Wednesday, October 31, 2007

25 Alternative Meeting Locations

Sometimes it's impossible to find a meeting space in a hotel, restaurant or conference center; or your group needs lower priced options. Here are 25 potential meeting locations that could be available in your area, and likely have accessibility:

1. Hospital conference room
3. Library meeting room
4. Church meeting room
5. Ice skating/roller rink (may have birthday/party room)
6. School or university - auditorium or classroom
7. Bank building - event room (or other large companies)
8. Arboretum
9. Armory
10. Country Club
11. Recreation center
12. National or state park information center
13. Museum/Arts Center - auditorium or classroom
14. Fire station
15. Activity/social room in nursing home, apartment building
16. City Hall meeting room
17. Elks/Moose/Knights of Columbus/Eagles lodge
18. Summer camp or ski-lodge off-season
19. Movie theater (be sure can turn lights up enough - made THAT mistake once)
20. Nightclub (ask to open during day for you)
21. Computer training center (without the computers)
22. Trail lodge/hunting lodge
23. Mansion
24. Fairgrounds
25. Meeting rooms at other Associations, chamber of commerce
.... or call your local caterer, wedding planner or florist to see what they've seen that could be used.
Any others you'd suggest?
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Association Management and Cancer: 10 Tips

Cancer can strike any of us, at any time. Colleague Tracy (pic) gives these 10 tips for handling issues related to discovering cancer, and managing an association. A guest post.

1. When do you tell? I knew I had [breast] cancer after my first surgery, but did not know how bad it was and if it had spread. As a Board of Directors meeting already scheduled, decided to let the Board know at that time – prior to final diagnosis. I needed to let them know that I wouldn't be attending the Leadership Seminar since I would be having more surgery. It wasn’t easy. I’m a very private person and didn’t want to tell anyone, but it might affect my job. I swore them to secrecy.

Then e-mailed close AE friends. I laughed for the first time since getting my diagnosis when association executives Keith [limited hair] offered me hairstyling tips once I lost my hair and Ron [lives distance away] offered to do my grocery shopping. Humor was so important!

After the second surgery, I knew it was isolated - but still had to face chemotherapy and radiation treatments. My Board was amazing. Whatever I needed to do, they told me to do it. Take as much time off as I needed – just get better. They were so understanding and supportive.

2. How to keep working? My oncologist determined right away that I was one of those “type A” personalities. I wanted treatment as soon as possible. As long as my body held up, she would schedule chemo every 2 weeks. I made it through, but did have some of those nasty side effects. I was exhausted, distracted and going bald quickly. In fact, I lost most of my hair in Orlando at the National Convention! I was prepared with a wig. The vast majority of my members had no idea. I never knew what to say when they complimented me on my new hairstyle.

3. Getting things done. I did not take much time off. I thought I could either stay home and feel bad or be distracted by work. Learned to delegate and my staff rose to the occasion. My AE friends were there for me, helping me out whenever I needed something. Yelling at me to take it easy didn’t work, but I knew they cared. I realized our jobs are not life or death. The newsletter went out a couple of days late and not one person complained or even noticed. Committee meetings can be changed. There was no reason to panic or stress about it. Get the important stuff taken care of, delegate and put some things off. It will all work out.

4. When (or if) to tell the membership. Once I was done with treatment and my hair grew back, we had our annual meeting. I asked for time on the agenda. At that time, I told those attending about my battle. I wanted to personally thank my staff and took that opportunity in front of the members. The simple fact that most members never even saw a decrease in services was a tribute to them. They kept me going, made me laugh and took over when needed.

5. You have more support in your life then you would ever imagine. So, was there anything good about this experience? Believe it or not, there was. You never know how many friends you have made until something like this happens. The AE Community, my friends, my family all rallied around me. I still miss my mother coming and cleaning my house every week, but says she's retired from that now that I'm fine!

6. You need to face it. If there is one thing I am very adamant about now is annual breast exams and mammograms. I managed to miss going for a couple of years before I found the lump. I’ll never know if it could have been caught sooner. Sometimes we avoid problems or issues due to the fear of the unknown. One of my best friends just completed her treatment. You will be amazed at how many people have faced cancer and are doing great.

7. You know yourself best. Do what you need to do to get through it. I may have tried to act like superwoman, but I wasn’t. If you need to take time off, take it. Ask for help. If you are concerned about something – get to a doctor.

