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Build on Tradition to Look Towards Future Growth

Excelsior, MN


[Intro] Welcome to chats with chambers with your hosts Patrick Kirby and Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each week we connect and learn from executives of chambers of commerce from across the country. These short episodes will share success stories, challenges, best practices, and tips and tricks to inspire you, and provide resources for hitting your organizational goals. From recruiting new and retaining current members to finding new and creative revenue sources. You’ll hear straight from those leading chambers and communities throughout the US. Chats with chambers is proudly brought to you by the Nonprofit bootcamp. Learn more and check out the show notes for episodes at 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, everybody, thank you for joining me for another episode of chats with chambers and today we are joined by Tiffany King Tiffany, thanks for joining us.

[Tiffany King] Thank you for having me, Sami.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, this is a very special one for me, because you are my new home Chamber of Commerce. So we moved to the Minneapolis area A year ago, and I finally jumped in enjoying my local chamber, which is super exciting. So I’m, I’m happy to interview you today.

[Tiffany King] Well, I’m really excited to have you I love to meeting with you before and I’m just excited to keep working with you and that you joined. So this is good for me too.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love it. Okay, so before we kind of jump into some of the wins and tips that you can share with other chambers. Why don’t you share with folks a little bit about the Excelsior like Minnetonka chamber, and kind of what makes you so special? Wonderful.

[Tiffany King] Well, yeah, so one thing we have in common is that this is a new region for me as well. I moved here in November, we relocated from Illinois, but I was working at a chamber in Wisconsin. And so I’m really excited to be here, I think that we have a really neat energy and Excelsior. And we have an opportunity here in Minnesota that I have not really experienced before as a chamber director, in that a lot of the communities really blend together here. There’s not kind of boundaries, and then long drives between communities where people are more in a silo. So I just think there’s such a dynamic opportunity for networking in this region. And it just doesn’t get much more beautiful than then Excelsior in the summer, spring and summer. Yeah, so really excited about this area. But there’s just it’s a great facet for tourism. But there’s also a lot of great small businesses and sole proprietors, and just a really great area to be in.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I mean, I would agree with that. I think I love the fact that has that small town community feel. But like you said, because we’re so close to Minneapolis, and some of the bigger suburbs, you still have that big city opportunity. So yeah, I think that’s a great appeal for so many businesses. So what is one thing and I know there’s more than one, but one of the things that you’re super proud of that the Excelsior chamber has, has been able to achieve?

[Tiffany King] You know, I think for me, it’s been really exciting to come into a chamber post COVID, you know, so dealing with a situation, an unprecedented time in our lives that no one you know, had ever seen come in, and really been able to infuse value into that membership and see businesses get excited and reengaged. And just harnessing like that enthusiasm, and that community camaraderie and seeing where it can take you. So I just think we’re on the cusp of some really great things here. And I think that energy has just been really motivating to me and exciting to be a part of.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So would you mind sharing kind of how some of those conversations are how you’ve I mean, you’re new into a new chamber, but also into new community who also is coming out of a pandemic, like how have some of those conversations got or what kind of tips would you maybe give folks that are trying to reignite maybe past members now that we’re on the back end of the pandemic? Yeah, absolutely.

[Tiffany King] So I think one thing that I found coming here was that historically speaking, this chamber really ran as a tourism and community facing chamber, which is great. I mean, we host a lot of really wonderful festivals. It’s a great economic impact on our community and multimillion dollar economic impact on our community. But I think the the key of what I found that we were missing was getting down to the roots of what a chamber is. And to me, the cornerstone of chamber is networking connect Accessing building relationships. So being able to get out and talk to our small businesses and figure out their pain points, and offer solutions or value added services for those businesses, I just think, really excited people and brought them into the process. And then the conversations and the ideas and the feedback starts flowing to where you can implement that. And so I just think whenever you’re trying to build consensus to just like put up a big tent and invite everyone in, and listen to what everyone has to say, and take what you can or what you need from that and move forward. So I think that’s been a great, you know, for me, it’s just been really exciting. Because you’re rebuilding, like you said, and you’re coming in post pandemic, I’m coming in completely new. So definitely listen, listening to that history and that tradition, and why why we do things the way we do, but then also those pain points and what you can provide to as solutions to your businesses, I think is so important.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] But almost finding that balance between marrying tradition with new ideas, and and looking towards the future.

[Tiffany King] Yeah, so I call it the peanut butter cookie, I have a story is like, if you go to a hotel that serves these amazing peanut butter cookies, and that’s like the tradition and you go and you get these cookies, and then, you know, but there’s a lot of people with peanut allergies that can’t have the peanut butter cookies. So the hotel changes to these chocolate chip cookies, and they’re just as good. But people are upset and why are they upset? They’re upset, because there’s an emotional tie to that peanut butter cookie. So like, how do you help change to the chocolate chip cookie, which is better for everyone? You know, or you have a reason for changing but still honor that tradition so that you know people feel good about that change?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] That is such a good analogy. I love that. So what would you say is maybe something that you’ve struggled with at the Chamber, or, you know, goal that has been a little bit hard to reach? Coming out of the out of the pandemic as you transition into all of these new amazing things?

