How Associations Can Transform Higher Education

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, 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 depress 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”—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 imagine a lot of heads nodding in agreement. But how many associations merely 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? Their paper introduces you to a few associations that are stepping up to this challenge.

Unlike many industry reports, this paper shows associations the role they can play in 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 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 at a great school. 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 the 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 a relevant, dynamic curriculum—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 in life.

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.

Walk Alongside Fear

fearless at digitalNow conference

The word ‘fearless’ was literally front and center this year at the digitalNow conference. In the opening and closing sessions, digitalNow’s Hugh Lee and Don Dea talked about the need for association execs to be fearless.

The choice of ‘fearless’ as the unofficial conference motto irked me. I understand why people find ‘fearless’ inspiring. With all the challenges facing associations and the people who run them, you can’t let fear influence your decisions. You can’t hide your head in the sand and avoid dealing with the scary emotions that come with change and conflict.

Does that mean you have to be fearless? No, a thousand times no. You need to be courageous. That’s not the same thing as being fearless.

But ‘fearless’ is a mindset that gets an audience excited. Who doesn’t want to self-identify as someone who doesn’t fear change. Soon after the ‘fearless’ slide went up, tweets with the hashtag #fearless started appearing in the #diginow stream. Hoorah. Yeah, it’s a macho word, for sure. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against macho, in fact, I like macho.

Admit it, you’re scared.

Hugh and Don weren’t trying to be macho, they were just acknowledging the state of associations today: “The pace of change can lead to paralyzing fear.”

Fear has a way of disguising itself. Instead of admitting it’s fear that’s holding us back from action, we imagine it’s reason, deliberation, common sense, caution, prudence, tact, wisdom, or some other positive attribute. But not fear, no, we’re more progressive than that, right?

Wrong. If you dig deep and keep asking Why, you may find that fear is lying behind the resistance to change. Rightfully so, we fear the possible consequences of change. We fear the effects of failure. We fear losing our reputation, status, or job.

But, I don’t believe in being fearless. Fearless = foolhardy. Fear is a natural, healthy, and acceptable emotion. It’s an instinct that has saved our butts since our knuckle-dragging days. However, we must acknowledge and be okay with fear instead of letting it become an excuse for inaction.

Angel's Landing

Fear and courage co-exist.

Fear can help you prepare for what lies ahead. When you figure out what really scares you about something, you can begin to make peace with that fear. Don’t expect to overcome fear, that’s not the point. Instead, learn to live with fear.

One of the scariest things I’ve ever done is hike Angels Landing, a rock formation in Zion National Park. Once a year I hike out west with my boyfriend Jim and his sister Patty who both love the challenge of scary hikes. I don’t have those genes. I can hike long and hike hard, but I’ve never been good with exposure.

Over the years, hiking with these two, I found myself having to deal with more and more exposure on canyon walls and fins. But nothing like Angels Landing. Take a look at this short video and you’ll understand why. And these too, especially the second video. Just watching these made my hands and feet sweat and tingle.

In the weeks leading up to our trip to Zion, I watched dozens of videos like these so I could get used to the exhausting fear I was going to have to deal with on that hike. Fear came along with me on that hike but I kept going up (and down) one step at a time. Was I fearless? Hell, no, but I was courageous and did something I never thought I could do. Jim and Patty said they gave me a 40% shot at making it to the top. They had more faith in me than I did: I had given myself a 30% shot.

Since then, I haven’t missed a chance to talk about this hike. I find all kinds of ways to bring it up, like this post, because I’m proud of my accomplishment. I accepted my fear and walked alongside and through it. And that’s exactly what any of us should do when we’re dealing with change or some other scary thing.

fear the backseat driver

Let fear sit in the backseat.

Identify, if you can, what scares you, your staff, or your board. Acknowledge it, make room for it and walk through that fear. Walking through fear stretches you, and makes you more resilient and stronger. The courageous aren’t fearless, but they take action despite their fear.

I like author Elizabeth Gilbert’s take on fear. In her recent book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, she says, “Fear will always show up—especially when you’re trying to be inventive or innovative…When people try to kill off their fear, they often end up inadvertently murdering their creativity in the process.”

