association role in higher education

Right now, today, in 2016 is the best time to start up.

There has never been a better day in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside than now.

Right now, this minute.

This is the moment that folks in the future will look back at and say, “Oh, to have been alive and well back then!”

(Kevin Kelly, from his book, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future)

Let’s not blow our chance.

In the association community, it feels like we’re always playing catch up to the world around us. Webinars and conference sessions focus on challenges, problems to solve, outside forces and disruption. Depending on who’s talking, it can be a downer, frankly.

I get it—limited resources, too many priorities, a sense of overwhelm and the old not making room for the new (you interpret that however you wish).

Here’s the thing: the future should inspire us, not defeat us. The future is calling us.

Come to the rescue of young adults and lifelong learners

If you need a little inspiration—the kind that makes you feel blessed “to have been alive and well back then”—then read The Association Role in the New Education Paradigm, a white paper from Elizabeth Engel, CAE and Shelly Alcorn, CAE.

You may know these two: Elizabeth is CEO & Chief Strategist of Spark Consulting LLC and Shelly is Principal of Alcorn Associates Management Consulting. Maybe you’ve seen them speak at a conference or webinar, read their blogs or even worked with them. This paper is one in a series that Elizabeth has written with other smarty pants in our community.

So what’s their paper all about?

“Our thesis is that the association community has a vital role to fill in addressing the needs of both workers and employers in the coming decades, in helping to bridge the gap from education to employment.”

I can imagine a lot of heads nodding in agreement. But how many associations only pay lip service to that part of their mission? How many of them actually do something about it? How many find new ways to help people develop the learning habits and the personal and professional skills they need for existing and future jobs? The paper introduces you to a few associations that are stepping up to this challenge.

Unlike many industry reports, the paper shows associations their place in our larger world. The paper isn’t just about associations. It’s about the role associations can play in our world solving a serious issue, one that affects everyone reading this.

Many of us came of age at a time when change didn’t happen as intensely as it does now. We had time to hone skills, acquire knowledge and progress in our careers. But now, I don’t think any of us can imagine how much our world and our place in that world will change in the next five or ten years. The way we work will change. The way our members and customers will work will change. What we need to learn and know to make a living will change.

How will you keep up your skills and remain employable (relevant)? How will your children, grandchildren or the young people you see every day in your town or city prepare for the future of work? How will your members and future members? Don’t say college.

The sad state of higher education

Unless colleges change how they do business, they won’t be the answer for long, except for a small percentage of kids. This paper provides many depressing statistics about the ROI of college—stats that no longer surprise anyone who knows recent graduates and the debt that clouds the choices they make in life.

When I went to college, a middle class kid could afford a four-year liberal arts education. My parents and I took out loans to make it work. Plus, I worked several shifts a week as a waitress and bartender to cover the rest of my tuition plus rent and other expenses. What I didn’t realize then was my work experience in the restaurant and bar scene of Washington DC would be just as valuable as the hours I spent writing papers and studying for exams—the soft skills I was acquiring were just as important as the industry knowledge.

I wasn’t burdened by a huge debt when I graduated. I could afford my monthly loan payment on a measly restaurant manager salary and paid it off in ten years. Unlike many kids graduating today, I could afford to do what I loved even though it didn’t pay much. I’m thankful for my history degree because it trained my mind and sparked a love for learning that’s never left me and never will.

But how many kids today can afford to study what they love if what they love is literature, history or some other liberal arts program? Not many, not at the prices charged by universities today. If the cost of a college education is going to saddle you with crazy amounts of debt, you better prepare yourself for a career that gets you to six figures fast.

Elizabeth and Shelly point out the disconnect between employers and colleges on the value of a college education:

“Employers, education providers, and youth live in parallel universes…Fewer than half of youth and employers, for example, believe that new graduates are adequately prepared for entry-level positions. Education providers, however, are much more optimistic: 72 percent of them believe new graduates are ready to work.”

Imagine a 21st century college curriculum

In the paper, Tom Hood, CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs, said, “College programs are missing the success skills that are increasingly required earlier in young professionals’ careers.” If you were to reinvent the college experience so it truly prepared people for a productive life in a changing world, what would the curriculum look like?

Here are some of the courses I’d require:

  • Strategic thinking and goal-setting
  • Communication – interpersonal, public speaking, writing and digital/social media
  • Soft skills to improve social and emotional intelligence (EQ)
  • Research skills
  • Data analytics – Google’s chief economist said the ability to understand, visualize and communicate data will be “a hugely important skill in the next decades.”
  • Financial management, both personal and business
  • Project management and team dynamics

Not your typical classes, I know, but they’re life skills people need to develop personally and professionally. Some adults don’t learn them until far too late in their career, some never do. Give students the tools they need to be successful, productive and healthy adults.

I wouldn’t leave out liberal arts. Reading and discussion groups can help people develop an appreciation for the arts, analysis and communication skills and a sense of history (something sorely lacking today), plus expose them to other historical and contemporary cultures and perspectives.

Supplement this curriculum with specialized classes that train people to enter an industry or profession. Colleges should partner with businesses, start-up incubators, nonprofits and associations to design the curriculum. These partners can share what people in their industry or profession should have learned or what they will need to learn.

Colleges must change dramatically. They need to offer relevant, dynamic curriculums—accreditation requirements hold them back now from responding quickly enough to market (and student) needs.

Break up the typical four-year enrollment period. Every 12 to 18 months, give students the opportunity to go out into the workforce to try out different types of work. When they return to their studies, they’ll have a better appreciation for what it takes to succeed.

Rethink the college experience

Thanks to MOOCs, many people around the world are patching together a college-level education by taking classes from Brown, Penn, UVA, Harvard and other respected universities. Students design their own curriculum using online education.

What if organizations, like associations, help people put together a curriculum from various online sources such as MOOCs and associations? You could select the most qualified subject matter experts—it wouldn’t matter where they live because everything is online. You could help organize local study and discussion groups around the country to provide an in-person social learning element.

Design this educational experience and offer it for a fee that covers curriculum design, individual online counseling, mentor-matching and group online coaching. I bet it would be a heck of a deal compared to traditional college tuition.

