Friday, November 30, 2007

Porcupines, skunks and criticism

An interesting observation by author Tess Gerritsen is asking others to defend you from criticism can come across as "whiny and desperate" in addition to revealing how vulnerable you are. Comment in reference to author Patricia Cornwell asking supporters to come to her defense on, and grief she took for it. Tess decides not to react or ask for help against her own critics - even if really wants to.

Example she gives is her pet donkeys who end up with porcupine quills because they decide to attack their attacker. Comments to her blog post include these quotes: "Never get in a pissing contest with a skunk"; and "Never wrestle with a pig; you'll just get dirty and the pig will love it."

It's really difficult to walk away from criticism, not respond or expect others to come to defense. Maybe no response is the best response? When I don't respond seems assumption is must not have received - and get it forwarded again a day later. Sometimes a response to criticism just generates another (or endless) round of the same; but can bring new clarity (I think). Sometimes I respond "really appreciate you took the time to tell us what makes you unhappy" with no comment on comment itself. Hmm ... will have to think about this.

As association executives, do we have responsibility to always respond to member criticism? Is it okay (or mistake) to ignore if personal criticism vs. association decision/program criticism?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fines for ringing phone or texting in courses

Was asked if possible to establish a policy to fine someone (or require a donation) if a cell phone rings during an education program, is answered, or if student takes out Blackberry/Treo/iPhone and checks email, sends text messages or accesses Internet during class. There's no question that ringing cell phones and device use can be annoyances and distractions to instructors and other students. Offenders often don't care, as their interest is in multi-tasking or not missing a communication.

Don't know what the answer to fine question is, but checking into it. What do you think the answer should be?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Online advocacy: Who's clicked now

Recently this Washington Post article about their investigation into the public not remembering they clicked online advocacy system to communicate with regulatory agency. Relates to efforts by National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) to oppose merger of satellite radio stations.

Many associations expanding into public involvement in online advocacy, so interesting read. Why can't public be educated online, with option to participate?

1. Great idea to run ads on consumer-oriented sites to educate consumers and request action on issue.
2. Every online experience wants one click - even Post online article had 36 one-clicks inside and around it. Not a negative.
3. Don't like when politicians or staff get annoyed by online advocacy email. Constituents should be able to contact however they want. Likely they'll send mass email response back so bit one-sided to want big effort by public, but convenience personally. Why force letters (stamps, gas cost, time delays), hunting public fax machine, dictating to answering machines or receptionists when easy option online?
4. Consumers don't like to put too much personal info on any online system (like phone number) - of course many numbers dialed were wrong.
5. Theft of data from any advocacy system or database huge concern - could be stolen for advocacy purposes.

6. Potential for disconnect between what legislators/regulators often need to know (or require) to identify bill (technical terms, bill number, title); and how public will understand issue. "Inside the Beltway/dome" terms might not make sense. Simplified terms on complex issue doesn't mean many could pass quiz on details of full bill - But public still can communicate support/opposition.

Definitely concerned about negative comments in article to positive (and real) option of public education and advocacy.

Things are deteriorating quickly

Pilot announced "things are deteriorating quickly" -- to alert mild turbulence turning into much stronger turbulence and would last "20 to 30 minutes as we fly over the Rockies". As much as I hate flying, really appreciate when pilot lets passengers know about any problem and how long until solve. It's the right thing to do in associations too -- communicate problems and if have, resolution time.

Separately, got this auto-responder to an Instant Message: "all the roads we have to walk along are winding, and all the lights that lead us there are blinding". Had to Google -- Oasis song lyrics -- although likely applies to certain roads in life, thinking must apply to certain association situations and/or business travel too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Really Good Business Exercise

Re-reading my Seth Godin books. One paragraph in "Small is the New Big" stood out as a really good business exercise. Suggests taking a look into the future: "When you write your company's history two years from now, which decisions will have really mattered? What were the key moments that led you to create such a success?"

Then you'll know what to spend time on.

I think it's meaningful to look back two years as part of exercise too, because gives perspective about types of decisions that ultimately matter.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cell phone or cell foe

For every tech advance can be a tech negative - with same device. For example, the cell phone. Great parts ... being reachable, emergency use and additional features like cameras, recording capability, web access.

