Thursday, December 29, 2011

5 Ways to End "Board Room Blahs"

Non-profit consultant Bob Harris has a great list of ways to end "Board Room Blahs." Here are 5 of my favorites:

"1. Put a 'Mega Issue' on every agenda. Spotlight one item that will make a difference and deserves more time and attention. Call it the mega or spotlight issue so board members are eager to get through the reports and to the more meaningful project. [Note from Cindy: I would likely only include a spotlight issue on 1-2 agendas per year instead of every agenda - as I find it's difficult to have time for additional discussions on every agenda.]

2. Save time. Use a consent agenda to reduce reports by distributing them in advance and asking for one motion to accept the consent items.

3. Stay focused. Keep a copy of the strategic plan on the Board table. Better yet, laminate a copy that directors know will be a resource at the meeting.

4. Consistent messaging. Take 5 minutes at the end of the meeting to decide on the main message that directors should communicate to members. Create an executive summary or 'One Voice' and distribute to directors so they deliver consistent messages after each meeting.

5. Assess meeting effectiveness. Use the back of the agenda for 1 or 2 questions to ask before the meeting adjourns: a) Did the meeting advance the mission and serve the members; b) What can we do to improve our next board meeting?"

A complete list of (free) resources and templates for Boards of Directors can be found at this link.

Note: Bob Harris, CAE, offers free governance and management samples at Bob notes ideas in the "Board Room Blahs" are compiled from "experience and colleagues on ASAE's listservs."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The problems with phone call updates ...

Today someone relayed a desire to set up weekly PHONE CALLS to review the status of a problem project. What I don't like about phone call updates:

1. There's no documentation about the status, absent sending an email AFTER the call saying "this is to confirm the current status of the project discussed on the call dated (insert date)" along with details of what was agreed to. There are occasions people want to do a phone call on purpose: to avoid being documented. A problem later or any misunderstanding from the call turns into a "he said, she said" if not documented. It is, however, a plus to have an OPTION to talk separately for any clarification when something genuinely cannot be understood otherwise.

2. Can a "team" of people really commit to the same day and time weekly? My experience with any regularly scheduled phone meeting is "some" show up and most have conflicts - so the "team" on the call ends up being something smaller than the team. With all the document management options now - which are especially useful for status updates - there should be no need for weekly phone calls for status reports. If any status is available in less than a week, isn't it better to report when known versus a future scheduled time?

3. The pleasantries that end up taking so much time. This week, two vendors I never met started the phone conversation asking about how my holidays were. "Nice" and "good" resulted in follow up questions, "did you do anything special?" etc. Those holiday quizzes are, however, a break from always being asked about the weather at the start of a call (my ultimate pet peeve for conference calls.) Is it more of a courtesy to establish a bonding ritual on topics of no consequence or better to just cut to the chase and discuss the issues that are the real purpose of the call?

4. Personal preference for communications. People have definite personal preferences for how they want communications - and often those who prefer one type (phone calls versus email, for example) can be annoyed by another type. For example, if you get a phone call, but prefer to answer by email (absent the person giving you email as a way to respond in the voice mail). Or if you send an email, and the person prefers to responds with a phone call. Where should the courtesy be if each prefers a separate method?

Regularly scheduled updates are important. How you manage and participate in them is important too.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Meeting Frequency: How much time to allocate

One of my early association presidents assigned a 2-day time period to a project that would likely take other associations a year or more to resolve; and it really was accomplished in two days. Her theory: "Groups always take the amount of time you give them. If you say they have a year, they take a year. If you say they have a day, they take a day."

Time and time again I find the time it takes to reach an outcome really is set by the leader or by the association. When I facilitate planning meetings for other associations it's often shocking to me how many still have monthly committee meetings - and it really does take all year to get something finished. One small association had 10 committees that met monthly - that's 120 meetings of committees alone. Staff had no time to do anything but attend meetings and plan for the next ones.

Urging a committee-intense association to try to set shorter time periods for any given association project can be a surprisingly difficult step for many associations to take - either they just don't believe that there is the potential to move forward quickly or they believe that committee members genuinely want (or need) to meet every month and they'll feel less invested without live "progress" meetings.

Tip for the New Year: If you have ANY committee that meets monthly, try to see if two meetings would be better. If it's not, you can always go back. If it is better, that's a lot of unnecessary meeting and volunteer time you have saved - that could be spent implementing instead.

Groups always take the amount of time you give them.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Association staff competition: Gingerbread Houses

The DC office of our national association recently held a staff competition for gingerbread house design. This is actually a fun idea that could be scaled to even a small office with a few employees, multiple associations in different states, or even a member competition.

Here's how it works:

1. They purchased pre-built gingerbread houses at a local grocery store ($15 each) - which standardized the main structure; and provided "basics" such as gum drops, little candy canes, frosting, sprinkles. Could buy more materials or add on to the structure, but core had to be the gingerbread house.

2. Time period to complete was 4 days;

3. No theme - but all did use a real estate or association focus anyway;

4. Everyone on staff could vote (they used paper ballots and one ballot box);

5. Prize was a pizza party for the winning division - but since everyone in DC is naturally over-competitive by nature winning was most important;

A video holiday greeting card was created which encompassed all the gingerbread houses and sent to all staff.

Additional thoughts:

1. The winning gingerbread house (of the US Capitol) used cardboard, frosting sheets, edible markers for the rest of the structure. Since I really don't cook or do crafts, I didn't even know that there were such things as frosting sheets and edible markers!

2. I would likely to do two awards/prizes if not all in the same building/same organization - one with judges; and another that was a popularity contest (where getting votes was really encouraged). Popularity votes could be online or even cash donations counting as votes that could go to a charitable cause.

3. Depending on sizes of divisions, it's possible in both the design and voting that the largest could get some degree of an edge - although a single artistic person could always wow everyone even if no one else assisted;

4. I believe a theme would make it easier to judge - and would include that;

5. For competitions that aren't all in the same building - I believe it would be possible to have multiple people in various towns/states order the same house online; and (not to be a Debbie Downer but to recognize various resources to participate) it might also make sense to have a limit on how much can be spent on supplies - or limit it to certain supplies that can be used.

I thought the creation of a holiday video card that captured all of the houses and spirit at the end was a real bonus and way to keep the recognition of the effort. Here's a runner-up gingerbread house:

Special thanks to Megan Booth and Claire McDonough for the pictures and details

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

4 words to add to your member communications

Recently a member began dictating what she thought needed to be included in a communication to a member who has expressed unhappiness to other members about a change, without having ever contacted staff to just get the correct info directly.