You don’t have the resources? Do what colleges and startups do: go after the money—venture capital, grants and endowments. Partner with the big names in your industry—they’ll benefit from the pipeline of talent you send their way, plus they get to help design the curriculum and develop their future workforce.

Not practical? Maybe, maybe not. Who cares right now? Here’s the thing: you need to start envisioning different futures. Then start figuring out the little steps you can take now that might move you toward one of those futures. Why can’t you design this future for your association and industry?

Don’t nit-pick. Focus on what you could do, not on what you can’t. Fill the gap. You can bet that venture capital will continue to be invested in education. How long will it be before it enters your market? Be ready to partner with others so you can continue to influence the future of your industry, not be left on the sidelines.

Here’s the first thing you can do: read Elizabeth and Shelly’s paper. It’s sure to inform and inspire you to start thinking about how you and your association can change the world—isn’t that your mission?

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Creative Commons licensed photo by Lee Roylland.

prickly pear cactus on Bear Mountain Trail, Sedona AZ

Let’s start with my desert hiking observations from last week in Sedona, AZ. I suppose this might bore 96% of you. But if you’re hiking out west soon, you’ll appreciate these thoughts, I hope.

  • Greet fellow hikers as you pass by. People hiking trails rated “strenuous” are usually much friendlier than people on trails rated “easy” or “moderate”—must be a camaraderie thing.
  • Kolsch and wheat beers are perfect post-hiking beers. Avoid real hoppy or dark beers. A nicely balanced pale ale works well too. Don’t forget a bottle opener and koozies/huggers.
  • What is it about tequila and lime? Margaritas are my choice of beverage when indulging the night before hiking. I don’t get too fancy as long as it’s not rot-gut tequila. I like good ol’ regular margaritas, prickly pear margaritas, and pineapple and jalapeno margaritas—a new discovery.
  • Whoever’s in front has to be absolutely sure they always follow the main trail and not a wash, side trail or game trail. Not mentioning any names.
  • Watch out for cacti and snakes when taking a natural break.
  • Beware loose gravel on slickrock, especially if you’re descending.
  • If you have trouble with exposure and you’re crossing a fin or natural bridge, keep your eyes on where your next step is landing and, if you can, one step ahead of that—maybe where the person in front of you is stepping. For god’s sake, don’t look down at the drop or you may freeze. Stay focused on the present, one step at a time.
  • Enjoy the beauty while you can—nothing is better than time in the high desert.

Now that I’ve indulged myself in desert memories, it’s time for the list of this week’s webinars. If your company has a webinar scheduled in the next few weeks, please send me the link. I’ll be happy to feature it as long as it’s not too product-centric.

Mon 9/26 at 2 p.m.* – The Strategic AMS + LMS: Efficiency Made Easy

The right technology can make engaging your members, driving revenue, and targeting key segments easy, when you know how to optimize the data. The tools to minimize time and maximize impact are housed in your association management system (AMS) and learning management system (LMS). Learn how to make the most out of your AMS + LMS to enhance your association, the top features to consider when shopping for association software, and how to navigate the marketplace and make an informed decision. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: Abila

Presenter: Anna Toon, Abila Product Marketer

*all times are Eastern Daylight Saving Time

Tue 9/27 at 7:30 or 7:45 a.m. – Innovation in Practice: Hybrid Meetings/Virtual Events

Hybrid meetings and virtual events give associations the opportunity to engage members who cannot attend their annual meeting or other in-person meetings. Learn how hybrid meetings and virtual events can benefit associations and how to monetize them. Hear case studies illustrating association best practices. More info/register for in-person event. More info/register for virtual event.

Host: ASAE Ideas and Innovation Collaborate Group

Presenter: Duane Capuano, Success Roads LLC

Tue 9/27 at 12 p.m. – Forget Big Data: Focus on the Right Data (ANEX Columbia Idea Swap – Columbia MD)

Accurate, timely data can transform strategic planning, member relations, and fundraising not to mention programs and services. But with tight margins and limited access to large datasets, what’s an association to do? Hear lessons learned from associations that have creatively leveraged existing data sources to gain useful insights into their membership and industries. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Organizer: Peggy Hoffman, CAE, Mariner Management & Consulting

Moderator/Host: Sam Waters, CAE, IMPAQ Strategy

Tue 9/27 at 2 p.m. – What You Need to Know About Website Redesign (Association Chat)

If a website redesign is in your future (and, well, it is), tune into this week’s chat to hear about the top design trends you should be aware of, website redesign solutions for associations with small budgets, and much more. Watch/participate live or view the recording.

Host: KiKi L’Italien, founder, Amplified Growth

Guests: Benji Craig, Dick Rabil and Kara Primm

Wed 9/28 at 9 a.m. – Are You ADA Complaint? Ensuring your Website is Accessible to People with Disabilities (Washington, DC)

Learn what it means to be 508 compliant and the benefits of embracing and focusing on accessibility. Discussion will cover: understanding accessibility in our world today; how increasing accessibility improves your bottom line; how to implement a culture that is inclusionary; and the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind Accessibility Assurance services. More info/register.

Host: Raffa Marketing Group


  • Vencer Cotton, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind
  • Eduardo Meza-Etienne, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind

Wed 9/28 at 12:30 p.m. – Embracing the Board’s Duty of Foresight

This live chat on Slack will focus on the duty of foresight: a board’s strategic responsibility and moral obligation to the association’s stakeholders. More info.

Organizer: Lucas Cioffi, founder, Qiqochat, co-organizer of the Association Community on Slack

Presenter: Jeff De Cagna, CAE, FASAE, chief strategist and founder, Principled Innovation LLC

Wed 9/28 at 1 p.m. – Contracts: F&B & Off-Sites

Discover how you can protect your organization from the many thorny issues that can torpedo your meeting and impact your bottom line. Learn how to define service standards that will improve the quality of service and reduce the risk of liability; negotiate stronger indemnification clauses; evaluate due diligence when dealing with ADA issues, including food allergies; and clarify the responsibilities and opportunities under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. 1 CMP credit. More info/register.

