If You're Creating a Start-up: Find Your Three Words

On a recent plane ride I read an article (title of this blog post) by Elaine Wherry, co-founder, Meebo, acquired by Google in 2012, and published in the June 12th, 2014 Edition of the Wall Street Journal.

The article is about how a start-up should act and stay focused.

She goes on to say that if you can get your founders to agree on three words that describe your company, your marketing staff will love you forever.

Everyone in our industry is talking about reinventing your chamber for the future.  What better way to start that process by taking the advice of Elaine Wherry and put it to work for your organization, community or industry sector.

What are your three words for your chamber?  Can you get your Board to agree on those three words?

She gave the two following examples and stated that these three words should allow you to answer "1) who you are; 2) what you do; and 3) how you do it."

  • Facebook - "fast, bold, open"
  • Google - "data, big, visionary"

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Institute for Organization Management program uses, "Learn, Grow, Connect."  We've been using those three words in our marketing materials for 10 plus years.

It's also the theme I use in my graduation remarks.

Learn - you just completed 96 ours of non-profit management, if you've not already done so, I challenge each of you to obtain your professional certification, CCE for the Chamber exec and the CAE for the association exec.  Institute has prepared you well.

Grow - go back to your communities and your industry sectors and raise the bar from what you've learned at Institute from your peers and the faculty.

Connect - stay connected to your classmates, and stay connected to Institute.  Consider coming back as a class advisor, faculty member of a Board of Regent.

As chamber leaders it's important to remember that you are professionals - you work in the profession of nonprofit management.

I'm sure you've heard the bricklayer story (it's not mine, but tells a story worth repeating):

A community leader happens upon a construction site and she asks each bricklayer the same question - may I ask what you are doing?

  • The first says I'm laying a brick;
  • The second says I'm building a wall; and
  • The third states I'm creating a cathedral.

Again, as professionals, build those cathedrals in your communities and industry sectors and start by identifying your three words with your board!