This week I had the pleasure of joining 100 or so other Montanans who are incredibly passionate about this amazing place we call home at the gorgeously restored boutique Hotel Arvon in Great Falls. I am leaving with more confidence than ever that I am beyond fortunate to live in the company of great minds, and even better hearts. I’m even more confident we were gifted an incredible marketing opportunity in the Montana brand – a powerful draw for visitors and businesses around the world.
The theme of the Montana Ambassadors Annual Conference was “Working Better Together”; a concept that absolutely defines what I believe makes Montana the Last Best Place. In a state that is nearly 150,000 square miles with just over 1 million people total population, I couldn’t possibly feel more surrounded by genuine companionship and true community. For all the times I find myself solo in wide, open spaces I never feel alone.
Why? Because Montana has a culture of rolling up our sleeves to do what’s needed to help our friends and neighbors when they could use an extra set of hands. Car trouble on a sleepy country road? No problem; it’s almost guaranteed the first (and possibly only) person to come by will stop and help. And you’ll probably get a good cup of coffee and some great conversation to share while you wait for a tow. As my friend and colleague from Leadership Montana Chantel Scheiffer said in this beautifully written op-ed about the importance of civility “what we hold in common often outweighs our differences…Montanans believe in the importance of hard work and an honest living…We raise barns, mend fences and if we see a ranch fire, we all pitch in to help.”
Damn straight we do. We pitch in and collaborate because of love, and work ethic, and pride. Because we see the value in ourselves and each other; and because we know Montana has a rich past and an even greater future. Keynote speaker and fellow HATCHer David Yakos of Salient Technologies followed with another powerful point that resonates so deeply with me: “We work in Montana to live in Montana.” We are incredibly fortunate to live in a culture that values balancing adventure, family, and creative expression with profitability and business growth. That balance makes it incredibly fulfilling and exciting to be growing a marketing agency with a head full of ideas and a heart full of the desire to explore more and live fully.
Thank you to all of our hosts and even organizers for helping us work better together.