Host: Meetings Today

Presenter: meetings industry attorney Tyra Hilliard

Wed 9/28 at 2 p.m. – Are You Curating Your Best Event?

These industry experts will share case studies of events like Forbes’ 30 under 30 and IBM Insight as well as the questions you need to ask before every meeting or event. Learn how to create content that will drive ticket sales, find the right balance between education sessions and networking moments, and new ways to deliver more to your event sponsors. More info/register.

Hosts: BizBash & Eventbrite


  • David Adler, founder & CEO, BizBash
  • Cathi Culbertson, vice president of event marketing & conferences, Forbes
  • Jill Taub Drury, founder & CEO, Drury Design

Wed 9/28 at 2 p.m. – Email Design Tips for the Modern Marketer

You have precious seconds to grab the attention of your audience before they decide to skip, skim, or read your email. With so much at stake, it only makes sense to maximize the effectiveness of your email design and template. Learn how to effectively organize content to maximize the reader experience, successfully use imagery to tell better stories, and create call to action buttons that drive conversions. More info/register.

Host: Informz

Presenter: Chris Scavo

Wed 9/28 at 2 p.m. – Making the Most of Metrics: Putting Virtual Event Data to Work for You

One of the greatest benefits of running a virtual event is the data you receive about your how your audience interacts with your content. The sheer volume of the data can be intimidating, though. Learn about strategies for turning numbers and tables into actionable insight about your audience. Hear how other organizations have improved their content and empowered their sales teams using virtual event data. 1 CEU hour. More info/register.

Host: PCMA and INXPO

Presenter: Sean Patrick Keen, Video Strategy Consultant, INXPO

Wed 9/28 at 2 p.m. – Everything You Wanted to Know About Nonprofit Executive Compensation

Paying executives too much can have negative consequences: public anger, loss of tax-exempt status, and substantial fines on both the executives who receive the overpayment and the board members who approved it. But underpaying executives has risks too: valuable employees could leave for greener pastures and you’ll have trouble attracting the best candidates to lead your organization. Learn how to make sense of nonprofit executive compensation, so you can get it right for your organization. More info/register.

Host: Guidestar

Presenter: Matthew Journy, Counsel, Nonprofit Organizations Practice, Venable LLP

Thu 9/29 at 12 p.m. – Leverage Your LinkedIn Network to Land Your Dream Job 

Learn how to cultivate a professional LinkedIn network that demonstrates your wide variety of connections and how to best leverage your connections to land your dream job. The webinar will cover essential LinkedIn networking etiquette and the more granular aspects of making and maintaining connections in the context of an active job search. More info/register.

Host: ASAE Association Career HQ

Presenter: Phaedra Brotherton, CPRW, JCTC, CDF, principal, Resumes and Career Strategies

Thu 9/29 at 3 p.m. – Pitfalls, Practices and Progress: Actionable Approaches to Capturing Membership Data and Gaining Insight to Strengthen Engagement (ANEX MoCo Idea Swap – Rockville MD)

Understand how to capture, analyze and visualize your existing association data to execute winning member-facing strategies. Learn how to mine the right data to improve your member’s experience; better understand the “why” and not just the “what” of your membership data; combine multiple data sources for a true 360-view of member and prospect activities; and determine a successful ROI on your collection and analysis of member data. More info/register.

Organizer: Scott Oser, founder, Scott Oser Associates

Presenter: Patrick Dorsey, EVP of Marketing, Impexium

Fri 9/30 at 3 p.m. – Building Digital Ecosystems that Deliver ROI: Measuring

For many organizations, digital marketing is a new undertaking. Associations want to know how to best staff their organizations, craft campaigns and measure programs in the digital age. This webinar series will help your organization evolve fully into digital. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: HighRoad Solution

If you can’t attend a live webinar, go ahead and register if the topic interests you. Most webinar hosts send a link to the recording to all registrants.

Association Brain Food Weekly is published Friday mornings. If your organization offers professional development for the association community, please send me the link via email or Twitter.

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South Mountain Park in Phoenix at sunset

Does everyone have a cup of coffee and a maple-glazed donut? No? Just me? No matter, it’s time to review the many learning opportunities scheduled for next week. Then, you know the drill, select and register for one and add it to your schedule. Make time to invest in your future.

Now, if your association or business hosts webinars or if you’re one of those smarty pants who regularly shares your expertise via webinars, this week’s list includes two items especially for you. Check out Wednesday’s The Art of Becoming a Great Webinar Presenter and Friday’s A Recipe for Creating Engaging Webinars.

If your company has a webinar scheduled in the next few weeks, please send me the link. I’ll be happy to feature it as long as it’s not too product-centric.

Tue 9/20 at 2 p.m.* – The Highly Energized and Engaged Conference Experience

If your conference attendees are not engaged with your experience, what chance will they have to improve their job performance? Using the strategies identified in this presentation, every conference professional can create event experiences where engagement is the norm, not the exception.

You’ll learn how to identify the four questions you must address that participants ask themselves; why conference experiences must have a high level of inclusive, interactive energy experiences; and practical strategies that translate engagement research and theory into conference experience practice. More info/register.

Host: Velvet Chainsaw

Presenter: Jeff Hurt, EVP, Education and Engagement, Velvet Chainsaw

*all times are Eastern Daylight Saving Time

Tue 9/20 at 2 p.m. – Association Chat Live: Communication Disruption (Arlington VA)

Hosted by KiKi L’Italien, founder of Amplified Growth, this week’s chat is live at the Higher Logic office in Arlington VA. Register to attend in person or watch the live stream as KiKi and her guests discuss: how communications and association experts are navigating massive social and technological changes for their organizations and clients; their top concerns and visions for the future; and how association executives can confidently and proactively move forward in marketing and PR initiatives. More info/register.


  • Robb Lee, CMO, ASAE
  • Deb Fiscella, president, Center Stage Marketing
  • Rachna Choudhry, co-founder, POPVOX
  • Esteban Escobar, CEO & Executive Producer, 5:00 Films & Media

Tue 9/20 at 2 p.m. – Transform Your Event ROI Story with Digital Engagement

Your event is a smashing success, but how do you prove it? Learn how to leverage the digital engagement at your event to demonstrate ROI; best practices for using a mobile app to realize instant cost savings; what metrics are available and how to interpret them; and actionable tips for sharing the value of the event with your team. 1 CMP credit. More info/register.

