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  • CEO Blog: Thinking Aloud.... Archives


    Focus on Recovery

    The recession affected our community in many ways. But a broad and diverse business base and strong City-Chamber partnership has allowed Brea to fare much better than many other California communities.

    With the worst of it behind us, the Chamber is focused on recovery and on growth.

    Our Economic Development/Business Retention Committee is currently working with the City if Brea to create a strategic plan for business recruitment, retention and formation. In addition, the Chamber is developing new programs to help our members to expand and grow their businesses.

    Our Workforce Development Committee is assembling resources for employee recruitment and retention. By the end of this year, the Chamber will become a clearinghouse for these tools and programs.

    Our Legislative Advocacy Committee continues to monitor public policy issues that may impact your bottom line and takes action when appropriate. For example, the Chamber is lobbying against the dissolution of redevelopment, as this program helps our business community to grow.

    Our entire Program of Work is focused on enhancing the economic vitality of the Brea business community. If you are interested in getting more involved at any level, please let me know.

    A Healthy Business Climate

    The overall health of the business climate is a major priority for the Chamber. We believe in a “wellness” approach, it is much easier to keep the business community healthy with proactive efforts than to respond to issues once business begins to ail.

    Our Economic Development/Business Retention Committee is currently working with the City if Brea to create a strategic plan for business recruitment, retention and formation. In addition, the Chamber is developing new programs to help our members to expand and grow their businesses.

    Our Workforce Development Committee is assembling resources for employee recruitment and hiring grants. Our Brea Young Professionals program has been revamped to be a employee retention tool for you. In addition to the leadership development, education and social opportunities, we have included a volunteer component to help your up and comers become more connected to this community.

    Our Legislative Advocacy Committee continues to monitor public policy issues that may impact your bottom line and takes action when appropriate.

    All of our efforts are focused on enhancing the economic vitality of the Brea business community.


    Connecting Business with Opportunity: 2010 in Review


    2010 was a year full of accomplishments. Through a wide variety of programs and initiatives, the Brea Chamber worked very hard supporting the growth and prosperity of our members. From business referrals to business advocacy, the Brea Chamber continued to connect members with the opportunity to prosper in any economic climate.


    The Chamber's 2010 Program of Work focused on efforts to create a stronger local economy through 4 Key Initiatives:


    • ACCESS to decision makers for an expanded circle of influence
    • ADVOCACY for issues critical to a strong local economy and a voice in the legislative process
    • VISIBILITY for an enhanced presence in the community
    • RESOURCES for increased productivity, reduced expenses and staff development


    The Chamber hosted over 120 meetings in 2010, which were attended by nearly 10,250 business representatives. With weekly networking luncheons, quarterly mixers and annual business expos, the Chamber provided plenty of opportunities for you to meet your next prospect or power partner. We introduced you to the people you needed to know to get the job done, from the Chamber leadership, volunteers and staff – to your city, county and legislative representatives.


    One of the most important benefits of being a member of the Brea Chamber is having an organization larger than your own single business to represent you and advocate on your behalf. As the voice of business, the Chamber took stands on issues at every level of government. A delegation went to Sacramento for the Annual CalChamber Legislative Summit. We hosted candidates’ forums, met with City personnel on behalf of business owners, notified restaurants of a scam involving grease monitoring issues, investigated parking issues in Brea Downtown and assisted with health department permitting issues. Chamber staff met with businesses threatened with civil lawsuits for ADA non-compliance, and worked with Senator Bob Huff and Assemblyman Chris Norby to lobby for an end to predatory lawsuits.


    With over 70 networking events, the Chamber provided plenty of opportunities for members to prospect. Business After Hours Mega Mixer & B2B Expos, which showcased 41 member businesses, were attended by almost 335 business representatives. Taste of Brea showcased over 60 member businesses and was attended by almost 5,000 people. The Salute to Education community expo showcased 70 member businesses and was attended by over 1,500 people, despite the bad weather. The Chamber also conducted 14 ribbon cutting ceremonies, which were attended by member businesses, representatives from all levels of government and the general community.


