Intentional Leadership

One of the best speakers I've ever heard, over my 25 years in association management, was Carla Harris, a Keppler Speakers presenter on Intentional Leadership at the ACCE Annual Meeting in Long Beach.

She started by giving one of her pearls.

"Currency comes in the form of performance and relationships.  You need a sponsor within the organization, which is not your mentor."

Once you perform, you now get to relationship currency.  You need to build relationship currency with everyone you touch in the organization.

Yes, it’s office politics!  She defines that as you must invest in relationships in your professional environment.

She then went on to talk about the 8 things that defines Intentional Leadership!

  • Authenticity - your competitive advantage.  You can only be you!  The ability to meet people where you are, what you live and understand who you are.
  • Building trust - go to territory’s unknown.  You must deliver, that’s how you lead, that’s trust.  They will follow you!
  • Clarity - you must build clarity around something (quarter, month, week, day).  Explain that here’s where we’re going and you can help.  Today, we’re just trying to do this!  Define the goal.
  • Create other leaders - to help you execute your program of work. Allow your team to shine.  You must be willing to let go!
  • Diversity - you need diversity in your teams.  It’s a way of thinking.  Lot’s of ideas are needed from different perspectives.  Perspectives are born from experiences.  You need to start with a lot of perspectives (generational, cultural, etc.).
  • Innovation - you must be intentional on innovation and teach your team to fail.  Push the envelope.  Celebrate the failures.  You learn from failures and you build on that for your next successful endeavor.
  • Inclusion - solicit people voices.  You need to get their input.  Look at all sides of an issue.  People want to be heard, I hear you, I see you!  
  • Voice - you must exercise your voice.  When it’s not right, call a thing a thing.  You must speak to the pink elephant in the room.

Success does not just happen.  You must be intentional on creating and defining your own scorecard and over deliver on it.

Carla's final statement, "you must own you!"

Chambers and Economic Development

I attended an incredible breakout session at a recent ACCE Annual Meeting on how to message your chamber and economic development program of work, moderated by chamber executives who are recognized as leaders in the field.

1.  They stated that the chamber is the voice of business and visionary for the community at large:

  • Communication and marketing are key.  You can never communicate enough.  Many chambers are doing both and it is important that all staff should know what the other side of the house is doing (chamber - events, etc, economic development - jobs).
  • You need to work with your city manager to make sure all are on the same page.  Stay ahead of the issues as they pop up.
  • Your chamber’s workforce efforts are economic development for the community.
  • Think about your external vs internal communications.
  • Translate economic development work into the chamber sales team.
  • Start up company vs local bakery - it’s all about Commerce.
  • Economic development is new dollars to the community.  Chamber is advocacy for those small businesses already in the community.
  • The theme is not to separate the two - build a community! Don’t call out individual events or programs of work.

2.  What are some the trends in the debate of bringing the two together as a new entity:

  • Grow and sustain the local economy is the new message.
  • Whether you’re at a chamber event or economic development meeting you talk about what the other group is doing.
  • Meet the projects?  Coming out party for the new deals to hit the community and talk about how you landed the deal (workforce, road built, etc.).  The workforce piece is the chamber deal.
  • Black box - confidentiality in economic development is a real issue.

3.  Using metrics to tell your story:

  • Run economic models for the new company to see if the company should get any incentive money based on what they are bringing to the community.
  • These metrics can tell your story on how it will impact the local community (sales at the local stores, taxes, real estate community, etc.)

4.  Money and where does it come from:

  • Public and private funding.  No consistency on what chambers/economic groups are doing.
  • Straight contract with the city.  As a general rule if you’re doing both get 2/3 from private and 1/3 or less from the city.  You don’t want to be beholden to the city government.

5.  Once you land a company how do you get them involved in the chamber?

  • Hopefully they will support both organizations.  It’s sensitive!  You need to be careful on the quid pro quo issue.
  • Get them involved in your programming and not necessarily a chamber member.
  • Chamber relational not transactional which is the economic development group.
  • Chamber can throw an event where that new company does not want to do that.

