Wednesday, April 30, 2008

If you could stand in my shoes ...

There really are people who notice and discuss shoes. Today I wore shoes my daughter got as a gift and comments all day. More shoe talk than I've had .... maybe ever.

Most association executives likely serve on Boards or committees of other groups too. When I'm a volunteer on a committee or Board (and not the paid staff person) I'm sometimes stunned to find what other groups or staff might believe is okay with reporting information in minutes, in handling procedural details, or in accurately reflecting votes.

When we put on volunteer shoes instead of staff shoes, do we remember or forget we've walked many miles as staff and know the right way to do it.

Or to alter famous Bob Dylan
lyrics, if you could stand in my shoes you'd know what a drag it is to see [it].

Walk the walk when you're a volunteer too.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Let's be honest - does young mean young?

If your association forms a group for "young" professional members, should there be some effort in requesting or ensuring they actually are young? I have to admit I was entirely annoyed when I was in my twenties and invited to a young professionals event only to find most I didn't consider young, even if they thought they were. I didn't go back. And it changed my attitude about the organization as they lost my trust at hello. The hello name tags.

When you're a young professional, there'
s absolutely no problem finding colleagues one, two, three, or four decades older than you are. A real challenge is finding your own peer age group, with a shared experience. I love the experiences of working with many generations that association management provides - both from standpoint of members and employees - they're all crucial to our effectiveness. But when any professional group is given a descriptive label for networking or gathering purposes, should it describe?

I've heard the cliches that we're all "as young as we feel" or young is a "state of mind". Um, okay. But it's actually potentially a certain age group too. And if I'm a young member, and you tell me you're a young group, and you really aren't (by the standards of the young member) - then why. I
f you don't really mean "young", then why intentionally put that label on the group? Skip the word if it doesn't apply.

As we look at building relationships with our younger members, associations are deciding if should provide specific networking groups (online, live or both). Let's be honest. I want their trust.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Is your association suggesting ways to use "the check"?

There are news stories about creative things businesses are doing to encourage the public to spend their economic stimulus checks with them. A grocery chain is offering a 10% bonus for any groceries gift card purchased using an entire economic stimulus check. A car dealer will match dollar for dollar any check amount used towards a car purchase. Several retail stores and travel companies are offering incentives or promotions towards this program.

Have any associations targeted any of their efforts towards the economic stimulus checks? Are we trying to improve our own industries by suggesting ways to use those funds? Even if our message may be to save the money.

By the way, if you're interested in how much you may (or may not) receive, here's the IRS economic stimulus online calculator. Be sure to have your 2007 tax return for amounts. And here's the link to how checks/payments will be distributed.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Modernizing association travel policies

Business travel for officers and staff is both a time commitment, and an expense. With all the travel difficulties and new extra costs imposed by airlines and hotels, do your volunteers a favor and spell out the costs you know they are likely to be confronted with - and relay if they are covered as business travel or not. My personal opinion is these are such inconveniences, or potential for an ounce of convenience, that should be given.

If you consult, may be good to spell out to the hiring organization that you do consider these standard costs for business travel expenses.

1. Extra bag charge - $25 for a second bag with some airlines. With business trips sometimes lasting a week, a second bag may not be unusual.

2. Unexpected airport hotel costs if flights canceled. If due to weather, the airline will not cover. You and/or your officers may be at a flight-connecting city. Explain how much of unexpected airport hotel costs may be covered.

3. Leg room seats - my personal annoyance, and I'm an average height. Often about $39 for seats with legroom now; and recently read that airlines may start charging extra ("minimal costs") for aisle and window seats towards the front of the plane.

4. Stand by seats, changing flights - sometimes possible to get earlier flights guaranteed for $25-$100 the day before; or able to change ticket for additional rate. Those extra hours can make a huge difference to productivity. We ask everyone to book tickets far in advance for lowest rates, which can be a problem if when the time gets closer there is a need for different dates. If it's a return flight that needs a change, sometimes it's cheaper to do an AirTran, JetBlue or Southwest new one-way ticket than to rebook with a penalty; sometimes fares have dropped and there's no penalty; or sometimes it just makes sense to book a whole new ticket and use the $50-$100 penalty on another flight you or your officer might need to do.

