That’s Not the Real Me: How Vanity Sabotages Facebook Advertising by Louie Herr

I find this idea both hilarious and accurate, especially this: “We are actors on a stage. Shakespeare, as ever, proves prescient.” We’re a crafty bunch, showing off our best selves on Facebook, sometimes cool, sometimes not. Recently I’ve posted several photos of backyard wildlife – turtles, spiders, lizards – not sure what I’m telling advertisers and the rest of my Facebook friends with that display. I’m sure to return to posting oh-so-fascinating snippets of my life soon. After all, I have an image to maintain.

Example of a Humanized Culture by Jamie Notter

The Netflix Culture slidedeck has been around a while but it rocked my world only this week. There’s a lot in there – 126 slides – but it’s well worth scrolling through — a peek into an inspirational workplace. Jamie says, “It’s not about values that just sound nice (integrity, honesty, diversity, etc.). It’s about behaviors and skills that are literally valued by you and others in the workplace.”

Use Your Brain: Why Marketers Must Understand Neuroscience by Mary Beth McEuen and Emily Falk

Marketing never gets boring because it focuses on what makes us tick. McEuen and Falk tell us to follow the RULE: Reframe, Understand, Listen, and Engage your audience.

You Can’t Start the Revolution from the Country Club by Anil Dash

A new paid platform,, could be a rival to Twitter, after all, all the cool tech kids hang out there. And why not, the masses have invaded their precious Twitter so they need a new place to hang out and stroke each other’s egos. Life continues to have moments of high school. But I don’t completely blame them. I’ve had issues with Twitter lately, too much broadcasting (guilty) and not enough conversation. I’m determined to change my behavior and reclaim Twitter for conversation.

Dash says these “gated communities” like risk being exclusive. “Building a social tool for “just us geeks” permanently privileges the few people who get in the door first, which means you’re giving a huge leg up to those who already have a pretty good set of advantages to begin with.”

Why Web Literacy Should Be Part of Every Education by Cathy Davidson and Mark Surman

Web literacy should be part of every adult’s toolbox too, but sadly it isn’t. Davidson and Surman make a call for web literacy in K-12 education. “…if web literacy, including web programming, was adopted by every school as a fourth basic literacy, kids would not only learn how to code, they would learn about interactivity, collaboration, the melding of the artistic and the scientific, creativity, and precision.”

And, in other news…

The web is full of chatter today about Lance Armstrong, a fallen hero for many, a relentless bully for others. It’s time to turn away from that era of cycling and its doping culture, and focus on cleaning up the sport. That’s the mission of Jonathan Vaughters, one of Armstrong’s former teammates who now manages the Garmin-Sharp cycling team. Check out his NY Times op-ed about his thoughts on (and experience with) doping.

Meanwhile, the magnificently beautiful state of Colorado is hosting the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Yesterday, one of my cycling heroes, Jens Voigt, won the stage. Jens is known in the cycling community as the guy who will “go full gas” and sacrifice himself, in terms of pain, to help out the team leader. “Shut up, legs!” is one of his mantras. His quirky sense of humor comes through in his tweets, his blog at Bicycling magazine, and interviews. This lovable beast, and I use that term with respect and affection, turns 41 in less than a month, and has already announced that he’ll race again next season. Not bad for an old guy.

Jens Voigt after winning Stage 4 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge – screenshot from Bicycling magazine video

Quiz time:

  1. How often do you try a new recipe? A different gas station or restaurant? An unfamiliar magazine or radio station?
  2. When’s the last time you talked with someone about an idea or project that flopped, or asked for constructive criticism?
  3. When did you last seek ideas from someone with a different perspective? Or collaborate with a colleague from another department?
  4. Who lights up your office with their energy, passion and creativity? Is it you?
  5. Whose reactions concern you the most: your boss, the CEO, leadership or the average member?

These questions are based on traits identified by Jasper Visser as signs of a good organizational attitude. Visser is a digital strategist and workshop facilitator who works primarily with museums. His recent post, The Future is About Attitude, Not Technology, got me thinking about individual and organizational attitude.

You can have the biggest technology budget on the block, but if your association’s culture and attitude is stuck in the 20th century, that slick AMS or online community is only going to take you so far.

When Visser looks at museums that have successfully adopted new media and technology, he sees five common characteristics that hint at the attitude organizations need to succeed in the 21st century.

Read about these five characteristics at the Avectra blog.

the future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty

Photo by Stephanie Vacher (Flickr)

I fell into the association world. During the first interview my future boss and I hit it off talking about food and travel. The position sounded interesting so I bit.

