My wife and I were recently on vacation. Well, she was on vacation. Although I was with her, unlike my lovely and accomplished bride, my mind was focused nonstop on delivering client value. As a result, while sipping my 3rd glass of insight one afternoon, I realized how much travel teaches us critical strategic lessons. The first lesson? Learn to shout, “Take her, not me!!” in the language of whatever country you’re visiting. I kid, of course; gestures usually work. But travel also teaches us other lessons. Lessons we can apply to work. Here are some delicious takeaways from our recent sojourn to Spain (official motto: Why yes, it is time for a drink). Plan to succeed but prepare to fail. Adapting to things going wrong while traveling makes the best stories. Unfortunately, at the time, it just sucks. Some examples from Martha and me. Wrong train. Wrong place
On April 6, 1999, I officially notified my adoring public that I was starting my consulting firm, Association Laboratory. My shingle officially hung out. I awaited the corresponding fame and riches. [crickets chirping in the background] Still waiting. This month, Association Laboratory Inc. is celebrating 25 years in business. Honestly, these past 25 years have been some of my professional life’s happiest and most successful 4 – 5 years. I kid, I kid [weeps silently]. In all seriousness, I never imagined being in business this long. I did not even conceive of it. I was so focused on establishing, sustaining, and nearly “profiting” that other potential professional lives took a back seat. Then I looked up, and it was 25 years later. To be clear, this isn’t some whine about how I only cared about work. I took plenty of vacations, had plenty of fun, and found time for
What would you do if you discovered today that all the skills and competencies you have developed at work were suddenly obsolete? This is not as far-fetched as it seems. In 1900, 6,000 horses hauled trolleys in New York City. Think about what this requires. People to raise horses. People to grow feed for horses. People to make tack and other equipment. People to drive horse-drawn trolleys. Think of the professions and industries that supported these individuals and companies. By 1902, an overwhelming percentage of the country’s streetcar tracks ran on electricity. Almost overnight, an industry and everyone connected to it became virtually obsolete. For over a decade, the Association Laboratory environmental scan, Looking Forward® Impact, accessed (along with nine other studies) for free via the Looking Forward® Dashboard, has investigated the forces influencing association members and the resulting implications on the association’s business model. Enjoy complimentary access to the
DISCLAIMER: No marriages or relationships were harmed in the research or writing of this blog, although some edits were made because, apparently, someone who shall remain nameless “needs filters.”   Over the last few months, I had several casual conversations with a young man (25 years) and a more senior woman (60 years) about using what historically have been called hookup apps. Both were promoting and complaining about their use. First, some history to set, what experts call “context.” According to my extensive (30 seconds) of research, the title of the first “hookup app” is often attributed to Grindr, which was launched in 2009. Grindr (I’ve been told) is a location-based social networking and online dating app geared towards gay, bi, trans, and queer people. It was one of the first apps to use a mobile device’s location capabilities to suggest potential matches nearby, a groundbreaking feature at the
No, the title does not answer the question, “What do consultants do?”. The other day, I was thinking about the Roman Empire. I do this often because the complexity of the Roman Empire, both socially, economically, and politically, is a fascinating tapestry that should be unraveled a thread at a time during a man’s life. But then, my lovely bride Martha, approached me with that, “I’m about to ask Dean to do something.” look on her face, so I had to quickly pretend to work. Since my wife is patient, I eventually had to do actual work, this month’s From My Seat at the Bar – Professional Development: The Neverending Story. The title, happy blog readers, or Bleaders, as I like to call you, represents some thoughts I had regarding professional development. You see, the other day I made a delicious breakfast. It wasn’t complex. It was not difficult
Today was officially hot. I mean, hot like the Midwest in the heart of summer hot. Scientists estimated the humidity to be 2000%. Even under the umbrella on my patio, everything about the day screamed hot and miserable. In the distance, through the shimmering air, I could see my wife, Martha. Despite the heat, despite the humidity, she was diligently weeding. As I glanced at her, I could see her wipe the sweat from her brow, take a deep breath, and bend down again to what was clearly an arduous task. Nothing is harder than keeping your garden going when it’s this hot. Without further ado, like any good husband, I rose from my chair and went inside to enjoy a cool drink and the air conditioning and write this blog. Today’s topic? The death (again) of association meetings through long, drawn-out, excruciating boredom. Consider the following from association
Last week, surrounded by cigarette smoke and sipping a luncheon Manhattan, I thought, maybe it’s time to write about a healthy lifestyle. The smoke, BTW, comes from eating lunch in, literally, the only bar in America where I think you can smoke, compliments of a grandfather law and a clientele in my town that doesn’t care. The Manhattan, of course, came in a glass. With that in mind, and while writing this in the Kansas City Airport (slogan? It’s all about the Plains) I want to share some lighthearted tips on staying healthy while on the road. As someone who’s been blessed with a talented and accomplished wife (who denies ever calling me fat, by the way), I’ve learned a thing or two about maintaining my well-being. So, let’s dive in and discover how to embrace health on the road (or just health). So, without further ado, some tips,
Creativity has been an essential component of my life for as long as I can remember. From early expense accounts to the lies I tell my wife about exercise; creativity is fundamental to my success. The most basic use of creativity is to solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. As a result, all of us are creative in our own way. The rewards for creativity are obvious. The most creative among us become wealthy and successful or are sentenced to prison. Recently, though I began thinking about sources of creativity. Creativity as the Big Idea The official definition of creativity, according to the Oxford dictionary, is “The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” Well that’s boring. For many of us in business, we think of creativity as the Big Idea. The Big Idea is the flash of
Earlier this month I was engaged in a classic conflict with my wife, Martha. A conflict familiar to any spouse or roommate. With a broken “mechanical” dishwasher, both of us were gradually adding our dirty dishes to a pile in the sink – implicitly determining who the human dishwasher was going to be. Now, dear reader, we all know how this resolves itself. Whomever places a dish that causes the pile to collapse, does the dishes. For 2 days we engaged in a battle of wills, physics, and dare I say it resilience. Amid this marital contest, I finally asked myself, Mr. West (it was a formal conversation), “Are you resilient or are you just too stupid to quit”. Over the last few months, I’ve been impressed by peoples’ abilities to keep moving forward regardless of all the obstacles they face. They refuse to stop – kinda like the
Last month was my celebration of “Rantmas” in Death by Unanimous Decision – decrying the slow decision-making that will mark the end of so many associations. This month let’s pretend that everything will be awesome, Awesome, AWESOME!! despite the evidence and talk about Inspiration. See I can be positive and hopeful. 😊 Make sure to read to the end (promise you won’t skip) for insightful, impactful, hard charging bonus content. Oh, to be inspired. As the great actor Audrey Hepburn once said,  “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible!’” Every year at some point, all of us must reenergize, forget the past, and find the inspiration to keep pursing personal, professional, or organizational goals. But inspiration finding doesn’t come easy. The search for inspiration is a long, arduous road filled with inspirational speakers. I hate inspirational speakers. Here is a summary of every inspirational speaker ever. “I