2012 KCBS Board of Directors Election
Candidate: William "BJ" Hoffman
1. Please describe the skills you possess (which you believe are stronger than the other candidates) which would make you an asset as a board member, in dealing with the challenges facing KCBS, and give an example of how those skills would serve the KCBS Board of Directors and its membership.I believe that I have numerous skills and abilities that make me a very strong candidate for the KCBS Board of Directors. The first would be my experience as a leader. Serving as a firefighter I have experienced many facets of leadership. I previously served from the volunteer firefighter ranks up to being a full time paid fire chief. The ability to get along and be a productive leader in the fire service is a difficult task. The difficulty is a product of varying personalities, ideals, and values. Not being able to work as a team in the fire service and bring people together can result in injury or death of your staff and brethren. I feel my experience leading will be a strong asset.
Secondly, as a prior business owner and working with large corporations such as Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Northern Tool, Casey's Stores, and Amazon.com have allowed me to experience business at a level that many small business people and individuals will never experience. I believe my knowledge of how corporate America operates could be a significant benefit as I see pursuing a greater number of member benefits from larger national corporations that bring a benefit to more of the membership.
Third, my experience working with government at all levels has brought a great deal of insight to me and I think that these experiences, good, bad, and otherwise can be used as examples of what not to do, what works, and what has failed miserably. Out of my dealings in government I would like to bring one very important concept to the forefront. That concept is listening to the people rather than assuming you know what is best.
Fourth, my experience as an adult educator in a college setting also lends a great deal of knowledge when it comes to meeting and achieving the educational needs of adult learners. As we talk about continuing education in judging my experience in instructional methodology would be a very good asset for KCBS.
Finally, my ability to use modern technology and adapt to simpler, easier means of doing things would be a large benefit I could bring to the KCBS. For several years I have been using webinar technology to hold meetings across the country. This has cut down in time and expenses and has allowed more people to become a part of the projects and committees I have worked with. It has given people a voice and an obvious sense of belonging and ownership. I have been using very simple video technology for years to produce short educational presentations on topics from BBQ to emergency medicine. These skills could be used to help in the ongoing education of the membership. With all of the technology available out there I believe that there is absolutely no reason for members not to know what is going on.
2. If you are a Cook, Judge, Rep or Backyard Cook, please identify the major KCBS issues concerning, one of areas in which you are involved. Describe the major issue, your strategies to correct or improve the issue, and what you see as the biggest challenge to the success of your plan.As a cook 90% of the time and a judge 10% of the time I believe the same issue, but from different sides of the spectrum is a serious issue that needs to be addressed sooner than later.
This issue is judge education. While judges volunteer their time and expenses in order to be an intricate part of the competition, cooks pay a sizable amount of money and invest a great deal of time competing and both have expectations come noon.
I will not point out individual contests but as a cook I have personally experienced varying scores that have had a range of plus or minus 3 points and talking to other cooks that were on the same turn in tray as our entry they had the same issue.
As a judge I have been sitting at the judging table and had judges comment on garnish and other issues that need not be addressed while scoring along with not paying attention to the simplest of judging etiquette.
I believe that this issue can't be completely solved but the behaviors can be curtailed by giving judges some new resources to use. I would ask that the following initiatives be started:
- Build an online database of entries similar to what happens on BBQCRITIC.COM This database of entries would be used to give judges from across the country a look at what teams are submitting and then let judges submit a score and a comment all based on the criteria for appearance set for in KCBS rules.
- Invite current judges to attend judges classes when held to listen to the instructor's lecture. During the lecture portion the previously certified judges would hear about the updates and get to experience a refresher in judging rules. This could be accomplished by sending out an email blast according to the zipcode of the members and invite them to attend.
- With permission of the KCBS, a randomly drawn table, at random contests could be video recorded and these videos could be reviewed by the competition committee and rules committee. The review would allow for the committees to determine what areas of the judging and which rules need to be addressed.
