Monday, December 29, 2008

Quote of the Day - Hope

From the movie "Milk": "You gotta give them hope."

Aren't associations supposed to be in the business of hope?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

7 Alarming Realizations about Facebook

Now I really enjoy Facebook, but here's 7 alarming realizations ...

1. I can see pictures of people I know professionally in their pajamas at Christmas. Since apparently everyone's kids took pictures Christmas morning and posted them along with tags on Facebook, I now know who wears holiday-theme pajamas to open gifts.

2. Marketers find my association Facebook site easily, and I'm removing them. What a pain. It's always been necessary to moderate association blog comments because of the enormous volume of marketing organizations (including scams) trying to reach our audience that way (we don't let them), and now they take "open" to mean it's okay to try to clog a discussion board with solicitations. Blah.

3. If you can't trust someone with email, chances are good they can't be trusted as a Facebook friend. You know, the ones who send "those" kind of jokes or want to recount times that need to be forgotten. Unfortunately, it's possible to imagine what would surface on the Wall by clicking the word "Accept".

4. People forget that all conversation is actually not meant to be public. Sending a personal email or making a call might remain a good first step if something is potentially controversial ... or private. Maybe the media might just find what's posted on "open" sites too.

5. That thought you can separate your private life from public life on Facebook is actually implausible. Unless you genuinely have no past, friends, or relatives outside of work - you may just find your association members will in fact get to see what you looked like in that ugly gym uniform in high school.

6. I know more about what my college-aged daughter is doing during the holidays from Facebook than from sitting in the same room with her. I told her she should feel free to remove ("unfriend") me - as my thought was maybe as parents we aren't meant to see whole photo albums of our kids at college and online postings with their friends. She tells me "everyone's mother" is on Facebook; so I'm not remotely unique or a stalker (because of the "News Feed" feature), and this is actually a part of how relationships work now.

7. One of these days I'm going to figure out how to be less traumatized by exposure. Or at least have the courage to accept that there's not that much that can be done about how much will continue to be out there, whether we think we're participating or not. Can we really be public but not public?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Quote of the Day - Life and Opportunity

This quote from the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" ...

"Our lives are defined by opportunities - even the ones we miss."

Our lives, and our careers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Who's reading your body language?

Actress Helen Mirren (who I love) was interviewed for television's "Masterpiece Theater" about her role as Jane Tennison on the "Prime Suspect" series. She said detectives are experts at reading body language, and she got this insight for developing the character from a policewomen prior to starting the series: [Note - I'd say the other side to each of these can give an appearance of being human - but depends on circumstance or profession as to how it's read]

Don't cry in front of others. Doesn't mean don't cry, just do it where you aren't seen.

Never fold your arms. It's an immediate sign of being defensive. Keeping your arms unfolded is a sign of openness. Helen said she went the entire "Prime Suspect" series never folding her arms.

Touch them. It "incorporates them into your power". So all this time I thought touching someone during a conversation was a sign of affection, and it's really a sign of power?

Hmm ... I don't even think email is entirely void of body language.

Picture from PBS Prime Suspect site

Monday, December 22, 2008

Don't believe everything you read (or I have a radiator to sell you)

After 400 plus blog entries, I have finally managed to appear first when searching my name on Google. This is no small feat considering my Googleganger, the crime-fighting Cindy Butts, manages to be in the London newspapers continuously (she shows up in my Google Alerts too).

However, I've also found that likely due to my association's acronym, sites that pull random info from the web to profile individuals may show me as the CEO of the Maine Auto Radiator Manufacturing Company. I'm including a picture of what that business makes for "muscle cars." Not only would it be a really terrible career for me but I do wonder if someone randomly searching my name wonders about my radiator expertise. (That would be zero.)

A few thoughts:

1. Do you search your name to see what shows up?
2. If you need a reason to blog, one is that it does move you up in Google search results;
3. Set up Google Alerts for your own name, and your association name, if you haven't already (note - you can also set up an alert for other people or organizations you may be interested in);
4. Don't believe everything you read. Sometimes it's totally wrong. Sometimes there's more to the story;
5. If you need a radiator for a muscle/other type car, the best I can do is send you a link.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Actually, you can help ... so help ...

Quiz: How many people do you know, who have never been association executives, who you believe understand what the profession is like? How many search committees and job descriptions adequately explain it?

Association management is a vast series of incredible contrasts – easy, hard, backward, innovative, fraught with peril, filled with opportunity, educational, elementary, rewarding, depressing, full of people, very lonely – and on and on. The group who can understand what it’s like are those who live it.

And because of that we can help each other from the unique understanding of the shared experience. For example, don’t ever pass up an opportunity to do something nice. If you can help another AE, then help them. If you can send a congratulatory or caring email, send it. If you’re doing a presentation and there’s an AE in the audience, tell everyone else there the kind of contribution that person makes. It’s going to make a difference to that other AE and could matter to their officers and members too. The ones who know can explain to those who can’t know.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What? How did THAT demographic happen?

Noticed a "View Insights" button on my association's Facebook page. Clicked it and got these demographics for our "Fans"- (since Facebook collects demographics on each of us).

13-17 - 0%
18-24 - 2%
25-34 - 23%
35-44 - 34%
45+ - 41%

My Insights:

1. The OLDEST demographic category is 45+. Exactly how does THAT happen?

2. I think sometimes we try to lead members to certain technologies (whether fax machines, or email, or social media) when the reality is they find it and learn it when they're ready. Like that expression "when the student is ready the teacher appears" ... And more seem to be ready for Facebook now, because so many peers (or kids) are using it, than even a few months ago.

3. Do you think to check the statistics of your sites and compare it to membership statistics?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Knowing it's wrong, and doing it anyway

It's icy outside, but I wore tennis shoes instead of shoes meant for the snow. I was in a huge hurry and putting on the wrong shoes was really easy. Knew it was a mistake, did it anyway, and then wondered what it would be like to function with a broken leg when later flying around on the ice.

There comes a point where the biggest mistakes are likely not a result of inability, inexperience or incompetence, but rather due to being too tired or too busy (or both) - and knowing it - and then flying around on the ice.

So what can be done?

