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Lessons Learned serving as a Laguna Development Corporation (LDC) Board of Directors Member

October 31, 2014

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.

  1. A Section 17 federal tribal corporation is a unique corporate entity, it is tribal community oriented.
  2. Non-tribal board members will likely struggle to understand the tribal perspective and way of life.
  3. 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.
  4. Corporate communication is hard to do well.
  5. Understanding sovereign immunity is fundamental and important.
  6. 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.
  7. Tribal businesses seem to lack a “killer instinct” to dominate their market and be number one, they move forward very conservatively.
  8. 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.

– Dom

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