8. Find humor and laugh every day. When I was chair of the [NAR] AE Institute Committee, my one goal was to have some classes with humor. We take ourselves too seriously. Laughter is the best medicine. Just let go once in awhile.

9. Set goals! Just before going through my surgeries, I had just started going for my RCE designation. I thought I would have to put that on hold. Well, sitting and getting chemo was a great time to study. So in Orlando – while losing my hair and trying to stay awake – I took the exam. I did get my RCE! Take advantage of the opportunities as they arise.

10. Be thankful every day. I find myself slipping back into working too much and putting too much on my plate. My wonderful husband of 25 years (who still makes me laugh) puts the reins on when necessary. Make sure your priorities are straight and sit back every once in awhile to review them. Take time for your family and friends.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hole in One - Hole in Hell

There's yet another way to get in trouble in association management - the golf tournament hole-in-one. Colleague/friend asked I share this one. With golf tournament fundraisers, organizations can buy policy to give large prize for hole-in-one - such as new car or tens of thousands of dollars. However, policy likely has restrictions - such as minimum distance to the hole used for the prize, and ensuring correct monitoring. How many of us just hand that detail over to the golf pro without double-checking to ensure hole is far enough distance and that it's being monitored as policy/contract requires? What establishes who's responsible if procedure isn't followed correctly and prize isn't paid?

That hole-in-one can be expensive administrative mistake if not handled correctly.
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Got your back

Want to improve the quality of your life? Get a new mattress. When started getting back pain assumed related to age, weekend athlete, working too many hours, lifted something wrong, etc. -- but first question doctor asked - "how old is your mattress?" Apparently life-span is 9-10 years; and common reason for back pain; definitely reason for mine.
New means quality mattress that supports your sleep and back - not cheapest can find that haven't owned before. Great mattress makes huge difference. Follow up buying quality mattresses for kids too -- don't hand down your old one. Love our mattresses, and our backs -- and you should too.

And if you have really old pillows -- those need replacement too. I don't have allergies, but apparently mites, etc. lurk in that pillow -- which further contributes to problems.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

E-Publishing and Associations that won't

Tried to hunt down electronic version of a brochure for a member this week. There wasn't one. Reason: Print brochures income source - if send electronic version won't buy print version. That's true - member didn't want print version - her client's in Asia and looking for info now. Result: Member has no ability to send PDF file to clients who need it. Some associations won't make electronic versions of their legal forms available because don't want to lose income from print versions.

Good e-publishing examples:1. Just give file/link to document free. If the point of developing a brochure is to improve public info then how about making it easier.
2. Create e-synopsis to promote paid brand. Hotel in Europe gave us free daily synopsis/digest of NY Times (photocopied news that had clearly been emailed in a template on four pages -- a mini print newsletter from electronic version). Really liked the NY Times for doing that.
3. Allow purchasing limited electronic rights to a document to further distribute in limited manner. Like electronic forms as part of dues.
4. Provide paid subscriptions to get electronic version, such as Daily Racing Form with daily horse race information. Earlier this week spoke at facility with self-contained Daily Racing Form print terminal, so user could select race track, pay nominal fee, and get customized news created/printed.

Bad e-publishing example:
Not allowing any electronic version because want to force purchase of printed brochure or form.

Don't know how associations decide their print material profit outweighs serving members and their customers/clients working in a clearly wired world.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Online Philanthropy and Social Media

There's staggering amount to be learned from those who blog - and one to highlight is Beth Kanter (pic). Describing herself: "She is a professional blogger and writes about the use of social media tools in the nonprofit sector for social change."

She recently did online fundraiser to raise $1000 to help fund junior year of college for Cambodian woman. Hoped to raise it in 3 weeks, did it in under 24 hours. Used everything from widgets showing progress, to video, to urging friends to promote the campaign via Twitter and other blogs. And I gave because believe online philanthropy is going to be more extensively used by associations, and appreciate how much learning from her.

Here's info about "Wired Fundraisers": Beth explains details that make wired fundraising work, and not work. Her experience: it's the messenger even more than the message. Giving sense of urgency - combined with widgets and social media - increase opportunities for success.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Unzipped: To tell or not to tell

If someone's zipper is down, or if they have something on their face, do you tell them or not? Was speaker at lunch meeting and asked why skipping lunch. Told story of how years ago had significant amount of catsup on my face, gave entire presentation, walked around the room, and when leaving found over a hundred people noticed but didn't mention it. No more eating two minutes before intro for me.

