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Chairman’s Corner - FEB 2012

Grady Cope, NTMA Chairman of the Board

As I am down to my last two Chairman’s Corner articles, I thought it would be appropriate to answer some of the most common questions I have been asked in my tenure on the NTMA Executive Team.  The subject of volunteering for organizations or special causes always comes up. However, it is rare that the term volunteer is used in the questions, but in reality that’s the crux of the question. 

I’m always asked, how can you spend so much time away from your business?  How much has being on the Executive Team cost you and your business?  How do you manage your business, devote time to NTMA, and still keep your family happy? And my favorite one: Is it worth it?

I think it is best to answer each one:

How can you spend so much time away from your business volunteering?

We always hear the term, “work on your business and not in it.” Well when your not there everyday this becomes a necessary reality. In addition, those people you hired are actually capable of making decisions and in many cases they do a better job then you.  This is not to say, you become total disengaged from your business, in fact the opposite is true; you become connected to the strategic side of your business. You know, that strategy that has been neglected the most! You can ask the Past Chairmen about this one and most of them will tell you the same thing. The truth of the matter is when they came back to their business. their role had changed and their business had prospered in their absence.

How much has being on the Executive Team (volunteering) cost you and your business?

In dollars, very little. In time, plenty. But the follow-up question should be what has being on the Executive Team (volunteering) rewarded you with?

On this question, I could spend the next two pages describing these rewards, since they are numerous, but I will limit them to a few. 

The first reward has been the opportunity to serve with some of the best and brightest in our industry. The next, having the chance to learn and develop new skills. The leadership and communications skills that I have gained could not have been obtained in any classroom or my business. It is one thing to lead people working and reporting to you, while it is quite a different skill set to lead your peers. 

The greatest reward has been to watch our industry begin to show how important it is to the American public by our efforts. Just talking to the young people participating in our National Robotics League, (NRL) gives me pause that a fundamental change is occurring. We are on our way back!

How do you manage your business, devote time to NTMA, and still keep your family happy?

The talented and competent people at Reata did a better job than I could have imagined. In many ways, once the people I hired were aloud to do the job they were hired for, the company’s performance improved significantly. Since joining the Executive Team every aspect of Reata has improved and I credit much of that with me learning to let go of the everyday aspects of running the business and becoming more strategic. It’s the difference of working in the business vs. on the business.

My family, though they missed me during all of my traveling during my Chairman year, has seen personal changes in my leadership skills and my overall confidence increase.  Though, I’m sure my wife will like having me around much more this next year, she would be the first to tell you, that many of the trials and tribulations of the last year caused me to grow and learn things about myself that are inspiring to her.  Neither one of us had any idea that volunteering would give a person back more than they gave! There is no doubt that much of that has to do with the great people making up the membership of the NTMA.

Is it worth it?

The short answer is yes. I can’t think of anything I have ever done, related to work, that has meant more for me personally and done more for me professionally. The individual growth I have undergone is unsurpassed by any thing I have done in the past. For me, volunteering to serve on the Executive Team has been a game changer, my business has prospered and I have grown personally in my skill set, as well as my confidence. Try putting a price on that! 

We are constantly presented with opportunities and the problem is judging which ones to take and which ones to pass on. The one thing I would ask each of you is that when an opportunity to serve the NTMA shows up, jump at the chance to volunteer for this great organization. The payback is priceless.

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