1. Wear the right shoes. What effort does it take to avoid falling? Sleep, vacation, delegate - for starters.
2. Watch out for the ice. Certain areas of management have more peril than others. If you've ever slipped on ice it's a really fast and hard thud. Faster than you can Twitter half a word.
3. Catch yourself. After five minutes of insanity on the ice, it was clear something had to change. When you make an error or bad decision, fixing it right that minute is an option.
4. Slow down when the speed limit drops. When the signs are flashing a slower speed, slow down.

Monday, December 15, 2008

3 leadership tips

These among leadership tips (from an excellent past national association president) ...

1. Be prepared. There's no excuse for anyone becoming president and saying "I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing". Read everything. It's the small print in the filed reports that you need to really notice.

2. Be humble. When leaders start to believe in their own greatness they're going to lose focus on who they should be serving. And may believe they don't have rules. They do (watch the recent news). Communicate with those you know will be honest with you, and be humble.

3. Be a part of a leadership team. If it's not formal, make it formal. Is power with one (president), or more than one? If you can't sell three or four others on an idea, how will you sell the members? Are they empowered to make decisions that may need to be made quickly?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winning by flying under the radar

Something about all the lying, fake alliances and mean things the players all say about each other makes the television reality show "Survivor" more stressful than entertaining to me. But I do often watch the finale, including tonight as a high school Physics teacher from Maine was on (and won). When asked how they made it to the finals, a common answer is "well, I tried to fly under the radar ... "

A few thoughts:

1. Many go their entire association careers "flying under the radar." As a strategy. Like all careers, it's possible to retire having been really innovative, really risk-taking .... or really forgettable. And it's also possible to accomplish big things while needing to be "under the radar" to do it, that no one but you really knows.
2. Really bad and really good legislation/regulations can get passed "flying under the radar." As a strategy. I think it feels worse to lose something that way than an all-out battle. But it's a strategy for winning too.

Also, I'm genuinely not surprised someone from Maine won. For a small state, there's a large amount of talented people here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Good idea for personalized recognition

A picture was taken of me at a recognition event along with those who did the presentation (18 of my past 20 presidents). I received the framed, matted picture this week, which included short messages written onto the matting of the picture. The mat had been signed by everyone the day the group picture was taken.

I absolutely love it. Use this idea.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cutting business travel - there's more than cost savings

While reading a press release announcing an executive resignation, it includes this:

"She said in a statement, 'I have devoted most of my energy over the last 16 years to (organization) of which I am most proud to have served. At the same time I have spent most of my life "on the road" and have missed much of what was going on at home with my family and my beautiful grandchildren. While I will miss my many friends and colleagues at (organization), I am eagerly looking forward to spending some time at home and attending all the soccer games and ballet recitals I have missed for years.' "

If you were releasing a statement about you, could it include a similar statement? These times of consolidation and expense-cutting bring opportunity to seriously look at amount of travel. What can be done electronically, what meetings can be consolidated instead of stand-alone, what doesn't need as many nights away? You may find you'll get more than cost savings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Something to steal from a hotel (and a notable quote)

Hotels increasing their in-room technology options are also making it more difficult to do things that were once actually easy - like turning on the television. I knew within seconds of picking up the remote that it wasn't going to be an easy process to just watch TV. The good news: there was a placemat sized, laminated instruction of "how to turn on the TV" in an easy to spot location. After pressing seven buttons (following along with the super-sized font instructions), I had a channel.

Something to steal: Does your association have technology programs no one can actually just easily use? How about easy-to-find and easy-to-follow instructions with a few basic words, in very large font, and a picture?

Notable quote: This link has a few hilarious things cranky traveler Scott Carmichael says about what he doesn't like about hotels. My favorite: "I'd also like to ask hotels to stop stocking the minibar with too many obscure products. Sometimes a guest just wants a damn Snickers bar, and is not in the mood for a $12 organic dried peach and carrot whey protein energy bar."


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The materials that will not go away (and other meeting annoyances)

Five meeting annoyances:

1. Not breaking the paper habit -- I was really happy when a Board sent Directors materials electronically. And they set them up in a really cool way on Adobe that I need to learn (with bookmarks).

When I got to the meeting there was a complete paper version waiting for me anyway. After the meeting I left the two notebooks full of materials (that I had electronically) on the table -- definitely didn't have room in my carry-on luggage and wouldn't need to refer back to those paper notebooks anyway. Explained in an email (when asked) that I left them on purpose.

Guess what arrived in the mail yesterday? The notebooks full of paper that will not go away.

2. Verbally reading what was mailed -- Another Board sends a lengthy General Manager's report in advance, in addition to other advance meeting materials. I used to print it out and read it. Quickly learned an hour of every meeting is listening to the General Manager go through every detail in that report. And a print out of that same report is always in a folder at the meeting for everyone.

3. Not checking the conference call dial-in -- One Board has a conference call option for those wishing to participate that way. The dial-in numbers are given to everyone in advance. I was recently tied up in the office and decided not to just drive the few miles away to attend in person. The problem - no one ever checked the conference call to see if anyone was on the line waiting. Anytime we give the dial-in number in advance, check it anyway - even if you aren't expecting someone to use it. It's an option you've already given attendees. Or, don't give the number to anyone except those saying they're calling in.

4. Filling time -- There are meetings that could last an hour, or under an hour. But sometimes staff and/or leadership "fills" time with demos or other presentations so that an entire two or three hours are filled (especially if large travel distances of attendees). My personal opinion is that it's much more respectful of volunteers if the business meeting happens, then adjourns so those who don't want all the demos can leave.

5. Announcing a change in end time -- after the plane tickets are already purchased and/or attendees are in the room -- There's nothing like arriving at a meeting and finding that the time has been shortened specifically due to the flight times of other attendees -- Often means rest of the attendees stuck with late flights (to accommodate the original meeting time) or expensive change penalties due to complete lack of early notice of that decision; or a great deal of the first part of the meeting is everyone checking alternative flights DURING the meeting and breaks. I'm all for any shortened meetings, but decide in advance how much time is needed to allow attendees time to adjust their schedules.

Off to a meeting ...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Clear Air Turbulence

After tonight's flight shook to and fro, the pilot announced we had hit “clear air turbulence”. Not able to see or detect. Good to know since I was already holding the hand of a man across the aisle from me (a stranger) – from fear.

Times when pilots can know turbulence is ahead, as a passenger don't you prefer to know it in advance?

