s role is to act as the dedicated buddy for entrepreneurs. The first job of the buddy is to shut up and listen. And listen some more. Only when the Facilitator has a good understanding of the entrepreneur’s vision and has been infected by their passion will s/he begin to ask questions like “What do you need? Can you make it? Can you sell it? Can you look after the money?” When gaps in knowledge and ability have been identified, the Facilitator will offer to find people and resources to support the entrepreneur and the other legs of the stool will begin to be assembled. This kind of responsive, person-centred approach to economic development has had striking results in more than 300 communities around the world.

I encourage you to read the book I referenced earlier and to watch Ernesto Sirolli’s TED Talk entitled “Want to Help Someone? Shut Up and Listen!” If you are interested in seeing this vision realized in our community, let me know. I would love to work with you to bring the dreams of local entrepreneurs to life.
“The future of every community lies in capturing the passion, energy and imagination of its own people.” -Dr Ernesto Sirolli

Denny Warner,
Executive Director

Embracing Diversity of Opinion

An investment in your local Chamber of Commerce is an investment in your own prosperity, as a businessperson and as a member of the community. Our role is to promote business, monitor all levels of government and champion managed growth in the economy.

As the voice of business, we mobilize like-minded individuals who, together, work to cultivate a community with a healthy, diversified, economy. The events and activities we undertake are a means to achieve that end.

On occasion, we take a position that is unpopular with some of our members. Organizations can experience paralysis and overload when they try to be all things to all people. We, at this Chamber, would rather be seen to be being proactive than to be doing little by attempting only those activities where we had consensus. And so, while it is never comfortable to have members unhappy with our choices, we trust that our purposes remain aligned and we will continue working together to see the Peninsula become the very best place to live, work, and play.

One duty we take very seriously is to continue stimulating passionate discourse on the Saanich Peninsula!

Denny Warner,

Executive Director

Be it Resolved

Tis the season for considering the successes and challenges of the past year while making plans for the New Year. In the spirit of making resolutions, we offer some straightforward suggestions for optimizing your financial health in 2017 by making good use of your Chamber benefits. We would rather you didn’t feel the same way about your Chamber membership as you do about that unused gym pass.

  • Take advantage of the opportunities we offer to market your business. The more you interact with us, the better informed and able we are to promote your business on your behalf.

 

  • Attend our events. You are your brand and the more others in the community see you, the more likely they are to remember you when making purchasing decisions.

 

  • When attending events, use the time wisely. Create connections and relationships rather than contacts or business prospects. It doesn’t have to be a painful process. Be curious and learn about a couple of people at each event.

 

  • Use your time strategically. All chamber members are important but some have more potential to you than others. Maximize your networking time by connecting with and fostering relationships with those members who are more likely to be prospective clients.

 

  • Consider how you can contribute to the success of other members or to the organization. When you act as a resource, you will be perceived as having more credibility and competency. Think about how you can bring value to the membership and give yourself the opportunity to showcase your talents and skills.

 

  • Leverage your profile in the community through sponsoring a chamber event. Bring a potential member to the events you attend so they and you can benefit from our growing network. Advertise on our website. Have your customers leave reviews on your online directory listing.

 

  • Finally, consider taking on a leadership role as a committee or board member. This will connect you with others who share your values. It provides an opportunity for others to see you as an authority, to garner respect and to have some fun. It’s true. We have fun.

A little motivation to get you started:  no matter how slowly you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch. Let us help you make next year your best year.

Denny Warner,

Executive Director

Change Always Comes Bearing Gifts

Ours is an organization that is inherently in flux due to our communities being in transition, yearly election of board members, changes in office staff, and the varying levels of involvement and participation of members. Change helps us grow and reveals our strengths and opportunities. It is essential that we check in periodically to ensure we are heading in a direction that continues to provide value to our members.

We recently undertook a strategic planning session that served to reinforce some of our assumptions and challenged others. The first step was to develop a vision and mission for our organization that our board and staff can hold up as a test or guide when considering future activities. We then established four strategic priorities and continue to develop specific items within those categories. We also agreed on activities that we need to stop doing.

The process was useful to help us re-focus on who we represent and to whom we hold ourselves accountable. I am pleased to say the plan has already been very useful to me and to our board as we move away from the provision of visitor services and look towards using our organizational resources in the highest service of our members.

Going forward you will see evidence of our belief that a healthy business community is essential to a healthy community. We will continue to work to see the Saanich Peninsula recognized and respected as the best place to do business. But first and foremost, you will see us supporting, promoting, and advocating for member-businesses on the Saanich Peninsula.

Denny Warner,

Executive Director, Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

Taking a Stand against Public Incivility

I was disturbed by the dearth of civility I witnessed at the public hearing hosted in September by Town of Sidney Mayor and Council to address the rezoning of the proposed Gateway site. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the behaviour of many in the crowd was not different than what one witnesses during Question Period in the House of Commons or on national TV shows or in the comment sections online.

We are a rude and disrespectful society labouring under warped ideas of what free speech actually means. It doesn’t mean that we avoid the consequences of our speech or that we tolerate all forms of discussion. Free speech means that we have the right to say what we like without the government imposing punishments. It is possible to disagree, even stridently, and not lose our sense of civility. As poet and writer Mary Wortley Montagu has said “Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.”

We have to hold ourselves and each other to higher standards. At the local level, we can do so by developing our capacity for constructive participation. If we tolerate disrespectful language and actions, we risk shutting citizens out from participating in the democratic process. It is important that we develop a framework for governing communities in participatory, deliberative, inclusive and collaborative ways.

 

The National League of Cities Center for Research & Innovation developed an action guide for city leaders entitled “Beyond Civility, From Public Engagement to Problem Solving”. In it, the authors identify seven principles for doing democratic governance right including 1) Model civility 2) Sharpen skills 3) Create opportunities for informed engagement 4) Support a culture of community involvement 5) Make the most of technology 6) Include everybody and 7) Make it last.

 

We are enthusiastically supportive of the problem-solving strategies offered by the NLC action guide. The Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce has organized a facilitated, participant-led discussion of the issues arising from the proposed Gateway project with our members and Omicron principals. We will continue to initiate constructive discussions on local issues and build the capacity in this community for active, effective, participation as an antidote to the troubling form of public “engagement” we saw at the September public hearing.

 

Denny Warner,

Executive Director