    Advertising opportunities and event sponsorships promoted your business to a wide variety of demographics, from business leaders reading Insights or attending our Business Outlook Breakfasts and the Golf Tournament to local families looking at the Annual Member Directory and Chamber web site or attending our community expos.


    Over 64,500 business referrals were provided through the Chamber office and web site. The upgraded Chamber web site, which received 16,000 hits each month, also provided additional benefits to members, such as job listings, Hot Deals and more informative online directory listings.


    As we enter our 98th year, the Brea Chamber’s Board of Directors is more committed than ever to delivering value to members. Each year a strategic planning session is held to determine the best course of action for connecting business with opportunity. We are pleased to offer new opportunities in 2011 for businesses of every size and industry. Through strong fiscal management, quality programming and services, and responsive staff, the Brea Chamber will continue to ensure that membership dues are a sound investment with measurable returns.


    The Voice of Business


    Over the past 12 months I have spent a great deal of my time dealing with legal issues on behalf of the business community. Many California companies feel that they are being regulated out of business. Chamber membership provides you a voice in the legislation process. As your advocate, we have had many successes.

    The City recently proposed a major overhaul of the Business License Tax which would have resulted in substantially higher fees for many businesses. The Chamber was able to stop this proposal at the Council study session level.

    The Chamber researched how ballot measures for the June and November elections would impact you, and took stands in support or opposition accordingly. We widely publicized our positions and for the most part, voters sided with us. The Chamber strongly opposed the details of the health care reform bill, and now we will help you to cope with the aftermath of its passage. We have also been deeply immersed in educating the business community about ADA regulations. We are currently working with Senator Huff’s staff to create a centralized process for communicating regulation updates to the business community.


    Together we can build a stronger business community.

    Knowledge is Power

    Recruiting and retaining quality employees is a key issue for many businesses. Employers are requiring increasingly higher levels of education for their new hires and demanding ongoing learning for current employees. Even with our record unemployment rates, I still hear from businesses who say they can’t fill job openings due to a lack of qualified applicants. Education and training investments are needed to expand the pool of workers available to businesses and improve the efficiency and promotability of existing employees. A highly educated and skilled workforce increases the productivity and profitability of our entire business community.

    Chamber workforce development initiatives, such as Brea Young Professionals programming, the Business Builders Seminar Series and scholarships for Brea Olinda High School students, are just a few of the ways we promote continuous educational opportunities for all.

    Sir Francis Bacon said “Knowledge is power”. One of the many benefits of Chamber membership is access to the information you need to overcome the day to day challenges of running a business.

    As you may know, local businesses have been targeted with ADA lawsuits for alleged non-compliance. In order to prevent more businesses from being victimized, we are co-hosting a Town Hall with Senator Huff on October 28. A speaker panel will present information about ADA requirements, Federal and State ADA laws, and guidelines to avoid lawsuits for non-compliance. Our speaker panel will include representatives from California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, Lawyers Against Law Suit Abuse, and the California Commission on Disability Access.

    On October 21, the Brea Chamber of Commerce proudly salutes education from 5 to 9 pm in Downtown Brea. In addition to spectacular performances by students from Cal State Fullerton and Brea Olinda High, we will be offering many family friendly activities such as competitive video gaming, 'Are You Smarter than a Brea Olinda 5th Grader?' and HORSE competitions against the Ladycats. We will also be drawing the winner of the week-long Carnival Cruise for 2. I look forward to seeing you all there.

    Preparing for Disaster

    Our speakers at September's Businss Outlook Breakfast focused on preparing for natural disasters such as earthquakes and fire. But more often, the emergencies that businesses face are man-made. I’m sure that most of you are aware of the ADA compliance shakedowns that have been occurring. I have also recently learned of another scam targeting restaurants and supposed EPA regulations. The Chamber’s mission is to connect business with opportunity, but our efforts are also focused on helping the business community to cope with adversity. We can provide information, advice and resources, whether it’s as simple as updating your labor law posters or as complex as sponsoring legislation to create a more business-friendly environment.