What I know for sure:

1. Association management is packed with Clear Air Turbulence. It’s easy to be just smoothly flying along when WHAM, something unexpected shakes everything up. And maybe even damage.
2. When you know rough times are ahead, prepare the passengers. Things need to be secured, the flight attendants do need to sit down, and pilots need to have a plan.
3. Be sure you have someone to hold hands with while it’s happening. Finding someone to help you get through it is easier than the loneliness of worry.
4. If you need help, ask. It's out there. Maybe even across the aisle.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Matching volunteers to their skills

My worst volunteer experience was when I was assigned to work painting faces at a holiday fair at the school my kids attended. We had "mandatory volunteer hours" and I signed up for an event and was assigned face painting. No one checked to see if that's what I wanted to do or if it was something I had a particular talent for. Now as an association exec, there were likely a dozen things I could have done really well. I never would have selected face painting.

Rather than complain or try to change I figured it wouldn't be too hard and it was "only" two hours. Totally, totally stressful. It felt like 2 years. Kids apparently don't just want polka dots on their face or whiskers - but were requesting really complicated things like a Patriots football helmet (with logo) or vines intertwined with flowers and ladybugs. The other mother painting faces excelled in all these artistic requests. I quickly noticed the only ones in my line were the kids with impatient parents (the other line considerably longer than mine) or ones with toddlers too young to notice the difference. One kid even told me that he really wanted "the good mother".

What I learned from this:

1. It makes sense to ask volunteers what they want to do. List the tasks within the scope of a committee instead of just the entirety of it.
2. Ask what their talents are. Sometimes associations hear "I'll do anything" without checking to see where that volunteer may genuinely excel. Testing in a random role may or may not give positive results.
3. Give an option to stop. If it's fairly clear someone isn't enjoying their role - why not ask if they want to stop rather than assume everyone wants to ride out the length of time they originally committed to?
4. I never volunteered for that event again - in any capacity. Want to turn a volunteer off - give a bad experience.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Word of the Day: Cyberchondria

Today's New York Times says this: "the term 'cyberchondria' emerged in 2000 to refer to the practice of leaping to dire conclusions while researching health matters online."

Microsoft recently released a survey that "suggests that self-diagnosis by search engine frequently leads Web searchers to conclude the worst about what ails them."

Apparently 2% of all searches are health-related; and results are as likely to show something terrible as benign. I think 100% of my searches show something dire.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Capitalizing on current events

Observing what's happening in the news or around you can provide opportunities to be creative and/or use it to draw attention to your own issues or comments. For example, as candidates continuously brought up change during the election, one church put up signs in the middle of campaign signs: "Jesus is the Answer: Real Change begins with Him." One candidate put up a tiny sign that was noticeable because it was so different from others.

Guy Kawasaki wrote how a blog on budget fashion created a candidate wardrobe for under $3K after all the press about the $150K wardrobe. Blogger and association exec David Patt once told me he blogged about the impact of a nationally-reported bridge collapse on a local race (for a running association that's interested in race routes).

Things happen all the time with a potential spin, story or angle related to our own industries. Do we try new directions?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Today's historical trivia - Noah Webster

What could be more exciting than my info about Robert in Robert's Rules? Well, my tour of the Noah Webster birthplace home today (in West Hartford, CT) ...

In addition to being the Webster in Webster's Dictionary, did you know Noah Webster ...

1. Wrote "Blue-Backed Speller" used to teach spelling for generations - and sold over 100 million copies;
2. Changed the spelling of words (such as color for colour, theater for theatre) and wanted to ensure American students had common pronunciation, spelling, interpretation;
3. Often added his religious beliefs into dictionary examples;
4. Championed creation of federal copyright laws due to unauthorized publishing of his works;
5. Founder of an academy that later became Amherst College;
6. Portions of his writings on Federalism were considerations in writing the Constitution.

Who says one person can't do a whole bunch of things?

In two weeks I'm touring the Mark Twain house. Stay tuned for what you may not know about Mark Twain ...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Should you ask these 2 questions?

An interesting detail of President Elect Obama's vetting process is the questions. Here's a few of the 63. Should you ask these questions (or some variation of them) to your own job applicants?

“Briefly describe the most controversial matters you have been involved with during the course of your career”;

“Please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the Internet; include links to blog posts and links to your Facebook page";

The answers might be more interesting than their greatest weakness.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Now you can get left out in the cold

Shouldn't I be able to walk my dog without answering email or texting? Well today it was really cold and as we meandered around the neighborhood I was wishing for gloves I saw in Oprah magazine last night. There's little touch technology pads on the index and thumb fingers of the gloves to be able to use some handheld electronic devices without needing to take off the gloves.

If the gloves work with Blackberries, my dog Baxter is not going to like this. Or maybe he'll get longer walks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

That's a lot of relief for 15 minutes ...

Bemoaning the fact I have a 7 hour wait at an airport, a fellow meeting attendee suggested that I go to the airport spa. As I sit at Northwest terminal waiting (and working), thought I'd Google it.

This is how treatment described: "Oxygen Therapy -- You sit in a comfy chair with a two-pronged plastic tube up your nose, usually for 15 minutes, getting oxygen scented with essential oils that help you relax or boost your immune system."

The official spa website describes its $18 oxygen treatment this way: "A 15-minute session enhances stamina, eliminates fatigue, minimizes toxic build-up and intensifies mental alterness. "

Hmm, that's fixing a lot of things for $18. Chalk it up to my cranky mood, but why do I think I'd end up with someone else's cold if I tried this? However, there's always the manicure option, which won't do anything for my mental alterness but likely where I'm headed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

BYOD (bring your own desk)

Saw a man at Detroit airport tonight with a desk for his laptop hooked to his carry-on luggage. He was standing and typing. Appeared sturdy enough. Apparently the desk can be adjusted so you can sit and type too.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What Associations Can Learn from Oprah

One thing associations can learn from Oprah is the value of teaching new technologies by just routinely using new technologies. For example, Oprah uses Skype on nearly every show. And millions and millions of viewers (of all ages) are now very familiar with it. (Skype allows free calls and video connections over the Internet, even Internationally.)

Oprah did a ten week "class" with an author as a live "web event" - that drew a staggering worldwide audience .... along with putting podcasts on iTunes. For a sold-out women's conference, she offered streaming video so anyone could watch it live. She also routinely drives people to her website (e.g., go now to download a free book, get a coupon that you can use for whatever, participate on our message boards, watch more of the conversation, etc.)

