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Living the Why

“Most of us live our lives by accident – we live as it happens.
Fulfillment comes when we live our lives on purpose.”
- Excerpt from Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration, by Simon Sinek

From kindergarten through fifth grade, I was a Girl Scout. My parents initiated my involvement with the association and I learned practical skills such as how to build a campfire, navigate a canoe, administer CPR/first aid and even how to sew a button (although I have to admit that I lost that particular skill shortly after I learned it). I think that my love of archery even started way back as a beginner Girl Scout, when I shot a bow for the first time at summer camp. Looking back on those years, I have distinct memories of learning how to be part of a team, and also how to step up and be a leader. The Girl Scouts of the USA has a mission to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.” Being a Girl Scout played a role in shaping who I am today – my independence, my love of the outdoors and my drive to volunteer.

Courage, confidence, and character. The three C’s. Without these traits, it’s hard to live our lives on purpose, and impossible to feel fulfillment. My time as a Girl Scout introduced me to the three C’s, but I believe that my time as a member of SMPS pulled the three C’s out of me and made me live them every day. For instance, having the courage to walk into a room of a hundred people – without knowing anyone. The confidence to speak in front of a crowd of my industry peers. Lastly, the character to set aside my personal needs and wants for the overall benefit of something bigger than myself. With courage, confidence and character, I was fortunate enough to be the 2016-2017 SMPS Arizona President. My focus? The power of WHY.

This year’s SMPS Arizona leadership theme was the power of WHY. This comes from Simon Sinek’s inspirational TED Talk and subsequent book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Simon’s message is powerful. He talks about the WHY, how, and what of a company or organization; also known as The Golden Circle. As a Board and Leadership Team, our WHY has been clear: to increase awareness and increase advocacy for SMPS Arizona.  

We lived our WHY this year. I saw the motivation to succeed in our board of directors, our chairs, and our committee members. I couldn’t have asked to serve alongside a more dedicated and committed team. We achieved some pretty cool things this year – I don’t have enough room to list everything – but here are some highlights:

  • Hosted 12 Programs/Marketing Councils, with an average of 31 attendees per event

  • Hosted five Leverage Your Beverage events, with an average of 37 attendees per event

  • Exceeded Chapter sponsorship goals by 11%; exceeded Program sponsorship goals by 46%

  • Successfully implemented the StarChapter platform to increase efficiency of Chapter operations

  • Partnered with ADOT’s Business Engagement and Compliance (BECO) program and the APWA AZ Conference to give education presentations on behalf of SMPS AZ

  • Introduced CPSM-only discount on Chapter-wide events and training
  • Reinstated New Member Breakfasts

  • Launched new SMPS AZ Instagram account

  • Experienced 72% member retention rate and gained 36 new members

  • Partnered with APWA to bring in over 150 attendees for a single event

  • Launched Roadmap to Being a Marketing Ninja: SMPS AZ’s Program & Education Event Guide

  • Hosted 11th Annual CANstruction event, bringing in over 58k cans of food for St. Mary’s Food Bank, increasing donation from 2016 by 8,000 cans

  • Produced nine Chapter videos

  • Gained 157 Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter followers

We all accomplished these things while juggling full-time careers, families/friends, other industry commitments, etc. It never ceases to amaze me - as marketers, we continue to be the ultimate masters in the world of multi-tasking. We take deadlines, commitments, and goals head on and do what it takes to get stuff done.

And although the accomplishments listed above may be specific to this year, it’s due to a culmination of many successful years as an association that we’ve been able to achieve what we have. I can feel the energy continuing to build. We’re in a great place as a state, as an industry,  as an association, as marketers and business developers - and I am so excited to see where Emy Burback takes us next. From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve in this position and I’ll never forget the inspiration I felt this year. It’s given me a renewed drive for what we do as marketers and for what SMPS Arizona stands for. My ultimate hope – and parting words – is that we continue to focus on living our lives on purpose, both personally and professionally. Let’s make the effort to keep an eye on our WHY and continue to find courage, confidence, and character within ourselves – every day.

What was your favorite aspect of the 2016-2017 SMPS year?


Maureen Varela, CPSM
Marketing Manager, Pulice Construction Inc.

Maureen joined the A/E/C industry in 2006 and has been employed by Pulice Construction since 2010. She has been an active member of SMPS for a decade and thoroughly enjoyed her role as current Chapter President. Many know Maureen as the hard-working Marketer that she is, but few know about her passion for adrenaline! Over the years, she’s tried out ziplining, skydiving, rappelling, and white water rafting, and she’s always on the lookout for the next adventure.


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  1. Maisha Christian Hagan

    Aug. 24, 2017

    Well said and well DONE Maureen! Thank you for your leadership and focus this year. I hope this experience opens more doors for you - both professionally and personally!

    1. Maureen Varela

      Aug. 24, 2017

      Thank YOU Maisha, for your time and dedication to the mentoring program! It's inspirational to see the impact that you've had on the group - your energy and positive outlook creates waves everywhere you go.

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