[Tiffany King] Yeah, so for me, we, this chamber did give up their office, when the pandemic hit and financially that made the most sense. And honestly, what’s going to be the only way that they could get through the pandemic. However, I do think because of that, myself, I struggle a little bit with engagement and how to balance like, you know, actual work that has to be done, as well as meetings and being present. And being, you know, seen in the community and meeting, you know, just walking down the street and meeting with business popping into businesses. And, and so for me, that’s probably been the hardest part is just really like, figuring out the formula to get people engaged. But I have noticed that as we’re adding new things, and people are getting excited that that engagement is, you know, like a domino effect. And it’s happening naturally. And we’re getting so many new members signing up. And so it luckily, it’s kind of just naturally happen. But that’s been probably my biggest struggle the past six months.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So hopefully with all these new members, you’ll be able to get a new office space soon.

[Tiffany King] Yes, that’s the goal. I love that. What do you 24?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Oh, boy. Well, and that’s the thing about downtown Excelsior that I can speak from experience is like, at least in this like, downtown proper. I don’t even know. It’s like, you know, the downtown strip, like there are no vacancies. Yeah, there really aren’t.

[Tiffany King] And then on top of that, with the city ordinance, ordinance, we cannot be on the ground floor. And so I would say that right now trying to be fiduciary solely responsible with members money. It’s just as effective to work from home as if we were in, you know, an office building somewhere on a side street. So right now it works. But I hope to remedy that in the next, you know, 18 months. Yep.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I think that is the pain in the balance that all businesses are trying to sort out right now. Right? How do we keep our employees engaged? With this new dynamic of home and office based work? Well, I love kind of your insight on kind of how you run your chamber and the things that you all are doing, which I think are super fun and exciting. What is kind of one tip that you would love to share with other chamber executives. Um, I think one

[Tiffany King] tip that I would share would probably just be too like. This is kind of going back to an old saying of like, I’ll probably mess it up because I always do but the old Like guarantees in life or like death and taxes, but more about change, like, never stop changing, don’t get stuck in a rut, or overwhelmed or feel like change is a bad thing. I think that we are consensus builders as chamber directors, but we’re changemakers. And we have to evolve with our community and with our business. And we have to also set a strong vision for change and for the future. So I would just say that that’s one tip is like, always be listening, taking feedback in a constructive and positive way. And just making sure that we don’t get comfortable, because if we get comfortable everybody else does. And that’s not always a good thing for the business community.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I love that. And I think that’s something that you’ve had to tackle a lot, like you mentioned, going from a tourism focus to how do we kind of start to pull into business focus and networking focused. So I think thoughtful change, respectful change your peanut butter cookie analogy, I think that all makes a whole lot of a whole lot of good sense. Yeah, thank you. Well, Tiffany, if people want to learn more about the Excelsior, Lake Minnetonka area Chamber, how do they do that?

[Tiffany King] Okay, well, that’s a great question. They can go to We do you have all of our information on the website, and they can join right from the website. However, I do always like to either have an in person meeting, a phone call or a Zoom meeting. And just help people out that way. I think like everything else, having that one on one connection is so important. So they can always schedule a meeting with me, I have a Calendly link, and they can schedule a phone call or meeting that way as well. But we just love talking to people. And I really take an approach of you know that this being that chamber membership should be mutually beneficial, I call it an investment, there should be a return on our investment. So really finding you know what your needs are and how we can meet them and explaining what a chamber does in case people don’t know, because a lot of people don’t. And just making sure that we start the relationship, you know, with a good common understanding of what we both want to get out of it, I think is important. So yeah, my door is always open, so to speak, as well as the website has a wealth of information.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us today.

[Tiffany King] Thank you, Sami. This was fantastic.

[Closing] Hey, thanks for listening to chats with chambers. For more information about the chamber featured in this episode or to check out show notes for links and resources. Visit nonprofitbootcamponline/podcast. Hey subscribe, give us a five star review if you liked what you heard and if you are a chamber would like to be a guest on this show. Hey, email us Or Links in the show notes


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Being in the Minnetonka area, there is a lot of blending of communities. The boundaries aren’t as defined which allows for so much more networking between organizations and growth for the chamber. It has a tourist and small town feel with lots of small businesses.

Building energy into the community for the chamber is reinvigorating. Having conversations with business owners and listening to what they have to say can help you with rebuilding post pandemic. When you listen to your business owners and really take things in then they help you with rebuilding because they have more skin in the game. Change isn’t always easy, but when you bring them along it makes the community stronger.

Chamber leaders are change makers. Always be listening, taking in feedback and making sure you don’t get comfortable. Be the leader in your community to come up with new ideas and create new opportunities for your business members.

Questions We Asked

  • What is the Excelsior – Lake Minnetonka Chamber all about? [1:37]
  • What is your success story? [3:12]
  • What are challenges you face? [7:00]
  • What is your tip and trick to pass on to other chambers? [9:42]
  • How can you learn more about the Excelsior – Lake Minnetonka Chamber? [9:28]
Tiffany King

Tiffany King

Excelsior – Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce

Tiffany King is the Executive Director of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce. She has 16 years of experience in the Chamber field, most recently at the Mount Horeb Area Chamber of Commerce in Mount Horeb, WI where she served as Executive Director for the past four years. Ms. King specializes in nonprofit management and was awarded the IOM graduate recognition for completing a comprehensive course of study in nonprofit management through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Institute for Organization Management program in 2017. One of the things she loves most about the chamber field is working with businesses to help them reach their goals as well as harnessing the collective impact of a unified voice. Ms. King truly believes that a strong business community is a product of a strong chamber. She also enjoys the tourism aspect and the opportunity to welcome guests with the events, as well the economic impact that those events provide for the community as a whole. Ms. King enjoys the outdoors with her family – camping, hiking, fishing, and boating, and is excited to take in everything Minnesota has to offer.

Learn more at

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