The member relayed, "Aside from what she says are the questions, I believe what she really needs to hear from the association is this: 'We're here for you.' "

Maybe those four words really are the assurance that members need in these tough economic and challenging times. Add it to your communications: We're here for you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

7 association management techniques that come from having a teenager

I think those who start in association management after their kids pass the teenage years have the added bonus of the wisdom that comes from that parenting. Here are 7 association management techniques that come from having a teenager ...

1. Trust, but verify: I'm sure everything you hear from your teenager, your members, your staff and your vendors is true. But it's worth verifying from time to time. If a staff person says something can't be done it sometimes makes sense to ask a lot more questions as to why they're certain of that. Sometimes the question just hasn't been asked to the right person or the answer evolved over time but the information never filtered to them.

2. What works for one may not work for the other: If you have two teenagers you may find what motivates one wouldn't motivate the other, or what rewards one would not reward the other. Often with volunteers and staff we may do the exact same things to reward or motivate two very different people. Before giving every volunteer the same plaque, find out first if they even want a plaque. Ask a leader the simple question about what they want to accomplish before thinking you have that answer only in your strategic plan or past experience.

3. It's really not okay to break the rules: Sometimes I read association blogs and they suggest breaking the rules or operate in an association world with no rules - so I assume they don't manage associations. OK, everyone has read "Lord of the Flies" - it doesn't work. If you want to test the rules, then be prepared for the penalties for doing that. If you don't like the rules, then change the rules.

4. Get a tutor when you need one: It's widely realized that sometimes if there's an area where your need teenager needs help, you find a tutor. I believe you should hire a tutor your entire life. If there's something you don't understand, then find someone to teach you. I had an employee lacking experience with accounting - so I suggested signing up for an accounting class. He wasn't interested. Sometimes if you don't get the tutor you're really never going to fully learn or understand important aspects of association management.

5. Find the convincing argument: Teenagers try to master the art of the convincing argument - who's the best person to ask, what's the key thing to say that might work, if you get a no, what's the next approach. Association management is so much easier with those same practices - who's the best person to ask someone if they'd like to be a future officer (note: It may not be the chairman of your Nominating Committee), what are the points that matter to the person you're asking (versus the points that matter to you), if you get a no, then what's the next approach. Each situation should be considered unique and the elements of the convincing argument should be applied.

6. If they miss one deadline, they will miss others: If there's a deadline and it doesn't matter, then you don't have deadlines. Hopefully by high school the concept of deadlines is being constantly reinforced. I have found throughout my career that those who miss a deadline are going to do it again. There was a vendor who promised a proposal by a particular date - four weeks and multiple excuses later, still no proposal. Did I know after the first date went by that there was no reason whatsoever to trust the next deadline? Absolutely.

7. Shower the people you love with love: It's worthwhile to treat everyday accomplishments as accomplishments. Getting an A on a paper, looking adorable or doing something good are worth recognizing regardless of the age of a kid. Same is true with volunteers, officers and staff - if someone writes a great newsletter article, did a wonderful radio interview, ran a great meeting, secured a sponsor - tell them! When someone does something great, and even good, show them the love.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Desktop Plaque

If you're looking for an alternative to a wall plaque, consider a desk plaque. This one is a combination clock and plaque that can sit on a desk, table or shelf; and even looks nice folded shut. Cost about $150 (which includes the engraving.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Best travel shoes. Ever.

I have finally found the dream travel shoe: the Puma Zandy. Looks like a flat (and is) but it's really a sneaker. So comfortable, really easy to take on/off, and perfect for long treks (or even running) through an airport. Also easy to pack/carry around as they are so lightweight. I've also convinced myself the silver color matches everything. They also work as business casual.

Picture from Amazon site, where I ordered it ($55). I've also seen at Nordstrom.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fundraising: Golf Ball Drop - from a helicopter

To my horror an association we manage announced plans to add a golf ball drop – from a helicopter – into their golf tournament fundraising activities. I figured it was loaded with peril and would both begin and end with liability issues. But, it was successful. Here’s how it works:

1. Old golf balls are donated (preferably) or purchased. In this event, all the golf balls were donated from various golfer “shag bags” and then retained by the golf course;
2. A pilot donates use of a helicopter and flying services for the event;
3. Each golf ball has a number written in permanent magic marker on it;
4. Golf balls are sold one for one amount, or three for another amount;
5. The drop occurs after all players complete the course and turn in their score cards. A helicopter looms overhead and a person releases the golf balls from the air, using a burlap bag, onto an area of the course;
6. The drop area is not on a green, but rather in the upper portion of the 18th fairway. A flag stick is centered in a 15 ft diameter chalk circle. Spectators watch from a safe distance on the approach apron to the 18th green.
7. Whatever ball is closest to the flag stick wins a prize. Members are assigned as “judges” to determine which ball is closest.

Before okaying the activity, we checked with the insurance company of the association and found that no rider was needed for the event, and that it would be covered. We also confirmed with the golf course that they had coverage in the event there was damage to their building or to cars in the parking area should golf balls go awry. The pilot was asked to provide proof of insurance and indemnification for use of the helicopter during the event.

This was not the first time a golf ball drop had been used as a fundraising event at this particular golf course, including that particular pilot and helicopter, so they had little concern about it. They had a plan for how to clear the golf course of the dropped golf balls in a short period of time. In addition, the pilot had done this for other groups so he was experienced with the details.

A few things learned:

1. It was popular as it was unique;
2. They did not set a limit on golf balls that would be sold, and found they under-priced it, which resulted in both needing to aquire additional golf balls to drop and needing to do two trips because the helicopter couldn't accommodate so many with one trip;
3. There was a threat of weather conditions that would not have stopped golf play but could have stopped the helicopter. It’s important to note on the fundraising materials the alternative way a winner would be selected if the helicopter could not fly or weather conditions didn’t permit the helicopter to go out;
4. The volunteers added fun to the event – including the judges wearing choir robes to look like judges;
5. It got media attention, where many fundraising activities do not. They sought out the media.

Here's a YouTube video of this type event when conducted for an area hospital (i.e., this was not our event but will show you the details.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Expectations of Officer Positions

Association Executive David Patt recently blogged about an association that did not fill a vice president position each year because the bylaws required the position to plan the programs each year. Volunteers who would agree to be an officer did not want to agree to that additional task. He believed the bylaws needed to change. I agree. Bylaws should not give assignments other than authority and what the position by title would imply. Why would a vice president need to be “required” to plan programs each year?