5. Day rate when red eye flights - hotels sometimes offer ability to keep room late into the afternoon or into early evening for extra cost. Makes a huge difference to have a place to work, relax, pack late, shower, etc. rather than sitting at an airport for 6-8 hours with nowhere else to go or dragging a suitcase to dinner because don't want to have to go back to hotel before leave for airport. Can be as low as $50, or higher. But if you don't have an extra day to lose by waiting for a morning flight to travel all next day, this may be really helpful. An alternative is the $50 day rate charged by airline lounge programs for those who don't already have access to them. At least gives comfortable seats for hours and other benefits (snacks, drinks, television, business work areas, electrical outlets, etc.). Plus the best of the airline ticket agents work there if you find you need to change tickets due to canceled or delayed flights.

6. Internet costs - many hotels still charge $9-$15 for in-room wireless or wired access. I can't imagine how anyone can travel on business without having to do their real job at night, and this remains important "standard" feature in my opinion. And no, going to the lobby to use free wireless is not reasonable option.

Adding $200 - $300 to each trip as "miscellaneous" travel expenses should cover whichever of the above might be needed. In many circumstances, none of them will be needed - but it's important to show your volunteers that you respect what they're giving up to travel on behalf of your organization by having travel policies that spell out recognition of the wide range of nuisance (or convenience) fees they could very well encounter.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tip 1: Make your goal feel real

My daughter will be going to a really expensive college - so I have a huge interest in money topics. Which you're going to find cropping up in my blog postings from time to time.

Tip 1: Make your goal feel real, if it isn't already clearly real.

Consider making your screen saver whatever it is you need to save for; or have your passwords reflect your goal in some way. Might surprise you how seeing it, typing it or thinking about it can inspire you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Warning for Zoomerang Users

I've used Zoomerang survey software a really long time. In creating a new survey, what would typically take me 15 minutes to input instead took 60 minutes. So warning Zoomerang users: sometime in the past 2 weeks they completely modified how to enter questions - and it is not remotely as easy as before. Now numerous set-up (formatting) options for each question field including font, font size, if images, etc. - definitely not for the beginner survey user like the old easy format where it was more plug and play.

You might want to experiment with it if you think you may have a time-sensitive survey anytime in the future.

On the plus side, another new feature is apparently the ability to do skip logic. So questions only appear if answering string of questions certain way. Wonder how long it will take me to figure out how to do that!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Should bloggers get press passes?

The NY Times reports controversy involving professional sports reporting - including if those who blog (only) are entitled to press passes. Mavericks basketball team owner and blogger Mark Cuban said no, was over-ruled, and decided rather than just admit those from "credentialed news organizations" he'd let anyone who blogs have potential to cover them. So that means me. In the locker room. Too bad I don't care about basketball at all. I'd probably only ask them if they ever met Joe Namath.

But I'm sidetracked ...

The range of issues between press and organized sports includes: "how reporters cover teams, who owns the rights to photographs, audio and video that journalists gather at sports events, and whether someone who writes only blogs should be given access to the locker room."

These may all likely evolve at associations:

1. If you invite press to events, can any blogger attend, or only those from "credentialed news organizations"?
2. If you invite members to participate in committee or board meetings, or focus groups, do they have rights to blog about discussions, including quoting those present at the meeting without their knowledge or consent (even if don't "name them") - see this ASAE post;
3. If you blog, do you expect to be able to attend events as press?
4. If you blog, do you expect to be able to tape seconds, minutes or hours of anything you attend as a paid or invited guest - and then post the video/podcast?
5. If the introducer says "nothing may be recorded", is that enough to stop someone who wants to anyway? Is it a request or a requirement? Who has rights?

My crystal ball is that fewer people will publicly engage in industry discussion in the future as the audience turns Internet reporter - and everyone's accountable/recorded for any given sound bite. I could be wrong of course. But I don't think so.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day with my Baby

It's easy to appreciate the earth if you live in Maine. This is a state that lives up to the hype of its beauty. In honor of Earth Day today my baby (he's a cairn terrier - like Toto on "Wizard of Oz") and I walked along and through 6 miles of lawn and trees. Dogs love grass, especially mowed grass so today was heaven. If you're spending too much time inside, and forgetting the gift of walking and gift of watching a dog find miles and miles of mowed lawns .... go outside.

And if you need more ways to help the earth, use reusable grocery bags and consider reducing or eliminating use of plastic water bottles.