Which led to riveting question: if you noticed someone's zipper down, would you tell them? And if yes, how. Answers ranged from no to maybe to depends how well know them to yes. Men said they'd tell men as easily as a woman; and women said they'd tell men as easily as a woman. Consensus that best way to do it is quietly/privately say "your zipper/fly is down" without adding anything else. Also thought if someone said "XYZ" (examine your zipper) wouldn't know what talking about; and expressions about barn doors would be clueless or closer to uncomfortable than direct approach ("your barn door's open", "don't let cow out of the barn").

Real Simple says this: "In many cases, it’s not your place to step in. 'If you're in a large group or the person is the CEO of the company, you don't have to say anything,' says Jodi R. Smith, president of Mannersmith, an etiquette consulting firm based in Boston."

Take it from me, Jodi R. Smith and others - if they're in a large group, and if they're a CEO, it would be really nice/helpful to tell them.
Wouldn't you want to know?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Speed Dating - Association Style

Because new colleagues at other state associations, and knowing many didn't know each other or senior staff/elected leadership of national association - I set up "speed dating" session. Needed to be at executives conference where national staff and volunteers had time I could schedule.

Room set in 11 rounds -- and assigned 4 state association executives to each of 10 tables. Mixed experience levels so they could get to know each other. Those 40 stayed at same table entire time. Then 10 "daters" who changed tables -- 6 national association senior staff (chief lobbyist, human resources, chapter relations, chief legal counsel, communications/PR, and CEO), 2 national elected leaders (president and first vice president), and 2 other key volunteers (members). Note: Daters start together at table 11, groups need 10 minutes alone to decide what to do/ask when daters join.

At outset each got directory I put together - including picture (very important), name, state association, how long there, current national committees/work groups, email address of everyone participating. Same for national staff and elected leaders. Helpful to be able to take notes next to pictures/names during "speed dating" -- and to be able to connect face with names/contact info later.

"Daters" moved clockwise to next table every 8 minutes (give 2 minute warning) -- tables numbered too (gets confusing otherwise). No rules about how to spend 8 minutes - introductions, covering topic, letting dater or executives ask questions, whatever ... but time is limited. Frequently had remind daters they HAVE to move (often want to stay and continue conversation -- but not possible). Took about 2 hours to complete with group that size; includes 10 minute break in middle.

Far exceeded my expectations. Everyone got to talk with a number of people they really do need to know, in short period of time.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How to Apologize

Today Oprah featured guests with terminal cancer, including Professor Randy Pausch (pic), now famous for his "last lecture" at Carnegie-Mellon. Among other advice, Prof. Pausch included importance of knowing how to apologize properly.

"When you screw up, apologize. A good apology has three parts ....
1. I'm sorry.
2. It was my fault.
3. How do I make it right?

Most people skip that third part; but that's how you can tell sincerity".

Good advice.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Social media: communities, puppies, dogs

There's a great New Yorker cartoon of a dog typing at a computer with the explanation, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog". I'd like to add they don't know if you're a puppy or older dog either.

I participate in online communities: foreign movies, travel, cairn terrier (pic) owners, etc. ... and discussion doesn't include my age. My daughter is joining Facebook group "my Saab smells like crayons" (community with Saab detail in common). Crayon smell when I drove it too.

Associations often immediately draw generational lines when discussing social media, online communities, emerging technologies ... when age isn't limiting detail online. We need open-approach to communities, and not try to put puppies in one box, and older dogs in another.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

17 signs you're about to be fired

Colleague Keith Holm (pic) collected stories from association executives on how they knew they were about to be fired ... for presentation on "survival strategies" ... First nine - a guest post.

9 signs you're about to be fired:
1. You arrive at the office and only other car in the parking lot belongs to your President.
2. Your President asks, "So, after today, where will you be working?"
3. You get calls about a job opening and didn't know there was one.
4. Staff members tear up when they see you as know you're going to get the boot.
5. President walks into your office with box of Kleenex and no one has a cold.
6. Your key to the office doesn't work anymore and personal belongings in box outside the door.
7. President begins Board meeting with, "We will now go into executive session. We’ll let you know when to come back in." They never invite you back.
8. Your President asks you for "Guidelines on Hiring a New Executive Officer"
9. You anonymously receive book entitled, "Joys of a Job Search".

