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Home  /  My Seat at the Bar

It’s foolish to have a blog called, From My Seat at the Bar, and not provide insight into booze now and then. How, I as a leader of a company during this crisis, effectively self-medicate to improve moral and performance (my own). We now know, thanks to our government leaders, that liquor stores are considered an essential service. Something most of us have known for quite some time. Our instinctive drink choices give insight into how we cope with difficult or changing times. Why work so hard when every answer to every question can be found in your liquor cabinet? Let’s begin. Booze = Medicine In his wonderful book, Colonial Spirits, a Toast to Our Drunken History, author Steven Grasse properly reminds us in the first chapter that booze is medicine. Early settlers were faced with bad water. Dealt with a host of diseases. Fought with hostile natives (now pronounced neighbors). Drinking in America was equivalent

  Definition of Black Swan Event An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult to predict.     How did the COVID-19 Crisis Hit One Association? On March 12, 2020, I and my colleague Phil Puckorius, Vice President of Association Laboratory arrived in San Diego. Our goal was to lead the International Warehouse Logistics Association through strategic planning. Here’s what we found upon arriving. California Governor Gavin Newsome had just spoken about the state’s response to the growing crisis. Quickly referred to as the Newsome 250 Policy, for all practical purposes, resulted in wide-spread cancellation of meetings with more than 250 attendees. Respecting growing concerns about the spread of the virus, the Board and staff had acted swiftly. The convention at which the strategic planning meeting was being held had just been cancelled that day. More than 423 attendees and exhibitors had been told to stay home. IWLA

Blog take over by Nikki Haton Shanks, Strategist! I’m Nikki, a strategist at Association Laboratory, and I’m stepping in to take over Dean West’s from My Seat at the Bar blog for this month. Association Laboratory held its 2nd Annual Content Strategy Summit on Thursday, November 7 at the OLC in Rosemont, IL, in collaboration with .orgSource with nearly 30 attendees! What did we learn? Research shows the majority of associations are implementing content strategy. What prompted this Summit? Each year Association Laboratory conducts a global scan of the association business environment called Looking Forward™. In 2019, the study collected data from more than 400 association chief staff officers and senior domain executives across 20 industries. And guess what? 54% of Looking Forward respondents said they were implementing Content Strategies. This data point was the basis for a day-long program devoted to thought-provoking questions and strategies related to content. 3 Key Content Strategy Takeaways The three main takeaways I learned

“America is a paradise.” This was the exact quote said to me during my time speaking at the Indian Association Congress near Delhi, India this August. Produced by the Indian Society of Association Executives and CIMGlobal, it was India’s premier congress of association leaders. The association profession in India is in its nascent form. This was only the 7th Indian Association Congress (IAC). I had the opportunity to interact with the most excited and forward-thinking leaders of India’s association management profession. Here are some of my quick perceptions. New to association management is not the same as new to business and leadership. Some might think that just because the profession of association management is new, leaders of these associations might be less knowledgeable. Nothing could be further from the truth. Representatives from some of the world’s leading associations were in attendance as well as executives from substantial and uniquely Indian organizations. People have been doing business with

At a recent association conference, I heard a classic cliché, “I learn the most during conversations in the hallway.” My response? If you’ve devoted all that time and energy to an educational event and the best learning is a random conversation in the hallway, your education probably sucks needs improvement.   Any reasonably competent meeting planner or educator should be able to produce an activity more meaningful than a random conversation. In Looking Forward 2019, 81% of association leaders indicated they were concerned or somewhat concerned about producing compelling professional development opportunities. I go to and speak at many conferences. I’ve also acted as a Master of Ceremonies for events. Association Laboratory also designs our own association executive educational events. We also develop education strategy. Here are some thoughts. Audience Understanding (or not) Educational events don’t have an “audience”. They have a Venn diagram of audiences. Multiple markets who are attending for their own reasons. In research for

I’m not a “milestone” sort of person. I rarely celebrate with big birthday parties for example. My wife and I famously celebrated our anniversary with a drink at the United Club once as we passed each other in the airport. This year, though, when I announced the 20th anniversary of starting Association Laboratory on LinkedIn, the response surprised me. I received more than 7,000 views of the post. I only have 1, 531 connections on LinkedIn. People I’d never met were interested and supportive. It got me thinking about how it all began and what I learned about business and life through the years as I conceived, started and grew my small business. Below is the original HQ of Association Laboratory (no hassles please, I’m not a photography consultant). I started the company out of my condo on the 12th floor. Original HQ of Association Laboratory  The voice on my answering machine for the company was an English woman

A membership model is like the weather. Everyone complains about it, but nobody does anything about it. Below I talk about how membership continues to be an issue. Introduce a definition of membership models. Outline a process to fix your model. As a bonus, you also get our latest (yet unpublished and secret) data on how association leaders view membership in 2019. Shameless Plug Alert – you can learn to address these issues at one of our Membership Workshops in February. Click HERE for information. Membership is Top Concern of Association Leaders Each year Association Laboratory conducts the nation’s leading global environmental scan of the association business environment called Looking Forward. In 2019 the study collected data from more than 400 association chief staff officers and senior domain executives across 20 industries. One data point sticks out. 83% of Looking Forward respondents said they were somewhat or very concerned about membership. The following chart shows the Top 10 areas of strategic concern by association leaders. Membership is

Like any self-respecting consultant, I’m going to start our 2019 monthly blog series, From My Seat at the Bar, with predictions on what associations will face in 2019. Unlike other firms, though, Association Laboratory is blessed with a wealth of association environmental scanning data. Research, collected from you the association executive reader, on what you expect your members to face in 2019. In November/December 2018, Association Laboratory conducted the 8th annual environmental scan of the association strategy environment, Looking Forward™. This study, the most comprehensive of its kind in the association sector, will be published in March. You can check out our compendium of futures research HERE. We have not yet published the results but lucky for you, I get to look at the data behind the scenes. All secret like and such. More than 200 CEOs responded this year out of more than 400 association leaders in total. They represent members in more than 20 sectors. They lead everything from local to global

Let me tell you a quick story about training members, or in this case, customers. Recently, on a trip to New York, I approached the bar at the #unitedclub in LaGuardia (#terribleairport) for a quick medicinal cocktail. I ordered a Manhattan (click HERE to see why it’s the most important business drink). The following ensued. The bartender did not know how to make the drink. I saw here looking up the recipe on their internal guidebook. I helpfully suggested that I could quickly teach her. I’m awesome that way. I explained it’s about ratios. Three parts bourbon to 1-part sweet vermouth with two drops of bitters, which I helpfully located on her bar. You stir, not shake, so your ice cubes don’t break up and water down the drink. She followed my easy instructions with a smile and moments later a quite serviceable Manhattan was placed in front me. She was educated, I got