There are associations that believe the best way to have a useful president elect/vice president or first vice president is to require them to do tasks. Why? One thought is that it familiarizes them with another aspect of the Board; another thought is that the “learning” year needs to have more to do. Some Nominating Committees either don’t know or never mention the “required” additional tasks that would not have been anticipated by an incoming officer candidate, so that person can be entirely surprised to find they have something they must do when moving into the position.

Many volunteers may absolutely dislike certain tasks – including raising sponsor funds or having to plan programs; and other volunteers genuinely enjoy those activities or find it’s where they can be really helpful. Requiring a reluctant officer to do a task that many others could easily do instead may be a bad move. It could make some volunteers not want to be an officer because they don’t want to do tasks that aren’t at all connected with the officer role; or it could doom the task to failure because someone who doesn’t want to do it or lacks the skills/interest to do it gets that assignment. If they do poorly at that task, will it be considered a sign of their potential talent as president?

If non-officer tasks are in your bylaws as position requirements, remove them. Find the right volunteer for the right association volunteer position task instead.

Separately, the same is true for organizations that require a member to be the elected Treasurer before moving into the vice president or president positions. Treasurer is a unique role that should require very specific financial expertise; and not be a “learning” position for those who may not have any financial background or interest. Associations (and especially the CEO) should not want someone unqualified as Treasurer. There may be many qualified people who would be interested in being Treasurer as long as they never need to move into the other officer positions. Let them do that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

40 Employee Perks, Morale Builders and Rewards

Association Executive Jim Haisler compiled this list of employee perks, morale builders and rewards from a bunch of colleagues. Thanks for all these ideas, Jim ... and also thanks to all who contributed to the list!

1) Holiday shopping day: Each staff person is assigned a day off in late November/early December to allow them to get their shopping done and reduce stress. They get paid but cannot switch the day assigned to them.

2) Changing hours: Have staff work 4 ten-hour days each week versus 5 eight-hour days. Staff saves money on gas and time on commuting as well as effectively getting an extra day off each week. (Or perhaps even four 9-hour days!)

3) Paid birthday day off: Give staff their birthday off, paid.

4) Rotate extra holidays: Rotate giving staff a day off on each of the holidays that the association is still open - Martin Luther King, Presidents Day, etc.

5) Gift card and/or reward points contest: Through the use of a contest or other means created by staff, distribute your credit card rewards points to staff for them to choose an item from the credit card prize catalog. This works with gift cards the Association might receive or earn as well. Or, if you have to, buy $25 gift cards toward local restaurant or retailer (e.g., gas card) and create a contest to help boost morale.

6) Summer "attitude adjustment" days: Give staff 2 half days off during the summer months for “attitude adjustment." Stipulate that an employee can’t use it in conjunction with other vacation time.

7) Buying club membership: Purchase a Costco or Sam’s Club membership for each staff person.

8) Health club membership: Purchase health club membership for staff. This encourages staff to be more healthy and health conscious. Consider, as well, letting staff leave two hours early twice a month so they can use the membership. Not only does this build goodwill with the staff but might reduce health insurance costs (check with your medical insurance provider.)

9) "Good Deed" drawing: When a staffer witnesses a "good deed" by another staffer they drop their name into a jar. "Good deeds" can be for members, other staffers or a specific job well done. No limit on the number of nominations. The more times your name is entered, the better chance you have for it being picked for a Friday afternoon off! You can offer one a month or as an add-on to those long holiday weekends. Peer recognition, motivating environment and a little fun and competition all in one!

10) March Madness Tournament: Have each staff person pick a team or even a whole conference in the March Madness tournament. The winning staff person gets a day off, pizzas delivered to their home, or some other prize.

11) Pot luck lunches: Once a month everyone brings in a dish from home to have for lunch.

12) Casual days/theme days: Once a month allow staff to “dress down”. Or have theme days such as all wearing sports jerseys, college sweatshirts, or a specific color. Be creative, but more importantly, let them decide. Don’t forget to play along with them!

13) Flex days: Extra paid days off.

14) Work from home days: If it fits into your Association, and it may not work for everyone, allow your staff to work from home a day a week or one day a month.

15) Staff outings: Take the staff our once or twice a year as a group. Close the office and bond. Competitions are excellent- like laser tag or billiards.

16) Lunch meetings: Hold your office staff meetings at lunchtime and order in lunch for them.

17) Birthday lunches: To celebrate staff birthdays, host a once-a-year birthday luncheon/pot luck lunch.

18) Swag birthday presents: Take the freebie items you get from ordering office supplies or even those you pick up at conventions, wrap them up and let staff pick from the pile on their birthday. It’s cheap and fun. You never know what you’re going to get.

19) Afternoon ice cream party: Once a month surprise your staff by buying them ice cream or some other special treat.

20) Reward cost saving ideas: Okay, so they didn't get a raise but would they like to earn a bonus? Ask your staff to come up with cost saving ideas and then reward them with a percentage of the money the Association saved in the first year. Maybe make it a moving scale. The more they save, the more they earn. Hey, it's free money!

21) Bad weather days: Have a rotating schedule for having the phones forwarded to one line that someone picks up. Remote access programs can allow you to access most programs at work from a home computer.

22) Post–it job description day: Employees write the duties of their job that they dislike doing on post-it notes and then exchange them with other staff who may actually like doing those things!

23) Community service project: Let each staff person choose a local charity/project that they want to support and then give them a day off to assist in that project. Better yet, close the office and everyone go do it together! Don’t forget to issue press releases that the Association does things for the community.

24) Weekly staff meetings to synchronize the team and each other’s calendars: Cut down on the impersonal email clutter we usually send this information out in.

25) Recognize staff tenure: Include it on their employee name badges or elsewhere. Promote the fact that you have long term staff.

26) Employee of the month: Reward staff by giving an employee of the month or other recognition. Offer an employee of the month parking space or longer lunch period (even for one day or one week, etc or give them a day off, etc.)

27) Allow staff to wear gym shoes in the office: Some Associations require that staff wear black gym shoes or at least ones that are clean and presentable.

28) Invite spouses to staff after-hours or staff events: Build camaraderie, friendship, and support among staff and their spouses. We spend a lot of time with these people; our significant others might like to get to meet/know the people we spend so much time with.

29) Institute a staff nap period: Have a quiet place where staff can slip away for 20-30 minutes to nap.

30) Offer an employer-funded “wellness reimbursement” plan: Reimburse your staff for personal expenses they incur for “wellness items” which might include exercise equipment for their home, gym memberships, work out videos, or whatever. Be sure your policy is very specific about what is included or excluded.