…. 6 more signs:
10. You start to get calls from colleagues in other areas, or past presidents, asking if “everything is okay”.
11. A security guard attends Board of Directors meeting (or is seated at your desk).
12. You’re asked to be sure to bring your car keys and laptop to a meeting.
13. President sends recent invoices for “legal services related to staff” to pay.
14. Association attorney stops making eye contact with you, or frequently says “I’ll need to call the President” in response to questions.
15. Go from outstanding performance evaluations to one scathing one. In writing; and sometimes sent to other key leaders. Accept this truth: only last evaluation counts.
….. 2 more signs [but also may be sign getting raise/bonus]:
16. Asked for copy of your employment agreement “so our attorney can review it”.
17. Executive Committee is meeting; no one on staff has knowledge of it.

Like other situations in life, trust your gut instinct. Fix whatever needs to be fixed, or start looking.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Practice Safe Keyboard

When you think computer virus, does that include viruses that may reside on keyboard itself? Staff member recently got horrific eye infection (stabbing pain, swollen shut, tearing, etc.) and couldn't work for several days. Since my computer disconnected from network with hard drive problem, decided to use "the open office". After typing away for hours, heard words: "aren't you afraid you're going to pick up the eye infection from that keyboard?" Know viruses can be transmitted from door handles, telephones, faucets, pens, shaking hands .. hadn't thought about computer keyboard. Within hour noticing bloodshot eye ( ... likely from over-checking, didn't have real problem).

When computer tech reconnected me, asked about spreading viruses via keyboard ... said when he's in offices people frequently sneeze and start typing again (yuck - but know true). Doesn't wear gloves to work on computers (my question) because weird (and hard way to type), but travels with Purell (travel sized disinfecting soap) and uses immediately. Googled this issue, and in addition to everyone else who spreads viruses via keyboards, learned doctors and nurses frequently do too because so much hospital reporting is electronic. Even gloves don't help.

So, practice safe keyboard - if there is such a thing.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

And Blah Blah Blah

Changed my intro for talk yesterday to practice recent posting - removed reference to awards, designations, boards serve on, education. Intro became name, title, where work, how long - and added something interesting. At least I thought it interesting. Said I blog now. Man introducing me read first sentence in intro, quizzically looked at sentence about the blog, and continued, "something about blog and blah blah blah, Join me in welcoming Cindy Butts "

Either he:
1. Didn't know what a blog was so surprised him enough to leave out;
2. Thought blog detail dull and decided not to mention; or
3. Likes shortening intros, even though only two sentences in length anyway.

If said black belt in karate (but don't have) would I have been "blah blah blah"-ed? Is this a sign I have education to do about blogs to those who may not know?

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hard Drive Redux - Part 2

Once lost, now found. My data returned, on external storage drive from ADR Recovery Services. Motto: "Saving data - and businesses - every day". Gave daily updates. Legal commitment: won't share data with third-party, remove from server after 30 days - and I had to ensure ownership/rights to have data extracted. Got old drive back (pic - with external and new hard drives.) Very professional.

Disconnect between excellent Dell Gold service techs and manufacturing that ships. Replacement hard drive arrived after left hotel (then 8 days hotel to me). Dell sends current utility/driver files knowing won't work with "older" (i.e., 1 year old) laptop. My opinion: better to send no files than wrong files; or Dell should download correct files from own site and send vs user needing to download. [Separately, when Dell Gold can access laptop remotely, saves tons of time/frustration - great service.]

Notable extras:
1. My usual tech couldn't believe didn't ask him to try to recover files - said would have tried to extract data from dead hard drive with external hard drive.
2. Dell techs and usual tech said freezing hard drive frequently works. Often works with dead batteries too.
3. Didn't check with Geek Squad. Several recommended ADR, where already sent. FYI - both also have service to recover accidentally deleted files from working hard drives.
4. Only transferred 20 recovered files onto new hard drive. Others live on new external home. Tons need deleting.

Remember to back up files daily - onto server, device, CD, via service, etc. And routinely delete files you really don't need.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Meetings at all-inclusive resorts: 5 things to watch

Recently looked at planning family event at an all-inclusive resort on an island, and another family member had quite the list of things to check. For those considering planning business or personal functions at an "all-inclusive", five things to watch:

1. Topless/clothing optional: Some locations "anything goes" even if local laws say no. From past experience at national conference in Hawaii, I'm not sure we're all meant to see each other in bathing suits, much less potential for more removed;
2. Getting sick from ice: Not unusual for ice, water, food to be problematic in some areas - decide what precautions you want/need;
3. Brands of liquor/beer: "Including liquor" may mean resort includes their own brands of local liquor and beer, not US brands. Pay more for premium and US brands;
4. Availability of health care: May be physician or nurse on premises, but what if more serious illness/injury occurs. What are local options?
5. Exclusion from best restaurants: "Including food" may limit choices of where on the property. If hoping for all food options, see what is/isn't included; or if reservations months in advance necessary if included.