Monday, April 21, 2008

5 Fundraising Success Basics

Oprah's "Big Give" challenges highlighted fundraising success. What worked for the contestants are actually fundraising basics, often not included as part of fundraising programs:

1. ASK (by voice) those already know for contributions;
2. Make cold calls - don't be afraid to ask for something big;
3. Stories are effective ways to highlight/communicate how use contributions;
4. Use initial money as seed money to grow bigger contributions - consider matching funds;
5. Small things can mean a lot to many - surprising how little can change a life or make a difference.

There's also success stories with social media: Try using your Facebook or other networks too. Make it easy with online contributions, such as PayPal.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Everyone loves gas cards

Some hotels are now offering gas cards ($10-$25) as an incentive. That's what my association gives for completing surveys; and recently had an entire fundraiser where prizes were heating fuel or gas cards.

Unfortunate that's what everyone loves now.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Proper Introductions ...

GULP! Got a comment on a post about speakers that I've been guilty of overlooking too .... the proper speaker introduction. Kare Anderson writes: [emphasis mine]

"As a speaker, let me pass along a concern that is often discussed at our speaker conferences: I am taken aback by the number of people who do not practice giving the introduction, however brief. Not checking the mic ahead of time, fidgeting at the podium, reading the introduction in a neutral tone or too fast, without knowing how to pronounce a name or other words in the introduction or not looking at the audience as one gives the introduction can take away from the introducer's 'presence' and can make an awkward segue for the speaker. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest."

SHE'S RIGHT! How many times is the introduction of a speaker just dreadful? How many times do we just hand off the introduction to whoever just happens to be standing there (or on the committee) rather than asking someone who is a known good speaker to do it? Do we make sure the introducer know how to pronounce the name of the person being introduced?

Part of the problem (at least part of my problem) is that sometimes get 2-page biographies, but not a doc called "speaker introduction". Handed to the wrong person, that bio can take a really, really long time to read (does their college major really matter when they're middle-aged?)

Few additional thoughts:

1. When we hire speakers should we ask for 5-7 sentences for a speaker intro - and then they can choose which part needs to be included? But not whole bio.

2. Do we make CERTAIN the instruction to turn off cell phones is given BEFORE the introduction - in hopes of eliminating ringing?

3. Is there clarity with facility about when dishes can be cleared or not cleared, when food can enter or leave the room during a presentation, when dishes and mugs refreshed during the program (noisy!), and what's on the other side of the wall (if it's a kitchen they have to wait to do the dishes). As a frequent speaker myself, it's completely annoying to compete against the servers, clearers and dish washers.

By the way, check out Kare's blog - informative (and entertaining) reading!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Connected ... or disconnected?

A couple was having dinner with their 2 teenage daughters next to the table where I was sitting at a restaurant. The girls did not talk with each other or their parents, instead sending text messages with cell phones for an hour - before, during and after dinner. Guess it didn't occur to anyone to actually put up their technology and talk. Would you say that family is connected, or disconnected?

Made me think of an Oprah show earlier this week that examined families, waste, and how we spend our time.

On the show 2 families were asked to turn off their computers (except for homework), cell phones, video games, iPods, and no more than an hour of television nightly. For a week. Also asked to give up eating out, fast food, drinking soda/bottled water, using paper products, shopping; and to turn down thermostat, take shorter showers, and not waste food. Really surprising results in only one week.

1. It was as difficult for adults as for kids. The amount of time adults spend with technology, especially at home, takes away from home life. How much time isn't spent reading, talking, eating together, riding bikes, etc. One dad said he didn't realize how often they brushed aside the kids because busy watching something on TV or doing something on the Internet.

2. A mom said she didn't fully grasp that a half hour of her 5-year old son's video games turns into 3 hours then turns into 5 hours. But parents ignore it because gives them "time" to do their own technology.

3. Families saved hundreds of dollars a week, and found time to be with their kids, once they just connected in person ... by disconnecting.

Back to the teens I saw at dinner. I wonder when parents look at the volume of text messages their kids send, if they also look at the volume of Twitter messages they might be sending. Who are the people we have "extra" time for - the ones at home, or the ones we barely know but getting to know better/deeply online? I believe Oprah is onto something. The wired world needs to start re-connecting in real life again ... at home. Turn it off. Try it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Annoying speaker habits

Aside from the obvious situations where someone can have genuinely bad speaking skills or just read from slides or handouts, there are several other annoying speaker habits worth noting. At a lunch meeting today a woman making a brief announcement was playing with a rubber band while speaking - I'm not even sure she realized she was doing it - but it was being stretched and twisted between her hands while she was talking. Other annoying habits are speakers who click their pens or jingle keys/coins in their pockets while they're talking. Or those who refuse to use a microphone even if there is one ready for them as they announce they're "sure" everyone can hear them.