31) Provide healthy snacks in the office: Think about fresh fruit, vegetables, smoothie machine and ingredients.

32) Flexible spending medical accounts: Includes HSAs (health savings accounts) or reimbursement accounts.

33) Therapy: Hire a counseling service for staff (or even your members!)

34) Employee Night Out: Take staff out to dinner.

35) Strategic Planning participation: Invite all staff to you strategic planning session to help get them motivated to the ideas that will be presented to them anyway. Let them offer input and be inactive in the strategic plan discussions.

36) Make 'em laugh: Be goofy, be nutty, dance. As the AE, set the tone for an uplifting environment. If the day has been particularly stressful, walk out into the main office with your pants pulled up high or socks over your pants or some other goofy thing. Wear a silly hat or crown. Make them laugh!

37) Massage: Hire a massage therapist to come into the office once a month or give gift cards for staff to go see one on occasion.

38) Take a movie break: Run a movie in your training room for staff to go sit in and watch for two hours. Buy popcorn, etc. Or close the office for two hours and go to a local theater.

39) "Rock Star customer service": Place pebbles next to jars on each employees desk. When someone oberves or experiences good customer service from that staff, put a pebble in their jar.

40) Bad situation rewards: Recognize staff for handling a bad situation well. Buy a stack of gift cards and leave them on your desk to remind you to recognize someone for doing a good job.

Friday, December 9, 2011

8 Ways to Highlight your Association Mission Statement

The God of Governance, Bob Harris, includes these 8 ways to highlight your mission statement in his Coaching the Board President publication:

1. Printed on the back of name table tent cards.
2. On the back of staff business cards.
3. At the bottom or reverse side of meeting agendas.
4. Framed on the conference room wall.
5. Imprinted on coffee cups.
6. On the back of conference name badges.
7. In every newsletter.
8. On the cover of the leadership manual.

We once made the mistake of putting our mission statement on oval-shaped wood that ended up looking like a toilet seat cover on the wall. Don't do that.

If you've never checked out the staggering volume of free Bob Harris materials on his site, go there now! Huge volume of valuable information for associations.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Great Corporate Gift

A great corporate gift: A Pendleton blanket. Price range is about $190-$300, depending on what you order. It's a practical, usable and beautiful gift. I've received them twice, and love them.

Picture from Pendleton website

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fast fundraising: Heads or Tails

One of the associations we manage had an interesting, fast and easy fundraising activity at their recent holiday party: "Heads or Tails." Here's how it works:

Purpose: a charitable fundraiser

Prize: in this case, a "night out" basket - $100 gift certificate to local restaurant (donated), movie tickets (donated) and one-night stay at a local hotel (donated) ... but could be anything

Needed: A coin and a stack of plastic leis (purchased from local dollar store)


1. Attendees pay a fixed amount (like $5 or $10) to buy a lei (and that sentence alone makes some people buy) - and they can buy more than one. They wear them during the event so the number of people showing support is obvious.

2. Those with leis are asked to stand - and they put (and keep) their hand on either their HEAD or their TAIL. A coin is flipped. If it's HEADS, then those with tails must give up their lei and sit down. If it's TAILS, then those with heads must give up their lei and sit down. If they bought more than one, they can give up one lei and remain in the game.

3. Those remaining with leis again put their hand on either their HEAD or their TAIL - and a coin is flipped. Those who lose give up their lei and sit down.

4. This continues until there is only person left standing - who wins the prize.

Keep the leis to re-use at the next year's holiday party! Isn't that easy? They raised several hundred dollars for a local charity.

Monday, December 5, 2011

5 Ways to Work through your AE Burn-Out

After my first year of Association management, I came to the conclusion many others find as well in this profession: there is no end to the volume of work and no end to the volume of things there are to worry about. When asked how I've "avoided" burn-out, the simple answer is I didn't - I just learned how to work through it.

Here are 5 ways to work though Association Executive burn out ...

1. Change your approach: If you can't figure out how to manage your volume of projects, change your approach. A Senior VP at our National Association once told me everything changed when three days a week she spent the first hour organizing her work day - from home. Sometimes cutting out every distraction at the start of the day can make your day hugely more productive. Make four lists - a) the 3 things you want to do the least; b) the one thing that must get done, even if nothing else gets done; c) what no one will care about if it never gets done; and d) everything else. Do whatever part of the 3 things you don't want to do the most before you even leave your house - then you don't have to filled with dread the entire drive in to the office. And be sure the thing that must get done each day gets done. Sometimes I even time myself to see how many things on my list I can get done in an hour. Whatever isn't your typical approach - try that.

2. Do not give up the part of the job you actually love: There is surely at least one part of association management you love. Whatever that is, don't delegate it to someone else - even if the perception is that it's below your position title. Being happy doing something is good for your own professional happiness. I personally like writing the association newsletter so I do it. One bonus to being the CEO must be that you get to keep at least one part of the entire list of things there are to do that you personally enjoy. On the flip side, if there is a part of your job that you detest, are you really sure it can't be delegated or outsourced?

3. Add something life-changing to your life: If you have an insurmountable amount of new things in your work life, and can't think of the last time you added something new to your personal life - add something. Nine years ago, my new thing was a puppy - and he changed my life. Having no choice but to walk him during the day actually put me outside during the day, introduced me to my neighbors, and added a massive element of joy into my routine because dogs can't help but be joyous. And no, I didn't have time to have a dog. You might not have time to take kick-boxing, or ballet, or learn to paint, or finally volunteer for an organization whose issues you care about - but you may find that whatever you can carve an hour out of each day to do - or even an hour each week - or an hour each month could change your life. Don't let years go by without anything new in your life.

4. Come to peace with the fact there is evil in the world: I have seen colleagues just walk away from the profession because of the amount of energy (and grind) it takes to try to make everyone happy or to make that evil member grow to like the organization, or grow to like you. You cannot do association management and make everyone happy - it's just not possible. Some people are just evil and you may not have the power to change that. The sooner you can come to peace with it the easier it is to start the next day or start the next project. If a situation or person is draining the life out of you, call another association executive and you will get empathy and find you're not alone. None of us can avoid the bad and the evil, but if you can't move through it, you won't slow down your burn rate.

5. Feeling good and looking good: In the immortal words of Billy Crystal, portraying the eternally suntanned and well-dressed actor Ferndano Lamas, "it is better to look good than to feel good." Like the thought about changing your approach to your work day, if you just plain don't feel good then see if you can look good. Finding a way to distract yourself from feeling bad might make you feel better - like finding makeup to remove circles under your eyes or dying your hair to convince yourself you are not going gray with work. But of course it's crucial to feel good - and your burn out could actually be just feeling terrible for a health reason - maybe you need to give up gluten or are allergic to dairy or drink too much coffee. By having a complete physical, including checking for food allergies, you may find you can feel a lot better just by changing your diet.

