Saturday, August 29, 2015

Road to ReInvention - Part Deux

If we're doing life right, we travel the road to reinvention in our personal and professional careers. The last year, I have recommitted to being a leaner and healthier person via a multi-tiered strategy.  

Perhaps the most important step in making the choice to be healthier is to decide your WHY.  Why do you want to lose weight? Is it for a special family occasion, health reasons, or maybe it's just plain vanity and you want to look better.  My WHY was a hurricane of these reasons: my boyfriend's family was going to gather to celebrate their parents' 50th wedding anniversary, I tested pre-diabetic, and I wanted to look and feel better.  

It wasn't long after I established my WHY when I moved on to the actual execution or the WHO. How was I going to navigate this personal road to reinvention and who was going to be on my team. Last year at ASAE, I met a personal trainer who was based out Jacksonville, Florida.  Her husband is an association rock star and author and every year she tags along with him.  When I met her, she described to me kind of a new approach to personal training where she'd send her clients virtual workouts.  It took me almost 7 months to decide to officially hire her and make her my Chief Energy Officer.  Every month she sends me 1 - 2 new workouts and we Skype 2 x per month.  This format works great for me because I can literally workout anywhere in the world on my own time.  My significant other was also on board because since we've been together we had put on the weight of a teenager and we needed to make a change for the better of health. 

Anyone who has begun a road to reinventing their own personal health knows that it's not without limitations.  You have to fully commit, and embrace a new lifestyle of working out and eating better. This is the HOW.  How was I going to lose weight with a busy schedule? I had figured out my WHY, selected my WHO, now I just needed to pick a lifestyle that was relatively easy to follow.  As a person who has struggled with her weight her entire life, I can tell you I am fairly familiar with just about every "diet" or diet program.  I have belonged to and successfully lost weight via Weight Watchers, attempted the South Beach Diet, tried to do the Atkins Diet too.  So why would this go round be any different and how could I set myself up for success.  After reading up on many lifestyles that people have embraced to be healthier, I ultimately decided we'd try to eat Paleo.  It was the least restrictive that I found and seemed to be doable. As a young adult, I discovered I was lactose intolerant.  Despite this, I still continued to eat cheese.  After eating paleo-like for almost 7 months, I can tell you I really don't miss cheese that much.  Do I still eat it? YES.  I haven't been able to give up yogurt, but all other dairy aside from eggs have been eliminated.  

To put together the most successful weight loss plan, I needed to decide WHEN.  After reading about Paleo, investing in the virtual personal trainer it was time to get in gear.  On a Thursday in February, I got all the final pieces of the plan together.  Monday, I would start an Advocare 24 Day Challenge. Grocery shopping is essential for weight loss because you can plan your meals and ensure that you will be set up to make great choices for eating.  The 24 Day Challenge is split up into two parts: the cleanse and the max phase.  It's not my first challenge, so I typically just do the cleanse about once every three months to help keep my health on track.  For me personally, I find the MAX phase to be too many pills.  

My personal road to reinvention is not complete, but I have experienced some success.  The last weigh in, I was down 35 lbs, and more than 15 overall inches.  I have another 15 lbs to go, but I am going to stay eager to continue my success.  Recently I read an article about an entrepreneur who puts his health as his TOP priority.  His reason, without his health literally everything else falls apart. I am adopting this mantra in my road to reinvention because without my health.  All aspects of my life will fall apart if my health is not in place.  If you look back on challenging times in your life, and you correlate that with your health (mental and physical) what would that say about you? 

Here's a picture of my progress! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Road to Reinvention - Personal Journey

The 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting wrapped up it's closing general session was a few weeks ago and my brain has been in overdrive since then. This professional development conference for association professionals provided an opportunity to empower, engage and ignite it's members and prospective members.  The atmosphere was full of ideas, networking, and so much more.  This is only my second opportunity to attend this world-class meeting, but I will try to summarize highlights from the keynote general session and the overall atmosphere.

Last year at the closing general session Detroit created a presentation about the comeback motor city.  Selected of God choir's music piped through the meeting room as the video about Detroit played.  The lights dimmed, and raised and chills ran up and down my spine.  This incredibly talented choir was there, in person, singing the music they had been singing on the video.  I should have expected it, but I didn't.  This experience, made me look forward to this year's meeting in Detroit.  As they begin the 2015 show, I was hoping the choir would return, and they did.  The whole general session at ASAE were on their feet, including myself.  Have I mentioned how amazing this was? And so, with this theme, the 2015 general sessions kicked off.

Josh Linkner, a native of the host city of Detroit gave the keynote presentation.  He provided a road map for the association industry to stay humble and nimble in the ever changing business world.  The stories that were told were not just of Detroit businesses, but of those across the nation who have succeeded at reinventing their business in some fashion or another.  And so I find myself in the process of evaluating my current career prospects, and status and attempting to reinvent myself.

