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    GGBA Message from Leadership: Connecting to Economic Empowerment

    By Terry Beswick–

    The rubber-chicken, hotel ballroom event formerly known as “Power Lunch” rebranded itself this year as “Power Connect 2022: the New World of Business.”

    Organized by the Golden Gate Business Association, founded in 1974 as the nation’s first LGBTQ+ chamber of commerce, the signature annual event was transformed into a full day festival at San Francisco’s multi-purpose event space SOMArts on June 17.

    Aiming to shake things up a bit in the wake of massive disruptions to our economy and culture over the last few years, we wanted the 200 participants to think creatively about how their businesses can adapt to new challenges and opportunities, and we hoped to give our members some real business opportunities with each other and with major corporations and public agencies.

    But we also wanted to have fun, and performance artist Strobe kicked off the morning plenary with a wild and provocative exploration of the evolution of technology and social media. We gave him free rein to create one of his trademark, in-your-face solo works, in this case diving into tech’s knack for connecting people, while also isolating them in their little bubbles. There was definitely some 9 am head-scratching over coffee and pastries from some in the corporate crowd, but it was a great icebreaker, setting the stage for creative thinking throughout the day. This is San Francisco, after all.

    The irrepressible Master of Ceremonies Lance Dorsey of Sony Entertainment (and formerly a member of GGBA’s board) also kept things light, despite the often-technical discussions, at one point donning a space suit to introduce a panel on business opportunities in the metaverse.

    And there were celebrations of some of the best GGBA members of the year. With help from San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and State Senator Scott Wiener, the GGBA presented the 2022 Small Business of the Year Award to the San Francisco Bay Times and the 2022 Corporate Partner of the Year Award to the Redwood Credit Union, respectively, for their exemplary service to the LGBTQ+ business community.

    A highlight for me was the morning Fireside Chat between GGBA president Michael Gunther (Collaboration Consulting) and former president Gina Grahame (Be Authentatious). Gina shared her transformative journey in taking what others saw as a liability (her gender) and turning it into an asset to propel her business forward. It was a great way to bring human storytelling to the proceedings.

    Chris Galang, Wells Fargo small business executive and GGBA board member, announced the bank’s sponsorship of an upcoming cohort of GGBA’s Business Accelerator Program. Led by Grahame, the program aims to support trans and gender-nonconforming and other queer folks in a highly successful and intensive practicum this fall. Watch this space for details!

    After a full morning of forward-thinking panel discussions on supplier diversity, managing people in new work models, and futurism, there were several curated experiences for people to enjoy—mushroom tea from the Chaga Company, winetasting from Foley Family Wines, and whiskey-tasting from Treecraft Distillery—followed by delicious lunch offerings from Hugh Groman Catering out on the patio.

    While planning the day with our fabulous event producer, Joy Experiences, we worried that people would not stick around after lunch for networking and matchmaking opportunities in the afternoon. But we had an app! Participants were able to make one-on-one appointments with each other throughout, and the app also facilitated follow-ups after the event. It was so great to participate in some of these meetings and to see the hall filled with people pitching their businesses to each other and to corporations.

    Capping things off was a packed After Party at Azucar Lounge up the street on Folsom and Ninth. Their great cocktails and Mexican street food, sponsored by JP Morgan Chase, made for a lively evening. The GGBA is actually a pretty fun crowd, and it was so refreshing to hang out in person in a casual and colorful setting. (Thank you, Rink, for all your great photos!)

    Power Connect 2022 chair Dr. Krystal Drwencke (Ascent Sports Chiropractic) and myself were pleased and grateful to receive so many positive reviews of this reimagined event, which we expect will be even bigger and better in 2023—and in 2024, our 50th anniversary.

    But for us, perhaps most gratifying are the reports we are receiving of new business contracts participants were able to nail down as a result of the connections the event facilitated. This makes all of it worthwhile.

    With the nation under so much political duress, and the actions of the Supreme Court in overturning Roe v Wade and many other progressive laws, the best answer we have for long-term change is to encourage folks to vote—and to build economic empowerment within our diverse communities.

    And that’s what the GGBA is all about.

    Terry Beswick is the Executive Director of the Golden Gate Business Association.

    GGBA Calendar

    Wednesday, July 20
    New Member Orientation
    12:30–1:15 pm
    Learn more about the benefits of membership, and how to make the most of them. Get your questions answered and start leveraging access to your community of like-minded fellow business owners and managers. If you joined any time this year, and have not yet attended a New Member Orientation, now is your chance! The New Member Orientation is also helpful if you are not yet a member, but would like to learn more about how becoming one can help you and your business goals. Anyone is welcome to join this free Zoom meeting. Please complete the registration process to receive your confirmation and Zoom link.

    Wednesday, July 27
    Automate Your Employees: The ABCs of CRMs
    12:30–1:30 pm
    Tired of losing leads in your inbox? Ready to close more deals without having to add headcount? It’s time to move beyond spreadsheets and sticky notes and add the power of a CRM to your small business! This session hosted by Salesforce MVP Toni V. Martin will simplify CRMs, why you need one in your business, quick wins you can implement, and how to overcome overwhelm in your digital transformation. You’ll also learn about Salesforce Essentials—the affordable CRM platform built for small biz and how to get support for your process and systems improvement.

    Published on July 14, 2022