Thoughts from Dale Steenbergen –
After you call a “Southern Lady” a battle axe, there is no chance in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that you actually rat out their name. Some of my colleagues from Georgia will know exactly who I am talking about, but there is enough plausible deniability that I can tell this story and not have my dignity ripped away by these genteel community leaders from south of the Mason Dixon Line.
Who are the battle axes? The easiest way to explain it: they were two chamber directors that had ultimate respect from their peers. They were the kind of folks that you weren’t sure whether you should bow three times in respect or shake their hand. They were superior individuals that excelled at economic and community development, and they carried the fear of God when they went to the state legislature. In short, they got it done. They got it done for business recruitment, for education, for community improvements, for workforce, and for prosperity.
I enjoyed the company of these two ladies immensely, and they gave a young (well, at least, younger) chamber director some good advice. I think why I liked it was that it was simple and to the point. While I won’t remember all of what they taught me, nor will I be able to recount it word for word, I am going to share the rules of economic development and community development that I learned from the South Georgia Battle Axes.
- Never recruit a company that you wouldn’t work for
- Never bring a job to your community that you wouldn’t want your children to work at.
- Never take a political position that your grandma wouldn’t be proud of.
- Always be aware of how your decisions impact the least educated and the most financially challenged in your community.
- Every bachelor’s degree means a million dollars to the community. Don’t listen to folks with college degrees tout how unimportant they are. Ask them why they have one.
- Be proud of your community, there are plenty of folks who will try to beat it down.
- Never back down from confronting dishonesty. No status, popularity, or job is worth sacrificing your character.
- Do the math.
- If you’re too big for your britches, lose some weight. (Or, simply put, keep your ego in check!)
- Mediocrity is nothing to aspire to.
The South Georgia Battle Axes had it right. Pretty commonsensical, but not widely applied. Certainly, as I read through that list, I see some areas that our community and our state have failed to live up to. What I would tell you is this: Your Chamber of Commerce will aspire to the values in these ten items. I can’t guarantee that we will always make the grade, but I will guarantee that we will aspire to all ten of these ideas and that we will work to hold the agencies, organizations, and governmental bodies that we work with to the same values.
Have a great 2022, Cheyenne. Keep the 10 items above in mind and remain steadfast in our pursuit of a superior community, and we can go far. In respect of the South Georgia Battle Axes,
“Have a Great 2022 Y’all, and Bless Your Hearts!”
The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1907 and is more than 1,000 members strong. Using guiding core competencies, the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce demonstrates leadership by advocating for business at all levels of government and promoting our community to make the region a better place to live, work, and do business. The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce is also active in the Wyoming Business & Industry Federation, Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Visit cheyennechamber.org for more information.