Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Great Advice from ASAE's Tom Dolan

During the closing session at their conference, incoming ASAE Chairman Tom Dolan had only a few minutes to thank people and talk about his vision for the coming year -- but notably chose to use time to end his remarks with personal words to the thousands of association executives listening. Tom said, "I think we could do a better job with each other" -- and highlighted three areas.

1. Urged us to talk with at least one student about our profession, to build the future.
2. Encouraged each of us to mentor other association executives, and not make excuses.
3. Reminded us to help other association executives who are in job transitions.

I couldn't agree with him more, and appreciated that ASAE elects leaders who believe that association executives also need to have responsibility for the future of our profession, and the future of each other.

Here are a few of many examples I've seen of those three thoughts:
1. Watching a colleague's (Gar's) daughter grow from a little kid into an extraordinary young woman - and learning she's now studying association management. Was in a program break-out session with her recently, and amazed at her insights and ideas.
2. Ways I was helped/mentored -- local association execs telling me the "car talk" after Directors meetings (to learn what to fix), being invited to dinners/functions by an AE to get to know "important people", AEs volunteering time to facilitate or teach programs that helped my members (and me), having presentations critiqued, ideas from talented new AEs, etc. Should there be efforts to mentor other AEs even when you have no time? Absolutely.
3. AEs leave positions for many reasons - happens all the time to even the best and brightest. Two things I've found they talk about first - how they were terminated, and who reached out afterwards. Even those prepared for a termination still find it's a huge blow, then instantly concerned about ever being hired again. Calls of support from other AEs, offers to be a reference or to review a resume, suggestions for where to look, giving their name to headhunters who call you, opportunities for consulting projects at your association or others, having lunch to talk, inviting to dinner with groups of colleagues when they're trying to network - can help them both professionally and personally.

So even though I've never met Tom Dolan, I found in the audience of thousands that he had great advice - and focused on the right things.

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