Running a Member-Owned Association? Here Are The Challenges….

An Association’s members are its customers and also its owners and employers…a strangely unique but interesting structure.

This, of course, sets the stage for many challenges in running a member-owned Association.  The key challenge for the Executive Administrator and the Board is to create a common vision that binds the members together into something that is bigger than the individual or a particular interest.  Associations ultimately exist to serve a community of members, but it takes work to keep the community functional. Hitting the sweet spot for each of the various services or benefits offered is difficult, particularly when emotions run high and often result in a change of course.  Association management is something that on the surface looks easy, but in fact, is very challenging.

Running a Member-Owned Association? Here Are The Challenges….

The fine art of governing and leadership is the foundation of society itself.

It’s the struggle for authority by an individual or group of individuals or an organization, to determine what should be done, and how, and why, decisions are ultimately made.  Interestingly, associations are a growing segment of both the professional development and event industries, and what works for one, might or might not work for the other.  Still, good governance is the responsibility of an association’s board of directors, which must take responsibility for recruiting, hiring and supporting the performance of their Executive Administrator.

Global Teams – Time Zone Tango

Global Teams

There is a growing category of managers out there:  ones who deal with employees not just in different time zones – but truly global teams.  These managers are a talented bunch who have unique work challenges.

In a world of shrinking management and flat org charts it is hard to over emphasize the importance of a manager who is responsible for a scattered and diverse work team.  

Eric Barton describes some Keys to managing from afar in his article about video conferencing with employees around the globe.

Is this situation familiar in your workplace?  Or are you considering such a job?  Well, I hope you like the sound of your alarm, because living by the clock will be a large part of your routine.  It is kind of like running Grand Central Station with the time zones displayed on the wall and juggling/managing your team around the world.

Managing global teams is tricky business.

I facilitate a technical group that meets once a month via conference.  Some people are good at keeping up conversation online and others just kind of stalk the meeting – listening in on mute with no video link.  Those are the ones I wonder about.

Not everyone is comfortable with the conference medium but I know those who participate get a lot more out of the meetings.

Sometimes I call these people after the meeting to gauge how things are going, rather than just assuming everything is OK.  A big part of being a successful manager is being fluent in many forms of communication and generous with your time.

And how common is that in this busy work world?

Global Teams
Global Teams

Becoming Less Busy Isn’t About Slowing Down

That’s because this recent cultural reevaluation of ‘Busy,’ isn’t actually questioning a PACE of life, it’s questioning a WAY of life.

Being busy is being stuck.

Being less busy isn’t about working less.

There is a great disconnect in our cultural understanding about “work”.  We have wrongly categorized it as only that from which one is compensated with money.

But, the truth is that work is any and every activity upon which we spend our time, effort, thoughts, physicality, and intentions, etc. – not just what you are compensated for doing.

Yes, generating revenue for your company is “work,” but so is waking up and fixing breakfast. Exercising, responding to emails, returning mother’s phone call, picking kids up from practice, commuting: All Work. Relationships are work. Family is work. Self-development is work. Humans constantly work, plain and simple.

Becoming less busy isn’t about working less.

It’s about working more in the meaningful areas. It’s about doing work, yes to pay bills, but also to intentionally support the uncompensated areas that make up a meaningful way of life instead of a haphazard pace of life.

Becoming less busy is about your career not being the only work you have time to do. It’s about being free to do other work, like family, friendship, & self-development, as well.

Becoming less busy is about defining success on your own terms and designing a lifestyle that you believe in deeply – no matter how fast or slow it may be.

The Spiritual Circuit

We are special as individuals, and even more so in groups, teams, and communities. Much more so than most of us realize.

This process really began with the question, “How was the Great Pyramid of Giza built?” This led me to technologies that are modern, mundane, and frankly, hard to believe. I’ve come across videos demonstrating levitation, inventors and scientists whose discoveries are still taboo. But, this is not a discussion about them. It is a discussion about you and me.Spiritual Philosophers propose that faith, hope, charity, and love make up the Spiritual Circuit, with each of these assuming a property that corresponds to a basic electrical circuit.

