It’s no secret that I’m on the Board of Directors of Laguna Development Corporation (it’s in my Bio here and on the company website, so it’s public). I was appointed about 3 years ago this month by the Pueblo of Laguna tribal council based on my corporate experience and being a pueblo of laguna tribal member. Since being appointed, I have seen and experienced quite a bit in the areas of gaming, hospitality, retail, and food & beverage. Here are some lessons learned during this journey, in no particular order. I will add to this list as more lessons come to mind.
- A Section 17 federal tribal corporation is a unique corporate entity, it is tribal community oriented.
- Non-tribal board members will likely struggle to understand the tribal perspective and way of life.
- Being an active and contributing board member will take more time than you think, more than 75% of my IBM vacation time off work went to being a board member.
- Corporate communication is hard to do well.
- Understanding sovereign immunity is fundamental and important.
- When $777,632 went missing in late 2014, it was a big deal. Based on the cash share agreement this means the pueblo is out more than $500,000 for 2015.
- Tribal businesses seem to lack a “killer instinct” to dominate their market and be number one, they move forward very conservatively.
- Disappointment is part of having high standards of behavior and ethics.
Update … on January 31, 2015, my term expired and I am no longer on the Laguna Development Corporation Board Of Directors, long story. I am grateful Laguna Pueblo gave me the opportunity to contribute back to my home community in the capacities I can. I’m open and look forward to helping other tribes raise the bar and really compete in the business world off the rez.