Host: MeetingsNet and CrowdCompass


  • Brooke Gracey, Senior Mobile Events App Strategist, CrowdCompass by Cvent
  • Adrea Hill, Training Program Manager, Haworth
  • Lisa Hurley (Moderator), Content Director, Special Events magazine

Tue 9/20 at 3 p.m. – Northern Virginia Small Association Forum for Executives (call in or Alexandria VA)

This round table is a free-flowing conversation about the most pressing issues facing executives with 9 or fewer employees. Participants discuss best practices and create a valuable cadre of professional resources. More info/register.

Host: ASAE Small Staff Association Committee

Facilitator: Shira Harrington, Founder & President, Purposeful Hire, Inc.

Tue 9/20 at 5:15 p.m. – ANEX Happy Hour (McLean VA)

Join the DC/MD/VA association community for a casual happy hour where you’re welcome to pop in and pop out as your schedule allows. More info/register.

Event organizer: Scott Oser

Wed 9/21 at 1 p.m. – 3 Strategies to Future-Proof Your Association

A panel of association industry technologists and association executives will discuss technological breakthroughs in mobile, eMarketing, data analytics and membership management that help associations transform their business and serve members more intelligently and profitably. You’ll hear about practices designed to help you: create unlimited event value; be where your members are; leverage your data; make it personal for members; and identify and drive new revenue opportunities. More info/register.

Host: Impexium

Wed 9/21 at 2 p.m. – Should You Beware the New Meetings Block Buster?

Airbnb and other alternative accommodation services are making inroads into the leisure travel market, but meeting-goers will always want to stay in the headquarters hotel, right? Exclusive research by MeetingsNet and event housing specialist onPeak|GES suggests that may not in fact be the case—at least, not for much longer. Hear about the disconnect between how planners think their attendees are booking and what’s really happening; what event accommodations challenges are on the rise, and how to get on top of them; and the up- and downsides of making peer-to-peer accommodations providers your next best frenemy. 1 CMP credit. More info/register.

Host: MeetingsNet

Presenter: Lisa Hurley, Content Director, Special Events magazine

Wed 9/21 at 2 p.m. – Making Abstract & Speaker Management (Almost) Painless

As an event planner, you have bigger problems to worry about than constantly reminding each speaker to submit their bio. This webinar will share tips to create a painless speaker management program. Learn how to increase the productivity of your events team by 67% using simple automation. 1 CMP credit. More info/register.

Hosts: Pathable and Hubb

Wed 9/21 at 2 p.m. – The Art of Becoming a Great Webinar Presenter

One of the most common complaints people have about webinars is that the speaker(s) were boring so they don’t feel engaged. This results in low viewing time and low content retention. And, if they don’t like your presenters, they probably won’t like your brand. Learn how to find great webinar talent, how to prepare for a webinar, tips for directly engaging your audience, and new formats to spice up your webinars. More info/register.

Host: ON24, Inc.

Presenter: Mark Bornstein, Vice President, Content Marketing, ON24, Inc.

Thu 9/22 at 12 p.m. – Marketing Automation Workshop (virtual or Washington DC)

How can you get your message out to people for whom you don’t have email addresses, target a market that uses social media, increase email open rates, or revitalize your email audience? A growing number of organizations use marketing automation to turn content into leads and gain a deeper understanding of members. This free interactive workshop (with lunch provided for on-site attendees) will educate you on marketing automation, assess your organization’s readiness, and help you prepare a realistic timeline and budget. 3 CAE credits. More info/register.

Host: ASAE Marketing Section


  • Suzanne Carawan, CMO, HighRoad Solution
  • Maneesha Manges, Director of Consulting, HighRoad Solution
  • Adam Higgins, MarTech Consultant, HighRoad Solution

Thu 9/22 at 1 p.m. – Making Virtual Events a Strategic Reality

Most organizations reach only a small slice of members with traditional place-based conferences. The rest of the membership gets nothing—or, worse, finds other sources for learning and networking. Virtual events can help you solve this problem, but they’re not a panacea. This webinar will look at a range of virtual events to help you evaluate which option, if any, might be the right fit for your association and members. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Hosts: Naylor Learning Solutions and Blue Sky eLearn


  • Celisa Steele and Jeff Cobb, co-founders, Tagoras
  • Phil Forte, CEO and founder, Blue Sky

Thu 9/22 at 2 p.m. – The Future of Event Technology

The latest research suggests that events and trade shows are, by far, the highest category of spend for most marketers. But these events still remain isolated from the sophistication of most CRM and marketing automation processes. Learn how you can create world-class event experiences, driven by technology, while collecting valuable real-time customer data that can be shared with your sales and marketing clouds, and ultimately drive growth. 1 CEU credit. More info/register.

Host: PCMA and Lanyon

Presenter: Anthony Miller, CMO, Lanyon

Thu 9/22 at 4 p.m. – PD Book Club

The Professional Development Book Club is meeting via Zoom to discuss Brain Rules by John Medina—a must read for anyone involved in professional development or who wants to understand how brains learn. More info/register.

Host: ASAE Professional Development Section

Fri 9/23 at 1 p.m. – A Recipe for Creating Engaging Webinars

Here’s one for both association folks and the businesses that serve them: learn how to develop a reliable, repeatable process for delivering consistently engaging webinars. You’ll hear about best practices for: managing the process from planning to evaluation; determining how much coaching and support a subject matter expert needs to deliver an effective webinar; designing interactions that engage participants; and identifying steps you can take to avoid and troubleshoot common technical issues. More info/register.

Host: Blue Sky eLearn

Presenter: Karen Hyder, The eLearning Guild and Kaleidoscope Training and Consulting

If you can’t attend a live webinar, go ahead and register if the topic interests you. Most webinar hosts send a link to the recording to all registrants.

Association Brain Food Weekly is published Friday mornings. If your organization offers professional development for the association community, please send me the link via email or Twitter.


