Kennebec Valley Chamber

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Friday Report ~ October 2, 2015

Monkey See, Monkey Do ~ I recall reading a book years ago, entitled "The Hundredth Monkey". I don't recall much of the book, it was about nuclear war, but I do recall a story the author told about the "Hundredth Monkey Effect". The story described scientists in Japan that had studied two different groups of macaque monkeys on isolated islands. The scientists introduced a sweet potato and taught one monkey, on one island, how to wash it. Apparently, after a certain mass of monkeys on the first island had learned this behavior (presumably 100 monkeys, right?), the monkeys on the other island began doing the same thing with no interaction. I always found it fascinating that once a group of beings had information that reached a tipping point, then the knowledge was somehow spread to others of the species. I have shared this theory numerous times in my life as I truly found it enthralling.

     In order to write this week's blog, I did some more research on the effect. I learned something even more fascinating. It's garbage. The whole thing. I was bamboozled. It's a myth. It would be cool if our social consciousness worked like that. We could invent something and share the idea enough that it takes hold to all corners of the planet.  But it simply doesn't. Our reality dictates that we need to communicate the old fashioned way.

     This week I am in Caribou, Maine for a conference. It's a meeting of the Maine Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.  Despite the remote location, the RSVP numbers are quite impressive. These meetings give us all an opportunity to discuss common challenges and to share with each other any great ideas that are helping our chambers succeed. We arrived on Wednesday evening and spent Thursday and Friday in meetings before returning home.

     I will admit, it's hard to dedicate time like this to a conference. Often times, the day before I leave for such an event, I strongly debate cancelling.  There is always too much work piled up on my desk to really get away and let it pile up even more. But then I force myself to go, and I am never sorry.  In addition to the extremely informative topics of discussion, the relationships that are developed with other chamber professionals is key to our combined success. To be able to call Cory in Skowhegan or Robin in Bethel when I am faced with a dilemma is absolutely priceless. Not only have they likely faced this kind of challenge before, but their solution might be just what I need to get through it.

     The type of business you own or run is irrelevant. Whether it's a flower shop, a towing company, an HR staffing firm or a printing company, someone in your industry is doing things better than you are.  By being a part of your professional trade organization, you gain access to these great ideas. If you have nothing left to learn, then I would argue it's your responsibility to meet with others in your field and give back. The future of your industry may very well depend on creative new ways of doing business.
     Then again, you could sit quietly at your desk and hope that you are the 101st monkey. Your call.