You might find some trees at Point Defiance that are 130 years old, and the Washington State History Museum might have preserved artifacts that old, but you will be hard pressed to find other examples hereabouts that can boast a longevity of 13 decades.
Add the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber to that short list.
Local business leaders and elected officials met Thursday at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center to celebrate that history and to proclaim what Chamber President and CEO Tom Pierson called “the next generation of ideas.”
We are currently facing, he said, “a new economy like nothing we have ever seen, felt or heard before.”
High among his examples is the recently announced Seaport Alliance, which will marry the ports of Tacoma and Seattle into a single commercial enterprise aimed at preserving and promoting trade in the Puget Sound region.
Pierson also noted that the Chamber has grown to include more than 1,600 members, this from a 2011 figure of 1,191.
“We are here to be a voice for you,” he told the audience.
“When business is good, life is good,” he said.
Clare Petrich, Port of Tacoma Commission president, and Bill Bryant, Port of Seattle commissioner, both spoke glowingly of the new partnership.
Petrich noted that “it was those farmers in the Puyallup Valley” who 97 years ago “pushed for formation of the port.”
Now, she said, “the world has truly changed. Trade has changed.”
To succeed in the 21st century, Bryant said, “The old way of doing business won’t get us there.”
Continuing the theme, keynote speaker Bill Graham of Graham Corporate Communications began his presentation by asking the audience, “Name one thing that gets better by staying the same.”
No hands appeared.
“If we don’t change, we will be left behind,” he said.
It is the job of leaders, he said, “to identify the dream, to motivate the team, tell them about the dream.”
He spoke of leadership and likability, how people typically elect, hire, buy from and follow “the people we like.”
Likeability, he said, is established primarily by the appearance of face and body, first, and the sound of a person’s voice, second.
“The smile is the greatest gift God has given you if you have teeth,” he said.
A good face is “open, helpful,” he said. The voice should be warm with inflection. The body language should be open and energized.
Eye contact “is an HOV lane into someone’s heart and mind.”
Compliments, he said, are most helpful and should be simple, sincere and specific.
After the meeting, Pierson again emphasized the role of change.
“Every business needs to be reinventing itself,” he said. “If you’re sitting still, you’re going backwards.
Going forward, he said, will entail collaboration in the effort to build Highway 167.
And beyond that, he said, “I think we need to step on the gas, help entrepreneurs, help small business.”