Dr. Misner has a new title: Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, and today he’s providing a 60,000-foot view of the future of BNI.
Yes, “Chief Visionary Officer” is a real title. It’s an office established to work beside other senior executives. As Chief Visionary Officer, Dr. Misner will be focusing on brand-building activities.
Be very clear: this is not an exit strategy. This is an engagement strategy. It gives Dr. Misner an opportunity to work in his flame.
Look at the chart below. BNI has grown consistently since it’s foundation. How many organizations can say that?
That growth has resulted even though Dr. Misner has been able to put only part of his time into growing BNI. With the opportunity to devote all of his time to that goal, he expects to achieve great things.
The main focus will be on content marketing–something in which BNI already excels. Dr. Misner has produced more than 400 podcasts, 800 blog posts, 150 articles, and 20 books. Look for videos that tell the BNI story throughout the coming year. The 21st book, Avoiding the Networking Disconnect, comes out this year. And there will be an increasing focus on inbound marketing.
What else is new? Involving BNI alumni, who are a great source of support for BNI.
BNI is also engaging more in cause marketing, which is about demonstrating your social consciousness. 70% of Millennials want to be involved with an organization that supports social causes around the world. One strategy for this is Business Voices; there will be more to come.
Finally, Dr. Misner plans to work on the member experience, which is best done by focusing on BNI’s core values.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of Episode 408 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and, with a new title, the Chief Visionary Officer, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you and where are you?
Hi Priscilla. I am at BNI headquarters in Los Angeles today. Thank you for introducing me with the new title. That was just introduced a few weeks ago online on the social media site. I am now, in fact, the founder and chief visionary officer for the company.
For those of you who listen to our podcast regularly, go back and take a look at episode 388. Graham Weihmiller is the new CEO of BNI. I introduced Graham in that podcast. There is a number of things that we are doing with BNI that I think are really exciting.
I wanted to do something different. Normally I talk about topics that are really relevant at a chapter level, but I am kind of going at the 60,000 foot level with this podcast. I am talking about BNI from a global organizational perspective. I just want to let members know what is taking place so they hear it directly from me. I did mention this in a video that I put out a few weeks ago in our social media. BNI is moving its headquarters from the west coast in southern California, the Los Angeles area, to the east coast of the United States in Charlotte.
We are going to keep an LA area office, a regional office, but we are also opening new offices around the world. We truly are on an expansion mode for the organization and I am moving into the role of Chief Visionary Officer. Priscilla, you asked me one of those things, “Is that a real title? Do people have that?”
I have to tell you. That is the first question I had when Graham Weihmiller, the new CEO, suggested that title for me because I had not heard it before. I looked it up. So look it up on Google, everyone. It is, in fact, a real title. It is a function of a company designed to work alongside the other senior executive roles. The title is used to define a high-ranking position alongside the CEO.
For us here at BNI, it will involve me focusing on brand building activities, relating to our content marketing and other related work that I have been doing for quite some time here in the organization. We have made a series of recent shifts. I brought in a new CEO. We moved headquarters. A lot of transitional things taking place.
I want to be really clear to the members and the Directors of BNI worldwide. This is not an exit strategy for me. This is an engagement strategy for me. You have heard me, Priscilla, talking about working in your flame or working in your wax. I have talked about that before. When you are working in your flame, you are on fire and excited. When you are working in your wax, it just draws up your energy.
This is an opportunity to work in my flame. I am excited about the future of BNI. In this podcast, there were will an jpeg, an image, about the growth of BNI for the last 30 years. I have been basically running the company for the last 30 years. That is a long time. Listen, I can’t take full responsibility for having run this company successfully. We have had many, many, many senior executives including Norm Dominguez as CEO and Andy Hart as our interim CEO who have done an amazing job with the company.
We are really into charting new territory now. The last 30 years have been amazing. Take a look at this as you are listening to the podcast if you can. How many companies do you know who have experienced 30 years of consecutive growth without exception? There are very few. Currently, BNI has almost 180,000 members worldwide. Approximately 46% of our membership is in the US. Over 50% of the membership is worldwide as of this date.
I have every intention of being part of BNI. My goal, Priscilla, between you and me- I won’t share this with anyone else except the thousands of people who are listening to this podcast- to be at the 50th anniversary of BNI. I am not going anywhere. I just want to take on a role that I am really excited about. For me, that is engaging more and more in content marketing for BNI.
So we have been doing a lot of things, like we have done over 400 podcasts. Of course, you know that, Priscilla. The vast majority of them have been with you.
Your studio and doing these podcast. I have done almost 800 blogs. There have been almost 12 years of online newsletters and 30 years of printed and newsletters. I have done 150 monthly articles for Entrepreneur.com. I have written 20 books.
This is all part of BNI’s content marketing strategy. Now, here is the really exciting this to me: We have managed to do all that with me doing this part time. How exciting will it be that I get to do this full time? You know, building the BNI brand has been a part time thing for me because I have been in the weeds running the business. And now, I am really excited about spending all of my time and energy doing content marketing and a couple of other things that I will be talking about here.
Look for videos that will be coming out. I will do a link to at least one of them here on this podcast. We have been doing a lot of videos this year. BNI then and now 30 years of changing the way the world does business. There will be more than 40 professional videos that have been done and will be coming out throughout the year telling the BNI story, which is more of our content marketing.
I have a new book coming out called Avoiding the Networking Disconnect: the Three R’s to Reconnect. That will be my book number 21.