- Next, to address the educational concerns that are determined in need of remedial attention, formal education could be done. The education could be presented using videos presented by KCBS committee members that are experts in that area, or by the use of live streamed webinars. While the issues are presented, basis for the addressing the issue, and the presentation of solutions this means of communication and education would also be a means of getting membership involved and become a launch pad for more membership involvement. The videos could be accessed at any time, day or night, from home or while on vacation. The webinars would be made available to all members to watch live which would be able to include a chat area, question and answer area, and an attendee list. The webinars could also be archived and be converted into podcasts just like the meeting audio. In the rare event that immediate attention needs to brought to light a webinar could be held after a simple invite is emailed to all membership to bring them up to speed. This way important issues are properly communicated and they aren't tabled.
- Finally, with a simple email blast from KCBS a database could be set up of judges wanting to cook with a team in order to be better judges and teams willing to host a judge in order to inform judges as to what cooks do on a weekly basis in terms of cooking. The list of judges and cooks could be printed in the Bull Sheet just like the list of people looking for a team to cook with. The website could also have a simple directory of teams that have an open door to judges with a contact number. By giving judges and cooks a means to share and inform candidly would appear to be a tremendous relationship building concept that could benefit all parties involved.
3. Identify your major short term goal and the major long term goal, if elected to the Board of KCBS and your plan to implement change or improvement in order to carry out each of these goals.My major short term goal is to bring a positive vibe back to the KCBS. Since announcing my candidacy for the Board of Directors I have read and heard so much negativity regarding the KCBS that I feel that the image is becoming tarnished and most members believe that the "funk" that the KCBS is in needs to be changed before the mission of the KCBS can be pursued. For a non profit organization that was created out of love for BBQ there is a great deal of negativity being generated. I would like to see the Board of Directors come together in February and make a conscious decision to work together in the best interest of the members, not their special interest or special project. As a general member right now and being in the BBQ forums online, attending contests, and having a social relationship with many other members it is apparent that the continuity and cohesiveness is lacking and that needs to be fixed.
In the long term I have a goal directly related to the mission of the KCBS. I want to preserve the KCBS. As a father of an eight year old son that may enjoy BBQing more than I do I want to see him enjoy BBQ and the people and the organization around it. Right now he competes in the Kids Q' contests when there is one and on occasion comes along to contests as a member of the team. In the coming years young families like mine will be challenged and have to make decisions on whether BBQ is the best choice for family outings and entertainment. With soccer, baseball, football, dance, gymnastics, karate, and every other hobby being an alternative the KCBS should look at making sure that the preservation as stated in the mission statement is done through families. I started BBQing because my dad did, and my son did because I did. I am sure this is a common occurrence and if I stopped taking my son to contests he would find something else to take BBQ's place. The hope is that it would be a productive past time and if he finds another past time I would definitely support his endeavor and that may cause me to compete far less if I am attending another event in support of my son. I would like to see the KCBS encourage and financially support a Kids Q' at all contests so that families can make the event a family event that encourages productive behavior, self worth, and ownership.
I would also like to bring forth an initiative by KCBS to start more BBQ clubs on college campuses across the country. I realize there are a few teams out there but having a tour similar to the road show that occurred this year could be held on college campuses to help start BBQ clubs or at least generate interest in BBQ from a different population base seems like a great way to expose an entire generation to the KCBS culture. I believe that my short term goal of building a cohesive KCBS and a long term goal of preserving the KCBS by more youth and college age oriented marketing would be a primary focus for me.
4. If elected please explain "your level of commitment, time and energy" for committee projects and monthly reports, board meetings and attendance, as well as representing KCBS to the public and being responsive to our members.If elected I would look forward to the February board study session on site in Kansas City. I would embrace any of the committees I am assigned to and do everything I can to make the actions and direction of those committees as they pertain to the mission of the KCBS. I would also use my resources as a previous business owner to help build additional member benefits and corporate partnerships.
