Thursday, May 15, 2008

When you're still the CEO at age 97

As part of its centennial celebration, our national association spotlighted an extremely successful member who's part of the past (history), present and future of the industry. Notable feature: she's 97. Interviewed by the national president as part of a Forum (with several thousand attending), those present were spellbound with her tales of how the organization and business have changed in the past six decades, when computers were introduced, the personal role she played in the association; along with how the association contributed to her (enormous) success.

Also mentioned a great deal of her business success attributed to an employee, who will be her successor "someday" (but already the company president) ... who's already been with her for nearly 50 years.
And gave these reasons for her energy at 97 - never drank, smoked or retired.

She's been the talk of this week-long conference. A few observations:

1. Many of us watching immediately inspired to want to collect the oral histories and experiences of our long-serving members;
2. Retirement may be redefined - not always a given there's going to be opening at the top of an organization anytime soon;
3. It's possible to have a vibrant and extraordinarily successful company, with employees willing and able to stay for 50 years;
4. She gives a great deal of credit for her success to her key staff - and names them - even on
her web bio;
5. Absolutely no fear of change or innovation.

Think about recording or inviting in those who hold the stories for your industry and association.

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