Chi: The Current
In many religions, philosophies, and martial arts there exists the concept of chi. It is an energy that we all have, and is said to exist in all living things. Before I get too “out there”, think of it this way. Chi is what you feel when you do something nice for someone. When you pick up trash that you didn’t drop. It is the feeling of contentment that you get when you help someone with no expectation of something in return. When you see your child accomplish something. When your team wins a game. When you hear your favorite song, or when you finish reading a great book. That tangible feeling of energy, inspiration, and possibility is Chi.

For some, attaining and sustaining this energy is a repeatable event. One that gives us not just a good feeling, but the power to do things that many would consider miraculous. Things like dreaming about future events (prognosticating), healing someone with only intent and bare hands, reading minds (telepathy), and moving objects without any apparent physical interaction (telekinesis). So, why can’t most of us do any of this? My guess, using the model of the Spiritual Circuit is that we have too much resistance.

Sin: The Resistor
We all have a sense of what we feel to be good and bad actions and behaviors. When we do something that’s bad according to our own feelings, we sin. Maybe we throw trash out of a car window, use pirated software, watch porn, say or think something mean about someone, take a hit of that pipe, or cut someone off on the freeway intentionally.

Also, when we do something bad to our bodies, whether we know it’s bad or not, we sin against ourselves. This could be in the form of a habit like smoking, eating donuts or hard candy, drinking alcohol, eating meat, or putting chemicals we don’t know or understand on or inside our bodies in the form of things like make-up, lotion, fragrance chemicals in soaps, detergent, and cologne, or prescription and non-prescription drugs.

Every time something like this happens, we reduce the current (chi) in our spiritual circuit, and if you’re like me, a lot of these things you do on a daily basis. It’s no wonder that it would be hard to believe that someone could perform miracles with a constant bombardment of disabling behaviors. But, this brings us to the enabling behaviors of the Spiritual Circuit.

Faith: The Switch
A switch turns on and off the flow of current. Without it, we don’t have the ability to turn the circuit on. In this sense, faith is the switch. By Faith, I simply mean having a belief system that allows you to accept that there is a greater energy than you alone that can be tapped into. Belief systems include Christianity, Muslim Religions, Catholicism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or even Satanism. As far as the Spiritual Circuit goes, it really doesn’t matter what the rules are, as long as there is a belief that something exists that is greater than the self.

Hope: The Capacitor
In an electrical circuit, a capacitor serves the purpose of storing energy over time for a release over a shorter or longer period of time. Hope is like this in that it behaves like potential energy. The more hope you have, the more you can use it to define, inspire, and motivate what actions you take over time. I’ll further define it as believing in something that can happen that you don’t rightly believe is probable to happen.

I hope the Oakland Raiders win another Super Bowl, and I’ll continue buying their schwag in support of this. I hope that my daughter will grow up and have a career and family that she is happy with, and I’ll continue advising her with this goal in mind. Will the Oakland Raiders with the Super Bowl next year? Probably not. Will my daughter live happily ever after? Probably not. There will be enormous roadblocks to overcome in both cases, yet the hope that I have is constantly stored and released at opportune times in ways that I think will make a difference.

Charity: The Ground
A ground in an electrical circuit takes the excess energy so that the circuit doesn’t overload. In the Spiritual Circuit, charity serves this purpose. Ideally, whatever excesses we have in resources, energy, or finances should go into helping someone else. When we have excesses, and keep them to ourselves, there are a number of administrative and petty issues that our attention must be focused on. How do we keep someone from taking our excess stuff? Where do we put it for safe keeping? Does my neighbor have more stuff than me? In its worst form, the lack of charity, or being grounded in a community turns into outright greed.

In my own readings on personal finance, every book written that I’ve come across instills the importance and necessity of giving back something of value. Whether it’s “The Richest Man Who Ever Lived” by Steven K. Scott, “The Richest Man In Babylon” by George S. Clason, “Enough” by John C. Bogle, “How to Get Rich” by Felix Dennis, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, “The Warren Buffet Way” by Hagstrom, Miller, and Fisher, “How to Master the Art of Selling” by Tom Hopkins, or any other number of books that I can’t recall, they all talk about giving a fair value for services, and most talk explicitly about the importance of charity in attaining financial success.

