Monday Morning Meet Your Leaders – Karen Hershey

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Karen Hershey
CEO
Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce

1. What is one of the most important qualities of a great leader?

Great leadership begins with enthusiasm for the task or job at hand. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you have passion and excitement for what you do, it inspires others to join with you to take on the next challenge. I am a big believer in the Dale Carnegie approach to leadership, and life in general. I took his course many years ago as a young woman starting my first job just out of law school. His principles are easy for me to embrace—cultivate enthusiasm, have a sincere interest in others, be a good listener, and look for and acknowledge the positive in people and the situation. Finally, I would add that to be an effective leader, the ego must take a back seat to working collaboratively to achieve a common goal. Sometimes our pride and ego get the best of us, and we lose sight of the real objective. The goal shouldn’t be to win, but rather to achieve the result that serves the greater good.

2. How does your organization take our community to the next level?

The Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce is many things, one of which is an organization whose goal is to help businesses and improve our local economy. But my vision for the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce is larger than that. The Chamber is a part of a community that includes businesses, nonprofit organizations, civic groups, schools, religious organizations and government. Of course we will continue to advance our mission, but we also seek to work proactively within our community and with the groups mentioned above to make the greater Toms River area the best it can be. We all play a role and we each have our respective missions, but it’s only by working together that we can lift an entire community.

3. What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?

There are many things I enjoy. It goes without saying, spending quality time with loved ones is first and foremost. Also, practically speaking, staying fit is important for mind, soul and body. I never do as much as I’d like but I enjoy running, working out, kayaking, biking, etc. I’m always looking to find some good live music-cross cultural music or jazz in particular. I dabble with guitar and ukulele but my vocal capabilities are lagging. I would add that I have a strong interest in other cultures so anytime there is an opportunity for travel I get very excited. For that reason, I love languages and in my spare time I try to learn enough of a few languages to be minimally conversational.

4. What is your favorite food/recipe and why?

I’m not much of a cook but I do have my favorite cuisines and it’s along the lines of what I describe above. I love world cuisines, whether it’s Middle Eastern (every type), Indian, Spanish, Mexican, German, French, Japanese, Thai—you name it. I have a preference for spicy and exotic flavors!

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