Bad use - cell foe:

1. Dialing numbers accidentally, being recorded. If not set correctly, cell phones can dial numbers in call log accidentally. If hit voice mail, conversations can be recorded that aren't meant to be. Once someone said listened to me walk around for 15 minutes after my phone called them. Likely obvious after 15 seconds not intentional?

2. Secretly taping comments at hearings, committee and directors meetings. National association set policy electronic devices can't be in room with hearing panels. Reason: leaving phone lines open to listen or record executive session. With prevalence of camera phones taping functionality surprised when comments at meetings may not want to view on YouTube ten minutes later. All meetings have that potential now.

3. Pictures and posting. Camera phones banned from some gyms and schools due to potential for nude pictures when changing or copying test answers. Party moments land on global photo/social media sites.

4. Identity theft or slowing down service. Rental car counter sign prohibits cell phones near counter. Agent said camera phones take pictures of rental agreements with lots of personal info; and customers on phone slow down entire rental process for others.

More good uses - cell phone:

1. Audio and video recording. Cell phones used to create audio and video files and for remote blogging/posting. Can easily audio or video important life moments and share.

2. Pictures of name badges. I forgot business cards at recent conference so person talking with took picture of my badge with camera phone. Thought it clever, and wouldn't have noticed except told me he was doing it.

3. Wireless access for laptop. Like my pal Gertiecranker doing rehab in nursing home from bad leg break, sometimes cell phone is way to get wireless access for computer when otherwise not available.

4. Text feature. Finding when teach some don't realize have text feature on cell phone - and may already have text messages. Text easier than email.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Self-elf X 4

If you "elfed yourself" last year ... where insert picture of your face into dancing elf and email link .... this year up to 4 dancing elves can be created and new option to add voice greeting. People using pics of friends, colleagues, family members, pets, teddy bear pic, 4 of same person, etc. to fill the "up to four" elves. Usually fairly cute, though my dog looked like evil elf. For site: Elf Yourself

[Note: long Terms of Use section grants Office Max rights to use elves and voice messages being created however they want, though not that easy to think of what to do with several hundred thousand dancing elves]

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fuzzy Wuzzy - Association Presidents

Fuzzy Wuzzy soap was popular with kids in the sixties. Different animal shaped soap (bear, monkey, poodle, cat) would grow some kind of fur on it when the soap dried ... and inside was a prize ... like small plastic Rat Fink charm.

There's probably a 0% chance it could exist today for mass-market - between god knows what made that fuzz grow plus size of kids prize (think recall). Many cereals had prizes inside too. My sister and I always dumped the box of cereal to find out what the prize was as soon as box opened, and we certainly didn't wait to wash our hands a hundred times to find out what was inside Fuzzy Wuzzy soap (think plastic knife).

Recently a colleague asked how to respond to a young member who's already professionally very successful, very skilled, but wants to be president now ... not wanting to take all the steps historically thought to be essential to get there. Didn't wait for success before, doesn't want to wait now. My thought: if industry and leadership skills, could be president now.

Possible the world divided into Fuzzy Wuzzys - if you can get to prize some other way, don't make them wash their hands a hundred times and watch fuzz grow first vs. those who believe leaders need to wait and take steps. Nominating processes/requirements need to consider what's most important in leaders. Many (at every age demographic) don't want to wait as long as timelines sometimes dictate.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Rip Rip Click Click - More Ideas

Travel with stacks of magazines and rip out pages of things to remember; and keep list of favorites from online articles to find later. Here's a few recently ripped or clicked:

1. USA Today article about how service organizations (Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions) modernizing to attract younger members and busier lives. Includes changes in membership meetings (time, frequency, location), different types of volunteerism/service, family involvement, interactive calendars to sign up for service projects, less rules focus, more environmentalism.

2. ASAE blog article about using to arrange functions - invitations, RSVP, forward invites to others if wanted, getting maps/directions, signing up for potluck, making online contributions, sharing photos after meeting/function.

3. Conference travel tips from - always get 2 beds (second one like extra desk), request room refrigerator (usually free), and call your room number (even if 3 digit) with your cell phone so you can find it on call log later.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Move the dog dish - traditions, change and 18 gifts

Traditions (including in associations) approached different ways - something to embrace, something don't like but can't change, or non-existent so options open. An example, Thanksgiving. Grew up in Miami and typically went to race track on Thanksgiving; my husband has exact same relative's home, same dinner annually. Even when no one knows origin of no salad and always peppermint ice cream, can be difficult to suggest change when traditions exist. Sometimes traditions only make sense to those who lived them year after year, and not others.

