Here’s a little trivia for you. What do Oprah Winfrey, The Smurfs, Starbucks, and HomeTown Bank have in common?
If you follow our news (or saw the headline), you may have guessed it – we all have celebrated a milestone by ringing the Nasdaq market bell! As VP and Director of Marketing, I had the privilege of joining our Executive Team and Board of Directors on our adventure to the Big Apple on Monday, March 20, to join the ranks of all of the wonderful companies and individuals mentioned above. Knowing that it’s not every day someone from our area gets to kick off the week with such an incredible Monday morning, I am happy to share our experience!
After returning from New York to ring the Nasdaq Opening Bell, many of us were asked, “What was it like?” I ran into someone yesterday who wanted to hear about it and the word I keep using is “surreal.” It was such a surreal experience to be in Times Square, where many other well-known brands and people had stood before. As we waited outside the studio, I recall seeing a framed print of Facebook’s ceremony with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg from when they were there. Wow. The following are my thoughts…
Representing Our Roots
To say the bell ringing was special to be part of is an understatement. As our President and CEO, Susan Still, mentioned in her remarks, we were extremely proud to be there representing our community. There just aren’t too many people from southwest Virginia that get the opportunity to ring the bell and we were honored to celebrate our listing in such an incredible way. While we are just a group of bankers and community leaders, we were treated like some of the celebrities that had been there before us. The team at Nasdaq made us feel so special and made the whole event turn-key and fun.
Here’s a quick recap of the lead up to the bell: Knowing the market isn’t going to really wait for us to ring the bell, we arrived super early and were welcomed into the waiting room, outside the Squawk Box studio, while they were on the air. This was particularly fascinating for Susan as she tunes in each morning to that program. We took in the scene, trying to avoid too much coffee and before we knew it, the set was changing over to the Nasdaq studio, with our logo everywhere. It was getting real.
The Moment of Truth
With the stage set, we rehearsed our walk to the podium so we would all know where to speak, stand, ring, clap, etc. We were told to walk a bit faster next time (perhaps that’s the southern in us). But we were ready. David Wicks, the NASDAQ senior executive that hosted us said a few words and introduced Susan Still, our bell ringer, who thanked all of our stakeholders – employees, customers, shareholders, and the HomeTown Bank Board for their support of HomeTown Bank.
With a quicker pace this time, we returned to the stage around Susan and prepared for the countdown. We clapped for what seemed like an unusually long time but it was absolutely thrilling to be there on that set with Times Square behind us. The bell ceremony was also being shown on the Nasdaq Webcam, the Nasdaq MarketSite Tower, Facebook Live, and TV networks including CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox Business News and others – reaching millions of viewers worldwide. (I tried not to think about that!) Then before we knew it, Susan rang the bell, thereby completing our task! The whole thing took less than 15 minutes and was truly an amazing 15 minutes of fame.
Seeing Our Name in Lights
None of us expected what followed. We walked down to Times Square with the intention of taking photos in front of the NASDAQ marquee with our message displayed and not only did we see the HomeTown Bank name and logo on a billboard in Times Square (which would eat up my entire marketing budget if I had to pay for it), we also saw our faces – quite large on the side of the tower. They created a slideshow with many of the images that were taken from the event. That was pretty cool and quite shocking to see yourself multiple stories high with thousands of people walking by!
So there’s the play by play of the ceremony and what it was like and why surreal is the only word I can use to describe the experience. We hope to make it back again to celebrate another milestone – at least we’ll know the drill.
– Written by Carolyn Kiser, VP, Director of Marketing at HomeTown Bank