It's possible to have a life, be super-charged productive at the office, and enjoy what you do. But it takes work. You will burn-out, and it's possible to get through it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Does your Association logo work with social media?

Many association logos were designed before social media, so there wasn't consideration as to what would happen to it when squeezed into a size smaller than a postage stamp. Look at your own association logo and how it appears on social media sites. Can you do better?

Here are 3 things to think about:

1. Are you unique? The logo my association has used for decades is a trademarked symbol that is also used by many thousands of others. So it would have been difficult to quickly distinguish us from other associations also using that logo if that showed up on News Feeds on Twitter, Facebook, or others.

2. Does it fit? Some logos are so large that posting it results in either getting a portion of the actual logo image, or the image is so tiny that it's impossible to see what the text or images are. It it doesn't fit, consider a change to your logo for your online presence.

3. Do you like it? In a sea of text on social media sites, how color and images are used in logos makes certain organizations stand out. As people quickly scan through hundreds or thousands of options of what to read, finding an apparent and recognizable logo might encourage them to stop and read - which is a big point of even doing social media.

If your logo is social media friendly it gives the impression that you might do the rest of social media right too. If you haven't thought about your logo's online image, check it out. Modify or change if you really do need to.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Meetings: How to Quiet a Room

I'm always amazed how people at a microphone don't know how to quiet the room.

What works best: Saying SHHHHHHHH (as if hushing a baby or quieting someone speaking too loud) into a microphone. Next best: hitting a knife against a glass to make a sound (like for a wedding toast). A gavel could also work but if the speaker is not chairing a meeting that sounds too harsh.

What never works (or takes forever to work): Saying over and over "Can I have everyone's attention, can I have everyone's attention" or "would everyone please take your seats, we're about to get started." Staring at the crowd waiting for them to naturally quiet doesn't work either.

Remember, to quiet a room, just say make the SHHHHH sound into the microphone. It works quickly.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Meetings: Giving Thanks

Many who plan meetings and functions all the time really can tell when the staff at any given facility are really exceptional at what they do. In a recent email to a banquet manager at a large convention hotel, I noted as an aside how I wished I had written down the names of two servers at a lunch function as I thought they were great. Well, she made sure to find out the names, then told their supervisor, the general manager and them. When the automated "rate your meeting" email arrived, it did make me think to mention them there too.

I could have easily forgotten about it, and would have missed an opportunity for staff to get the recognition they deserved. And I'm a staff person too, so know about the value of staff recognition. Even if it was for a 2 hour function.

It's so easy to take even 2 minutes after something good happens to say thanks; or to point out those who you may find are good at what they do.

Give thanks. And if you have the opportunity, tell their boss or organization too.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blog Action Day: Food and Association Management

Today is Blog Action Day where bloggers worldwide are blogging on the topic of FOOD.

Here are a few thoughts on FOOD related to Association Management:

1. Popularity: There are few things that conference and meeting attendees appreciate more than food. If you've tried to cut back on costs by downgrading or eliminating food, you may find more attendees comment on the missing food than they do on the course content. A colleague once said, "sometimes it's about the doughnuts" ... and she is right about that.

2. The noise factor: Don't order noisy foods during breaks with education programs. I made the carrot stick mistake once. It also applies to apples, potato chips and wrapped hard candies sitting on the desk.

3. Keep meticulous records of meal functions and snacks: Regardless of your guarantee, always be sure to count how many actually show up and eat at each function. It can help you plan and not over-order food in the future. Also pay attention to what they don't eat. Keep those records in one place to identify trends in counts and food.

4. Always ask for what you want: If you don't already know, you are often not limited to what is on the catering menus. If there is something you want for a group function that is not on the menu, ask the facility if they can get what you want. We've had everything from speciality salads, to specialty desserts, to lower priced options just by asking.

5. Give: If you have leftover food after any function, be sure it doesn't just get thrown out. Identify if there are local groups who can take donated foods, especially wrapped foods. You can also "give" by providing information about world concerns about famine, health and food - or set up a collection jar at an event geared towards a soup kitchen or food-related cause. Some organizations ask for a canned food for entry at a "free" program that they can then donate.

6. Changing times: Attendees are more health conscious than they used to be. Those who watch what they eat appreciate having healthy options, and you'll be doing your part for their health too. If you make an effort to have locally produced food at your conference/meeting and healthy choices - be sure to note it. Might inspire others to do it too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

5 Lessons from Wayne for Association Executives

As association executives, we're not supposed to openly have favorite members - but we do. Some make it impossible not to adore them because of their management style, commitment, hard-work, appreciation and just who they are. One of my favorites was Wayne Syphers ... who passed away a few months ago.

Here are 5 lessons from Wayne for Association Executives:

1. Anyone can carve out 5 minutes every day for those they love. Many in this profession spend so much time working it's sometimes easy to forget on a daily basis to allow yourself to love. At Wayne's funeral, his granddaughter noted that every day Wayne's son was in Afghanistan, Wayne wrote him a letter - even if it was for 5 minutes, and even if it was just to tell him that he loved him and to be safe. Do you do that? Wayne openly held hands with his wife after decades of marriage - and if you haven't held hands with someone in awhile, maybe try it. Share the love - every day.

2. Today is going to be a great day. Wayne often stopped by his grandchildren's house each morning before school, and often drove them to school. His granddaughter mentioned that he always reminded her as she got out of the car each morning that today is going to be a great day. Do you approach each day like that? If you overlook so many (or all) of the positives that happen each day, and really hone in on the negatives, there's a chance how you feel might be generated by you.

3. Deal with trouble-makers privately, directly and immediately. Before going into real estate, Wayne was a trooper who specialized in troubled juveniles. When he passed away, so many families posted on sites how much he changed their lives and the gratitude for how he helped their families. At an association meeting Wayne chaired, a member was extremely argumentative and over-bearing. Wayne turned to me and whispered, "not in my meeting." He made a business appointment immediately with that member, went to the person's office, and explained what behavior could and could not happen at his meeting and why. Many chairmen and association execs think there's no help for bad behavior and find it continues meeting after meeting -- but for those who know in their soul that making a personal commitment with one-on-one private communication and understanding -- It just might bring personal change. That argumentative member was a changed person at future meetings.

