The bond between succeeding chapter presidents and the friendship that endures

By Francis Lippert, FSMPS, CPSM posted 12-11-2013 10:20


Last night, at SMPS Oregon, I hosted a Fellows Forum. For those of you who aren’t familiar with a Fellows Forum, it’s a panel of SMPS Fellows that discusses and advises on various marketing and business development topics. Created originally by the genius of Carla Thompson, SMPS Seattle member and current SMPS National Board Fellows Delegate, it offers a way for SMPS Fellows to give back at the local level, stay engaged in SMPS, and to really reach out and help other SMPS members in a very tangible way. In Oregon, we have four Fellows, in Seattle there are five. Usually, we are fortunate enough to have one or two Seattle folks join us in Portland to round out our show. Occasionally, a Portland Fellow will venture north to participate in Seattle’s gig. (SMPS Oregon and SMPS Seattle are three hours apart and sister chapters, with a proud 30-year history of working together.)

With the weather in the Northwest being unusually cold and snowy this week, I found myself hosting a Fellows Forum with only myself and one other Fellow last night. It happened to be Kasey DeLucia. There isn’t another member of SMPS that I would have rather done this type of event with. You see, back in 2001 – 2002, Kasey was Oregon’s president-elect. She came to me and asked me to consider running as her president-elect. Like a lot of chapter leaders I was terrified at first. SMPS Oregon has a legacy of giants as presidents. “Why me?” I asked. We talked over lunch, then happy hour, then a lot more discussion over the following weeks and ultimately, I decided to go for it. We formed a bond then, a friendship that has endured over the years. We’ve moved beyond SMPS and into really, genuinely caring for one another. Kasey comes to parties at my house, listens to me when my personal life is in crisis, she was there in the audience when I was national president on the Build Business stage in San Francisco; she always supports me. I’ve been to her wedding, watched her beautiful children grow from squishy babies to little people, seen her through moves to Louisiana and back to Portland; she’s like a sister.

Driving home from the Fellows Forum, which totally rocked, even with just the two of us; I realized how powerful that bond between chapter presidents can become. We spoke to our audience like Fellows speak: like professionals who have seen some ups and downs, like coaches who know a new play to try, like empathetic marketers that figured out how to get to the deadline and preserve our own sanity. Every time Kasey answered a question, I was amazed. Her answers were spot on and helpful. Our banter back and forth with the audience was genuine and real. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of note taking.

I wanted to share this experience with all of you. When you rise to the president-elect seat in your chapter, think about that person that you’ll hand the gavel over too. Recognize the importance of the choice. In turn, following Kasey’s choice of me, I chose Paige Viehouser to be my president-elect; she ultimately became my first client at Go! Strategies. These choices matter, they are bigger than SMPS, they are bigger than a volunteer commitment. They could become among your very best friends for life.




08-23-2017 12:34

Perfect advice Frank, since you are responsible for opening the door to allow me to step up to the President-Elect in Sacramento. I look forward to sharing this journey with you and with all of the amazing folks I am meeting and learning from everyday. Thank you for showing me the path. Time to walk it!

01-10-2014 19:50

Frank, thanks for reminding us of the great relationships that are created through SMPS. As President-Elect of Orange County, I already really appreciate the mentoring I'm receiving from our current president Kurt Yoshii. Over the course of almost two decades as an SMPS member I have made some real friends through involvement on the board. That is why I encourage new members to join a committee and get involved. It is really wonderful when past presidents stay involved in the organization and give back. I've seen so many work their way up the ranks and then move on to bigger and better things (aka client oriented organizations). A lot of it is burnout so I know it is really important to have strong leadership on the board and active committees where new board members can be groomed for leadership positions. I have a ton of respect for those SMPS lifers who have influenced my career and whenever we get together it is always wonderful.

01-10-2014 09:14

Frank, I totally agree. And, online groups vis MySMPS and Facebook help grow the relationships...whether for seeking advice or guidance or for just sharing a greeting or news.

12-17-2013 12:44

Couldn't agree more, Frank! Having served as SMPS Nashville President twice (not back-to-back, either), I count those folks with whom I served as life-long friends and trusted industry resources. And the same holds true for those with whom you work on a National level, too--whether as committee chairs or on the Board. I was very fortunate to have greatness ahead of me (Pete Kienle) and greatness follow me (Dana Birkes)--not to mention talented and fun board members such as you!