The ROI of Volunteering

THREADX Apparel Decorators Committee NetworkingEvery year, I sit down with my current financials — my budgets and projections — and what would be best described as a crystal ball as I attempt to compose what I have learned in an executive financial summary for my various companies.

The document(s) describe what I thought would happen financially versus what occurred and what can be done to eliminate losses and improve profitability as I move forward in an evermore challenging business environment.

In this post, I’ll just cover a few expense line items that have to do with professional development, trade shows, dues and subscriptions, and the travel associated with these items — which are often the first under the ax when financial improvement is the goal. So, before you randomly start whacking at professional development expenses, please read the following. I also must apologize to those of you who are not my regular readers — I simply can’t tell one story without telling another to set the stage for my example, so here goes …

One of the first and best lessons I learned in life is that if I think I am the smartest person in the room, I am most certainly wrong. More importantly, if by some weird chance I am the smartest person in the room/group/association, I need to get into another one fast because I am not learning anything or growing beyond my own little world. To sum it up, I simply don’t know what I don’t know! I have learned that I must surround myself with individuals who are smarter, brighter and more energetic, for the only place to go is up, and that is where I intend to go.

Apparel Decorators THREADX Networking EventNow that I have made those points, I can get on with my discussion of why the time and money I spend as an SGIA committee volunteer leader is just about the best ROI I get anywhere.

When first approached about participating in the SGIA committee structure, I was intimidated by the high industry profile of many of the committee members and reluctant to participate. After a few phone calls and e-mails I realized that my potential personal ROI was very high — and I would learn nothing if I did nothing — so I filled out an application and was accepted to the Apparel Decorators Committee.

Additionally, I was concerned about my time away from my company, Mind’s Eye Graphics, and the hard dollar costs associated with travel and lodging when required. However, I also determined that SGIA committee participation was one of the best ways for me to, work on my business, not in my business. Therefore, investment justified and approved.

SGIA volunteer participation and leadership is a post-graduate level business education in not only the various graphic arts we use to create the amazing products our consumers happily pay for, but also in the daily minutiae involved with being a leader in our individual companies, business communities and associations. I have often said that I have succeeded in business despite myself, and SGIA is one of the reasons I have.

THREADX Networking Event Apparel DecorationI have relationships with business owners who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on MBA training who speak of the value of their graduate program cohorts. I am genuinely amazed that I get this level of experience and advice for simply raising my hand and volunteering with SGIA — a bargain on any cost analysis spreadsheet.

To sum it all up, the expense line items associated with my participation in SGIA are going to be increased — not the other way around — so that I can take full advantage of the SGIA experience.

SGIA is accepting committee/advisory council applications for the 2019 - 2020 term through July 2. Learn more and apply today.