Love: The Transistor
A transistor has the ability to amplify and/or redirect a current. It is this ability to amplify chi and direct it that makes love such an important component of the Spiritual Circuit. If you have been in love and have it reciprocated, how does it feel in comparison to not being in love? If you have felt loved by a parent, a friend, or a fan, how does it feel in comparison to not having that feeling? My guess is that it felt better.

Imagine what the adulation a rock star, or professional sports athlete, or movie star must feel when they are performing and they are affecting the lives of millions of people with their art? That is the affect that one person’s love for their profession can have. Imagine, again, that you are the fan at great movie, or watching your team win a championship live, or watching your band play your favorite song. You literally love it, and it’s igniting and exhilarating.

This is one of the ways in which a Spiritual Circuit can create a miracle. I believe that these virtues can also be internalized and refined to a point that can allow individuals to do things that most would not consider possible. We all have examples of people who exhibited these powers: Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Confucius, Buddha. They are the keystones to today’s religions, and they all believed that we individually have a great deal of untapped power. I have a Christian background. As such, Jesus’ discussion of virtues is what I’m most familiar with, and time and again he states that the power to heal and create other miracles is within all of us. He considered himself no different than any of his disciples.

Physically speaking, new work on gravitons (a theoretical elementary) particle, and its relationship to what used to be referred to as ether are starting to bubble up. These particles may be affected by geometric shapes on macroscopic and microscopic scales and may be influenced by intent, which would imply a relationship to chi. They also may have relationship to zero point energy (i.e. unlimited energy sources). Music, or specifically, harmonics can also affect Chi (another signal amplifier?). See if this makes sense in your philosophical or religious view.

Prescription for Better Work-Life Balance

Work Life Balance

Beat burnout by making more time for the activities and people that matter most to you.

If you’re finding it more challenging than ever to juggle the demands of your job and the rest of your life, you’re not alone.

Many people are putting in extra hours, or using their smartphones to be on call when they’re not physically at work.

“A lot of people are having a more difficult time finding balance in their lives because there have been cutbacks or layoffs where they work. They’re afraid it may happen to them, so they’re putting in more hours,” says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.

“But even if you don’t have much control over the hours you have to work, you can ask yourself: In what other ways am I bringing greater enjoyment into my life?” Brooks says. “Focus your time and attention on things you can control.”

Here are five ways to bring a little more balance to your daily routine:

1. Build downtime into your schedule.

When you plan your week, make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends, and activities that help you recharge.

If a date night with your spouse or a softball game with friends is on your calendar, you’ll have something to look forward to and an extra incentive to manage your time well so you don’t have to cancel.

“It helps to be proactive about scheduling,” says Laura Stack, a productivity expert in Denver and author ofSuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best. “When I go out with my girlfriends, we all whip out our cell phones and put another girls’ night out on the calendar for 1 month later.”

Stack also plans an activity with her family, like going to a movie or the park, every Sunday afternoon. “We do this because if there’s nothing on the schedule, time tends to get frittered away and the weekend may end without us spending quality time together,” she says.

Michael Neithardt, an actor and television commercial producer in New York City, wakes up 3 hours before he has to leave for work so he can go for a run and spend some time with his wife and baby.

“A lot of my friends tend to wake up, shower, and go straight to work. And they often complain about having no time to do anything,” he says. “I find that if I can get those 3 hours in the morning, I have a more productive and peaceful workday. I can sure tell the difference when I don’t.”

2. Drop activities that sap your time or energy.

“Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value — for example, spending too much time at work with a colleague who is constantly venting and gossiping,” says Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, a psychologist and executive coach in New York and Connecticut.

Her advice: Take stock of activities that don’t enhance your career or personal life, and minimize the time you spend on them.

You may even be able to leave work earlier if you make a conscious effort to limit the time you spend on the web and social media sites, making personal calls, or checking your bank balance. “We often get sucked into these habits that are making us much less efficient without realizing it,” Stack says.

3. Rethink your errands.

Consider whether you can outsource any of your time-consuming household chores or errands.