She advises “making space for fear.” She acknowledges its presence and lets it come along for the ride as long as it sits in the back seat. She never lets it drive and doesn’t even allow any backseat driving.

Help others deal with fear.

You must address fear if you want to successfully manage change. You can’t discount people’s feelings of fear, or their feelings of anxiety, stress, or worry. You have to identify and acknowledge that fear and then help them transition through it. I read somewhere that it’s not the ultimate change that people dread, they dread how they’ll feel during the transition.

How well people adapt to change is a function of many variables, but one is the trust they have in you to provide a safe place for change. In a session about culture at digitalNow, moderator Jamie Notter, co-founder of WorkXO, said the innovators on your staff must trust that when they try something that aligns with your organization’s strategy and goals, they won’t be punished.

Make peace with uncertainty.

“Fear comes from uncertainty. So if we can begin, as a group, to identify those issues that worry us, we can begin to attack what often our associations feel are insurmountable odds,” said Hugh during the opening session.

We will always live in uncertainty. In the closing session, Marc Randolph, best known as the founder of Netflix, talked about the need to move forward in uncertainty – an action that goes against everything your self-preserving brain wants you to do. But, as humans, we have to do it to grow, and as organizations, we have to do it to survive.

What fears have you walked alongside and pushed through? I bragged about my Angels Landing experience, now it’s your turn.

<Twitter photo by Sig VanDamme (fearless), Creative Commons licensed photos by Dale Beckett (Angels Landing) and modernrockstar (backseat driver)>

(This post includes an Amazon affiliate link. I receive a tiny commission if you click on the link and purchase the product.)

Association Brain Food Weekly: 4.4.16

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park

No fooling. Get your learning on by attending a webinar this coming week. If your organization offers professional development for the association community, please send me the link via email or Twitter.

You’ll see several webinars this week from Wild Apricot. When you register for their free Membership Growth Online Summit, you’ll get access to any (or all) of their webinars.

Mon 4/4 at 3 p.m. EDT* – Attract & Retain New Members with a Marketing Funnel

Learn how to build an online marketing funnel—an ongoing and automated marketing strategy for capturing the attention, nurturing, and converting prospects into new members. More info. (CAE credit)

Host: Wild Apricot

Presenter: John Haydon, Marketing & Social Media Expert

*all times are Eastern Daylight Time

Tue 4/5 at 11 a.m. – How to Increase Members with Facebook Ads

Steps for creating a targeted Facebook ad campaign will be explained, including: how much to spend, and how to target members on Facebook, find new members, create copy, and measure results. More info. (CAE credit)

Host: Wild Apricot

Presenter: Shiv Narayanan, Head of Marketing, Wild Apricot

Tue 4/5 at 12:30 p.m. – UBIT: What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know about Sponsorships, Advertising, Royalties, and Cause Marketing 

Learn about current IRS enforcement patterns concerning Unrelated Business Income Tax, proactive practical tips and suggestions, common pitfalls, and what to do if the IRS comes knocking. More info. (1.5 CAE credits)

Host: Venable LLP


  • Jeffrey S. Tenenbaum, Esq., Partner and Chair of the Nonprofit Organizations Practice, Venable LLP
  • Lisa M. Hix, Esq., Partner, Nonprofit Organizations Practice, Venable LLP
  • Lakshmi Sarma Ramani, Esq., General Counsel, National Association for the Education of Young Children

Tue 4/5 at 3 p.m. – How to Be a Google Ads Super Hero – for Charities & Nonprofits

Learn how to build an effective nonprofit Google AdWords campaign that supports your mission, programs, marketing, and fundraising. More info.