I’m not the only one. I bet many of you accidentally landed in associations. After that first job, we were hooked. We were promoted or moved to another association. We learned that despite some similarities, each association is unique.

Even if you’re an association veteran, you still need to get oriented to your new one. Orientation shouldn’t only entail filling out forms and signing the employee handbook. It should help you understand your new organization, members and responsibilities.

What should associations teach new staff? I have a few ideas of my own, but I also reached out to the Twitter community to see what they thought.

A day in the life of your member

When I worked at NAHB, I attended a two-day class for local and state association CEOs. We learned about the entire home building process from land purchase to home closing. At the end of the two days, I finally had some understanding of what our members really did for a living.

Please read more about new employee onboarding (and the rest of this post) at the Avectra blog.

new employee orientation onboarding training association

Photo by U.S. Army/Flickr familymwr

The last few nights I’ve watched news stories about Herman Cain and the National Restaurant Association (NRA). I can’t help thinking about the whole ugly situation through an association management lens. I’m not going to dive into the details or the political ramifications, and I certainly don’t intend to express any political opinions in this post. I’m assuming the best and the worst to get a complete picture for purely hypothetical reasons.

Imagine, instead of the NRA, this is your association. A never-ending story about one of your past CEOs (or elected volunteer leader) ends up on the nightly news. I’m sure it’s happened before, but I doubt the past CEO was running for president.

I feel bad for the NRA staff. You know everyone there is getting the third degree from their family and friends. Even though they’re in the spotlight dealing with a haunting situation from the past, work goes on — trade shows, educational sessions, publications, lobbying, research, event planning, member service – it doesn’t stop.

The story is still unfolding but I can’t wait. I keep thinking about all the issues it raises. It provides an opportunity to step back and say, “What if this was us?”

Crisis management

Above all, it’s a story about crisis management and communication. I haven’t been paying close enough attention to know how the NRA has handled that, but I’m not writing about them, so it doesn’t matter for my purpose. Every PR professional and CAE candidate knows you need to have a crisis management plan, just like you need disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

You also need to be out in front when a crisis hits. With social media, it doesn’t take long for a rumor to turn into a full-blown disaster. Even if you’re not participating in social media, you better be monitoring social media. You’d think everyone would know this by now, but I’m sure there are some organizations that don’t even have Google Alerts on their name.

I can only imagine the tension at NRA. I’m sure the HR and executive teams are in constant meeting mode. How stressful. I hope, for their sakes, they’ve been as open and honest as much as their confidentiality agreements allow. We see how Cain suffered because he didn’t appear as forthcoming and transparent as he should have.

Make sure your staff is informed about their roles and responsibilities during a crisis and they know what’s at stake for the association mission and members. At NAHB we had an ugly episode: someone on staff was hounded by an angry group for his part on a non-profit board – a board completely unrelated to the homebuilding industry. We expected protests and media at our front door. I don’t recall anything awful occurring, but we were ready. Everyone was informed enough to understand the situation and reminded about what to do if approached or contacted by anyone.

Brand management

I got really peeved off by some of the coverage of the NRA, especially when a ratings-hungry commentator portrayed the NRA only as the representative of national corporations, like McDonalds and Pizza Hut. He called for viewers to boycott NRA members while showing a dozen member logos (mostly fast food) and a headshot of NRA’s CEO. I guess he doesn’t care about all the employees whose earnings depend on those chains. I’m sensitive about this because I know from personal membership experience that NRA also represents, assists and educates smaller restaurants, like the independently-owned one I used to manage.

No matter what you think about the NRA, brand identity is the issue here. Is it clear from your homepage and other online outposts who your members are? What they contribute to the economy and community? Could you appear more human? Relatable? Likeable? Don’t be an easy target for rabble-rousers.

Culture and counsel

Innocent or guilty, the fact that there were three allegations of sexual harassment has to give you pause, even if they’re all baseless. I can’t help thinking, what type of culture leads to this? Or maybe all was well and this is just a case of three messed-up work relationships and the resulting misperceptions. One commentator asked Cain if he was the kind of CEO who made awkward comments to employees and didn’t know it. For the record, he did say “no,” but seriously, would he even know?

If those allegations were true, why didn’t anyone say anything to him about how others perceived his behavior? Because he’s the boss? Bring in the board chair to counsel him.

It’s an ugly situation. Maybe someday a brave soul from the NRA will do a conference session about how they handled it and lessons learned. Yuck. I wish everyone over there a hasty return to business as usual.

What other association management lessons are you seeing in this story?

If you’re behind in your blog reading, like I am, let me help you out by suggesting a few of my recent favorites. Three of these bloggers have something in common, can you figure out what it is?