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<Photo of South Mountain Park/Preserve in Phoenix where I spent a few hours on the trail Tuesday night>

Lecture Theatre at Beelitz-Heilstätten, Germany

This week kicks off with a webinar you won’t want to miss: Elizabeth Engel and Shelly Alcorn discussing their insightful new report, The Association Role in the New Education Paradigm. Unlike many association management reports, this paper isn’t just about associations, it’s about how associations can play a role in our larger world solving a serious issue, one that affects everyone reading this.

So much opportunity is there to be grabbed, but it will require associations to step up their game. Elizabeth and Shelly share the stories of some associations that have.

Intrigued but not into reading a paper? Listen to them talk about it on a recent episode of the Leading Learning podcast. Or, register for the webinar below. I bet you’ll change your mind about reading their paper.

If your company has a webinar scheduled in the next few weeks, please send me the link. I’ll be happy to feature it as long as it’s not too product-centric.

Mon 9/12 at 12 p.m.* – Bridging the Gap: The Association Role in the New Education Paradigm

This discussion, based on their whitepaper, The Association Role in the New Education Paradigm, will cover the dramatic changes affecting education and employment (from rapidly rising costs and increasing student debt to challenges helping students develop 21st century skills), why these changes represent a tremendous opportunity for associations, and real stories of associations that are fully embracing their role in nurturing the next generation of professionals and members. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: CommPartners


  • Shelly Alcorn, Principal, Alcorn Associates Management Consulting
  • Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CEO & Chief Strategist, Spark Consulting

*all times are Eastern Daylight Saving Time

Tue 9/13 at 12 p.m. – Overcome Collaborative Insanity by Finding Your Inner Rock Star!

Are you more like Lady Gaga or Jimmy Buffet when it comes to working with others? Take an assessment before attending this webinar so can discover a framework for making your collaborative process feel as good as the results. Learn how to use a common language to discuss people and process matters related to collaboration and engagement; understand your collaborative behavioral style; and, apply key collaborative concepts to increase engagement and productivity. More info/register.

Host: MPI

Presenter: Brant Christopher Menswar, Chief Experience Officer, Banding People Together

Tue 9/13 at 1 p.m. – Gamify Your Fundraiser

Put the “fun” back in FUNdraising with gamification. Learn about game element fundamentals and mechanics, strategies to increase participation and engagement, and considerations for planning a gamified fundraiser. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: Professional Learning Academy

Presenter: Heather Farmakis, PhD, Founder and CEO, Professional Learning Academy

Tue 9/13 at 2 p.m. – The Bad Word in Associations: Why You Need to Rethink Sales (Association Chat on Huzza)

The issue with developing “sales teams” in associations is a hot one right now. Associations are finally beginning to realize that they are sales organizations, even though “sales” has been a bad word in association management for a long time. And of course, the technology to support sales teams (even if it’s a team of one) is getting better and better.

Join host KiKi L’Italien, founder of Amplified Growth, and guest Wes Trochlil, president of Effective Database Management, as they put this into perspective. Participate live or view the recording.

Tue 9/13 at 3:30 p.m. – Unified Learning Design Studio: Instructional Design

Pave a clear pathway to building better eLearning programs for your association with this monthly webinar series. The series is available in the iCohere Academy, a free, worldwide professional community of practice dedicated to the evolution of webinars, web meetings and courses, and hybrid/virtual conferences. More info/register.

Host: iCohere

Presenter: Dr. Amanda Batson, Founder, ADB Partners 

Wed 9/14 at 1 p.m. – App-tastic 2016: 45 of the Best Productivity Apps You Should Be Using

Hear about 45 of the most useful meeting industry and business apps available. Understand how mobile solutions impact all areas of productivity, including site inspection and event management and how to use your mobile devices more effectively for meetings and events. More info/register.

Host: Meetings Today

Sponsor: Kalahari Resorts & Conventions

Presenter: Meetings industry tech expert Jim Spellos

Wed 9/14 at 2 p.m. – Go Live with the Latest Live Streaming Tools

Livestreaming is the next big thing in social media. Become familiar with each streaming platform’s user-end operation, learn how to generate the interest that your online social media presence needs, and walk away with tips and tricks on how to choose the best moments to capture. 0.1 CEUs. More info/register.

Host: PCMA

Presenter: Stefania Conti-Vecchi, DES, Founder & CEO, EVENTagist

Thursday and Friday, September 15 and 16 – AMS Fest

If it’s not already sold out – quick, check! – this is an event not to be missed. You must go if you plan to evaluate, update, or purchase a new AMS in the coming year. You’ll want to go if you wish to stay informed about where association technology is heading. If I wasn’t going to be hiking in Sedona (yes!), I would be there. More info/register.


Presenters: Dozens of association and technology brainiacs

Thu 9/15 at 12 p.m. – MGI Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report (Alexandria VA Brown Bag)

This monthly brown bag lunch meet-up features a review of the annual Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report from MGI. This report has provided important data and analysis about the health of membership organizations and the satisfaction of their members, for example: the primary challenges to association growth, how dues affect membership, why members join and renew, the common uses for social media, how your association compare with similar associations, and more. More info/register.

Host: ASAE Collaborate

Presenter: Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General, Inc.

Location: MGI, Alexandria VA

Thu 9/15 at 12 p.m. – Nine and a Half Tips for Creating Exceptional Digital Experiences

Learn step-by-step tips and actionable strategies for presenting content that makes your members’ digital experience both valuable and seamless across web, mobile, social media, and email. You can even have your association’s website reviewed during the session. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: ASAE Marketing Section


  • Alexandra Mouw, CAE, Sr. Consultant, Strategic Web Solutions, Results Direct
  • David Evener, CAE (moderator), Marketing Director, National Ground Water Association 

Thu 9/15 at 12 p.m. – 10 Ways to Increase Your Reach on Social Media

Are your social media posts reaching the people who need your information or services? Learn about the outreach opportunities available via social media and the actions you can take right now to improve your organization’s reach. More info/register.

