One of the benefits of being a CEDIA member is the chance for direct and concrete interaction with business peers in a non-competitive manner – a concept called CEDIA Groups. 

And of those small thought committees, one of the more unique is ‘Group 9,’ an informal gathering of women who had originally found common ground at CEDIA 2007 in Denver.

Long-time member Lynda Polk explains, “Four of us met in a class and hit it off right away.”

Lynda – who works at Audio Video Guys in Houston – notes that the women found they had something unique in common: They were all combination business partners and spouses.

“A man in the discussion group knew that his wife would want to be a part of it,” Lynda continues. The group stayed in touch via phone and email until CEDIA’s Dave Chic (senior director of industry relations) suggested that the women become an ‘official’ CEDIA Group after a conversation with Lynda at CEDIA 2015.

The women soon discovered the over-arching benefit experienced by members of all the groups: “The fact that we weren’t in overlapping markets allowed us to speak freely about problems, solutions, detailed processes, and numbers.”

In that setting, no one is afraid to reveal proprietary information to a competitor as a result of anything that’s said during the course of a discussion.

“Also – and every bit as important – our personalities created a unique friendship,” says Lynda.

And that sense of trust allowed the group to cover ground unique to the members: “The underlying commonality of the group was the husband-wife/business partner dynamic – and the somewhat unplanned roles we’ve found ourselves in as a result of our husbands’ passions for AV,” says Lynda. “We have the unique challenge of sometimes spending all day with our business partner, then spending all off-hours with them too. This affects how we deal with workplace issues in an entirely different way than more common business partnerships.”

The group, currently led by Valerie Johnson of UltraMedia (an integration firm serving the Dallas area), boasts five members – a size everyone’s quite comfortable with. “We’ve got a diverse mix of strengths and personalities, and the small group allows each of us an opportunity to be heard when we get together,” says Lynda.

The group engages in monthly video chats. “If one of us has a pressing issue, that will be our discussion topic. Short that, the group leader will offer ideas for discussion,” Lynda continues. “Our video conferences usually run for about two hours, and we’ve always had more subject matter than time. We also have email conversations about things that can’t wait for the monthly meeting.”

“CEDIA Group 9’s purpose is simple – it provides an intimate atmosphere where the five of us can speak freely, knowing we’re among kindred spirits,” says Lynda.

“The discussion and tone vary a lot, as does life and business. It’s really not more complicated than that.”

Learn more about CEDIA groups here.

This article is by Ed Wenck, CEDIA’s content marketing manager.

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