Freehold LeTip — not your average networking group; How continuity through a pandemic has created a stronger sense of family, new vision, trust and collaboration amongst members.
When asked by Paul DellaValle to write a piece on the current state of affairs and what our group has encountered during these last few months I immediately started thinking and researching characteristics of leadership, what makes an organization strong in addition to how and why it can last during difficult times.
I started to think about why myself, the board, our group both as a whole and individually as members do what we do. Why, even though we can no longer see each other in person did 60-90 people continue to show up at 7:05 am on a weekly zoom call from their homes (a foreign platform to many prior to the pandemic), many having to tiptoe around family members, possibly whisper and battle WiFi? Why did we as a group began to pray, send love and keep tabs on multiple members who were diagnosed with COVID-19? Why did we offer each other insight and knowledge when trying to figure out how to get loans? Why did we brainstorm new and innovative ways we could assist members who were still able to operate in an effort to generate new business? Why did members who recovered from the virus then volunteer to donate plasma to a member in need? Why did we continue to show up for virtual happy hours just to keep each other company while cooking dinner, vent, lend out puzzles, meet for distanced walks in the park or simply picked up the phone and asked, “How are you?” and “Are you ok?” Why at the drop of a hat did I feel I could call on someone during the most difficult of times to utilize their resources and produce for another member without question? And why did our members collectively gift one of our own’s family a check for $2500, gifts for his grandson’s 3rd birthday and a quarantine parade unlike no other so that we could represent because Grandpa couldn’t be there. I believe it all comes down to the environment our group and it’s leaders have cultivated for years. One of trust, one of cooperation and one that embodies a familial concept and a knowing you just can’t learn… “because they would do it for me.”
To many our claim to fame is being the largest standing LeTip group in existence but to those who have stepped through our meeting doors and have really taken the opportunity to connect with us, we feel more like a family. During our speaking opportunities we share snapshots of our upbringings, our journeys through life, members of our family and poignant times we were faced with challenges and grew. We have socials and lunch bunches and holiday parties where we meet spouses and significant others. We know each other’s children, parents or siblings names as we don’t just speak about business. But don’t get me wrong for one second— there is much business to conduct! We are producers- a room of leaders who naturally connect and collaborate to raise the bar and generate more for the collective. We maximize power partners and create habits within our daily routines that activate the thoughts of one another and how we can provide tips throughout each and every day.
When it comes down to it I honestly feel that if people feel safe inside an organization they can be themselves and will inherently combine talents and strengths. They will work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize opportunity together. I have truly witnessed this since the start of the pandemic which may be seen as ironic to some being that we most likely have the highest degree of overlap amongst categories given our size. Bottom line, trust and loyalty are feelings generated over time and cannot simply be taught.
See, long before I became President our former leaders had to embrace an abundance vs. lack mentality in an effort to facilitate growth. This process could only succeed if there was trust and cooperation from all members and leadership. It is the same to date. You can imagine this is not always easy as circumstances arise but in the end I feel our members believe we will always attempt to do what is fair and best for the group as a whole. We constantly encourage everyone to lead with the value they provide vs focusing on what may be lost. Each member truly has SO much to offer.
Author and leadership guru Simon Sinek states, “It is a leader’s responsibility to set an environment. Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge. Leaders are not responsible for the result. They are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results. Their purpose is to produce teams who take care of each other and who love each other, who feel valued and valuable in the organization- that is our job!” This is exactly why during these times we have focused more on our heart count and less on our head count. We as a board feel this will carry us through and make us stronger on the back end of the pandemic.
And with that, I will leave you the newest version of our creed which was adapted a few weeks into the pandemic by our past president, Seth Rappaport and is read every week during our weekly Zoom meeting. “LeTip is an organization of men and women, dedicated to the highest standards of competence and service. Our original purpose was only the exchange of business tips. But, we are significantly more than that. We are a group of people who value the relationships that have grown from our association with each other. Members will, at all times, maintain the highest professional integrity. We will support and honor each other whenever possible. Each business category is represented by one member and all conflicts of interest are disallowed. More importantly, this chapter recognizes that each individual member is part of our LeTip Family and we will continue to support each other in good times and bad.”
President, Freehold LeTip