There's occasional blog comment around concept WHADITW (we have always done it that way). Many associations may face declining memberships - and declining budgets - for first time in more than decade. How much expenditures in time and money exist because WHADITW?

Two examples of traditions - association holiday cards and board of directors gifts. In poll of state associations, found 50% send holiday cards and 50% don't. Is it meaningful to receive cards with pre-printed names inside and labels outside? Do you feel differently about organizations/vendors that send you holiday card versus those who don't? Does anyone notice. If you don't care if you receive cards, does it matter if you send them. With budget focus, could ornate card be considered frivolous versus necessary - if not eliminated, could holiday thoughts be on postcard instead? Would a hand-written note or email mean more?

Board of Directors gifts also interesting tradition or non-tradition. Two-thirds of organizations I manage don't give any (and never have), other third do give (and maybe always have). One thought is money can be used other ways; other is it's necessary token of appreciation.

Here's list of 18 gifts given to Boards of Directors (range $1-$75/pp):
1. Raffle ticket ($1)
2. Certificate for ham/turkey
3. Lapel pin
4. Paperweight
5. Scarf - fleece, knit, wool, cashmere
6. Ornament
7. Pen
8. Business card holder
9. Canvas briefcase/tote
10. Wreath (delivered)
11. Centerpiece (delivered)
12. Gift card ($10 - Dunkin Donuts, $25 - Staples, $50 - gasoline)
13. Pedometer
14. Fleece vest/jacket
15. Flashlight/first aid kit
16. License plate frame
17. Picture frame
18. Mug (or other item) with picture/logo

Once gifts start, they may be tradition. What happens when one president hands out gifts, next one thinks no? Is eliminating sign of not appreciating volunteerism or recognition other ways to use limited funds? Maybe less expensive options.

About a month ago my 4 year old terrier, Baxter (pic) decided he didn't want to eat in the kitchen anymore, instead preferring his dish be on the carpet in the dining room. He stands on carpet at dinner time, even if bowl already down in kitchen; and when gets treats, marches them onto the carpet and eats them there. So now gets his bowl on the dining room carpet. I could have made him do what traditionally dogs do -- but sometimes it's good to move the dog dish. Traditional approaches may need to move. Budgets may need to move, and first place to start may be things that only continue because of tradition versus actual preference.

Reason to be thankful: that whatever members, budgets, ideas there are, opportunities exist in associations. With change or no change, destiny is being shaped. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Let 100 flowers bloom

This is my 100th blog post so contemplative of expression a colleague uses, "let a hundred flowers bloom."

A newspaper editor recently misquoted it as "thousand flowers" in explaining commitment to allowing online comments to news stories .... knowing many more angry and insensitive readers than positive readers comment ... but known value other readers may find to both post and comments. The threat of angry or insensitive elevated my initial concern that writing a blog might be huge mistake ... in fact, the first 2 weeks didn't use my full name or more than cartoon picture of myself ... wondering if some huge retribution ahead for being among the eight million blooming bloggers.

"Let a hundred flowers bloom, let the hundred schools of thought contend," is specific to brief time in China's history (late fifties) when government said it encouraged public expression, comments, intellectual discourse and proposed solutions ... even if against the political system. But [certain historians believe] when dissidents provided thought, concerns mounted .... and they were exposed, repressed, and apparently a few even executed.

So what happens when associations say to let a hundred flowers bloom?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Aloha, Peggy

Longtime pal/colleague Peggy passed away on Saturday after a battle with lung cancer. AE in Hawaii, then New Mexico. She's on my mind, so wanted to share two things uniquely Peggy - that relate to association management.

1. Bad idea radar and filter. Peggy had a sense about what was a bad idea. She'd scrunch up her face and say "what do you think about that?" Or if someone went through a whole explanation about a program she thought questionable, she'd say "could you explain it another way?" Then one of two things would happen -- it would sound better the second time, or be totally exposed when explained the other way. She also sometimes questioned, "now I know what you're doing, but could you explain why we need to do that?" And find the answer to why different from the answer to what. Remarkable way to get better insight.

