Do you remember your first BEA meeting? I do. It was November of 2001. I was younger, at least half an inch taller and less experienced. I was looking to grow my business, but was also more than a little apprehensive about attending my first BEA meeting.
Entering a group of 30 plus people was intimidating. While I was invited by an existing member who our firm had a strong relationship with, I knew I would be going into a room of total strangers. Would people talk to me? Would they like me? What value could I bring to the group? Will this be a waste of time? Will I be embarrassed? Will they have eggs…and bacon? These and so many other real and irrational thoughts circled in my head.
Turns out the group was filled with people like me. They ran businesses. They had clients. They were interested in creating win-win relationships. They were doing the things that led to being successful in business and life. They were interested in what they could learn from others. And they, too, were once nervous about coming to their first BEA meeting.
I realized early on that the BEA could be a powerful resource and tool. I invited more experienced members for coffee, and got to know and understand them by asking loads of questions. This helped increase my learning curve in business. I invited my network to visit the BEA, as it was a positive reflection on me, and I knew they would find value in attending. I was able to access members who were happy to serve as a sounding board. After a time, I even received a number of referral opportunities.
Later, I joined the BEA Board, and was able to see how the organization functioned, and how those that were on the Board ticked. I eventually was fortunate to become president of the BEA for the 2007 and 2008 term.
I credit this experience as president in catapulting my career. The opportunity to speak in front of the group on a regular basis provided me the confidence to speak to any group. The lessons I learned are practiced every day. The opportunity to lead the Board, create direction, and build on the relationships cemented in the BEA was paramount in my decision to start North Star Benefits in 2008.
Talk about scared. Back in 2008, I knew that I needed a change, and I was confident that the best situation would be to have my own firm. However, that didn’t stop the nervousness.
I drew on my past experiences, thinking of other times when I was scared of doing what I knew was right. I thought back to the days before my first BEA meeting. Thought about the fear that comes from taking risks, and reflecting afterwards on how those fears were unfounded. I focused on the success, and pulled the trigger on starting what has been the best decision of my career. Thank you BEA.
Now, go out there and do something that scares you!