April 18, 2012

Earth Day Offers Visibility, Fun, Engagement

It's Earth Day this Sunday and National Volunteer Month for a few weeks more, so loads of associations and their member companies and professionals are organizing, educating, celebrating, volunteering, and just plain participating in this worldwide effort to bolster environmental conservation.

Here's a snapshot of what some are doing or already have done--and it's not too late to join in yourself!

Start by downloading the free Earth Day 2012 Toolkit , where you can also learn about and be inspired by "A Billion Acts of Green," the world's largest environmental service campaign. And if you're in DC, you may want to check out the massive party scene happening at the National Mall rally and concerts either in person or online (live-streaming at

Sounds like some more partying will go on over at the 2012 Mighty Kindness Earth Day Hootenanny on April 22 organized by the Kentucky Chiropractic Association. The fun is combined with a more serious purpose: promoting a new state license "Go Green with Chiropractic" plate that aims "to elevate the chiropractic industry and its environmentally friendly nature in Kentucky" and raise some money as well.

The Eco-Dentistry Association will host its first tweetchat for dental industry professionals and consumers worldwide "to discuss the essentials of a high-tech, wellness based, and successful green dental practice."

The American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) in sponsoring the One Million Trees Project-Right Tree for the Right Place at the Right Time nationwide public service project. Started in March 2009, the project "calls on ABA members to contribute to the goal of planting one million trees across the United States by 2014 - both by planting trees themselves and by contributing to the partnering tree organizations." It also is promoting nominations for the 2012 ABA Award for Excellence in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Stewardship.

Entertainment Cruises is partnering with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) has partnered with Entertainment Cruises to offer an Earth Day brunch cruise to enjoy Washington, DC, views while learning from the NAAEE about green energy, environmental initiatives and its upcoming conference.

More than 1,000 volunteers of the Student Conservation Association (SCA) are engaging in 10 signature Earth Day projects from prairie re-vegetation to exotic plant species removal on public lands across the U.S. on April 14 and 21. These events have some powerful sponsors, including American Eagle Outfitters, ARAMARK, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Exelon Foundation, Johnson Controls, Sony, and Southwest Airlines.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has released the First Annual Report of the eCycling Leadership Initiative, which details how the consumer electronics industry has dramatically increased its recycling in 2011 and advanced the goals set by the eCycling Leadership Initiative (also called the Billion Pound Challenge). For instance, participants of the initiative arranged for the responsible recycling of 460 million pounds of consumer electronics, a 53% increase over the 300 million pounds recycled in 2010. The number of recycling drop-off locations for consumers also was bolstered from to nearly 7,500 from just over 5,000 a year ago. And CEA launched to educate consumers about eCycling and energy consumption. By entering a ZIP code, anyone can locate the closest responsible recycling opportunity sponsored by the CE industry and/or third-party certified recycler. The initiative aims to increase electronics recycling to one billion pounds annually by 2016 and providing transparent metrics on eCycling efforts. A billion pounds of unrecycled waste electronics would fill a 71,000-seat NFL stadium.

The American Medical Student Association and Medical Alumni Association at Temple University are planting seeds and preparing a "Medicinal and Edible Learning Garden" and education event to discuss natural medicinal remedies.

The National Parks and Recreation Association is urging people to take advantage of waived entrance fees at U.S. national parks from April 21 to April 29 during National Park Week. Download your free Owner's Guide to America's National Parks. I know a few associations that are planning staff picnics and hikes at local parks and Great Falls National Park in sync with this promotional event.

The New York City Association of Hotel Concierges (NYCAHC) and its affiliate members will celebrate MillionTreesNYC at a "Dig In for Earth Day" tree-planting event May 5 in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg and NYC Parks and New York Restoration Project. Since the program's inception in 2007, thousands of New Yorkers have helped plant over 400,000 trees, with NYCAHC planting more than 2,000 of them.

American Forests' easy online calculator and offsetting options make it easy to offset your home or car pollution (I offset my minivan's emissions for about $17 last year through AF). Earth Day Network also offers an eco-calculator.

Whatever you do, just consider doing something green this weekend and join your colleagues in making the planet a bit healthier for us all!

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April 5, 2011

Like Club Med, but with less sand

I have a friend who is just now starting out in her career, and is finding herself overwhelmed with the many possibilities of what "career" could mean. She has a marketing degree, feels like everyone else does too, and is struggling to find her "place". Something that feels like more than a job.

I, of course, am trying to move her toward the association world. She's having a hard time picturing herself in what she imagines to be a thankless job with a low salary - the jobs she's finding are largely administrative and don't pay very well.

I've explained to her that we're sort of a... club, almost. Not just ASAE - but the association sector as a whole. My Facebook is full of association professionals. My Twitter is, too. I go to happy hours and if I happen to meet someone who works for an association, it's like we have an immediate "bond" - even if that person works in IT and I work in membership. Where else can you find that? You don't see people at parties immediately connecting with those around them because "Oh, you work for a company? ME TOO!"