2. If you want to help, pray. When Peggy was first diagnosed a few of us had thoughts about how to help - we'd collect airline/hotel points to help her and family with frequent travel to cancer center in Houston; or try to be resource for her staff, etc. Peggy said no, she only wanted one thing -- for everyone to pray. Sometimes when people say they don't need anything, there's a chance what they really mean is exactly what she said -- if you want to help, pray.

Aloha, Peggy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Helping future historians

During recent talk, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin lamented that today's lack of personal diaries and letters will impact research and findings of historians in the future. Noted that e-mail isn't saved like letters and thoughts don't get recorded in diaries/letters.

Many years ago my best friend from childhood, Mark, died in a car accident. His mother sent stack of postcards/letters I sent to him that he saved -- including grade school valentines, long letters from summer camps, postcards from vacations, letters from college, birthday and Christmas cards sent over 20 year period. Unusual to recognize myself through decades of transition -- even changes in types of holiday cards sent -- (e.g., snail in Santa hat with message "ho ho ho - escargot" - yikes!) -- and what stressed or excited about. What happens to personal and professional history in times of email? Email is too easy; and opportunity for expediency doesn't encourage writing letters anymore - plus threat of personal thoughts in email accidentally sent to others.

Thoughts to help future historians:
1. Record association's history - if no significant recorded organizational history, discover/write it;
2. What about time capsules or predictions for future? One association got future predictions 25 years ago - and will soon release;
3. If haven't written personal notes, think about doing it - someone might save it;
4. Send letter to childhood friend, children, someone important to you - might be surprised by emotion of what thought brings to you - and them;
5. If someone died, and you have memory to share with family - do it. Even many years later. They want those memories.

First NFYB

Was sitting alone eating scrambled eggs and bacon at Las Vegas airport when a woman I've known long time asked to join me. She has very specific expertise about an aspect of association management so thrilled to be able to quiz her for half hour with questions for my own association management. Took lots of notes -- got great advice. As got up to catch flight she said, "oh, and this is Not For Your Blog" (NFYB)

My first NFYB!

So ... am I now an official Internet journalist to be feared? Or, if someone's not at all accustomed to being quoted anywhere is it a huge step to embrace idea of getting quoted in a blog? Of course agreed to not include tips -- but definitely going to send her sample of what her advice "could" look like in blog format. As far as blogging as AE ... it's not as fearful (or time consuming) as you might imagine.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A little more action

NAR set record attendance with over 30,000 in Las Vegas. Friday's NAR Board of Directors Meeting:
Of note for AEs -

1. Code of Ethics has been translated into braille;
2. Approved up to $15M for REALTOR national credit union. Anticipate operational by this time next year;
3. Now 298
RCE designees in AE community - includes 51 in 2008 [note: still don't have RCEs from AK, HI, ID, ND, WY]
4. NAR supporting Sentrilock in a new agent direct leasing program for lockboxes;
5. Components of NAR Strategic Plan being reduced to business card size to carry;
6. Approved NRDS changes, including requirement to add home address, email address, preferred phone number into NRDS by 1/1/08 for new members and 7/1/08 for existing members;
7. White Paper being developed on what a board "territorial jurisdiction" means and includes;
8. Referred back to NAR Nominating Committee 27 recs for changes to NAR Election process;
9. Recommends Slate of Candidates for NAR officers in 2009 - President Charles McMillan (TX), President Elect Vicki Cox Golder (AZ), First VP Ron Phipps (RI) and Treasurer Jim Helsel (PA);
10. Among Standards of Conduct for MLS Participants, must use true picture and cannot in representations including URLs and domain names "deceptively use metatags, keywords, or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic, or to otherwise mislead consumers";
11. Added specific options for imposing discipline with MLS rules compliance including attendance at courses, fines, probation, termination, others;
12. Added optional MLS provision allowing prohibition of MLS participants, subscribers, licensees from claiming or suggesting to be a MLS including in domain name and email address;

And provided Benny McMahan (TX) (pic) with the William R. Magel Award of Excellence in Association Management. Truly an honor for any who have worked with Benny during past decades to be able to express appreciation for his commitment, mentorship and excellence. Joined on stage by his wife, Grace, and seven children.

