Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

PCMA Convening Leaders in Less Than 180 Seconds

January 22, 2013 3 comments

I was able to be a virtual partipant at PCMA‘s Convening Leaders (#pcmacl) in Orlando January 14-16, 2013. Thanks much for the opportunity, PCMA. I present to you my notes and tweets from a few of the sessions I participated in.

Monday, January 14, 2013:

Morten T. Hansen: “Great by Choice: How to Thrive in Uncertain Times” 

  • Fanatic discipline= consistency of action, makes difference between the great & the average.
  • Reliable growth is better than spectacular growth; it’s a long march to greatness.
  • Experiment. Fire bullets, not cannonballs. It’s how you innovate.
  • Plan for everything going wrong. Productive paranoia. The path to greatness is not paved with risky bets.
  • SMaC Recipe- Systematic: Formulas; Methodological: Works; Consistency: Durable

Greg Fuson:

  • Great conferences create vibrant, active communities.
  • Don’t be a conference that tries to add community. Be a community that holds in-person meetings.
  • Invitational marketing- a community saying, “Come be a part of us.”
  • Online engagement is about building social capital, giving more than what you’re asking for.
  • Foster (but don’t force) connection.
  • Identify intangible indicators of success.
  • Large events: Incubate small experiences.
  • What resonates with you? What aspects of your job do you feel yourself come alive for?
  • If you don’t feel passionate about the topics you’re organizing, you can’t expect your attendees to.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013:

  • Digital isn’t as risky as renting a convention center.
  • Socialize your content because it helps promote your brand.
  • Content management for a virtual event is key. 20 minute presentations instead of 90.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013:

PCMA Convening Leaders 2013- my virtual participation

Here I am virtually participating in PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2013. My second year joining in this way!

Tom Friedman, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author:

  • The biggest thing happening on the planet today: the merger of globalization & the IT revolution.
  • In 2004 LinkedIn was a prison, and Skype was a typo.
  • Phone calls from top of Mt. Everest begin w/ “Mom, you’ll never guess where I’m calling you from!”
  • Employers are looking for employees who can do problem solving, redesign their jobs while they’re doing them.
  • High wage, middle-skilled job has disappeared.
  • 25% dropout rate in US.
  • Think like an immigrant. Think like an artisan. Think like a starter-upper. Think like a waitress at Perkins Pancake House.
  • Think like an artisan. Give so much extra that you want to carve your initials into what you do.
  • Think like a starter-upper in Silicon Valley. Always be in beta.
  • Passion + curiosity always trumps IQ.
  • Think like a waitress at Perkins Pancake House. May not control much. Deliver extra. Think like an entrepreneur.

David Novak, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Yum! Brands: “Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen”

PCMA Convening Leaders- David Novak

The man behind cool ranch Doritos AND the crunch wrap supreme… David Novak! Photo and caption by Sarah Beauchamp, PCMA

  • What perceptions, beliefs, habits do you have to change, build or reinforce to grow the business?
  • Two reasons people leave a company: they don’t feel appreciated or they don’t get along w/ their boss.
  • David Novak is an All-World Ripper-Offer. He likes learning from others, getting ideas from other areas.
  • Celebrate other people’s ideas more than your own. Tell people you want to hear them.

Other great resources and blog posts from PCMA Convening Leaders:

“My Day Attending a Hybrid Meeting” by Thom Singer

PCMA Session Recap: Thomas Friedman, a Storify by Meeting Change

Convening Leaders Roundup: One Attendee Shares What She Learned by Jena Tesse Fox 

I’d also like to thank a few others I learned from and interacted with virtually. Thanks for adding to my experience and my understanding, Christine MelendesTraci Browne, Sarah Beauchamp, Angela Carr, and Barbara Palmer!

It should be noted that there will be a Convening Leaders Redux on January 30, 2013, where some of the most popular sessions will be re-broadcast virtually. I’ll most likely tune back in. Will I meet/see you there?

What were your takeaways from Convening Leaders? What other sessions did you learn from? What would you add to my notes?

Who’s minding the cobwebs?

August 3, 2012 13 comments

I recently visited an amusement park with my family. In an otherwise clean and orderly park, I noticed a number of cobwebs clinging to signs or railings. It got me to thinking… who’s minding the cobwebs? It’s probably not on the list of responsibilities for the cleaning crew as it’s not sweeping, mopping, cleaning bathrooms, wiping down tables, etc. Cobwebs probably don’t rank high on the priorities for the maintenance department when they have painting, repairs, green spaces, and other tasks to address on a daily and weekly basis.