When it comes to the monthly board meetings, at this moment I would like to set a goal of attending at least half of the meetings in person. Living in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa and less than 2 miles from Interstate 35, I can be in downtown Kansas City in 3 hours under normal driving conditions. I believe that being at meetings this important in person is crucial. Having served on many committees in my professional life I know that people don't always take others as serious when they are on a phone or on a computer webinar. Often times our body language speaks much greater than our words. The KCBS membership deserve to have dedicated representation that cares enough about the meeting agenda items to go to the meetings in person as often as possible.
When it comes to availability I would say that I am as available as it gets. Being in the medical field and having hundreds of patients that I work with I am used to my phone ringing at all hours. I am also very easy to contact via email, Facebook, and Twitter as well. Most importantly, I would have no problems holding "office hours" at events that I am cooking or judging at. I would send out an email, text, Tweet, or Facebook message in regards to where I will be and when the "office hours" will be.
I think that an open door policy is a great policy and that this type of attitude could help to remedy some of the transparency issues that have been brought to my attention. It's your organization, and I work for ALL of you.
5. Please describe your previous participation in KCBS activities and years of experience.I have been a cook for nearly 12 years in contests and became a CBJ this year.
6. Please explain why you want to be a member of the KCBS Board.Over the past several months I have had a chance to experience a great deal in life. One of those moments occurred days after cooking at KCBS contest at the Cass County Fairgrounds in Weeping Water, Nebraska. On August 25th at age 34 I suffered a massive heart attack that should have killed me right then and there. While in the ICU in a Des Moines, Iowa hospital I had some time to think about the things I like in life, the things I love in life, and the things I do in life because I feel obligated, and those things that I have just always done. Of all the things in life that I love including my family, friends, and my church, I realized that barbeque and the barbeque family I have known for the last 12 years ranks right up there and the fact that the family and friends that I love and adore enjoy the barbeque life opened my eyes to becoming a leader on the KCBS board.
I wouldn't wish my unfortunate health issues on anyone but, an eye opener is an eye opener and everyone needs one once in a while and I got mine very early in life. The fact that my eight year old Carson loves to barbeque as much, if not more than I do made me decide that now is the time to run for the KCBS Board of Directors.
The past and current board members have done a great job in building on many of the points of the KCBS mission statement but I feel that I can be an amazing voice in building on the KCBS mission statement, and I know I can bring personalized knowledge and attention to the teaching and preservation points in the mission statement that are going to be so very critical to the future members of the KCBS like my eight year old son Carson, my barbequing 4 year old nephew Peyton, and my teammate's newborn son Brock.
I believe that through some new efforts that I would like to champion through KCBS that the organization could grow the membership base every year for generations to come. I also believe that the teaching aspect of barbeque is an important facet of maintaining interest in barbeque.
Just a few years back NASCAR was the hottest show on earth, growing leaps and bounds and things couldn't have been better. Just a few years later NASCAR has hit the proverbial brick wall and there are empty seats, shortened race seasons, teams disappearing, and drivers going from racing on Sundays to selling used cars Monday through Saturday. I don't want to see anything like what NASCAR has had happen to them happen to KCBS. The economy can be blamed for a lot of things including the incidental spending by the general public, reduced spending by barbeque teams and contest organizers.
For most competition teams like the one I am a part of, we realize breaking even is a great thing and coming out ahead is even better. We continue to compete because WE LOVE BARBEQUE!
The reason I bring up the socioeconomic conditions is that, if we (barbeque lovers) don't find new and innovative ways to overcome these adversities barbeque as we know it could change for the worse. I believe that my addition to the KCBS Board of Directors would be a great way of attacking these issues proactively instead of waiting for them to happen and then having to react which is also much more stressful and typically very costly. I also want to address remedial education for current judges, member benefits, and meeting transparency. You can hear about these issues in my announcement video. Finally, over the next several weeks I would like to get to know as many KCBS members as possible and would appreciate any, and all of your questions, comments, and KCBS platform ideas and I will respond to each of you in a timely manner. For up to date information and answers to others comments please visit my candidacy Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/BJ-Hoffman-for-KCBS-Board-of-Directors/289380814423633
I look forward to getting to know you all better and hope I can earn your votes!