Here are
additional decisions by the NAR Board of Directors and Delegate Body today.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Time with Famous and Renowned

James Taylor (pic) shook one of my fingers at conference concert tonight. Yes, that close to stage, and apparently now one of those people who stick hands out when celebrity reaches down from stage. A favorite lyric among many great songs: "Shower the people you love with love ... show them the way that you feel." Applies to colleagues too -- they can be great friends.

Renowned author Doris Kearns Goodwin gave talk earlier today with these leadership lessons from studying President Lincoln.

10 skills that make great leader:
1. Listens to different points of view.
2. Ability to learn on the job.
3. Willingness to share credit.
4. Willingness to shoulder blame.
5. Awareness of weaknesses.
6. Control of emotions.
7. Ability to relax - get ready for tomorrow.
8. Great instincts in a crisis.
9. Ability to stick to long-term goals, even when going gets unpopular.
10. Ability to communicate goals.

NOTE to REALTOR AEs: Here's my Report from Wednesday at NAR.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Like the Disney parking lot

To get thousands lined up before doors open for Grand Assembly (featuring Bill Cosby), facility staff had everyone file into holding area outside ballroom in pattern similar to how Disney parks cars - filling single rows at a time. Picture doesn't do justice. When doors opened, no more order, no more rows of people -- and certainly no filing around the room the way we filed in. Claustrophobic merge towards the opening -- seemed dangerous. Made me think that sometimes half a plan can be worse than no plan -- especially if tens of thousands involved.

From idea-sharing meeting for association executives:
1. Consider changing to personal days instead of various days (sick, vacation, jury, etc.)
2. Inexpensive software can help track employee hours, days off - Time Clock, Jr. product suggestion by a colleague (but I've never used it)
3. Plan/develop for budget decrease before need it - especially if anticipating market-driven reduction in membership level

NOTE to REALTOR Association Executives: click for my Report of Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NAR: Explosives and Seth Godin

Woke up at 2:30 AM to sound of explosives -- the Frontier Hotel imploding to make way for new luxury hotel. Well publicized it was happening - but was absolutely terrified by the sound, along with tremors to this hotel ... wishing for my dog or husband ... only now remembering mini-bar in the room. As tried to go back to sleep, realized didn't have a flashlight and hadn't checked out where staircases were on the floor. Today's hotel reminder: Always pack a flashlight, always check where stairs are.

Bestselling author and blogger Seth Godin a featured speaker today. Very tailored message to real estate brokerage - need to build relationships, be unique, and selling the way it will make them feel. Such as, "You might as well buy a house you love". Need to get people to want to talk about why they love real estate.
Although not part of today's speech, here are a few of Seth's recent blog postings that apply to association executives -

1. Don't apologize before giving a speech ... (or don't give it)

2. Tasks need to end, but positions don't
3. The words I can't afford it really means it's not worth it

And took picture with Seth (pic). Photography tip: Take off reading glasses.

NOTE to REALTOR Association Executives: Click here for my Report of Monday at NAR Convention in Las Vegas.

Monday, November 12, 2007

NAR: 2 Lessons from Love, 2 from Wynn

Won tickets to Cirque du Soleil show "The Beatles - Love" last night ....

2 lessons from "Love":

1. Prizes or incentives work. Because promoted the NAR convention, and significantly increased attendance from state, won tickets to the show. When offered incentives, find do try harder. Probably shouldn't be that way, but it does work. Same is true with member surveys - offering something increases participation. When you need participation increases, do you use prizes/incentives?

2. Sometimes making it look effortless can make it look easy. Around an hour into the show was forgetting what performers doing was really hard - because they made it look effortless. I'm sure that happens with my job too. Don't want to complain so often no one knows how hard it is to do certain things. Program based budgets don't always help either - just indicate time it took - not level of difficulty. Large mailing can take 10 hours and be really easy. Accomplishing the impossible might take 3 hours but takes all the insight, experience, connections, imagination, skills of a career to accomplish. I'm now adding to association updates comments like "by the way, (project) was really hard to do". In case it looks easy.

2 lessons from Wynn: (as in Wynn hotel)

1. Is there anything else I can do for you? That's the question everyone here asks - one of many reasons Five Diamond. Wouldn't it be easy to end every association call or email with that question too.