Distracting noises and actions can distract the audience. I wonder if their friends or hosts at meetings mention it to them?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Did you really want the world to read your Twitter post?

A studio art major (student) at Mount Holyoke College created a display using thousands of images taken from Facebook. It's controversial. Some find it embarrassing, and negative/upset about public display - of their publicly displayed photos. The artist's point: That's the point.

If someone took your online (publicly displayed) Twitter posts or Facebook images and put them on a display, would it cause embarrassment? But they're already publicly displayed.

In thinking about association executives ... and recognizing the world really does know how to Google a name ...

1. Are you publicly posting material you'd be OK if your spouse or kids read?
2. Are you publicly posting material you'd be OK with your kids' teachers or your association president reading/seeing?
3. Will your current employer or next employer find it charming and fascinating, or offensive and immature?
4. Will associations accept "anything goes" or is there still anticipation of any sort of public professionalism?
5. Of course teenagers and college kids test boundaries, they always have. But adults want to "party" in public display now too? While using dues funds? Yikes.

Everyone does know that public means public, right?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Association launches social media campaign

My association has launched its comprehensive social media campaign "Your Piece of Maine", to start the conversation about buying a home in Maine. It has many parts -- a commercial airing on cable television (and that video clip can also be used other ways/places), print ads, a Facebook group, LinkedIn group, blog, extensive email campaign (with many partner organizations), palm card distribution at numerous events, and a YouTube contest asking the Maine public to post videos about their "piece of Maine". Grand prize for the contest is $20,000 - with 10 other cash prizes.

To give you an idea how well this works (and only 3 days into it):

1. Lead story on state television stations (they also posted on web);
2. Analytics show that Facebook third largest referral to our contest site;
3. Numerous in-state bloggers agreed to blog about it (and are);
4. Print media publishing stories about it;
5. Members posting video clip (commercial), links to the contest site on their company sites ...

Much more ahead, and really creative things rolling out during next 7 weeks. Such as the "back stories" on everyone in our commercial and ads, including the baby (which appears in a commercial we haven't posted yet) and the dog. For the contest, we also have "celebrity" judges tied to our "under 35" demographic -- and anticipate more interest as those announced at later time.

The other huge benefit is the opportunity to discuss social media with the membership in a way connected to their business (not just forum for them to talk with each other) -- those who already know how to use social media instantly knew what to do to help us. Others who have never thought about adding video to their site, or building social/professional networks online are learning how to do it as they learn about our campaign. So during these 7 weeks adding additional member education on "how to do a YouTube video", "what's Facebook", "how to podcast", etc. And our association will further use these tools for legislative purposes in the future as well ... Stay tuned ...

Monday, April 14, 2008

I can't take it anymore!

At a parent discussion at a college orientation today, the woman in charge of student housing said one of 2 big issues in dorm life is communications. Some students don't communicate concerns when a problem starts because they "just want to get along" or hope it blows over and it doesn't ... until one day months later exclaim "I can't take it anymore!" ... when at the point don't want one more day with the roommate or in the dorm. The solution: discuss the need to have open and continuous communication, or even bring in a mediator if necessary to help frame the dialogue; but don't bury unhappiness until the day "you can't take it anymore".

This happens in associations too. With employees, or officer(s) towards the CEO. Something that builds over time that isn't discussed but seriously bothers someone will erupt, then it's too late. Because "can't take it anymore". And a problem that could have been easily solved early ends up escalating ... sometimes all the way to a departure. The solution: have continuous communications.

Apparently the other significant dorm life issue is if visitors/guests can spend the night. That doesn't really come up in associations. Well, maybe it does. Don't share rooms.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Flight Delays - Consider the Day Pass

Parade magazine's "Travel Smart" column suggests heading to the in-airport hotel gyms when experiencing lengthy flight delays. Meaning, no shuttle bus to get there. Here's 4 day-pass specifics:

1. Chicago O'Hare Hilton - $11 - fitness center, pool, sauna
2. Westin Detroit Airport - $15 - fitness center
3. Las Vegas Airport "Fitness Branch" - $10 - fitness center, sauna
4. Hilton Boston Logan Airport - $10 - fitness center, lap pool, sauna, steam room

There are definitely 2 approaches to business travel - the route that always results in weight gain, or the route that tries to minimize it.

