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President's Message

November 2020

From the Business Perspective Newsletter


Are you tired?

I’m hearing many of you are tired from so much coming at you from too many directions. There’s more on your plate than usual. You have your normal workload, as well as COVID’s safety protocols that add the challenges of time, expense and distance requirements for your team and your customers, not to mention the concerns about the virus itself. There are more Zooms, webinars and virtual happy hours than hours in the day, combined with the especially vitriolic election and a 24/7 news cycle of social justice issues, wildfires and tropical storms. And email piling up in your Inbox. It can become overwhelming…even a little frightening. Sometimes I hear that Jimmy Buffett song in my head, “You’ve got fins to the left, fins to the right, and you’re the only bait in town.”

I grew up just north of the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri, so I visited there many times with family, school field trips and Girl Scout outings. There was a quote by Dr. Carver in the museum that struck me: “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.”

Born to slaves just a few weeks after the conclusion of the Civil War, he was orphaned very young and taken in by the Carvers, a white family in southern Missouri. That tiny boy likely didn’t envision the impact he would have on our world, becoming one of the preeminent scientists and inventors of his time, but he loved to learn and pursued knowledge relentlessly. His story is one of trauma, hardship and perseverance, but also great achievement and inspiration. I believe his vision and focus are good reminders for us now.  Carver’s future was uncertain and even sometimes dangerous for a young black man in a segregated world. Few would have foreseen his future achievements as an educator, scientist and humanitarian.

Our challenges today are different, but we can draw parallels from Carver’s focus on his future and passion for what he cared about. What is your vision for your business? For your community? There’s no quick answer especially now as some might have only a post-COVID vision of success in their mind. I contend we must envision what thriving businesses and communities look like amidst this pandemic in order for us to survive for a future in a post-pandemic world.

Last December at our Annual Meeting futurist Rebecca Ryan taught us how to think like futurists. Despite our best efforts to follow her counsel, we didn’t foresee the havoc 2020 would bring. The reality is that COVID isn’t the only thing impacting our world and there’s no time like the present to work on future-proofing our organizations. We’re excited to bring Rebecca back for our 2020 Annual Meeting on December 4. With the help of our speaker sponsor the Overland Park Chamber Foundation and event sponsor Security Bank, our event is both virtual and free this year, so I hope you’ll join us. Rebecca is both wise and fun, so you’ll enjoy getting to know her and take away some nuggets to make your world better.  See you December 4!


Continue Reading the November 2020 Newsletter

Tracey Osborne Oltjen

written by

Tracey Osborne Oltjen, CCE, IOM

President & CEO