2. Just in case of emergency. Front desk person asked for cell phone number in case of emergency. Said any number of issues from hotel emergency, to city-wide emergency, to personal emergencies - makes them want to be able to reach guests. Have nearly all cell phone numbers of my attendees -- but didn't set up a system (like a txt mob) if there was an emergency and needed to reach 75 of them at once. Definitely next time.

NOTE: If you're a REALTOR Association Executive, click here for my NAR blog posting about first day in Vegas (Sunday). Have info to report from today, but with NAR Inaugural ahead, today not over yet.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hey, if cat food was really for cats ...

A favorite Seth Godin quote: "Hey, if cat food was really for cats, it would come in mouse flavor." Questioning cat food marketing and product -- reminding that cats catch mice and eat them.

How often do we design experiences - including our own - that completely skip what really like?

I'm in Las Vegas at the National Association of REALTORS Annual Convention ... where I'll be for the next week ... accumulating tips and info to share. On the hunt for mouse flavor -- no more attending things don't care about if there's someplace better to be. Stay tuned ...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

4 Tombstones - Use your dash wisely

4 Tombstones ..
1. Sometimes say my tombstone will read, "who authorized that" ... Example: angry member at meeting certain a new program absent member input. Belief that if didn't hear, must mean never announced, surveyed, reported, approved; and if position don't like, then either not asked or not "listening to the members". Since no association decision will ever get universal support (e.g., complete grassroots support) - some percentage can claim on any issue at any association they aren't being listened to; which is translation for if you were listening you would be telling me what I want to hear - and you're not.

2. One of my
favorite national association presidents has saying for association leaders: No one ever put on tombstone, "I made budget".

Picture for disbelievers - "I told you I was sick". (#16)

4. Speaker (whose name can't remember) said his dad used to ask him "what are you going to do with your dash" - and then showed picture of tombstone with a birth year and the dash -- Reminded us to use our dash wisely.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Social media: Caught with your pants down

Everyone has seen images of Gen Y beauty pageant contestants bemoaning pictures from their social media sites making into public view and media - and having direct impact on their potential for success. They cry pictures meant to be private. Posted is private? Recently Gen Y association executive had very personal thoughts and photos on social media site routed around member to member. New way to get to know the CEO.

Facet of social media is recognition association executives often can't distance from being public rep for organization. What's hilarious and normal to peers can be seen as lewd or inappropriate to legislators, regulatory staff, coalition partners, vendors, attorneys, the public ... and yes, even association officers, members and other staff. Credibility and effectiveness in association management requires interaction and influence with all generations ... not just own. Impacts potential for success.

Warned my teens that every college and job they apply to entire lives can potentially get anything posted on their sites. Friends with access to pictures and thoughts save or distribute sometimes. Photos are one right click away from leaving social media site for redistribution. As the saying goes,
Google is forever ... and it's not just Google.

Are association employers checking social media sites of applicants? Do we ask to list
MySpace, Facebook and blogs as part of application process? If applicants consent to criminal, credit, and reference checks ... why not find out what others will find on social media? If response is meant to be private, remind posted for public view. If employers don't check, association members, opponents or local newspaper/media likely will.

Social media important component of association management now and in future. Concept of catching someone "with pants down" likely didn't anticipate scenario where person - or a generation - posted that picture on purpose. Maybe "inappropriate" will be the norm -- because potential for questionable thoughts and pictures may apply to entire future applicant pools.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Quick, call a therapist

During 2 hour drive back from grueling meeting, listening to songs from the 70's on XM radio ... and one hadn't thought about in really long time came on ... Kermit the Frog (pic) singing "The Rainbow Connection". Went from sniffles to full blown giant tears after these first lines ...

"Why are there so many Songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side
Rainbows are visions
They're only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
So we've been told and some choose to
Believe it
But I know they're wrong wait and see

Someday we'll find it
The Rainbow Connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me"

Entire song is one big metaphor for association management in my opinion. I don't know if possible to do this job without being a big dreamer, looking for the other dreamers, and holding out hope for any number of things. Always trying to get to other side of some rainbow. Next verses seem process of getting there ... good and bad. Or maybe due to tone of angry people at meeting, I was welcoming hearing such friendly voice in a song. Should I be looking to a pretend frog for friendliness and motivation? Quick, call a therapist.

Here's Kermit and song on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

U Tracking U

To find/track news and blog reports about your association, certain issues, your blog, and you ... there's a service on Google to monitor and deliver that info to you by email ... Google Alerts.

