Giving More Than You Get: Reflecting on Your CHART Conference Experience

September 25, 2023 | 339 Views

Giving More Than You Get: Reflecting on Your CHART Conference Experience

Corban Nichols

Vice President of Restaurant Excellence | Piada Italian Street Food

I still remember my first CHART conference in Boca Raton (#futuresobright). I remember showing up later than I should have, and missing the First Time Attendee (FTA) meeting. Who was that for anyway? Couldn’t have been for me. I knew everything. The only reason I was at CHART at all was because I was forced to come, along with the rest of my peers. Plainly stated, we were not excited to be there.

I was a theatre kid in my young years. Perhaps you’ve been exposed to the types. Bold, loud, afflicted with a terrible case of youngest child syndrome. Somehow, I was annoyed with every other theatre kid I came in contact with immediately. Call it a deep-seated insecurity that we’ll talk about in a future blog. Either way, being surrounded by others whom I immediately perceived as theatre kids terrified me. I did what anyone in my position would have done—I turtled.

I ducked away, kept to myself, and surrounded myself with a shell of my colleagues to keep me safe from all of the happy, boisterous, and certainly cruel former theatre kids all around me. I didn’t attend the functions, and I didn’t network at all. I came, I saw, I turtled. Until the last day. On the last day, I met someone that I immediately connected with at my table for an activity. I started thinking to myself, was I all wrong? Could this have been a better experience if I would’ve just been present? I didn’t return to another CHART conference for four years.

When I did return, I was determined to give it a shot. I had to have been wrong before, and I was going to push all of the chips into the center of the table. All in. The first person I ran into was on the Conference Team and was running the Registration station. It was the same person I connected with four years before. Many of you already know him. His name is James Frank. I summoned up the internal resolve to say hello and reintroduce myself, but I didn’t get the chance. He came up, said hi, and remembered me right away. Cue the upbeat soundtrack – is this serendipity?! This had to be a sign. Since then, James has become a close, personal friend. I’ve ditched the turtle shell and have decided to sport a new attitude. I’ve volunteered in many different ways now for multiple conferences and for a Regional Training Forum. It’s been a blast.

Why do I share this story? Well, quite simply, I believe that you get what you give when it comes to CHART. There’s no wrong way to participate, but what you’ll find is that when you decide to go all in, you’re going to get so much in return. There are so many members that will back me up on this if you don’t believe me. That’s not the reason behind this blog though. What many of us have discovered is that the most truly rewarding part about CHART is giving even more than you get. It’s a volunteer organization. It can’t run without the life, energy, and excitement brought by countless volunteers freely giving their time to give back and make it better for those around them. Also, you never know who you will meet and how your networking together will evolve. In my case, I’ve had the opportunity to partner with James as a member of his conference team in Seattle, where he was the Conference Director. Now, I am thrilled to be able to partner together once again as I’ll be the Conference Director for CHART 105 in Charlotte, with James being a newly elected member of CHART’s Board of Directors! I don’t believe either of us could have imagined this being a possibility back in 2018.

We’ve all heard the phrase that it is better to give than receive, which is true most of the time. I know I used to hate when I gave a great gift at the holidays and would get some bogus gift in return. We can all agree that is not great. However, with CHART you get the best of both worlds. The more you give, the better the community gets, which in turn gives back to you. The more knowledge we share collectively (and ideas we steal shamelessly), the better the community gets. Who ends up winning from all of this? The people we support every day. Our front-line teams reap the rewards because we dove all in and called our own bluff.

Maybe at your last conference you played it safe. Maybe you haven’t been to a conference yet and you’re not sure what level of energy and commitment you should bring to your first event. What I will say is, you gotta give. You never know what you may miss out on if you don’t. You never know what your teams may lose out on if you don’t. Take this as a challenge and a call to action. Volunteer for something. Anything! Not only will you grow, but you’ll help elevate the industry by doing so. There is nothing too small to make a difference to someone looking for a reason to ditch their own shell. Give them a reason to go all in. Who knows what you’ll get out of it? There is a Prism of Possibilities that lies ahead, waiting for you to make the first move.

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Comments (4)

  1. Curt Archambault:
    Sep 25, 2023 at 04:13 PM

    Hey Corbin! This is an amazing post. You have nailed it on so many levels. We are all excited about your Conference Director leadership in Charlotte. Very glad you decided to go "all in" and we are all going to benefit. I will do all I can to support your success in Charlotte. Curt

  2. Serah Morrissey:
    Sep 26, 2023 at 10:06 AM

    Corban, this gave me chills and is SPOT ON. We are richer for you ditching the shell. Thank you for all that you are and bring to CHART!

  3. Kelly:
    Sep 26, 2023 at 10:00 PM

    From breakouts to conference teams to high fives and beyond- thank you for all the ways you give back to CHART!

  4. Corban Nichols:
    Sep 27, 2023 at 05:40 AM

    Thank you all so much! I'm so honored to be a part of this community and can't wait to lead an incredible team to deliver an outstanding Charlotte conference.