Notes from Colleen’s Desk: Piece of Mind

You are puzzled, right, thinking there is typo in my title? Spelling errors kind of puzzle me, too, on most occasions.

This intentional play on words is purposeful though – leading into my thoughts on how sometimes, we try to force everything we are accustomed to into the same square box. Sometimes we want all the same pieces to fit together readily because that is our default and gives us peace.

Maybe we should choose to openly embrace the change-up and move forward through it instead.

If you happen to be looking carefully at the photo of my owl puzzle, you’ve probably noticed that it is an atypical design. It is not square at all. Like really, what happened to the expected constant of straight-line borders?

While interesting at the get go, this brain teaser became quite the challenge for me. There was no rhyme or reason to what constituted a straight edge. Instead of searching out the exact pieces to complete the edges in this puzzle first, which would be a normal process flow for most puzzlers, this one broke every rule. Kind of like coloring outside the lines, right?

I can be creative, for sure. But I still like the certainty of squared corners and an estimated time of completion. I pulled out this puzzle on Christmas Day thinking I’d have it done by New Year’s Day. Nope – it was January 16. For the record, my dog Rosie was also puzzled by the obsessive amount of time that I was hunched over the card table, making break-neck progress at about 5 pieces found per hour.

In my previous January writing, I mentioned how SOREDI presented at the Medford Chamber Forum on the topic of how we are Moving Forward through Change. For the most part, I think we are all a bit resistant to change. Yet, we also know that roadblocks, detours, and design modifications are inevitable. SOREDI, like so many stellar businesses and agencies in our region, simply isn’t geared to give up without a fight!

So to accompany our 2022 theme of how we intend to keep moving forward through change, we are featuring guest blogs from members of our board of directors, like that of SOREDI’s Board President Terri Coppersmith and Vice President Chris DuBose. These posts will share how they have plowed ahead in the current economic upheaval, both personally and professionally.

Since 2004, SOREDI has facilitated the Southern Oregon Business Conference covering many different and relevant topics including updates from key industries to business attraction best practices, to housing needs and more. We enjoyed between 250 and 300 guests on most occasions in the last few years with many notable guest speakers like Tim Duy, Director of the Oregon Economic Forum, and Economics Professor at the University of Oregon. Although we won’t be seeing him in person this year, given we are taking yet another pass on a big conference, you can still view Dr. Duy’s regional economic indicators here if you want to dig into the data.

With a disruptive pandemic as our backdrop and the loss of a centrally located large conference venue, we were forced to consider alternative ways to deliver relevant offerings to our business community. There are still a few loose or missing pieces, but we are wildly serious about business development and our 35-year charter to help businesses prosper. We are simply not ready to put the puzzle away and say, ‘never mind, it’s just too hard.’

We consulted partners, pontificated, paced, and probably threw in a pouty face here and there. And then we pondered our purpose behind this ongoing conference and determined that what was most relevant today is not so much about gathering information or being entertained by a charismatic speaker. It could be about learning something new, but that is likely just a click away via the Internet.

We determined that the undeniable value of any in-person event, small or large, is the opportunity to network with peers … and maybe enjoy a good local brew or glass of wine. It’s all about making connections and developing relationships. It is the piece that has been missing for all of us for two years.

With a bit of imagination and inspiration from every business that has struggled to change their game plan, we came up with a creative new approach. We are still piecing together a few details in this conference conundrum, but we are pleased to announce our Moving Forward through Change leadership series beginning in late April.

With focus on three relevant industries – development, manufacturing, and hospitality – we have created a series of smaller events to feature pre-recorded videography of a local leader in each respective industry addressing how they have managed change over the last two years, followed by smaller peer-to-peer “watch” gatherings of 25-40 people. These micro events will be held in various small venues across the Rogue Valley; ones you might not have yet ventured out to discover and enjoy.

And that is the point! Dodge your normal routine, gather to hear and share best practices with your peers, and quaff a local brew.

Many thanks to our sponsors KeyBank and Moss Adams for supporting the Southern Oregon Business Conference for countless years, creating with us a relevant change-up, and standing behind our regional business community. Please watch for registration links and further details.

By the way, I figured you might like to see the finished puzzle. I completed 548 pieces, and Rosie completely polished off two!

I guess sometimes we must settle for less than picture perfect. However, I am certain I stared at her with those same piercing orange eyes as I put the puzzle in its box.

May all the pieces fall into place for you in 2022, whatever your grand endeavor may be! We hope to see you soon as we Move Forward through Change together.


Colleen Padilla, Executive Director

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