But with the association world, it's somehow different. Whether or not our organization is charitable, I'd imagine that most of us still feel like we do some semblance of "good". We're serving our members' personal or professional needs, usually providing some sort of education and growth opportunities. Our members WANT to come see us a few times a year at meetings. With the exception of dues time, they're usually interested in what we have to say. And that's because it's all of our jobs, no matter our title, to make our particular member base happy.

For that reason, we really do seem to connect with one another more than a lot of other career groups. I LIKE being a part of ASAE and the other association networking groups I belong to. I like spending my time with other similarly-minded professionals.

So, I'm trying to get my friend out to one of the networking happy hours, because I have no doubt that once she gets in, she'll be hooked. To me, this camaraderie is one of the major benefits of this profession. Her questions have me really analyzing and revisiting why it is I have stayed in the association world thus far.

What would you tell a friend who wants to know why they should look into this job market?

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September 27, 2010

Getting tired?

Last week, I caught an interesting but brief dialogue on Twitter between two association people, David Gammel and Kevin Holland, whom some of you may know.

David: Blogging is dead except for those who write well with a strong point of view. Same goes for tweeting, books, and stone tablets.
Kevin: @davidgammel But even blogs from good writers with strong POV tend to get really boring -- cuz it's that POV over & over & over & over.
David: @associationinc Sure, although if you carry a diverse set of views upon which to make points, you can limit that fatigue.
David: @associationinc Speaking of which, when are you bringing your blog back? I hadn't gotten bored with you yet! :)
Kevin: @davidgammel Thanks ... But *I* had gotten bored with it...

I'm with David in missing Kevin's perspectives on association managment on his blog, but I point to this conversation to highlight a challenge that can face any association professional, not just communications people or bloggers: message fatigue.

It's easy to get tired of doing or saying the same thing over and over again. Explaining your member benefits. Stating your advocacy position. Training new volunteers and board members. Sharing tips for doing X, Y, or Z. The repetition can be daunting.

I have another story, however, that might offer some motivation for fighting that fatigue. At ASAE's Annual Meeting, I went to Bob Rosen's Thought Leader session, which I enjoyed. It wasn't until the final few minutes of his session that I realized he was the same person that Scott had blogged about in July. Later, I blogged about Rosen's "just enough anxiety" advice, shortly after which I learned Rosen had written a book about it in 2008. Then, last week, I discovered that he wrote a feature article for Associations Now in August 2008. I work for the magazine and had no recollection of it! Does that make me a bad editor? Perhaps, but it also makes me human. For whatever reason, the instances in which my colleagues had previously conveyed Rosen's ideas hadn't impacted me. When I heard him in person, they finally did.

And so I'm an example of the old marketing adage that it takes repeated messages (from 3 to 20, depending on whom you ask) to effectively reach a consumer. It can apply well beyond advertising, though, to education, publications, or even plain old instructional information. So hang this motto on your wall, if you have to, to constantly remind yourself: "Just because I'm tired of it doesn't mean my members are."

I found a couple resources with some ideas for fighting message fatigue, but it was surprisingly difficult to find info that was more specific than general job burnout, so I'm curious if you have any other ideas from your experience. How do you stay motivated, and how do you deliver messages multiple times without just being repetitive? Please share in the comments.

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August 31, 2010

Three Cool Takeaways from the LA Community Legacy Projects

Wow, we just finished tallying up the total Annual Meeting attendee participation and results from our Community Connections projects, and the numbers blasted previous "legacy project" metrics to smithereens!

The projects--ranging from a 5K fun run to local tours to bike-building and toiletry-kit/school supply stuffing--brought together 487 volunteers and resulted in 125 bikes, several massive boxes of stuffed school backpacks, and more than $17,000--all for the nonprofit Midnight Mission! In previous years, ASAE averaged about 15 volunteers, who would all arrive to donate time on the Saturday before the conference started. Obviously, we've finally found the right formula that will make giving back to the host community fun, accessible, and high-impact.

Here are three cool takeaways that seem to be making the difference:

1. We added far more options. Indeed, the 5K run early on the second day of the meeting hit its limit of 100 sign-ups weeks before folks started landing at LAX airport. Eager tradeshow participants turned a wrench, steadied some screws, and did whatever else was needed to help build the first 100 bikes in the Milwaukee, Travel Portland, and Pittsburgh booths at the Expo. The remaining 25 bikes and all of the backpacks and toiletry kits were completed on Tuesday, the final day of the event. Offering multiple opportunities, pricing, and time commitments ensured that almost all attendees could do at least something to give back....

