Here’s a post I wrote for MemberViews Monday, a collaboration of bloggers in the association world who have teamed up to share their experiences and knowledge with other association professionals. The first topic in this series hosted by MultiView blogs is Advice for the Emerging Association Professional.

I never expected to work in associations. Frankly, they weren’t even on my radar. But I was leaving one career and in search of another. I took an association job just to have some stability and income while I figured things out. Little did I know, back in 1999, what a rewarding and fascinating profession I was about to enter.

Looking back, I wish I had asked for advice. It took me several years to find my way. If we were to have a “learn from my mistakes” conversation, it would go something like this.

Never stop learning. You will succeed in this profession if you live to learn. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. Don’t shortchange yourself. Make time for learning even if it’s on your own time. Your older self will thank you.

Be observant. Listen to and watch people. You have to understand human behavior, both individual and group, if you want to motivate, manage and lead staff and members.

Give yourself time to think. You need time every week to plan ahead, set and review goals, and let your brain work its way around challenges and issues. 

Develop a DIY professional development habit. Set aside time to read association management blogs and publications, participate in Twitter’s #assnchat (Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. Eastern), and attend association events. If your boss doesn’t give you the time or budget to do these things, do it on your own time. Put aside a small amount of every paycheck, even if it’s only $10, toward professional development. It’s an investment in your future, just like your 401K.

Join your state SAE even if you have to spend your own money. You’ll meet a network of peers that could become lifelong friends.

Look for mentors. Find people in your office or at another association who are active in your SAE or ASAE. They might not consider themselves mentor material so don’t even use the word “mentor” around them. A conversation with them could develop into a mutually satisfying relationship.

Find association peers. If you’re surrounded by colleagues who are only there for the paycheck, don’t be discouraged. Don’t follow them down their boring, soul-deadening path. Find people either in your office or other associations who are around your same age and career level. Twitter makes this so much easier now. Arrange monthly meet-ups. Make them your mastermind group.

Make friends all over the building. Avoid eating lunch alone. Don’t isolate yourself in a departmental silo. Learn about the work your colleagues are doing. How can you help them? How can they help you? What member stories can you share? What can you teach each other?

Pause and reflect before reacting. Expect stressful times. You might start the day expecting to work on specific tasks and projects, but find yourself dealing with other pressing problems, issues and people that weren’t on your list. You will constantly juggle a variety of deadlines and demands.

It’s natural to react quickly and emotionally to these stressors – those same reactions save us in life and death situations. But in the workplace, you must develop the habit of pausing before reacting, and thinking rationally, not emotionally. It’s not easy. Yoga helps, but I don’t expect you to practice yoga as a professional development tool – although it’s not a bad idea.

Become aware of your reactions to your own behavior (self-judging), other people’s behavior, stressful situations and change. If you learn to pause and reflect before reacting, you won’t stress yourself out so much and you’ll be a positive influence on the people around you. 

Don’t be a workaholic. Never put in crazy hours because you think you should, except, of course, for those special times in the meeting, magazine or budget cycle that require it. You and your brain need time off to recharge. You know the people who are always boasting about how busy they are and how late they stayed in the office? They’re not paragons of virtue to emulate. They’re doing it wrong — “it” being life.

Never be defined by your job. If you develop that limited mindset, retirement will be rough. Yes, your job is a huge, rewarding part of your life, but it’s just one part of your life. Make sure it doesn’t get in the way of the relationships and experiences that add color and passion to life. Find people, causes and hobbies to love. You’ll be a happier and more interesting, creative person and professional.

Advice for emerging association professionals

Photo by Andre Mouraux (Flickr CC license)

Reads of the Week was on vacation last week while I was at digitalNOW in Orlando, which means it’s a long one this week. Again.

In years past, I’ve been envious reading the digitalNOW tweets and watching the keynote webcasts. Since I’m not an association executive, I felt very fortunate to attend this year. Without a doubt, it’s the best association conference I’ve attended. If you’re an association executive, put it on your radar.

To give you a taste, here are a few digitalNOW posts and resources. I’ll share more next week.

