Before we left for Columbus, I thought I understood what an honor it would be to speak to the 80 or so Wilcox staff members gathered at their first annual conference. But I didn’t really comprehend what a gift I had been given until later.
It began sinking in after my presentation, when Ember came up to make an announcement and stopped to hug me on her way to the podium. When I saw Carol, Kathy, and Ollie’s faces. When people I know, as well as complete strangers, came up to thank me for my remarks. And especially when Jamie thanked me, and I said no thank you, and he said no thank you, etc.
When I got home, friends and neighbors asked me what I said, if there is video, if I have a script. No, there is no video, no script. I have my PowerPoint slides and almost all of my note cards, but that’s it.
Even if I tried to recreate my speech, I couldn’t, not really. I wouldn’t be able to duplicate the emotions that overtook me when I looked out at the audience. Those feelings, as well as my sleep-deprivation, colored everything that I remember saying.
Little of what I said was new. All but one of the stories I used are in this blog. But if you’re interested, here are a summary and some of the slides.
I thanked all of the employees for what they do to help buyers. They are the ones who make our homeowner experiences possible. Even those who have little or no contact with buyers still play a role in making our homes and communities a reality.
I related my personal story of choosing and buying my Abbey. It’s the same one that begins this blog.
I talked about my positive experiences dealing with the Wilcox staff, including Jon and Gary, who are no longer with the company. I explained my belief that Carol, Kathy, Bob, and Steve are as much a part of our community as the neighbors who live here.
I wish I had remembered to say that I believe the Wilcox staff are people of character who seem to share the same values as the Wilcox family. I had intended to say that they are very good at relating to the older people who make up most of their customers.
I spent more time describing our community than any other topic. I used this slide, which was well received. Not only do we look like the close community that we are, it also showed them what our Flower Power event is like.
In the slide below, I used an Epcon term, builder partner, to make my point. Wilcox is considered a builder partner of Epcon, and we homeowners are the builder partner to Wilcox. They build the homes, clubhouse, and pool. Then it’s up to us to use them to build the community.
I explained that one way we build a community is by working together, on projects such as garage sales and Christmas decorating.
I talked about shared experiences drawing us closer together, using the example of losing Bob and Pat, dedicating the trees in their honor, and then saving the trees from the drought of the next summer.
I told them how much fun our social activities are. These are some of the slides I used:
Then I got more serious with this slide showing our mixed feelings about growth.
I tried to gently explain that we sometimes get growing pains when growth comes very quickly. I had done my homework on this one and could give them statistics: when I moved in 3 1/2 years ago, there were 20 to 25 residents. Now, counting renters, there are close to 100.
Finally, I referred to the Epcon slogan Where life comes together to illustrate how my life actually has come together since I moved here. How I have Glenn and Shirley to connect me to my home town. How I have neighbors who are former students, colleagues, parents of students, and a grandparent of students. How my being on the board of my former community prepared me for my role here. How my retirement writing jobs grew into this blog and our newsletter.
Reviewing all of this has reminded me how much I have to be grateful for. And that includes the opportunity to present at the conference this week.