You’ve heard it time and time again, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. True or false? I think it depends on the willingness of the person and the task at hand, and as a chamber veteran with 22 years of experience, I am living proof that you can, and you should, continue to learn regardless of your age.
I am on the cusp between the Boomer and Gen X. I admit I have a hard time wrapping my arms around new technologies, methods for efficiency with meetings and social networking. I also admit that I’m waiting for the day when someone says, “lets rally around the boomers and adapt to their level of comfort” when it comes to doing business. I know I’ll be waiting a long time for that to happen, if it ever does. In the meantime I’ve figured out that it’s not the inability to learn that holds me back, it’s the desire, and the understanding that change is good (even if I do want others to go first).
I was fortunate to serve as a volunteer class advisor in January in Tucson at Winter IOM. The greatest thing about IOM as a volunteer is the opportunity to brush up on your skills, and learn new ones in the process. I was advisor for a first year class which was great for me – the curriculum for first year students is entry level and designed for newer association and chamber team members. My first year at IOM was in 1997 and even though the backbone of our organizations is basically the same since that time, we’ve grown a lot of new appendages with generational shifts and the ever-changing methods of communication.
The need for life-long learning has never been greater for members of the workforce in any generation including ours. Recent studies indicate more than 15 million Americans are employed by non-profits across the country; according to Bob Harris, longtime IOM instructor, those organizations include 7,200 Chambers of Commerce and 150,000 associations. There’s a lot of competition for jobs in our industry and it is vital we continue to sharpen our saws, despite our eligibility for senior discounts.
Association executives are experts at earning treats, and not for sitting, fetching or laying down. In order to expertly lead our organizations in business growth, community and economic development, and advocate for sound and sane business legislation, we need to stay on top of the trends in our industry and break the shackles of the leashes that hold us back. Learning through programs like IOM make us leaders of the pack.