Conference season rolls on. Now that the Avectra Users & Developers Conference, ASAE Great Ideas and digitalNOW are behind me, the only one left, for now, is Digital Marketing for Business on Monday and Tuesday at the Raleigh Convention Center. It does not at all surprise me that a conference organized by Phil Buckley is the first result when you google “digital marketing for business.” All hail the SEO master!

If you’re in the nonprofit space, I probably don’t need to tell you about the NTEN conference that started Thursday. You can attend online or follow along on #13ntc until it ends Saturday.

My sources tell me…

Each week I’m revealing one of my many sources for good reads. Denise Graveline’s regular Friday post, The Weekend Read, on her Don’t Get Caught blog is one of my favorites. One of my good reads this week is also from Denise — Tweeting About Food, and Why It’s Smarter Than You Think. She tells you why and when it’s okay to tweet about food. So there!

Let’s talk about it

Chris Bonney at Vanguard Technology shares a list of questions associations should ask about their website. Gather some colleagues, grab some lunch and go over these questions so you can “help your association shake loose from old beliefs about your association website and start thinking about it not as a part of organization, but as your organization itself.”

Now, the reads of the week

I am not a robot. But, I may be replaceable, or at least that was my fear when I read Mitch Joel’s post about a ‘Robo-reporter’ computer program that writes newspaper articles. But then he reassured me:

“The true power in this is not how computers, algorithms and robots can now replace human writers. The true power is in how computers, algorithms and robots can now free up these human writers to do the more important work that our society requires of them.”

Phew.

You can do something a robot can’t do: convince your C-suite that your organization needs to develop and implement a content strategy. And, if you have Hilary Marsh’s presentation in hand, good money says you’ll succeed.

“The algorithm will likely replace the editor and curator.” Algorithms, again! One day, I’ll wonder how I ever got along without them. Roger Wood and Evelyn Robbrecht wrote a fascinating article about Intelligent Content at paidContent. “Written and visual content will eventually be continuously reconfigured and redesigned by the moment to accommodate data gathered about what you like to read.” That’s fine and all, but I don’t want to live in a content bubble. Hopefully I’ll always have the random serendipity of Twitter.

Where I get cranky

Stop using so many damn hashtags! “When kept to a small scale, they can ably perform their service as a filter of relevant tweets” – like my beloved #assnchat. But, Daniel Victor at Nieman Journalism Lab says:

“I believe for every person who stumbles upon your tweet via hashtag, you’re likely turning off many more who are put off by hashtag overuse. We need not banish the hashtag, but let’s start putting more thought into when we’re using it.”

Wise up, tweeps! Nonprofit Tech 2.0 identifies five types of tweets you should never post. Note number 3, please. Seriously, these are all obnoxious.

Quickies

  • Cute kitten videos are all that stand between us and the cyber-apocalypse. (The Verge)
  • Study says…blogs are still more influential than Twitter. Of course they are. (The Wall)
  • Turn your Google Analytics into an infographic with Visual.ly. (SocialTimes)
  • Note to self: the next time you’re tempted to use the word awesome… (Instead of Awesome)
  • Become a masterful note-taker. (The Atlantic)
  • Make sure you’re legally using online photos. (Lifehacker)
  • Four questions to ask before you send that press release. (Ragan’s PR Daily)

Read a poem

Thank you, Jeff Cobb, for tweeting the link to this inspiring post, Five Reasons Why We Need Poetry in School. It reminded me that it’s been way too long since I sat with a poem. I’m making a date this weekend for some time on the couch with a poet. Hmm, now who should it be?

Feed your neighbors

There’s a really good reason to visit Facebook every single day, at least until the end of April. Walmart is providing $3 million in grants for hunger relief programs – that’s means 35,000,000 (yes, million) meals — for food banks across the country. You can vote once a day for your local food bank on Walmart’s Facebook page. I’ll be voting, of course, for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

Happy Friday!

vote for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina

Have you ever seen one of these?

association maker culture

UCF’s 3D printer at digitalNow

That’s a 3D printer from the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training METIL Lab. David Metcalf and two of his students brought it to digitalNow for The “Maker Society,” their session with Jenny Levine, Strategy Guide at the American Library Association. 