Rather than continuously teaching (or preaching) about new technologies, maybe associations should follow Oprah's lead and just routinely use them. When members use them as part of their association experience they'll realize how they can also incorporate them into their own business. And that's a value associations bring.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Donating my time doesn't mean all my time ...

When you invite a colleague to participate in another state, and he/she donates their time, do you care if they get additional inconveniences?

Tonight I got an email related to travel to a Board meeting in another part of the country (I volunteer time - they pay expenses) saying BY THE WAY everyone needs to share transportation from the airport to the hotel. Big detail: We're not on the same flights. What's the message? My time isn't as valuable as the transportation cost to the hotel?

I am very aware of how much I give up personally (and professionally) by volunteering to do anything - and I believe our association volunteers are very aware of what they give up when they volunteer too. If we ask for time, let's not waste any of it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lessons from Lance Armstrong ...

So a tanned and athletic Lance Armstrong strolls out on stage in jeans and starts talking. I was struck by how entirely different his messages are from a more typical convention program message.

To think about ....

1. "Karma is a bitch." He told a story about being dismissed by a team while having cancer treatments. He later beat that team. There actually is a lot to be said about karma, and how we treat people facing difficult times in their lives;

2. "I thought we'd sell maybe a few hundred thousand." Another story was the donation of funds by Nike to make the first Livestrong bracelets. Lance anticipated a few hundred thousand would be sold - but found they quickly sold 4 million then 20 million then 70 million worldwide - at $1/each. Lessons - try new fundraising techniques, get any donation you can (even $1), make it personal (when it's personal);

3. "I made excuses instead of recognizing symptoms." Lance said that headaches and blurred vision must have been after-effect of drinking or stress, coughing blood must be related to a sinus problem, testicular pain must be the bicycle - but they were actually cancer. He urged attendees not to ignore symptoms and not to have changes in their body that are "too embarrassing" to discuss with a doctor. If it's your health, work, personal life - if you're making excuses you might want to look at the symptoms.

Here's an interview he did at a conference two days before ours .... if you'd like "more Lance".

Monday, November 10, 2008

Incentivizing Success (and Savings)

Employee incentives don't need to be large to bring success. A colleague relayed he offers $25 gift cards to employees for a number of success-based endeavors, such as securing a headquarters hotel reservation for an association officer or staff person attending a state or national conference. He'll give each staff a name of someone traveling to a meeting, and all those who can get the inexpensive rate at the first or second choice hotel for their name gets a gift card.

Usually requires they're online at opening date/time (like trying to get concert or sporting event tickets) - but makes it more fun to have an incentive and has increased their success (and overall savings too).

Friday, November 7, 2008

Annual Concert Photo & Observations

Attending our national association's convention, tonight Lionel Richie was the Celebrity Concert. Thought I was late but turned out it was just as he was coming on stage, and just as they let attendees up near the stage. Like last year (with James Taylor) I ended up very close to the stage.

1. Sometimes it is about being at the right place at the right time;
2. If you want people to do something, ask them ("sing along", "clap");
3. The pushy people making their way past you really can make their way past you;
4. Innovation is one thing; but many times people really do want what they know and already love. He sang only standards from the decades that were very well known;
5. A new concert trend was started: the business card. There were room keys being handed to Lionel, and even committee badges and a rose. But when he said he wanted to buy a house and asked someone for their card, hundreds of hands went up holding business cards - and he collected stacks of them. And this went on the whole concert. All night long. All night.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dear Mr Soandso

Does anyone really believe that because a name is inserted at the start of a mass email message, or added onto an electronic newsletter, that it's a more personal communication? It's really clear the difference between a sincere personal email and a clear mail merge of a database list into email communications. Occasionally someone is going to make it really obvious they're using technology to try to appear personal (e.g., by using a formal name or complete name) - or they're going to screw it up.

I recently got an email from an airline that started "Dear Mr. Soandso" ... then continued. A few hours later I got an email apology saying that a technology glitch caused a problem with the database of their "valued customers" and regret if it caused offense. My first inclination was to feel really sorry for the poor staff person who likely got into trouble for it. The next was wondering why they needed the name in there anyway. Collectively maybe we are Mr. Soandso?

When email has MORE information that's part of the personalization -- such as mileage or hotel points -- or the status of an online order -- then including my name adds to the confirmation. But if it's just a mass-solicitation or newsletter, skip trying to add a name to it.

If it arrives in my email, shouldn't the assumption be that I know it's for me? And if it's a mass solicitation or an e-newsletter - chances are good I know it wasn't written just for me even if my name is in a salutation. Is that what your members might think too?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Money Tip - Overnight Delivery

Consumer Reports magazine (Dec. '08) includes mention of significantly lower cost to send an overnight or 2-day delivery package by US Postal Service (USPS) versus Fed Ex or UPS; and their testing showed the same reliability. When's the last time you checked the current actual costs for various overnight delivery services?

Check out the USPS site for more info about their services, including discounts for arranging shipping online.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Guess I skipped that course. But where was it?

I'm beginning to believe there's a whole set of skills that full-time association executives may not necessary possess (or maybe it's just me), and I wonder how they even learn. My daughter plays a college sport and it seems many parents know how to set up fairly elaborate tailgate events each game. Like BLT sandwiches for 75, or really hot vegetarian chili -- but they can drive it across three states and somehow it's hot at the end of the game -- and set up in minutes too.

Where exactly are these "life skills" courses for association execs?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Be firm

A fashion designer said the worst fashion mistake he sees all the time is "a bad haircut". Said people should spend as much as they can to have their hair look good.

So my thought on the worst fashion mistake an association exec can make is a bad handshake. I honestly cannot stand it and remember that detail about someone. Unless there is truly a medical reason for it (and there can be), how in the world can someone not learn to give a firm handshake?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Publishing the names of those who didn't ...

There's an interesting controversy noted in Editor & Publisher about a newspaper publishing the names and addresses of those who didn't vote in the 2004 election. Trying to "shame them" into voting.

Associations now have more information than ever about members who "don't" do something. For example, legislative software doesn't just show who made calls to action, but also makes it clear who didn't. Membership records show who completed a required course, but also makes it easy to create the list of those who didn't.

An association had thousands who had met a requirement, and several hundred who had not. For months multiple reminders including personal email notices and postcards were sent. Later, the list was published (online) of those who had done it; then, the list of those "missing" (not yet completing) the requirement was published. Guess which one got more attention? Maybe it's just human nature but it's often far more interesting to click to see who's on the "didn't do" list than the ones who did it. And thus, far more effective in getting results. If there is shame in being on a list of those "who didn't", should that step not be taken?

