Teri Carden

Archive for the ‘Work and Play’ Category

You Make Change in Your Association More Often Than You Change Your Underwear

In Work and Play on April 10, 2011 at 11:28 pm

My head is just swimming with thoughts from my time spent at Fusion Productions Digital Now.  The lineup of speakers and list of attendees was phenomenal.  It was my third year attending and as always, I came away with fresh ideas.  This year was confirmation that our organization is headed in the right direction and for the right reasons. Although this year’s conference was about “mobile,” this post comes because I realized something about change/innovation and how associations are doing it.

It’s more obvious than ever that if an organization is to stay healthy and remain in the industry, change is inevitable.  We are changing faster than ever. One quote I heard was, “If you’re not the lead dog then the scenery never changes.”  As leaders of our industries, good associations stand by this philosophy and keep the scenery changing.  According to keynote speaker, Tom Stewart, 25% of organizations will not adapt fast enough to survive, however, what are the remaining 75% doing?  Changing fast enough… what’s that mean and how?  Taking the pulse on some of the attendees at Digital Now, it is very obvious that some staffs and boards might be getting close to a point in saying we are changing things more often than we are changing our underwear.  Everyday someone has a new idea, finds a new tool, or wants to partner with a new solution.  So, change– yeah, we’re gonna do it.  And change– yeah, we’re gonna embrace it.  But one thing we need to start asking ourselves is how are we going to strategize before we implement it?  Does your organization have a change management plan or an ideology department that fields the new ideas from boards, staff or members?  Are some of us over innovating?  Associations aren’t the only ones not handling change properly.

Human Capital League recently posted about a Booze & Company survey, a survey of about 1,800 executives from industries worldwide. It reveals a remarkable lack of strategic confidence and coherence: 49% said their company had no list of strategic priorities, 43% said their strategy isn’t fundamentally differentiated from others’, nearly 2 out of 3 say their companies have “too many conflicting priorities.”

Tom Hood participated in some of the final comments on the last day and presented some of the best advice of the whole conference. It’s great to get all pumped up about the new technologies that can impact the way we do business and interact with our members, but changes must be strategic.  The strategy must be visual and then easily accessible and understandable by those involved.

In terms of technology, over the last two years our association has implemented a new AMS, established an online learning community (LMS), continued building the ever-growing member community, launched a total revamp of a member-driven CMS, (all of which are operating via SSO, I might add), took the magazine to a digital version, used video at an unprecedented capacity, gained momentum with social media and is preparing to go mobile.  Needless to say… we’re change artists.  Admittingly though and much like most associations, our changes came with hefty pain points and uncertainty of some of the next steps. The vision is there, but the steps to get there are occasionally guesses.  Don’t misinterpret me when I talk about our changes.  For the most part they have been successful, make us look better, help our members and make us more efficient. You know how hindsight is 20×20?  If we had heard this year’s sessions on change management two years ago, we may have experienced fewer frustrations along the way.

So despite the witty title, it’s not really about the number of changes that the organization endures, it’s about the how the organization changes.  The strategy has to be formulated and involve the right people with the right resources at the right time in a structured, methodical and visual way.  Does this resonate with your organization?  How does your organization implement a new idea that’s been brought to the table?

A few ideas on how to make change/innovation strategic:

  • Make a line item on the budget called Opportunity Fund that will allow for a new idea to be added without waiting on the next year’s dollars.
  • Have an ideology department where ideas can be brought and ran through an established set of innovation stages.
  • Create a visual. Share it. Revisit it.

I don’t want any holey ones (ha!), but do you have any other ideas on how associations can better manage change/innovation?


Lesson from Mr. H.

In Work and Play on January 21, 2011 at 12:33 am

It was recently brought to the attention of the FSAE staff that we would be expecting a special visitor, Mr. H.  All that we knew about Mr. H. was that he is the first Japanese AMC Executive Director, spoke English well, and would be visiting so he could learn more about the operations of American associations.

Mr. H. arrived at the FSAE office with his host and the infamous Bob Harris, CAE.  They both bowed when I greeted them at the door and naturally I reached to do the American handshake.  Little did I know that the man so small in stature was about to actually remind me of a big lesson.

Mr. H. joined the five FSAE staff in the conference room and admitted that he was nervous being surrounded by 5 women (I think he left the beautiful out).  Mr. H. proceeded to give his reasons for visiting and that ultimately, his personal mission was to help rebuild associations in Japan using a healthy and proper model.  Then, Mr. H. began to explain the history of Japanese associations and confessed their corruption.  Mr. H. told us that in Japan there are 37 associations and over the past 50 years, each of them have been organized by the Japanese government.  The government would present itself to the leading business of an industry, force it to organize an association and agree to subsidize the association to achieve its motives.  You can only imagine what the official’s power looks like in the board room and how the mission of the association is not for the purpose of the people’s common interest, but to assist the government with its ulterior motives.

Ponder on it for a moment.  I did and then I became overwhelmed by the power of associations in American.  Everyday I am surrounded by associations that were built 10, 50, 100 years ago who’s foundations were built for a good purpose.  Mr. H.’s story about the purpose of Japan’s associations reminded me of how blessed we really are to be free.  It’s so easy to get tied up in the day-to-day of association work, boards, trends, events, etc., but readers, please don’t forget how lucky we are to be in a country that allows associations to operate and be organized freely.  I know this isn’t a mind blowing concept or original idea, but on the days that are tough, think about what it might be like in the board room of a Japanese association.