Jenny made it clear up front: “Your association does not need a 3D printer.” Instead she focused on the maker culture and what it means for associations.

These articles will give you a better understanding of the maker culture:

Who’s a maker? Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE, defines a maker as:

“Someone who is a builder, a creator, a producer, a developer, someone who has an active sense of taking an idea and developing it into something that’s real and tangible and can be shared with other people.”

Sounds like an association leader to me.

The Maker Generation

A generation of makers is coming of age — our future members. How do we become organizations they want (and need) in their lives?

Librarians, as usual, are ahead of the game. At work, they’re creating maker spaces for kids and adults. At the American Library Association (ALA), they’re experimenting with new approaches to membership issues. Like many associations, the ALA has seen a decline in volunteerism. Fewer members are willing to commit to time-intensive volunteer roles. So what can an association do? Jenny  appeals to the maker in her members.

  • Listen to member conversations. What are they talking about? What inspires their passion? Jenny monitors an unofficial group of 3000 members and non-members on Facebook – the ALA Think Tank. She looks for short-term project ideas that she can help facilitate.
  • Create new pathways to bring members into association involvement. In addition to the traditional, time-intensive style of volunteer service, offer project-based entry points that require less of a time commitment.
  • Nurture the maker ethos – “let’s just do it” – by providing support or, at least, encouragement to member-organized projects.

One of the UCF students mentioned how fun it is to get a maker community going. The community was already there, UCF only needed to give it resources and get out of the way. You have communities of members who are passionate about different issues or causes. Find them and listen to them. What types of projects would give them a sense of satisfaction while also staying aligned with the association’s mission?

Maker governance

When Jenny looks for projects, one of her criteria is purpose. David Metcalf looks for passion about a social mission. The motivation behind these projects is a yearning to create or accomplish something. That’s such a powerful desire – the drive to create – yet how often do associations satisfy it?

After the session, I wondered: What will happen to the traditional association governance model? Is the next generation of members willing to put in time serving on committee after committee in hopes of getting a board position and then, maybe one day, being nominated for an officer position? Is that a desirable path? Is that how they want to serve? Is that how they envision an association experience?

Will this generation of makers be willing to deal with the slow-moving engines of association governance? Does “let’s just do it” work in the association world? Can we find ways to let people get together and make “things” that help their fellow members, attendees, profession/industry or community? 

I’m excited about this emerging culture of makers and here’s why. Bob Johansen, author of Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World, says the best leaders are makers:

“All humans have at least a touch of what I call the maker instinct, but most leaders have a serious dose since they must make and remake the organizations they lead. The best leaders have always been tinkerers who imagine alternative structures and love to play around with them to see what new things they can create.”

Why wait for the young ones to start hacking our associations. Let’s figure out how to just do it ourselves.

association maker motto

Photo by NoSoma (Flickr CC)

Every time I see the word media in this post by Jeff Jarvis, I think associations. He talks about media’s business model: “building a pay wall around content because content is valuable, damnit.” And then says,

“I’ve been arguing to media that relationships are more valuable. Knowing people because you have their trust and give them value builds a rich and deep relationship — builds data about that relationship — that can be far more valuable for far longer than a mere transaction. The problem in media is that we are not built for that. We are built to serve the masses.”

He goes on to discuss advertising, paywalls, new models and new thinking. Good stuff.

Ray van Hilst at Vanguard Technology says, “Say NO to stock photography for association websites.” The examples illustrating his post crack me up — no wonder that guy always seemed a bit familiar! If you rely on stock photos, you must read his post. I’ve got to say I was really impressed by the photos my client Avectra uses. I love the photo on the bottom right of their conference website of an Avectra client (Rebecca!) and staffer (he’s wearing purple so I’m assuming he’s an Avectra guy). The photo looks completely natural and shows off their happy geekitude – yes, that’s a compliment.

