Chairman's Message

Val Hardesty, CCE, CICP
CFDD National Chairman (2018-2019)

The more energy and attention you invest in something, the greater the yield.

I want to share the things that are important to me as I think about driving the sucess of our CFDD organization.

I always thought it would be great to be an event planner. Maybe for a large corporation, planing their big swanky executive events. Or maybe a kids' birthday party planner with all of the streamers, balloons, pony rides and clowns. Or perhaps a wedding planner, with cake and flowers and music.

The big things that attract me to event planning are all basically the same, starting with the invitations, then picking the best venue, then the program-planning, such as organizing the business stuff and of course the FUN stuff, the food for the event (there’s always food!!), making sure everyone is enjoying themselves and getting the most out of the event and then leaving the event with a renewed sense of purpose and satisfaction. And, finally, the follow-up: Asking for feedback—what could I have done better as your Event Planner?

I see involvement in CFDD in much the same way, so in essence, my membership in CFDD is allowing me to fulfill my dream of being an Event Planner.  Have you ever thought of it that way? 

Even if you’re not an officer in your local chapter, isn’t membership recruitment and retention really everybody’s responsibility? 

Isn’t quality programming also everybody’s business?

I think so, because the value of membership in CFDD increases with each person, new or existing, sharing their experiences with one another.

So, let’s start with the Invitation: How do you prepare your chapter meeting invitations? Who is on your invite list? 

Is it an email distribution list of people with paid memberships, or do you take it a step further, and maintain a list of credit professionals in your geographic area and keep adding to it all the time.  Those can be folks in your industry credit groups, people you used to work with at other companies in the area, and people whom you have met at other conferences. 

The invitation needs to be clear and should share enough info about the speaker topic so as to garner attention from the recipients.  You want them to CHOOSE your event over anything else they may have going on! 

And sending a second reminder is also a good idea, in case they have misplaced the first invitation, and a personal phone call should not be out of the question either, if necessary.

Then, choosing the best venue: How do you choose where to meet?  Do you choose a centrally-located spot, meet at someone’s place of business, or perhaps switch things up month to month? 

All of these answers work—but you have to find out what works BEST for your chapter. 

Think about the obvious logistics: is it conducive to having a speaker, is it large enough, but not too large that your group is swallowed up? 

The venue can certainly be a contributor or an inhibitor to the attendance at your meetings.

Next, the program-planning: How do you decide what program to bring to your chapter meetings?  Are you offering the right mix for your chapter’s needs—both technical skills and professional development topics? 

The program is by far the greatest draw for your members and guests (who are potential members, don’t forget!)  It’s normal for this part to be the toughest challenge. 

We don’t all have an endless bank of ideas from which to choose our topics.  But we have each other, and in reality, when we turn to each other for help, which we should(!), ideas flow like a waterfall.  They really do! 

We should be focused 100% on finding topics that our attendees can take back to their workplaces to deliver even better results than before, and be more valuable and more confident in our abilities as credit professionals after each and every meeting.

Then, making sure everyone is getting the most out of it.  How do you engage the meeting participants?   Are your chapter members regularly asked for topic and speaker suggestions?  Are they themselves asked to present topics to the chapter and to share their talents among their peers? 

This is an important part of CFDD’s Vision of developing tomorrow’s business leaders.  ASK your members to be engaged in the success of the chapter.  That means serving as officers and delivering presentations on topics that they feel passionate about. 

Make sure everyone is involved, even if it takes them out of their comfort zone.

Lastly, the follow-up or feedback: How do you know if you’re doing a good job?  Do you regularly survey your chapters, either formally or informally, to gauge their level of satisfaction?  If you don’t ask, will you ever know that there is a problem? 

For the success of your Chapter, I ask that you don’t skip over this important part, as feedback is a gift.

I am humbled by the opportunity to serve this fine organization and lead us into a year of what I hope will include growth, value to its members, and the strengthening of our CFDD network.

I am honored that those who have led CFDD before me have spent their time mentoring me, and now trust me to carry the vision and mission forward.