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The Art of Humility

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

When advertising Hall of Fame legend Bill Backer died last year, the news was easy to miss. Who among us recognizes his name? But consider the phrases he implanted into the zeitgeist of the past 50 years:

“Soup is good food.” – Campbell

“Here’s to good friends, tonight is kind of special.” Lowenbrau “Tastes great. Less filling.” –  Miller Lite

How about …………

“Things go better with Coke” or  “Miller Time”

And if those phrases don’t resonate, Bill Backer was responsible for putting Dave Thomas into Wendy’s commercials. The guy was a legend; just in obscurity.

What Bill Backer did for these companies, we’re called to do for our communities – stand in the background, do the spade work that leads to sustainable growth and prosperity, and sometimes most importantly let others take the credit.

How many times have you stood in the back of the room while the Mayor, Governor, key Business Leader, etc. received all of the accolades for your great work.  After all, the first line in every economic developer and Chamber execs. job description should read: “Every day make someone else a hero”.

Humility, patience and perseverance just might be the three most important attributes of a skilled civic leader.  That phrase “it’s not about you” has never been more applicable than it is in our sphere.

We live in a “me, me, me” world today – just follow our President on Twitter if you need confirmation of that reality – and yet Chamber and EDC leaders cannot espouse that trait.  Rather, the mere suggestion of things like collaboration, alignment, and cooperation implies the need to place personal agendas to the side to advance the greater good.  Simple, logical and perhaps even a statement of the obvious; and yet, this may be the hardest thing required of us.

I know for me I need the constant self-reminder that our job is to make our clients better by shining the bright light their way, NOT our way!  Sometimes that is very difficult and yet it always turns out to be the right thing.  As I look forward to 2018, I will keep these words present:

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real” – Thomas Merton

Have a great holiday season and fantastic 2018.

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