Coach Says We Matter

Coach Kim Barnes Arico speaking at pre-game Chalk Talk

Coach Kim Barnes Arico speaking at pre-game Chalk Talk

Last night the Michigan Women’s Basketball team played Missouri in third round of the WNIT tournament.

  • As season ticket holders, James and I were invited to a special Chalk Talk with Head Coach Kim Barnes Arico.
  • It took place an hour before the game.

Coach Kim worked the room before and after she spoke.

  • She knew a lot of people in the room.
  • Cared about what was said.
  • Talked to me and James.

When Coach Kim started the official chat, one of the first things she did was thank us for being there.

  • She told us how important we were to their success.
  • How well the players did with us cheering for them.
  • That we mattered.

After sharing some more big picture comments, she invited her assistant coach to take over.

  • Coach Duffy was the one who scouted Missouri.
  • She shared some of what she learned.
  • Told us what to look for.

Coach Duffy answered questions from the crowd.

  • Appreciated people asking for insights.
  • Explained what was going on.
  • Thanked us for showing up.

The coaches say fans like us make a difference.

  • The communications prior to the game made us feel like part of something important.
  • The welcome from Whitney, the staff person running the Chalk Talk, made us feel like VIPs.
  • The Michigan words and actions constantly reaffirm we matter.

It was going to be a tough game.

  • The stands were full.
  • The crowds roared.
  • Michigan won by 10 points!

I’m still debating what role the fans actually played in the win.

  • The athletes worked really hard to be as good as they were.
  • They played with intensity.
  • Five of them scored in double digits.

I’m digging into academic research to see what I can find – but I will say this.

  • James and I both feel like it’s important for us to be at the games.
  • We encourage others to come with us.
  • And are really proud of the athletes.

Thinking about associations now…

  • Do your members feel like they matter?
  • Do you regularly explain how and why they matter?
  • Do they show up filled with pride for the work your association is doing?

There’s a lot associations can learn from Michigan’s Women Basketball team’s relationship with their fans.


Stop Recruiting Suckers for Your Board

rethinkLast week I chatted with a lovely woman I did not know well.

  • She is fairly new to her profession.
  • Working on building her reputation.
  • And her business.

She shared she is active in several organizations – and TWO just asked her to be on their boards!

  • She has NO board experience.
  • Has only belonged for a few months to both of them.
  • She doesn’t have a lot of time.

She is super excited, but…

  • She doesn’t know a lot about either group yet.
  • They each have some usual customs.
  • And most the people she’s met are nice.

She said “Yes” to one group right away.

  • Being a board member will give her great business exposure.
  • Her recruiter swore the position wouldn’t take a lot of work.
  • She figures she’ll learn as she goes.

She told the other group if they gave her documentation showing exactly how they’ve been doing everything, she’ll do it.

  • With the list, she can copy exactly how things have been done.
  • She doesn’t want to anger members by ordering the wrong dessert.
  • After a year or so, she’ll feel more comfortable possibly changing things.

My heart sank as I listened…

  • Two chapters boards determined to fill empty leadership spots recruited a sucker for opportunity.
  • A sucker because she does not understand what she’s getting into.
  • And neither board will be doing much to set her up for success as a strategic leader.

Recruiting the unskilled is not fair to the chapter.

  • Serving on your board should not be a learn-as-you-go experience – if you want your chapter to have a strategic year.
  • If you are just plugging holes so the chapter doesn’t fall this year, it’s still not fair to your chapter.
  • Doing things they way they’ve always been done means missed opportunities – and makes your chapter a member repellent.

Recruiting bright-eyed, no experienced leaders is also not fair – even if they agreed to serve.

  • When you don’t know how things are done, it makes everything much harder to do.
  • They are more likely to produce poor results – making them look bad as leaders.
  • And more likely to make mistakes, alienate others and burnout by the end of the year.

How does your chapter prepare future leaders so you don’t have to play the leadership con game on unsuspecting suckers?


Why the Dogs Instead of My Association?

James-wonderingWhy 1,600+ people got in engaged in less than three days – and many leaders are begging for help!

(This is the third post in the series. You can read the first post and second post here.)

  • A van was stolen containing three beautiful huskies.
  • The city of Detroit was activated.
  • Why did so many people step up to help?

Five things the dog people did well – and how you can apply to your association.

1. They had a compelling story.

The van was stolen from the hotel parking lot without realizing three beautiful huskies were in the back seat.

  • The dog parents were upset.
  • They were guests in our town.
  • What would happen to the innocent dogs?

It was a classic battle of good versus evil.

(What story do you offer your members to inspire them to step up?)

2. They used images to showcase the emotion of the story

  • The dogs were adorable.
  • The dog parents exhausted with worry and searching.
  • The reunion of two dogs and then the third – such joy!

Great photos are priceless and emotion sells.

(What do the photos you share say?)

3. They used multimedia to share their story.

The original article that ran in the Ann Arbor paper included a video of the owner calling his dogs his babies.

If the words didn’t get you, the video sealed the deal.

Several people created flyers to assist the search.

  • Used photos of the dogs.
  • Made them easy to share via PDF.
  • And to post in the area.

With just click the word could spread – and it gave everyone the opportunity to do something.

(How many ways do you tell your involvement story?)

