Lang Strategies LLC

Dash of Life Blog: From the Pinnacle to the Unknown: Navigating Life After Leading DC’s Business Community

As many of you know, I served as President/CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce for 12-plus years after an amazing three-decade corporate career at IBM and Fannie Mae. The Chamber position was probably the most rewarding and my team was successful, with major accomplishments, including:

• Securing numerous legislative wins for the business community
• Helping members gain their next big business agreement
• Hosting the Chamber’s Annual Awards extravaganza where businesspeople and politicians alike came ‘to see and be seen’

By any yardstick, the Chamber had a terrific run and helped to make the District of Columbia a much better place to live, work, play and of course – do business.

With all the hard work and long hours (sometimes 7 days a week) came invitations to galas, upscale parties, Diplomatic corps events and rubbing shoulders with top DC and Federal officials including the President of the United States. I was highly sought after – but only because people thought I could do something for them (I later realized). It could have been something great like welcoming distinguished visitors to the city, or something sad like helping the President of a Company get immediate action with the Medical Examiner for a colleague that had suddenly passed away. It was a hectic, but a great life.

I believe that one should not stay in the same position for more than 10 years. I was entering my 12th year and decided it was time for me to go. We had surpassed every achievable goal – most recently a huge legislative win, and our awards gala was the largest in history raising $1.2 million with over 1,500 guests. So, I made plans to leave in six months giving the organization ample time to find a suitable replacement.

Fast Forward – it took me a year to adjust to the reality that I was no longer the “Queen Bee of DC’s business community.”. Invitations soon stopped coming; award and recognition – no more; my advice was not sought out – NO ONE NEEDED ME, or at least NO ONE thought I could help them with key introductions or influence legislation. I felt as though I had been tossed to the curb like yesterday’s trash. I had not realized how hard that transition was going to be. After having my own pity party, I had to decide how I would re-imagine my professional life going forward.

Reflecting on my journey from leading the DC Chamber of Commerce to navigating the uncertainties of life, I’ve come to appreciate the ebb and flow of professional transitions. While the transition may have been challenging, it has also been a period of growth and self-discovery. I am filled with excitement for the opportunities that lie ahead. With a renewed sense of purpose, I am eager to redefine my professional path and continue making meaningful contributions to the world around me.