Do you remember what you were doing 25 years ago this month? Unless it was a time marked by something special or momentous in your life, it may have just been…well…1988. For me, it was a turning point in my life which would lay the groundwork for the many blessings, family, and friendships which I am so grateful for today. Yes, that was 25 years ago this month and my-oh-my how things have changed since then!

After managing the McDonald’s for two years, and working as a Cracker Barrel Manager for another 2 years, I decided to pursue business ownership. After an exhaustive search, I ended up purchasing a lawn care franchise. It was when I bought that business and before I even had my first customer that I was referred to the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce, which was then located in a far back corner of what was the inside mall area at the Valley Center (H.G. Hill Food Store) shopping center. Betty Stephens was serving as the Executive Director. If you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting her, add it to your “Bucket List”, because she is indeed a rare bird and your life will be richer for it. Her enthusiasm and passion for the Chamber was so contagious that I was hooked from the very first day. The Chamber is a great place to get involved and truly make a difference in your community.

In 1992 I was asked to serve as a board member. I was blessed to be joining a great group of community leaders such as Phil Smartt, Don Henderson, Drs. Mike and Peter Davis, Glenda Binkley, Phyllis Robinson, David Hinton, Sheila Wren, and many others. As the Board Chair in 1995, Phil Smartt asked me to follow in his shoes (an enormous job that I was humbled to even attempt) as the Board Chair in 1996. I just could not seem to get enough of this business and all of the great things that go with it. In the fall of 1998, when the opening to be the Director became available I decided to sell my business and work for the Chamber on a full time basis. We knew at the time that with all of the ground work that had been done by so many true leaders and entrepreneurs; our future was very bright. And while to some it would seem that the fruits we are enjoying today just somehow popped up in the last few years, those who know the whole story realize that as the old saying “We sit under the oak tree today because of the acorn that was planted years ago” is oh so true.

So now is the time to ask ourselves that if we are a resident of our community, a business person and even a community leader, what will the oak tree of the future look like? I guess that will be determined by the seeds we plant today. If we are sitting on the sidelines hoping that Mt Juliet will be the type of community we are proud to call home, and are hoping that others will just do it for us, then perhaps we need to take a hard look at the role each of us can play. Let’s all commit to getting involved in the process (not sure how, call and ask me!) and help to make sure that when we are sitting under the oak tree in 2033 we can look back and know we did all we could to insure we are as proud as we can be. I’m available 24/7 at See you right here next week, Mark Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.