Cynthia D'Amour, MBA to Speak at ASAE15 in Detroit

new-cynthiaFun news! I’ve been selected to speak at ASAE 15 taking place in Detroit this summer.

  • ASAE stands for the American Society of Association Executives.
  • In other words, it is the association for people who run associations.

ASAE selected my program: Meditation: The Savvy Exec’s Secret Weapon.

  • Meditation is definitely a hot topic for 2015.
  • Major corporations and the military have embraced meditation as part of their standard business practices.

I’m going to be teaching how meditation can help fuel your personal business success – as well as your team’s.

  • Participants are going to experience a variety of ways to meditate.
  • All simple to do.
  • And easy fit in an already stretched thin schedule!

It’s going to be to a ton of fun with how-to information they can use right away.

If you think this program might be a good fit for your meeting too, let’s talk!

Start Your Year with Strategic Conversations

listThe start of a new year is a great time to have some strategic discussions with your leadership team.

To help you fuel your strategic juices, I’ve come up with five conversation starters for you.

1. What is working well that you should do MORE of?

  • Look back for six months to a year.
  • What are your members loving about your chapter?
  • What’s driving the positive results you’ve been getting?

2. What is NOT working that you should do LESS of?

  • Look back for six months to a year.
  • What is a struggle?
  • Not getting the results you wanted?

3. How have you updated your leaders on their fiduciary duties?

  • Every board member needs to understand them.
  • You are all held accountable to uphold them by law.
  • Annual review is key.

4. What is the big issue your members are facing in 2015?

  • What keeps them up at night?
  • Is there a shift in their business or profession ahead?
  • Is there a life issue that’s impacting a lot of your members?

5. How can your chapter help members with this issue?

  • Is there something they need to learn?
  • Doors you can help open?
  • Support you can provide?

 Here’s to some great conversations with your leadership team!

Want more how-to insights for chapter leaders? Consider joining the Chapter Leader Lounge.

If Your Association Disappeared, Would Anyone Notice?

lookingYou invest a ton of resources and personal energy into running your association.

  • When is the last time your leadership team sat down and discussed does your work matter?
  • If your association disappeared, would anyone notice?
  • With the first huff of slight insult, the answer is, “Of course!”

However, after you take a deep breath and start to really talk, you may be surprised what you come up with.

  • In a recent Strategic Fast Chat, a group of volunteers and association execs explored questions around if their association mattered.
  • There were some big ah-ha’s.
  • And a few oh my’s.

What will your leadership team discover when you roll up your sleeves and have an honest conversation?

Check out the mind map of our discussion here.

Who Wants (and Needs) Volunteers?

volunteeringFor years volunteer leaders have told me all they wanted was more volunteers.

  • More volunteers would be the solution to most of their problems.
  • Ease their lives.
  • And help them move their mission forward with ease.

AND more volunteers can also bring their own set of challenges.

  • Some unexpected.
  • And may be more challenging than actually finding the volunteers.

Am I saying new volunteers are bad?

  • Absolutely not.
  • When you are prepared for them they can be a wonderful addition to your chapter.
  • The key is being prepared.

Thus our Strategic Fast Chat focusing on volunteers – who needs (and wants) them?

  • We explored the pros and cons of 25 volunteers showing up ready to go.
  • This mind map is just the start of a conversation.
  • You need to have a full conversation with your own leadership team to maximize your efforts.

Click here to download the mind map we created about volunteers.

Reason #38 Why People Do NOT Serve On Your Board

Do you really wonder why people don’t want to be on your board?

Imagine overhearing the following conversation….

skeleton-womanHe said: You look tired.

She said: I am whipped. Board meeting last night. You know what that’s like.

He said: I remember. Did the meeting go late?

She said: Did it ever! I’m exhausted. I usually try to take the day after board meetings off so I have time to recover.

This one was a doozy! I keep telling myself I’m almost halfway done with the year…

Why on Earth would this conversation:

A. Take place?

(Especially since the person who ran the meeting – and could change the experience – was the one complaining very loudly.)

B. Take place in a PUBLIC place surrounded by potential members and future leaders?

Does this conversation sound familiar to you?

  • If it does, you’ve got some work to do.
  • People don’t want to sign up for painful experiences.

Whether blowing off steam or telling the truth, this conversation should not have happened as it did.

NOTE: Names and places are change to protect the not so innocent.


Getting More Strategic with Mind Mapping

YP-Mind-MapFor the last two months, I’ve hosted Strategic Fast Chats.

  • They are 15 minute conversations.
  • Focused on a single pressing issue.
  • My goal was to expose leaders to how to approach strategic issues.

I’ve been asked some questions about mind mapping and decided to answer them here.

Are the mind maps we create in Strategic Fast Chats the right answer for my association?

The answer is no on two counts.

First of all, the goal was to teach you how to break a critical issue down – not give you an answer to anything.

  • The mind mapping we do live on the Fast Chats – are just fast ideas from an anonymous group of leaders and association executives.
  • Yes, some great ideas do rise to the top – including how you might approach the issue in your own association.
  • However, the creators of these generic maps do not know your association – you need to do your own maps.

Secondly, the mind mapping process we are doing is incomplete.