I'd love to say that I actually go to a gym anywhere, but ... instead always pack at least a day of work with me for when I get stuck at airports. Actually, quick manicure and pedicure places cropping up at many airports too.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Increasing online survey response

This post from Mike Mason may explain the increased difficulty in getting online survey responses ...

1. Too many of them, from too many organizations;

2. Don't know how many questions up front, so end up frustrated, and stop. And then assume the next survey has pages of questions too.

Due to technology, I believe there's a significant third reason:
3. Many are reading email (i.e., survey email) on a cell phone/blackberry, and never go back to the survey on a computer.

Two things I'm going to try:

1. Always give the number of questions in the survey up front;

2. Sign-up for the new
Zoomerang mobile option so possible to respond by mobile. [Note: Zoomerang is the online survey software I use - there are others.]

Hmm .... What else would work?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Room Service - don't mess with my french toast

Sue Pelletier blogs about room service menus, and references a post with new ideas for room service and menus. Ideas include putting the room service menu on television instead of paper, changing the food quarterly, including pictures of the food, customer ratings about room service, or menus signed by the chef for VIP guests.

My thoughts:

1. Putting it on television would work if the TV actually worked. The number of times there is some problem with the televison itself or the in-house menu system at hotels makes me believe paper room service menus are here to stay. Plus, I'd go crazy hitting all those buttons to place a room service order on TV.

2. Why would the food need to change quarterly? I can't tell you a thing about what I ate at any restaurant anywhere in the world (other than bananas foster at Brennan's in New Orleans), but I absolutely remember the room service many places. I L-O-V-E the Marriott crunchy french toast (made with corned flakes), and would grieve if I didn't find it at the next Marriott or the next quarter. If you've never tried it, trust me on this one. One of my past presidents (Gail) told me to try it long before I did. Although I believe there's a 0% chance it should be on the healthy menu as it's too good to be truly healthy.

3. Pictures of food? Imagine if what is served doesn't look identical to what's in the picture. Might create problems. I did once take a picture of the room service breakfast at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami because it was truly beautiful. And yes, that's a sign of spending too much time in hotel rooms.

4. Customer ratings for room service would be interesting. But could harm sales.

5. Anytime I see writing on a menu I just assume it's the prior guest who couldn't find other paper to write on. What would a guest do with a signed menu? Is that something for a file, a wall, a gift ... I'm not completely understanding the audience for that. Although if whoever came up with that Marriott french toast wants to send me a signed menu I'd probably like it.

6. A change I'd like: Being able to request room service while I'm standing around waiting to check in.

What would you change about room service menus or options?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Recommendations: more awkward social media moments

Today I had a request from someone to provide a recommendation on LinkedIn. For those not familiar, it's a professional networking site where you note your "connections". And can provide recommendations, if wanted. I was uncomfortable saying yes because of our positions with each other, so explained my no - but found it hugely awkward - and wonder if there is much more of this ahead?

In an online world of ratings, will we be expected to rate and/or recommend each other? And how serious will recommendations be for those who are absolutely outstanding if we routinely hand out our recommendations like candy? Are you going to recommend everyone so as not to offend anyone?

If you're willing to write an employment recommendation in letter form; what are your thoughts about telling the world that opinion online? Might be expected by those who ask. Future employers might believe you. And a Google search on your name might just bring up the recommendation you gave.

I probably contract with 50 speakers a year, and routinely use various vendors/consultants for a wide variety of projects. The ones I absolutely love I tell everyone in the world about - and no one needs to ask. Every once in awhile someone I hardly know will ask me for a quote for their marketing materials, site or a letter for their mailings (versus just putting me on a client list), and I say no. It's horrifically awkward to say no. Can't a recommendation be most valuable to those who really, really, really earn it for being extraordinary if it's not just constantly given?

And then there's online self-raters, or rate their friends all the time raters. Deeply into self promotion, which fascinates me ("Wow - I was extra great today" or "If you missed this great thing someone said about me, here it is"). Think that's here to stay too?

Another favorite: People who don't know they're officially in or out of a relationship until it's confirmed on Facebook. Or worse, they're asked, and have to report one way or the other on the STATUS of their relationship. Like LinkedIn recommendation requests. You may only think you're in love. And you have to publicly announce it if you are. Or reject them. Ouch.

