What a great feeling it is to return from a weekend getaway energized and excited because you learned so many new ideas you can’t wait to implement. No, I’m not talking about a landscaping conference, a motivational seminar, or a religious retreat? I’m talking about the 2012 HDI Local Chapter Officer (LCO) Summit, which took place in Colorado Springs from June 1-3.
Every year HDI hosts this summit for officers representing some sixty chapters throughout the United States and Canada, hosting sessions on everything from best practices in communication and membership to sponsorship and program management to local chapter management. This was the thirteenth year of the Summit, and ninety-six officers were in attendance, including thirty-five first-timers. The year’s theme was based on the reality TV show, Survivor, and just like the show, we earned immunity and rewards, held tribal councils, and built strong alliances.
The Survivor reality show begins with two tribes being dropped off on an island where they need to use their instincts to build shelter, start a fire, and find food. This in no way resembled ourarrival at HDI Summit Island. We were welcomed by hugs, warm wishes, and smiles. Officers learned skills that will benefit their own organizations and careers. Long-time officers shared their knowledge, mentored new officers, and created an environment where newer officers could build their confidence. Craig Baxter, HDI's global brand director, shared his feelings about the annual event: “This is leadership training at its best.”
The event kicked off on Friday with the first reward challenge, where each tribe visited fourteen different locations to solve puzzles, which earned them popsicle sticks. Once all the sticks had been gathered, the objective was to build a free-standing structure that was as tall as possible without anyone using their hands to hold it in place. The challenge host, Brandon Caudle, HDI's western region director, successfully played the role of Survivor host Jeff Probst. After the reward challenge, the Summit took on a serious tone and we divided into breakout sessions. The topics covered were succession planning, new officer roles, and building a stronger island, hosted by veteran officers with more than five years of experience. We were then treated to a keynote with a real Survivor: Alex Angartia, from the Survivor Fiji season. Alex lasted 33 days on the island and he shared his story, “Awaken Your Survival Instinct: Finding Your Path to Heightened Awareness and the Survivor Inside of You.” At the end of the long day, we visited the new HDI offices where we networked with other LCOs and took advantage of the opportunity to meet with HDI employees.
Saturday began with "Building a Campfire": breakfast networking and the recognition and awards session. This is my favorite part of the weekend, as it's where we honor our rockstar chapters and officers. Sophie Klossner, HDI's director of membership, shared heartfelt stories about each winner, bringing a few tears to eyes in the audience. Immunity Idols were handed out to the following chapters:
- Rising Star: Steel City Pittsburgh Chapter
- Ducks in a Row: HDI Minnesota Chapter
- Baby Steps: Long Island Chapter
- Rock of Our Foundations: Mary Cruse, Los Angeles Chapter chair emeritus
The rest of the day consisted of sessions, such as the outgoing Member Advisory Board (MAB) report, by outgoing chair Dana Olson, and the passing of the gavel to this year’s MAB chair, Sandy Seroskie. We also learned about creating a social media plan for your chapter, creating healthy chapters, and how each role influences and drives successful programming, growth, sponsorship, and process improvements. In the afternoon we learned about executing virtual meetings, leveraging all officers to increase membership, and strategies for obtaining vendors and sponsorship dollars. Our second keynote speaker was Jeff Brooks, who shared with us a “Report on the Industry and Trends for the Future of IT Service Desk.”
After a full day of sessions, we enjoyed unbelievable views of the mountains and rock formations while dining at the Garden of the Gods. The rest of the night was filled with fun, dancing, singing, and laughing.
Sunday morning began with a screening of our Survivor season. This annual video montage is produced by Chris Farver, who does an outstanding job of capturing the weekend on pictures and video. We participated in sessions on taking advantage of tools used by local chapter officers, planning for special events, assembling pieces to market your chapter, and increasing engagement. We concluded our weekend with "Thirty Ideas in Thirty Minutes" and learned how each survivor/officer can take back what they learned during the weekend to implement in their roles and chapters. Before making our final goodbyes, each officer received a Survivor certificate and final hugs from Sophie, Craig, and Kerri Hanna. Kerri was our hostess for the weekend and she did an amazing job of planning and organizing the entire Summit’s logistics and activities.
This was my fourth year attending Summit. Each year I leave with such a great feeling of family, commitment, and teamwork. As the president of the South Florida local chapter and the director of the southeast region, I come to Summit with an open mind and leave with so many new ideas from other officers and chapters. I derive great pleasure from mentoring other officers and chapters by sharing my knowledge, success stories from the South Florida chapter, and experiences we have gained. Leadership is organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal. Thanks to HDI and the many individual officers I have reached out to over the years, I have become a better person, husband, father, and leader. I have built lasting relationships within this organization, and I am a Survivor.