2. Which led to a happy meet-up between volunteers and the actual recipients of our efforts--the families served by Midnight Mission! Boy, if you could have seen those kids' smiles, and the energy with which they zoomed around the room on their sparkling bikes--well, that will be a strong and positive memory for everyone there. Think those folks will volunteer again? Oh, yeah. They know first-hand that they made a difference in a child's life--and plenty of parents were there to add their warm thanks as well. The same was true on the Saturday when more than 400 people were fed by our attendees at Midnight Mission. Lesson: Try to ensure face-to-face exchanges with the constituency your legacy projects are serving. And lose the polish--focus the exchange on the homeless, the hungry, or the other vulnerable people being helped by your attendees.

3. We learned that our business partners could be real leaders when it comes to good citizenship, and they can teach us a few things in this regard. The Industry Partners group of ASAE was a driving force behind several of the legacy events, such as the bike-building, and others on the tradeshow floor--such as Virginia Beach CVB with its book collection for Midnight Mission, and Rosen Hotels with its continuing donation drive for Haiti earthquake relief--came up with their own ways to help others. Thank you all!

One final point: Chris Wood, director of social responsibility and coordinator of so many of these legacy projects, and the director of Midnight Mission were so inspired by the impact of our attendees that they are working on a case study guide that will 1) help standardize the process of ASAE-charity legacy projects, 2) develop a sample case study that Midnight Mission can use to guide other associations meeting in Los Angeles, and 3) capture the lessons learned by our 2010 experience.

Again, thank you to each of the 487 people who ran, walked, gave time and money, got their hands dirty with bike grease, brought shampoo and soap, and more!

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August 19, 2010

What motivates employees?

A number of people now leaving for ASAE & The Center's Annual Conference & Expo in Los Angeles Aug 20-24 may be hoping to learn about ways to recruit, retain, and motivate staff. A new article in Knowledge@Whartoncontains the results of a fascinating series of studies about whether ranking workers (and, in particular, sharing that rank with the employee) would inspire good performers to greater heights and poor performers to buckle down.

Short answer: no. The worker rock star began slacking off, while the loser workers became discouraged but--although companies apparently hoped otherwise--generally didn't quit their jobs to move on.

After reading the article, I wondered how old the workers were. Would age affect this result?

I had recently listened to the September issue of Success magazine's CD, which shares interviews with 3-4 leaders of interest to entrepreneurs and small business owners. Featured was a terrific conversation with three inspiring and insightful Millennial leaders of the nonprofit Invisible Children.

Invisible Children aims to prevent child soldiering, the kidnapping of youngsters by rebel tribes in Northern Uganda for use as horrific "soldiers" in their battle against the government. The nonprofit, born out of a documentary filmed by student 20-somethings, has been remarkably successful at raising political attention to the problem and engaging supporters of all ages to their cause. (See here for a short video of its Schools to Schools program.).

One quote really stuck with me. The interviewer asked the trio what companies and organizations can do to attract, retain, and motivate Millennial workers. "Millennials value the impossible," one answered. They'll "work like crazy" and are "extremely passionate," but they want to have fun doing it, and they are attracted to projects, causes, and programs that are trying "to do things never done before." They also want their organizations to think beyond themselves and to take their role as a global citizen seriously, the leaders said.

I'm hoping that conference attendees will keep an open mind and the reality check provided by these three brave nonprofit founders as discussions begin again on worker "reward" systems in associations.

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August 12, 2010

Giving Away Success

I love Success magazine for entrepreneurs and small-business owners, especially the accompanying audio CD that features three to four interviews with leaders from various industries. I always glean great information relevant to our sector as well, and the September issue is no exception, because it carries a series about giving--why and how businesses should give, why folks in the top positions should adopt a public giving culture, and why some of the highest impact giving has nothing to do with money.

This is refreshing in light of the major publicity given this week to the laudable efforts of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to convince billionaires to pledge at least half of their wealth to charitable causes in life or upon their death. If the wealth of the 40+ billionaires who have signed on holds true, that means a staggering flow of more than $200 billion into the nonprofit community--and the dynamic duo are far from done.

The pieces in Success had nothing to do with giving of such mind-boggling personal wealth. Indeed, Success publisher and CD moderator Darren Hardy lists 10 "non-monetary tithes" that business leaders could give, ranging from "knowledge tithing" and "mentoring tithing," to "ear tithing" (listening) and "space tithing" (donating the use of an office or meeting room to a nonprofit for events or a satellite office).

The list reminded me of the latest book from Loews Hotels CEO & Chairman Jonathan Tisch, Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World, in which Tisch urges everyone in every field at every level to become "citizen professionals." He defines that term as a professional in, say, architecture who also applies his or her work skills and knowledge to projects and organizations that better their community and beyond.

