Top 5 Reasons I Chose YGM


Anissa Starnes, IOM, YGM Chief Impact Officer

I never dreamed I would be part of The Great Resignation, a.k.a. the Big Quit, which is a current trend in which employees voluntarily resign from their jobs. Yet in January, I did just that. I resigned from a position most people agreed was the “perfect” fit for me. Someone referred to it as the “Great Re-evaluation,” and that resonated with me.

Like so many others, I am constantly attempting to balance family, career, and self-care. And if I am being really honest, during the pandemic’s “big pause,” I realized some things about myself – some strengths, some weaknesses – and when it came to my career, some non-negotiables were discovered when I re-evaluated.

When YGM’s CEO, Jason Ebey presented the opportunity to join YGM shortly after I resigned  my previous position, I was determined to evaluate the offer against my criteria to ensure that it would be the best decision. I was reminded of the time I heard Sheryl Sandberg, who serves as Chief Operating Officer of Meta Platforms (Facebook), tell of why she joined the team at Google when it was a young company. She said, “if you are offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.”

My story is humble in comparison to Sandberg’s, and YGM isn’t quite the rocket ship as Google, but the significant impact YGM has on their chamber partners can’t be denied. I joined YGM for five specific reasons

1. Trust

I have known YGM for many years, and I can honestly say, I have never heard anyone speak negatively about Jason or his company. He does what he says he is going to do. He is reliable, truthful, and of good character. Trust is important in relationships because it allows you to be open and giving.

I have seen Jason tell chambers that they are “not ready for a TRC” instead of signing a contract for the sake of getting another customer. This speaks to his character, and because of that, his partners and potential partners trust him. He often says, “I don’t have a filter” which, to me, translates to “I won’t lie to you,” and he won’t.

Trust is critical.

2. People

Over the many years of my friendship with Jason, every phone call begins with “How are you? How is your family?” and when he asks, it is because he cares, not because he is checking boxes of what he should say. He knows my family members’ (and my dog’s) names, my birthday, and my likes and dislikes.

Over the years, I have seen him do this effortlessly with chamber professionals and partners. He genuinely takes relationships seriously and has built his company’s reputation on putting people first.

Michele Trice, Director of Engagement for YGM, is equally committed to people-first. Months before me joining YGM, she knew I was facing a daunting task of moving my sister to an assisted living facility, she sent me a little something to let me know she was thinking of me during that difficult time.

Clients of YGM are called “family members” because that is what they are. As an Enneagram #2, this makes my heart sing. Authentic relationships always come first.

3. Product

YGM has grown significantly over the years, and that is due partly to chambers evolving and being smarter about diversifying their funding. This has caused an influx of chambers interested in Total Resource Campaigns. So many YGM clients have had such tremendous success that they are telling their friends.

YGM has a proven product, and I believe in it. I have seen a successful TRC change the entire trajectory of an organization. Back in the ‘90s, I was with the Charlotte Chamber, and I managed one of the very first Total Resource Campaigns in the country. I’ve been a fan ever since. I wanted to be a part of an innovative, creative, and growing organization, and YGM is all of those things. 

I started my chamber career in membership and sponsorship development, so this feels like “coming home.”

4. Vision

Jason told me his vision to expand YGM’s offerings to better serve chamber partners. For the past six years, I have provided executive search management, public speaking, and board development assistance to chambers, and I truly feel like it has been a calling for me to do this work.

Rolling these services under the YGM umbrella to expand YGM’s offerings makes perfect sense. Many companies talk about vision in lofty terms, but Jason is grounded, with specific goals for YGM going forward. I want to be part of that.

5. Fun

Life has been hard for all of us over the past few years as we navigated living through a pandemic. There were days when laughing didn’t seem possible, but I have not had one phone or Zoom call with Jason or Michele where I didn’t full-on-belly-laugh. That’s important to me.

We only get one shot at this thing called life, and I want to smile through as much of it as I possibly can. There is a lot of talk these days about culture and the role it plays in employee retention. That can’t be created via committee. It must be part of the core values of an organization from the top down. YGM works hard and plays hard. Sign me up!

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