Happy Holidays, Dear Opportunity Knocks Members!  unnamed (2)

We wish you and yours a wonderful, peaceful month of reflection and renewal for the new year ahead. It is a joy to participate in your business development and growth of our Central Oregon community!

OK Update

As we gear up for 2016, we wanted to share with you a letter from OK founder and Board Chair, Jim Schell. We hope this letter will answer questions you may have about the organization, and inspire you as you read about exciting changes ahead in 2016!

Opportunity Knocks Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 

A letter from Jim Schell, OK Founder and Chair of the Board of Directors

Dear OK Member, Facilitator, Board Member, Sponsor and Partner:  
Opportunity Knocks will be celebrating its 20th Birthday in June of 2016. Similar to most mature organizations, we’ve had our ups and downs, hills and valleys, and good years and bad years over those years. Several times we’ve had to make strategic changes in response to the ebbs and flows of Central Oregon’s inevitable changing business cycles, today is yet another of those times. As a result, beginning in August of this year, we instituted a “remodeling project” within OK.With that remodeling project in mind, we’d like to share an update with you; following you’ll find an overview of where OK came from, where we are today, and where we’re going.

Where We Came From

I founded OK in 1996. Several years prior to that time I had learned the value of having my own Board of Advisors and wanted to bring such a peer-advisory concept to Bend, my new home town. My business career had been in Minneapolis, somewhere around the mid 80’s I joined a business organization that is today known as “Vistage.” (Then it was called TEC.) Thanks to my Vistage team, I learned that the problems small business owners face have been encountered, and resolved, by thousands of entrepreneurs before me.

While I envisioned a Vistage-like model, I wanted one that the majority of our small businesses could afford.  Thanks to our generous volunteer facilitators, donated meeting rooms, a scaled-down program, no corporate overhead, and a host of gratuitous local sponsors, today OK fills an important role in our region. Also, OK is, and always will be, a fraction (less than 10%) of the cost of Vistage.

Much of the original culture of OK is still part of the organization today, including, most importantly, our three core values – Confidentiality, Commitment and Accountability. Those three core values are key to the success of OK and will be part of the organization for as long as we are in existence.

Where We Are Today

We’ve suffered through some hiccups over the past few years, in part due to the effects of the Great Recession and in part due to the fact that we have been slow to adapt to the ever-increasing growth and sophistication of Central Oregon’s new economy. To manage the changes during and after the recession, the Board of Directors hired part time staff members in the roles of Facilitator Relations Director (Susie Stevens) and two Membership Directors who served the organization at different times (Eric Meade and Dennis Hungerford) and a bookkeeper (Karen Cameron) who is still with us today. These dedicated individuals worked hard to grow membership and create educational events for facilitators and members, however, without a full time staff person to oversee the operations and maintain communications among stakeholders, we struggled. OK has not had a full time Executive Director for over four years.

Today OK is in the early stages of our “remodeling project.” In the three months since the project began, we’ve accomplished the following:

  • Built a Board of Directors of 19 of Bend’s finest entrepreneurs and business service providers: Visit our website and check out the collective experience of OK’s smokin’ hot Board members. We call the template our Board is using the “Entrepreneurial Team” model; it’s a new, team-based, Board of Directors model that involves accountability being assigned to teams of board members.
  • Hired an Executive Director: Aly Waibel is our brand spanking new Executive Director, and we couldn’t be luckier in landing her. Aly has taken to our culture like she’s been an OK member all her life. A collaborative, caring and motivated person herself, Aly embodies the qualities of what OK is all about, hence she’s a perfect cultural fit. Aly’s duties include the duties that were managed formerly by the Facilitator Relations Director and Membership Directors.
  • Increased membership by 21 members. In late August, before we hired Aly, OK had 137 members, today, three months later we have 158. Our stated goal is to have 200 by next April. (Feel free to hold us accountable for reaching that number.)
  • Added 5 new Facilitators. Of this we’ve learned for sure: Our Facilitators are the lifeblood of OK’s success! With that in mind, we’ve expanded our search, and increased the qualifications for, those special people we call OK Facilitators.
  • Created two new OK teams and rebalanced several others. In addition to starting new teams, (Team 29 for Emerging Businesses and Team 20 for Community Development Nonprofits) we’ve learned that it’s just as important, if not more so, to make sure that our existing teams are synergistic. With this in mind, we’ve created team rosters on the website to make our team makeup more visible, with the result that several members have moved to new teams where they felt the changing needs of their businesses will be more adequately addressed.
  • Other: We’ve also made a number of administrative, pricing and messaging changes, including a new website you can check out here: www.opp-knocks.org. All these changes are designed to make us more efficient and relevant to our members. We’re always open to suggestions!
Where We’re Going

Today, our emphasis at OK is on doing what we do best – i.e. delivering our primary product which, we’ve learned, is our members’ Growth, both business and professional. Yes, the opportunity to help our members grow is the primary reason why we do what we do; the vehicle for that growth is our teams and their facilitated monthly meetings. We feel the real work of growth happens in those meetings, where each team member is seen, challenged and supported to grow in whatever way he or she defines growth.