Host: Wild Apricot

Presenters: Jason Shim & Mark Hallman, certified Google Partners

Wed 4/6 at 1 p.m. – Fitness for Duty: Managing Your Workforce from a Legal and Medical Viewpoint (FBO Virtual Huddle)

Relevant employment laws that surround employee fitness for duty issues (such as FMLA, ADA, Workers Comp, Drug Free Workplace) will be reviewed. You’ll also learn about the procedures and tools you should have in place to effectively manage (and mitigate liability) on-duty injuries and off-duty illness and injuries that can impact an employee’s ability to safely perform their essential work duties. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: ASAE


  • Melissa Forburger, CAE (moderator), Vice President, Association Management Strategies, Inc.
  • Grace Bradley Kelly, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-CP, Human Resource Consultant, RC Kelly Law Associates

Wed 4/6 at 3 p.m. – Increase Membership Engagement with Social Media

Learn the basic steps to engage your members using social media. Explore a variety of digital strategies and tools to develop a unique member engagement strategy. More info. (CAE credit)

Host: Wild Apricot

Presenter: Amy Sample Ward, CEO, NTEN – The Nonprofit Technology Network

Thu 4/7 at 12 p.m. – The Five Ws of Member Leadership Development

Learn which critical elements to consider when establishing a leadership training program for your members including The Five Ws: Who is it for? Why is it critical in today’s world? What approaches are most successful and what skills are most valuable? When do you start the process? Where does it happen? More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: ASAE


  • Carol Vernon, Principal, Communication Matters, Executive Coaching & Training
  • Anne Marie Pascoe, Director, Radiology Leadership Institute
  • Sheri Singer, President, Singer Communications

Thu 4/7 at 1 p.m. – Amplifying Value and Brand

In this session, we walk through the key components of amplifying value and brand and illustrate these components with a real-world case study. You’ll walk away with a clear model for attracting participants to your lifelong learning offerings and retaining them. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: Meridian Knowledge Solutions


  • Celisa Steele and Jeff Cobb, co-founders of Tagoras
  • Jeff Kristick, president, Meridian Knowledge Solutions

Thu 4/7 at 3 p.m. – How to Turn Millennials into Members

Gain perspective on how the Generation Y/Millennial mindset and recent economic shifts are reshaping the membership value proposition. Learn how to turn that perspective into membership strategies and marketing tactics that work. More info. (CAE credit)

Host: Wild Apricot

Presenter: Sarah Sladek, CEO of XYZ University

Fri 4/8 at 3 p.m. – From the Bottom Up – Tips for Building an Effective Membership Model

Discover how to find and leverage your superusers, improve your onboarding process, and refine your membership model to grow your association. Hear case studies from associations and nonprofits that turned around declining membership and built successful and thriving organizations. More info. (CAE credit)

Host: Wild Apricot

Presenter: Robbie Kellman Baxter, Author, The Membership Economy

Save the date: Thu 4/21 – Sat 4/23 – digitalNow Conference

The best value conference in the association community—excellent program, optimal atmosphere for learning and connecting, and always great food. Registration is limited to association CEOs and team members they bring along. More info. (lots of CAE credits)

Location: Hyatt Regency, Orlando FL

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.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by tivolatman)

4 Truths about the Future of Associations

four truths about the future of associations

“Innovation” is such a buzzword now that I wouldn’t blame association execs for tuning out when they hear it. But I like Jim Carroll’s slant: “Innovation is all about adapting to the future.” Now that’s something we can work with.

Jim Carroll is the opening keynote at the digitalNow conference which will take place in less than a month (April 21-23) in Orlando. Carroll will talk about:

  • technologies and innovations that will affect association business models
  • strategies for reacting to these innovations with greater speed
  • challenges associations will face ahead

Innovating is not about surviving, says Carroll, it’s about thriving. Surviving, like relevance, is a low bar. Associations must aim higher—aim to thrive and become indispensable to their community.

Carroll lays down ten truths about the future. Let’s take a look at four of those truths and think about how your association is handling them.

The future is incredibly fast.

How can you, your staff, and your board keep up? Can you adjust your business processes quickly? How long does it take to discover a need, develop a solution, and roll it out to your community?

Guillermo Ortiz de Zarate’s session at digitalNow, The Lean Startup Changes Everything, is bound to give us some ideas on how to experiment with and speed up program development. Get a sneak preview of his thinking in the white paper he co-authored with Elizabeth Engel: Innovate the Lean Way: Applying Lean Startup Methodology in the Association Environment.

The future involves a huge adaptability gap.

