Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2014 ... from the SCD Group Inc. team.

Monday, December 30, 2013

7 Things Brown Can Show Your Association

Perhaps you’ve read the stories about missed deliveries of UPS (also known as Brown) or even experienced the delays in delivery of Christmas presents.

Headline writers couldn’t resist as in USA Today's  UPS: Upset, Peeved Shoppers. Others wrote: “The Grinch wore brown this Christmas.” Or this one, UPS Shipping Delays Show Perils of Stores Overpromising.

Background of Christmas 2013:

  • Shoppers shopped later.
  • Retailers (both online and bricks & mortar) promised presents would arrive on time (some even saying you could buy on December 22 and still get it delivered by Christmas Eve.)
  • Delivery companies (especially UPS) underestimated volume and missed Christmas deadlines.
  • Millions of customers were angry.
  • Retailers blamed the shippers.
  • Shippers did not adequately communicate issue to consumers.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

To Hold A Press Conference, or Not To Hold A Press Conference:

That is the Question--and here is one answer

Guest post by Sheri L. Singer, President, Singer Communications

  • I started my association career in association public relations. I’ve written and issued numerous releases and help multiple in-person and phone news conferences. So, when I saw Sheri Singer’s comments on ASAE’s Collaborate discussion about news conferences, I asked her to share them with you.
When I started working for nonprofits a few decades ago, we'd hold several press conferences every year--at our annual meeting, after testifying on the Hill (often as a member of a coalition), to announce the results of a study and more.

Today, I advise my association clients not to hold press conferences. The only caveat may be if you have an A-lister like Jennifer Aniston or President Obama. And even with an A-lister, colleagues say they have had trouble getting journalists there.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

We will be publishing sporadically over the next 10 days.

May you and your families and friends have a joyous, happy and safe holiday season.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Steve Drake

Monday, December 23, 2013

Laughter, Leadership, Performance and Other Great Reads for Association Executives

Leadership Is About Emotion
By Meghan M. Biro via Forbes

This ability to reach people in a way that transcends the intellectual and rational is the mark of a great leader. They all have it. They inspire us. It’s as simple as that. And when we’re inspired we tap into our best selves and deliver amazing work.

Let’s Take A Look At Tools That Allow For Talent To Shine:
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Continuous learning 
  • Contextualize
  • Let Go
  • Honesty
  • Kindness and respect
  • Collaboration
  • Partner with your people

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Are Downton Abbey and associations both last century dramas?

What does Downton Abbey suggest for Association Professionals

I’m late to the party in terms of watching and enjoying PBS’s show Downton Abbey. We’ve been watching Seasons 1, 2 and 3 on BluRay to get ready for Season 4 which starts on PBS this January.

If you’ve not watched it, it is well worth your time!

Here’s the key scenario of the plot which is set in England in the early 1900s: http://taylorholmes.com/2012/08/14/downton-abbey-explained-infographics/
  • Overall plot: protecting Downton Abbey for future generations
  • Upstairs House: the lords and ladies ... similar association volunteers and board members
  • Downstairs House: the servants ... similar to association staff

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is Google the Ultimate Example of Targeting?

A friend shared a 12/18/13 posting from delanceyplace.com titled The same internet search yields two different results.
Here’s the intro:
  • In today's selection -- from The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser. Because of the personalization of the internet, an internet search of the same term by two different people will often bring very different results. We are each increasingly being served not only ads for what we are more likely to want, but also news and information that is familiar and confirms our beliefs. The issue is that we are increasingly unaware of what is being filtered out and why -- leaving us each more and more in our own unique and self-reinforcing information bubble. Author Eli Pariser calls this "the filter bubble" -- and it is leaving less room for encounters with unexpected ideas:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What do we do about apathetic association boards?

Back on September 12, I posted a blog “9 reasons to fire your association board members.”

So, I’ve read with interest a recent string of comments on ASAE Collaborate responding to Mike Levin’s query:

  • “Our Board of Directors (12 people) seem to have become apathetic. Have any of you run into this situation or have any suggestions? Thanks.”
Here are the responses to date.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Creating fun & appreciation to help recruit members and employees

Get your staff out of the office and create some fun?
As part of a generational issues session I led at last week’s Syngenta Business Institute (SBI) for selected golf course superintendents, I asked small groups of participants to come up with solutions for three key questions:
  1. How to create fun in your work place?
  2. How to recruit younger members/golfers?
  3. How to create appreciation for your staff?
While these participants focused on golf clubs, their tactics can apply to staff of associations and other nonprofit organizations.