We conducted a member survey during September and learned that OK members highly value the conversations that happen in their meetings, and also that they would like to have more guest experts visit their teams. For this reason, OK will no longer offer educational events or best practices seminars for members or facilitators. Rather, in lieu of those events, we will select and arrange for guest speakers – experts in their fields – to visit OK teams and share their expertise. We have an excellent list of amazing, generous experts willing to share their expertise to OK teams. Meanwhile, we will promote those local events that we believe are relevant to our members; events hosted by our partners and by our sponsors.

We also changed the template for our Board of Directors. Our Board is divided into six distinct teams:  Facilitators, Marketing, Sponsors, Membership, Financial and Legal. Following are a few of the ideas that, as a result of the member survey, our Smokin’ Hot Board and Aly are working on:

  • Expanded Membership:  More members mean more revenue and more revenue means that we can increase the services we provide.
  • Key Employees: Going forward, we will be expanding our membership to include key employee teams, serving the next generation of our business and community leaders.
  • Social Meetups:  Through a survey of our members, we recently learned that OK members want more opportunities to meet other OK members. So be it; our first Social Meetup for facilitators is scheduled for December 3, 2015. Meetups for our general membership will start in 2016.
  • Annual Event: In mid-February we will host our 2015 Annual Awards event, at which time we’ll celebrate and recognize our outstanding teams, outstanding members and outstanding facilitators.
  • Branding:  There’s a rumor floating around that OK may be in for a total rebranding. It’s the Marketing Team’s call, they’re discussing it now. Stay tuned for breaking news.
  • Social Media presence: OK will be working with OK member Lis Thomas of Lis Thomas Content to create and execute a social media strategy that will result in more visibility for all OK stakeholders, and more exposure for sponsors.
  • New sponsors: We’ll be seeking new sponsors to achieve broader and wider support for the services we provide. Specifically, we’re actively seeking sponsors from the professional services sector who would like the opportunity to communicate directly with OK members.
  • New Teams: In addition to traditional OK teams which include businesses from various sectors, we’re also eyeing the following sectors for possible “themed” OK teams:  Coaches and Consultants, B Corp, Outdoor Consumer Goods, Tech, Foodie, Key Employees, Energy and UAV.
  • Facilitator Training:  Recognizing that our Facilitators make or break our teams, we’ll be developing a host of new and improved onboarding and training tools.

Finally, someone recently asked why I came back to OK after being in-absentia over the past eight years. The answer is that I believe that entrepreneurs and small business owners are the core of not only our nation’s economic ecosystem, but they also drive our culture and value system. Sure, I’m biased, but what other sector has contributed more than we have to the American way of doing things?

Oh yes, and here’s one more reason I came back: I love Bend and Central Oregon and I want us to be the best damn place in the U.S. to start and run a business. Nothing less will suffice.

On behalf of our smokin’ hot Board, we welcome your feedback as OK embarks on remodeling our organization and thereby furthering our community’s, and our region’s, growth.

Jim Schell
OK Founder and Board Chair

Save the Date for the Opportunity Knocks Celebration of the year 2015!

Sponsored by our Generous Host Five Talent Software!

When: Wednesday February 17, 2016 from 5:30 to 8:30
Where: Stackhouse Coffee and Spirits

Stay tuned for details and for information to purchase your tickets!

Community Highlights

Do you have exciting news about your company or organization? We’d love to share it! Contact Aly (aly@opp-knocks.org) when you have a success or story you’d like to celebrate with your OK community.

Is your info on the OK website up to date? Change or add your information any time by filling out the member registration form here.

Welcome to OK!

Please join us in welcoming these new and returning members: 

Marinus Koning – Reach Another Foundation
Bill Reinking – State Basketball Championship
Lis Thomas – Lis Thomas Content

And new facilitators:
Larry Kimmel – Bend Oil Co.
Jo Smith – Jo Smith Associates

Do you know someone who might benefit from being on an OK team? We’d love to be introduced!
Please share Aly’s contact info (aly@opp-knocks.org or 541-588-2719) or contact any of us on the membership committee to make an introduction.


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