Visit Minot holds annual meeting, talks about new branding and opportunities

The organization formerly known as the Minot Convention and Visitors Bureau held its annual meeting Thursday to get out a new message to go along with its new name.

The Minot CVB rebranded itself as Visit Minot in January. Along with the new name, the Minot tourism organization also sports a new logo, website and message – “We’re ready for you.”

During the meeting, which was held at the Grand International, Teresa Loftesnes, president of the Visit Minot board of directors, said the staff of Visit Minot did a tremendous job in promoting the Magic City during 2012. Loftesnes noted several conventions were held in Minot, social media played a strong role in the organization’s promotional efforts and a record number of visitors were hosted at the Visit Minot Store.

She also mentioned the booming hotel industry Minot now has, which always helps attract tourism.

“In 2012 we took on 12 new establishments. Isn’t that amazing for our city?” Loftesnes said. “And so far in 2013 two more have opened, and two more are set to open.”

Wendy Howe, executive director of Visit Minot, said they are excited about the new branding and the new opportunities it will bring to help promote Minot. While exciting, Howe also admitted change can sometimes be difficult, especially if the thing being changed has been the same for a while.

“When somebody brings something new to you, at first you’re like, ‘Hmm, it’s really different.’ And then within a few minutes of looking at that new logo and looking at the new brand, the staff got very excited about it,” Howe said. “And we hope that now that you’ve probably all seen it several times … hopefully you’re as excited about it as we are.”

This year’s keynote speaker was Aaron Davis, a nationally-renowned business speaker, consultant and best-selling author. Davis immediately took the microphone from the podium and walked through the audience as he spoke, engaging a few to stand up and tell him something good about their lives. While most answers revolved around the hope for better weather and an end to the current workweek, the ice was successfully broken.

Davis, who holds a degree in psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was a member of the Nebraska Huskers national championship football team in 1994, said teamwork is important in many aspects of life, not just sports.

Davis spent a few minutes talking humorously about the most important team in his life – his family. Davis recalled when he met his wife’s family, who owned a hog farm near a small Nebraska town. He was mistaken for Michael Jordan by some children simply because he was the only African-American around and must have seemed tall to them.

He also spoke about the rather large posterior of one of his sons and showed a photo of himself and his wife. Davis noted wryly that the photo was in black and white, which was true on more than one level as Davis is African-American while his wife is Caucasian.

Davis said people can learn a lot of things from championship teams that are relevant to their everyday lives. He said the first thing championship teams do is communicate and listen, skills everyone should practice on a daily basis.

“As Minot and the surrounding areas continue to grow, you have to keep communicating with each other. You’ve got to keep listening. All great teams have amazing abilities to listen and communicate. If there’s no communication you die,” Davis said. “Bottom line, you have to keep talking, keep having meetings like this.”

The second thing championship teams do is understand the importance of change. He said this is particularly important in North Dakota, as the oil boom has significantly changed the state.

“Change is changing you. It is forcing you to change, which is a good thing in my opinion. Because often times we hear this when there’s resistance to change – “Well we’ve always done it this way,” Davis said. “People who abide by that line end up dying in their town. You must change. In fact, you must be the champions of change.”

He then spoke about several industries that successfully changed. The first was music, which changed from records to tapes to CDs to the modern digital download. He also mentioned data storage, which successfully moved from low-capacity floppy disks to small thumb drives that can store enormous amounts of data.

Then Davis mentioned some companies that didn’t change – Kodak and Blackberry. Kodak, once a titan in the photographic industry, is dead, while Blackberry, which dominated smartphones before Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, is dying. To punctuate the importance of accepting change, Davis asked how many people have a Blackberry now, and one hand went up in the audience. When he asked how many people used to have Blackberries, dozens of hands went up.

“You have such a unique opportunity right here in North Dakota, and right here in Minot. Don’t let it slip by. You businessmen and businesswomen in this room right now have a chance to set up Minot not for the next five years, but you have a chance to lay a foundation for the next 50 or 60 years if you continue to chill and understand we have to change if we want this town to continue to grow,” Davis said. “And it’s not all about numbers, but it’s about quality of life. Sometimes I think that we can get so fixated with the numbers that we can neglect the quality of life aspect. It’s a fine line.”

Davis said having specific goals is also important. Saying you simply want to have a good year doesn’t cut it, according to Davis. He said you need to quantify specifically what you want to accomplish so everyone is on the same page.

He also noted the importance of firing complainers quickly. He said someone who constantly complains and is always negative can poison an entire department and make the good workers want to leave.

“People like that are contagious. They are great recruiters,” Davis said. “In fact, if you’re not careful, one person can destroy an entire department. I’ve seen it, and so have many of you.”

The last point Davis made, which he also said is one of the most important, is taking some time for yourself to avoid burnout at your job.

He spoke about coming back from a business trip late one night and listening to his wife complain that she never saw him anymore because he was always gone. After some back-and-forth arguing that resulted in him spending a bit of time in the garage, Davis said he finally got it.

“If you don’t take some time for yourself, you’ll be no good to your team,” Davis said. “You must take some time for an offseason.”

“Your offseason may be on your way home from work, you put your phone away. Your offseason may be when you get home, you like preparing a meal. It may be that you like going for a walk. It may be that you like working on the car. It may be going for a run. It may be reading a book. It may be sitting down in the chair and just simply looking at the wall,” he added. “But you must take some time for yourself. If all you do is work, I feel sorry for you. Great teams take time to rejuvenate, refuel, refocus.”