Thursday, July 31, 2014

People Want to Associate With Winners


Back when I was a college public relations director, my boss (the vice president for development) and I had several discussions about the value of winning sports programs to the college or university.

I noted that most well-known colleges got that reputation from the success of their athletic teams. “Take Notre Dame,” I said. “Who would even know this small, Midwestern Catholic college if not for their early and frequent success on the football field.”

“While many have a ‘dumb jock’ stereotype of athletes,” I said, “when asked to think of ‘good colleges,’ many people think of colleges and universities with winning athletic programs.”

My boss wasn’t overly impressed with my position.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Are Key Job Interview Screening Questions Changing?



A fellow association management professional’s comment yesterday surprised me.

He said a search firm executive was conducting a screening interview for an opening for at association.

Her opening question was: 

“What five (5) blogs do you read each day?”

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Add #TestimonialTuesday to Your Association’s Member Recruitment Plan


As you may recall, I wrote recently about #ThrowbackThursdays and the opportunity it presents associations and nonprofits.

The other day, my wife shared a #TestimonialTuesday Facebook note ... correctly thinking that I might use it for an SCDdaily blog post!





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eyes Wide Open: Should You Be the First to Interview?

Whether hiring a key executive or selecting an agency or AMC, associations and other organizations normally involve a committee and ask candidates to interview. Many set an interview schedule that involves having three to five candidates come the same day.

Colleagues often ask me ...

  • Should they be interviewed first or last? 
  • Should they to be first or last to present to a potential new client? 
(Both questions assume you have a choice on the order you are interviewed or meet with a potential client.)

Over the years, I’ve heard rationale for both. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Survey Says: Top 10 Reasons Why Boards Fail


As I posted back on June 29, our panel at the upcoming ASAE Annual Meeting (#ASAE14) will present case studies on Why Boards Fail and How to Fix Them.

One of our challenges is to gather reasons for board failures, sort them, rank them and determine which to focus on during our 60-minute session (10:30 - 11:30 am, Tuesday, August 12). #asae14 LL9

Our panel decided to start by crowd-sourcing the reasons boards fail. We developed an initial list of 25 and then circulated a Survey Monkey link via Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and various ASAE Collaborate groups.

140 association executives responded! Thank you!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lessons from the Moon Walk

Front Page of the Wapak Daily News; Steve interviewing Mrs. Armstrong

45 years ago today (7/20/14), I was a young Associated Press reporter covering astronaut Neil Armstrong’s parents while he walked on the moon. Even though we reporters spent most of the 10 days in the garage, it was an amazing experience! Being teamed with veteran AP photographer Gene Herrick made the assignment even more special!

Some of the lessons I learned translate to association management.


1. Learn the territory
  • Gene and I went to Wapakoneta a month before the moon walk to do a preview story. In the process, we met key leaders of Wapak (as it is called in Ohio). A NASA contract with Time Magazine prevented Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong from talking directly with other reporters. So we (thanks to Gene) kept digging. We found the location for Neil’s grandma’s farm and drove out to it. (The Time contract did not extend to her.) Turned out that Neil’s mom was there too. While she didn’t talk with us, Gene was able to grab a photo of her. (Knowing the location of the farm paid off later.)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Causes boost marketing for association members

Photo by Amanda Inscore of The News-Press

I love this story of one person’s cause work and what it shows associations and other nonprofit organizations! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Perspective influences views & decisions

2 photos: same place, same time, different perspective!

Differing perspectives of board members often influence discussions and decisions of associations and nonprofit organizations.

Debates often continue without board members realizing those different perspectives.

Individual perspectives result from
  • it depends on where you sit (officer, board member, committee member, association executive)
  • it depends on where you look (internally, externally, short-term, long-term, strategic or tactical)
  • it is based on your culture or environment (your profession or industry, your generation, your gender, your race, your state of origin)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Simple Works Best: Golf's Lessons for Associations


My golf game had faltered a bit. I kept trying to fix it but to no avail.

Thanks to my wife’s Christmas gift, I still had one more lesson from the golf pro.

I signed up with Jeremy.

