Dec 14, 2017


By Sarah Mullins

"Silent gratitude isn’t of much use to anyone." That’s why I’m here to tell you a re-cap that turned into a story of gratefulness.

After 7+ years in the organization, BNI has continually pushed me to be beyond myself, to look first to others and then be grateful for what comes back to me. I attended BNI Global Convention 2017, and the experience, just like every other BNI experience, has simply… grown me.

Have you ever been in a room of 800 people who want to help you more than they want to help themselves? That is exactly what happened each moment of Global Convention in the absolutely beautiful LBC.

My roommate, a Director from San Francisco Bay area greeted me each morning, even when I would set my alarm before hers, with a smile and a “Good morning”’. As I walk down to the lobby before breakouts were to begin, I would hear at least 12 “Hello! Where are you from? What’s your name?”  - each with a big smile. The rest of the day my cheek muscles grew sore from the smiling, the wonderful conversations, and the inevitable “Thank you” that I doled out for all the great help I was given.

Even as I write, the recap of 7am-10pm of each day seems more like a sitcom or pleasant dream, but for 5 days it was real life! So far in my lifetime, I have only experienced one company that could draw it’s ideal leadership base to embody one perfect mentality. That’s BNI. That’s Givers Gain.

As one of the core values, EDUCATION, educational moments, breakouts, lessons, and key note speakers were phenomenal.  However, nothing compared to the experience of meeting with directors, business people, and BNI loyalists throughout the world and having the opportunity to learn about them and from them.

I sat down with directors from Argentina, the United Kingdom, India, France, Ireland, Brazil, Cyprus and so many more who poured out their BNI experiences, their hardships and their successes so that I might learn and benefit from them. I gained friendships, business relationships and heartfelt moments of sharing honestly with these strangers, who, after the first few hours of conference, I felt like I’d known for years.

Understanding how much good there is in the world and it’s people is something I’ve held dear to me my entire existence. It’s a piece of me that keeps me moving forward, and it’s something I hope to pass to not only my children and family, but to the 100’s of BNI members I consider my teammates. I was given such a gift to attend global convention, to be in a place with so many luminous individuals, it made my heart grow.

It wasn’t just me representing the Heartland.  Each of us directors had our own personal experiences during the trip. Mine was embodied by the overwhelming gratitude I carried with me each day for every individual present at the Convention. From a small conversation in the coffee line, to scheduled 121’s, to waiting at the bar for our end of day “brewskies” I met with individuals who all had one question for me: How can I help you?   I gained so much knowledge and inspiration from BNIers across the globe on how I can be a better resource to my members and I am antsy to say I just can’t wait to share it all! 

At the end of each conference, as is our culture, our amazing leaders, Vince & Kris, always orchestrate a sit down for the Heartland Team. I tried to sneakily take notes (they caught me) on what each of us gained from this year’s trip to GC. Kris immediately began thinking about the potential growth of the Heartland Region and how it could benefit our members, then brainstormed on how she can start the process of setting up the best systems for us when we grow.

Brandon, a seasoned convention attendee, decided this year to give up on what he thought he should be looking for, and instead opened himself up to seeing what convention had for him.  As a result he found tips, systems, and a new mentality that his members will benefit from.

Steve, even with a bout of the flu during his time at convention, listed off key moments from his breakouts and speakers to help him improve the leadership in his area, already making plans to implement them to aid his members.

Vince, after taking in all our ramblings, immediately jumped into leader mode, identifying new opportunities, responsibilities and paths for each of us directors, based on our strengths, our interests and how we can best be there for our members.

Do you see the pattern??

Every director had the opportunity to attend a Global Convention, to stay in Long Beach CA, to meet with Directors from around the world, and to interact with hundreds of individuals who all wanted to give us all the help they could muster. In turn, our only wish, is to give it back to you!

It’s fitting that Global Convention was held in the month of our country’s Thanksgiving. I am continually in awe, and completely grateful for what BNI means to me. After all, who gets to say I met with leaders from 13 different countries in 4 days?  BNI gave that to me… and I can’t wait to give it back to you!

From all of us in the USA Heartland Director’s Team, we are so grateful that you’re on this BNI journey with us!