Sunday, December 30, 2007

2 Books You Should Read

Anyone who knows me well, knows I don't read a lot of books. I mean truly read, cover to cover. I spend my time reading blogs and magazines (Inc., Fast Company, Associations Now, Forum). But, I have been trying to get better about it. I have recently read several of Seth Godin's books (love them). But over the holidays, I have read 2 books that I must recommend.

The First 90 Days - Michael Watkins
This book is subtitled: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels. If you are moving into a new position of any kind, especially CEO level, this book is perfect. It would also be helpful to read before you interviewed for such a position. Lots of good info and ways of looking at things.

The New Recruit - Sarah Sladek
This book is subtitled: What Your Association Needs to Know About X, Y and Z. All this talk about the generations is put into a nice, short read. Packed with good info and examples, this is the book to get your boss if he/she doesn't understand the generational thing and is content doing things the same as they have always been done. I could see getting this book for everyone in your organization, including your board.

My next read is Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow. I have started this one and am inspired to write something about how this can be applied to associations. It may end up too much for a blog post, but we shall see.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Probably Late with This One

I am probably late to the party on this one, but I just started using Pandora, the online radio service from the Music Genome Project.

This is the coolest thing ever. You can create a radio station starting with one artist. Then you can add various other artists or songs to the stations and it finds other similar music for you based on the musical qualities of that song (not other's recommendations and listening habits). Then as it plays songs, you can give them thumbs up and down to help you station learn. You can create multiple stations, learn about the artists, and more - all in an easy to use interface.

If you haven't checked it out, you should. You will quickly become addicted.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Now Have Texting

Up until now, I have not had text messaging. Primarily because it hadn't blown up when I owned my own phone. And the company didn't give me a phone that had texting turned on. Until now. I have have a smart phone, with a data plan, so I can text. I was never a big texting guy. I didn't really get it. Why wouldn't you just call that person. Well, having spent this past weekend in Vegas with some buddies, I now know why. It came in very handy. Some places were too loud to hear, but you could text. It helped me find my group.

So, I have now joined Twitter as CardCat. (CardCat is a combination of my school's mascots: Cardinals and Bobcats.) We shall see.

I am accepting Twitter thoughts, ideas, hints and comments.

New Web Service - Fuser.com

A friend of mine is leading the development team of a new online app - Fuser.com

"Fuser is the coolest way to unify your mail from multiple accounts. View your mail and social networking messages in one convenient location. It's easy and secure."

For those that hate having to look at MySpace, Facebook, and all their different email accounts, Fuser puts it in one convenient place. Very easy. Check it out.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More on ASAE

It just so happens that one of my staffers was looking into Circle Club today. Turns out, we will save a good bit of money by joining Circle Club since we attend a lot of events. It would make sense for us, and since my membership is coming due, I will probably be the one to do it.

But guess what? No where on my membership invoice can I add Circle Club. I am pretty sure someone is missing an opportunity here. What if my invoice listed all the things I bought this year and told me how much I would have saved with Circle Club?

Don't worry ASAE. I won't charge you a consulting fee for that one. :)

Latest from Fast Company

In the latest edition of Fast Company (which I read on the plane to and from the Forum Holiday Showcase) they profiled a neat new site for managing your finances.

www.mint.com

I just started playing with it and love it. It takes your online personal banking to the next level, without having to worry about MS Money or Quicken. You can categorize expenses, budget, see breakdowns and more. Check it out.

I also like Robert Scoble's article about social media in relation to the presidential campaigns. He calls it the "starfish" approach, which I think could work well for associations.

Lastly, be sure to read Chip and Dan Heath's (keynote at 2006 Great Ideas) article about getting back in the box.

ASAE Seems Expensive to Me

I just got my first renewal notice in the mail. $265. That seems a bit high to me. I was looking at the Technology Conference. $695. That is the only price point (unless you are a non-member). The conference has 2 days of education, which is nice. And I guess $695 isn't totally outrageous for that, but what about us folks who might just want to troll the trade show portion? I have a feeling exhibitors might like that. And exhibit space costs seem a bit on the low side.