These are some of the things that I am going to be focusing on and working on in my new role as Founder and Chief Visionary Officer. Most importantly, we are going to be really doing a lot in the near future in inbound marketing. Inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is really taking content marketing, like the things that I just mentioned of the podcast, the blogs, the newsletters, etc, and putting it on steroids. We want to do more blogs, podcast, videos, ebooks, enewsletters, white papers- we want to focus more on SEO, social media marketing and really structure our content marketing in a very effective way to help funnel prospects to BNI chapters.
So an inbound marketing program is a major piece that BNI Directors and members can see me involved in for the next several years.
So here are a couple of other things that are new for the organization. One is we want to start looking at BNI alumni. BNI alumni can be some of the best supporters of our philosophy and our company. As an individual business grows, the owner may not be able to attend the meetings regularly. However, a lot of companies send sales representatives to stay involved in the company and those that can’t still refer people to the group regularly.
Over the years, I have seen many BNI alums support the organization in a myriad of ways. It has been humbling to see what the organization does to help businesses grow and the loyalty of alums over a period of time. I think we as an organization need to make more effective use of BNI alumni and we are developing ideas to do that. This is going to be a piece that I am involved in.
All of this is part of the future of BNI and, particuarly, my future in BNI. Next, I want to talk about cause marketing. We have a program in BNI that is relatively new called Business Voices. We will be talking more about that over the year. Business Voices is part of a cause marketing strategy to help BNI build our brand, both inside and outside the organization.
Cause marketing is more than philanthropy. The BNI Foundation has done a lot of great philanthropic work. We have given more than $3,000,000 away to charitable organizations around the world. It is really about demonstrative a sense of social consciousness.
Why do we do that? Why do we want to do that as a referral organization? First, it is the right thing to do. But there is also a business case for cause marketing. In a Nielson study, it was reported that 70% of millennials want to be involved with an organization that is supporting social causes around the world. I think it is very important for BNI to draw in more younger business professionals and millennials are a great market for our organization to focus on for future growth. So Business Voices and cause marketing is a big piece of that.
As a successful business man, I believe I have an obligation. I have an obligation to put back into the communities from which I draw. Something like Business Voices is a great way to do that by supporting social causes relating to children and education, which is what the BNI Foundation is all about around the world, and you will hear me talk more about that over.
The last couple of things that I want to talk about, Priscilla, are something that I mentioned before and that is the member experience. That is going to be very important to me as the Chief Visionary Officer for the company to continue to work on member experience worldwide and creating a great member experience and brand champions from our members.
The way to do that, I believe, is to focus on our core values. A business only becomes a brand when it is viewed with the profound values that translate into action. The values of a company are the DNA of that company. One of the things that I want to do in our podcasts over the next year is to talk about that. I want to talk more about our core values like givers gain, building relationships, continuous learning through education and training, traditions, innovation, positive attitude, accountability and recognition. These are all part of the core values of the organization, and these are the things that I will be working on for the next 20 years, I hope.
I hope to be part of the organization for a long time, and I think sometimes when people see changes or transitions in a company they are worried. All I can say is that I am not worried. I believe that that organization chart that you will see in the podcast, or I should say the growth chart that you will see in this podcast, is just the beginning. The next five and ten years will see the greatest growth of this company ever and I absolutely plan on bing a part of it.
I wanted to take this podcast to share with the members my vision of my role within the company and where this company is going to go the next 10 years and beyond.
That’s great, Ivan. Wow. What a list. That is very exciting.
Priscilla, what do you think? This is a topic that is kind of not where the rubber meets the road. In most of my podcasts, I try to speak to members on what is going on with members. This is a little longer term vision.
You are a member, Priscilla. What do you think members are thinking about this direction and the things that I am talking about?
Well, first of all, I can just hear the excitement in your voice when you are talking about all this stuff and I can see that it is definitely passion for you to be doing this kind of work in the company. I think it is a really wise choice for you to be focusing on that after you have laid the groundwork for 30 years.
Thank you for recognizing that. That is the way that I feel, no question about it. I am hoping that everyone sees that. I think this is going to be great for the organization and will continue to build the brand for the next decade and beyond.
And I also think it is reassuring for members because when they hear you are stepping down as CEO, that might, as you said, create some kind of fear that there is some kind of problem in the organization, or that it won’t be a good, or Ivan did it so much better. OR whatever. So this is great because people will know that you are really doing some serious thinking about the future of BNI and putting those plans in place.
Thank you. I really believe that BNI is changing the way the world does business and I want to see that change continue and I want to be part of it for many, many years. I want to be part of it at an executive level. I just want to get out from the weeds, so to speak, and do it from my flame. These podcasts are a great example of my flame. I love doing these.
I love meeting BNI members. If you hear that I am coming to your region, please come visit me. That is one of the really exciting things about the job that I have, is meeting members and hearing their stories from all around the world. I want to meet you personally. When you post messages on the podcast, I read every single message that gets posted.
This is the kind of stuff that I love doing and I feel like I am making a little bit of difference in the world when I do this kind of work. I just want everyone to know that it is absolutely my plan to continue to do this for a long time to come. I thought a podcast on this topic might help to reassure people that I am here to stay.
Well, that is good news, Ivan, so thank you so much. I think this is a really nice podcast and there is a lot of material in there for all of us members to think about and to know about.
Okay. Well, I think that sums it up for this week, and I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.