Host: Idealware

Presenter: Chris Tuttle, Tuttle Communications

Thu 9/15 at 2 p.m. – How to Track Member Engagement (In Only 10 Minutes a Day)

Learn how engagement impacts critical metrics; what data you need and how you should use it to steer your strategies to increase member participation; how to determine which of your members are engaged and which aren’t; how to determine if your engagement efforts are working; and where you should focus your medium and long term engagement efforts. Info/register.

Host: Socious


  • Scott Balthazor, Chief Customer Officer, Socious
  • Katie Bapple, Senior Director of Community Management, Socious

Thu 9/15 at 2 p.m. – Back to School: Membership Essentials

Explore key aspects of membership with the authors of ASAE’s updated and expanded guide to membership fundamentals, Membership Essentials: Recruitment, Retention, Roles, Responsibilities and Resources. Three core areas will be covered: organizing and developing the membership function to deliver value; collecting, managing and using member and prospect data; and recruitment and renewal strategies. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: ASAE Membership Section


  • Sara Miller, PMP, CAE, Senior Director of Membership Operations, Association of Corporate Counsel
  • Wes Trochil, Founder, Effective Database Management
  • Tony Rossell, Senior Vice President, Marketing General Inc.
  • Carolyn Hook (moderator), Membership & Engagement Director, New Jersey Society of CPAs

Thu 9/15 at 4 p.m. – Planning for an Office Move

Hear about the best practices to pursue, and pitfalls to avoid when moving your office. The speakers have learned a thing or two about moving in their 20+ years of working with nonprofits, and want to help you get through it without tears. They’ll share their office move checklist to help keep you on track. More info/register.

Host: Community IT Innovators

Presenters: Rick Alloway and William Maxwell, Community IT Innovators

Fri 9/16 at 1 p.m. – Delivering Flawless Virtual & Hybrid Conferences

Virtual conferences offer most of the benefits of an in-person event, and several benefits you won’t find at an in-person event. However, if you aren’t up to date on what attendees want, your organization is at great risk of failing. Hear about the ten most common pitfalls, as well as the tips and resources you need to avoid them. More info/register.

Host: iCohere

Presenter: Lance A. Simon, CVEP, Executive Vice President, iCohere.

Fri 9/16 at 2 p.m. – Going Beyond Basic Webinars

Learn how to take your webinar out of basic boring mode. You’ll get tips for creating high quality content that attracts visitors, facilitation techniques that engage and move the audience to action, and new ideas for generating revenue. More info/register.

Host: iCohere

Presenter: Taylor Lambert, CVEP, Client Solutions, iCohere.

If you can’t attend a live webinar, go ahead and register if the topic interests you. Most webinar hosts send a link to the recording to all registrants.

Association Brain Food Weekly is published Friday mornings. If your organization offers professional development for the association community, please send me the link via email or Twitter.


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<Creative Commons photo of the Lecture Theatre at Beelitz-Heilstätten, Germany by Paul>

North Carolina sunset - Melody McClure

120 days left in the year—what do you still want to accomplish? Have you contributed to the community as much as you’d like? If not, take 15 minutes to participate in the Association Leadership Study.

This study will find out what leadership practices nurture great boards, what behaviors and skills CEOs need to move their boards ahead, and more. Amanda Kaiser of Kaiser Insights (the brains behind the Smooth the Path blog) and AH (aka Association Headquarters, an NJ-based AMC) are conducting the study. You can learn more about the study and start the survey on the survey information page. The survey closes next Friday 9/9.

If your company has a webinar scheduled for the upcoming month, send me the link. I’ll be happy to feature it as long as it’s not too product-centric.

Tue 9/6 at 1 p.m.* – 10 Tips to Boost Software User Adoption

If you don’t have a user adoption plan for new software, your new system is going to fail. Why? Because your software can’t do much without the people who need to put it to work on a daily basis. Learn how to help your staff become software champions. You’ll get tips and best practices that nonprofits across the country have used to turn their staff into proficient and enthusiastic users of their software systems. More info/register.

Host: Netsuite

Presenter: Karen Graham, Executive Director, Idealware

*all times are Eastern Daylight Saving Time

Tue 9/6 at 2 p.m. – Associations and the New Education Paradigm (Association Chat on Huzza)

47% of jobs in the U.S. will be significantly impacted or replaced by artificial intelligence and automation within the next decade. Join Association Chat host KiKi L’Italien, founder of Amplified Growth, and her guests Elizabeth Weaver Engel (Spark Consulting) and Shelly Alcorn (Alcorn Associates) to discuss their newly released white paper about the chaotic climate the world is facing with education, the workforce, and the role associations could and should play. Participate live or view the recording.

Wed 9/7 at 1 p.m. – Abolish Agenda Anxiety: A Painless Process for Crafting Conference Content

Piecing together speakers and content is the most time consuming part of the planning process. Learn tips and tricks to save time, proven project management milestones, how to incentivize your team and speakers to stay on track, and easy-to-implement advice on running your content creation like a well-oiled machine. More info/register.

Host: Cvent and Meetings Today

Presenter: Kevin Yanushefski, Product Marketing Manager, Cvent

Thu 9/8 at 12 p.m. – Don’t Be Asleep at the Switch: Engage in 401k Best Practice Approaches Now to Avoid Pitfalls Later

Many associations that sponsor 401(k) plans are unaware of the duties and responsibilities required of them and the related risks they need to manage, and that’s scary with ERISA litigation increasing even for small plans. The first webinar in this series will cover basics regarding fiduciary responsibilities and best practice approaches. More info/register.

Host: ASAE Retirement Trust

Presenter: Alison Cohen, Senior Associate, Ferenczy Benefits Law Center

Thu 9/8 at 12:30 p.m. – Innovation Rules! Fostering Innovation at Your Association

Innovation plays a critical role in your association’s race for relevance—it must be prioritized, sought out, and nurtured at every level of the association. Learn about the role of innovation at associations today, tips and techniques for fostering an innovation culture, and the role enterprise platforms play in AMS innovation. More info/register.

