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Sep 16, 2022

Written by: Mark Teeter, CCE

The first step is the hardest. Something we’ve all heard and something most of us know to be true. So why is it we shy away from that first step, knowing the second is easier and before long those steps become fulfilling? The fear of the unknown, not knowing what to do or say, the fear of failure or possibly rejection? These are all powerful reasons many stay unengaged in the things, groups, causes, and organizations that matter to them.

I want to encourage you though to take that first uncomfortable step toward engagement and involvement in serving others through the groups and causes you connect with. By getting involved in a volunteer role with any organization that speaks to your interests, you not only get the benefit of a deeper knowledge of that organization, but you have a voice in that organization and begin to develop a deeper-rooted connectivity with your peers. This is of course on top of the satisfaction received in serving others and contributing to your organization or cause.

We all have a network, though most are just a series of rarely seen faces and one-off social media contacts sprinkled with a few deeper contacts through work or school. Through being active in your organizations and causes you will not only see tour web grow, but the quality and connectivity of it will increase exponentially.

The great thing about volunteer engagement is it can shift with your changing lifestyle, professional growth, and needs. Where my journey started 25 years ago and where it is now are vastly different arenas, but I’ve learned and grown from each experience and have fostered ongoing relationships from each step.

My engagement started, like many do, by volunteering with my children’s school. Classroom helper, chaperoning field trips, and PTA, soon led into coaching sports and leading scout troops. To this day I’m not only connected with the parents of other kids in these organizations, but with the now 30-year-olds that we coached and mentored, along with their growing families.

My next step in engagement was through an unforeseen and unwelcome medical diagnosis. This step was the easiest to engage in yet the hardest challenge as I started volunteering in various capacities for an organization that raises funding for research and patient support for a lifelong debilitating disease with no cure. This has been my longest and most passionate engagement as it hits me at a deeply personal level. What I’ve found though is that I need to change my capacity and what I do for this organization every few years, not only to keep it fresh for myself, but to allow others with the same passion a chance to explore roles that are meaningful to them. This keeps it fresh for everyone and new ideas flowing, and that’s a very important thing to remember when getting involved with any organization. Give any and all that you can, get the satisfaction you need from your involvement, but never overstay your welcome or get stagnant.

Somewhere along my path, through being comfortable with engagement and knowledge of opportunities presented through my volunteer network, I stepped way outside my comfort zone and left a very comfortable job for a new opportunity. This new journey introduced me on a much more engaged basis with NACM which became an incredible opportunity to get involved on a professional level in addition to my other outside interests.

Giving back and teaching skillsets was something I missed dearly from my days of volunteering with kids, so the opportunity to speak at CFDD or to coach applicants sitting for NACM certification exams was exactly what I needed, and I would encourage any of you who have such knowledge to share to get involved in a similar capacity as there is a great personal and professional satisfaction that comes from watching someone you instructed or coached receive their certifications or even local or national awards and recognition.

My latest steps of engagement have found me on the NACM Foundation board, followed by serving on the NACM Commercial Services board of directors, and now as your NACM CS board chair. Wasn’t expecting this at all, but you never know what the first step will eventually bring.

Not only has my 25-year journey in engagement fulfilled me personally and professionally, but its built a vast web of connectivity that covers almost anything I find myself needing personally or professionally. Through my non-professional engagement I have some of my dearest friends along with a connection in almost every trade, product, or service I could ever possibly need. Kids I coached are now my electrician and plumber when an emergency arises. A dad from my scout troop is currently remodeling my kitchen. I’ve got front row guest list seats to my favorite band when they come through town thanks to another connection I made. This list of 1st level connections through engagement can cast a very wide net of resources and opportunities.

As far as the professional connections, we aren’t experts on every topic, but through my NACM engagement I know an expert on almost any professional situation that arises that I don’t have experience with. My colleagues on the board regularly echo the same sentiment. If you are looking to engage with opportunities at NACM Commercial Services, or if I’ve convinced you here, I would highly encourage you to reach out. I look forward to meeting you soon.

Mark Teeter, CCE/CICP
Corporate Credit Manager, ESCO Corporation
I am a native of Portland, Oregon who attended the University of Oregon and Portland State University studying journalism, business, and obtaining a bachelor’s degree in advertising. I began my 23-year credit career in the outdoor apparel industry and 6 years ago redirected into the metals and mining industry with ESCO Corporation in Portland. I am an advocate of NACM’s educational and commercial offerings and hold the CCE and CICP designations. I enjoy cycling, camping, gardening, off-roading, kayaking, and adventure travels with my wife, two adult children, and grandson.

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