Many all-inclusive resorts offer excellent beaches and facilities, vast array of social options for all age ranges, deluxe accommodations, superb staff, great pricing ... but if any of the above might be a deal-breaker, good to know and check before booking.

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Continue to breath normally

Do you ever see someone and absolutely cannot place why you know them? Happened to me on a flight recently and it has driven me crazy for days. To the point that I pulled out old photo albums, yearbooks and rosters to try to figure it out ... Couldn't even place what DECADE I knew her.

Turned on today's DVR recording of "Oprah" and THERE SHE IS as the only guest ... Dr. Christiane Northrup, who writes national bestsellers on women's health issues, medical practice in Maine, and sometimes gives talks during fundraising shows on PBS ... I've never met her.

I recall a section of a talk on PBS show she did -- metaphor of instructions flight attendants give, and how it applies to our life: You need to give yourself oxygen first, before you can give it to anyone else. The person with the great plane analogy was one row away on a plane. Maybe the search is for the message, not the person.

1. Do you take care of your own health first, so you can help others?
2. Are you sure with everything you do, that you don't totally neglect what you need?
3. Is there someone you don't want to forget, but if you wait a really long time you might?

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

David Bowie is right ... Ch-ch-Changes

Singer David Bowie (pic) was likely an excellent association executive in a prior life, because lyrics in one of his songs from the seventies gets it right .. From "Changes" ..
"And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their world
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through

(Turn and face the strain)
Don't tell them to grow up and out of it "

Became CEO of an association in my twenties; fortunately immune to status quo. My association leaders continue to be willing to try most anything, and I've always gravitated towards colleagues who will turn and face the strain. But it's really tempting 20 years later to want to influence the next generation of leaders and associations executives .... the real answer is to seek out the ones trying to change their worlds, find out what they believe is the way to get there ... then ...

"Look out, you rock 'n rollers"

Ch-ch-Change ....

the song on You Tube ...
And yes, there's a chance my haircut and shirt match David Bowie's pic (above). But not on purpose.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

Associations in Green - 30 environmentally-friendly ideas

Today is Blog Action Day - thousands of bloggers worldwide focus on one topic - the environment.

30 ideas for "green" (environmentally-friendly) associations and meetings:

.... meetings and conferences ...
1. Donate extra food from meetings/conferences to local food banks;
2. Provide coffee mugs to use entire meeting/conference;
3. Ask speakers to minimize use of handout pages;
4. Have online registration, info, evaluations and materials - keep print to minimum;
5. When printing, use recycled stock; print both sides of paper when possible;
6. Use centerpieces that can be reused or taken home by attendees;
7. Suggest participants carpool to meetings;
8. Have contents of box lunches available for pick-up vs in boxes (or worse, styrofoam);
9. Offer vegetarian meal options;
10. Use local and seasonal foods, when possible;
11. Opt for bulk drink and condiment containers - versus individual portion/packaging;
12. Save directional signs for use at other meetings;
13. Add tours with environment focus - e.g., national parks and walking trail maps;
14. Provide public transit passes to attendees;
15. Provide giveaways/prizes that are environmentally friendly;
16. Offer courses on environmental issues related to your industry;
17. Take advantage of natural light in rooms;
.... in hotels .....
18. Travel with night light versus leaving bathroom light on;
19. Turn off hotel lights and television each time you leave room;
20. Practice linen and towel reuse;
.... at your office ....
21. When new building - build to green standards;
22. Adopt environmental policies;
23. Make contribution to organizations that support green activities;
24. Switch to energy efficient lighting;
25. Reuse items instead of throwing away - notebooks, paperclips, etc.;
26. Save packing materials and boxes for reuse;
27. Consider if mailed materials could be emailed instead;
28. Encourage staff to identify "green" practices;
29. Tell media of green efforts to encourage similar action by others;
30. Provide recycling containers.

Good resources: US EPA Initiatives,, BlueGreen Meetings
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Don't just hold up your pants ...