    Your Chamber membership ensures that you will never have to face critical issues alone.

    Is your Business in the Carpool Lane or Stuck in a Traffic Jam?

    The Chamber is like a freeway connecting many different vehicles with their destinations. Some businesses leverage their membership to take advantage of our networking and educational opportunities. Other members use the Chamber to access important resources such as legislative advocacy and economic support services.

    Transportation is a particularly important issue for our business community. All goods and services manufactured, sold, and used here require reliable transportation. In addition, Brea is heavily staffed by commuters. Investment in transportation infrastructure is critical for our long-term economic outlook.

    At August's Business Outlook Breakfast, we’ll be learning about what the Orange County Transportation Authority is doing to keep our business community moving in the right direction.

    Baseball and Business

    In baseball, the team’s focus is on winning the World Series. Every player on a winning team knows that they are not alone on the field. They know they have the support of their teammates, constructive advice from their coach and the resources they need when injuries occur. At the Chamber, our focus is on building a business-friendly environment for our “teammates”, the Brea business community. Like in baseball, a lot of the work our team does, happens outside of the stadium, between our events. Our coaching and management staff is actively working on economic development, business retention and legislative advocacy issues.


    Last night I met with some of our members who are on the “disabled list” after receiving letters threatening civil suits over ADA issues. It is in these efforts that the true value of your membership lies. Because as a business in Brea, you are not alone on the field. The Chamber is here to coach you, promote you and defend you, even if it means kicking a little dirt on the umpire at times.

    Advocacy in Action

    I'm heading to Sacramento on Monday morning with other representatives from the Brea Chamber. We'll be attending the California Chamber's annual Legislative Summit. The theme of this year's summit is 'Is California ungovernable?' CalChamber President/CEO Allan Zaremberg will moderate the opening session, which will provide an opportunity to hear perspectives from three of California's top political strategists on the state of California governance from Jim Brulte, Gale Kaufman and Garry South. Newsweek Senior Washington Correspondent and Columnist Howard Fineman will also speak on Monday.


    Tuesday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and CalChamber Chair Larree M. Renda will be featured speakers at the Sacramento Host Breakfast. The event offers business owners, public affairs staff and chambers of commerce representatives a look at top issues facing California businesses.


    We will also attend breakout sessions, including Best Practices in Advocacy, 2010 Ballot Measures, Labor's Federal Agenda: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You, the National Export Initiative, and the new California Governor's Office of Economic Development. Our trip to the state capital includes plans to see Senator Huff and Assemblyman Norby, as well as a slew of other politically influential people.


    I feel it's critical that we keep a finger on the pulse of economic development, industry/trade and regional business issues. In order to serve you best, the Chamber needs to know the latest news on issues that affect your business now and will continue to have an impact for years to come and how pending ballot proposals could change how your company operates. We need to be part of the movement to 'lead the nation out of the recession.'


    As the voice of business, it is the Chamber's top priority to take a pro-active approach to getting the business agenda in front of our legislators.


    Paying Tribute to Public Safety


    May 9-15 is National Police Week, time to pause in recognition of the service and sacrifice of US law enforcement. Established in 1962, National Police Week pays special tribute to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. During the month of May, the Brea Chamber will pay tribute to our police officers and firefighters, thanking them while we still have the opportunity to do it.


    Some may ask how public safety is a business issue, and why is the Chamber bothering? Without a reputation for safe streets, not only won't residents jog alone at dusk - but consumers won't shop alone at dusk. Without proactive law enforcement, our neighbors gang problems would become our own. Without observant fire inspectors, your neighbor's faulty wiring could blaze into more than just a claim on your business insurance policy. Brea's 'nothing ever happens here' atmosphere doesn't happen by accident.


    Honor. Valor. Dedication. These are words that frequently used after significant incidents. After a business is robbed at gunpoint or the foothills burn uncontrollably, police and fire are lauded for their efforts to quell the situation and restore peace of mind to the community. Residents, for example, hang banners from the fences thanking firefighters for saving their homes. As the incident fades from memory, so does the sense of appreciation for the service that public safety professionals provide. Where are the banners that say 'thanks for making sure there wasn't a fire here today'?


