On April 27, 2023, I had the terrifying honor of being the Master of Ceremonies for the 106th Annual Joplin Chamber Banquet. I say “terrifying”, because speaking in front of large groups isn’t something that I’m particularly comfortable with. I agreed to do this as a way to push myself outside of my comfort zone, out of a sense of duty, and as a way to show my appreciation for the Chamber and those who support it.
Since that event, my report to anyone who asks how it went was “I survived,” but the event itself was fantastic. I was able to be a part of recognizing some admirable members of the business and education communities, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to address those who support commerce in the Joplin area.
I would like to share my opening remarks with you because they’re funny, but there are also some resonant thoughts that help provide context to what supporting the Chamber really means.
“On March 7th, Stephanie McGrew sent me a text that said something to the effect of:
“hey, you’re literally my last stop, because everyone else has said no, and you and I both know that this is a terrible idea… hey you should emcee the banquet!!!”
Naturally, my first instinct was to respond with a gif of Leo DiCaprio laughing in Wolf of Wall Street, but I said,
“… you’re right, that’s an awful idea… when do you need an answer?”
To which Stephanie responded nothing.
So, I messaged my wife, Candace:
“You are not gonna believe the idiotic thing that I’m thinking about saying yes to”,
and she says… “you would be great.”
Well… crap. Now I’m cocky. Now I’m like “pssh… I WOULD be great,”
Message to Stephanie… “I’m your gosh-heckin emcee”.
SIX HOURS LATER…
Candace says to me,
“see that’s how I know we’re different, because I would have NEVER said yes - that’s terrifying,”
and all of the sudden, I start freaking out and regretting everything.
WHAT… HAVE… I… DONE????
Is it too late to back out? Yes, of course it is. You would just look flaky and weak if you backed out. Not an option.
So what other options are there?
THERE’S ONE OPTION. Be great.
So that got me thinking about all of the previous banquets and what I could do differently, and that got me thinking…
Why are we here?
What does being a part of a chamber mean?
For many people, it's about promoting their business,
a b2b relationship-building tool,
or maybe a goodwill "supporting the community" initiative.
But that's not why we're here.
Because I learned that being a part of the chamber doesn't just benefit your business,
it builds and maintains the infrastructure of commerce that allows your business to exist in this community,
that allows the people of this community to provide for their families,
that makes the place we call “home” possible,
from the industrial park to the garage startups and everything in between,
connecting them to resources that make launching and growing more attainable,
welcoming them into a network of others who dare sail the waters of commerce,
representing their interests as the forces greater than any one business can face alone appear on the horizon,
a driving force in holding up the grid that makes commerce… and thus community… possible.
We’re here tonight to thank YOU for being a part of that grid,
for braving the waters of commerce,
and for choosing to protect and grow this community.
This is a party for YOU.
And as a business owner in this community, this is our chance to shake the hand of every chamber staff member and thank THEM for being the boots on the ground for this mission, and MY chance to thank the chamber staff on behalf of everyone here.
Please wave so we can properly embarrass you, chamber staff.
(elbow elbow wrist wrist)
And to close my ONLY monologue for the night…
WELCOME TO THE 106th ANNUAL
JOPLIN AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BANQUET!
TONIGHT - WE CELEBRATE US!
ALSO… this entire monologue was written on March 7,
the same night that I decided that my only option… was to be great.