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Q&A with Whistler chamber CEO Val Litwin

The author and entrepreneur hits the ground running but saves time for jogging, too

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I went to my first The Network meeting on Wednesday at Nita Lake Lodge, which is a really neat organization that is gathering steam and we partner with them for some of their events. Meeting, again, entrepreneurs and consultants who have their fingers in nooks and crannies globally, who are doing really neat things, are dynamic, intelligent people who bring so much to the business community as well.

I'm meeting all these groups of people who are all in business somehow but have different needs and are looking at different things.

Pique: Are people also coming to you to give their different views?

val: I have an entrepreneurial background. A lot of members are not just keen to talk about what the chamber can do for them, I think they're just keen to talk business and strategy and growth. I've enjoyed the conversations I've had out on the stroll and now I'm starting to have coffees and lunches like crazy with business owners who want to get a little bit detailed into what they're doing, what they're planning.

I'm absorbing like a sponge as much as I can.

Pique: How does what you've seen of Whistler business so far fit in with your knowledge? You've brought a particular skillset to the community.

val: From a relatability standpoint, I know what it is like to struggle to make payrolls. There are certain baseline things there that I appreciate, but also a lot these businesses are small and when you're either in start-up phase or even as a small, mature business, you have to do a lot for almost nothing. So it's all about value creation, leveraging partnerships, finding synergies.

It always sounds so trite but that is how you do the most for the least, when you have limited financial resources. From that perspective I think it's exciting because I can come to the table and understand that a company that maybe has only two or three employees, they can leverage certain formats and tools that we have here at the chamber that can really help them get to the next level. If we can give them a platform, or a push to support them, that is the point.

Pique: Tell me about the Canadian Chamber meeting (which took place in Kelowna at the end of September).

val: It was fascinating. I will actually say that the policy stuff was fun. It took me back to my old high-school debating days, I was just missing my blazer. It was very encouraging to see the democratic process at work where we can identify issues that require advocacy and a voice at a provincial and a national level and seeing how those mechanisms work.

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