Long ago I stopped trying to keep up with Facebook changes. My work doesn’t require me to be a Facebook expert, so why not let the experts figure it out and soon enough I’ll learn from them everything I need to know. Maddie Grant at Socialfish, who’s an expert herself, raved about this post by Tonia Ries at The Realtime Report about the impact of recent Facebook changes on fan (or brand) pages. Tonia’s linked to dozens of other resources if you want even more information.

It isn’t often you come across such a helpful post as this one from Karl Sakas. He suggests eight questions to ask a SEO agency before signing a contract. SEO is critical for website traffic, but there are a lot of snake oil types out there who can talk a good talk but won’t be good for you in the long run.

Phil Buckley draws upon what he learned about motivation from Daniel Pink’s book Drive to understand the real reasons for an employee’s resignation. In his post What I Learned from a Resignation he shows how he’s drawing on that new knowledge to recruit employees.

I love the advice that Tim Giuliani shares with us from Guy Kawasaki: Don’t Write a Mission Statement, Write a Mantra. Guy says don’t hire an expensive consultant to write a useless complicated mission statement; instead write it yourself, a simple mantra that makes sense to everyone. I once heard someone say, if your mission statement can’t fit on a t-shirt, it’s too long.

Laurie Ruettimann has been on a TRUTH roll lately with one brilliant post after another. She mixes them up with HR humor and her usual brand of irreverent snarky wit. Here’s one of her brilliant ones: The Only Competitor You Have Is In Your Head. And another, You Can Be Average.

Do you know what three of these bloggers have in common? They’re from Raleigh! I didn’t plan that, it just can’t be helped; we have a big bunch of smarties here in the Triangle.

good reading selected by Deirdre Reid Raleigh freelance writer

Our fair city -- photo by twbuckner/Flickr

While the association community flies this weekend to St. Louis for the annual ASAE conference, I’ll be driving a few hours to spend a week with lots of family and friends at beautiful Ocean Isle Beach here in North Carolina. I’m sad about missing the opportunity to spend time with friends at ASAE, but I’m easily consoled by the thought of a coastal breeze, warm water and sand between my toes.

I’ll leave you with something to read while I’m gone.

Tasty Recipes

On my Grabbing the Gusto blog, there are three new chicken recipes to check out – blueberry chipotle, Milanese and rosemary walnut. I’m always on the hunt for good fish recipes. Recently I made sweet spicy glazed salmon, citrus coconut tilapia and Mediterranean braised cod.

If you’re looking for a potato salad recipe that doesn’t use mayonnaise, I have two options – southwestern and lemon spinach herb. In the veggie department, try haricot verts (green beans), broccoli rabe or summer vegetables with pesto. One of my favorite new recipes is Mexican shrimp cocktail. If you’re looking for other truly delicious appetizers, try eggplant caponata or white bean dip with homemade pita chips.

Meaty Blog Posts

Every week I write a blog post for my client Avectra, an association management software and online community platform vendor. I love how Avectra uses their blog to share association success stories, and I’m very happy to be a part of that.

Be the Host with the Most: Twitter Chats for Associations

Imagine a weekly conversation with newfound friends about topics that inform and inspire. That’s the power of a good Twitter chat. Read more at Avectra about how two associations host and participate in Twitter chats with their members.

I Gave at the Office: Community Service at the Association

Community service events provide a membership experience that’s more rewarding and memorable than the usual association networking, meetings and education. Here’s a closer look at an association (ACC) experimenting for the first time with community service at its conference and a communications firm (Capstrat) whose staff organizes and participates in an annual week of community service. Read more at Avectra about how ACC and Capstrat pulled off successful and fun community service events.

Associations: Follow the President and Librarians to the Virtual Town Hall

President Obama held a Twitter town hall that was broadcast via a live webcast. More than 70,000 tweets were sent to him. But he wasn’t the first one to do this. The librarians were way ahead of him. The American Library Association held their first Virtual Town Hall in June. Read at Avectra how virtual town halls give members the opportunity to feel and act like members.

Six Association Lessons from the Tour de France

For three weeks I was glued to my TV for the live morning broadcast of the Tour de France. In thinking about why I love (okay, obsess over) the Tour so much, I realized it illustrates principles that apply to the association industry. Read more at Avectra about what the Tour de France can teach us about management and leadership.

Secrets to a Tightly Knit Association Community

Ravelry, an online community for knitters, crocheters and other lovers of the fiber arts, was launched in January 2007 by a husband-wife team, she’s the knitter and he’s the coder. It’s a gigantic community of 1.4 million registered members — 400,000 of whom visit monthly. Every day the founders invite 1,500 new users from a waiting list. What could an association possibly learn from such a behemoth? Read more at Avectra about lessons from Ravelry for your online community.