This one blew me away because it’s so true:

“Earlier generations – boomers – have participated in countless change management workshops, reflecting the reality that many of them have long struggled with change. Gen-Connect – today’s 15 and under – will never think of <the> change management issue. They just change.”

Change management experts say it isn’t the actual change we resist, it’s the psychological transition we have to make to accommodate change, that’s the tough part. Adapting to change is a skill set, one you can teach your staff and your members. Today, knowing how to develop new skills is the most important skill of all.

The future is being defined by renegades.

Nearly two years ago, I wrote two articles for Avectra (now Abila) about for-profit online communities: The New Competition: For-Profit Communities with Deep Pockets, part 1 and part 2. Since then these “renegades” have become even more popular and profitable. They saw an opportunity to deliver value to markets long served by associations, and they went for it.

“Increasingly, the future of many an industry is being defined by industry expatriates. When a real innovator can’t innovate within a company, they step outside, form a startup, and spark massive industry change on their own. Before you know, they’ve reinvented you.”

Keep an eye on innovators and hold them close. What if associations had been part of these ventures? What if associations were agile enough to play the game at that level?

The future involves partnership.

How can you help your members—both professional and vendor members—become more successful? Associations have always declared themselves member-centric, but too often their perspective is inside-out rather than outside-in, as Anna Caraveli points out in her excellent book, The Demand Perspective. The value proposition has always been based on what the association says is valuable, not what members believe is valuable. Crazy, right?

Partnering means regularly listening to members (and non-members) and involving them in the early stages of discussions about value delivery—behaving like a real partner in their success. Don’t assume you know what members need, instead be guided by member behavior (data) and conversations for your direction.

To do this, you’ll have to schedule more member interaction than you’re used to, and not just interaction with the usual suspects, but interaction with “regular” members and non-members too. But think about all you’ll learn—they call this business intelligence for a reason.

Don’t ignore those other members—you know, the vendors, consultants, affiliates, associates, or whatever you call them. Here’s what you should call them—partners. How can they help you become more successful and, in turn, how can you help them become more successful? What can you learn from each other? What access and resources can you provide each other?

Associations and their boards need to get over themselves and treat vendor members as partners in their success. You can help each other succeed if you get together and figure out how to deliver value to members in ways that help both of you.

The future requires rethinking value.

This bonus truth is from me. Many associations are still struggling financially and would benefit from rethinking the whole non-dues revenue issue. Heck, rethink the whole value issue. If you’re struggling, it’s a sign you aren’t delivering value to your community. If you were, they would be joining, renewing, registering, sponsoring, and buying.

The digitalNow conference is a great opportunity to get away for a few days to rethink everything in the company of curious association execs who don’t accept mere relevance. The speakers from outside and inside our industry poke at our assumptions and introduce us to new ideas. I can’t wait.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Rennett Stowe)

Association Brain Food Weekly: 3.21.16

inspiration for association learning

Spring is the perfect time to nurture your professional growth. You can start doing that by setting aside one hour a week for you. Maybe one of these virtual or in-person events will be a good place to start.

Mon 3/12 at 9 a.m. Central (networking at 8:30 a.m.) – Dallas Fort Worth Association Executives Association Day

DFWAE has put together a good-looking slate of sessions—good luck making your choices! Susan Robertson, CAE from ASAE is the keynote. She visited my state SAE a few years ago and I remember it being one of the most interesting keynotes we’ve had. Trade show too! Location: Arlington Convention Center, Arlington TX. More info.

Tue 3/22 at 12 p.m. Eastern DT* – Managing the Client AMC Relationship (ASAE AMC Section Council Virtual Lunch)

Your approach to client relationship management is influenced by the partnership phase and staff/volunteer dynamics—a balancing act. Hear about real life examples and take home tips on scope discovery, board dynamics, metrics for success, and more. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: ASAE AMC Section Council


  • Jodi Araujo, CEM (moderator), Entrepreneurial Industry & Corporate Segment Leader, Association Headquarters
  • Robert Waller, Jr., CAE, President & CEO, Association Headquarters