4. Don't underestimate the nicest person in the room - it's not a sign of weakness. If you ever met Wayne you'd note that he was such a genuinely nice man - full of kind words and heartfelt appreciation. Underestimate that nice meant weak at your own peril. A true legislative and regulatory force when action, hard work, and engaging grassroots troops were necessary and Mr. Nice could deliver. If the person chairing a battle makes you feel great about yourself while you're trying to win - you might just find you up your winning game. If every time a volunteer or staff person did something that made a difference, and they knew exactly who was going to acknowledge it (privately and publicly), there's a whole lot of loyalty being built.

5. None of us know what others are really going through with their health. Wayne had a series of very serious health issues - and his lack of grimness was evident - he was so grateful and so using of the health he had. My bad day may be inconsequential compared with someone else's bad day - if for no other reason but the gift of health. Celebrate the health you have.

As the Beatles sang, " ... and in the End, the love you take is equal to the love you make." And when Wayne Syphers landed on my career path, I really found that out. Consider his lessons.

Pictured: REALTOR Wayne Syphers and his wife Anne

Sunday, August 14, 2011

24 thoughts for Association Execs - picked up virtually from #ASAE11

Here's an assortment of tips and thoughts that I picked up on Twitter during the ASAE 2011 Conference ... that I did not attend in person. Note: Tried to credit the original person who posted a tweet or picture. Info in brackets is my additional comment.

3 New Words/Terms:
1. "Associationize" (@PBBsRealm)
2. "Procedural Justice" (@MDsnowpro)
3. "Sacred zombie cow" - project simply exists, consumes staff and resources, and far harder to kill than your average sacred cow (@MDsnowpro)

3 Banquet/Event Ideas:
1. Edible centerpiece: cake pops, cupcakes, chocolate covered pretzels (@markbledsoe)
2. Put lunch in a keepsake box [see pic] (@tfec)
3. Make your presenters marketers. Use them to promote event in advance. Give presenters incentives to promote. (@bkpitman)

8 Notable Thoughts:
1. Ethics: You need courage to address lapses in judgment (@GregWilsonCAE)
2. Mission Statement: If you can't fit it on a t-shirt, people are not going to remember it. (@ashleyhodak)
3. Board: Be consistent with your communication to your Board, it helps them to expect, understand and be engaged. (@bkpitman)
4. Board: If you want your board to be strategic and not operational, they need to meet less. (@ashleyhodak)
5. Board: A good board needs to be able to say no. (@healthywrtr)
6. Value: We create value in 3 ways for members - make them smarter, save them money, make life easier (@Lowellmatthew)
7. Change: No one was ever extraordinary by keeping things the same. (@hospicedave)
8. Change: The "leave no member behind" mentality is killing us. (@BillSheridan)

8 Technology/Social Media Tips:
1. Ask members to link back to your site to improve your linkability (help them if aren't sure how) (@ljunker)
2. Polls on your site can improve SEO because they are content that naturally evolves and changes (@ljunker)
3. Save your PowerPoint presentation as a PDF. (@adamsharkwebb)
4. Mobile friendly emails should be 1 column, no photos, stories short & sweet (@LaurenMangnall)
5. 64% of e-mails are opened on a smart phone so we must design e-marketing for them. (@marianazario) [Design e-newsletters anticipating smart phones too]
6. People will accept bad video but not bad audio. (@prbrian)
7. Poll Everywhere provides real time audience response system. (@gfinecae)
8. Member outreach - send onesie with association logo to members with new baby - have them send pic back for association Facebook page (@Lowellmatthew)

2 Fundraising Ideas:
1. Add “donate” button or “donor wall” to website (@DrakeCo)
2. Share and win campaign. Have them share on social networks and offer a prize drawing. (@bkpitman)

Thanks to all who tweeted meaningful content this year!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Business Travel: Hotel Room Safety Tips

In the August 2011 Marie Claire magazine, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews includes these safety tips for protecting yourself, and your privacy, in hotels:

1. If the clerk says your hotel room number out loud, and others hear it, ask for another room;

2. If you get a room with an adjoining room, prop a card against it so you can tell if it's been opened;

3. Cover your hotel room's peephole with a Band-Aid;

4. Put up the "Do Not Disturb" sign - no one needs to be in your room. If you need towels, call and ask for them.

Additional tips from me: Don't accept a room on a ground floor with an easy window, balcony or sliding doors to parking areas; exit an elevator if you ever have a concern when anyone is entering; and book a room for 2 even if traveling alone.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Social media behavior is just like my local dog park

Behaviors around my local dog park remind me of associations and social media:

1. It's new to someone. Dog parks are not a new thing, until it's new to you or new to someone else. Find out how it works. One woman tried to claim an entire caged area for just her and her dog, like signing out a racquetball court. Associations and members constantly arrive into social media and can't quite figure out what it means or how it works. There's a lot to learn. You're going to be surrounded by people who need to learn - no matter how long social media has been around and no matter how many already use it.

2. If your social temperament is bad, consider the impact. A dog park is a great place to teach socialization, the same way social media can teach socialization. But gee, you bring a dog with a negative temperament into the mix and it actually creates a negative environment that feeds more negativity among the other dogs.

What I believe creates the biggest turn-off for many considering adopting social media: they just don't like it when they get there, so they stay away. People have enough conflict in their own associations and in their own businesses without needing more sources for conflict.

Last year someone posted a lengthy rant about an association conference; and stated it was in the spirit of caring. That's the same as the owner of the boxer with the bared teeth lunging and growling at my terrier saying, "he really loves other dogs, this is how he expresses it." OK, it's sure not what it looks like it. Intention doesn't trump perception. Those in dog parks and social media need to be mindful that there are playful ways to play and bared teeth/growling ways to play. Start barking and watch the other dogs bark. What if the ones you want to listen can't stand the growling so they will never interact with you?

3. People don't read. What's that 75 pound dog doing in the small dog section? The owner didn't read. Even with one sign directly in front of someone in big letters it's still possible to miss it. With the enormous volume of words in social media a fraction of what any of us put out there is going to actually make it to our audience. If someone has 2,000 friends on Facebook or Twitter the chances they'll see your update actually depends on things as random as if they just happened to tune in around the time you posted it or if they are experienced enough to know how to filter to include you. Where associations were once able to be expressed in media that was exclusively ours (magazines, etc.) - now we're a sentence (status and/or tweet) competing to be read among thousands of other sentences.

