Thought Leadership: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Stepping outside your comfort zone to try something new can be daunting. What if things don’t go as planned? What if the experience isn’t pleasant or successful? What if you fail? Too often fear holds us back from stepping out into the unknown, from stretching ourselves, from opening new doors.  We’ve tried some new things at BEMA this year, and I’ll be honest, we were definitely worried about failing. I mean, what if no one had shown up at NEXUS or we were left all alone in a restaurant during a regional dinner?

But as Franklin Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Trying something new requires courage and faith, the ability to learn new things and to define what success looks like. That’s the great thing about new adventures. As scary as they are, they also bring the excitement of learning and experimenting with things you’ve never done before. 


NEXUS & Convention

When we first started talking about NEXUS, it was just an idea…a “what if”. What if we could create an event that connects our industry in ways it has never been connected before? From that initial question came so many more questions that needed answered. We worked hard, found or created the answers, and built an event that filled an industry need.

It was wonderful to meet and interact with companies I didn’t already know, or new people from companies I did know.  It was more than just a new event with the same crew.  NEXUS was new in every way and that was pretty cool!  – Joanie Spencer, Commercial Baking

We stepped out on a new path with Workforce Wednesday at Convention this year, partnering with Arizona State University to provide valuable education for our attendees that helps them to navigate ever-changing workforce issues.

“Continuous education is key to leadership,” said Audrey St. Onge of Workforce Wednesday sponsor Lallemand. “Partnerships with existing educators can accelerate the learning curves and deliver high-quality educational content. As we enter a future of rapid change, it is essential to possess the appropriate skillsets to adapt and thrive in the new environment. ASU/AZNext partnerships, and their alliance with BEMA, enable us to concentrate on developing the skills of the bakery workforce.” 

Convention is not new, it’s a tradition, and we are still always looking for ways to adapt and evolve the experience so it continues to meet the needs of our membership.  Feedback from first-time attendees is valuable, and also provides a fresh look at a long-standing event. 

“BEMA’s audience includes the most influential members of the bakery industry in North America. As a first-time social media sponsor this year, GEA was able to expand its outreach to new potential customers and partners, and as a first-time attendee, I was able to greatly expand my network of industry colleagues.” – Riccardo Piscolla, GEA. 

“Well what an extraordinary event! I have never been to anything like it, the personal contacts and friends made will outlast my career for sure. I look forward to attending again.” – Richard Hobson, WeSeal

BEMA-Colors-Separator-Line-1-1536x10Regional Dinners

BEMA is all about making connections and a goal for 2023 was to help our members make connections like the ones they make at Convention throughout the year closer to home. Thus, the idea of regional dinners was born.

We decided to host dinners on the same night in different locations across the country, allowing our members to connect in person with other industry members that live in the same region. Many industry members came to a regional dinner as their first BEMA event this year.  What a great way to take a chance on BEMA!

“The dinner in Chicago was excellent,” said Mitch Lund, sales manager for HaF Equipment. “Based on previous experience with BEMA dinners, we have a high bar of expectation for the quality of interaction at these events. The regional dinner in Chicago did not disappoint; we had a lot of fun but also fostered some connections we believe will lead to good business opportunities for our company. We look forward to attending future BEMA regional dinners!”  


With the new year on the horizon, it’s a natural time to start thinking about new things you want to try – whether with your company or as a BEMA member. After spending 2023 working on new ventures with BEMA, I want to leave you with this piece of advice: Don’t let fear keep you from taking a chance. You can’t succeed unless you start.


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