In my April interview, Tisch echoes Hardy in urging businesses and the organizations representing these trades and professions to talk more specifically about giving. "My hope is that the leaders of many, many associations are willing to have this conversation with their members, ... because the needs are out there, and the reality is that we have so many challenges as a society, if we could use the strength and vision that associations in our country possess--just the sheer horsepower of the men and women who belong to these associations--we could do a lot for this country."

Tisch went on to say that, like Buffett, people seem hungry to do something positive, and they're looking to their workplaces to meet that desire. "Over the years when I've been involved in so many associations," Tisch says, "I have seen people at conventions want to do more. I have seen them ask for more information [about what to do]. When you look back over the past 18 months--one of the most difficult financial periods our nation has ever been through--we've come out of it with a sense of the fragility of our economic system ..., but now that we're coming to a better place, we also have a greater understanding of what we need to do to preserve the pillars of our economy and to try to do more. People are expressing the need to have a roadmap to help them do more."

I'm hoping, like Hardy, Tisch, and likely Buffett, that association leaders are willing to "ask for directions" that let them create that giving roadmap with their boards, members, and customers. At the very least, consider GPSing your own giving route drawing on a full range of "tithing" options.

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July 16, 2010

3 smart quotes from Thought Leaders

Next up in our preview of the ASAE & The Center Annual Meeting & Expo, three deep thoughts from Thought Leaders who will speak at the conference. I've added my own reaction to each below.

On work-life balance:

"Take a few minutes to consider the physical or mental overcrowding that you're probably putting up with right now. Where do you need to bring some space into your personal or professional life? Do you need space on your calendar to spend more time with your kids? Space in your home to bring a pet into your life? Space on your to-do list to allow for new business?

"Decide where you want the space and start making room. Even though it may be hard to get started, once you're done it's like that final child pose that you ease into at the end of a tough yoga session. Ahhh, breathe deep and relax into all that space."

—Libby Gill, from "Find Space for What You Need," on her blog, March 19, 2010

(I've never done yoga, but I get the idea. City living and a busy job can make one claustrophobic. I used to find that relaxing came naturally, but I find more and more that I need to consciously plan time to make sure I'm relaxing and finding "space." You should, too.)

On getting attention:

"I first heard about the new Cisco product from a receptionist in our office. As I walked in, she said: 'Did you hear about Cisco's new router? It can download the entire Library of Congress in one second.' What surprised me was not that Cisco had introduced a phenomenally fast router for service providers. What surprised me was that our receptionist—who has never mentioned Cisco and probably cares little about router speed—was excited about it.

"I retrieved the Cisco press release and, sure enough, the streamed movies and Library of Congress hooks were included in the release, word for word. Cisco had given the public something to talk about, a conversation starter."

—Carmine Gallo, from "Why Your Business Needs a Hook," on Bloomberg Businessweek, March 16, 2010

(Carmine shares here a great example on Cisco's part of "lateral thinking," the ability to take a concept and present it in an entirely new way. It is often seen as a link between creativity and humor, because the human brain reacts with surprise when presented with a sudden incongruity or leap from one perspective to another. If you can present your association's message in a way that surprises or amuses members or prospects, they'll be far more likely to remember you.)

On interpersonal communication:

"Communication isn't a one-way street—you can't bark orders and commands and expect all employees to follow that system. In fact, that technique may even be wildly detrimental to what you're trying to accomplish with your business.

"Try reading this sentence six times—and each time put the emphasis on a different word …
'I Didn't Say You Were Beautiful.'

"If six words can mean so many different things it's no wonder that communication within a company can be so confusing and frustrating at times.

"Never stop passionately pursuing better communication with everyone around you."

—Cameron Herold, from "The Key to Good Communication," on his BackPocket COO blog, April 6, 2010

(I tried it. The sentence really does mean something different every time. And so it's no wonder people have so much misunderstanding via email and other electronic communication. It's hard to convey tone and emphasis in text.)

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February 8, 2010

Quick clicks: Snowy day edition

This is a bit of a catch-up edition of Quick Clicks, so it's a little longer than usual. But if you're in the DC area (or elsewhere) and snowed in, what better time to catch up on your reading?

First, I'd like to welcome to several new association blogs:

- Aaron Wolowiec, a former Acronym blogger, has launched his own blog at An early standout post: Exposing the silo effect.

- Karen Tucker Thomas recently began the CEO Solutions blog. Early standout: Board orientation or board development.

- Management Solutions Plus brings us The Common Thread blog, featuring a number of staff, including well-known association blogger Jamie Notter. Early standout: Enquiring minds want to know how and why, by Angela Pike.

- If you follow any of the ASAE & The Center listservers, you're surely familiar with Vinay Kumar; he now has a blog of his own, too. Early standout: The Ferrari, the race, the pit-stop.

- If you have an interest in legal issues related to associations, check out Mark Alcon's new Association Law Blog. An early standout post: top 10 signs of a dysfunctional board.