Friend/Facilitator Jerry (pic) had surprise celebration at a career milestone. Event included rewritten lyrics about him, with this line: "that black belt doesn't just hold up your pants" - because of his black belt in karate. Recently noticed he lists black belt achievement on web site, in his speaker bio -- and something many know for some reason. So I asked why the karate info. Jerry's response -

1. Something he's proud of and wants to highlight. Wanted to finish before age 50 (did at 49).
2. It's a pure achievement that doesn't include any politics, mandatory courses, or selection committees.
3. Frequently speaks on the future, and believes much of today's future vision based on Eastern philosophy - so it fits.
4. Represents sign of balance in otherwise career-driven list of accomplishments. Said karate great way to develop focus and clear mind.
5. When facilitating or speaking, introducer often reacts/responds to that unexpected addition; comments like "better pay attention because he can ..."

How many of us add details to our introductions, bios or sites to be deliberately interesting ... beyond position and career highlights?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Naked Conversations and 8 Book Tips

On today's bad flight sat with a librarian from NC .... he gets to select the books which I actually find to be a dream job. I've loved libraries since grade school when mom took to one weekly where I could get/read entire Cherry Ames series - Cherry's a fictional nurse who had 20+ occupational changes including being an Army nurse, dude ranch nurse and department store nurse. Sort of like being an association manager -- one day it's PAC nurse, next it's legislative nurse, then convention planner nurse, then budget nurse ...

Here are 8 book tips ...
1. Check out your local, state and university libraries. Many are free or nominal fee annually. Can typically order books from other libraries if don't have. If magazine reader, check out stacks of magazines. Often possible to check availability of local library books and audio-books online.
2. Try audio-books on CD. Great way to kill time while driving, especially long distances. And don't lose place like the old cassette-tape books. Libraries often have.
3. Before you purchase textbook for school, check out online prices. I purchased $100 text for my daughter for $3 plus shipping online. Start with Amazon used books, and look around. Insist that school identify ISBN number so get correct version of textbooks. Need lead time to use least expensive media rate delivery option.
4. EBay has many books for sale - hardback, paperbacks, textbooks, audio-books. In regular eBay and on their Half section. Compare to prices on Amazon and BarnesandNoble - sometimes can get better (and more immediate) deals there.
5. Download books onto iPod (such as from iTunes). Can get bestsellers, classics, many others. Sometimes pricey, sometimes 99 cents.
6. Check your national association library, if have one. May order business texts of interest ... and audio-tapes. Fee could be only return postage cost. I used for CAE texts.
7. Buy retail. Part of book experience is going through bookstore and deciding what to buy. Keep your local one in business.
8. Borrow books from family and friends. Read and return promptly so they'll trust you the next time ...

Group of bloggers at ASAE2007 recommended book "Naked Conversations - how blogs are changing the way businesses talk with customers". Read it a month later than should have - excellent advice on starting a blog that could have saved from several initial mistakes (e.g., don't be anonymous, have way to subscribe, etc.) and lots of thought-provoking chapters on business blogging, policies and personal blogging.

What Naked Conversations should you be having?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pillow Talk

Red-eye flights are especially bad when 5 hours late - midnight turns into 5AM departure, no other flight options that late, and doesn't make sense to check into hotel for 2-3 hours. One thing to make air travel more bearable: the LL Bean Camp Pillow (pic). Folds up to fit in carry-on luggage or purses. Can sit on in uncomfortable gate areas, put feet up on it, stretch out with it to nap, and use it to try to sleep on the flight. And if you hate your hotel pillow - it helps. Cotton flannel. $12.50

Better yet, don't take red-eye flights. Is anyone ever ready to work after one?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Group Icebreaker - Noisy Beanbag People

At meeting today and heard enormous amount of noise (loud cheering and hollering) coming from lower level of conference center. Had to find out why. Leadership training group doing a beanbag toss into cut out holes with various points assigned to each hole (pic). Two teams, facilitator writing group scores. Each person tossed two beanbags - and score added to team total on flip chart. Attendees totally into it - high-fives, jumping up and down, screaming. Prize either bragging rights or candy bars - those participating had no idea - but wanted most points. Definitely going to try it as group/team icebreaker sometime in the future.

What's your favorite group/team icebreaker?