*all times are Eastern Daylight Time

Tue 3/22 at 12 p.m. – Columbia (MD) Idea Swap for Marketing

Learn how to keep your marketing efforts fresh, current, and relevant without breaking your budget. Grimm will share lessons learned, goals reached, and efforts still underway to brand and market her association. She’ll bring her stories and ask for yours. Location: Maryland Association for Justice, 6240 Old Dobbin Ln, Columbia MD. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Presenter: Kim Grimm, Deputy Director of the National Association for Catering and Events

Tue 3/22 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. – Network with FUEL (AENC’s Young Professionals)

Join AENC’s young professionals for a few hours of fun and good beer. No preregistration required. Pay for your own food and beverages. Location: Clouds Brewing, 126 N West Street, Raleigh NC.

Tue 3/22 from 5:30 to 7:30 – Association Happy Hour in Washington, DC

Meanwhile in DC, a cross-generational mix of association professionals will be hanging out at BlackFinn. That’s all I know!

Wed 3/23 – AENC Technology 20.16 Conference

Don’t miss this conference. Session topics include: websites, gamification and polling, data strategies, conference social media ambassadors, virtual events, cybersecurity, working with IT vendors, technology trends, plus roundtable discussions. We’ve put together a flexible schedule—choose from four registration options: full day, morning, afternoon, or luncheon keynote. Location: Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh NC. More info. (up to 5.25 CAE credits)

Keynote: Andy Steggles, president and chief customer officer of Higher Logic

See you there!

Wed 3/23 at 12 p.m. – Embracing the Board’s Duty of Foresight

Through the consistent practice of foresight, association boards, along with their staff partners, can collaborate to explore emerging directions, and make the bold decisions required to create the future. Learn how to imagine an amazing future for your association and stakeholders, and take action to prepare for whatever may come next. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: YourMembership

Presenter: Jeff De Cagna, FASAE, Principled Innovation LLC

Thu 3/24 at 12 p.m. – Make Your Resume Relevant: Trends and Best Practices 

Get introduced to resume trends on the rise—from infographic resumes to ATS-optimized text and more—and see how they fit into your professional profile. You’ll also get practical tips for crafting a relevant resume—no matter what kind of work you do. More info.

Host: Association CareerHQ (ASAE)

Presenter: Cheryl Palmer, M.Ed., CPRW, Call to Career

Thu 3/24 at 12 p.m. – Using Data to Make Smart Decisions

Get practical tips on how to incorporate data into your current decision-making processes and encourage staff to factor data into their everyday work. More info.

Host: Idealware

Presenter: Laura Quinn, Director of Partnerships and Knowledge, Idealware

Thu 3/24 at 2 p.m. – Maximizing Culture and Member Value in Associations

“Awesomely Simple” author John Spence talks about developing culture, nurturing top talent and giving members real value. More info.

Host: Monomyth Collaborative

Thu 3/24 at 2 p.m. – 10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Meet (or Surpass) Your Membership Engagement Goals for 2016

Hear about ten ways to increase member engagement rates as well as ten association and nonprofit examples of best practices. More info.

Host: Incept

Presenter: Adam Snyder, President, Incept

Fri 3/25 at 3 p.m. – Measuring: Blogging Your Brand

Learn how to measure the success of your blog. Find out what metrics are important, and how to collect and interpret them so your organization’s blog thrives. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: HighRoad Solution

Presenter: Maneesha Manges, Director of Inbound, HighRoad Solution

SAVE THE DATE: Thu 4/21 – Sat 4/23 – digitalNow

I believe this is the best value conference in the association community—excellent program, optimal atmosphere for learning and connecting, and always great food. Registration is limited to association CEOs and any team members they bring with them. Location: Hyatt Regency, Orlando FL. More info.

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

If your organization offers professional development for association executives, please send me the link via email or Twitter. Every Friday morning, I publish an Association Brain Food Weekly that lists the coming week’s events.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Norbert Reimer)

Association Brain Food Weekly: 3.14.16

inspiration - photo by Loreto Manriquez

This week’s list is full of learning opportunities—webinars, Blab chat, luncheon and brown bag. 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.