4. They worked social media.

A Facebook group, Find Theresa’s Dogs, was set up almost immediately.

  • One or two people served as group moderators.
  • As people joined the conversations, they were encouraged to share with their friends.

There were frequent updates on search progress.

  • Latest locations.
  • Who was driving what.
  • Results of sightings.

Anyone watching the page was drawn into the story – and invited to participate.

  • People from around the country wanted updates.
  • Prayed for the dogs.
  • Offered suggestions.

It was a community quest to find those dogs!  

(What is the conversation like with your social media efforts?)

5. They gave everyone the opportunity to feel like a hero.

  • Whether you were on the street calling the dogs names or across the country offering ideas, you felt like you were part of something important.
  • Taking on the evil of the world to help bring those dogs home.
  • Touching the hearts of thousands.

(Do your members feel like heroes when they help you?)

These are just five of the strategies the folks trying to find Theresa’s dogs did well to fuel their geometric rate of engagement.

  • There are many more.
  • How does your association compare?


Update: Originally I promised one more post about this experience. There is another big lesson in the aftermath; however, it’s not writing easily – which means it’s not ready to be shared yet. I may circle back n the future.


You've Got to Beat the Dogs

hdogIn the last post, I shared a story about three lost dogs and how people who tell you they have no time to volunteer may be lying.

The post inspired some questions from leaders. Sharing some with you.

  • If you didn’t read the last post, take a moment and read it first.
  • The questions and answers will make more sense.

Leader: How can you even think to compare finding dogs to volunteering for a prestigious professional organization?

Me: How can I not?

  • People have a limited about of “free” time.
  • They have a lot of opportunities – such as the heart-warming task of finding lost dogs.

You are competing for that time.

Leader: The husky dog story was just a moment in time. Why should I have to worry about being as you say “sexy” like that?

Me: Because there is always someone else who will be willing to do the strategic and creative work.

Plus, from the volunteer point of view…

  • You want my time.
  • A slice of my life.
  • Why should I give it to you?

Leader: I’ve got a lot to get done. I don’t have time to be creative to attract volunteers.

Me: The job of leadership is to inspire and motivate others to want to help you move the mission forward.

Not for you to do all the work.

Leader: Are you saying I need to go get some big dogs so people will show up?

Me: No. You need to make the time spent with you as valuable as searching the streets of Detroit for dogs they’ll never get to play with.

Leader: People who would spend hours trying to rescue dogs are not the kind who would volunteer for us.

Me: Too bad.

They have tons of passion.

  • Self organized.
  • Worked the social media angle brilliantly.
  • And got the job done.

What’s not to like?

Leader: We don’t focus on dogs.

Me: That’s not the point.

What is your passion-igniting story of the why behind the work you do?

Leader: We are a professional organization with serious work. Not a bunch of people just driving around in cars.

Me: If you looked at the Facebook page while it was at full tilt, many of the people who volunteered were also highly-trained professionals.

Perhaps even some of your potential members!

Leader: I still find it insulting to have our volunteer opportunities compared to a search and rescue mission for a bunch of dogs.

Me: The fact you feel insulted, means it hit some kind of a nerve.

Take a few deep breaths and see what is really causing the angry reaction.

The more honest you can be with yourself, the more volunteers you’ll be able to attract in the future.

Bottom line is… the dog rescue folks got over 1600 people engaged in less than three days. There’s a lot to learn from them.

Next post we’ll dive into:

  • What made these dogs so special?
  • Why did 1600 plus people step up?
  • And what can you use to help make your association more attractive to volunteers?

 I’ll be hosting an event next week to further answer your questions. Details will also be in the next post.

People Who Say They Don't Have Time to Get Involved Are Lying to You


Mandy reunited with her owners Theresa and Bill Przybylski

On Friday, a van was stolen from a hotel parking lot.

  • Unknown to the thief at the time, the van had three huskies in it.
  • The thief dumped the dogs in Detroit.
  • Kept the van.

The dogs were beautiful and their story sad.

  • Volunteers started to line up.
  • To comb the streets of Detroit.
  • To help find the dogs.

By Saturday, two of the three huskies were found.

  • One was still loose.
  • Momentum builded as the story sailed through social media.
  • People around the country offered support.

All day Sunday tons of people went house by house through the city.

  • Mandy, the final dog, would be sighted.
  • The search crews repositioned to no avail.
  • Some searched into the night.

This morning more people joined the search.

  • Driving as much as an hour or two to be part of the team.
  • Men and women taking the day off work to help.
  • A cheer went up across the country when Mandy was found just a little bit ago.

Finding Mandy became of the focus of people all over the country.

  • The Facebook group set up to coordinate searchers and supporters has more than 1600 members.
  • (This number doesn’t reflect people like me who just kept checking in.)
  • You can see their continued thoughts, suggestions and prayers.

What does a few lost dogs have to do with your volunteers? Everything. Passion fuels action.

  • People will make time for that which is important to them.
  • Even if it means taking a day of vacation to help find a dog they’ll never spend time with.
  • Or simply following the feed of the Facebook group to stay abreast of what is going on.

If potential volunteers say “No” to you, it’s got nothing to do with how much time they don’t have – and everything to do with how you are not hitting their hot buttons.

How passionate are your volunteers about the work you ask them to do?

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.