I love ASAE and what they do. I am just wondering if they might be better off with a lot lower costs to members. I am sure I will hear about breadth and quality of programs, etc. But I still think there might be better ways to price many of their items.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trade Show Floor and Final Thoughts

The show floor was nice. Lots of hotels and CVBs, probably 90%. the floor was very similar to ASAE Annual. They had nice refreshments and 2 drink stations where 2 CVBs had provided one drink ticket each to attendees. I didn’t partake, as I jetted off to try to beat the weather and take an earlier flight home. Luckily, I got on the flight and made it home early (to my wife's delight).

Thanks again to Greg Fine and the rest of the Forum staff. They put on a good show and I enjoyed being a part of it. I hope you all enjoyed my posts. Now back to my real job ;)

Great Idea for Lunch

Those drums I heard were actually a theater troupe that was the lunch entertainment. When you walked over to lunch, you had a choice: Time to Energize or Time to Relax. Take Time is the overall theme this year. Time to Energize was in the Grand Ballroom and had the theater troupe dressed like Mardi Gras parade goers (I guess) and was lively and loud. Outside that room was the place to relax and continue conversations without the noise and excitement. I love this idea. How many times are you at a meeting and wish you could just talk to folks instead of hearing the entertainment? Only downside - cash bar for those that wanted to continue their drinking. I stuck with water and lemonade.

One side note on the Hyatt. I love that there is free wireless down in one area of meeting rooms (where we were this morning). The network is Hyatt Regency Foyer. However, in the main lobby, this network isn't available. This network isn't available one level up (I am in the subconcles of this building) or where lunch is being served. A little strange. I had to walk back here in order to find service.

The Pre-Lunch Reception

I have to give them credit, the drinking started at 10:45 am. This group is big on receptions and talking. So the morning reception featured bellinis, bloody marys and mimosas. I hear there is more booze on the show floor. It might be a nice flight home.

One observation. During sessions, everyone seems to be a sponge. Not a whole lot of dialogue. Then, once the session is over, it is too loud to hear yourself think with all the talking and networking going on. Just a little different than ASAE Annual or other events. Just a different dynamic than I am used to.

Off to lunch. They have a drummer going through and leading the crowd to lunch. Good idea, it is working.

Next at the Showcase

There is now a reception and the trade show. My battery is getting low, so I will post once I get recharged, maybe from the airport. (I hope the weather holds)

Alpana Singh Takes Center Stage

Alpana Singh is a famous sommelier with books and a TV show. The show is called Check, Please and is a local Chicago show. I will let you read her bio here. She spent the beginning of the session just going over her history and how she got into wine. One great comment - in Europe wine is viewed as a necessity where in the US it is viewed as a luxury.

As a wine-wannabe, this was great. She taught herself everything and became a master sommelier. It was nice to hear she drinks many under $15.

I have my other blog that I haven't posted on enough in the last year, but check out the history. 10 Dollar Wines

Another cool wine site is WineLog.net. You set up an account and can track ratings, get recommendations, etc. This didn't exist when I started my blog. I was using it a lot a while ago, which explains my big gap in posts on my blog. I was blogging for WineLog under the name CardCat.

Back to Alpana, she is very funny and knowledgeable. I am going to have to check out her show. The whole talk was about her and wine, types of wine and pairings, nothing association related. Normally I would be a bit bummed because I wouldn't have a work-related takeaway, but since I love wine, this was great.

Standing room only.

Hilarious Side Note

The speaker's bureau person who is introducing the keynote is reading from a set of notecards, head down most of the time.

Knowledge Lab

I really like this idea. The Forum put 5 stations in a room and have it running all morning. People can hop in and out as they please. The 5 stations are focused on social media and Web 2.0. Very basic, but I am glad they have it. Each station had about 20 chairs and they were almost all full when I walked through. I am happy to see more association folks learning about Web 2.0.