Image by: Martin Geupel

When I was in graduate school in Educational Administration (I was on the track to become a principal or headmaster of a school), I remember hearing about a study where they watched to see who would pick up a piece of trash in a school hallway. They found that generally only two people would. Want to guess who? I’ll tell you: the school janitor and the principal. In other words, it was the person who had specific responsibility for that type of behavior and the person who had responsibility for the entire operation. Everyone one else- teachers, administrative staff, and cafeteria workers walked right on by.

There are two points here: When everyone is responsible for a task, really no one is… kind of like the community fridge in the office. No doubt it looks worse than your fridge at home does. Everyone has communal responsibility for it, but no one takes ownership of it. Secondly, if it’s not spelled out as a priority, no one takes it seriously as a responsibility. I’d like to see the organization where everyone is tasked with removing cobwebs and picking up trash they see on the floor. My guess is that as they train their eyes to see what others walk past, they’ll start to notice other areas- like business processes or customer service or communications- that need improvement too.

Since my visit to the amusement park I’ve started noticing cobwebs other places. Maybe I’ve even started looking for them. I’ve knocked them down in my garage and from railings and under my deck and from places where people might not even notice. But I’ve gotten to the place where I don’t want to see cobwebs, and I want them out of my life. Even in obscure places.

You see cobwebs represent what’s been overlooked, a lack of attention to detail. Cobwebs symbolize those areas, usually corners of our lives that we’ve gotten comfortable with, that we don’t give a critical eye to. If you look up cobwebs in the dictionary, you’ll also find that there are any number of negative associations: flimsy, insubstantial, a network of plot or intrigue, confusion, indistinctness, lack of order. I don’t know about you, but none of these do I want in my life.

It could be that cobwebs in your organization are the program whose time is past or the way of thinking that is not in tune with a connected and engaged community. It could be that employee who no longer produces but is still there occupying an office or a cubicle. The cobwebs could be the inability to take a risk on an unproven idea. The cobwebs could be a stifling bureaucracy or ineffective communications. It could be an organizational culture that causes its employees to merely clock in and clock out rather than giving their best efforts and ideas.

So, I ask again… who’s minding the cobwebs? In your life? In your organization?

The Moneyball Approach: Do You Have It?

With the Academy Awards more than a month behind us and the beginning of baseball season upon us, I thought it was the perfect time to do a post on “Moneyball” and the lessons this 6-time Oscar nominee has for us. I loved the movie for a number of reasons: 1). baseball 2). statistics and 3). the underdog finds a way to change the paradigm and win.

Billy Beane: Where did you go to school?
Peter Brand: Yale, I went to Yale.
Billy Beane: What did you study?
Peter Brand: Economics. I studied Economics.
Billy Beane: Yale, Economics, baseball. You’re funny, Pete.

As you’ve heard me say before, talent can come from unlikely places. It can also come in unlikely combinations. Are you only listening to the voices of people who have the experience, the resume, the insider’s perspective? Sometimes those same experts may have a limited vantage point or they may have bought into the way things have always been done. Are you looking beyond a traditional approach to your business?

Billy Beane: Yeah. Pack your bags, Pete. I just bought you from the Cleveland Indians.

I love what led up to this line. Billy Beane, in his meeting with the Cleveland Indians, watched for who had influence in the room. As it turns out, it  was not the person with the title, the one sitting behind the desk, or the one with the seniority. Billy Beane had gone there to improve his team with a trade. He saw and seized an opportunity to improve it in a different way and brought in an unconventional adviser in Peter Brand. Where are you looking for expertise? It could be that they’re already on your staff, and you haven’t discovered their talent. Or it may mean that you need to keep your eyes open as you go to meetings, conferences, and other events. It’s quite possible that the key employee to put your organization over the top may be in an office down the street, across town, or across the country; and it may be in a role you weren’t originally looking to fill. Is your organization nimble enough to find the right talent and adapt to a changing competitive landscape?

[first day in his job]
Peter Brand: Hey, Billy. I wanted you to see these player evaluations that you asked me to do.
[he hands Billy the document]
Billy Beane: I asked you to do three.
Peter Brand: Yeah.
Billy Beane: To evaluate three players?
Peter Brand: Yeah.
Billy Beane: How many did you do?
Peter Brand: Forty seven.
Billy Beane: Okay.
Peter Brand: Actually, fifty one. I don’t know why I lied just there.

