Thursday, September 2, 2010

What's All the Fuss About? GET A CONFERENCE PLAN!

I have read with great excitement all the various blogs discussing the "good", the "bad", and the "ugly" of the 2010 ASAE Conference.  Later you will read my thoughts on the various blogs that sought to share the failures of ASAE at this year's LA Conference.

First, I wanted to address why I feel people didn't think they received a good return on investment at this years, or any other years conference.  There are 2 main reasons you will never receive, at even a good conference, a great return on investment:

FIRST....You don't have a plan to gain what you need because you haven't identified what you are looking for.  Had everyone attended the webinar I was asked to give by Peach New Media 2 weeks before conference, you would have easily made a return on this years conference, because I shared a easy plan for people to gain that return. You write down the following each day:

1) One New Idea I learned I can implement for a specific need for my association
2) One New Thing I'm going to do differently on Monday when I return to the office
3) One New Contact I made who can help me make the change

With that one piece of paper, with simply 3 easy things to look for each day, you will find what you are looking for. I know, because our association, by the end of this year will have grown its member surplus 465% since January 2006 because of attacking every conference I attend like this.

I hang around the best of the best at ASAE, and I can tell you that if I didn't attend ONE session, I always walk away with those three questions answered, and I make great change after each conference. Did I say 465% in member surplus in 5 years?  It happened again at ASAE 2010... I walked away with 3 new ideas to implement, 3 new things I'm going to try differently, and 3 new people who can help me make change.  Most of them happened walking down the hall, or hanging after hours with friends discussing what went on in the classroom. Learning is NOT all about the classroom.

SECONDLY... if you are not getting a great return on investment, you are hanging around with the wrong crowd. You only learn as much as the attendees around you can conceive. If you hang out with people who aren't great innovators in their associations, and they aren't looking to learn, your return is going to be little.  If you are hanging around the BEST MINDS, then your return is going to be huge.  If your crowd isn't a great return on ideas at conference, find a new crowd!

The one thing I can say about this year's conference is, I'm glad to be a part of an Association that is at least trying new things. Granted many didn't like the, "Guilt By Association" sitcom, but hats off to them for trying something new. Hey, we were in LA! What did you expect? At FSAE's 2010 Conference, I worked with a team to produce our Friday Night Dinner video.... a parody of "The Hangover".  It was funny, the crowd roared at the end, but 5% to 10% were still indifferent about the video.  If you want to check it out as well as some other creative videos we have produced: CLICK HERE.

Bottom line, I feel the conference was a success and not as bad as people stated. Anyone who has planned a conference knows how hard it is to put an event on to make 100 people happy, much less 6,000. Are there things to improve on? Absolutely.  Do you take a bat out and start swinging?  No. You stand up to be a part of the solution and take action.

Now regarding the comments of all the blogs.....

I think all of the comments were warranted in a variety of fashions. Without the critic, we can never choose to make different choices and achieve greatness. We would continue to bask in our own minds of greatness and never seek to innovate and create new things that are meaningful.  When associations say to the critics, who may agree with, "we don't see what you see", it says they think too highly of themselves and have become self focused and not member focused.

It's the critics with a good heart and passion for the cause that call us to be the best we can be. Thank God someone is willing to stand up and say what they don't agree with.   Too many times in life, like relationships, our friends tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear.  I applaud those who stand and say what you don't want to hear as long as it isn't selfish, self serving, or a vendetta.   I know practically EVERYONE who were bold and shared their dismay with the conference, and so far I haven't read any negative comments that were not spot on and deemed selfish, self serving, or a vendetta. Some just are direct, and some are tactful in how they phrase things. The huge question is "will ASAE listen to the changing dynamic of members?" ...or will they defend their actions and refuse to contemplate changes.

As a counselor friend of mine always says, "Never listen to what people say. Watch what they do."  I not only say that for ASAE, but also to the attendees. Do you sit on the sideline and criticize, or do you get in the game in which you don't like the game plan?

What I love about this process is that a passion has stirred as organizations have done in politics.  Bad things happen because good people do nothing.  I challenge everyone from this day forward to not speak with your words....BUT SPEAK WITH YOUR VOLUNTEERISM AND ACTIONS.

Individually we are mere soldiers, BUT TOGETHER we are an army that can't be stopped.

I love my job.  I love this industry.  I love the people in the industry.  I love the associations that bring us together.  Thank you ASAE for all you do.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting the blogs into perspective - and I agree with your comments -- especially the "I love this industry" - because I share your sentiment exactly. We do, however, need to know that our voices/concerns/compliments are heard by ASAE and our fellow attendees and non-attendees of the event.

    Thanks to social media much of what we are saying is being shared far and wide by association professionals and supporters (read that as sponsors!) of association events.

    I hope that the discussion continues - because innovation and change do not occur in a vacuum.

    Thanks again, Tom.