In 1991, I joined the National Association of Catering Executives, as a member of its San Francisco Chapter. At the time, I was running Designer Music, a San Francisco – based disc jockey entertainment service.
Within weeks of joining NACE, I became membership director of the chapter. Believing I could make a contribution, nationally, in 1994, I ran for the board position of National Affiliate Representative. That was the only non-catering position on the National Board of NACE, representing all the vendors and suppliers, about 40% of all members.
The election was 3-way race, and I lost, in a runoff (a close one, I was told). The newly elected president, Shelley Pedersen, CPCE, sought me out, put her arm around my shoulder, and said to me quietly, “You came across as the strongest candidate. It’s just that not enough people know you yet. Run again in 1996, and you’ll win.”
What wonderful words of encouragement, from someone I’d barely met. It was a turning point, and an uplifting moment.
I did run for the same position, two years later. That election was the start of five 2-year terms on the NACE National Board, in four different positions.
Without that boost from Shelley there’s no telling if I would have run for office in 1996. You can’t win if you don’t run.
In retrospect, it showed me how a few well-placed words can have great impact on another person. I am incredibly grateful to Shelley for saying the right thing, at the right time.