When your past catches up to you

by Jill Malleck

I had a great experience this week when I received a last minute invite to the 25th anniversary of the local chaper of IABC (International Assn. of Business Communicators). Seemed someone told them I was on the original Board.
Oh my, has 25 years really gone by? Yes, I was young and without children. And those of us in the country were sick of traveling to the big smoke (Toronto) to be part of IABC. Plus, I didn’t want the IABC member in Toronto to take my job when Manulife merged with Dominion Life. (She didn’t – I got to run communications for the Canadian Division – whew!)
What energy! What motivation! A handful of us professional communicators used snail mail to let everyone know they could/should/would want to join us.
Volunteer boards are suffering, and associations are folding because of lack of membership. I am told ACCORD (another organization in Toronto) is on the verge as well. What gives? It’s easier than ever to communicate using the Internet and email, which we didn’t even have back then. I think its a combination of factors. Young people today are smartly pouring themselves into their families and don’t much fancy leaving their significant others, children or friends every evening after slugging away at work. They don’t mind connecting virtually – and at all hours of the day and night – but getting to meetings – just not happening. Also, I think savvy career people know that the work done off-board doesn’t really count for much inside the office – even if it’s industry related. Finally, money is tight, membership is expensive and everyone wants customized solutions.

Why’d we do it, back then in the early ’80s? Well, women in marketing were still an anomoly and we needed credible voices. Secondly, working in the outskirts of any big city was a real disadvantage (admit it, who even heard of Australia before the internet). And finally, we needed to connect with others and build our confidence because we were the tail end (1960) of the most powerful leadership group – the baby boomers – and they were having none of our young sassiness.

I loved being part of a start-up chapter (my whole life is full of start-ups and variety and creativity). I still have deep feelings for my fellow Board members.
I have to admit I felt a bit like a dinosaur standing up on that pedestal the other night. We started it – John, Fran, Lorraine and I – (others remain anonymous as the files are lost). And we started something good.
Happy Anniversary Grand Valley chapter of IABC!

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