Host: NimbleUser


  • Teri Carden, Founder,
  • Dan Stark, Director of Product Innovation, NimbleUser (and former association Executive Director)
  • Sig VanDamme, Chief Customer Officer, NimbleUser

Thu 9/8 at 2 p.m. – Website Personalization 101: Five Things to Consider Before Targeting Your CMS Content

Learn how to develop a targeted content strategy that deliberately puts users first. Hear tips for setting up your organization’s data sources and building a measurement plan. Get an understanding of personalization platforms, from robust “Experience Management Systems” to more modestly-priced plug-ins. More info/register.

Host: CMSWire

Presenter: Colin Eagan, User Experience Principal, ICF Olson

Thu 9/8 at 2 p.m. – Discover Super Members II: Oh, the Stories Your Data Can Tell

Whether your association uses one system or 30 to manage members, thousands of data points are at your fingertips. If designed, integrated, and analyzed correctly, there’s a story to discover within those data points to help you better understand all your members and ultimately discover your Super Members. Join this conversation about software and data strategies that will give you a 360-degree view of your member data. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: Abila


  • Debbie King, CEO, Association Analytics
  • Carlos Restrepo, Senior Director, Abila

Fri 9/9 at 3 p.m. – Using Interactive Content to Convert Prospects to Customers

For many organizations, digital marketing is a new undertaking. Associations want to know how to best staff their organizations, craft campaigns, and measure programs in the digital age. This webinar series helps associations evolve fully into digital and helps corporate marketers new to the association world understand what’s different. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: HighRoad Solution

If you can’t attend a live webinar, go ahead and register if the topic interests you. Most webinar hosts send a link to the recording to all registrants.

Association Brain Food Weekly is published Friday mornings. If your organization offers professional development for the association community, please send me the link via email or Twitter.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

<Creative Commons photo by Melody McClure>

Pondering the past, the present, the future

Birthday weeks always put me in a reflective mood. Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about…

…what I accomplished, or didn’t, this past year, and what I hope to achieve in the coming year.

…what habits I’ve developed, broken, and want to develop.

…how I’ve been spending my time, and how I rather spend my time.

…how I can help others because, well, it’s not all about me.

Do you take time every year to think about these things?

Do you write down the behavior you want to adopt or the goals you want to achieve? Studies have shown you’re more likely to achieve goals when you write them down. But don’t just write down the outcome—write down the actions or habits that will get you there.

If you want to spend more time learning, then add one of these webinars to your schedule. Ok, that’s enough advice from me!

If your company has a webinar scheduled for the upcoming month, send me the link. I’ll be happy to feature it as long as it’s not too product-centric.

Tue 8/30 at 1 p.m.* – Simple but Effective Tips for Collecting High-Quality, Original Conference Content

Learn how to improve the abstract collection and review process for your conference, including how to: implement a plan to help increase submitter compliance, create an effective peer review process, prepare for an influx of last-minute submissions, and protect the integrity of your conference with plagiarism detection. More info/register.

Host: Omnipress

Speaker: Sean Lawler, Product Director of Digital Services, Omnipress

*all times are Eastern Daylight Saving Time

Tue 8/30 at 2 p.m. – Don’t Just Make Video. Make Video That Works. (Association Chat on Huzza)

Want to know how to make more compelling video content for your organization, where and when to invest in video, and get some tips for DIY studios and livestreaming? Join Association Chat host KiKi L’Italien, founder of Amplified Growth, and special guest Esteban Escobar, CEO & Executive Producer at 5:00 Films & Media, as they dig into those questions and much more. Participate live or view the recording.

Wed 8/31 at 12 p.m. – Small Staff Association Brown Bag Lunch Group (Washington DC)

At this monthly lunch, attendees share ideas and ask questions about other associations’ best practices. Please sign up to attend only if you are interested in making a long-term commitment to this group and if you currently work for a small staff association or AMC. More info/register.

Location: SmithBucklin, 2025 M Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC

Wed 8/31 at 1 p.m. – Ultimate Member Engagement: The Power of Data-Driven Decision Making

If you’re like most associations, your AMS contains a seemingly endless amount of historical, financial, social, and demographic data on members, former members, prospects, and more. Find out how to leverage visualizations and analytics to better understand your data, how mining the right data can improve your member’s experience, and how to determine a successful ROI on your collection and analysis of member data. More info/register.

Host: Impexium

Wed 8/31 at 1 p.m. – Event Sponsorship Is Broken: 10 Tips to Fix It

For most organizations, merely selling exposure to sponsors doesn’t cut it anymore. Learn why the traditional sponsorship model is no longer relevant, how to sell effective sponsorship packages, and how technology can help make sponsorships measurable. More info/register.

Host: Eventbrite

Speaker: Julius Solaris, editor, Event Manager Blog

Wed 8/31 at 2 p.m. – Creating and Sustaining Strategic Boards

The creation, care, and feeding of a strategic board of directors is one of the most significant leadership challenges facing association CEOs. Learn about the key findings from Association Laboratory’s white paper Creating and Sustaining a Strategic Board which incorporates ideas and insights from 25 association chief staff officers. Discuss the implications and practical application of the findings at your own association. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: Association Headquarters

Speaker: Dean West, FASAE, President, Association Laboratory

Thu 9/1 at 3 p.m. – Loudoun County Idea Swap (Leesburg VA)

Registrants can provide agenda topics on issues they’re facing in their association. These topics will be addressed by participants in a round table format. In addition, every swap has a short presentation on a topic of interest to association attendees. This month’s topic: Effective Use of Video for Association Marketing, Branding, Communications and Events. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Speaker: Tom Madden, President, Visual Impact Productions

Location: American Roetgen Ray Society, 44211 Slatestone Ct, Leesburg, VA

If you can’t attend a live webinar, go ahead and register if the topic interests you. Most webinar hosts send a link to the recording to all registrants.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Association Brain Food Weekly is published Friday mornings. If your organization offers professional development for the association community, please send me the link via email or Twitter.

<Creative Commons photo by geopungo>

View from Avenue Twin Peaks trail SLC UT

I’ve got the sweetest hangover, I don’t want to get over…

Not that kind of hangover. I’ve got the post-ASAE Annual buzz. This is the emotion you want to trigger when marketing your conference—that warm, happy, inspired, charged-up feeling of belonging to a tribe who gets what you do and loves what you love.