The buzz on the web this week has been about another company manifesto, employee handbook, “diary of dreams,” this time from HubSpot, and it’s a real good one. For a company like HubSpot, this is also a great marketing piece, even though they don’t say that. We want to do business with companies whose culture we respect and admire. That’s what gets me jazzed about some of my clients, and, hopefully, they get jazzed about me, even though I don’t have a cool manifesto.

Let’s Talk About It

Every now and then, I come across a post that would make an excellent topic for discussion at work, assuming you work at an organization that serves members or customers. Last week, I suggested having a brown bag lunch discussion about Jeffrey Cufaude’s Cultivating Engagement series. This week, a post by Meredith Marie at Sliceworks about Gen Y “hot buttons” and “action cues” would make a fantastic basis for group discussion. What can you do differently to provide value to this younger (huge) crowd? Strangely enough, much of it would work for us older folks too.

Quickies

  • Don’t make the same mistake as Matt Haughey and accidentally send LinkedIn requests to 1,138 contacts. Oh lordy. (Kevin Smith, Business Insider)
  • Are you one of these? Or do you work for one of these? Light fare but fun: The 5 Stereotypical CMOs. (Giselle Abramovich, Digiday)
  • The demise of Google Reader is causing Geoff Livingston to pivot and purge. I love the looks of his reading list.

Curated post of the week

This will be a weekly feature until I run out of favorites. Two weeks ago, I featured Elizabeth Engel’s What I’m Reading series. Mitch Joel’s Six Links Worthy of Your Attention is another one of my favorites. His post is a bit of a conversation between three friends. He says, “I decided that every week or so the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person must see.” Now you know another one of my secret sources for good tweetable reads. More shall be revealed!

I keep thinking I’m due for a sci-fi book, and then I read this post by Annalee Newitz at io9: What Will Human Cultures Be Like in 100 Years. My brother-from-another-mother once predicted that we’d all end up in a group house together, again, when we hit our 80s. Howard Johnson’s would be great!

Happy Friday!

Old Howard Johnson's at Asbury Park, NJ(Photo by mbtrama/Flickr)

Old Howard Johnson’s at Asbury Park, NJ
(Photo by mbtrama/Flickr)

 

I’m not the only one who likes being a content curator. Elizabeth Engel is always an excellent source for interesting reads. Check out her weekly What I’m Reading series.

If your job involves engaging members, customers, constituents, donors or volunteers, you must read this post by Jeffery Cufaude, Cultivating Engagement: What was the Catalyst? He says, “If we want to cultivate relationships that invest people in our community, cause, or organization, we must remain curious about them: how might what I’m learning about you now alter my next interaction with you?” Grab your team, make them read this, and figure out how you’re going to start doing this next week.

Andy Freed captures why I like reading all kinds of things and making odd connections. He was heading to TEDActive (the live Palm Springs simulcast) where he anticipated learning about association management from a dolphin researcher. And why not?

When’s the last time you picked up a phone and called a member you don’t know? I know. I never did it either, except when we were desperately promoting our trade show in the midst of the housing implosion. Eric Lanke has some ideas about the real reasons we don’t pick up the phone.

Barry Feldman wants you to take a hard look at your website after reading his post, 11 Reasons Why Prospects Don’t Convert Into Customers. He gives you the eleven reasons, good advice and a quick checklist at the Convince & Convert blog.

I just LOVE this post about a dying restaurant by Ken Mueller. I can feel for them because for eight years I was the general manager of an independently-owned (and very successful) restaurant, long before the days of social media. But we’ve all seen this story – lots of attention, but a little too late. Let’s all pledge to honor Ken’s words:

“I will continue to support small, independently owned family businesses whenever I can. I will also go out of my way to let them know I appreciate and support them. I will reward them for their humanity by spending my money with them, in hopes that they will be sustainable and profitable.”

Are you texting and using LOL like an old fart? Luckily for me I got tired of LOL long ago. And it’s a good thing because it no longer means what you think it does, if you’re of a certain age. Not my age. And if you’re one to lament the decline of the English language because of texting, fear not. “Anyone who says that text language is chaotic isn’t paying enough attention to the system of rules that users have developed to move real-time conversation into written form,” says Anne Curzan in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

At ProBlogger, Thomas Ford explains what you need to know about using free images from the web. His post will help you understand copyright rules, rights and different types of Creative Commons licenses.