Jeremy kept it simple and illustrated some powerful messages about association communications.

Here’s What He Did

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Your Association Fired You! 7 Steps You Need to Take Now



Sometimes, perhaps more often than we know, an association fires its CEO (and perhaps other key management staff).

The reasons vary:

  • It may not have been a good fit. 
  • It may have been some “rogue board members.” 
  • It may have been a “political struggle.” 
  • It may have been for cause.
If you feel you were fired illegally or for solid reasons, you have one key question: do I accept it or do I fight it?

A Wall Street Journal article on the fight of the American Apparel CEO rekindled memories of when my boss and I were fired as CEO and Deputy CEO of a large national association.

Even though the board had become contentious, we were shocked at being fired ... mainly because of the association’s success and its reputation as “the model” association within our industry.

When you are fired with no reason given (we worked in an “at will” state), you need to look at what you do next. And, your emotions can distract you from what you should be doing next.

At about the time we were fired, I read (or heard) a message from (if I remember correctly) Home Depot co-founder Bernard "Bernie" Marcus. His first thoughts: I’ll sue them. His advice: Don’t fight it. It wastes your energy and resources. Devote that time and money to finding a new job or starting a business.

So what should a fired association executive do?


  1. Ensure that the termination terms of management contract have been fulfilled. (You do have an employment contract right?!)
  2. Physically remove yourself. This means removing your personal “stuff” from your former office.
  3. Mentally remove yourself. This is harder ... for you and your former staff. The old job is in your past. Quit looking back and asking why. You are “in between successes.” So, look forward to what’s next! You’ll feel like your former staff are “shunning” you. I did. Until one of my former staff and friends told me, “Steve, we don’t know what to say. So most of us say nothing.”
  4. Tell everyone you are in the job market. Get over the embarrassment. Your next opportunity could well come not from who you know but from someone who knows you. Mine did. A colleague called me to offer me a management project. It lead to a company I started, grew and owned for 19 years. (And, I didn’t even know I wanted to own a company!)
  5. Take advantage of the outplacement office provided in your contract. (Your contract does provide for outplacement services, doesn’t it?!)
  6. Ramp up your personal content management and social media networks. (You do have a personal social engagement strategy, right?!) You’ve been given a gift of time. Keep/get engaged. 
  7. Make sure you attend professional meetings such as the ASAE annual conference. This is for both networking and knowledge. I didn’t think I could afford the cost. But, ASAE provided a “in between successes” scholarship (free registration). I used frequent flier miles and hotel points. The cost became manageable. 
Well, those seven steps from my personal experience.

What have I forgotten?

Feel free to add your comments on www.scdgroup.net.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Who will create the Fosbury Flop for Associations?

Photo of Courtney Anderson of University of South Florida

A photo of a high jumper in the NCAA finals sent my mind drifting back to the early 1960s.

Prior to 1965, the "best practice" in the high jump track & field event was the straddle jump.


Then, along came Dick Fosbury.

Given the new technology (deep foam matting had replaced sand pits as the landing area), Fosbury ignored the old best practice for high jumping and created what became known as the Fosbury Flop. He first used it in 1965. Then he won the gold medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics.

The rest is history. The flop became the dominant style of the event and remains so today. In fact, this new “best practice” for the high jump is so dominant most people no longer call it the Fosbury Flop.


High Jumps & Associations


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Are your association members using Instagram?


I’m speaking in July to a group whose members are seeking ways to engage millenials in their small businesses.
The other day, I found an Associated Press story titled Small businesses get sales using Instagram.
The members of this association offer visual events that could result in “selfies” posted on Instagram. 

What about your members?


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy July 4th!



Wishing you a Happy 4th of July ... Independence Day.

Let's all remember the sacrifices folks make to obtain our freedom back in the 1770s ... and our ability to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit happiness!

Be safe and enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Is your association letting new members slip through the cracks


At dinner the other evening, two women shared stories about how the local organizations they had joined didn’t seem interested in having them volunteer.

And, that as a result of not being able to volunteer, they dropped out of the organizations.

What a shame!