It’s that buzz you get from discovering and developing new ideas with people sitting across the room or around the table.

It’s that buzz you feel when your neurons start firing up and making connections.

It’s when you look around and see the smiling faces of friends and acquaintances and know you’re in for several days of learning and laughing.

How do you keep that feeling going throughout the year? That’s a toughie, but I’ll be thinking about it so you might see me revisit this topic soon.

In the meantime, we’re back in business with lots of good online content to absorb this week. If your company has a webinar scheduled for the upcoming month, send me the link. I’ll be happy to feature it as long as it’s not too product-centric.

Tue 8/23 at 9 a.m.* – 10 Website Design and Email Marketing Best Practices for NGOs
This webinar will demonstrate the importance of embracing new website and email marketing design and call-to-action trends. Topics include: trends in nonprofit website design such as layout and strategic use of call-to-action buttons; how to format articles and blog posts to increase your click-through rate; how to ensure your website and email communications are mobile compatible; how to integrate social media into your website and email communications; and tips for building your email list. More info/register.

Host: On Good/Public Interest Registry

Presenter: Heather Mansfield, Nonprofit Tech for Good

*all times are Eastern Daylight Saving Time

Tue 8/23 at 12 p.m. – Social Media 201: Content Curation, Time Management and Audience Engagement
If you’re not seeing any return on the time you’re spending on social platforms or if you’re not sure of next steps, this session is for you. Learn about tools to help you minimize the amount of time you’re spending on social media, while maximizing the size and engagement level of your audience. 1 CMP credit. More info/register.

Sponsor: Visit Mexico

Host: MPI

Presenter: Kristi Casey Sanders, Director of Digital Marketing, MPI

Tue 8/23 at 2 p.m. – What I Know For Sure About Leadership (Association Chat on Huzza)

An association industry professional for more than 25 years, entrepreneur JP Moery’s favorite quote from racing legend Mario Andretti has seemingly set the course for his career path: “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” In this chat, hosted by KiKi L’Italien, founder of Amplified Growth, hear what Moery knows for sure about leadership. Ask questions and even jump on camera as JP and KiKi dig into what leadership means today and how to best face obstacles on a leader’s path. Participate live or view the recording.

Wed 8/24 at 10 a.m. – Coffee, Tea, and PD! – A Happy “Half” Hour

Discuss professional develop (PD) success stories and lessons learned from the 2016 ASAE Annual Meeting. Bring your favorite mid-morning beverage and a plate of your tastiest bites of success, lessons, and exciting developments, to share with your association friends. More info/register.

Organizer: Adrienne Bryant, CAE and the ASAE Professional Development Council

Wed 8/24 at 1 p.m. – Why the AMS Platform Supersedes All Else

With innovation moving today at light speed, you need to leverage a strong platform if you want to deliver a world-class member experience. Stop focusing on features, instead, learn how to: evaluate association management software based on important, often overlooked criteria; avoid hidden costs you may not see on the surface; and attract next generation thinkers and staff with a strong technology platform. More info/register.

Host: Nimble AMS

Thu 8/25 at 12:30 p.m. – Building a Better Digital Strategy for Member-Based Organizations (Thirty on Thursday)

Building and executing a well-planned digital strategy for your member association can increase the quantity and quality of engagement among members, grow membership, and provide insights into the behaviors and interests of members. Learn key strategies and tactics for launching successful member-driven digital experiences and websites; considerations for developing your association’s digital strategy; important features to include in your web and mobile experience; and tips for monitoring, measuring and continually improving the member experience. More info/register.

Sponsor: Ingeniux

Host: .orgCommunity

Presenter: David DeLorenzo, CIO, DelCor Technology Solutions

Thu 8/25 at 1 p.m. – Strategic Pricing for Educational Products

Pricing for education products is all over the map. But pricing is too essential to leave to guesswork. In this session, we look at strategic pricing practices and why you should embrace value-based pricing that focuses on the benefit you deliver to the buyers. We’ll also explore how your education products can be placed on a value continuum that lets you create pricing flexibility to benefit your customers and your bottom line. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: CommPartners


  • Celisa Steele and Jeff Cobb, co-founders, Tagoras
  • Rich Finstein, CEO, CommPartners

Thu 8/25 at 1 p.m. – Increase Engagement and Drive Revenue with Marketing Automation

Learn how organizations are tackling member engagement challenges and achieving great results using email marketing and marketing automation. You’ll gain new perspective and walk away with fresh ideas based on three real life case studies, including how to efficiently welcome and engage new members, a strategic approach to developing a winning lapsed member campaign, and the importance of follow through for growing non dues revenue. 1 CAE credit. More info/register.

Host: ACGI Software

Presenter: Vivian Swertinski, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist, Informz

Thu 8/25 at 2 p.m. – Shake It Off: Member Engagement Taylor Swift Style

Taylor Swift is a one-woman Engagement Machine: her fans receive personalized messages, her songs speak to their experiences, and the public is kept fascinated via a never-ending stream of social media updates. She’s sticky, viral, and audiences can’t seem to get enough. Discover the lessons to her success that can help your association make the most of your relationship with members, including how to use segmentation to target prospects and identify trends that will help you engage with members across all generations. More info/register.

Host: Abila

Presenter: Amanda Myers, Director of Member Strategy (and resident pop culture junkie), Abila

Thu 8/25 at 4 p.m. – Planning and IT Project Management for Nonprofits

This presentation for those who manage nonprofit IT projects will address roles and responsibilities, planning, implementation, and follow up. The webinar will also discuss how to hire consultants, vet vendors, discover your business needs and link them to IT initiatives, gather metrics, and demonstrate ROI. More info/register.

Host: Community IT Innovators


  • Johan Hammerstrom, President and CEO, Community IT Innovators
  • Steve Longenecker, Director of IT Consulting, Community IT Innovators

If you can’t attend a live webinar, go ahead and register if the topic interests you. Most webinar hosts send a link to the recording to all registrants.

Association Brain Food Weekly is published Friday mornings. If your organization offers professional development for the association community, please send me the link via email or Twitter.