Here’s one to bookmark and hope you never have to use. Tia Fisher at Social Media Today shows you what to do if your Twitter account has been hacked.

Steal this idea from Association Media & Publishing: sponsored small group dinner discussions.

Steal this idea too for your next trade show:

vendor twitter game tweet

The only infographic I looked at this week, thanks to Stowe Boyd.

This is conference week for me. I spent Sunday through Tuesday at the Avectra Users & Developers Conference where I wrote a few blog posts:

I got back Wednesday afternoon and today I’m heading to Colorado Springs for the ASAE Great Ideas Conference. Be sure to check out the hashtag #ideas13 if you want to follow along.

Pretty soon we’ll all be Dr. Doolittles. Vince Cerf “envisions an interspecies Internet” where we’ll communicate with animals and aliens.

Happy Friday!

“…talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals”Photo by Curt Smith (Flickr)

“…talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals”
Photo by Curt Smith (Flickr)

 

Do you have a person in mind when you write marketing or social media copy? Geoff Drake, senior web writer for the Monterey Bay Aquarium (what a cool job!), writes for his imaginary friend Sue. “Get personal with your persona,” he says. “We have a kind of pact, Sue and I. She needs a vicarious experience, and I want to foster a connection with the Aquarium, and our oceans. A day never passes when I don’t try to uphold my end of our little bargain.”

Something else that’s cool about Geoff – he’s a former editor of VeloNews and Bicycling magazines, plus he wrote the book, literally, on Team 7-Eleven, one of our earliest professional cycling teams in the U.S. And that’s my segue into a great post about organizational culture by cycling fan, and my pal, Mary Nations on the Undiscussables blog: Cycles of Silence.

Mary gives her take on Lance Armstrong, the reign of omerta in the professional cycling world and how it all relates to our organizations.

“When a scandal breaks, the news often exposes evidence that undiscussable elephants have been stomping around, leaving squashed, altered bits of reality and stinky piles of consequences that are difficult to clean up. The mess existed all the while, but new publicity puts it on amplified display, under harsh lights, perhaps to a wider audience that is finally drawn to look.”

She asks, “What does this saga mean for you? Are there places where you suspect elephants are creating a mess? If so, are you ready and willing to help generate positive change in the future?” It’s a fascinating read that might make you think differently about cycling and your organization.

For a different perspective on content marketing, check out Giselle Abramovich’s article at Digiday about Patagonia’s Content Machine. “Many brands feel like they are faced with a dilemma: They can either make great content or try to sell products. (Bill) Boland (Patagonia’s digital creative director) doesn’t see it that way. He sees great content and conversations around products as something that naturally occurs, without the need for marketers to be so heavy-handed.”

Well, it happened again, another week, another mention of TMG Media’s Engage blog. I swear there aren’t any kickbacks going on here! We’re obviously sympatico in our interests. This time, Brittany Siminitz shares examples of 20 brands that “don’t typically incite thoughts of colorful, pin-able things,” for example, insurance and financial planning services, and banks. Yet, their creative Pinterest boards prove “that you don’t have to be frilly to make it on Pinterest.”

In The Facebook Flea Market, Tom Webster calls out Facebook ads for what they are: “a junk shop.” He says they’re “a seemingly random miscellany of hastily constructed, poorly targeted and (sometimes) vaguely seedy-looking pitches for things I couldn’t even conceive of clicking on, let alone purchasing.” And he has some advice for the advertisers that should know better and for Facebook – although do they ever listen?

Only Shelly Alcorn would watch Dave Grohl’s new documentary Sound City and come out thinking about membership. Ok, maybe there are other association geeks who might do the same thing. Ok, maybe me. But Shelly is the one who wrote this great post about the beauty and power of the tribe: Membership IS the Value of Membership!