Could you order your groceries online and have them delivered? Hire a kid down the street to mow your lawn? Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home or office? Order your stamps online so you don’t have to go to the post office? Even if you’re on a tight budget, you may discover that the time you’ll save will make it worth it.

Stack also suggests trading services with friends. Offer to do tasks that you enjoy or that you were planning to do anyway.

“You could exchange gardening services for babysitting services,” Stack says. “If you like to cook, you could prepare and freeze a couple of meals and give them to a friend in exchange for wrapping your holiday gifts.”

4. Get moving.

It’s hard to make time for exercise when you have a jam-packed schedule, but it may ultimately help you get more done by boosting your energy level and ability to concentrate.

“Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert,” Brooks says. “And I’ve noticed that when I don’t exercise because I’m trying to squeeze in another half hour of writing, I don’t feel as alert.”

Samantha Harris, a lawyer who works for a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, goes to her gym 2 or 3 mornings a week before her family wakes up. “It’s been a real boost in terms of the way I feel for the rest of the day,” she says. “I feel like my head is clearer and I’ve had a little time to myself.”

5. Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way.

Don’t assume that you need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life. Brooks recommends setting realistic goals, like leaving the office earlier 1 night per week.

“Slowly build more activities into your schedule that are important to you,” he says. “Maybe you can start by spending an hour a week on your hobby of carpentry, or planning a weekend getaway with your spouse once a year.”

Even during a hectic day, you can take 10 or 15 minutes to do something that will recharge your batteries. “Take a bath, read a trashy novel, go for a walk, or listen to music,” Stack says. “You have to make a little time for the things that ignite your joy.”

WebMD Feature by Jen Uscher

Work-Life Balance Is Over! Creating Work-Life Flow

Work-life balance? Forget it. I’m serious. It’s a misnomer and it can set you up for failure. Work-life balance implies that if you spend a set amount of time on your work, you’ll have to spend that same amount of time on whatever else makes up your life – personal time, physical fitness, family, parenthood, hobbies, etc.

Basically, everything that is important to you – work and the rest of your life – is split between two opposite ends of the spectrum. They’re either/or. But for most entrepreneurs, work isn’t just work. It’s passion. It’s purpose. It’s a dream realized. It’s an important part of their daily life. That’s why work-life balance is a bad idea – and work-life effectiveness should be the goal. My goal is to impact entrepreneurship and to help small businesses. Once I figured out what I wanted, I clearly articulated this goal with my colleagues and they have worked with me to help achieve this goal.

You don’t have to have a company to work for yourself. Whatever you are passionate about requires you to be constantly engaged – not just during work hours. Even if you’re working on a team in the corporate world, focusing on what you want and making decisions toward those goals is key.

How do you do this and still have time to unplug and regroup? You have to rethink how you work and when you work. Don’t be afraid to make changes that will make you more successful. I’ve become happier and more productive with these key strategies – and you can too. Here are the key strategies that have helped me.

1. You may be the problem.

If you aren’t productive, you need to get realistic about how you spend your time. Do you really know what takes up your time each day? Do you guard your time like a hawk? If not, now is the time to start if you want work-life effectiveness.

Check out Time Management Courses from Campeau Learning Inc.

2. Clear out the clutter.

Communication can create clutter – especially in your email inbox. Clear out the clutter so it’s more streamlined and focused. As a general rule of thumb – if you haven’t clicked on a newsletter or update list in two months, just unsubscribe.

3. Stop using auto-replies.

When you clear the clutter out from your inbox, you can focus on the messages that are most important. These are the ones you always want to be available for. Set up specific VIP lists for emails within your email program. Set up the email notification tone for this VIP group to be a different sound than your normal email alert to keep distractions lower. My iPhone tone is “bamboo” for my VIP list, while the others are just a chime sound. I know if I hear that tone, it’s an important email that I need to respond to.

4. Be available via text.When you take time away from the office, leave texting as an option for a close knit group that you work with. Otherwise, you could be holding things up while you’re away because a collaborator thinks they should not contact you. I set a personal goal to always make myself available by a number of channels – including text, email, Skype, chat, and both office and mobile phones. Remember, your work and your life are allies. You don’t have to separate the two completely.