Selected of God choir sang the song "Lose Yourself" at both the 2014 & 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting.  The entered the meeting room with energy, passion and determination to entertain and inspire the attendees.  Major props to the choir for using their voice to communicate that to everyone in that meeting room.  We may only get one shot to reinvent ourselves or our associations.

The ultimate message from Mr. Linkner's keynote presentation is to be proactive instead of reactive.  Associations need to move towards this mantra to stay top of mind with the next generation. While it's not possible to give each member individual attention, providing them with new ways to engage with your association is going to be key for the future of the association industry.

Josh Linkner reminded us to stay scrappy and to think small.  The association professionals that I have had the pleasure and privilege of knowing have always been successful at this.  In spite of this, there is always room for improvement.  Improving our association, whether it be at the industry level, member level, or experience level can only do one thing - make things better.

ASAE's annual meeting was full of this type of inspiration.  My previous employer allowed me to go this conference for my own personal development as an association professional.  For that, I am incredibly grateful as I travel the road to reinvent myself.

Stay scrappy, humble and nimble my friends.  Toodloo for now.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

While it's not impossible to walk to the majority of airports, it often takes multiple modes of transport.  Baltimore Washington International is my airport of choice to travel anywhere due to the number of flights and the cost is typically $100 or less than other major metropolitan airports.  As 5000+ association professionals prepare to descend on Detroit for the 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting, many of us will take several modes of transportation.  

My journey began at 0 dark thirty, before the sun had risen.  When my alarm went off, I laid in bed wishing for more sleep.  After a few moments of checking email, and petting my fur babies I popped out of bed.  I finished packing and prepared to drive up north to the airport.  This drive can be highly unpredictable due to traffic in the major metropolitan Washington, DC area.  It's roughly a 40 mile drive, and it has taken me up to 3 hours.  The traffic gods were smiling on me and I made it in roughly an hour with no major obstacles.  

Major airports can be a major headache, with their security lines going on for what seems to be miles. It's Saturday, and there are a lot of nonprofits in Washington, DC so I was prepared for a great deal of delay.  When I pulled into the garage, there were open parking spaces close to the door so I could lug my suitcases in to check them.  That's right, I said suitcases.  Prepare yourself for unicorns and rainbows of swag, or as I affectionately refer to it as "Swagtopia."  These giveaways range from something small and delightful like a Starbucks gift card, iPhone portable chargers, Build-a-Bears and so much more!  In light of the impending Swagtopia, I have packed accordingly, by bringing an extra suitcase. Thank you Southwest Airlines for allowing me to check two bags for free. If at all possible, I never fly anything other than Southwest.  The customer experience is much better than that of other airlines, in my humble biased opinion.  It's all about the rewards baby! As a Southwest Rapid Rewards Member and frequent flyer, I have achieved A list status.  This means I get to breeze by the line of people waiting to check their bags, and speed through security.  Here's a tip for those of you that fly BWI airport and Southwest, if one security gate is full, chances are there is another one that is not.  You can thank me later for that great travel tip.  

Traveling light has never been my forte, and so I have a large carry on which is loaded up with a lot of Apple electronic products including the computer that I am typing this message on.  So far, I have traveled by Planes, and automobile.  In all probability I will also get a train ride in this evening on Detroit's people mover as I head out to dinner and the opening night ceremony.  

Comment and let me know what your plans are, and what you're most looking forward to about the ASAE Annual Meeting.  My plane hasn't arrived yet, but I am going to sign off for now.  See you in Detroit! 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Professional Development & Getting the Most Out of the ASAE 2015 Conference

Conferences are great for learning new ideas from both your peers and your mentors.  The ASAE Annual Meeting is the place for all nonprofit professionals to learn more about their profession.  This year's meeting has a special place in my heart for two reasons:

  1. I am lucky enough to be able to attend.  
  2. It's location.  Detroit
Nonprofit professionals are used to doing things on either a shoestring or very limited budget.  This budget is also limited for their own professional development.  I consider myself lucky that my organization is allowing me to go.  An added bonus is that nonprofit professionals are really cool people.  You know these people - they are passionate, driven, and dedicated to the causes they work and volunteer for.  They will stay up late stuffing envelopes, or doing "other" duties as assigned.  The energy and excitement from the learning is nothing short of inspiring.  

Detroit - oh how I love thee.  No, I really do.  True story - a few years ago I met a great man who hails from motor city.  Throughout our relationship we have had the opportunity to visit this great city on several occasions.  The reason: NFL football.  We live in the metro Washington DC area, but my ever loyal boyfriend is a fan and season ticket holder to none other than the Detroit Lions.  This is a team that has NEVER won a SuperBowl.  They have also been to very few playoff games.  As a champion of underdogs, and underserved, I reluctantly also became a fan.