    At the May 19 Business Outlook Breakfast, we will have a special tribute to our police and fire departments. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas will be our keynote speaker, and we have invited the Brea Police color guard to help us with the flag salute. It should be an interesting and moving event.


    We are inviting every Brea public safety employee to join us at the May 20 Business After Hours Mega Mixer & B2B Expo. Make time to show appreciation to those who put their lives on the line to protect yours. Stop by, even if only for a few minutes, to shake hands with a man or woman in uniform and say 'thank you for your service'.


    Make time to show appreciation to those who put their lives on the line to protect your livelihood.

    You Get What You Pay for... or Do You?

    The City's proposed Business License Tax increase has really got me thinking. What is the true purpose of the tax? There are some who it as a census, a registration fee, so the City knows who is conducting business within the city limits. There are others who feel that the tax exists to fund basic city services for the business community, services such as clean streets, graffiti-free buildings and well-maintained landscaping. These things are important to creating a safe, welcoming environment for shoppers.


    City staff maintain that without increasing revenue from the Business License Tax, basic services will suffer. Response times will be slower and the city risks losing its appeal to its all important sales tax base.

    Any increase requires a ballot measure, with the residents of Brea deciding whether or not to adopt the new tax rates. Council did not have the supermajority vote required to move forward with placing the issue on the November 2010 ballot. As far as the City is concerned, the increase is a dead issue - at least until the 2012 election.....

    At a recent Economic Development/Business Retention Committee meeting, a member mentioned to me that her hospital was transitioning from a sickness model to a wellness model. That comment also got me thinking. If hospitals have found that the best business model is to focus on keeping healthy people healthy, then maybe the Chamber should follow suit.

    By adopting a wellness approach to the local economy, we can focus our legislative efforts on keeping our healthy businesses thriving, while still providing care to those in need of assistance. The Chamber is taking a very proactive approach to this issue. Both the Legislative Advocacy Committee and the Economic Development/Business Retention Committee will be working on an alternate update to the Business License Tax ordinance, with or without participation form City staff.

    We will focus on the long-term picture: a strong and sustainable local economy. A well thought out and researched tax structure will result in a long-term, stable source of funding for essential public services and infrastructure during good and poor economic cycles. The ultimate goal is to create an ordinance that reflects the current and anticipated demographics of the city, and collects fees that are fair to businesses at every income level.

    It's the wellness model for Brea business.

    Tantalize Your Taste Buds

    Taste of Brea is just around the corner. There are so many yummy options this year, I'm not sure who to try first! From bbq, buffalo wings and pizza to chocolate fondue and assorted bakery items, my mouth is already watering in anticipation. We've got a really great lineup of restaurants serving food at this year's event.

    We'll also have three vendors for beer, each serving two varieties. Prefer wine? We've got three vendors for wine as well. There won't be a 'beer garden'. You're free to walk the entire event and enjoy your beverage.

    We've a great mix of business in our vendor zone. I particularly enjoy stopping at each booth to learn about our member businesses.

    Echo Love Chamber will be playing at the corner of Birch Street and Brea Blvd. I hear they're a local favorite. It's going to be a party, so we've got space set aside for dancing.

    I've been blessed with a fantastic group of volunteers to help plan and staff this event. From event chair Brady Sherard (TAPS Fish House & Brewery) to Chamber members like Gina Vander Meer (South Bay Document Destruction), Dennis O'Hern (Brea Kiwanis) and Melissa Burney (TAPS Fish House & Brewery) to community groups like GITA and Key Club, as well as countless other who are pitching in, we couldn't pull off an event as fantastic as this one without them. THANK YOU for you your time!

    Thank you also to the sponsors who help make events like this possible - Rose Hills Brea Mortuary, Savings In Magazine, Fastsigns, Memory Garden Memorial Park & Mortuary, Fisher Air, Kindred Hospital Brea and Diamond Direct.

