Author: Campbell, Bruce

The Carl That Roared

Yesterday morning, I was in a business-to-business networking meeting, and talk turned to business communications, or more specifically, the “dumbing down” of modern communications. The youngest man in the room was 39, and there was much moaning and groaning over the demise of the English language. I pointed out that all of in that room serve a demographic similar to us, so we need to communicate in the language that baby boomers understand. If any of us wished to market to a younger segment of the population, we would have to be able to communicate in a way to reach that audience. I stated further that, twenty-five years ago, there was probably another meeting just like this one, complaining about how WE communicate. The people in that meeting 25 years ago wanted the language to stay the same as they were used to, and yesterday, we complained about the same darn thing. Nobody likes change.

I guess that’s not accurate – perhaps I should say that change is unsettling, and keeping things the same is comforting. In a general way, it could be said that the older folks get, the more they want to maintain a comfort zone by limiting change around them. Younger folks don’t mind it – they’re used to things changing. Think about how enormous the 5 year gap between being 8 years old and 13 years old. In just five years, the world, and your perception of it, change completely. Now think of the five year gap between, say, 42 years old and 47 years old. Geez, that’s practically the same age isn’t it?

You should have see the long faces around the table at last weekend’s CBA Board Meeting. Why? It looks like there’s going to be some turnover on the Board this year, as several members have indicated they will not be running again. The dreaded pall of change hung over our heads. Would we survive? How will we cope?

It was CBA Member number 1, Carl Pagter who snapped us out of it, and restored perspective. “The CBA will survive!” he roared. “We have seen Board members come and go over the past 37 years and we dealt with it. As long as the members want a CBA, there will be a CBA. It may not always look the same from year to year, but it will continue!” The spell was broken.

Any change will require some adjustments, but any new Board members will also bring fresh energy, and fresh ideas. Some will be single-termers, if they decide the pressures of being on the Board of Directors for an organization with almost 3000 members just isn’t their cup of tea.

But some will settle in for a few years, at least, and as they learn the ins and outs of how the CBA works, they will offer some fresh insights. They will help the CBA strike the perfect (and delicate) balance between changing with times while simultaneously embracing tradition. To be effective, they’ll have to have excellent persuasive skills, patience, and the ability to think out of both halves of their brains at the same time. I am optimistic. Carl was right, as usual.

Posted:  7/20/2011

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