An Executive Director's point of view
January 04, 2017: Mind your own business
But we ran it as part of a larger article when we learned that then-Congressman Rod Blagojevich, part of a peacekeeping mission in Belgrade, Serbia, started his daily runs at 4:30 a.m., because he knew there would be no American bombings at that time.
And another member modified her running regimen while participating in a scientific mission in a remote location.
The message was that all of these people were so committed to running that they found ways to continue their training despite being placed in situations where doing so was not easy.
The article was about running, not about the runners' duties.
When disseminating information about your organization, stick your organization's business. For example, don't hang a sign that reads, "Support Our Troops." That's the same as, "Stop the War." Neither has anything to do with the group's business.
So, while you may occasionally voice support or opposition to a policy regarding what you consider basic American rights, that should be an exception, not a routine activity.
Just mind your own business, and don't get involved in matters beyond what is relevant to your organization.
December 13, 2016: What's old is new
November 18, 2016: What friends are for
Think about that.
November 04, 2016: Let it go
Even if that number is exaggerated, it is still far, far more than welcomed the Pope to town, cheered the first astronaut to walk on the moon, or publicly demonstrated enthusiasm for any person of note.
A lot of association employees left their desks to watch President Obama's first inaugural address on television eight years ago, and quite a few folks may have deserted their work stations in the last few days (or, in Chicago, fled the office) to watch or attend a baseball game, root for the long-maligned Cubbies, or simply catch a glimpse of these new sports celebrities.
If something like that happens at your office, just let it go. Things like that don't happen that often. Understand your employees' passions and build their distraction into your timetable.
They're going to play hookey anyway, so let them enjoy themselves. They'll be back soon.
November 02, 2016: Political talk
Well, if you are among those seeking to restrict exercise of the first amendment right of freedom of speech, you may want to start with sporting events, not political campaigns. Athletic competition often generates far more passion that does political competition.
Ban debates about the strengths and weaknesses of sports franchises. Explicitly prohibit negative comments about a home team - professional or college - that is participating in a championship game.
Ban debates about movies. Employees should not mar the workplace with arguments regarding the quality of the cinema.
Prohibit critical comments about the Oscars and don't allow statements about which deserving actor, director, theme, or movie was unfairly snubbed. Don't let people opine about which nominees are overrated.
While you are at it, you may want to create a staff position called, "Director of Agreeableness." That person can be empowered to penalize anybody who voices an opinion that somebody might disagree with, as well as anybody who replies to such a statement.
That way, we can perpetuate the fantasy that everybody in an association agrees with everybody else about everything, all of the time.
October 24, 2016: Attend parties
Don't attend because you love parties. And don't stay away because you don't love parties.
Treat the party as a business event that you should attend. Here's why:
1. It offers an additional opportunity to connect with colleagues or at least be seen by them;
2. It may make you seem more friendly and be thought of in the future as more approachable.
3. You may obtain valuable information by just being there and listening to others. Many people let their guards down at parties and say things they would not say in a business setting.
4. If you don't attend, it may give the impression that your organization is not worthy of an invite.
1. Don't arrive too early. You may not have anybody to talk with or you may get stuck for a long time with someone you really don't want to talk with.
2. Don't stay too late. You may end up being surrounded by drunks.
3. Try to be present at the mid-point of the event. The host may share comments, thank particular people, or refer to certain events, any of which could be beneficial for you to hear.
October 07, 2016: Group photo
People's faces will probably be too small to be recognized in the picture, but your name will appear first in the caption.
September 26, 2016: Acceptance
From parents, teachers, friends, and romantic interests.
So, I suppose it should not be surprising that people also seek acceptance from co-workers, colleagues, and others in their industry or profession.
But that may be holding them back professionally.
It may prevent them from being creative, innovative, or novel. It may drive them to adhere to the status quo for fear of not being liked or respected. Or the fear of being tagged as "different."
Well, it's best to follow a path that is likely to lead to success, regardless of whether anybody else is walking that same path.
So, strive for success, not acceptance.
August 18, 2016: They don't have to care
Don't proselytize or lecture them about the need you seek to address.
Determine where their interests intersect with yours, and build your appeal around that point.
Show them how supporting your program will help them.
And understand that they may not share your passion for the cause or organization (and they are not going to, no matter what you do or say), so craft a less emotional pitch to win their support.
July 06, 2016: Appearances
When in my mid-30s, I attended a meeting of executive directors of small associations.
A colleague who appeared to be the oldest person in the room sat in a rumpled suit, tie askew, with one collar mindlessly folded upward.
His mustache was uneven, his hair windblown, and he didn't seem to know or care how he looked.
I immediately thought, "loser."
That was a big mistake.
As the meeting began, and people shared problems they were experiencing in their organizations, he offered solutions that others hadn't thought of. People actually took notes to record his suggestions.
The careless impression he made did not indicate the extent of his knowledge. I learned then that, just as you should not judge a book by its cover, you should not judge a professional by his appearance.