5. Blur weekends and weekdays.

Don’t work for the weekends as they are always over too soon. If you want work-life effectiveness, treat each day like an opportunity for work and play, and embrace flexibility. I got addicted to this way of doing things when I started working for myself. Blend it all together so it works for you and makes you happy. I keep a weekend list of small upkeep items for work and my life that are five minutes or less. This helps free up more hours across the week.

Again, work-life effectiveness is not for everyone, but it has value to me and for many of my entrepreneur/intraprenuer colleagues. Why shouldn’t your life become more happy, successful and productive if it aligns with your personal goals?

From Lawton Ursrey at Forbes.com

Work Life Integration: Make Balance Work

Gone are the days when you could come home from the office and unplug. We are now living in a 24/7, seven day a week, always connected business environment. Your company doesn’t stop running when you leave the office or when you go on vacation. For the past few decades, journalists, authors, speakers and executives have talked about the importance of work life flexibility but that discussion has shifted in this new environment.

Now, the new phrase is “work life integration,” where professionals have to blend what they do personally and professionally in order to make both work. Many professionals, especially boomers, aren’t prepared for this major shift because it’s happened so fast, just like the speed of technology, that it’s been hard to take a step back and come up with a better solution. Millennials, on the other hand, have already started to adapt to this reality. They’re on Facebook talking to their friends at work and answering business emails when they leave the office.

There are a few reasons why mastering work life integration are so essential right now:

1. The boundaries between family and career are blurred. The demands of the workplace are greater because business never sleeps and companies are trying to do more with fewer resources. In a  studyby the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), the found that more than 50% of workers say that work conflicts with life responsibilities at least two or three times per week. Due to this, about 40% of women have delayed having children. It’s hard to know when and when you aren’t working these days because technology has enabled us to message personal or professional contacts instantly. Many of us millennials also suffer from the fear of missing out (FOMO) so we’re always tuned into Facebook, Instagram and other platforms to make sure that we never miss a moment in our friends lives. In addition, a lot of employees have one phone or business and personal so it becomes impossible to avoid either.

2. Employees are willing to give up their personal time to do work and many have no choice. In a study by TeamViewer and Harris Interactive, they found that 61% of employees are willing to work during vacation. In another study by Gyro and Forbes Insights, they found that 98% of executives check email during their off time and 63% check every one or two hours during their off time. Some employees are doing this because they have no choice, especially managers and executives who have direct reports, and others do it because they feel like they have to. Of course, employees who are really passionate about their work become addicted and are actually excited about new emails coming in.

3. There are more employees working remote than ever before. One of the biggest trends that I enjoy talking about is the rise of the remote worker, which has been made possible because of technology like Skype, social networking and Google Docs. Working from home is also a benefit that millennials, and other workers, are prioritizing over higher salaries because of their desire to integrate their work and life. In total, 30 millions Americans work form home at least once each week, which will increase by 63% in the next five years. About 3 million Americans never go to an office and 54% are happier working from home than in an office. Furthermore, 70% of employees work from alternative locations (not just home) on a regular basis. What these numbers show you is that millions of people are working in a personal setting, maybe even in their bedrooms. When this happens, it’s hard to separate work and life and thus they are integrated even without your consent.

Now that I’ve shown you the “why”, I’m going to tell you the “how”. The “how” being how to go about integrating your work and life so you remain sane and are able to accomplish everything you want to do from a personal and professional perspective. I recommend that you do work when you believe you can perform the best and do personal activities to break up your day.

What I do is have a flexible calendar so that I can schedule things like going to the gym, writing articles, reading, meetings, research at around the same time each day. This way, I get into a habit so I have more control over what I’m doing and when I’m doing it. I do more of my work in the morning because my productivity is higher and I usually schedule lunches during the day so that I have face time and social interactions. I also make a list of my annual goals and break them down by what I need to do each quarter, each month, each week and each day in order to fulfill them. Work life integration is going to become a more common way of how people manage their career and personal lives every year.

by Dan Schawbel at Forbes.com

The 3 Approaches to Communication: Care-less, Care-ful, and Caring

The alternative to win-lose or lose-win thinking is win-win thinking.  Win-win thinking is to look for mutually positive outcomes in every one of life’s situations.  Instead of thinking “my way is best” or “your way is best”, there is a third “our way is best” solution.

