Discover Lehigh Valley recently celebrated its 31st Annual Meeting with the help of our keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell, and more than 140 of our partners. We thank Meridith for a very informative and captivating keynote presentation and here is a recap of the event through her eyes. Enjoy!

One of the best parts of being a business motivational speaker is meeting new people, hearing their stories, and learning their strategies for how to succeed in business today. While I work with clients from all over the country, and hear some amazing stories, I will have to say that last week was one of my favorites. First, I was lucky enough to be in one of the most beautiful places in the country, Lehigh Valley, PA, and second my client and their partners have done an amazing job of working together to make positive change happen.

My client was, Discover Lehigh Valley, an innovative organization located in the heart of Eastern Pennsylvania. Lehigh Valley is a beautiful historic community with a long list of attractions for any visitor to enjoy from art and music to a long list of outdoor activities. The team at Discover Lehigh Valley is tasked with the job of promoting tourism in the Pennsylvania regions of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, and the event I was speaking at was their Annual Meeting. This event is where their partners gather to celebrate the resurgence of tourism and the economy in Lehigh Valley.

Even though I was the closing keynote speaker for that evening, I had shown up early with the hopes of meeting some of their partners and listening to their President, Mike Stershic, give his progress report and announce their annual awards. The evening kicked off with a great cocktail party and dinner in a beautiful facility the Zoellner Arts Center on the campus of Lehigh University. Mike took the stage just as dinner was being served, and gave what I expected would be a pretty traditional update and awards presentation.  As it turned out, it was anything but traditional, the progress and success of Lehigh Valley was not only impressive, but it revealed  great insight (for anyone) on how to put yourself and your organization in a position to make this economy start working for you!

 3 Strategies to Make Change Happen

  1. Build Community – From the moment Mike began speaking, I knew this event and this organization were different. Right from the start he spoke of cooperation, connection and the partnerships they had created, and just how vital they were to the success of Lehigh Valley. He made it clear they had not done it alone, and it was their sense of community that had lead to the success and rise of visitors to Lehigh Valley. Listening to him speak, it made me realize how important community and connection are in this economy. Words like competition have been replaced with collaboration, and it is only through working together that real success can be achieved. Beginning your efforts by building community may not be a traditional strategy, but this economy is anything but traditional
  1. Clarity – The name Discover Lehigh Valley says it all about the importance of clarity and simplicity of your mission. Their job is help people learn and understand about all Lehigh Valley has to offer to anyone visiting the community for business or pleasure. Rebranding their mission and their name, from that of a Visitors Bureau, to Discover Lehigh Valley, was a powerful step in clarifying their mission. Anyone hearing that name, visiting their website, is immediately drawn to do just that – discover Lehigh Valley. Clarity of mission is key if you want to make change happen. Think about your branding, what it really communicates, what it conveys to those reading it. Is it clear? Straightforward? And does it inspire your team and your customers to join your journey?
  1. Focus – Mike spoke of the success his team and the partners of Discover Lehigh Valley have had. How the tourism numbers are above both the state and the national average, how repeat visitors and the number of days visited have increased. All of this despite the fact that the state budget for investment in tourism dollars is down, and the focus from a state perspective is not as strong. Even with the odds not in their favor, Discover Lehigh Valley has surged and succeeded, and done so all due to their ability to focus. They are clear on their mission, committed to their purpose, and not derailed by the obstacles. To succeed in today’s economy you need to understand that obstacles and roadblocks are part of the game, and should be expected. annual meeting, DLV 2015 October 29, 2015-31-IMG_1938Budgets change, customers are demanding, and technology is in a constant state of flux. To succeed today you have to remain focused, committed, and look at an obstacle as just something to get around.

Yes, it was fantastic night, with an amazing organization and fun group of people. And while we were there to celebrate the success of the resurgence of tourism in the beautiful Lehigh Valley, there were lessons there to share. Discover Lehigh Valley has embraced this new economy, found the keys to success, and uncovered the strategies we all can use to make this economy start working for you!