As I sit here basking in my many Freedoms (thank you Constitution and Bill of Rights), it is easy to think that we as American association leaders are the center of the world. Much like Sargent Schultz’s evil twin, we “know everything, evvvverything”. We often forget that there are many associations outside of the United States. We forget about all the association leaders who direct these organizations. From northern Europe through the Middle East and down through Africa and across Asia and the Pacific, we have colleagues working every day to advance the cause of member-based organizations. Usually, without our knowledge. This winter, I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Dubai Association Conference (#DAC2022) held in late March 2022. I have a weird role at these events.   Generally speaking, I’m neither a buyer nor seller. I get invited because of Association Laboratory’s sector research, arguably
This last weekend, I finally found time to catch up on my reading. You know, perusing the stack of mags next to your chair. The stuff we say we’ll read but never seem to find an opportunity. Sitting contentedly in the sun coming through my living room window, I had an epiphany. I’d been engrossed in a magazine I was reading. I’d read stories about the history of the organization. I’d read stories about member successes. I’d even read an in-depth article linking the science of their Mission to their advocacy agenda in DC. The organization? Pheasants Forever (PF). Pheasants Forever is a conservation organization. Founded in 1982 by a group of pheasant hunters that “saw the connection between upland habitat loss and declining pheasant populations”. Today, according to their website, they have 130,000 members in forty states. The have approximately 750 local chapters. Too often we look to
One of my many blog readers or “bleaders” as I call them, suggested I talk about how the Pandemic might have changed our view on relationships. What has been the impact of lockdowns and quarantines on our relationships? Are work colleagues less or more interesting on Zoom? Why do girls think I’m more attractive when I’m wearing a mask? Well, I’ve been a consultant for more than 3 decades and I’ve learned not just a thing, but a thing or two. Here’s my advice. Your relationships are not defined by your communication channel. Is your mom somehow less of your mom if you talk to her by Zoom instead of seeing her in person? No. So why do you think your other personal or business relationships are different due to online interaction as opposed to face-to-face contact. The Pandemic hasn’t changed our relationships, it’s simply pushed us from one
My wife called me fat last summer. Looked me right in the eye and said, “You’re fat.” A little backstory. I once (pre Pandemic) traveled often, about ½ the time. My health was important to me. I committed to exercising on the road. I tried to eat healthier. In addition, I made no effort to drink less. In fact, I tried to drink more. During visits home I frequented my health club which, BTW had not 1, not 2 but three different bars. It also has a wide variety of what could be characterized as exercise equipment. Stuff like treadmills, weights, and the like. It also had a nice sauna. I thought I had a reasonably good routine worked out and wouldn’t have called myself “out of shape”. During the pandemic I worked to maintain my workout schedule. With my health club unavailable, I looked at exercise apps. I
As the sun slowly set behind the dune near our house, I looked over at my wife, Martha. She had been diligently planting a new, native plant in our garden. You could already envision the color of the flowers, their scent on a cool morning. Suddenly, she stood up, swept her hair back and glanced at the lowering sun. Then, like some sort of Instagram model, she turned and smiled at me. Wow, I thought, gardening provides great lessons in business strategy. She said something then, but frankly I’d stopped paying attention. Bloggin and all. My wife and I are not (yet) farmers, but it seems that way sometimes. Between our house gardens and community garden, most of our summer scheduling revolves around how to keep everything watered. Work is a welcome break. At our home in Chicago, our first garden together began as a house surrounded by small
This month I finally caught the bug. What I’d avoided for months. It was bound to happen despite all the precautions. The self isolation. The mask wearing. The blog writing. Yes, I came down with ASL or acute spring laziness. Luckily, our strategist, and leader of our newly created Hollywood and Entertainment Practice,  Nikki Golden, CAE was on the ball. She volunteered (insisted? demanded?) to take over this month’s From My Seat at the (Home) Bar with her insights about this year’s  Oscars. What we often forget (well not me, I’m not forgetful like you) is that the Oscars are just an award show produced by an association. A run-of-the-mill 501(c)(6). The Oscars is virtually identical to what many of us produce. For example They honor peoples’ accomplishments – we honor peoples’ accomplishments. They record – we record. They have a bar – we have a bar. They have
Recently, Association Laboratory conducted a workshop yesterday called Connecting Content to Relevance, on content strategy. This is one of a series of workshops we’re producing called Looking Forward Together. These workshops are based on our environmental scan of the association strategy environment, Looking Forward. Today, it dawned on me, that I talk on content strategy more often than membership strategy. Putting on my “thoughtful” cap, I pondered the evolution of associations in the content space and considered the insights gained from our participants yesterday. Why is content strategy for associations so important? Content strategy is the most substantial emerging strategy of associations according to association executives. Consider the following data collected from nearly 500 association leaders in Looking Forward 2020. 53% say they are implementing content strategies to increase Mission impact. 75% say they are working to provide more robust content. Content strategy is so important because it supports
Recently, I saw an Instagram meme stating that at the end (end?) of the Pandemic, you emerge as a Monk, Hunk, Chunk, or Drunk. Personas that are based on our Pandemic-based lifestyle. These personas are not mutually exclusive. In consulting we use the Venn Diagram to improve our understanding of how things are connected. #consultinglife #visualization #pretentiousass Today? Let’s address the Chunk circle. You can’t just spend your time drinking your way through the Pandemic. #Drunk During the Pandemic, many of us faced various forms of lockdowns. We found ourselves having to cook far more often. We tried to take advantage of the ingredients and foodstuffs on hand to avoid grocery shopping. We did a quick re-learning of the depression era lessons our grandparents and parents lectured us about (blah blah blah, we were poor, blah, blah, blah, etc.). Our food, and the steps we took to procure and
I was officially tired. From before sunup, to long after it had set, opening day of deer season 2020 had been a long one. After 16 ½ hours of total time deer hunting I collapsed, exhausted into bed. Too tired to eat (except ice cream) and too tired to drink (except two Manhattans), I had just completed my first solo (as in by myself) deer hunt in Southwest Wisconsin at my friend Phil’s farm. (Keep reading for awesome hunt pics.) The result was a nice doe for the freezer.  It took my longest shot (175 yard), my longest drag (½ mile uphill across hills and fields), and my first-time skinning and butchering a deer (in the dark on a tarp near the road) to make it a reality. All by my lonesome. As I lay down in bed pretty damn happy and satisfied, what came to mind? The similarities
Would you like to know the most substantial issues facing your members? Assess the challenges that associations will need to overcome to be successful in a dynamic and uncertain future? Of course, you do. You can’t just spend your time drinking your way through the pandemic. A fantasy? Nope, saddle up association executives and get ready to participate in the most recent, relevant, and comprehensive environmental scan of the association sector in history. History is Dead.   One of the most difficult challenges facing leaders is preparing for the future. Historically, we would look behind us. Examine what worked and didn’t work. We’d adjust accordingly. The COVID-19 Pandemic has destroyed this approach. We can no longer assume that the historical assumptions driving our strategy are valid. On November 9, Association Laboratory will be deploying the association sector’s most comprehensive environmental scan, Looking Forward™ 2021. Looking Forward™, now in its