An Executive Director's point of view


October 24, 2016: Attend parties

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
In your capacity as an association professional, you may be invited to social events that are related to association business.

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

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
If you want to be noticed in a group photo, stand at the end of a row with everybody to your left.

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

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
We've all sought acceptance from other people during our lives.

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

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
When prompting other entities to support your efforts - individuals, businesses, government, academia, media, grant-makers, etc. - look at your program from their point of view, not yours.

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

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
... are often misleading.

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.

May 27, 2016: Videogames

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
You can learn a lot about yourself when playing videogames.

Are you aggressive or cautious? Do you swiftly move forward or first marshal your resources? Are you stronger on offense or defense?

You probably know these things about yourself already, but your videogame habits will force you to better recognize your inclinations, in case you haven't already.

There is usually no good way or bad way to play or to plan. Every situation is different and every player is different.

But being aware of your strengths and weaknesses - and admitting them to yourself - will go a long way toward helping you to develop and implement successful strategies in your professional life.

April 17, 2016: Stop cussin'

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Some people swear a lot.

They may think it displays the intensity they experience on the job. That it shows how much they care.

They may even believe it is an effective way to call attention to the good and the bad things that happen in organizations.

But their outbursts usually disturb other people. In a big way.

People who swear appear to be angry, out of control, and acting unpredictably. They sound mean-spirited and likely to harm and humiliate others, even those on their team.

And they sound uneducated, as if their vocabulary was so limited they had no choice but to rely on the same adjectives to describe their emotions all of the time.

If you require a verbal release for your tension, teach yourself to say "rats," or "oh, man," or "darn," or something that is not as offensive and stinky-sounding as what you may have said before.

It's not about being more polite or acting like a prude.

It's about being an intelligent professional, not an ignorant maniac.

March 13, 2016: Door-to-door canvassing

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
If your organization conducts door-to-door activities for any purpose, be sure the first sentence your canvasser speaks at the doorway clearly explains who you are.

Don't try to trick people into listening to you by uttering political rhetoric or asking a leading question. That's manipulative and insulting.

Say who you are, what your organization does, and what you want.

And don't interrupt people around dinner time. They don't want you to bother them when they are eating.

February 26, 2016: Say "thank you"

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
In the television show Mad Men, Peggy Olson complains to Don Draper that he never thanks her for all the ideas she gives him.

"That's what the money is for," he angrily responds.

Well, people should be thanked all the time, anyway.

You should thank a waiter for bringing your food, a cashier for giving you change, a bagger for packing your groceries.

And you should thank your employees for their work, even if they are simply doing what you pay them to do.

The words "thank you" should be the most frequently used words in your vocabulary. ("Please" should be a close second).

January 26, 2016: Snow

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
This was my plan during Chicago's last big blizzard.

And when you clear the snow away, be sure to allow access for disabled people.
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