Are you surrounding yourself with overachievers? I don’t mean workaholics or people who just stay late at the office because they’re avoiding something else. I’m talking about people who love what they do, and it’s in their DNA to do more- more than the minimum, more than what’s asked. They can’t not do it. Identify those people, give them the resources they need, and they’ll take your organization far.

Billy Beane: He gets on base!
John Poloni: So he walks a lot.
Billy Beane: He gets on base a lot. Do I care if it’s a walk or a hit?
[looks over at Peter]
Billy Beane: Pete?
Peter Brand: You do not.
Billy Beane: I do not.

What will bring success to your organization? How can you reframe challenges you face? Can a better result be brought about in a different way? Do you see possibilities or only obstacles?

Grady Fuson: No. Baseball isn’t just numbers, it’s not science. If it was then anybody could do what we’re doing, but they can’t because they don’t know what we know. They don’t have our experience and they don’t have our intuition.
Billy Beane: Okay.
Grady Fuson: Billy, you got a kid in there that’s got a degree in Economics from Yale. You got a scout here with twenty nine years of baseball experience. You’re listening to the wrong one. Now there are intangibles that only baseball people understand. You’re discounting what scouts have done for a hundred and fifty years, even yourself!

I think I’ve covered this. I’m not trying to discount experience here, but when you’re smug about it or you’ve gotten past the place of being teachable, you’re already losing. Don’t accept this in yourself or those you work with. Force yourself to be teachable, to look at problems from a different perspective.

Billy Beane: Yes, you’re right. I may lose my job, in which case I’m a forty four year old guy with a high school diploma and a daughter I’d like to be able to send to college. You’re twenty five years old with a degree from Yale and a pretty impressive apprenticeship. I don’t think we’re asking the right question. I think the question we should be asking is, do you believe in this thing or not?
Peter Brand: I do.
Billy Beane: It’s a problem you think we need to explain ourselves. Don’t. To anyone.
Peter Brand: Okay.
Billy Beane: Now, we’re gonna see this thing through, for better or worse.

Do you believe in this thing or not? That’s a question we should be asking ourselves and our staff regularly. Do you have a well-formulated plan? Do you have confidence in it despite the doubts and critics? Do you have the fortitude to stick it out, even if the end result isn’t what you desired?

Billy Beane: Everybody, listen up! You may not look like a winning team, but you are one. So, play like one tonight.

Are you instilling confidence in your team? Have you envisioned where they’re going, even when they can’t or haven’t yet? Are you asking them to focus on the task in front of them, knowing that success in the next project leads to long-term success?

Billy Beane: David, you’re thirty seven. How about you and I be honest about what each of us want out of this? I wanna milk the last ounce of baseball you got in you and you wanna stay in the show. Let’s do that. I’m not paying you for the player you used to be, I’m paying you for the player you are right now. You’re smart, you get what we’re trying to do here. Make an example for the younger guys, be a leader. Can you do that?
David Justice: Alright. I got you.
Billy Beane: We’re cool?
David Justice: We’re cool.

Do you understand what motivates your team members? Each person is looking to get something different from their employment arrangement with your organization. They may also be at different points in their careers. Are you providing them with learning or mentorship opportunities? Do they have significant input on decisions? Are you giving them the level of responsibility they want? Do they desire more flexibility in their position or working hours? Honest communication with staff will go a long way in creating a positive work environment and enhancing employee productivity and loyalty.

What lessons do you see in “Moneyball”?

The Greatest of Great Ideas in Less Than 180 Seconds

March 29, 2012 6 comments

I present to you “The Greatest of Great Ideas in Less Than 180 Seconds”: the best of the notes, quotes, tweets, posts, and questions from ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference. I have organized these topically rather than by session or chronologically. I have put in bold ones that resonated with me, my personal favorites.May the content below inspire you to more great ideas!

On presentations and learning:

  • The brain craves meaning before detail.
  • Give people three reasons they need to do something. Short term memory can’t handle more.
  • Think visually and tell stories to be remembered.
  • Retention goes up to 65% when just an image is used. Telling stories is underused.
  • The story is for your audience, make sure they care about what you’re talking about.  
  • Talking trumps listening, cut presentation content in half and provide time for discussion.
  • Provide bite-sized education: 10-minute segments are best.

On innovation and creativity:

  • CEOs and senior management must be open to innovation from any level.
  • Innovation like jazz often happens in the spaces between the notes.
  • Innovation is not about products and services; it’s about experiences.
  • The overhead projector appeared in the bowling alley 30 years before it appeared in the classroom. We’re slow to innovate.
  • Sell dreams, not products.
  • Dream bigger! As Steve Jobs said, in crazy there is genius.
  • Creativity is found in connecting disparate concepts. Connect ideas and fields: Steve Jobs modeled Apple stores after the Ritz-Carlton experience.
  • There is no magic toolbox for innovation. But uncover opportunities. Then act.