Here their ideas:

Monday, December 16, 2013

4 Fast Reads for Association Executives

How to Keep Client (Member) Rants from Going Viral
By Ryan Holmes via The Wall Street Journal

Here are a few stats that might keep customer service managers up at night. According to a recent Nielsen survey, more than half of all U.S. consumers now turn to social media to air questions and complaints about products and services. Meanwhile, Oracle reports 81 percent of Twitter users expect a same-day response to their queries. Whether your business is a startup scrambling to build a customer base or an enterprise-level company with tens of thousands of clients, dealing with consumers online is a new – and daunting – challenge.

Frontline support teams remain critical, but customer service in the social media era needs to be radically decentralized. In other words, it’s essential that all employees become the eyes and ears of an organization on social media.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What have you done to surprise your association members and enthuse your staff?

Surprising your members (customers) can convert boredom (cneter) into excitement!

Check out this amazing video story about West Jet’s AMAZING CHRISTMAS STUNT ON PASSENGERS.

As you view the video, think about these three items that this one event achieved:
  1. Surprised its customers (members)
  2. Engaged and enthused its staff
  3. Generated media buzz
I know you are not WestJet or a major corporation ... but ...

Think of the “activities or events” you could do to surprise your members and enthuse you staff!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Who is guarding your association’s finances and resources?

Association & Nonprofit CEOs:
  • When was the last time you really looked at your association’s financial systems and safeguards? Your members and boards assume you are protecting the funds you hold on behalf of your members and organization.
  • Think what happens to your career if you violate that trust?
Association & nonprofit CFOs:
  • Are you following financial checks and balances to ensure the funds you manage for the association?
  • Have you shared any concerns with your CEO and boards?
  • If not, who is going to protect you and your organization?
These questions come because another high profile embezzlement gives all associations and nonprofits a black eye.

Here’s the recent story from the Washington Post:
  • An administrative assistant admitted Monday to stealing more than $5 million from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) one of the largest embezzlement schemes from a Washington area nonprofit organization.
This article outlines the embezzlement that was recently reported at AAMC.
  • A Washington Post analysis last month of federal disclosure records filed by nonprofit groups across the country revealed more than 1,000 “significant diversions” of assets at such organizations. Many of the diversions identified by The Post were described as acts of theft and fraud carried out by insiders, contractors and investment advisers.
  • As an administrative assistant, Green had sole sign-off power on invoices up to about $20,000. 
  • “We are truly stunned,” Darrell G. Kirch, the AAMC’s president and chief executive, said in a statement that referred to Green as a “long-time, trusted employee.”

Trust but verify

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Perfect Practice Makes Permanent: Wisdom for Association Professionals

When I coached youth ice hockey, I always started the season asking my players:
“How many of you have been told ‘practice makes perfect?’”

Nearly all raised their hands ... every year for more than 10 years.

I then told them the statement was a lie!

“Only PERFECT practice makes perfect!”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The 11 Ws of Buyer Persona for Associations

Guest Post by Jim Schnurbusch

There may be a no more talked about topic today in the Association world than “buyer persona”. This topic may be topping the charts of conversation as Associations continue to recruit, and retain, membership. Of course, understanding what your “buyers” want and understanding their behaviors as they relate to your Association and alternative resources are the keys to success.

As you contemplate your Association’s “buyer persona”, consider gaining insights about them using the follow 11 “Ws” – of course, the first five are of the “duh” variety but important nonetheless – the others push you past the obvious to really gain a more intimate view of your members and prospective members’ attitudes, awareness, understanding, behaviors – needs – from an Association like yours.
  1. Who – demographics, firmagraphics, titlegraphics, geographics, genegraphics will help your Association create a profile of your member, and prospective members;
  2. What – beyond who they are, what do they do? What are their responsibilities? Who do they interface with most often? Another important “what” to answer: what products, services, resources of your Association do they find most important and use most often? What Association-provided resources are hardly being accessed? A deeper understanding of “what” will make your Association more effective and relevant – and make your staff more efficient;
  3. When – knowing when your members and prospective members most think, most need the resources of your Association and access to their peers helps create focus in your marketing efforts to recruit them, and retain them;
  4. Where – a deeper relationship with members and prospects will reveal where they want, and expect, your Association to be present as a resource to them. You may think your bi-monthly member magazine is where your presence needs to be; members and prospects may tell you otherwise. Ask them where their Association should be present to best meet their needs;
  5. Why – do you know why your members are willing to share their professional journey with your Association? Why is your association being given the privilege of their time and maybe money? 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mental Toughness, Leadership & 2 Other Readings for Association Professionals

Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid
By Cheryl Conner via Forbes

1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power
3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change
4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control
5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past
8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure
11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time
12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything
13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Handwriting, Creativity & Associations

Ok, I must admit that my handwriting (cursive) is terrible ... and getting worse!

I attribute it to missing 66 days of school in 1st and 2nd grades ... but it may be more of speed and 50+ years of typing. (I always tell people the one semester of typing – now called keyboarding – was the most useful class I took in high school.)

So, now I discover there is research on the importance of cursive writing and brain development.


Nancy B. Loughlin wrote a column on it that was headlined Know Thyself: Demise of cursive writing a sad tale .

A University of Washington study led by Dr. Virginia Berninger determined that the brain and the hand working together to execute the strokes of individual letters activates the areas of the brain dedicated to thinking, memory and language. Selecting a key on a board doesn’t.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Euchre, Small Groups and Engaging Association Members

Can a card game increase member engagement?

Well, it was euchre that engaged us with Pelican Preserve and gave us connection, fellowship and engagement with other snow birds here. And, I’m convinced that euchre and its friendships, represents the primary connecting in moving here.

We experienced the same connection with our church and its small groups. They became the key strategy in engaging members.

As I reflected on this, it reminded me that the initial connections members have with their associations determine whether they remain with their association. That experience might come at a chapter meeting or a national conference. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On the Road with Charles Kuralt and Association Membership

As a young AP news reporter in Ohio, I loved CBS’s On the Road with Charles Kuralt ... the quirky video stories that ended many of Walter Cronkite’s CBS Evening News shows. 

As a reporter, I envied Kuralt and his freedom to gather such stories. Later, as a public relations professional, I desperately wanted to “place” a story with Kuralt. I got close once. He did a radio show based on information a friend of mine and I gave him.

One summer, the person responsible for the college lecture series sent over the list of speakers for the year so I could produce a promotional piece. And, Charles Kuralt was listed as one of the speakers! I called the lecture chair and said only half jokingly, “If you don’t get me dinner with Kuralt, I’ll not promote your lecture series again!” 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What happens when your association’s CSO (chief staff officer) leaves (quits, is fired, dies)?

Last summer, I watched as two school districts “struggled” with replacing school superintendents who were “nudged” out (one took a lower-paying superintendent’s job at a small district, the other “retired.”)

Neither had been in their jobs for more than three years.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Millennials+Content+Mobile = 6 Great Reads for Association Professionals

Study Shows One-third of Workers Aren't in Occupations Related to Their College Major
AgriMarketing Magazine via CareerBuilder

Choosing your college major is a significant life decision, but a new study from CareerBuilder suggests it may not necessarily define your career path. Nearly half (47 percent) of college-educated workers said their first job after college was not related to their college major. Thirty-two percent of college-educated workers reported that they never found a job related to their college major. Among more seasoned workers - those ages 35 and older - that number is 31 percent. The national survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive© from August 13 to September 6, 2013, and included a representative sample of 2,134 workers across industries and company sizes who graduated from college.

Content is a Verb
By Sonia Simone via CopyBlogger.com

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Choices for Association Executives, Leaders, Members

Over the last 30+ years in associations and nonprofit organizations, I’ve witnessed:
  • Major donors defect from the organization 
  • Board members yell and debate over seemingly inconsequential matters
  • Members resign in protest over the organization’s policies
With that background, I was astonished to read about Albert Hirschman’s 1970 piece called Exit, Voice and Loyalty” as noted in Roger Lowenstein’s Wall Street Journal review titled The Choice: To Squawk or to Go?