“Yes, associations are changing. Yes, technology is changing. Yes, communications are changing. Yes, we can talk all day long about dues models, governance models, etc., etc., etc. To me, what is not up for debate is the fundamental concept of belonging – the group, the community, the tribe. Maybe it’s free. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s narrowly defined, maybe it’s broadly defined. Maybe we call them associations and maybe we don’t. There is a lot of room in the middle about HOW it manifests, and what role we can or can’t play in facilitating those connections – but the question about WHETHER it manifests or not is just not debatable.”

Sing it, sister!

Do you know Kate? She’s just an ordinary girl with an ordinary family. She might even live in your community. But there’s something you don’t know about her. Share this one with your kids.

Heads up, New Yorkers and others in the tri-state area: The Who and Elvis Costello are playing a benefit concert on February 28 at the Madison Square Garden. It’s your opportunity to see a once-in-a-lifetime show and support a great (and underfunded) cause: Teen Cancer America, Roger Daltrey’s foundation. I’ve seen The Who more than any other band and absolutely LOVED their Quadrophenia show in November. Number two on my most-seen list is, you guessed it, Elvis, a performer and entertainer like no other.

Long live rock! And Happy Friday, everyone!

Roger Daltrey says teens with cancer need a different kind of hospital environment, one where they're not surrounded by kids or older adults.

Roger Daltrey says teens with cancer need a different kind of hospital environment, one where they’re not surrounded by kids or older adults.

 

Over at CopyBlogger, Georgina El Morshdy shares 30 ways to build the “know, like, and trust” factor that grows an audience. She tells content marketers — meaning any individual or organization that uses content to educate and build relationships: “The reality is, your audience won’t pick up real momentum until you’ve mastered the “know, like, trust” factor. Face to face salespeople have known this for decades, but some content marketers are still struggling to get it right.” Take a look at her list to see how you can improve your marketing.

Why is content marketing so important? Jackie Roy at TMG shares 24 statistics that tell you why. Here’s #1: “80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.” Consumers have the same preferences. Educate and earn trust and respect – that’s the key.

Sponsored content is becoming more ubiquitous, so thankfully Jeff Sonderman at Poynter provides guidance on how to publish sponsored content without lowering editorial standards. He’s writing this piece for news organizations but his advice works for magazines and other publications as well.

Thanks to Elizabeth Engel for spotting and sharing HubSpot’s bookmarkable list of spam trigger words. Keep this list handy when you’re writing email subject lines.

What’s the best time to send those emails? Who knows! There are as many opinions on that as hours in the day! Scott Stratton gives the best advice: “The only important data out there is what your own list does.” And even better: “The best way to get your email opened is to write content worthy of being opened.” Go see what else he has to say, it’s always spot on.

Here’s another handy resource – five free image editing and photo correction tools from Lauren Barraco at Business 2 Community.

In the fall of 2012, Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter, authors of Humanize, surveyed 505 individuals about social media and leadership. Among the findings: “84% agree that leadership involvement in social media gives their company a competitive edge.” That doesn’t surprise me. I’ve learned the same by talking to association CEOs about their use of social media. However, many CEOs still resist social media at their own peril.

Every year I look forward to MGI’s Membership Marketing Benchmark Report. Besides being valuable as a benchmark for association membership efforts and trends, it’s full of great tips and ideas. If your association hasn’t yet participated in this year’s research survey, please schedule some time to do so. The entire association community thanks you!

I love this idea from the American Booksellers Association (ABA): be the member. Joe Rominiecki at Associations Now explains:

“Once a year, during the holidays, Oren Teicher follows this advice. The CEO of (ABA), the trade association for independent bookstores, visits a member store to volunteer as an extra hand for three or four days during the holiday sales rush. This season he volunteered at Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita, Kansas, helping with restocking, organizing, handselling, and any of “the 1,001 tasks that go on in the busy time of the year,” he says.”

Instead of thinking of reasons why you can’t do this, why not think about ways you can do this.

Would you like less stress and irritation in your life? More contentment and less frustration? Patti Digh has some brilliant advice from her yoga teacher, Cindy Dollar: “I used to get caught up in drama, and now when there is drama, I just say ‘wow.’” Life is less stressful when you’re aware of and in control of your reactions – that’s a big yoga thing. We have the power, we just don’t remember to use it.

