CREW Network Convention – Chicago 2022

Alison SouthBlog

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Phew! The end of 2022 was a whirlwind, here we are in the new year and I’m finally getting to write about the amazing experience Joy and I had at the annual CREW Network Convention in Chicago last September. As an acting delegate for our chapter, serving as President Elect then President, I’ve had the privilege to attend two consecutive CREW conventions. It’s hard to imagine but each year tops the previous one!

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As President of the Fort Lauderdale/ Boca Raton chapter, the beginning of the convention (known as the Fall Summit) consists of informational sessions for  leaders and delegates. These workshops support the growth of local chapters through strategic planning and guidance shared amongst peers. There is usually a dynamic speaker that speaks  about leadership. Coach Barrhonda White, Executive Coach and Founder of The Bink Group, LLC led an open discussion on the foundational importance of trust in teamwork, offering tactics for conflict response and resolution practices. I found it most interesting that she created a conflict resolution playbook which outlined 7 steps:

  1. Actively listen
  2. Ask questions (what?/how?)
  3. Summarize what you heard
  4. Validate your hearing
  5. Share your truth 
  6. Negotiate the happy medium 
  7. Commit to a positive path forward 
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Last year’s speakers in Chicago were unprecedented! The first day we started bright and early with Jill Donovan, Founder of Rustic Cuff. Besides the fact that we were all in tears by the end of her speech, I took away some key lessons that I continue to remind myself: 1. Learn from difficult moments without memorizing them - set a time and date and make the decision to move forward. 2. Reframe the pain - Mindshift your pain to purpose, put on those reframing glasses. And 3. JUST DO IT! We ended the day taking  the iconic Chicago architectural river cruise with colleagues at sunset. It was absolutely breathtaking!

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The following day we heard from Marci Rossell, Expert Economic Forecaster and former CNBC Chief Economist. I thought this was going to be boring and hard to follow, but Rossell made the conversation easy, fun and actually added some humor! It was interesting to hear her perspective (remember this was back in September of 2022) that we were in an “Emotional Recession”. She further explained that many people were confusing recession with inflation. Recessions are when consumer spending is down along with the employment market. She stated, “Businesses cannot be going gangbusters at the same time as a recession” and that the “pandemic dropped kicked us into the future 10 years”.

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Rossell ended her discussion with an issue that’s been on business owners’ minds for quite some time: the shortage in the labor market. The labor supply in the United States is shrinking exponentially. With an estimated 2.5 million baby boomers retiring, the pandemic significantly sped up  what was already estimated. Millennials are just not having as many children and Gen Z is an even smaller population compared to Millennials. Rossell explains that young people do want to work despite what most say, it is simply because they actually don’t exist.  Labor augmenting and labor replacing technology is here and being developed which will change the labor market in our future. 

Wow! I learned so much this trip and had an amazing time with my business partner, Joy and my fellow board members. Till the next convention!