The following is a guest post from Shelly Alcorn, CAE, principal at Alcorn Associates.
I went on an Ignite! binge on Monday afternoon at ASAE's 2011 Annual Meeting & Expo, and here are some of the rapid-fire lessons I learned (my apologies to the presenters if quotes aren't verbatim).
Tara Bishop, CAE, shared her secrets to creating a successful relationship with a boss and used an airline metaphor to do it. Takeaways: we had a choice to get on this flight, we need to stow our baggage in our overhead bins, deal with the turbulence, and remember, any landing is a successful landing.
John Chen taught us that Twitter is the world's biggest happy hour. He relocated from California to Washington, DC, and really had a hard time meeting people and developing a social network until he found Twitter. The real power of Twitter is taking those relationships offline and appreciating the people who make a difference in your life.
Vickie Lester, MBA, CAE, is a Chieftain, Princess, and Goddess and took us on a rollicking ride with her tribe. She takes an annual road trip each year with a group of association professionals and related photos from their trips to valuable lessons about mission, setting goals, and how important honesty, accountability and diversity are. In the end, it's all about the tribe.
Jeffrey Cufaude asked us if we are living our lives, both personally and professionally, in a sustainable way. Just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should. Consider asking yourself different questions about who you want to be and how you really want to live. Instead of trying to fit in, seek opportunities and people who fit with you.
Christine Melendes, CAE, reminded us that members are humans too. As staff, put your name out there and be yourself, be honest, and be accessible. Go where they are both on social media and in person whenever possible.
Jeff Jorge, MBA, told us how being in a triathlon has taught him some valuable lessons. The power of goal setting, a reminder about efficiency and pacing yourself, the need to put one foot in front of the other even when you are exhausted and celebrating reaching the finish line. The mind gives up well before the body; don't let it.
Miriam Miller, CAE, reminded us that "selling" isn't horrible. Those stereotypes come from people who don't do it right. Here are some tips for successful "persuasion": don't think about the money, be sincere and don't fake it, be confident, listen and follow-up. And if you still get a no, be a "'no' detective" and try to find out why.
Stephanie Reeves, CAE, talked about how the music artist Prince sets a great example for innovative thinking. He chose alternative distribution routes for CDs selling through his website before that was popular, packaging CDs with concert ticket sales and inserting CD's into newspapers for free for promotional reasons. Surround yourself with great talent and let that talent shine. (Plus she had an awesome picture of her with Prince and we're all jelly!)
Joe Gerstandt reminded us that sometimes profanity is appropriate especially when we run across things that are totally confounding or need to be challenged. Herds of sacred cows just produce that much more BS. Truth is the truth and we need to be relentless in seeking it out, prioritizing it, and defending it.
Bana Qashu, CMP, CAE, talked to us about yoga and leadership. The common links between the two are ensuring we are in the present moment and acting mindfully. It's important to establish a habit of being consciously aware and intentional with what we do both individually and collectively.
Jim Flanigan talked about the fact that it isn't always the most intelligent that survive, but the most adaptable. Associations' greatest strengths—stability, community, similarities—can also be a weaknesses when we don't adapt fast enough to change. Embrace mistakes, cross-pollinate, and try to avoid having to make snap decisions.
Meg Simpson talked about frustration at work. We need to identify what we find frustrating, think about how we act when we are frustrated, and find out how others perceive us when we are in that state. Sometimes, what underlies frustration is actually some of our greatest strengths that are being thwarted. Leverage those strengths to stop the cycle.
Tom Pierce, MBA, told us a story about a mentor who had a great impact on his life. Every coach needs a coach themselves.
Paul Wehking shared leadership lessons learned from Little League and used "running the bases" as a metaphor. First base is communications, second base is expectations, third base is letting go of control and home plate is celebrating successes. Put the team on the field and just let them play! (Plus, ice cream is a great antidote to the sting of loss).
Rick Olson, JD, focused on how conflict can be a gift and an opportunity. Some of the best ways to deal with conflict include getting the right tools in place ahead of time, setting the right principles, and developing a common language.
KiKi L'Italien showed us how being more like Lady Gaga can help us get control of our lives. We are rushing around saving all this "time" and we are squandering it on faster, faster, faster living. We can't wait for the valium to hit, the fish are changing gender due to pharmaceuticals in the water, and we need to stop the crazy. We can be reborn! (Sing it sister!)
These were all fantastic talks but …
It was Valerie Fries-Wade, MM, CAE, who brought the house down. She shared her personal story about how being homeless when she was young didn't stop her from getting back on her feet and becoming a successful association executive. When you confront homelessness, it's not about where people on the street are, it's where they have come from. Compassion and assistance are gifts we can give back to people who are in this situation through no fault of their own. Support World Homeless Day, October 10, 2011. We'd all like to thank Valerie for a courageous, inspiring, and important talk. That standing ovation was a testament to the immense power held within five well-told minutes.
Look for video of the Ignite! presentations from the Annual Meeting & Expo at www.asaecenter.org in coming weeks.