Few more thoughts on the voter list publication: 1.) aren't we continuously surprised how much public info really becomes public .... I learned about voter info years ago when working a neighborhood for a campaign and had all sorts of personal facts about neighbors (including bar codes that must have had more); 2.) the newspaper said since print list was costly it would be online next time (a different response than won't do it again)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

... "a year of living with Satan"

So, what did my headline make you think ... an evil member, a bad staff person, a possessed piece of office equipment, trouble at home? It's actually a description that the writer for the blog Dooce wrote about her year old dog, Coco.

Random observations:
1. You CAN read more than business related books and blogs, if you don't already know that.
2. She was fired for writing about her job and co-workers on a blog - the definition of "dooced".
3. Removed first months of postings from blog archives because she hadn't yet "learned boundaries".
4. Has daily dog pictures. Use a dog picture, tell a dog story - it gets attention from the other "dog people".

So if you're an association exec who can manage many things, but yet still have an entirely misbehaving pet - check out the video of Coco.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cutting expenses at your association

My friend Judith Lindenau's blog has a big list of practical tips on how to cut expenses, manage cash flow and raise revenue at associations.

Here's the first 9 tips:

1. Examine switching to home working for staff to minimize property requirements and travel-related expenses such as employee parking.
2. Consider the extent to which you can operate a hot desking program.
3. Negotiate with your communications carrier ensuring that each category (voice, mobile and data) is optimized for your consumption levels as you reconfigure your office. Consider using an internet telephone carrier.
4. Review communications consumption with each person who uses company cell phones. In many cases cell phone expense can be minimized, or eliminated altogether.
5. Switch to low energy lighting. There’s some cost to acquiring the bulbs, but the long term savings usually outweighs the cost.
6. Request an energy audit from your energy service provider.
7. As much as possible, eliminate printed material and associated postage. You won’t get rid of it all, but you can almost certainly make material savings. Again, charge extra for paper delivery: it COSTS extra, after all.
8. Review the potential to use online storage services such as If you’re a small association, this is an ideal way to make electronic files available from anywhere to anyone with a password.
9. If you buy a new printer, purchase a laser printer. If you have an inkjet printer, lower cartridge costs by using a refillable service.

Click this link to get entire blog article and tips.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Notable Quotes: Sadness, Life, and Tennis

While a guest on the Oprah show, Gloria Steinem said the difference between depression and sadness is "with depression, nothing matters; and in sadness and grief, everything matters."

Billie Jean King was on the same show, lauded for all she did for women's sports/Title IX and the impact of the infamous Battle of the Sexes tennis match (35 years ago!) She compared tennis as a metaphor for life saying, "Every time a ball comes to me in tennis … I have to make a decision and I have to live with the consequence."

When I was really young, watching both of them, Gloria and Billie Jean seemed like they were my mother's age. Now they seem like peers. Amazing how that happens.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Random Travel Tips

The flight I didn't take tonight is already 3 hours late (I'm watching it online). Travel is such a pain. Do you check to see what would have happened to your scheduled flights you end up not taking?

Found these tips in "Budget Travel" magazine (Oct '08). Submitted by their readers -

1. On a cruise, take a cab to a rental car agency, not the free bus. You'll be first in line.
2. Buy a padded seat-belt cover from auto-parts store to use with travel bag or camera straps.
3. Line the inside of your suitcase with bubble wrap and layer between clothes. Reduce wrinkles and you'll use with souveniers later.
4. If you lose a screw on glasses, and out of town, use the sewing kit to stitch together until get home.
5. Create a "photo album" on your cell phone of pictures of basic things you may need when travel to foreign countries. Point to picture if don't know the foreign words.
6. If your flight makes you miss the start of a cruise, ask if you can take another ship leaving next day instead of flying out to your own boat at its next stop.

And one of my random tips:

When my teenage daughter and her friend went to Europe this summer I had them carry the walkie-talkies we use when skiing. Never know when they'd get separated and couldn't easily use their cell phones to reach each other (range is several miles).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Association gift: Customized gift cards

Who says gift cards are impersonal? A few years ago I waited WEEKS for an Am Ex gift card to include someone's name on it. Now many cards (like Applebee's - pictured) and Macy's provide option to add photo of your choice and message onto gift card. Could have company logo, building, pictures from an event, etc. Or Starbucks allows to customize with drink favorites and name on gift card.

There are likely many others too ...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Are you fighting destiny or living your destiny?

When I read that anyone is clear about what they are "meant" to do from the time they're a little kid, it always floors me. This from Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist:

"I had the first glimpse of my future when I was about eight years old. I saw an article about a cartoonist who was doing okay for himself, a guy named Charles Schulz. I remember looking at his picture and feeling that was my future job. The sensation was different from wanting or hoping. I wanted and hoped for lots of fantastic things, but I have only had one vision of my future career. And as I spent the next 20 or so years working on a more traditional career path, I never shook the feeling that I was supposed to be a cartoonist. It always felt like I was fighting destiny."

So, are you fighting destiny, living your destiny .... or have absolutely no idea?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: "For I was Hungry"

Blog writers throughout the world (including me) have committed to spend one day per year all writing about a single topic of importance. This year's "Blog Action Day" focus is poverty.

I've lived in my community for over 20 years; but it took our local newspaper writing a series entitled "For I was Hungry" to realize the magnitude of hunger throughout Maine, and the impact. Completely shook me. For example, one aspect of hunger is the huge percentages of kids who attend school hungry, which impacts their ability to grow and to learn.

When we sit at our desks thinking about lunch, imagine not being able to have lunch. Poverty and hunger are real. Not just other parts of the world, but in our backyards, in our schools, in our communities. Help can come in many forms - from making donations to schools, contributing to food banks/drives, volunteering to raise money, or ensuring elected officials understand the cost of not providing food subsidies. Everyone can participate in some way to end poverty - and hunger.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Posting remaining break time

A speaker posted a countdown on the big screen showing when the mid-program break is over. It worked well.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Email Detox

I looked wistfully at a stack of (non-business) magazines I've been meaning to read, and noticed some were dated as far back as August 2007. Two words: Email detox. There really is no reason to check email on a holiday when magazines are dating back 14 months.