The city of Detroit, much like their football teams has seen better days.  Automobiles were made here from start to finish and were shipped across the country to dealers for sale.  The Detroit Lions are still owned by one of the great automobile families: Ford.  Ford Field is a fantastic indoor stadium with modern amenities.  In case you didn't know, Michigan is cold.  This is why it's great that this stadium is indoors because in the middle of the winter when it's frigid, it's a comfortable 70 degrees inside. When we go to a Lions games, all the fans are on their feet when the opposing team has the ball.  The crowd noise can be deafening and many fans have lost their voice in the hopes that the "12th Man" will help decided the game.  While the season has not started, Ford Field is definitely worth checking out to any and all ASAE attendees.  

Detroit dining options are nothing to sneeze at.  In no order of preference here are some of my favorites and "musts" for every visit in Motor City. 

  1. Roast - it's a bit pricey but the meals here are unforgettable.  They also have a delightful craft cocktail menu.  
  2. Lafayette Coney Island or American Coney Island either one of these chili dog places are affordable and a delight for your tummy. 
  3. PizzaPapalis deep dish pizza that will make people from Chicago envious.  No serious, my boyfriend's brother is from Chicago and he loves this place.  Also they have great wings and other food as well. 
  4. New Parthenon Restaurant - large portions and Saganaki - they light your cheese on fire and yell "OPA!" You may feel like an extra in the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" but both your belly and your tastebuds will be pleased as punch. 
I hope you're as excited as I am to experience the "D" at ASAE 2015.  Please say hi to me if you see me at the conference.  These conferences are a great way to connect with people in the same industry. 

See you tomorrow Detroit! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Corporate Relationships & Non Profits

Corporations belong to non profits to gain greater or friendlier access to their customers.  Associations are able to provide captive target audiences to corporations within their industry.  During the hey dey of associations corporations would woo us and we were watching the money coming in.  Today, it's a very different arena.

It used to be you sent out an email and the exhibit contracts came flowing in, simply by virtue of the health of your association's memberships.  With the economic decline, and less people renewing their dues it's become a challenge to continue to deliver value to corporations who provide corporate support.

Here are some things that I have learned this year, while having this as part of my job responsibilities:

  1. History matters -- if you have consistently brought a target audience to a conference or event, you should let your corporations know. 
  2. Innovation matters -- it's not just about having the booth space, but also sponsoring the wi-fi, printer stands, and other things that attendees require while on site. 
  3. Planning matters - not just on your part, but the part of the company.  In order for them to get the most out of your event, they have to have their expectations set. 
  4. Relationships matter - talk to your exhibitors not just during the time of year to ask them for their money, but just to find out how they are doing as humans.  
What are some things that you do to keep your corporations satisfied with your events? 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Wave of the Future

Last month we tackled how we're going to move our organization forward using partnerships at our Board Retreat.  During our time together, board and staff rolled up their sleeves and delighted in their facilitator Mary Beyers.  She is one of the co-authors for the The Race for Relevance where she details the modern day challenges of associations.  She had us brainstorming, drawing pictures, laughing and of course throwing out new ideas.  At nearly two weeks post retreat, we're exploring new projects and initiatives.  It's exciting, and scary all at the same time!

One of the new projects is working to take our existing content and repurpose it for online use.  I have a few questions for my association professionals out there:

  1. What e-learning platform do you use? 
  2. What is the best and worse feature about it? 
  3. If you could do it all over again, what would you do? 
As a former professor, I have started the process looking at simple technology, more advanced technology and the top of the line technology.  When beginning a new project that is not your area of expertise, it poses many challenges!

I look forward to learning more about this aspect of the association world as I am a novice in this arena. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Resolve, Resolute, Resolutions!

As each year turns over, we contemplate what are we going to fix about ourselves.  Don't just make personal resolutions, also make professional ones.  While I haven't contemplated this extensively, here are a few areas that I can improve on.

  1. To continue to put the members of my association first.  The American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy provides a great service to their members, by delivering low cost-continuing medical education that the physician members need.
  2. Be more organized.  My desk right now is a stack of many different piles of paper.  I can always improve this.
  3. Actively listen to members concerns and needs. This is kind of a continuation of number one but I think it's an important distinction.  We are in the process of doing a both a data dig, and a needs assessment survey of our members.  Both of these items will help us uncover what our members want, and need from us today and in the future.
  4. Network with my medical marketing association professionals.  If you're a professional in the medical association space and you have some best practices you can share, I would love to hear from you. 
What do you want to fix professionally? Share your ideas and thoughts here.