Final comments made were you always should think regional - not just inside your city limits.  They talked about a number of resources to help you tell you story: Inplan, RIMS, etc. sites that can run your modeling scenarios about your communities.

At the end of the day, our job is to grow and sustain the community we live in - communication and collaboration is key.

And their final comment, never burn a bridge!

Running a Chamber on a Solid Foundation

At a recent ACCE Annual Meeting, I attended a fundraising breakout session where they talked about using different vehicles to raise revenue to fund your program of work.

The following blog post are from my notes.  It was a great session!

The session started with the traditional methods of raising money:

  • Dues;
  • The movement to non-dues revenue over the years; and now
  • Fundraising through your Foundation to raise money.

There is a lot of money in your community.  Deca millionaires?  They stated that 1.02 per 100 households in America have $10 million or more money in your communities.  You just don't know who they are, yet!

They also mentioned that you need to be intentional about your fundraising using your Foundation.  Raise money for education, workforce development, or community based projects.

People will cut a check for a cause or issue they care about.

They went on to say, get the right people on the Foundation board to help you raise money. Foundation board members should have a minimum commitment (you figure out what that donation point is - $10K, etc.) for a seat on the board.

It is important to define your body of work that you want to raise money for.  It is more important to stay true to your mission.  Sometimes you may have to turn money away if it’s not in your scope of work or part of your mission.

The session speakers mentioned that many chambers may have a dormant Foundation and now might be a good time to ramp it up and raise money for your program of work. You will get bigger checks to your Foundation vs membership dues.

You can potentially raise money from sources your chamber would have never been able to access in the past.  You may also be able to raise more money from corporate America from different buckets within that corporate structure.

Make sure you are able to tell your story and have 3rd party folks tell that story!  Make sure you tie that story to your Chamber's program of work.

Be transparent and make sure you have your governance in order.

Never forget the Foundation is part of the your chamber.  The chamber is the c-6 parent where the Foundation is the c-3 under the c-6 umbrella.

Good luck!

Volunteer Development

At a recent seminar I attended, Shari Pash led a discussion on volunteer development that I wanted to discuss on my blog.

If you have a diverse membership, it is important to have diverse volunteers!

Tap into their expertise, skill-set, influence, availability to commit, industry segment

Do you have the right people doing the right things?  Set-up an excel sheet to identify and track the different attributes above.

Opportunities for volunteers - do you have a brochure that describes the different opportunities?  You should create a profile for each opportunity:

  • Name of opportunity (i.e. workforce, GR, Women’s Group);
  • Purpose and goals of this opportunity - outcomes which are measurable; and
  • Number of volunteers needed - long term, or short term (two weeks, in person or virtual).

Job Descriptions - what goes into a good job description?

  1. Expectations;
  2. Summary of position;
  3. Term of service;
  4. Attendance requirements;
  5. Qualifications; and
  6. Relation to staff and budget to get you started.

Recruitment of volunteers - you want to be strategic, relevant, sustainable.

Understand the volunteers motivation to serve as a volunteer - is it recognition, giving back, believes in your chamber?

What’s the DNA of a great volunteer?  Next Generation Volunteer - they want to be asked,  make a difference.  Young professionals are digital, is your volunteerism analog or digital.  They process information quickly - they have been doing this their whole life.

In my opinion, one of the most critical aspects of onboarding new volunteers starts with a solid orientation - you need to formalize the orientation process whether it be in-person or a webinar.

How are you recognizing your volunteers?  It’s important to thank them in a way that works for you and will showcase your volunteers.

Good luck with your volunteer management!

Sunsetting Programs

As chamber staff, it is important to have a systematic way to review our program of work so we can remain relevant to our members.

I wrote a blog post in the past on Scared Cows and how you might "Kick Them to The Curb."  That post can be found HERE.