However, I am that guy. I am the only one with a laptop out. The only one in my session, and now the only one in the Center Stage (keynote) session.

More from DTJ Presentation

Looking at who is paying the dues, what do you do marketing-wise when the employer is paying the dues? Try cause and effect scenarios versus traditional listings of features and benefits.

Are you giving members the tools to use Word of Mouth to recruit new members? Do you have enough tools in general to let members talk to others about what you are doing, not just recruit?

The session is over now. Good stuff. Even though I have read the report and seen some of this presentation before, I always get something new out of it.

First Session

There are some good choices of opening sessions.

Decision to Join
Coaching - The Lost Leadership Art
Planning Multicultural Meetings
Content Delivery
Form 990 - Changes and Implications

I started to go to Content Delivery, but saw the handouts before it started. It was a great summary of different delivery methods, etc. but looked a little to basic for me. So I am now sitting in Decision to Join. Sheri Jacobs is presenting on findings from DTJ. Carylann Assante was supposed to be here, but got stranded by weather.

DTJ has boatloads of great information. I wish there was a companion piece for trade associations, but no luck.

There was a great part showing what the most important functions of an association are to the various generations. Networking rated highest with younger folks and the scale dropped with each older generation. Also, with younger workers, high priorities in career development, job information, and training rated as most important, but had the least satisfaction. "They value networking and professional development the most, but lack the resources to attend in-person meetings."

One good way to vary delivery is with small pieces of information. Many can't digest full newsletters. MarketingProfs.com has small newsletters where you choose topics and they email you small, snack-sized bites of information.

Another way to get younger members involved and double check your offerings is to invite younger members to be part of your seminar selection committee.

I don't want this post to get too long, so I will check in later with more.

Starting the Day at the Holiday Showcase

Luckily, the signage was great and I was able to find everything just fine. However, one little snafu while trying to get my badge. I didn't get mine ahead of time through the mail due to my tardiness in registering. There were plenty of badge holder pickup stations had I had my badge already. Since I didn't, I needed to go to the registration line. There were 4 stations, but the lines weren't clearly defined. A staff person or volunteer tried to get people in a 4th line, but that only caused issues as people in the back ended up ditching those who had been waiting. Luckily, the line fixed itself. At the same time, the GES staff started putting out line dividers, which would have been good, but not while the lines are already there. The dividers ended up cutting the lines, so that they shifted from up and down to side to side. Suddenly, the people who were second in each line became 7th, 8th and 9th. Oops.

A very minor thing, but as I have attested before, I am a trade show snob.

I got my badge, a nice bag and hit the continental breakfast. Yummy food, good coffee (including the Starbucks syrups) and a buzz around the room.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Arrived at the Hotel

Luckily, my flight was on time out of IAD and on time landing at ORD. The Hyatt Regency is nice. It is where we held the council meetings at Annual this past summer. It is fairly massive. Hopefully finding things tomorrow will be easy. I have started to see signs, so I am confident I will find things ok.

I am loving my 32 inch flat screen in my room, I must say. However, I have to get on my soapbox here. Hotels are doing well putting in nice displays. But the picture is still bad, just bigger. Will hotels ever start using HD feeds to maximize the utility of the nice equipment they are installing? I am sure a Professional AV person could help them with that. :)

Anyway, I am looking forward to the sessions tomorrow. I just wish there were more of me here so I could go to more sessions.

Heading to the Forum's Holiday Showcase

I am getting ready to head to hot and sunny Chicago. Oh wait, cold and wintry were the right words. I am going to their Holiday Showcase to blog and offer my opinions.

Full disclosure: the Forum is flying me up and putting me in a hotel tonight in exchange for offering my opinions on this blog.

I will hit the education sessions in the morning, then the show floor in the afternoon. My hope is to live blog a few posts while I am there and a wrap up post when I get back. I haven't been to this event before, but I am looking forward to it. I think these types of events are perfect for members. One day, education and exhibits, not too daunting. Granted, it works perfect for drive-in traffic, but I think I might be able to do these regionally for our members. Who knows?