Virtual Work in the Association World

At a workplace flexibility forum President Obama said, “Work is what you do, not where you do it.” I live that principle as a freelancer, but, for most of you, ‘work’ is the association office. Maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. Read more at Avectra about how virtual work can benefit both an organization and its employees.

raleigh freelance writer

While the household staff packs my trunks for the beach, I'll see what's happening on Twitter. Ta ta! (photo by Mike Licht)

One of the many things I love about the Christmas season is how it brings out the generous side of people. In a timely post Bob Bessette shares some ways we can blog for good. He definitely got me thinking about how I might use my writing skills to help out a local charity. Another way to help out good causes is to sign up to be a micro-volunteer with the Sparked network where you can “turn your spare time into social good.” Once you sign up, select causes and identify your skills, Sparked will send you email alerts when an organization needs your help.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the ideal time to reflect and reset. I’ve written at SmartBlog Insights about setting time aside at work to reboot. Carol-Anne Moutinho shares several ways to help your nonprofit staff unleash their creative energy. Her ideas can work for any organization at any time, so don’t skip this one.

volunteering blogging Dan Flavin staff creativity

untitled (to you, Heiner, with admiration and affection) by Dan Flavin at the National Gallery of Art, photo by EB Morse

Here’s a fascinating case about the perennial question — what is art. A British art gallery importing disassembled artwork by Dan Flavin and Bill Viola for an exhibit was taxed by customs at the standard 20% rate, instead of the 5% artwork rate. Customs classified Flavin’s work as “lighting fittings” rather than art, and the European Commission later agreed. As the post notes, this shows how “modern” art can still bewilder some people, just like in 1926 when Brancusi’s Bird in Space was classified as “Kitchen Utensils and Hospital Supplies.”

I haven’t suggested a Twitter follow in this series yet. I get a lot of good reading suggestions from Justin Levy’s @jlevymedia account. This isn’t his personal account, but a feed of posts he finds worth sharing, a mix of social media content and posts that appeal to freelancers and other creative types.

Jeff Cobb at Mission to Learn saves the day with his list of ten last minute gifts for lifelong learners. As a self-identified lifelong learner myself, I can vouch for the accuracy of this list. I’m reading a book by Natalie Angier, The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, and she recommends buying a dissecting, or stereo, microscope (that would fall under #4, Experiment, on Jeff’s list). They’re not cheap, but maybe you can find one at a yard sale, that’s where I’m looking. She says it’s “a modest price to pay for revelation, revolution, and — let’s push this envelope out of the box while we’re at it — personal salvation.” Wow. Check out Jeff’s list for your own personal salvation.

I thought it was rather generous of Santa’s agency to publish his brand guidelines for all to see. Lots to learn here about that jolly old fellow. Yet I must warn you that Santa spelled backward, atnas, is not Lithuanian for chimney, as far as I can tell. Yes, I’m just gullible enough to check things like that. However, I’m sure the rest is all true. Merry Christmas!

staff creativity blogging volunteering santa branding dan flavin

flickr photo by LadyDragonflyCC

In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I’m publishing a post today. I normally don’t publish on Saturdays. Saturdays are usually devoted to fun and, if I make time, reading. Reading during the week is purposeful; my goal is to keep up and ahead. But during the weekend, it’s more relaxed, for pleasure and intellectual stimulation.

This week I wrote about my wish for more fresh content on weekends. The post was inspired by the realization I had last weekend that my Facebook newsfeed was devoid of updates from organizations I follow. And my Google Reader, once I emptied it, wasn’t being populated by new posts to read. On the weekends I’m reading but not too many are publishing.

I learned through comments and tweets that most people aren’t reading or visiting blogs on the weekends. There are some of us, but we seem to be the exception. My blog traffic is quieter on the weekends so that proves that point.

But for those oddballs like me out there, here’s a quick peek at some of my recent guest posts on other blogs.

Tips to Reboot Your .Org Workforce’s Mindset at SmartBlog Insights – Inspired by astronauts and the Overview Effect, I share ways to “reset” at work.

BYO Meeting Evaluation Forms, Parts 1 and 2, at SmartBlog Insights – Too many times we want to give feedback about a meeting or conference, but the evaluation form doesn’t address our frustrations.

Even Small Staffs Can Blog at Splash – Yes, there are ways to manage a blog and publish content, even at a small staff organization.

MIA: Young Association Leaders at SmartBlog Insights – Where are the 30 year olds? Are associations attracting and preparing the next generation of leaders?