Tue 3/15 at 2 p.m. Eastern* – Project Management Techniques for Non-Project Managers (Association Chat on Blab)

Project management…it’s an art and a skill. What if you had the guidance of an expert in project management who could show you some great techniques for working with your current projects? Rebecca Achurch joins Association Chat to make project management more…er, manageable. Join live or view the recording on Blab.

*all times are Eastern

Tue 3/15 at 3 p.m. – Get the Word Out! Increase Your Association’s Value Proposition and Reach with Digital Events

Hear how digital events helped four associations increase engagement and brand awareness, and drive membership, attendance, and revenue. Learn how to present a business case to your leadership for adding digital events to your offerings. More info. (PCMA members only, I believe.)

Host: PCMA, Calgary Meetings & Convention, and Virtual Edge Institute


  • James Parker at President, Digitell
  • Jerome Bruce, CAE, CMM, CMP, CEM, Director of Meetings, Association of Government Accountants
  • Dana Freker Doody, VP of Corporate Communications, The Expo Group
  • Melissa Lanouette, Director of Meetings and Events, National Speakers Association

Wed 3/16 at 1:30 p.m. – What Can You Learn from Gaming That Will Boost Member Engagement?

Learn how to use gamification strategies and techniques to increase and deepen member engagement, and motivate people to achieve goals. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: .orgCommunity


  • Janna Fiester, Executive Creative Director, Sandstorm
  • Sandy Marsico, CEO, Sandstorm

Wed 3/16 at 2 p.m. – Rogue Chapters

Do you have a chapter that refuses to follow brand standards or charter requirements, or is operating as its own, separate organization? Hear how three associations handled their rogue, misbehaving chapters and learn preventive maintenance tips to avoid such situations. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: ASAE Component Relations Section


  • Debra Sher, CAE (moderator), International Society for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
  • Meredith Gibson, Chief Operating Officer, Association for Women in Science
  • Lowell Aplebaum, CAE, Chief Operating Officer, American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
  • Dana Aragon, CAE, VP of Affiliate & Member Relations, American Society of Radiologic Technologists
  • Jeff Altman, Esq., Partner, Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP

Wed 3/16 at 1 p.m. – Road to Innovation: Why the AMS Platform Supersedes All Else

You association needs to leverage a strong platform to deliver a world class member experience. Learn how to evaluate association management software (AMS) based on three important yet often overlooked criteria; avoid hidden costs; and attract next generation thinkers and staff with a strong technology platform. More info.

Host: Nimble AMS

Wed 3/16 at 1 p.m. – Building a More Collaborative Nonprofit

Learn ten strategies for improving cross-departmental collaboration at your nonprofit. More info. (1 CFRE credit)

Thu 3/17 at 12 p.m. (11:30 a.m. networking) – Member Engagement: Recruiting, Retaining and Engaging the Future of Your Association (Alexandria Brown Bag)

Location: Marketing General, Inc. (MGI), Alexandria, VA

The upcoming generations are a diverse group who embrace technology, communicate in many mediums, and value different content and services from their associations. Hear about proven strategies to recruit, retain, and engage young members, and case studies of what’s worked and what hasn’t. More info.

Presenter: Amalea Hijar, Associate Director, Member Strategy, American College of Cardiology

Thu 3/17 at 12 p.m. – Spice Up Your Website with Interactive Calls-to-Action (Inbound Lunch Bunch)

More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: HighRoad Solution

Thu 3/17 at 1 p.m. – Expert Advice on Choosing a Donor Management System

Learn how to decide whether you need a new system, what an effective selection process looks like, and the main points of differentiation among available systems. More info.

Host: Idealware and NeonCRM


  • Karen Graham (moderator), Executive Director, Idealware
  • Robert Weiner, Robert L. Weiner Consulting
  • Eric Leland, Five Paths
  • Brian Lauterbach, CEO, DonorPath

Thu 3/17 at 2 p.m. – Next Generation Credentialing

Learn about trends and models within the credentialing market that are changing the game, the step-by-step process to successfully implement or enhance an online credentialing program, and the technology needed to deliver a robust end-user experience. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: Abila


  • Greg Melia, CAE, Chief Member Relations and Strategy Development Office, ASAE
  • Tracy Petrillo, Ed.D., CAE, Chief Learning Officer, EDUCAUSE

Thu 3/17 at 2 p.m. – Site Visits Revisited: Little Known Ways to Enhance the Site Inspection Process, Backed by Research

To learn more about what’s important during the site visit, Social Tables conducted a survey of 350 event planners and 350 property managers to discuss the pain points and opportunities of a site visit. Learn what the survey revealed, including ways for properties to close more business after site visits, and for planners to make sure the space is a perfect fit for their event. More info. (PCMA members only, I believe.)