So I read a stack of magazines, took the dog on a 5-mile walk, and went to a movie ("Nights in Rodanthe") with a friend. There were 8 total in the theater, all women over the age of 40, BUT ... 5 were dressed like pirates. They were even talking like pirates (it's odd to hear "Richard Gere is handsome" in pirate-speak -- and they all started arrring after it). And I didn't even ask them what the deal was, or take their picture - because if I'm not even interested in my email today then surely I didn't really need to know the story.

I strongly recommend trying email detox. You might need to put your computer in the car, and disable email on your Blackberry (as I did) - to avoid the temptation - but it's worth it to have a normal day doing normal things.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fundraising: Improving 50/50 Success

A fundraiser at a convention included a 50/50 drawing - where winner keeps half the money raised. Instead of a flat fee for tickets, they were sold 4 tickets for $5 or an arm's length for $10. Really encouraged many purchases of the $10. A lot of money raised.

Few other tips for successful 50/50:

1. Need immediate gratification. More sales if drawing is that same day/night;
2. Have double-tickets and announce winner by ticket numbers (must be present to win). If add details like requiring names and phone number it slows down sales;
3. Have many ticket salespeople, not just a few. If they're just sitting at a desk selling tickets, it's not as effective as a lot of people walking to each table selling them too. But do need to sell at registration desk too.

Monday, October 6, 2008

If you ever lose your Blackberry ....

A few things I learned from the lost Blackberry incident:

1. Your phone provider can likely easily turn off, then turn back on, your access. Can also let you know if any calls, data transmissions, text messages exist since you last used it (but not what they say);

2. If they say they have Saturday delivery of a replacement device, don't believe them. Saturday means Monday;

3. According to the rep I spoke with, common locations for missing Blackberries (besides the obvious) include: the washer/dryer, at the very bottom of the sheets (as if fell off mattress but caught by tucked in sheet), the top of the car, behind the headboard (again, don't want to ask why everyone is taking their phone to bed);

4. If your phone is found with moisture from being outside (like mine) the phone provider and Blackberry won't give advice to fix it. Using Google, the only advice I could find is taking out the battery then using a blowdryer, and/or putting it in rice to absorb the water. Didn't want to see if microwave rice or Rice a Roni count as "rice"; so used a blowdryer on a cool setting - figuring heat would be bad and if works like defrost, needed cool air. It worked. Maybe the moisture would have gone away on its own anyway, but didn't wait to find out;

5. My phone number on the screen didn't show up since the phone never turned off; but email address did so man who found it emailed me;

6. Had 300 email messages that could have been read by anyone who found it (that appeared before I disabled it). Nothing exciting in there - BUT able to read them before activating my service. Another sign to watch what's in email.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Blackberry, Phone Home

How I can go from my house to the office, without stopping, and lose my Blackberry is a mystery. It wasn't turned off, and fully charged, so should be easy enough to locate. I have walked around my house dialing it, to my car, and throughout my office. No answer, no ringing. And I checked the (middle-age) missing locations: refrigerators, garbage cans and shelves. I even stood next to the office dumpster in the parking lot while my office called my cell phone just in case I randomly tossed it there (yes, more fun things to do at work.)

But the most interesting question I got today while bemoaning my missing phone: Did I check my bra? That may be a fundamental question that separates women with different bust sizes. I would absolutely never think to consider that a potential place to lose something; even though I worked at a movie theater in high school and recall customers routinely dig around in their bras for money. I have however asked people if they checked the cuffs of their pants for missing earrings, contact lenses or lapel pins. Any other thoughts?

I had programmed my Blackberry to display my home phone number in case it was ever lost. Blackberry, phone home.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The one billion dollar promise

Today's "Oprah" guests included Nancy Brinker, the woman who founded the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation; in memory of her sister Suzy who died at age 33 of breast cancer. Nancy explained that in 1978 few would even say the word "breast" publicly, there weren't support groups, 800 numbers, the Internet - but worse many knew so little about it there were fears it was an "automatic death sentence" or might be contagious.

Nancy promised her sister she would fight so other families would not have to go through it too. When asked by Oprah how she came up with the idea of the race and pink - she said, "I was in marketing." At the first race she had a mammogram machine and breast cancer survivors so that it could change the image of what the test is and remind everyone there are many survivors. Isn't that genius? The first race had 800, then spread nationwide and internationally.

Since that first race over $1 billion has been raised through the foundation for breast cancer research.

One woman who made a promise, and then used her talents to grow something as significant as the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. Many talents we use in our professions all the time can be used with organizations that work towards change, hope and cures.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Do regular self-exams and have mammograms. It can save your life. And don't make excuses not to do it - some huge percentage of women routinely reschedule and cancel them. I hate them too (had to stretch out on a stretcher after my last one with all my anxiety) - but do it anyway. You're worth a billion dollars to someone too.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Association Decisions and the Dilemma of Change

Who can forget the big moment in the movie "Dirty Dancing" when Neal suggests they experiment with the Pachanga as the final dance of the season at Kellerman's, when Johnny wants to try his moves instead? Don't we have those type dilemmas in associations all the time?

Should we play the type music we always play at conventions (even as the demographics still strongly support it)? Are the installations and oath the same as always? Is the order of events endearing due to their predictability or out-dated? What happens if Johnny wants to try new moves? Do we do this, or that?

And, special analogy for those who watch the movie: Can we let Baby out of the corner, or does change mean just trying the Pachanga?

Whatever decision, chances are likely someone's going to be unhappy (not like the movies). The problem with change in associations - especially if it breaks tradition - is that many may like the tradition as that is what draws them to return, where others want change as that could draw them to return. Any decision is right, and wrong.

It's like the expression, "listen to the members." That only works if they're all saying the same thing. If the organization doesn't do what one group wants you're "not listening," but for the other group you "are listening" because the organization went in the direction they desired.

Can you have this dance? Sure. Which one?

Friday, September 26, 2008

I Screwed Up (Sorry ASAE)

About an hour ago I did a post that said I got an email from ASAE - but it was instead a company that I THOUGHT was them. I revised my post to remove their name and apologize to all with RSS who got the misinformation before I got corrected. The comments in my post remain, but originally directed at wrong organization.

Thank goodness there's a blog audience to correct screw-ups.

How depressing is this report?

[CORRECTION: I had the wrong sender of the Report organization noted in the original version of this post, so the organization name is now removed. Apologies for that error the first time.]

