Is Community Service/Activism worth the Effort?

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community-service

Alright…I admit…I am probably too close to this topic.

Those of you who have known me for a long time know that (although it sounds corny to some people) my personal mission has long been to be “a positive force for economic development.”  Think about all of the time and money you and other parents have (and continue to) invest in your children! Once it was clear that I was never going to become a MOM, I decided to invest an equivalent amount of time, money, and effort in economic development to help generate jobs, improve policies, encourage continued growth of existing businesses, support innovation, etc.

Over the summer, I found myself wondering if all of the effort that I and so many other people have put into economic development is working. The economy still has dramatic swings and is incredibly vulnerable. Disincentives to growth of existing businesses stubbornly persist. Jobs seem to bleed through borders like water. Yes…strengthening the economy is difficult but what’s the alternative?

Personally, I am grateful for what I have learned through my 35 years as an economic development advocate.  When I hosted a weekly talk show to shine a light on what it takes to keep growing midsized companies, I got to interview and meet 300 of THE most amazing, bright, ambitious people. Serving on chamber of commerce boards, I have been fascinated by the complex blend of diplomacy and influence executed by many corporate CEOs. There are more steps in that dance than in a number choreographed by Napoleon and Tabatha. Most of us must resist the urge to solve problems in our own companies. We provide vision and lead strategy but must depend on our great employees to prevent and solve problems. Sometimes, executives find participating in broader problem solving initiatives is a refreshing change of pace.  Plus, Governors seem to appreciate when business leaders find ways to solve problems.

When you have presented alternative approaches to legislators as often as I have, you can’t help but notice that their time is thinly distributed across hundreds (if not thousands) of issues and is often dominated by fundraising and campaigning. Important people are often grateful for the provision of constructive suggestions instead of being subject to yet another diatribe of complaints. Providing expert testimony at a public hearing is very scary the first few times you do it, but having survived that experience, you are better prepared to face media scrutiny as the CEO of a significant business.

Trying to PUSH THE ECONOMIC ROCK UPHILL is not a one person task. I value being part of the collective village of the business community that keeps trying. And frankly, the effort has consistently influenced our employees to also think about issues that are larger than just themselves.

About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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