Host: PCMA

Presenter: Dan Berger, CEO, Social Tables

Thu 3/17 at 1 p.m. – Delivering a Unified Learning Experience
Learn how Unified Learning provides reusability, flexibility, and ease of use for professional development. See how a single integrated system provides state-of-the-art solutions for eLearning, communities and virtual conferences, and visit two live case study sites. More info. (.5 CAE credit)

Host: iCohere


  • Amanda Batson, ADB Partners
  • Lance A. Simon, CGMP, CVEP, iCohere

Fri 3/18 at 11:30 a.m. – How Are You Engaging Your Young Professionals? (AENC CEO Luncheon)

Location: downtown Raleigh, NC

Facilitator: Lynette Tolson, Executive Director, NC Public Health Association

Attendance limited to association executive directors only. More info. (1.5 CAE credits)

Fri 3/18 at 1 p.m. – How to Get More Sponsors for Your Virtual Conference 

Go behind-the-scenes to see how organizations showcase sponsors at a virtual conference. Learn about the most important sponsorship opportunities and the key benefits to highlight when soliciting sponsors. More info. (.5 CAE credit)

Host: iCohere

Presenter, Lance A. Simon, CGMP, CVEP, iCohere

Fri 3/18 at 2 p.m. – How to Turn Your Webinars into Self-Paced, Revenue-Generating Courses 

Learn how to transform a webinar into a revenue-generating CE self-paced course. More info. (.5 CAE credit)

Host: iCohere

Presenter, Lance A. Simon, CGMP, CVEP, iCohere

Fri 3/18 at 3 p.m. – Rethinking Your Email Workflow

Investigate different ways to rethink your email workflow and identify gaps and digital touchpoints where you might be able to gain additional insight. Learn how to move recipients from passive content consumers to actively, engaged participants in dialog with your association. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: HighRoad Solution

Presenter: Suzanne Carawan, Chief Marketing Officer, HighRoad Solution

If your organization offers professional development for association executives, please send me the link via email or Twitter. Every Friday morning, I publish an Association Brain Food Weekly that lists the coming week’s events.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Loreto Manriquez)

Association Brain Food Weekly: 3.7.16

Inspiration - thermal activity in Yellowstone

Here’s a list of upcoming free education for the association community. Set aside an hour next week for your professional development. If we want to thrive, personally and professionally, we must stay curious and keep learning.

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

Tue 3/8 at 2 p.m. Eastern* – Moving Meetings from Mindless to Mindful

Association Chat on Blab: How do you take your meetings from mindLESS to mindFUL? How can you prepare yourself to make the most of the meetings you attend? Meet the master of engagement, Roger Haskett, who will share how to make your meetings more meaningful for participants and for yourselves. Join live or view the recording.

Host: KiKi L’Italien of Amplified Growth

*all times are Eastern

Tue 3/8 at 3 p.m. – Encouraging Participation from Young Professionals

Montgomery County, MD Idea Swap: The discussion will cover text messaging, virtual learning opportunities, virtual exhibit hall, micro- or ad hoc volunteering and other ideas that may be more appealing to younger professionals. More info.

Facilitator: Colleen Harper, CAE, Director of Membership & Marketing at A.S.P.E.N

Location: A.S.P.E.N in Silver Spring, MD

Tue 3/8 at 3:30 p.m. – Adult Learners and eLearning

This free monthly webinar series, Unified Learning Design Studio, will help you building better eLearning programs for your association. Sessions air the second Tuesday of each month. More info. (1 CAE credit per session)

Host: iCohere Academy

Speakers: Amanda Batson, Ph.D., education architect and consultant at ADB Partners, and Lance Simon, vice president of client and government solutions at iCohere

Wed 3/9 at 11:00 a.m. – Social Media Engagement

Learn about tools that can help you become more strategically social. Understand how social engagement can help drive new revenues, memberships and business. More info.