On leadership, opportunities, and competition:

  • Visions should be bold, concise, crisp and have a deadline.
  • Besides identifying new business opportunities, associations have to identify current ones that are no longer relevant and eliminate them.  
  • FedEx redefined overnight service. How are you redefining your market?
  • If we hypothetically created the competitor that puts us out of business- what would we do differently?
  • In a global economy you compete with everyone from everywhere for everything.
  • Think big, start small, and scale fast!

On collaboration:

  • Collaboration is too often something we are weak at internally which is why we have trouble collaborating externally.
  • It doesn’t have to be your program you’re promoting. You may need to collaborate with others to better serve members. What collaboration could occur so we can achieve our goal?
  • Inventing it all yourself is too slow and too expensive. Do you have the capacity to make the right connections?
  • When you plan, do you collaborate to paint a clear picture? What does your preferred future look, feel, and sound like?

On the role of associations:

  • Association web sites need to focus on benefits and information to members- not about who and what the association is.
  • If we closed our doors, would they notice?  What would members not be able to do for themselves? Innovation comes to life when you think differently.
  • Associations should not want members; they should want engaged, empowered, and active citizens.
  • We don’t always have to be education providers, we can serve as curators and provide value to our members.
  • If an association does not build the capacity to innovate, its very existence is thrown into question.
  • You have to conceive of your brand as having an impact beyond your potential membership base.  


  • 75% of association executives believe their members use smartphones, but only 28% of associations have a mobile strategy
  • In Japan buildings are painting giant QR Codes on top of roofs so they can be seen by Google Maps.

What would you add to this list? What are your key takeaways? What blog posts on Great Ideas have you gotten additional insights from? (Feel free to provide links below.)

I’d like to thank Amanda Batson, Bob Vaez, Jamie Notter, Devin Crosby, Abby Myette, Maddie Grant, Tobin Conley, Walt Tracy, Kim Howard, Linda Eller, Jane Lee, Lowell Aplebaum, Sarah Albright, Stacy Copeland, Scott Oser, Nancy Fisher, Mark Dorsey, Staurt Meyer, Nora Burns, and Carmine Gallo for their tweets, comments, and contributions to my understanding.

4 Innovation Lessons from Football

December 29, 2011 4 comments

Well, it’s the final week of the NFL regular season, and playoffs are just around the corner (Go Packers!). College football bowls are going into high gear as well (Go Wake Forest!).

Just recently I read an article on the “Top 10 Play Innovations” in the NFL so I thought it would be a good time to explore what innovation lessons are held there for us.

First, let’s talk about what they didn’t do in pro football. It may be obvious, but teams didn’t diversify into baseball or basketball or any other sport. They also didn’t expand their footprint by using the sidelines, stands, or concession areas for certain plays. Coaches didn’t suddenly start playing 12 or 13 players at a time to gain the upper hand. Teams also didn’t elect to use an object other than a football like keys, a shoe, or a pineapple (Sorry, Southwest Airlines!) on their possessions.

So, what did coaches and teams do to create competitive advantages while staying within the confines of the rules of the game? Just how did they create innovation in what might be perceived to be limiting circumstances?

This is not a lesson on football (I wouldn’t be the right one to give it), and I’m not going to go into great detail about schemes, formations, and defenses. Here are, however, a few themes I noticed that have lessons in innovation for all of us:

Placement- Most innovation in offensive or defensive schemes starts with the placement of the players. Use of more running backs, more wide receivers, or an extra defensive back created options and changed the game. Words like “pressure” and “neutralize” are used to describe the effects of these inventive formations. Does your organization have people assigned to the right positions? Do you need to shift areas of responsibility? Would putting more emphasis on a given facet of your “game” create a competitive advantage?

Motion- The movement of players at the onset of a play also was a means of bringing innovation to football. Words like “mismatches” and “uncertainty” are key. Do your employees, members, prospects, customers, and/or competitors always know your next move with communications, marketing, public relations, branding, etc.? Are they certain of your tactics at conferences and trade shows with exhibits, sponsorships, advertising, etc.? Do your constituents already have you classified, pegged, nailed? What can you do to create a mismatch, to make them have to respond accordingly and not think of your organization in the same way? What can you do to develop new efficiencies (wins) and at the same time make it more exciting for your “fans”?

