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Why I left WOMMA

A Letter From WOMMA CEO Andy Sernovitz

To: WOMMA Members, Staff, Supporters, and Friends

From: Andy Sernovitz, CEO

Date: December 11, 2006

RE: Moving on . . .

With mixed emotions, it’s time to share with everyone that I plan on leaving my leadership role with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association when my contract expires in a few months. It has been an intense and rewarding experience, but it is time to return to civilian life.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve such a wonderful organization and such incredible people. I am deeply grateful for the dedication and support from so many WOMMA members and friends, and I thank you for letting me share this experience with you.

Come April 1, I’ll be consulting, writing, speaking, teaching, and helping a few startups — sharing the wonders that I have learned working with the amazing innovators in the WOMMA family. I will also be looking for new ways to teach WOMMA’s philosophy of ethical marketing to new communities. And, of course, I will remain passionately involved with WOMMA as an active member and will continue to support and promote our amazing organization.

Experience confirms a lesson that my dad taught me about starting a business: The most important service a true entrepreneur can provide to his company is to get the hell out of the way when the startup days are over.

WOMMA is no longer a startup, just as word of mouth marketing is no longer an experiment. We have built the most exciting marketing organization anyone has ever seen, and done it faster and with more impact than anyone has ever done before. We’re a classic startup story: In only two years we went from 10 members and a guy working from his kitchen table to a 330-member powerhouse that is changing the marketing landscape.

We have built what we need to keep WOMMA thriving for the long term: True leadership by dedicated elected members; an active, growing membership; a talented professional staff; and a rich set of programs. We have made our topic top of mind with consumers, media, government, and business — and established ourselves as the organization of record.

Our leadership on marketing ethics has raised the bar for all business. Little ol’ WOMMA has changed the game, and made ethics topic No. 1 in marketing innovation. I hope we will continue to lead and drive the conversation. We must do it because it is the right thing to do … and because honest marketing is better for business. Our movement is the first business organization to put consumers and business on the same side of the table, for the greater good of our companies, our societies, and our families.

I can assure you that I leave you and WOMMA in very good hands. I knew that I could step out when two special milestones were achieved: True member leadership and a talented professional staff.

We have an elected Board of Directors that is truly representative of the membership, with big vision and boundless talent. They are excellent stewards of our organization and vision. I have faith in them to secure our legacy and take it to new heights.

I have complete confidence in our professional staff to run this organization effectively, efficiently — and with the same spirit of innovation that has made us so successful. WOMMA’s team is exactly what we need. Their skill and dedication will surpass your expectations and make your vision a reality.

Most important, however, are each of you. Ultimately, an association is not about its leaders or its staff. It is about the members — your active participation, your smart ideas, your willingness to work together to build an industry. You have a rare gift in WOMMA, one that few industries ever have: a platform to help you and your company realize your most ambitious visions. Make the most of the opportunity.

Stick with WOMMA. It is the only way to promote and protect your business and our collective interests. WOMMA members are the good guys.

In the months remaining, I’m looking forward to continuing the smooth transition already well underway. But now is a good time to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this organization possible. The depth of my appreciation for the staff and hundreds of volunteers can never be truly expressed. The same goes to the friends and supporters who sent in a membership check back in the hardscrabble days, just because we looked like we were working hard and it sounded like a good idea. Your faith in me and the idea that this industry must be pulled together have created a legacy that will last long beyond our own involvement. Please accept my genuine gratitude for your trust and this opportunity.

Let’s raise a toast to the greatest business there ever has been. Here’s to the next 20 years!

At your service,

Andy Sernovitz

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