Host: Altai Systems

Thu 3/10 at 1:00 p.m. – Designing and Facilitating Social Learning

Facilitating effective social learning experiences is one of the key ways that associations—which are social by nature—can generate significant value for their members. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: CommPartners

Speakers: Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele of Tagoras

Fri 3/11 at 3 p.m. – Best Practices: Blogging Your Brand

Delve deeper into the best practices of blogging your brand. We’ll explore who’s doing it right, what are the important criteria that make it successful and how you can do it. More info. (1 CAE credit)

Host: HighRoad Solution

Speaker: Maneesha Manges, Director of Inbound at HighRoad Solution

If your organization offers professional development for association executives, please send me the link via email or Twitter. Every Friday morning, I publish an Association Brain Food Weekly that lists the coming week’s events.

Association Brain Food Weekly: 2.29.16

inspiration - Cascade Canyon Trail in Grand Teton National Park

I hope you’ve been able to take advantage of some of the free, quality education offered by the association community. With all the challenges faced by associations these days, these webinars help us hear new perspectives and learn about new practices and technology. If you can’t make the live webinar, register anyways. Sometimes, you’ll receive a link to a recording you can listen to while eating lunch at your desk.

Mon 2/29 at 11 a.m. Eastern*- The Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016

Research firm Gartner presents the trends they believe will drive the greatest disruption to the IT landscape over the next three years and the technology needed to become a digital business. Learn how these trends and technologies are evolving and the actions you can take today. Register.

Speaker: David W. Cearley, VP & Gartner Fellow

*all times are Eastern

Mon 2/29 at 2 p.m. – The Completely Revised Guide to Great Board Recruitment

Learn a practical set of steps you can take to enrich and improve your governance while minimizing the possibility of bringing nonfunctional or negative forces into your board room. Register.

Hosts: BoardEffect and Nonprofit Quarterly

Speakers: Vernetta Walker, vice president of programs and chief governance officer for BoardSource, Ruth McCambridge, editor-in-chief of Nonprofit Quarterly and Anasuya Sengupta, board member of Nonprofit Quarterly

Tue 3/1 at 2 p.m. – Website Analytics

The ASAE Technology Council takes over Association Chat this week to talk about website monitoring and analytics. Join live or view the recording on Blab.

Wed 3/2 at 12 p.m. – Integration Celebration: The Automation Ecosystem

With the continued expansion of digital channels and the ability to capture data at every user touchpoint, the immense amount of data now available can be used to better understand and target your members/customers. Learn how associations are building ecosystems where data can flow freely between application databases to allow for automation and analysis. Register. (1 CAE credit)

Hosts: ASAE and HighRoad Solution

Speaker: Suzanne Carawan, Chief Marketing Officer at HighRoad Solution

Thu 3/3 at 1 p.m. – Ultimate Member Engagement: The Power of Data-Driven Decision Making

Learn how to leverage visualizations and analytics to better understand the data in your AMS, mine the right data to improve your member’s experience, and determine a successful ROI on your collection and analysis of member data. Don’t just sit on a vast amount of untapped member data, find out how to start making data-driven decisions. Register.

Host: Impexium

Thu 3/3 at 2 p.m. – Breaking Free of Conference Learning Myths

In an effort to improve conferences and help attendees, associations have pushed the existing conference model into hyperdrive, offering more and asking attendees to consume as much as possible. These overly-scheduled events negatively affect attendees’ learning and quality networking in the long run. This webinar will help you break free of myths about conference experiences, learning and networking and find ways to hardwire conferences to organically develop the natural intelligence of your attendees. Register.

Host: Velvet Chainsaw Consulting

Speaker: Jeff Hurt, EVP, Education and Engagement at Velvet Chainsaw

If your organization offers professional development for association executives, please send me the link via email or Twitter. Every Friday morning, I publish an Association Brain Food Weekly that lists the coming week’s events.

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