While looking at what to cut or freeze in my budget, I got an email from a company saying they're reporting on the "Top Places to Work in Associations and Nonprofits." Here's a sample of "top picks" benefits noted ...

"90 days of paid time-off for new mothers and fathers
A four-week sabbatical
Employer-paid health care coverage the whole family
A 17 percent retirement contribution
Five weeks of vacation in the first year of employment"

The email states: "Some of the benefits and perks are simply incredible." Um, I agree.

Even if it's an annual report, is this the right message to send out to the association community in a down economy? I hope I'm wrong, but why do I have certainty we're going to see a big list of national associations in big cities with large staffs that get these kind of benefits? It's the type of message that is routinely discouraging to those of us who run medium or small associations in state and local associations or chapters. Even recognizing that in big cities those level of benefits may be necessary to compete for and retain skilled employees - even against other associations and nonprofits.

There are many association executives in very small organizations (1-2 person staff) who struggle to even get a partial subsidy of their own health insurance, any vacation time, or any type of contribution to a pension plan.

Additionally, I'm not sure there's any association that should be eager to spotlight how generous they may be at this point in time. Although there are state laws that may mandate family leave policies (paid vs. unpaid, length of time, based on number of employees) so on that one it's tough to differentiate what is following a legal requirement for corporations in a particular state vs. voluntary benefit.

As an association community we HAVE to figure out how to change the lack or minimal benefits in MANY associations and nonprofits - but a focus on the extreme hurts everyone in my opinion. And supposedly there are more "extraordinary perks" noted in the upcoming report. There sure better not be any gold-plated bathroom faucets in there.

Separately, I'd put my own association in the "Top Places to Work" department, but that's because of the right focus, expertise and innovation of the officers and directors, and the types of things we accomplish on behalf of the industry. I hope there's a category for that. Isn't that why we really work for associations when we COULD work anywhere else? Yes, association employees absolutely need benefits too - but focus on how to provide or expand for all, not just cheering the top.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Word of the Day: Daylighting

Check out's article about "daylighting" - a practice of having two careers at once. In the same shift, with the employer either knowing about it OR not knowing about it.

I'd guess increasingly offices have many variations on this theme ... eBay "career people" ... those who spend vast amounts of time during a workday "building their [other] business" using social media ... or just a full-fledged second job, simultaneously. The reason (obvious): Income.

Word of the day: Daylighting

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Random thoughts from the road

Maybe women have always worn the "Sarah Palin" hairstyle, but I'm only now noticing it at various airports. And I know we apparently aren't "allowed" to talk candidate/elected official hair, or it's some sign of disengagement in real issues, but ....

Stayed at a "modern" hotel ... the Intercontinental at O'Hare ... and it had lots and lots of things to appear to be modern ... like little fake sculpture birds on a rod on the wall (pictured - something different to look at) ... and cool lamps ... but the shower didn't have a complete door (we all compared notes at the meeting on if the floor ended up wet or not) and the sink/counter more difficult to manage than regular bathrooms. And wireless for $12.95 a night is not modern. Above all, a really comfortable hotel with good food in the meeting room ... and at least the sleeping room HAD wireless AND it worked in the meeting room. A big pet peeve of mine is when I pay for wireless in a sleeping room and then it doesn't count/work in the meeting room (i.e., wants separate fee.)

Have you found anything unique during business travel lately?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Creating Balance: Bobby, do ya love me?

Among the songs I heard on XM radio driving 12 hours on Saturday was Bobby Sherman's "Julie, Do Ya Love Me". When I was 11 years old I didn't think it was possible to love someone more than I loved Bobby Sherman -- sleepover parties had one topic (Bobby versus David) with their pictures under our pillows, I'd wait for each issue of "Tiger Beat" to find out details like what his favorite color is, carried a lunch box with his picture, and instead of Julie sang "Bobby, Do Ya Love Me."

Before our lives become complicated there's such freedom to spend time doing mainly what we love or focused on what we love. As we grow in overload and responsibilities, it's really easy to never have time, or be able to read ridiculous magazines instead of something that's supposed to be relevant, or be able to spend a whole day doing only one thing.

There was sooooooo much work I could have done yesterday - things that need to be done, and literally a hundred emails to answer .... or I could drive several states away to watch my daughter play college field hockey.

The answer: the only way to really have balance is to decide to have more balance. It certainly doesn't just happen. Find time.

And if you need to be reminded, you can get a "Julie, Do Ya Love Me" ringtone.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

Asked a colleague for advice today. His response: "The juice isn't worth the squeeze".

Quote of the day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to be remembered during business travel

I saw this on the news tonight, then read about it. Oh. My. God. Think other business travelers will wonder who is in the portable "mini motel" tent? But for $49, it also includes an air mattress, pillow and reading light, fits in a laptop case - and might be a gift for the person you think has everything. And what's the deal with orange? So other travelers won't trip over you?

Picture: Jonathan Cohen, New York Times

Monday, September 15, 2008

Social media and online technology: This is nothing (and something) to spit at

Before I get to the spitting, here's the quote of the day: "Would the conversation have been as lively — or occurred at all — if everyone knew their bosses, customers and colleagues were watching?"

3 fascinating articles in the New York Times:

1. decides to launch "community" comments on all its online articles for its million online paid subscribers. So you actually know the credentials of those who are posting because it requires real identity. How's that for a novel idea - no more pretend experts and a real idea about who it is who is providing advice and insight. Notable details: a) notes that Fast Company magazine found its readers actually didn't want conversation; b) WSJ working with Facebook and LinkedIn to develop "portable profiles"; c) concern that it will be so "proper" that won't get participation; and d) it's the "bosses, customers and colleagues" who "might be watching" that likely keep the masses from posting comments on sites.

2. (Free) Online textbooks. With a daughter in college, this topic always gets my attention. Especially since she only paid $179 for mainly online books this semester (compared with the $700/year I paid at her high school for books.) Notable details: a) professors can make $100k advance for authoring a text that then sells for $200/book; b) you can be successful both ways - allowing free downloads and cutting a deal with print on demand vendors (for $11 -$59/copy); c) expanded use of Creative Commons license that allows students and teachers to "mash up" material as long as they give original author credit; and d) reality that most books will still have an authorship model.

