Keep Calm and Kerri On: ‘Looking Glass’
Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
I’ll take that one step further and say that you also need to be able to readjust and change, because no one can predict what is going to come.
This week marks my three-year anniversary as President & CEO of Commerce Chenango. I could have never predicted, when I took the helm back in August 2019, what the next three years would have been like, or what we would have accomplished.
About eight months ago I discovered a podcast called “My Favorite Murder” which is a comedic twist to true crime stories, hosted by these two hilarious and inspirational women, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.
Their podcast began back in 2017 or so, and I started listening right at episode #1. I felt it was important to evolve with the program as they did, through their eyes. Currently, I am in early 2019; I listen to this all the time, so it hasn’t taken me long to plow my way through 130’something episodes! I have a long way to go to catch up to where my fellow murderinos are, but it’s interesting to listen to this podcast in their time.
I have to say though, I feel like I am from the future and I am listening to friends talk about what is happening in their time. News, politics, society as it unfolds. I remember the episode when they caught the “Golden State Killer” and after listening to it from their perspective, I did some research on it and this seems like such a long time ago! But to hear it as it unfolded from them was exciting.
About 30 episodes back from where I am now, they discussed the story of “Typhoid Mary” (episode #105). As I listened to them discuss this real-life person and the story surrounding her, followed by their own concerns and anxiety over sickness and disease, it gave me goosebumps.
I know that very soon (in their time), the COVID pandemic will take hold of the world. I know it’s silly and impossible, but I want to warn them about what is going to happen! I know something terrible is about to happen and there’s nothing I can do about it, which is an odd feeling. I get the same eerie feeling when they talk about what is happening in the news, the political arena and the increase of violence across the country.
If only I had a looking glass and could have seen into the future back in 2019. What would I tell myself if I were able to?
First and foremost, I would remind myself to keep my family close and that my kids will grow up way too fast. In 2019 my oldest was just starting her second year of college and still figuring out what she wanted to do with her life. Our youngest was still such a little girl, not yet taken over by the drama of being a teenager. I would have prepared myself better for both of them to suddenly get older, bolder, and more independent right before my eyes. I could have warned Blake and myself about a few bumps along the road, but what parent doesn’t wish for that? And we made it through ok, barely scathed.
I would love to have told myself more about who trust and who to keep at arm’s length. There are always going to be people that come into your life and leave your life for reasons you may not always understand. I was still quite naive back then, assuming everyone had the best of intentions we were all working together for the greater good.
While I still believe in that, and now feel I am surrounded by those who work for the same purpose, I wish I had a better clue back then. I could have saved myself some real heartache and stress if I had an inkling that no, there are those that are not as community minded and selfless as I had thought, That there are people who are out for number one; they are just better as hiding it.
Lessons learned and I guess it’s better to know now then to still be blinded. Rose colored glasses are off, my friends. I got your number.
When I look back at the initiatives, projects and work we have done at Commerce Chenango, honestly there isn’t anything I would change!
Back in December 2019, my predecessor did a podcast interview with me. “Conversation with Kerri” it was called. I recently re-watched it to see to see what I shared back then, what my plans were, and what we actually did. Oh, that bubbly, positive, doe-eyed girl! She had no idea what was about to happen in 2020, and you don’t know how badly I want to tell her!
But you know what, we prevailed. No matter what the community, the world, and COVID handed us, we overcame it and are a stronger organization for it.
We tackled the COVID pandemic and became the champion of the business community. We managed to do a complete rebrand of our organization, launched a new website, created virtual training and educational opportunities. We transitioned back to in-person events and programming with record number of attendees. Despite the COVID-distraction, we still found time to write a $10-million-dollar grant to revitalize the City of Norwich. We are in the final stages of making the dream of a new, boutique hotel, a reality. And we just pulled off very successful first-year event that blew away our expectations.
It’s only been three-years and while we have accomplished more than what my December 2019-self had initially planned, I know there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Good ole ‘Abe was right: the only way to predict what the future holds is to create it ourselves.
I don’t know what this coming year has in store for me, but I know I will never stop trying to create a brighter future.
The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of any entity that this author represents.