Several existing blogs and bloggers are putting together interesting new series:

- The Vanguard Technology blog has begun a new "5 Questions" series, where they'll be asking five questions of an association professional doing innovative things with technology. This first interview (presented primarily in podcast form) focuses on why email marketing matters more than ever.

- DelCor has begun a weekly "Social Media Sweet Spot" show on Ustream, hosted by KiKi L'Italien.

- The SocialFish blog is hosting a series of interviews with association social media managers.

Many other association bloggers have had interesting things to say in recent weeks:

- Maddie Grant shared a thought-provoking post from Bruce Butterfield on lessons associations can learn from the struggles of the newspaper industry. Kevin Holland responded with his thoughts on what is missing from that comparison. Both posts inspired very interesting comment discussions.

- Elsewhere, Kevin Holland had a great discussion with Matt Baehr about aggregation as a value proposition for associations.

- Shelly Alcorn shares her take on the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case.

- Joe Gerstandt has a thoughtful post on opportunities he sees for local SHRM chapters to advance the cause of diversity and inclusion. I think his ideas could be applicable to a lot of other associations, too.

- Jeff Hurt shares a meeting planner's perspective on conference housing and attrition.

- Jeff De Cagna shares his five key words for 2010.

- Ellen Behrens argues that many of our current work practices are unhealthy for both ourselves and our organizations.

- Judith Lindenau shares her "A list" advice for association membership recruitment and retention.

- Maggie McGary is starting a list of association and nonprofit community managers.

- Eric Lanke at the Hourglass Blog shares a first draft of principles of innovation for the association community.

- Sue Pelletier responds to one possible model for the future of work and speculates on how associations might fit in.

- Tony Rossell has a simple method you can use to calculate where your membership numbers are headed.

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October 22, 2008

Presidential Candidates Speak on Work-Life Issues

Sick leave. Child care. Eldercare. Health care. You can now tap into notes from several conference calls about work-life issues with policy leaders from the presidential campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain. Hosted in September by the nonprofit Families and Work Institute (FWI), the calls incorporated questions posed by business leaders in the work-life field and enabled business and community leaders nationwide to listen in.

"We consider it very significant that both campaigns have taken work-life issues seriously," says Ellen Galinsky. "This is the first ever Presidential campaign in which both nominees have formally articulated their positions in this arena.”

Among the questions addressed were the following:

- What are the work and family life issues the candidate feels are most important to address?

- What is the candidate's position on workplace flexibility? What are the roles of the government, employers and employees in providing workplace flexibility?

- Should the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) be changed and, if so, in what ways? Should it be paid? By whom? Should sick leave be established and paid? By whom and for whom?

- How would the candidate address issues of the time famine that so many employees experience?

- How does each candidate plan to address the impact of the gas crisis on commuting employees?

- How can work life issues help address the spiraling cost of health care?

- What if anything, does either party plan to do to support the 45% of employees taking care of our growing elderly population?


September 24, 2008

Association/Nonprofit Employers of Choice for the Over-50 Crowd

With so many organizations focused on talent management and recruitment, special congratulations are in order for several associations and nonprofits that have been named to the prestigious 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50 list. Some of the who and why are below:

- The YMCA of Greater Rochester (New York)—Ranked fourth and in the top 10 for the past four years, this nonprofit has a workforce in which 18% of employees are over age 50 and averaging a decade-long tenure. To get there, the “Y” hires specialized placement agencies to aim for “mature workers and retirees,” and partners with the Rochester Area Employee Network to recruit people over age 50 with disabilities. Its alternative work schedules include job sharing, telecommuting, and “a formal phased-retirement” program, as well as financial planning coaching, caregiving leave, wellness programs, and onsite care for grandchildren.

The Y also boasts terrific benefits for part-time and full-time employees, such as professional development programs with tuition reimbursement, short-term assignments in other departments, and public accolades for long-time service. A formal retiree association is run by an on-staff employee who coordinates temporary or ongoing project work, consulting, volunteering, and myriad networking/social events.

- The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (Arlington, Virginia)—Thirty-six percent of NRECA’s workforce is over age 50. Ranked 27 on the AARP list, NRECA employees enjoy a culture of continuing education, with a wide assortment of training, short-term projects, sabbaticals, certifications, and tuition reimbursement available. Volunteering is encouraged with paid time off, and commuter assistance and flexible work locations and hours are offered. Childcare referral services for grandchildren, an active retiree program with multiple work and volunteer options, and excellent health and financial benefits also are worth noting.

As competition for top talent tightens, these role models are sure to be replicated across our sector. Congratulations again!


July 17, 2008

Helping Sandwiched Employees

I was talking recently with a longtime friend and association professional who—like 27 million other workers in America—is challenged with the classic “sandwich” situation: caring for children and parents simultaneously. She was exhausted, stressed, and worried about her work productivity as a result.