4. If you have a problem, address it directly with the owner or make a call. When there's a nuisance dog, the first step is not to take a picture of the dog, the owner, drive home and then call out the owner by name on a blog detailing everything. The dog park sign says it right: if you have a problem, the first step is to talk directly to your "offender" or call the place where it can get corrected. Somewhere along the path in social media people start to consider skipping the steps of professional and personal courtesies. A legend in the association world once said, "just because you can doesn't mean you should."

5. Enter and play at your own risk. Do you increase the opportunity for a legal problem or attack by entering the park - or by doing social media? Absolutely. If I drop my 14 pound terrier in front of a Pit Bull is there more risk than just playing safely in the living room? You absolutely, positively cannot shield yourself or your association to the damage others can cause because you're in the space or anytime you post anything. Does the park give him enriched interactions and relationships - absolutely. You can play wisely - but don't enter without knowing that there is inherently more to watch out for.

6. Keep it clean.

7. Just one more type of community. What brings the entire dog park community together is we love our dogs. They may be 12 year old beagles, 4 month old German Shepards, rescue dogs, pure breeds, scared or hyper ... but they've been brought together to experience together. Social media is one more type of community; while dogs instinctively know how to say hello, we might need to be trained.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Working from Home - Is it for You?

Guest post by Marcia Bartol, EO, Greater Bangor Association of REALTORS®

More than ever, many employers and employees are considering the pros and cons of working from home.

The greatest advantage to the employer is that there is no overhead such as mortgage or rent, heat, electricity and other costs associated with maintaining or renting space. But the advantages/disadvantages of an employee working from home also must be considered, so I’ve put together some things to think about, from the perspective of a work-from-home association executive:

Outside interruptions. Working at home often means outside interruptions. Visitors will stop in for coffee, family members may need my help with something … others don’t often think of you as being “at work”. (My favorite thing is the business call I’m on that sounds “less than professional” when the dog starts barking at a squirrel he sees in the backyard.) Be firm with your friends and family from the beginning. Let them know that you are typically on the job during regular office hours.

Conference/meeting space. Not having a large office with a conference room where meetings are held means your files are not readily available at such meetings. I often bring my laptop so I can provide answers to questions regarding budget, bylaws, membership numbers ... Also, keep in mind you’ll have to “pack up” for membership meetings and education events – bringing the banner, flags, gavel, cash bag, handouts, and any other items of interest to the general membership. Make yourself a list of “must-haves” and put everything in one tote that’s ready to go when you need it. When you need space for small events or conferences, call on your affiliates – they are usually more than willing to help out.

Office space. If your home doesn’t have a designated office, you will need to convert an extra room. In my case, my workspace is in the same room as my “home office” – where I pay bills and have my desktop computer and personal files. I have an L-shaped desk, so I try to keep association business on one side and personal business on the other. I have file cabinets, but when those are full, I have to box up files that have to be kept. Trying to find space for those boxes can be a challenge, so plan ahead. A bonus to this inconvenience, however, comes at tax time. Check with your tax accountant about taking a home office deduction of a percentage of your utilities, property taxes, and insurance.

Personal space. An employee who works from home needs to remember that he/she is entitled to personal space. Avoid giving out your physical address. I often get calls from people who want to drop something off. I tell them that we don’t have a physical office and to just put it in the mail that day... sometimes if they’re really persistent I tell them that I have to be somewhere and can meet them nearby.

Separate work and personal time. I’m a salaried employee, so I don’t punch a time clock. My laptop Inbox is open all day every day – including weekends – and it’s very difficult for me to keep business hours. If I see an email where a member needs help with something, I’ll do it at 10:00 at night or on a Sunday morning. And if I take time off, I’m really not good at removing myself completely. If you work at home, you really should strive to separate your work hours and personal hours. Remember, this is your job, not your life.

Working at home can be very beneficial – not having to shovel out immediately after a snowstorm so you can get to work, flexibility to make appointments and attend your children’s activities, not spreading germs when you’re coughing and sneezing, but still feel well enough to work – but it’s not for everyone. Be sure to consider all aspects before you make what can be a life-changing decision that affects your entire household.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Meetings: On Time Prize Drawings

Need a new way to get the class to arrive on time and to return to class promptly after a break or lunch? Try an "on time" prize drawing.

At a conference this week, there were "on time" prizes drawn at the start of the day and at the announced time after the breaks. The prize drawings start promptly at the program's start time, and includes 3-4 gift cards.

Each member of the host committee has their own organizaiton donate prizes, or solicits gift cards in the $25-$50 range. At the drawing before I spoke were a $25 gift card to Publix, Applebees and Amazon; and $50 in cash.

I may try it with an "early bird" drawing to reward those who arrive at least 5 minutes before class ...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dear Comma

Just received a "personalized" email that totally left out my name. It starts:

Dear ,

I like personalization, but not forced personalization - where it's clear a name was just inserted electronically from a roster. It has the potential to really highlight how impersonal it is as well.

The formal name when you're not called that: Any email that starts "Dear Cynthia," is either from my dad or someone who doesn't know me at all or they'd use Cindy.

The address that guesses if you're Ms. or Mrs.: Dear Mrs. Butts. I assume they really meant to reach my mother-in-law.

Or just leaving the name out entirely: Dear [blank],

Before you personalize, decide if it's personal. And if you're doing it electronically, consider the potential that if the first part screws up what impact the rest of the email might have.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Must have a sense of urgency

A recent job opening at a national association included this "necessary" characteristic for the position in the advertisement: Must have a sense of urgency.

I believe that really is the single characteristic that can define if someone is able to excel at association management or not. For example:

1. If a member has a request, do you want to answer it right away?
2. If a board makes a decision, how long do you want to take to start implementing?
3. If you're given a project, do you start to plan how it can have big results, not just watch what happens?
4. If a trend or threat is happening in your industry, what timeline marks when you start educating the membership about it and you start to genuinely think about what to do?

I know the person who placed the ad and called to ask about why he included that characteristic. He relayed his background was in fast food management and even with employees at that level, a sense of urgency is what made the difference to performance and results; along with a huge difference to the customer experience.

There are association executives who just do their jobs - and there are others who are always focused on results - immediate results. If given a project those with urgency want it to be finished, they want it to be great, and they want it to have results. A list of things to do is a burden to those with a sense of urgency from the standpoint that an urgent employee would like to have them all done. Being able to send someone what they want within seconds or minutes of their requests is considered standard personal preference for responding if you have a sense of urgency, even if the caller doesn't convey that.

Those without a sense of urgency might start a project but they either never create the focus or lose focus on having it achieve either immediate results or big results; they do the minimal amount of effort and consider starting something to actually be a result; or they totally let something fade away and only plan to look at it again if someone notices it's not done.