3. "Spit Party" - DNA results with added social media connections. You'd have to read it to believe it. A party where people spit into test tubes and then share their DNA results and connect in social media with others predisposed to certain things (... "You are invited to join the group Slow Caffeine Metabolizers.") Sheesh. And I thought pictures of partying association executives posted on the web were going to get people into trouble with their members and potential future employers. How about sharing your DNA results with the world or your social media BFFs? And there's a concept of "confidential sharing" of results. Right. And reminiscent of high school genetics class, you'll learn Barry Diller can't roll his tongue, but Anderson Cooper can twirl his "into a complicated four-leaf clover". That is now my forever image of Anderson. I'm mad I read this article.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Being prepared at home too

Are you prepared for anything? Including at home? Tonight the power went out in our neighborhood. My son and I were the only ones home and couldn't find anything. The matches from my wedding 21 years ago wouldn't work (we still have a box of them - isn't it amazing that used to be a wedding favor?), the fireplace/candle lighter wouldn't ignite, the flashlights couldn't be found. We used our cell phones and laptops for light. And I finally remembered we keep flashlights in the cars and suitcases. For auto and travel emergencies.

Of course my son was barraged with text messages from his friends about the power (I got none). Our power company has a way to check to see the status of outages on any street in a town - which I can check from my Blackberry.

The local newspaper had an article today on filling a storage bin full of things for a short-term emergency supply kit at home (including radio, water and boxed food items). I scanned the list but didn't really think enough about it. Tomorrow I'm doing it.

Are you sure you can find your flashlights? Are you prepared for an emergency at home too?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Golf tournament (and other) sponsor appreciation

Saw a great example of how to thank golf tournament sponsors today. A volunteer went from hole to hole and took digital pictures of each team, each individual, and each sign on a hole indicating the sponsor. Following the event, the pictures were put on card stock - and each sponsor got a picture of the team sponsored or hole sponsored; and each player got a picture too. On the reverse was a thank you note, info about total raised, and how it was being used. This was put in an envelope, but might be easy to produce as a postcard too.

Really inexpensive but personalized way to say thank you to sponsors.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Association's Facebook Connection

I arrived for a meeting just as another meeting was ending today. The local president introduced me to one of the committee members: "We first met on Facebook, she said she wanted to get involved, so I appointed her to this committee."

This is how social media can be used to identify association members willing to participate. But it may take people with power being present to make those connections. And are they present?

Maybe we should ask Presidents to appoint at least 3 members to committees during the year that they only know from a social media site?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Word of Mouth: 3 Articles to Think About

A few WOM (Word of Mouth) articles to think about ....

1. Fundraising: A college kid has raised $6,000 from 2,000 people to help pay his NYU tuition. He's hoping 10,000 friends and "friends of friends" will donate $2.50 each via PayPal or sending a check in the mail. Figuring out how to get our friends to sell our ideas or fundraising effort to their friends (word of mouth) should be a big component of future advocacy and philanthropic efforts.

2. Marketing: JetBlue has put 300 flights to 20 destinations, including 4 "mystery" vacation packages (find out where when auction ends), on eBay. The reason - "valuable word of mouth advertising". I completely love the idea of mystery trips so immediately went and checked it out (bidding already over $2K and $3K on those). Each item sells JetBlue in the process (describes the seats, legroom, coffee, multiple channels to watch, etc.) - along with the "fun" of travel. They expect to get 85% of flight value on the trips so it's low cost to do. Can associations use more sites to "get noticed" too?

3. Gaming and Social Media: There's thought that with so many gamers more associations are going to get into gaming. And with so many socializing on social media that surely that will deeply expand into the association space too. So I howled at this article entitled, "How to Get your Girlfriend into Gaming" - with advice like "don't be a jerk" and "don't make her play Halo". Is this potentially the problem with social media and association members too - do they try it and decide there are too many jerks and/or they really just don't want to play? Sometimes it doesn't take word of mouth to know what you like and don't like.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

When a terrier lands on a keyboard (seriously)

A modern day alternative to "my dog ate my homework": My dog took the letters R, F and G.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hey, here comes the bride

I was working on a report and realized I was really watching a show about women selecting wedding gowns called "Say Yes to the Dress." It's really incredible how dramatically different something along the exact same theme (white wedding dress) can be to each individual bride.

And I was completely relating to the wedding dress consultants:

1. Listen to the bride. Listen to the members. Guess what? They don't want the same thing. Sure, they want a long white dress. It's always the details.
2. What's your budget? At the end of the day, they will pay for what they really want. Any budget number can magically "work" when there's something that genuinely excites a bride - or an association.
3. What they say they want is often entirely different from what they end up loving (or they know exactly what they want). The wedding dress consultant will say, "please, just try this" or "I think I have what is perfect for you". Don't we do that too? Sometimes it takes showing the members, and asking them to try it on. Not just describing. BUT ... s
ometimes when they say exactly what they want, they mean it.
And if the dress seems bad to the consultant, but the bride really loves it - hey, here comes the bride. The bride's the one who has to wear it. I get that too.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Notable Headline: Authentic Endorsements

I really, really like a post that Ann Oliveri wrote on "authentic endorsements." Focuses on a WSJ story about how women let Chico's know they identified with Debbie Phelps (mother of Michael Phelps), who was wearing their clothes at the Olympics. Debbie wears Chico's clothes because she loves their clothes. It's authentic.

And Ann gives these questions for organizations:

1. What do we do to build loyalty?
2. "Are you overlooking authentic endorsements? Real members with their own 15 minutes of fame in public settings?
3. Do you use media 'clipping' services to justify your work or do you celebrate members' recognition as expert sources even when your association isn't mentioned by name?
4. How many celebrities have a family connection to your association, your issue?"

I believe we need to do a better job with these concepts, because there are remarkable connections and authentic endorsements. And we can do more to highlight them. As example, my association asked 2 members who are participating in the national political conventions to blog about the experience, from the perspective of being in our industry. A chance to be authentic.

Separately, a bonus to writing a blog is readers will send random comments and even pictures related to any given post I may write. Since I wrote about Debbie Phelps earlier, got a Michael Phelps "celebrity connection" - a kid in the picture (blond hair, brown shoes) is consultant Jerry Matthews' 9-year old grandson Alex, a Florida swimmer selected to march with Michael Phelps in last week's DisneyWorld Homecoming Parade. If you see Alex in the Olympics 8 years from now, remember, you saw him here first ...