Go to Google Alerts, type in each topic to monitor - separately - (I use my name, association name, subsidiaries, president's name, legislative issues, blog name). Select frequency -- as-happens, daily or weekly -- and you'll get email if something found that includes words. Can also track family members, friends, enemies, sports team, area of interest. If you have common name, may be more than you want. Won't get email alert when nothing found in frequency selected.

And it's free. A lot easier than reading every online newspaper and blog in the world.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Election Night makes me sick

Can't recall when in my life didn't feel sick on election night - like tonight, for example. Moving from election site to election site, station to station, waiting for calls ... even on races and issues where don't care about outcome. One year used airplane phone with laptop at 1200 baud at bazillion dollars/minute because couldn't stand to wait until plane landed to get results.

Few thoughts as wait for results:
1. Signs against candidates (red x through names) appeared this year (pic - WCSH6). More in future?
2. Will someone please do RSS for all local races and state races? CSS too.
3. Just read national candidate says raised $4.2 million
online in 24 hours. Know I'm not using Internet well enough for political fundraising. Early New Year's Resolution: raise more web money.
4. Watching TV at home gives interesting insight into campaigns.

Time for Motrin and more election site scanning. And I don't want comment from an anti-ibuprofen advocate .. it's election night, don't feel good, and I'm takin' it.
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Monday, November 5, 2007

Google delivers TMI

Google is outstanding service, in my opinion - but one feature is truly too much info (TMI) at best, and dangerous for kids at worst. By inputting a phone number into Google Search bar, can get both address and exact directions/map to the home/location. So anyone your kids give phone number to (or it's overheard) can get name connected to that phone number, street address, and map/directions . You may find other info connected to name/phone number on display as well. I removed my home phone/map weeks ago, but colleague mentioned earlier today should share in event others not aware of it.

In order to find whether your phone number is mapped, go to Google.
Type your phone number with area code in search bar and hit Search (or Return). If you see your name/address/phone, click Map hyperlink. To remove (block) your phone number on Google, click on the "Phonebook results for ... " link and you'll see link for Removal page. Complete online form. Removal takes 48 hours.

Google indicates Removal is permanent so can't change your mind later and get included; and notes many other services have similar displays of phone number/maps. Others may not offer easy removal option as Google fortunately includes.

Great advice I got from an association member applies to Google too: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Best Caffeine Fix

Dunkin' Donuts brewed ice tea is the best. If you drink iced tea, trust me - a lifelong tea drinker - on this one.

Seasonal fruits/vegetables make sense, but in Maine certain drinks are declared "seasonal" and not available for months; significant dread that will happen. With 8 Dunkin' Donuts in my town (pop. 18,000) -- hope at least one knows there's dedicated customer who doesn't want to be "seasoned" out of iced tea.

I wonder if association activities offered only certain times of the year may have interst other times too? Do we limit timing for no particular reason?

14 tips for deadline-missing consultants

Outsource many projects and value paid professional assistance - work with significant number of consultants. One current project involves design. I didn't like a change from an initial version provided that loved ... consultant was totally, and I mean totally, put off by that. Even complained about how quickly I gave feedback. Is one of us funding this relationship?
Most consultants are professional, accommodating, results-oriented, punctual ... but not all. Those outside association world can miss point that association executives may be accountable to others for approval, and have deadlines or significant timing issues - e.g., pre-scheduled meetings and presentations.

14 tips for consultants:

1. Get cost/budget estimates and proposals in by client deadline - whole project at risk for underfunding or not getting approved at all if can't get right numbers, on time.
2. Payment will be according to terms in agreement - stick to that schedule.
3. If unanticipated factors delay or change costs - communicate immediately - not after you make decision. Client answer may be no-go.
4. Sign-off is condition of a project - don't whine or send angry email if you don't get your way - be professional.
5. Important to respect one who signs the contract - trying to work around client with others has likely never worked for any consultant. An okay by unauthorized person not an okay.
6. If get feedback, and change requests, pay attention. Client shouldn't have to ask for same change over and over. Ignoring request hoping client forgets is bad strategy.