    I'm counting down the days to Taste of Brea. I look forward to seeing you there!

    So Many Reasons to Belong

    One of the things I like most about my job is learning about different industries. It's truly fascinating to see how many different business models there are, and the amazing ways that people spend their days.

    Every business has its own target market, its own challenges and its own culture. Each of our members has different needs, and therefore, different reasons for joining the Chamber.

    Some Chamber members want meet people. They join because the Chamber offers them the ability to connect with representatives from other businesses. Some members want to meet specific people. They need help making connections with city officials or representatives from a specific business. One of my staff coined the term 'power partners'. He especially enjoys being a 'business matchmaker', putting people with complimentary needs together. One of the most important benefits of Chamber membership is access to the people you want to meet.

    Other members want to help change California's economic environment. They join to support the Chamber's efforts to get business-friendly legislation passed and job-killer bills dropped. They join to get involved in the legislative process. Advocacy is one of the most important functions of the Chamber. We serve as the voice of business at all levels of government.

    Some Chamber members want to increase their visibility in the community. They like promotional opportunities that the Chamber offers. With two business to consumer expos, four business to business expos, advertising in Insights magazine and the Member Directory & Community Guide, a multitude of sponsorship and networking opportunities, as well as our online member directory, your business will be seen by your target market!

    Other Chamber members need help with specific issues. They need help cutting through bureaucratic red tape. They need help finding employees. They need help improving their business skills. The Chamber has a number of programs to help our members with business challenges, as well as discounts on services such as group medical and e-mail marketing. I've also talked to members who belong because they are proud of this community and want to support it.

    There are so many reasons to belong. The true benefits of membership vary from business to business. I'm proud that we offer something for everyone.

    It's About Service
    I was talking to one of my board members recently about why some businesses do well in any economy and why others, seemingly strong, fail. He replied bluntly 'It's about service.' The more I think about it, the more I agree with him.

    Even at the lowest point of this recession, there were still some restaurants with waits. There were still some retail establishments that made a profit. There were still some manufacturers that expanded. Service can make the difference between success and failure.

    Some would liken good customer service to an insurance policy. Would your customers pay for your service rather than shop around, simply because they know they will get what they want from you? You can have sales, offer promotions, and slash prices to bring in new customers, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, your business may not be around for long. Good service can redefine a customer's 'want' into a 'need' and a one-time sale into a lifelong customer.

    Here at the Chamber, our business plan revolves around service. From matching you with 'power partners' to voicing your needs to legislative officials to increasing your visibility in the community, our job is to connect you with opportunities to succeed.

    I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

    It's been almost one year since I started here at the Brea Chamber. During the interview process for this position, I was repeatedly asked 'what will you do to ensure the Chamber stays relevant to our members?' I promised to come up with a Program of Work of work that would help the Chamber to better serve businesses of every size and industry.

    Over the past 10 months there has been a lot going on in the background. I have worked closely with the Board to review every program, every event and every process in place at the Chamber. We've analyzed what's been working and what hasn't, as well as what's missing. We're at the point now where you may be seeing some of the fruits of our labor.

    Many members prefer to receive Chamber news in a print format, so we've introduced Insights. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from members who find this monthly magazine useful and informative. We've also launched our Business Outlook Breakfast Series, which has been very well attended. Topics are selected to keep you on the cutting edge of business best practices. Other new educational programs, including the Business Builders Seminar Series and Brea Young Professionals, are designed to hone the skills of both you and your staff.

    New committees have been formed, including Economic Development/Business Retention, Legislative Advocacy and Workforce Development. Each is working on an agenda to support the long-term prosperity of the Brea business community.

    150 people attended our first Business After Hours Mega Mixer and B2B expo. We're also helping to connect your business with customers through events like the Taste of Brea and programs like 'Where's lunch Tuesday?'.

    All the pieces of the plan are now falling into place. Throughout the rest of 2010, we will continue to add and improve our programs, benefits and events. Enjoy!

    The Freedom to Fail

    'Failure is just an opportunity to start again more intelligently.' Henry Ford

    Those are the most liberating words I have ever read.

