A Farewell to SEMPO

Today, the election for the new board of SEMPO is open. It’s a little bitter sweet for me. For the first time in 7 years, you won’t find my name on the ballot. I’ll be stepping down from the board and letting new blood take over.

I’ve been privileged to serve on the SEMPO board since 2003. Only Dana Todd and Kevin Lee, both founding members, have put in a longer tour of duty. In that time I’ve served as Chair of SEMPO for two years and have been the Research Chair, along with Kevin, for almost the entire time. I’ve seen SEMPO grow along with the industry to the point today where it has hundreds of members around the world. Not bad for an organization that started with a handful of search marketers meeting after the sessions had ended at an industry conference, looking to create a shared voice and gain a little more respect. I would say – mission accomplished!

But there is still so much more to do! I’ve had the opportunity to help the current executive start to define what SEMPO’s role could be in the future. The challenge, as it is with anything involving search, is trying to define the scope of what constitutes our reach. Search in the last decade has morphed and seeped into every aspect of our lives. Defining the role of an organization that tries to wrap it’s arms around that has been an ongoing challenge. And this is a challenge that isn’t going to get any easier.

SEMPO has never had a dearth of aspiration. We have dreamed big! We have consistently punched above our weight. We have ridden over rough patches of controversy and dissension. SEM’s are an outspoken lot. Most have us have heard first hand the uproar that ensues when you get a bunch of search marketers in the same room. Imagine, then, the challenge of trying to be the global voice for those loud, passionate, stubborn and thoroughly glorious marketers. Passion has infused SEMPO from day one, from the drive of Barbara Coll to the amazing and ongoing dedication of SEMPO leaders including Dana Todd, Kevin Lee, Jeff Pruitt, Massimo Burgio, Chris Boggs, Bill Hunt, Sara Houlobek and many others. I have been privileged and humbled to serve on the board with all of them. They will always be my mentors and friends. We have been on an amazing journey.

This is not the place for a list of the accomplishments of SEMPO. This is just a place for me to say thank you for the opportunity. And in offering thank yous, I would be remiss if I did not include some of SEMPO’s amazing administrative support team at Virtual, Inc, especially Amanda Pierce, Paula Hunter and a man I hope I can always call friend, Andy Freed. There are others, but those are the ones that I have spent the most time with.

In an industry that’s a fractious and quick to criticize as this one is, it’s always easy to point blame. It’s much harder to stop bitching long enough to dig in and and do something about it. I can tell you from experience, SEMPO boards have always had the interest of the industry firmly at the core of what they do. Not one member I have ever served with has been in it for their own glorification or interests. Not one. Because after 7 years on the board, I can tell you there are much easier ways to grab the spotlight than to serve on SEMPO’s board. The amount of dedication and commitment required is substantial, and, at the executive level, nothing short of monumental. We, each one of us, love this industry and are here to push it forward. We have struggled with the best way to do that, given that our dreams are consistently much bigger than our resources, but our motivations have never been in question.

I have my own goals and plans for the coming few years and knew it was time to step down, both for my sake and for the sake of the organization. As tough as it is for me to personally turn this corner, I know it’s the right path to take. When you cast your vote, I ask you to do so with careful consideration. We need a strong and healthy SEMPO, because the organization has provided a respected voice for this industry. Search marketing now has a global footprint and that voice has to continue to be heard. It has to be heard from Beijing and Oslo, from Milan and Buenos Aires, from Osaka and Sydney. And it has to be heard from Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Toronto, Vancouver and Seattle

I like the saying Farewell, as it really embodies my wish for SEMPO. Fare well in the future. Continue to Dream and Do. Continue to be passionate. Continue to talk, connect and be heard.

I’ll miss you.

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