The LA Weekly found a Banksy-like graffiti of Lance Armstrong – a spray paint image of him doping while riding. Check it out over there — I didn’t want to steal it.

That’s all folks, Happy Friday!

Selexyz bookstore in the Dominican church in Maastricht - photo by Bert Kaufmann (Flickr)

Now this is a bookstore: Selexyz bookstore in the Dominican church in Maastricht – photo by Bert Kaufmann (Flickr)

Ah, Friday, and a long weekend too for many of you. Not for me – too much work to do – a good thing, so trust me, I’m not complaining. I’ll make room for enough down time to feel recharged on Monday morning, in case you care. Caring is in the air, you know, or it should be, we can make it so…

The world needs more “everyday mundane acts of caring” like the ones John Haydon shares in his post, The #1 Paradigm Shift You Need to Make in 2013. His simple truth is this: “In order to succeed you actually have to focus 1000% on your supporters and not your own agenda! The more you do this, the more your supporters will want to support you!” Simple, yet we find it so hard to do in our stressed out work days. Time to shift.

Maddie Grant shares a “must read” post by Clay Shirky on disruption. If you’re interested in education and MOOCs and such, you’ve probably already read it. But, you might not have read Maddie’s commentary and questions, important questions that associations need to address, now. As she says, “This is a HUGE OPPORTUNITY – not a threat.  What are YOU doing to prepare for the disruption of higher education?

Walking meeting, anyone? I love this idea from Nilofer Merchant at the Harvard Business Review. Why walk when you can sit? Because, haven’t you heard, sitting is killing us! I’m dying here!

What’s Worth Paying Dues For…And What’s Not? That’s a question I ask myself every time I get a membership dues renewal form. Maggie McGary questioned the value of her ASAE membership and decided not to renew. “If the main value of association membership is networking, why pay dues when you can maintain those contacts easily and for free on your own?” Sure enough, even though Maggie and I are (or were, in her case) both ASAE members, I met her online and then deepened that relationship outside of ASAE. That’s no longer that unusual. Associations should pay attention to her words: “If I’m paying for something, it has to be something that provides value for me on a personal level, and something that goes beyond what I can already get for free.”

Only 25% of associations have a content strategy. Yikes. Monica Bussolati says, “Putting out a lot of content without a clear and comprehensive strategy is like mining without a light. You’re sure to wander and squander resources, like time and money, both precious commodities these days.” She provides nine steps to creating a content strategy that will work for any organization, not only associations.

Did you make New Year’s resolutions? How are they going? I didn’t make resolutions but I did set goals and identify habits I want to develop. So far, so good. In case you need help, Jonathan Fields provides seven keys to successful behavior change and quest achievement in his post, How to Get Your Mojo Back and Do Big Things TODAY.

You know I’m a big fan of craft beer, especially local craft beer. I’m a beer geek for many reasons – taste and tasting experiences, friends in the industry, homebrewing, and the fact that passionate people are producing a high-quality product with a lot of love. Nation Hahn’s post, Kinston, NC and @MotherEarthBrew Have an Answer for Rural America, reminds me of even more reasons why local breweries are so good for their communities. Support your community by supporting your local brewer.

I’m not only a beer geek, I’m a giant squid geek too. Huge news on the Architeuthis front: for the first time we have video of a living giant squid in its natural habitat. Cool. In case you’re at all curious about this fascinating creature, Richard Ellis’ book, The Search for the Giant Squid, is excellent. For fiction lovers, it’s odd but good: China Mieville’s Kraken.

I read this Atlantic article, There’s More to Life Than Being Happy, by Emily Esfahani Smith last weekend and it really struck home with me. Mere happiness isn’t enough; we need meaning and a sense of purpose. Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl wrote about this in his bestselling 1946 book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Esfahani Smith writes, “The pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves — by devoting our lives to “giving” rather than “taking” — we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.”

And with those inspiring words, I wish you a happy Friday and an enjoyable weekend!

Poor fella. Photo by NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet (Flickr).

Poor fella. Photo by NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet (Flickr).

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