Let’s take a closer look at 3 ways to communicate.  The first way is “care-less” communication, when we believe that we are right and others are wrong. In the adversarial world in which we live, most people communicate carelessly or without care for others, much of the time.

The second way is “care-ful” communication. To contrast it with the care-less approach, it happens when we are so concerned not to upset the other person that we allow their values to trump ours. Communicating in this mode is like walking on eggshells.  Both care-less and care-ful approaches lead to breakdowns in communication.

But there is a third way, which avoids communication breakdown and that is the caring approach. In caring, you esteem your value system and the other person’s value system simultaneously. It’s like saying, “My values are right for me and yours are right for you and that’s OK. To work together, we can always find a way to honor what each of us believes and wants, without becoming negative and disrespectful.

The Third Way of Communicating: A Simple Example

Say you’ve been out shopping with your teenage daughter.  You’re tired and hungry and your daughter says she’d like to buy a pizza for a snack. The critical nurturing parent in you knows that bought pizzas contain empty nutrients, and are expensive. So how do you move towards the third way of communicating?

The key moves are firstly to acknowledge your daughter’s request; secondly to value her wishes; and thirdly to find a win-win solution that honors both your values and hers in a caring way.

So you say, “You want a pizza? I am hungry too! What say we go home and make a smoothie?”

The most important step is assertiveness – you are offering a solution.  You are not saying “No” and closing the door to communication.  You are not saying “Yes” and caving in to other’s wishes.  If this part makes you uncomfortable, then you will need practice.

Caring and respect for others is appropriate for both home and work situations.  Win-win negotiations are highly regarded as an important life skill and work skill.  Keep the 3 Approaches in mind next time you hit a roadblock or disagree with someone.

Laurie Daschuk, BA is a Meeting Facilitator and Business Event Coordinator with Stop the Presses!

Challenges That Affect Teams – Part One

Do you know of a group that is not performing to it’s full potential?  Here are four common reasons why teams fail or fall apart and what you can do about it.  Stop the suffering! – find the right solution for a quick recovery here.

# 1.  Superficial Communication

Symptoms: Whenever your team gets together, the main topic of conversation is the game, the weather, or the weather at the game.

Prescription: The group needs to build bonds of trust.  How can a team tackle difficult discussions if they do not have experience as a group?  Plan icebreaker activities so people can talk about themselves and develop mature relationships.

For example, when I facilitate a meeting with a Board for the very first time, I like to ask people, “Why did you choose to become involved with this organization?”

This tactic really helps reserved people to open up, and for the group to start an honest conversation.  There is always ‘good stuff’ here, and everyone is interested in what is being shared.  Participants don’t have to be concerned with their opinion or saying what is “right” about an issue when they reflect and communicate their personal experience.

I can see the board members relax, likely because everyone feels that the group and facilitator (the outsider) knows them better and hears what they stand for.  This prepares the team to be ready for the challenge of working together.

A workplace scenario is a bit different.  People may not be so philosophical about why they work at a certain place if it is their main livelihood.  Most don’t really have a choice whether to work or not to work.

After-work or social events are common examples of how groups break the ice.  Often people with extra responsibilities cannot stay after work or find weekend events difficult.  Therefore, extra effort must be made to develop opportunities for team building.

Themed meetings, special events or creative conversation starters can be employed to allow team members to express themselves.  Workplace leaders need to be aware of those employees who are more withdrawn and help them have the space they need to be involved.

Try taking someone for lunch that you do not know very well.  Suggest a staff member accompany a group to a trade show for a different perspective on work.  Offer to send employees to an outside training session.  There are a variety of ways to facilitate a change from the normal, often-limiting work environments or meetings and promote meaningful conversation.

Stay tuned for Team Challenges #2, 3 and 4.

Written by Laurie Daschuk, BA

Meeting Facilitator with Stop the Presses