Associations in Pink

From time to time I include health/wellness tips in my association e-newsletter. Last October I mentioned it was Breast Cancer Awareness month, and just these 4 sentences - Spend a few minutes each month doing a self-exam. Get mammograms. Early detection saves lives. For more info, go to

Also added a pink ribbon (pic) to our association web site for the month of October. What I didn't anticipate were personal stories from members about breast cancer, and their thanks for including reminder and ribbon. So when October ended, the pink ribbon stayed on our site. Can remind those visiting site for other purposes about breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Be an Association in pink.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hard Drive visits Freezer - Part 1

Yep, that's my laptop hard drive spending the night next to ice cream in freezer (pic - without baggie). Read on Lifehacker that dead hard drives sometimes come back to life after being frozen, so decided to try. Very optimistic it would work ... it didn't. Dell's diagnostics indicate "irreparable", so now thawed hard drive is off to third-party data restoration center to try to retrieve files that weren't backed up.

I'm not in any particular hurry for files, but learned fastest (really expensive) option from "recovery center" is courier pick up (in Maine - for Boston) and work 24/7 on "emergency" basis until retrieve. Slowest service option (my choice) is 3-5 days. Fed ex overnight label by email in 3-5 minutes. Interesting legal form too. Stay tuned for Part 2 in few days - find out how long it takes to get next communication, whether or not data recovery worked - and what I agreed to in that legal doc.

And yes, I've learned a lesson ... first time I've lost more than 2 or 3 files in 25 years ... So if you haven't backed-up data in past day (or longer), do yourself a big favor and do it now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

10 Group Picture Tips

More magazine has 2 tips for group pictures:
1. If woman standing with only men, stand in the middle ("to look like belle of the ball").
2. If group picture for publication/newspaper, stand far right so your
name is first in print.

My tips from group picture experience:
1. Don't talk or you'll have mouth open in picture.
2. If photographer squats down and points camera up at group - ask not to - your hips will look HUGE - better to have it taken from up on chair looking down at group.

3. If wearing a print, avoid sitting/standing next to another print.
4 If you're on the end (especially sitting at table) you will look bigger than you really are. Turn your body towards group for best results.
5. Sometimes pictures aren't cropped so if in front row, think about your shoes appearing and whether or not clothes wrinkled from sitting.
6. Consider what you do with your hands. No fig leafs.
7. If you can't see camera, camera can't see you.
8. Always carry digital camera so you can say "why don't we take a group picture".

Failed my own tips 3 and 4 in this group picture.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Counterpoint: Creating your professional nightmare

Got this reply from a reader I only know virtually. A guest post.

To AE on the Verge:
My take on the recent blog is quite the opposite. I rewrote your post:

Creating your professional nightmare

At his imaginary retirement party (there was none), "Joe Smith" noted he had originally dreamed of being a CEO, innovator, or entrepreneur; but one day many years ago accepted an offer to be an "Executive Vice President” of an association. Hired by "very kind" association members, who said that was exactly what they wanted. He was at times a CEO, at times an innovator, and at times an entrepreneur but gradually they all were taken away. Now at the end of his career he kicked himself in the ass for not recognizing long ago that the members had changed, the promise had changed, and he had not. He still wanted to be what he wanted to be. He thanked "kind and supportive" peers (not members) who encouraged him to be what he "always wanted to be: CEO, innovator, or entrepreneur." He found he could become what he wanted to be only by leaving.

It instantly struck me that we actually can create within our own careers whatever the dream is, because the position just might provide opportunities for such a vast range of activities. If we want to write, we can write. If we want to teach, we can teach. And much more. But if we cannot – then get the hell out immediately.
1. What's your professional dream, and are you being encouraged to get there? If not it is a nightmare, not a dream. Wake up.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Grabbing other passengers

Very afraid of flying, but do it all the time - 5 flights this week, 4 next week. Flight last night so terrible that took big step - grabbing passenger next to me (did ask first) - held on for half hour - retired university arts professor from Oregon. Take flights though terrified because travel is requirement of job, like attending conferences, serve on national work groups, assist other associations, like seeing the world, and family lives in other states. That "face your fears" thing may not change it for the next flight, but will get you where you want to go. Doesn't mean doing more than necessary - such as recreational jump out of plane or becoming a pilot.

Fear holds us back all the time. Fear of unknown, fear of not having regular paycheck, fear of audiences, fear of being controversial, fear of change ... I even had fear of blogging. But there are always other passengers to grab .... and maybe it's easier to take whatever that fearful step is knowing that.

