Return on Investment: SMPS Member 477

Watching the crowd parade into the ballroom for the SMPS Build Business Gala last Thursday evening, reminded me of the line from Van Morrison's Wild Nights, "all the girls walk by dressed up for each other." Quite the catwalk. That hasn't changed much since the earliest grand galas (staged by the remarkable Jeanne Murphy, our first executive director.) Nor has the intention of using the event to honor the best of SMPS—our people and their work.

What became so very clear to me that night was how much SMPS has changed since we danced on the steps of the San Francisco City Hall years ago. Our Society has grown up in dozens of ways that we could hardly have imagined then. There on the stage was proof: in the numbers of newly accredited CPSMs, in the ten talented new Fellows, in the increasingly sophisticated winners of the Marketing Communications Award, in categories that could not have existed even a few years back, and in Al Potter, the highly-deserved recipient of this year's marketing achievement award, now appropriately named for Weld Coxe, the second winner of the award, but truly the first marketer.

It is not that those of us with member numbers in the single, double or even triple digits, several of whom shared the evening with me, were any less capable or accomplished than those on stage. No, we have gathered our own laurels. The difference, as I see it, is that we were trekking in unknown territory, not so much pioneers but volunteers in a career adventure. And now those initial steps and missteps have traced a clearly marked career path.

Early SMPS members came together to learn and to find the like-minded. The bones of the organization were in place, but we were making it up much of the time. We put in hours and hours creating programs, reaching out to potential members, earning the support of our firms for our activities. Then it took off. The national organization solidified, the chapters grew, leaders emerged, and we all learned more than we could have hoped. There have been setbacks, of course, internal politics, financial struggles, and recurrent recessions. Never mind, the Society continues to evolve and to serve its members better each year.

Colleagues and clients sometimes ask why I still participate as actively as I do (when I am so obviously emeritus.) What a question! SMPS let me learn to lead in the Houston Chapter and as national president, it has provided me platform for my ideas in the Marketer and in programs like the discussion on trends that we organized for this year's conference, and it has given me a close circle of friends—amazing, forever friends. As importantly, SMPS gave me the professional opportunity to serve something far bigger than the last project or the next assignment.

There is no other single investment that I have made in my career that has had the sustained, long-term return on my time and energy. Looking across the table and around the ballroom last week, I just had to smile.  

(If I were to make a list of everyone that should have been mentioned in this post, it would have gone on and on and on. TL;WR. You know who you are—thank you all.)

fzk@byfranziska.com