7. It's not about you - ultimately client reputation and organization at stake - yours isn't their primary concern. Leave client/project out of portfolio if you don't like it.
8. Watch out for client's best interest when hire subcontractors for part of project - ensure all rights retained for client, not subcontractor.
9. You were selected for talent - we both know that. You're getting paid, not doing a favor - skip arrogance as sours relationship.
10. Client likely knows their industry better than you do. Listen. You may not get agreement on everything you want for very valid reasons. Like it or not, client will make final decision.
11. Ignoring phone messages and emails when delays adds to disfavor client will have with you.
12. Do not miss deadlines. Ever. That alone could stop client from hiring you again.
13. Are you planning to put me on client list? Think about what client might say.
14. Word of mouth marketing applies to consultants too. Might never be mentioned, or worse, may find lose opportunities. I believe I'm absolutely huge asset to consultants who I like. Know lots of people.

Note to association execs: Getting quote late often sign everything else will be late too. Some people just not timely or considerate of deadlines. However, getting quote on time not sign remainder will be timely.
Because work with so many excellent consultants (95% - no issues) it's clear (and really annoying) when working with any consultant who lacks understanding or care of client needs, requests and timing issues. Some consultants surely have long list of why don't like clients [I'm paid consultant sometimes too, so know] - but if profession you chose, either decide not to work with most clients or figure out how to satisfy client - without angst. Deliver on time.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

2 Lessons - Salzburg and Red Bull

Family trip to Austria gave 2 association management lessons. I'm power-sightseer so numerous tours/visits throughout -- only one teenage son interested in not even on list -- Red Bull headquarters in Salzburg (pic) that randomly passed on road to somewhere else. Extremely contemporary and bodies of water moving through it. There's no question Red Bull is notable consumer trend, and definitely of interest to teenagers/young adults.

Took "Sound of Music" tour with stops at movie landmarks (may be scaring you with that detail) ... stopped at "I am 16 going on 17" gazebo to find lock on it -- no one allowed in. Reason given: too many people were jumping from bench to bench and dancing reenacting movie scene so thought safer to just padlock, plus vandalism concerns. Good plan - don't let consumers in to do the one thing they want to do. Apparently 300,000 visit gazebo each year - including 1 bored teenage boy.

2 Lessons:
1. Do we completely leave out one thing younger members might be interested in? Do we try to find out what that is -- in case never even thought about it? Might want Red Bull HQ stop instead of/addition to tour of Vienna Opera House.

2. Are we locking members or others out of what they may want, that we have? Associations may be protective of research, data, information - when great public interest. Maybe it's time to get rid of the padlock on the gazebo and let them jump and dance - with consideration or solution to safety and vandalism concerns.
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Friday, November 2, 2007

Sort of like "Conjunction Junction"

So much of modern day communication is absent correct grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. Yes, including some of my communications. Easy to forget the rules - and impact misplaced punctuation can deliver. A hilarious blog points out errors with unnecessary quotation marks. Great way to remember (or learn) how to use them correctly.

When I was growing up there was a television show about grammar, including episode with a song named "Conjunction Junction." Still can't get it out of my head. Now a clever way to learn/remember grammar can happen by looking at unnecessary quotation mark pictures on a blog.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Someone owes me broccoli and cheese soup

Craving broccoli and cheese soup ... so drove to get. Cashier dressed in medieval outfit said "Fair Lady, what would you like to order" - and couldn't reply "I'd like to order you to not call me Fair Lady" - or would sound like Halloween scrooge instead of fun-loving customer. Yes, it was Halloween. Also saw twenty-something manager dressed like an elf and acting very official with new employee - used business suit tone while in tights. Should anyone be bossed around by an elf? Was so distracted by the Fair Lady and elf situations that accidentally ordered Baked Potato soup.

A classic Dilbert cartoon has employees walking around office in bathrobe, superhero outfit, naked, tutu .. with caption "Casual Day has gone too far" (pic - Amazon) ... but that's exactly the scene in some offices on Halloween. And I don't get it -- is it better or worse to pretend to be what you're dressed like or pretend like you're not in costume and act normal?

If I'd been dressed in costume today, say as a cat, I know it would alter my behavior. I'd slink to the photocopier and meow at people on the phone. If acted normal, would likely feel compelled to say "by the way I'm dressed like a cat" during conference call.

So those of you who dress up for Halloween in the office, do you act professional or act your outfit?
And by the way, whoever came up with Halloween for employees owes me broccoli and cheese soup.