I know how difficult it is to deal just with childcare when you’re working—I actually keep an Excel program to track the seven camps and five babysitters that my daughter alone is needing to get us through the summer months, and don’t even start me on my son’s schedule—so I can’t imagine throwing multiple parents into the mix.

I felt badly for my friend, but beyond dropping off a meal, picking up a few grocery items for her, and taking the kids sometimes, what else could be done to help? I turned to AARP—something few under-50s likely do regularly (or admit anyway!)—and found not only a nice page of suggestions and resources called “How You can Make a Difference to Caregivers,” but an entire Caregiving Channel.

The channel also links to a two-hour PBS special, “Caring for Your Parents,” that covers the most sensitive subjects surrounding this issue and includes a 30-minute panel discussion. Other features are a Navigating the World of Caregiving tool, with nifty “expert videos,” eldercare checklists, books, and pages that are easily e-mailed to others. Materials also are available for human resource departments, including a CD-ROM and binder of 43 tips for sandwich-stretched employees.

Loads of other eldercare resources are online, of course, but I found AARP’s to be one of the easiest to navigate. Here are some other good possibilities, though:

- The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers is composed of “health and human services specialists who help families care for older relatives, while encouraging as much independence as possible.” Its site has lots of helpful tips for confused consumers.

- Eldercare Locator is a free service of the Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Look, too, under

- Eldercare Online is a free Internet community stockpiled with practical resources for caregivers.

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April 3, 2008

Power of positive thinking

He’s the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy, Jack Canfield. And at Springtime’s general session, he gave away a hundred bucks to one lucky attendee.

How did he do it? He held up a $100 bill and said “Who would like this?”

Hands shot up all around the ballroom. One person, though, walked up and took it. And that’s the whole point of his presentation: take action. Yes, the person did keep the hundred bucks, which might have been most of Canfield’s honorarium.

So on to a few specifics. In addition to being the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy, he’s the The Success Principles guy, his latest self-help motivational book. There are 64 principles in the book, but he focused on the first and most important:

Take 100% responsibility for your life and results.

This means you have to give up all blaming and all complaining. And no more justifying, defending, or excuse making.

What does this mean?

Here’s his example for giving up blaming.

A guy could go home from work and discover his girlfriend has left him. Just took everything she owned and moved. The guy could react by saying, (and yes, this is the story he told as he told it) “That bitch. How could she do this?” Or, the guy could reflect and say, “Gee, I wonder what I did to make her leave.”

He also gave the formula for this success principle:

E + R = O

Events plus your response to these events equal the outcome.

He gave the story of seeing a sign hanging in a store saying:

“I’ve heard there’s a recession coming. I’ve chosen not to participate.”

The basic message: visualize the outcome you want and just by visualizing it – and believing it possible, you can make it happen.

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I want to be a dolphin

Turns out, dolphins can be awake and asleep at the same time.

That's the first thing I learned at one of this morning's concurrent sessions at Springtime: “This One Will Put You to Sleep” delivered by Deborah Gofreed, MD, medical director, Arlington Sleep Medicine.

Alas, humans are not so lucky. I specifically chose this session for the first morning session because I thought there would be bunks or something.

Alas, I was not so lucky to get a few extra winks, but I did learn some techniques that might help me get a few extra winks the next time I am in a bunk.

We all know the problem: most of us don’t get as much sleep as we think we need; most of us have trouble sleeping at least a few nights per week; average adult sleep time has decreased from eight hours to about six hours.

So what to do?

Keep a regular sleep schedule with a bedtime and wake time. For those suffering from insomnia, it’s particularly important to stick to your wake up time.

Don’t exercise right before bed, though evening exercise several hours before laying down is ok.

Drink no alcohol for four hours before going to sleep.

Avoid nicotine and caffeine in the evenings.

Don’t go to bed full or hungry.

Create a bedtime routine and follow it.

Relax in a warm bath.

Set aside a worry time a couple of hours before bedtime. This is for those of us who are tired, tired, tired, we lay our heads on a pillow with heavy eyelids, and then, all of a sudden, the mind starts racing.

Make your sleep environment a sleeping environment—no television or music.

Dr. Gofreed also had some tips to fight jet lag.

Use a blindfold.

Nap, but limit it to 30 minutes.

Limit alcohol and caffeine.

Medicate—study the different kinds of medicine and discuss with your doctor.

Melatonin—a natural sleep aid.

Begin to shift your sleep pattern before you leave.

If it’s a short trip, try to keep as close to your home time zone hours as you can.

Sleep well!


January 10, 2008

Information Reduced Diet

Over the holidays, I read The 4-Hour Workweek. Not because I'm actually after a 4-hour workweek, but more so, because I'm always open to new ideas for balancing work with life (often a challenge for many association professionals).

The book was a quick and entertaining read with some solid tips for focusing on what mattered, and wasting less time on work for work's sake. Though, there was a little too much emphasis on world travel as the ultimate end-product of freeing yourself up from endless work crunch.