I recently read Strategic Integration by Gabriel Eckert & Bob Harris and they devoted an entire chapter to this subject, titled "Systematic Sunsetting."

They suggest and proved a great template to review your programs based on its relevance to the mission, member participation, revenue, etc.

They went on to talk about a systematic way to do this review.  The following is their suggested review timetable, directly from page 62 of the book, to evaluate your programs.

  • Year 1: Education
  • Year 2: Events
  • Year 3: Advocacy
  • Year 4: Other programs and services.
  • Then repeat the process starting at year 1 again.

Whatever you decide, it's important to have some system set-up and stick with that process.  You'll need to decide what works best for your organization.

We only have so many resources (staff and budget) and sometimes some of our programs should be sunsetted.

Good luck!

Strategic Integration: Move Beyond Strategic Planning

After reading the book Strategic Integration by Gabriel Eckert, FASAE, CAE and Bob Harris, CAE, I thought I’d say a few words on my thoughts of the book and their theory.

At the end of the day, this book is actually about implementing that strategic plan instead of just letting it sit on the shelf!

They start out by suggesting getting your strategic plan down to one page or in the case of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians to a business card to keep it simple, which will allow you to communicate it to your members and the community at large.

I’m a fan of less is more and if everyone knows the plan – board, staff, and members, that’s a good thing!

For a previous blog post on strategic planning go HERE.

Next they talked about ways to communicate the plan through storytelling, mantras and visuals and doing that through all your communications vehicles.  The key, keep it consistent throughout your communication vehicles!

Maybe an infographic or a different design template can be used to communicate your plan.  For a great resource on creating visuals by Canva go HERE.

Next came operational excellence, and the bottom line is, if you don’t have the staff and resources to implement the new plan you’re in trouble.

Word will get out and if it’s just another promise, ouch!  I hope you’re not in that camp.

The book then goes on to discuss:

Maintaining Focus – don’t try and do everything the first year and monitor your progress implementing the strategic plan through dashboards or other tools.  The key is to have a system that you can measure your results.

Absolute Alignment – getting the resources aligned with each priority.  When the say resources they mean, financial, staff and volunteers. It’s critical to clarify the different roles of the stakeholders.  The book has a great worksheet in the book to assign roles.

Iteration Innovation – segment your program of work, have clear roles, failure is a positive, learn, and improve/modify fast.

Systematic Sunsetting – create a system where you are evaluating your programs on a regular basis.  They suggest separating your program of work into possible three buckets and take one bucket each year (education, advocacy, events).  They have a great template in the back of the book in the resources section.

Strategy- Driven Culture – they break this down into three components: redefining success, continuous learning and celebrate success.  My take, be flexible and study your markets to remain relevant!

It’s a great read and they have many templates, in the resources section of the book, that is worth the price of admission.  So, if you want to purchase a copy from the American Society of Association Executives go HERE.

Viral Business Starts at Home

I attended a general session presentation by Johnny Earle, of Johnny Cupcakes, who by the way, doesn’t sell baking goods.  They sell T-shirts!

It was a fascinating talk and his remarks were delivered in a rapid fire way.  The following were my notes.

His overarching theme was “Everything is an experience!”

He talked about:

  • Failing - fail fast - think of it as experimenting;
  • Experimenting is how you grow;
  • Sell memories, stories and themes;
  • Social media giveaways are a way to connect;
  • Collaborate to grow - it gives other folks a chance to learn what you do; and
  • People like new experiences - what are you doing is this arena?

He went on to say, what makes you unique?  You want to stand out from all the other chambers in the neighboring towns, his insights:

  • Testimonials sell - it creates trust;
  • Events foster real relationships;
  • Good design is inviting;
  • It’s all about human to human;
  • Write notes on your business cards; and
  • Customer loyalty - you must be loyal to them.

He ended with your brand is your story!  For a past blog post on What's Your Brand go HERE.