Online professional ratings needs to be taken seriously, don't they?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

You're trying to get my attention?

I admit it, if someone wants to hand me a free pen, highlighter or other give-away with their name/company on it, I'll likely take it and use it. But it's surprising the frequency of really bad quality. Recently got a mug that had the company design fade off after 2 rounds in the dishwasher. Routinely get pens with bad ink quality or that don't last long.

Is that how the vendors/companies wanted to get my attention?

Today my local chamber dropped by with a bag full of "appreciation gifts" from local businesses (picture). I got an assortment pens (that were hopefully TESTED to be sure they write first), a pencil (does anyone use those anymore?), two brushes (I think for my computer screen?), eye glass cleaner (can't have enough of those), a ruler-shaped calendar with adhesive on the back (to put where, I don't know), a plastic keychain that only had a company name on it (not even a cool design - only a white oval), seeds for flowers ("green" option - will plant), and a jar opener from a funeral home (for some reason I thought that sort of creepy.)

These are other recent appreciation gifts:
1. Hotels frequently drop off fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies;
2. Ice cream truck pulled up with free ice cream (another hotel);
3. Tulips in a pot from a hotel where just had meeting (that I liked);
4. Fleece vest with name of a board I serve on (very high quality).

Sometimes tins of things (like popcorn and cookies) are really stale. Maybe purchased in bulk. Wonder if the giver thought to open one of them up and try it?

However, there's a saying "vendor gifts come with a price" when it comes to gifts of notable value ... It's generally a good idea to have a policy on whether or not officers or employees can accept anything of particular value (say more than $50-$100) from a vendor. It's one thing to get attention with poor-quality give-aways or high-quality (but low cost) give-aways ... another when trips or items of more than limited value are given to "get your attention".

Any unique appreciation gifts you've received?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Keeping you in the game longer ...

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Love them. On Oprah today discussing their long tennis rivalry and friendship. Best quote: "We made each other better. And kept each other in the game longer."

Exactly. Everyone needs to find the colleague who will challenge you, improve your skills, and keep you in the game longer.

And this is what a lifetime of exercise looks like too ....

Monday, April 7, 2008

Taking Electronics to Bed

This quote in Elle magazine from Madonna (about bedtime with husband):

"We lie right next to each other with our BlackBerrys under our pillows. It's not unromantic, it's practical. I'm sure loads of couples have their BlackBerrys in bed with them. I often wake up in the middle of the night and remember that I've forgotten something, so I jump up and make notes."

OK, I'm speechless. Is the thought if you shrink the technology enough, then it's fine anywhere? Or do many have paper by their bed anyway in case think of something at night, and this is just making another paper process electronic?

BUT ... if you never put your laptop in bed with you, is it now "normal" to put a BlackBerry under a pillow? At association offices, if policies you can't spend much of the day with personal visitors or making personal calls from the office, does smaller technology make it okay to Twitter and text with personal friends throughout the business day? In thinking about productivity and constant/immediate access, it's really difficult to tell what's efficient and what's a drain .

Sunday, April 6, 2008

"Volunteering: It doesn't pay"

My son looking at t-shirts online, but this one I noticed: "Volunteering: It doesn't pay." Site describes the shirt: "Not only is this shirt funny, but it's also factually correct. Volunteering, by definition, does not pay."

My first thought on why it's on a t-shirt could be the fact so many schools REQUIRE volunteerism now. I wonder if long-term it will create new/better volunteers, or give the impression it's something that has to be required? Other thought was potential that as teens head towards college they may have desire for unpaid interships or volunteering, only to hear parents say "you need to find something that pays."

In any event, not exactly a positive message. But appears to be selling.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The 2-minutes mission statement

My daughter is convinced her brother (age 15) needs a personal mission statement. This is how long it took:

Daughter: You need a mission statement
Son: (Rather than instantly saying no to everything) - OK
Daughter: Who's your favorite athlete?
Son: Walter Payton
Daughter: (googles Walter Payton quotes) - Here's one: "I want to be remembered as the guy who gave his all anytime he was on the field."

And that was that. The 2 minutes mission statement. And like Walter Payton, that mission statement could likely stand the test of time.

Will you be remembered as the guy who gave his all anytime he was on the field? [Side note: why do high school kids know about mission statements?]

Friday, April 4, 2008

Practically speaking ...