Those with a sense of urgency will know what that means. It's a great way to describe what it really takes to be not just an effective, but an excellent association executive.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

3 Ways to Run a Bad Webinar for Feedback

3 insights from a vendor's user group webinar billed as "looking for feedback" about their product and direction "from our most valued customers":

1. Promoting as an hour, then ending as fast as possible. After a 35 minute presentation, the goal of the facilitators was to end the call as quickly as possible. Opening for questions and comments meant ending 5 minutes later.

2. Instead of answering questions, discuss how you're going to answer questions. Only read/answered 2 questions (I typed 4 myself), spent lots of time talking about having many questions, committed to communicating answers privately, said to set up meetings to discuss questions. What didn't do: Answer the questions.

3. Forgetting we're still connected at the end. The call ends, after the goodbye, with the facilitators erupting in laughter. Likely the fear of having questions didn't want to answer. But little detail that didn't shut off the volume wherever the webinar presentation was.

Wonder if that had an impact on my opinion of the vendor?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Uh oh, the pledge and no American Flag ...

You know you're with a group of association executives when everyone has a story related to an error related to the American Flag:

1. Everyone stands to say the pledge at your meeting, and no American Flag present.

2. A military color guard arranged for a convention banquet. Ten minutes before the start it's determined the large chandelier in the middle of the room will not allow the flags to be at the required angle when entering the room. Banquet delayed half hour while new route for color guard entry determined and arranged.

3. Association president says "where's the flag?" in a committee meeting. Or you have a flag and the president says "where's the state flag?" Or you have both and the association president says "where's the association flag?"

4. Member informs you that the flags are placed incorrectly for the floor or the podium; and you genuinely have no idea if there are different podium rules.

5. You distribute flag lapel pins and learn there is a right and wrong way to wear those.


1. Carry a portable American flag to every meeting. Or have fold-up/desk-top size.

2. Ensure every meeting reminder list in your office includes the flag order, if there is a pledge at any time.

3. Keep a picture of an American Flag on your hard drive or on a zip drive. Pictures of flags do count as flags (Flag Code 3). Or find one online to post if equipment/projector already set up for other reasons.

4. Have the flag discussion (i.e., how many flags) at the start of the year with the President, along with discussion of other expectations. Those who feel strongly about three flags will let you know that.

5. Learn the flag placement rules for floors and podiums (Flag Code 7 k - American flag to speaker's right while facing the audience, other flag(s) to the left). Hotel set-up staff may get it wrong.

6. The flag is near your heart on a lapel pin.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fundraising with Balloons

A recent event included a balloon fundraising event. Helium balloons were tied to chairs, and those who contributed had their balloons popped during the program. Those who gave at the break had their balloons popped later in the day. The group raised three times more with the balloon-popping than at that same function the prior year.

Another balloon fundraising option - that can even work at Board of Directors meetings:

1. For a specific donation, give a helium balloon - each holding a folded paper inside. Two papers note prizes.
2. Ask those who buy balloons to tie them to their chairs.
3. Later in the program pop the balloons.
4. Additional options: May want to allow people to buy more than one balloon if all are not sold; or auction the chance to buy someone else's balloon at the end.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Black Swan, starring the Association CEO

It’s possible that everything in life is not a metaphor for association management, but I really cannot get “The Black Swan” out of my head. The movie is about a ballet dancer who will be dancing in a famed ballet “Swan Lake” and the movie audience participates in her practice, transformation and experience.

A few thoughts on how it relates:

1. Pick the best. Whether it’s the best ballerina, the best staff, the best consultant, the best anything – sometimes by selecting the best you really will get the best performance as a result.

2. If you dance the White Swan, you have to dance the Black Swan too. One dancer performs two roles in “Swan Lake”, and a CEO cannot avoid that either. There is clearly a genuine preference to be the White Swan all the time: able to answer yes to everyone, avoid all conflict, always able to have pleasant conversations, accommodate any problem, never have to fight a legislative issue. But it doesn't work that way in "Swan Lake" or in associations – the CEO has to be the Black Swan too. Things happen that must be addressed: certain policies or positions make some members unhappy, deadlines may be missed, contract terms violated, employees under perform, a negative ad needs to be run. It's a dance to be done by those willing and able to dance both parts. And the outcome is beautiful, and ugly, and unforgettable and needs to be forgotten.

3. The perfection thing. If you want to be perfect you're going to miss opportunities. Of course it's hugely important to do something right, then do it better the next time, and the next time, and the next time. But if you focus on doing one thing to perfection, then starting something else imperfectly might not happen - and that second thing may be essential. And if you do thousands of things, you can't avoid falling sometime - it's just the way it is. Let yourself transform. And practice, practice, practice. Perform, perform, perform.

4. You're going to think you're going crazy. That's noted on a slide in a “New AE Boot camp” program I teach for my industry. It’s genuinely impossible to sit at your desk with hundreds of various deadlines and programs - and thousands of people who do or do not like any given thing that particular day - and not genuinely question your sanity. You won't know if what you fear will actually happen, or what you think is happening is real or unreal, or what the real motive is behind any given question, or who's coming after you, or which situation is or isn't as it appears to be, or if that next contact is some giant unexpected issue. The crazy energy can help you better prepare to address whatever in the world may occur. And it's totally normal to think you're going crazy. It just is. Normal. Really.

5. But if you're going tooooo crazy or suffocating ... get help. There are so many things that help so many people (e.g., therapy, medicine, yoga, exercise, sunshine, pets, a sounding board). Also, if you walk through any door and you feel immediately suffocated (if you watched the movie you get the reference), get out.

6. It takes a lot of years and a lot of hard work to get you to the moment of your biggest performances. I believe many of us have moments in our career where we know exactly what it took, and how many years and types of preparation, to personally deliver something that could be characterized as absolutely masterful. For me, at the end of one brutal advocacy issue, if I could have handed myself an Academy Award for outstanding performance in a leading role, I would have. I totally know what it took, and it was ridiculously difficult and used every skill I could muster. No one can really see the labor behind an end product, so desperately difficult work can appear effortless. Whether ballet or association management, what did it take to get to that moment?

7. When you're on stage, put it all out there. A common question of those in the arts is how they can perform night after night - and still give the audience what they came for. The answer is almost always the same - they just put it all out there and decide to make it a big night. They value their work, their skill, and the fact the audience has paid to see them. And that's how we should perceive our association CEO position too. Do you give your best performance for any audience you speak with; do you decide you're doing your part to change the industry; when you perform that day do you believe your own audience got more than their money's worth?

Go see the movie. Feel the performance. Feel your performance.