Here is the book's author, Tim Ferriss with a brief interview where he discusses the "information abuse epidemic":

Anyway, the most worthwhile section was titled "Elimination", where among other things, the author says we should stop watching/reading the news, stop surfing the web, only check email once a day, unsubscribe from all newsletters/etc, never answer your office phone, and so on. By doing so, time is freed up to do the work that really matters. The book does go into more detail, as well as give tips to avoid distractions and reorient output towards results (as opposed to volume).

As a New Year's Resolution, I've taken on this "information reduced diet", doing many of the things suggested in the book (though, not all ;) And, so far so good. I don't feel any less informed or out of the loop. There seems to be less chaos/urgency to each day. And, most importantly, I'm crossing off many of the big items on my to-do list that kept getting pushed off due to the deluge of email and other daily distractions. Will be interesting to see how long I can keep it up for...

PS: Tim Ferris did a more extensive discussion, along with One Person/Multiple Careers author Marci Alboher, as part of the Authors@Google lecture series.

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December 11, 2007

Just say "no"

No great ideas here, just a good read.

In fact, there's one colleague of mine (and confirmed reader of this blog) who I know needs to read this article. Actually, I suspect all of us do. The article explores the question of why it is so hard for adults to say no, even when we want to or should. And now I have to put William Ury's The Power of a Positive No on my Christmas list.

And then I read the sidebar to this article and I realized something. When you do say "yes" just about all the time, it is noticed and respected. You may get teased about it behind your back (to my colleague -- don't worry, nobody teases you as far you know), but it's with admiration. And when I look at the sidebar, saying yes to those things is how you get ahead. And if you start off with a no, you don't get asked again, missing future opportunities. So anybody who thinks they're not getting the job/title/salary they are entitled to, start by asking yourself how often you get asked to do more than is expected--and how often you say "yes."

(And for the people who just can't say "no" -- read the article and bow out every now and then. As long as you have a "yes" track record, you'll still get asked in the future.)


September 26, 2007

Top Ten Ways You Know You're Flying Too Much...

Over the last six weeks or so, my life has felt like one continuous plane ride. I've spent many, many hours in the air during this period, and I've tried to put that time to good use by coming up with this list for your amusement. Just consider it a public service I'm performing on behalf of all the weary travelers in the association world. It's a great opportunity for us to laugh at the ridiculous things that too much flying can do to otherwise normal human beings. (No cracks from the peanut gallery please...)

So, without further delay, the Top Ten Ways You Know You're Flying Too Much!

Continue reading "Top Ten Ways You Know You're Flying Too Much..." »

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July 17, 2007

More generational food for thought

In a recent comment here on Acronym, Wayne Carley asks, “The last two conferences/retreats I attended had lots of young parents bringing their stroller-aged post-millenials. (Do we have a name for that generation yet?)”

Coincidentally, an article in this month’s Harvard Business Review, “The Next 20 Years: How Customer and Workforce Attitudes Will Evolve,” is the first I’ve seen to give that generation a name. Authors Neil Howe and William Strauss call them the “Homelander” generation. Clearly it’s early to make any predictions about these toddlers as a generation, but Howe and Strauss do have some predictions about what Millennials will be like as parents.

Personally, I found it a little sad to see the name “Homelander” given to my children’s generation. I’d like to hope that security issues will be less of a concern in their lifetime than in mine.

On a somewhat related note, Tammy Erickson, a blogger at Harvard Business Online, has unveiled some results from research she’s been doing with Generation Y/Millennial focus groups.

One finding that struck me as particularly interesting: Her participants really like working with Boomers and find that they learn a lot from Boomer mentors. This seems to fly in the face of a lot of media coverage of Millennial/Boomer interaction, which typically seems to cast Millennials as the angry young gatecrashers or as irresponsible children of helicopter parents. (Admittedly, conflict is an easy hook for a writer to play with, which I’m sure influences this kind of coverage.) It’s nice to see new evidence that shows that these two groups can really respect each other’s perspectives and learn from one another.

Erickson uses my favorite quote as the title of her blog entry on the research; when talking about their desire for flexibility at work, one participant is quoted as saying, “What is it with you people and 8:30 a.m.?”

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June 8, 2007

Tierney's social surveys

A blog I've started reading recently is TierneyLab: Putting Ideas in Science to the Test by John Tierney, a science columnist at the New York Times. One of the things I just can't resist about his blog are the social science surveys he finds that researchers are using. I assume the researchers use the data as some kind of pretest to do actual, real research. But that's not what draws me to them. They're like the Cosmo quizzes, but smart.

Here's one on ethics. (Interesting to note that in the most Cosmo-like question, a third of the 200+ respondents didn't think it was particularly unethical to go out on a date with someone just to make someone else jealous.)