Here's a few blog posts with practical tips for association management:

1. Human Resources - incorporating diversity of work habits; presentation approach to interviews (Dave Patt)

2. Video - making effective 60-second "how to" videos (Mission to Learn blog)

3. PR / Membership - connecting with the trade press; the "We Miss You" membership letter (Association Inc. blog)

4. Gen Y - interactive content and pictures with statistical data (Acronym blog)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

We're just like supermodels, right?

Was watching "Make Me a Supermodel" and thinking it's possible there's no career further from the requirements of being an association executive, until they reviewed important characteristics ...

Willing to drop everything at a moment's notice to head to an important assignment
Take care of yourself

.... [Didn't mention the looks part.] An interesting aspect of the show is constant challenge each week to adapt to different assignments, even those way out of their comfort zone, and prove their improvement. Sound familiar?

Tonight (the finale) the models had to go to different assignments where various organizations determined if they had the right "look" for whatever needed a model (runway, products, clothes, acting, print, etc.) ... And it made me entirely grateful that the model hired for our upcoming public ad campaign actually looks like "Maine" ... outdoorsy, natural, etc. (pic)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Angry eyebrows and other observations

A technician at a spa in Boston asked me in all seriousness if I've ever considered waxing/shaping my eyebrows. Said it would make them look "less angry". Now, I'm usually not one to analyze every word -- but less angry seems to say they'd still look angry. Why is it when something is brought to your attention it stays in your mind?

News from the NAR AE Institute:

1. Others blogged too - Dave Phillips on the Gateway; Ben Martin on his course slides/handouts; and Nick Kremydas posted 4 videos (under 1 minute each) with various conference speakers using a little flip camera - also includes link to the new Strategic Issues document. Dave combines (for now) his personal and association blogs. Nick has a great name for a real estate site - Dirt 31, noting it's his association's "unofficial official blog".

2. Announcements - Dave Phillips is the 2009 NAR AE Committee Vice Chairman; and 6 New Bud Smith AE Leadership Society Award recipients announced - Andrea Bushnell, Bob Hale, Bob Hamilton, Kathy Feldpausch, Jules Wade, and Tracy Huotari.

3. NAR is going to have a float in the next Rose Bowl parade.

More observations:

1. The day after any colleague retires there is this really healthy glow about them. I'm not sure any of us fully realize the physical impact of a stressful occupation. Definitely like seeing colleague can leave after several decades - by choice, with no regrets. A retirement event (pic) reminds we really develop very deep friendships in this profession - from all the years of sharing, travel and working together.

2. The person on stage is sometimes not the same person you have lunch with. A political commentator was really entertaining as a lunch speaker, but cranky and somewhat non-communicative at lunch. I realized this when saw people trying to talk with him when he came into in the room, so knew exactly which empty chair I didn't want filled. And he filled it. And I wasn't wrong.

3. Don't try to do a live auction during a huge cocktail party. Liquor and paying attention don't mix.

4. Remember the iPhone. Probably the most industry-wide embarrassing moment (in my opinion) was when the owner of a large company on one of the panels commented that many of us do not build our systems to work well with the iPhone.

5. PAC (political action committee) success is a culture, and staff plays a key role. One AE at the RPAC Major Donor reception mentioned she has a 700 member organization and 61 of them major donors last year (i.e., gave at least $1000); and another AE of a 6,000 (or so) association mentioned she was the only major donor. It takes real effort, and continuous effort to get volumes of givers. AE is the absolute key to success.

6. Is a way to solve the problem removing the one thing that everyone likes? A problem with a recognition pin was the (fake) diamonds so popular many would not want to move up to the next level -- so they took the (fake) diamonds off all the pins, and replaced it with text. Let's see how that works.

7. Events reachable without needing to board a shuttle bus a big plus.

8. The Question Box a good addition to the Town Hall Forum. For those who like to be anonymous or who don't like speaking into a microphone in front of 1300 peers, allowed option to drop a question into a box prior to the lunch, which was read onstage to national senior staff for response.

9. Aren't we friends on Facebook already? Yep, said that to someone I hadn't formally met until this conference.

10. Be ready and willing to change. Except eyebrows.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Signs of the times

Each session at the conference has a "5 minutes" and "10 minutes" sign so the course monitor can alert the speaker/panelists of remaining time. Seems much more effective to me than holding up fingers. And, if show to them in advance, lets speakers know you are serious about ending on time.