    How many of us fail to try, to dream, to act - frozen by the fear of failure? The ability to make the WRONG choice is often paralyzing. Not taking action can be more detrimental to your success than taking less than optimal action.

    Having the courage to dream, and then to act on those dreams, is what success is all about. The true rewards lie more in the process of achievement than in the end result. When we are handed a promotion, land a sale to a big account or enter profits on our bottom line without experiencing the struggle of earning it, we are not able to appreciate the accomplishment. It is the process, the failures overcome, that provide the pride in accomplishment.

    Seeing failure as part of the process of success, rather than as a barrier to success, opens the door to new ideas and new opportunities. This simple paradigm shift actually allows you to succeed.

    Looking at each and every act that did not bring your optimal outcome, evaluating it and then moving forward, brings you that much closer to achieving your goals.  Edison often said that he knew a thousand ways NOT to make a light bulb. Determination and an open mind will eventually bring you the success you strive for. 

    The Brea Chamber has gone through some dramatic changes over the 12 months. Like most businesses, we have been impacted by the economy. At our recent Board Retreat, we took stock of where we were, where we are and where we want to go. The Board continues to this Chamber forward, with the needs of our membership at the forefront of every decision. Making a conscious decision to 'Shop Brea', the retreat was held in town and each meal was catered by member businesses. All event supplies were purchased from member businesses.

    Our business plan has now been reevaluated, our office processes updated and our member benefit package enhanced. We are launching new programs and events, each with the goal of connecting a specific sector of business with a new opportunity to succeed. While 2009 was by no means considered a 'failure', we are definitely ready to start 2010 more intelligently. With new staff and a new direction, I am confident in our ability to serve our members in a meaningful and relevant way, today and long into the future.

    Row, Row, Row your Boat

    While at the Western Association of Chamber Executives annual conference, I heard several motivational speakers. One in particular really stood out for me. Matt Weinstein, the founder of Playfair, Inc., spoke about his new book Gently Down the Stream: 4 Unforgettable Keys to Success. His tips were not only funny, but useful and memorable as well.

    He bases his tips for success on the song Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Weinstein emphasizes that one must work, or row your boat, in order to reach a desired destination. Goal setting is an important step in achieving success. How will you know you've arrived if you don't know where you're going? Then work smart, not hard, to get where you want to go.

    Going with the flow, gently down the stream, is much easier, so choose a path that is compatible with your belief system and your talents. Weinstein also stresses the importance of enjoying your journey, merrily, merrily, merrily. Don't take yourself so seriously. Set aside time for fun at work. What else would you expect from the 'world's leading experts on fun and play at work'?

    My goal as the Chamber's CEO is to help you make your journey more successful. Our monthly Business Outlook breakfasts provide information to help you act, rather than react, to changing market trends. Our Business Builders Seminar Series offers you new skills to work smarter. Business After Hours is sure to be a merry event, with new people to meet and fun prizes to win.

    There is also a lot going on behind the scenes at the Chamber. Our Economic Development, Legislative Advocacy and Workforce Development Committees are actively working to keep the currents flowing in a business-friendly direction.

    Life is but a dream. Follow yours with confidence, knowing the Brea Chamber is here to help you every step of the way.


    Lifelong Learning

    Tomorrow I head off to San Francisco to attend the annual Western Association of Chamber Executives conference. Each year WACE plans a three day, intensive program to help chambers throughout the western United States stay at the forefront of business issues.

    Sessions topics run the gamut, from economic development, business retention and legislative advocacy to event planning and young professional programs. There is also lots of time to brainstorm with staff from other chambers about specific issues regions may be experiencing. No need to reinvent the wheel when someone else has found a solution!

    This year's conference theme is 'Connecting You to Success'.  I found that theme especially appealing, considering that the Brea Chamber's tagline is 'connecting business with opportunity'.

    I am a strong believer in lifelong learning. You can never be too smart, or too good at what you do. True success comes from continual improvement.

    I look forward to sharing my insights from the conference with you when I return.