  • It’s fun to throw ideas onto a map.
  • The real value comes in the challenging and examination of the big story the map tells.
  • We do not take time to do that during the Strategic Fast Chat session.

What software do you use to mind map live with us?

  • I use MindJet MindManager because it’s fast and works for me.
  • There are lots of options on the market.
  • Including some free ones.

What tips do you have for me if I want to mind map live like you do?

  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • Mind mapping is a skill and speed is important.
  • Also, get good at asking thought-provoking questions as you go.

Can I use mind mapping with my board of directors or volunteer leaders?

  • Of course you can.
  • You can create mind maps in advance to pull feedback on an issue.
  • I worked with one association where we did this for two different levels of the association.

We hosted multiple mind mapping sessions for both levels of leaders.

  • The leaders loved being involved and given a voice.
  • As a side benefit, the experience helped to boost attendance at the next association meeting.

The mind maps were fascinating.

  • By doing multiple maps by level, we were able to note patterns of who said what.
  • What was not said was also very significant.

You could use a process like this to get volunteer leaders involved in giving feedback to your board.

  • It engages members at a variety of levels – they feel a sense of skin in the game.
  • The mind map findings can be highlighted in an executive summary.
  • Your board may also like to view the raw maps.

You can also mind map live at an event.

  • NOTE: You will want to use an accomplished mind mapper.
  • It is tedious when someone slowly types in content.
  • In a virtual session, cut and paste speeds things up.

Mind mapping could be helpful to do with a small group of my staff, do you do that?

Can I get a copy of the last Strategic Fast Chat’s  mind map about finding future leaders?

I Feel Special...

CynBBallTallFor the last few years, James and I have followed the Michigan Women’s Basketball Team.

  • We attend most of home games.
  • Love seeing the athletes in action.
  • Enjoy being at the games.

When the senior game comes around each year, you would think the women graduating were my personal friends or daughters.

  • I have such a sense of pride about their accomplishments.
  • Can tell you a lot about how they played ball for the last few years.
  • And even get a little teary-eyed.

The new assistant coach, Megan Duffy, just called me.

  • She wanted to say hello and introduce herself.
  • Shared she had been with the team for just a few months.

And then Megan amazed me…

  • She started talking about me.
  • Told me she had looked me up in social media.
  • And even knew I did leadership stuff and other things.

Megan called to remind me to buy our season tickets.

  • So unlike the automated or call center outreach that follows a script.
  • Megan made me feel part of the team’s family - and interesting to her.

I’m already a huge fan of Michigan Women’s Basketball – now I’m a fan of Megan Duffy too.

Can’t wait to see how the team looks this year!

How do you make your members feel special and part of your association family?


Retirees Rule - Or Do They?

seniorWhat kind of impact will retirees have on your association?

At the last Strategic Fast Chat, we took a look at the following scenario:

What if 50% of your current Boomer members retire AND stay members?

  • Is it a great day for your association?
  • Or a challenge you didn’t expect?

A group of association executives and volunteer leaders pondered the scenario and potential impact.

Click here to download the mind map we created together live during the Strategic Fast Chat.

As always, just a few reminders… 

  • This was a fast conversation, not an in-depth analysis.
  • Your association may be very different than what we came up with.
  • The best strategy is to have strategic conversations like this with your own leaders.

The Perilous Seduction of Young Professional Groups

Younger membersYou need younger members – bad. And they are different than many of your current members.

  • How they act.
  • What they want.
  • How they communicate.

A young professional group sounds like a natural cure for providing value for this new population in your association!

Or is it???

Several association executives and volunteer leaders got together last week to quickly analyze the pros and cons of creating young professional groups.

  • Surprisingly, the con list was longer than the pro list.
  • Many attendees had not thought through potential impact beyond being more attractive to young professionals when they try to recruit them.
  • Seeing all the answers in a mind map created new questions for many.

Given all the cons, does this mean you should NOT do a young professional group?

  • No. Not necessarily.
  • It means you need to do your own analysis customized to your association.
  • Then weigh out what works best for you.

You can use the mind map we created as a tool to help launch conversations about young professional groups and their impact on your own association.

To learn more about upcoming Strategic Fast Chats, click here.


When Boomers are NOT Enough!

retirementBoomers have started to retire.

  • Job postings are booming.
  • Some say in just two years, every time you breathe, a Boomer will retire.

What kind of impact will that have on your association?

  • Where are Boomers heavily involved in your association?
  • How can you start preparing now for possible changes?

Last week, a ton of association executives and volunteer leaders gathered virtually for a Strategic Fast Chat to explore the challenge of when Boomers are not enough.

  • If I was leading a normal strategic conversation session with your association, we would delve into a few different scenarios.
  • Given we only had 15 minutes, we focused on one possible scenario.
  • I mind mapped it live as attendees shared their responses.

The Scenario: What will happen if 50% of your Boomers drop their membership in the next five years?

  • Click here to see the mind map we created together for you to see.
  • It’s just ideas at this point – no guarantee of results or ultimate answers.
  • That said, it was a big eye-opener for many attendees.

You can use the mind map as a tool to launch conversations about Boomer retirement impact on your own association.

To learn more about upcoming Strategic Fast Chats, click here.