Time Management- At times innovation in football has focused on the management of the clock. Terms like the “no-huddle offense” and “2-minute offense” have become universally known. Looking at the clock and play calling differently has led to long-term success for some franchises. How does your organizations approach project management and deadlines? Are you effective at the division of responsibilities? We’re all dealing with tasks that need to be done that need to be finished by a certain date or time. Does your organization procrastinate until you’re woefully behind and then try to scramble in the last two minutes of the game? How can you create an organizational culture that addresses the need for purposeful time management from start to successful completion?

Intent- Teams have found success when they took a step back and stopped doing what the rest of the pack was doing. They embraced a different approach. These teams stopped settling for what was tried-and-true; and, instead, they innovated. They stopped going with limited opportunities with defined results and forged a new paradigm. In short, they took a risk, a gamble. They could have looked like idiots if their new methods failed. Instead, they developed options for running backs, trick plays, short passes, deep passes, and schemes for linebackers to get sacks. And, these franchises came up big! What are the ways you see that you could approach problems and issues differently? What large opportunities await but haven’t been addressed because the organization is too focused on the tasks at hand? Where has dynamic leadership simply become adequate management? How do you take time to reflect and plan strategically, to truly innovate in your field?

What are the innovation lessons you see in football or from another sport? How are these being applied in your organization? What more can be done to take these examples from the field to the office?

5 Lessons from Regis

November 18, 2011 8 comments

Today marks Regis Philbin’s final appearance on Live with Regis and Kelly. I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on his life and what we as individuals and organizations can learn from him. Surely, anyone known universally by their first name (think Cher, Pele, Celine, Bono, etc. ) has lessons to teach.

  1. Be personable, approachable- Most of us think of Regis as an eccentric neighbor, a crazy uncle, or a kindly grandfather figure. He makes us laugh. Regis also makes us feel comfortable.We’ve invited him into our living rooms for close to 17,000 hours of television over a few decades. We’ve invited him into our lives. Does your organization get invited into the lives of its members, employees, and/or customers? Or are you viewed begrudgingly as an uninvited guest or an obligatory participant? What can you do to change the dynamics so your constituents want to spend more time with you? So you’re invited to be a part of their dialogue?
  2. Share the spotlight- Part of the appeal of Regis is that he doesn’t have to have the spotlight to himself. He’s actually more effective when he has a co-host- someone to bounce ideas off or have playful banter with. Getting along with others and playing nicely in the sandbox is a lesson we learned in kindergarten. What can your association, company, or agency do to better recognize and promote its partners, vendors, thought leaders, and other members of its circle of influence? Are there opportunities to turn competitors into valued partners to better advance your cause? What are the ways that highlighting the work of others reflects well on you and your accomplishments?
  3. Say what you think- Another key ingredient to the success of Regis has been his willingness to make off-the-cuff remarks. Now, this is the area in which we tread lightly, especially those of us accustomed to the carefully-crafted press release or prepared statement. Saying what you think doesn’t always win; sometimes it may get you in trouble. In this era of social media, however, organizations need to have quicker responses, they need to move as a living organism and not hide behind official statements. Associations, companies, and agencies need people who are well-trained and can think on their feet. The moment won’t wait for you and your team to do research, polls, or surveys. Train them. Trust them. Let them go. Are the wins adding up? Are they greater than the temporary setbacks of missed cues or foot-in-the-mouth moments?
  4. Be outRegis- From crazy costumes to inane skits to interesting guests, Regis has shown his willingness to take risks. He showed himself to be vulnerable. Regis snatched success from the jaws of failure. Most of us would have been too self-conscious to pull off much of what he’s done. But, we’re the National American Society for the Association of Professional Hydragoposcatators (NASAPH, for short). Who cares?! Take a moment to recognize and enjoy the accomplishments. Ensure that there’s time to get to know members, employees, and customers on a personal level. What are you doing to stand out? And not just as a mammoth organization or a leader in your industry?
  5. Thanks for the memories- From humble origins in the Bronx and a Catholic education to the national stage, Regis genuinely seems to connect with childhood friends and mega-superstars alike. He’s also invested in the lives of young men by providing scholarships to Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. He took a circuitous route through local television in California and back to New York  to become a fixture on national TV in his late 50’s. Take time to remember where you came from and who got you there. It’s taken many people and perhaps many years to get you to where you are today. Do you have moments to celebrate and recognize the contributions of staff, volunteers, customers, members, etc.?

What are the lessons you’ve learned from Regis?