    Seize the Day

    A member recently told me a story about sending an e-mail newsletter out with a message in buried the middle -- 'first call gets prize'. No one called. It made me wonder how often we pass up opportunities because we think we're too late or because we probably wouldn't win anyway.

    Every Monday morning we have a staff meeting. The meeting typically begins with a motivational quote. My staff is very good about finding quotes that truly inspire. Starting the week of with an attitude adjustment sets the stage for a success, each and every week. Sometimes we all need to be reminded that we should make that call, because we might not be too late, and we do deserve to win the prize.

    The mission of the Brea Chamber is to connect business with opportunity. I encourage you all to take advantage of the opportunities that our new programs, events and benefits offer you. Seize the day and make that call.


    Passion, Planning and Persistence

    I went to an Economic Forecast by Dr. Adibi this past week. He announced that the 'Great Recession' ended on September 8, 2009 (coincidently, also his birthday). He went on to say that while job losses will continue to dominate the newspaper headlines, we ARE in recovery mode. Statistically, it should take 6 quarters before businesses feel comfortable hiring again. Dr. Adibi also said that while this recovery will be slow and gradual, there is every reason to be optimistic about 2010. By mid-year everyone should really see some improvement in their bottom line. If you want to know more about his forecasts for our economic recovery, mark your calendar for our June 16 Business Outlook breakfast, where Dr. Adibi will present his mid-year update.

    At a recent Networking @ Noon luncheon, we talked about habits for success. The traits of passion, planning and persistence came up again and again. I think it is these very traits that determined which business would survive the 'Great Recession' and which would not.

    Prospects are attracted to your passion. They will become loyal customers if they are consistently impressed with your (and your employee's) service. As the saying goes, choose a career you love and you'll never work a day in your life!

    Planning is key to the long-term success of every business. Having adequate resources to weather a storm is critical. Having the flexibility to adapt to new market conditions is also a must. If you haven't looked at your business plan since you opened your doors, it's time for a makeover! Register today for our Business Builders seminar on Tuesday, February 2 to learn how to have real staying power. We'll be showing you how to update your business plan to meet today's economic challenges head on.

    Persistence, of course, goes without saying. A member told me recently that you should 'keep asking for the sale until they get a restraining order'. While this was said in jest, the point is clear. Never give up.

    Passion, planning and persistence. Sounds like a great New Year's resolution to me.


    An Auspicious Beginning

    Last Friday, the Chamber hosted our Installation & Awards Gala. It was a phenomenal event on so many levels.

    From a staff perspective, we can measure our success based on the completion of our required tasks and the positive responses we receive. We sold every seat at every table. Our Board was formally installed. The awards, produced by long-time Chamber member Brea Trophy, were stunning (and spelled correctly!). Our guests left with beaming smiles. The event, therefore, was a success.

    For me, however, the planning process was the most rewarding aspect of the event. There are so many amazing businesses in Brea. Reading the nominations forms for Business of the Year was a wonderful chore to be tasked with. Selecting the winners.... Well, I am glad that was not my responsibility.

    I am so very proud to be associated with businesses like Uni-Caps (Business of the Year: Manufacturing), BJ's Restaurant & Brewery (Business of the Year: Retail), Professional Tutors of America (Business of the Year: Service), and Beckman Coulter (Innovation Award). Each of these businesses has made an impact on our community, not only through their economic success, but also through their philanthropy. Our 'runners-up' also had extremely compelling stories to tell.

    The Chamber is blessed with dedicated volunteers. Our programs and events could not run without them. The Ambassadors lead the charge in this area, and John Carlson (Ambassador of the Year) is no exception. He was everywhere in 2009!

    The 2010 Board is a group of dedicated individuals, each committed to propelling the Chamber and the Brea business community towards success. Vice Chair of Member Services Pastor David Rader could not have been more deserving recipient of Citizen of the Year. His tireless service for the betterment of our community is unmatched. To be able to call him friend is truly my honor.

    The Installation & Awards Gala was about savoring our past and looking forward optimistically to the future.

    Definitely an auspicious beginning for 2010.

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