In 2015, Postec President Mike Seymour became Chairperson of the RSPA. He gave a great speech that is good advice for anyone in any business. The key to success is adaptability, whether that means cutting losses, changing directions, embracing evolving technology or even making surprising new hires.

By Bernadette Wilson

RSPA Chairman Mike Seymour

Mike Seymour became 2015-16 RSPA (Retail Solutions Providers Association) Board Chairperson on Aug. 5 when 2014-15 Chair Jim Roddy passed the gavel to him during the awards ceremony at RetailNOW 2015 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

Seymour is COO for point of sale reseller Postec. He joined the company in 1987 as its first service manager, and has served as its director of professional services, sales manager, Atlanta Branch operations manager and CFO. In addition to serving on the RSPA board of directors, Seymour serves on the board of directors for the Georgia Restaurant Association’s Political Action Committee.

Following is the complete text of Seymour’s acceptance speech:

RSPA Chair Acceptance Speech — RetailNOW Awards Reception 2015

By Mike Seymour

Two years ago while I was in the midst of negotiating an office lease, interviewing candidates for 3 job openings and evaluating 2 new vendors, Jim Roddy reached out and asked if I would be willing to run for chairman of the RSPA board.

As I looked up from the four open emails on my computer screen, my first question was, “How much time would I need to commit?” Jim replied, “It depends.”  I looked back down to my screen and thought about that…

Then I remembered something I once heard; “Time flies like an arrow…and fruit flies like a banana.” I decided to throw my name in the hat.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank the outgoing past chairperson – Lynn Skurla. Over the past three years, Lynn has dedicated countless hours working within RSPA applying a lifetime of industry experience to the benefit of all its members.

Lynn, you have been a shining example, and an inspiration, to all of us who have had the pleasure of serving with you on the executive board over the last three years. I’ve personally learned a lot from you. And on behalf of the RSPA board and all RSPA’s members – thank you for your time, dedication and service to the association.

I also would like to recognize and thank Jim Roddy for his many contributions as outgoing chairperson.  I’ve really enjoyed Jim’s leadership style and gained a deeper appreciation of the role of journalism in the success of the association.

Jim, I am happy that you will be staying on the executive board as past chairman with myself and incoming chair Tom Reichart.  I trust that in this new role your time commitment will lessen.  This association owes you a debt of gratitude for your service – thank you very much.

As many of you have by now most likely surmised, I am not a professional speaker or a professional speechwriter. Like many of you, I have worked within this industry as a solution provider to hospitality, grocery, and retail businesses for many years. Because of this perspective and my experience with the RSPA, I knew the message I wanted to deliver today – but I didn’t quite know how to say it. Fortunately, serendipity was on my side

Just a couple days after this year’s INSPIRE Conference in Maui, I received an email newsletter from a respected business leader, Rick Houcek, and his message was exactly what I was looking for.  The title of his message was: What To Do When The World Seems To Conspire Against You.  You’re probably thinking right now, “Well that’s a downer – I should have ordered a stronger drink!” … but stay with me on this. You’ll like where we end up.

Yes, as an industry and in general we are all faced with tremendous changes.

Product margins eroding

Operational costs rising

New competitors emerging

Traditional solutions challenged

Consumer electronics advances

Mobility and smartphone impacts

Payment industry mandates

And on and on and on… the pace of change seems to be ever accelerating and unstoppable.

Many people feel unprepared and uncertain of their next move.   But wait.  Dig through history and you’ll find this is NOT new.  It’s the way life has been since the beginning of time.  It’s not about being the biggest, baddest, or strongest. It’s about something else.   It’s all about the ability to adapt.   That’s the key.  Adaptability.

Most wildlife biologists agree that Coyotes are the “most adaptable mammal in the world,” Coyotes can live in the cold of Canada, in the deserts of Arizona, and in Chicago. One was photographed recently on the roof of a building in New York City.  These animals can adapt.  They will eat meat or vegetables. Adapt to hot or cold climates. They thrive in the woods and in the city, they live in my suburban Atlanta neighborhood.  Coyote’s seem to have a knack for determining what is available and then thriving with it.  I think there is a lesson here for each of us.

Author and business strategist Max McKeown said, “All failure is failure to adapt – All success is successful adaptation.”  In life, no one is guaranteed success, promised prosperity, or ensured safety.  We earn these by how well we learn, grow, improve, and apply – and by how well we adapt to what life throws at us. I am reminded of a German proverb:  “There is no such thing as bad weather.  Only inappropriate clothing.”

Have you forged an “adaptability culture” in your organization?   This is not an option — it’s an obligation of leadership.   It must show up not just in what you expect of others, but in how you carry yourself.  You must model the very behavior you want in others. As Gandhi puts it:  “Be the change you seek.”   So, it’s clear that everyone in this room – everyone in our channel – needs to adapt.

RSPA is positioned to help you understand, respond to and anticipate the challenge of change that we all face.  I think the following four benefits of RSPA membership will help us embrace change…Let me say that differently.

I know for certain the following four benefits of RSPA membership will help us embrace change, adapt, and stay relevant.

The first benefit is RetailNOW. Thank you so much for attending this event. You have the opportunity to discover vendors who can take your offerings in a new direction, and you have the chance to connect with resellers who will help you navigate change through their experiences.  By the end of this week, you will be educated on the most important changes happening in our industry.  Those who are not here will be at least one step behind.

Another helpful RSPA benefit is the recently formed EMV Committee.  This group has offered reports, webinars, and a database of solutions to help us see around the corner.  Those who are not RSPA members will have an EMV blind spot.

Third, the RSPA is helping us stay ahead by partnering with ETA, CompTIA, and the PCI Security Standards council to provide RSPA members with industry recognized certifications and Trustmark’s related to current and future technology challenges we all will certainly face.

And finally, if you didn’t fly to Maui to hear world-class author Chip Heath talk at INSPIRE 2015, you missed an incredible educational opportunity and an incredible setting. For INSPIRE 2016, Kelly and staff are working to line up another great speaker. This year’s conference will be held stateside for the first time in 12 years at the beautiful Park Hyatt Aviara Resort near San Diego California. I’d really like to see you at this conference. I know your business will be better prepared for change in 2016 and beyond if you attend RSPA INSPIRE.

My final words for tonight are a call to action for all of us to embrace change and not run from it. Think like a Coyote.

Please take advantage of the member benefits I’ve mentioned. Use the programs and give feedback to any RSPA staff member or board member. Tell us how we can help you better adapt and improve.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but one thing is for certain. Whatever is working for you today will likely not be working five years down the road.  As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously observed, “Nothing is permanent except change.”  We all need to change our businesses and seek out new opportunities today in preparation for tomorrow.  And as you may have realized associations must adapt as well.

Is there a dedicated industry resource ready to help us understand, embrace, adapt to and profit from the opportunities that will undoubtedly arise from all of this change?  It depends, it depends on your willingness to take advantage of the programs, education, knowledge, networking, information and other benefits of your association – the RSPA.

Thank you very much for the trust you have placed in me as chairman of the board and I look forward to serving you.

For more articles on RetailNOW 2015, August 2 to 5, 2015, at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, and the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA), go to www.BSMinfo.com/solution/InsideRSPA.

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