What are you afraid to do ... Could you maybe do it anyway?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Creating your professional dream

At her retirement party tonight, Judith Lindenau noted she had originally dreamed of being a professional scholar, researcher, or poet; but one day 30 ago answered an ad to be an "Executive Secretary" of an association. Hired by "very kind" association members, without an understandable job description. Now at the end of career she thanked "kind and helpful" members who encouraged her to be what she "always wanted to be: a teacher, researcher and writer." She found she became what she wanted to be.

It instantly struck me that we actually can create within our own careers whatever the dream is, because the position provides opportunities for such a vast range of activities. If we want to write, we can write. If we want to teach, we can teach. And much more ...

Among those she thanked were the two association executives who were her mentors (pic). Imagine being able to thank the mentors of one of your own mentors.

1. What's your professional dream, and are you being encouraged to get there?
2. Have you thanked a mentor lately?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Being Reachable

Technology is smaller and better than ever before. And more options. Discovered at breakfast this morning how many devices my friend Terry carries with her all the time, in a very small purse. See picture.

We're more reachable than ever, and more able to research, upload, photograph, call, text, back-up, display, listen, and email too ... from anywhere.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

11 tips for membership applications

On work group today that reviewed membership applications. Here are few good things to consider including on membership applications among other data collection:

1. Nickname of applicant
2. Website URL
3. Their choice of password for your site
4. Refund policy related to dues payments (such as no refunds)
5. Preferred mailing address
6. Space for more than one email address (and which preferred)
7. All DBAs used
8. Consent to receive fax or other electronic communications, and waiving limitations that federal or state law may impose to receive information as part of membership
9. Agreement to abide to bylaws, policies and rules, including when change
10. Affirmation that information given is correct

11 .... And, as Wes Trochlil included on a post yesterday, be sure you aren't handing out copies of copies of copies if handing out paper applications or information.

Get me Bose

My teenage son has Bose headphones. I don't. They significantly cancel out noise, and enhance sound (iPods, in-flight movies). At some point certain luxuries turn into necessities. After two very noisy flights tonight, and bad headphones, I'm at that point.

Anything you haven't purchased, but should have years ago?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

6 Reasons to be President yourself ..

A great way to improve as an association executive is to volunteer to be president of another organization. What you may find:

1. Important to be more flexible with your own leadership and directors. Watch how unreasonable it is to be asked to do something with little notice while trying to balance your real job and real life. I make it a point to tell my officers how many things really are optional.

2. Need to respect communications preferences. When someone prefers email communications, they typically mean it. While out of town for work, but president of local community service group, had ten or twelve phone calls in one day related to my volunteer position. Huge inconvenience. Have a process for determining officer preferences for information and communications - I use one-page checklist of questions.

3. Did you need leadership skills training or already a leader? If someone has already been president of 10 or more organizations, chances are good they don't need more training. Sometimes we try to fit very qualified leaders into the same box as those with lower skills. Was I going to attend days of training to learn how to chair a meeting? No. Have already chaired hundreds of meetings - even back in elementary school Brownie troop. Will I encourage a leader to attend a seminar to learn how to chair a meeting if I know they already know how? No.

4. You'll make better personal decisions. If need to leave a national or state meeting for an important personal event, the answer is yes. Seriously, if there isn't something that will change the industry on the agenda at the end, leaders shouldn't be asked to give up key moments in their family or business lives because they said yes to serving years earlier. I've left conferences for kids awards ceremonies, and officers have left for graduations. As the saying goes, they won't forget how you made them feel. The words "of course you should leave" help.

5. Find out how great your skills are. Association executives sometimes forget that we know how to do literally hundreds of things that are extremely valuable to other groups. Using those skills elsewhere is a reminder of your own talent.

6. It feels great to volunteer, you'll learn something new, you'll develop relationships that may last a lifetime or help you in business. All the reasons we give our members on why they should volunteer are exactly the same reasons association executives need to do it too.

If you're already thinking you're too busy, do it anyway -- Don't you want the best in your own membership to agree to serve? Live up to your own expectations of others.

Monday, October 1, 2007

New Word - Googleganger

Googleganger is word meaning people you share name with on Google. According to Newsweek magazine article, online/real relationships are happening among Googlegangers; and a generation is being "defined" by how "Google-able" their accomplishments are.

A few weeks ago I posted about my Cindy Butts Googleganger; but didn't know the new word.