Here's another one on daydreaming. (Probably the only surprise I have from this one is that respondents said that when they had time on their hands they frequently entertained themselves with their own thoughts. I don't really believe that answer. I think most people watch TV.)


March 21, 2007

Work/Life Balance: The Social Impact of Personal Choices

In December 2006, Senators Chris Dodd and Arlen Specter launched a bipartisan caucus on Children, Work and Family in the US Senate. The purpose of the caucus is to look at the problems faced by working families - to revive a conversation last addressed deliberately in our legislature in 1983. In their words, “The mission of the caucus is to bring national attention to the ‘kitchen table’ issues that impact individuals, families and our economic security.” To put it mildly, I think that’s a swell idea.

Since I began thinking about how we are 'missing' a conversation about associations and social responsibility my family has relocated, expanded from two people to four, and I am now a telecommuter full-time, working for an association across the country in an odd schedule (5:30 AM to 1:30 PM local time), in part to accommodate the needs of my family and to try and balance them. When I log off in the afternoon, I help my husband put the kids down for a nap, grab a shower and try to catch up on reading or housework or occasionally, exercise. To use the inadequate language of the current debate, I am occupying a strange limbo between being a stay-at-home mother, and working mother.

I am extremely lucky. I have managed to continue working full time though I have two children under age three – they are in daycare twenty hours a week, which depending on your perspective is either very little time, or far too much.

My hunch is that if you’re thinking that’s very little time, you’re a working parent with a working spouse. If you think that’s far too much, you’re either in a family where one parent can stay home, or you expect to be in that situation if and when you do have children.

My husband also has a flexible schedule – he is employed full-time and then some, a professor teaching a full course load at his primary employer, and two distance-learning classes every term for the institution he left in Georgia. Half of his work is completed from home while the kids are sleeping, or while we watch a movie on the weekends.

You don’t come here to read personal blogging, however, but bear with me just a bit longer, because I do have a point in telling you how I balance work and family.

I hope I can make it clearly: For too long, families like mine have been juggling the demands of childrearing and work in relative isolation. A recent study from UC Hastings shows that when articles surface about women in the workforce, they don't tell the whole story, and they talk of personal ‘choice’ – as in, feminism was about women having the ‘choice’ to work or stay at home. That language has put us in a complicated place.

Since I became a mother, I’ve determined there is another conversation we are missing, and it’s related to my first conviction: associations have a role to play in finding peace in the so-called ‘mommy wars’, and it’s in our best interest to lead employers towards fixing this enormous social problem. In the coming months, and the coming posts, I’ll be exploring how we got here.

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January 30, 2007

Phone anger


I liked the story Ned Hallowell, author of CrazyBusy and Monday’s Great Ideas general session speaker, used to lead off his presentation. The picture is this: He’s on vacation, and it’s a real vacation, where he gets away from all the rigors and spends time with friends and family without work obligations. He decided to call a friend to set up a joint family outing to a minor league baseball game that evening.

The phone in the rustic cabin was an old, rotary-dial model. Hallowell said he was getting angry that was taking so long to dial the number. By the time he got it dialed, he was in a state of agitation. All this because of 30 seconds of waiting when he had nothing else to do. According to Hallowell, it’s a result of the crazy busy world we live and work in that we are now hardwired to expect speed in everything and get angry at delay whenever it occurs.

I’d love to tell you Hallowell had a magic bullet that would free you from this oppression. He doesn’t. His message was essentially to acknowledge the problem and then actively work to take control of your time. He gave some examples of people able to do just that, and made some strong points about why it is important. But the bottom line is, it is completely dependent on you to create a sane world for you to live in – and the world will fight you at every turn.


August 2, 2006

Getting Away From It All - And Bringing It All With You

I'm in Orlando this week on vacation.

At first, I swore to myself I wasn't even going to take a computer with me on vacation. Just my Blackberry, which I would check at night, after a day on the rides. Of course, things are such at work where that was not possible. The laptop came on vacation too. (I promise I am going to have a vacation too - don't worry.)

But it makes me feel good to know that I am not alone, according to the latest Voice of the Traveler survey by the Travel Industry Association and Synovate. According to the survey:

  • Cell phones (86%) and digital cameras (67%) topped the list of most popular technologies Americans take with them on leisure trips
  • 24% bring their laptops
  • 21% bring CD players
  • 11% bring an iPod or MP3 player (I always have my iPod and my digital camera in my purse)

Of those who visit the Internet while on vacation:

  • 18% use it to stay connected with family and friends while traveling
  • 16% use it to find places to visit and things to do
  • 15% choose accommodations based on the availability of wireless or high-speed Internet
  • 10% use it because they like to stay in touch with the office AND
  • 9% use it because they have no choice but to stay in touch with the office

So how about you? How many did work on vacation this year? How many were good and actually left it behind?

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