Mr. H. is well on his way to helping the Japanese restructure the culture of associations and hopefully he left our small conference room with just as big of a revelation as I did.  Thank you, Mr. H.

Inspiration x2

In Work and Play on November 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I’m not sure if it’s because the holidays are drawing near and people are getting sentimental or if it’s because people can sense that I am in a complete rat race of life right now, but two separate friends on two separate occasions have sent me very inspiring items and I just had to take the time to share.  By the way, these aren’t the kind of friends that send on the “pass along or you will die in 5 minutes emails.”  The first is a quick read and the latter is an 18 minute Ted Talk video.  Both are so worth the time and hope they can either make you stop your rat race for a minute or make you a little sentimental too.  Enjoy.


The Situation:

In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.  During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.  After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing.  He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar.  A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly.  The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time.  This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:
The musician played continuously.  Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while.  About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.  The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over.  No one noticed and no one applauded.  There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world.  He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.  Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $200 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

the Experiment Posed Several Questions:
*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One Possible Conclusion:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .  How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?




In Work and Play on August 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

The world’s tectonic plates didn’t collide and slide the the beautiful city of Los Angeles into the Pacific. As a matter of fact, the city is still thriving and warmly hosted 5,000+ conference members of the American Society of Association Executives, including me! This newb definitely had the time of her life and here’s why excitement still exudes.

I went to conference with two goals in mind. One, to find out more information on what the other allied societies are doing for growth and how I can play a role in that growth. And two, to find out more about the effects of mobile technology in the industry since I have a goal for FSAE to be mobile in 2011. After several conversations with fellow SAEs, meeting a few light-shedding technology vendors and attending Jeff DeCagna’s session on Engaging Your Members on Mobile Devices, I flew out of Los Angeles having achieved my goals and so much more.

So Much More:

Getting to see first hand how national ran their processes, including exhibitors, food, schedule, communications, layout, etc.

The In Real Life (IRL) encounters with my Twitter, #sweetspot and #YAPstar colleagues were just priceless. I admit that I was so excited to meet them that after landing in LAX, I asked the man standing next to me in the shuttle line if he was a tweep for the ASAE conference. You should have seen his face. “LA to visit the grandkids,” he replied. Check out the fun pics I have from just a few of my IRL encounters. Whip me with a wet noodle if we met for the first time and I didn’t get a pic with you.

Winning the #sweetspot award Live from LA was such an honor. I’ve admired @KikiLitalien, her eagerness to just do it, honesty, and wit for months and when she called my name as the #sweetspot winner I was nothing less than shocked. Thank you, Kiki for bringing me into the fold. More importantly, Kiki, Kaylee Coffman, Tobin and I shared an eye opening conversation on ASAE’s allied state societies. It’s almost sick to think about the energy we had at that late hour and how our talks had us changing the world. Must listen to Kiki’s audioboo that she posted after returning to her room at 3:00am. So cool!

In a 2009 post about Principles for Planning Brain-Friendly Meetings, @JeffHurt (check out IRL pic here) wrote, “… Pushing too much information, without enough time devoted to context, meaning, connecting the dots and digestion, does not nourish the brain. The attendee’s learning is sacrificed in the name of expediency. The brain needs breaks.” This is precisely why I loved the after session activities with familiar and new friends. The opening and closing night ceremonies were over the top, dinner with key association innovators was fabulous, networking with Omni friends at John Mayer was priceless, the YAPstars flashmob dance and party more than rocked, Hollywood was fun and in between I was able to engage in deep conversations about several topics and ideas on state societies activity, vendors driving content, relevant tools that will increase my work flow, leadership, etc.

Personal growth was inevitable. Just read the above. Mix that with being a first-timer amongst thousands that understand the inner workings of leadership in my field and bingo bango Teri is a changed professional. If I learned anything though, it would be that I’ve got a long ways to go. We are all idea factories and I need someone to bounce ideas off of and help take me to the leadership position I hope to earn some day. All good leaders have a dependable mentor and I’ve come to the conclusion that I am ready and need to be mentored. Any mature female consultant or executive up for a life-time challenge or anyone have mere words of wisdom on how to acquire a mentor?

Hard Lessons Learned:

Ask more from my counterparts as to what product/tool/solution was presented on the exhibit floor that will be organization altering. I learned the most when I asked, but I just didn’t ask often enough. So, tell me what solution will be your association’s next investment and why?

Don’t be a booth judge. Although it was nice of me to offer, I killed at least two hours of one-on-one exhibitor time because I had to briskly walk the showroom floor to ensure I saw each booth.

Be willing to switch sessions away from one that might not be going in the direction expected.

Take the day off after returning. First day back to work=Ouch.


I know there have been gripes and complaints about ASAE’s delivery and I appropriately agree with some and indicated so on my survey response. I can vouch that when conducting a meeting for professionals that are in the profession of holding meetings, one is under nothing less than the highest powered microscope. Nearly everyday I tell my kids to, “Fill someone’s bucket today.” So, let me fill ASAE’s bucket today and say that I thought the event was great.  Thank you for the scholarship and thank you for the platform to bring amazing individuals together in an amazing city.  My personality naturally tends to focus on my immediate goals thrown in with a bit of spontaneity but with a huge splash of positivity.  I hope you too can say that you walked away having fulfilled your set goals and SO MUCH MORE.

Thoughts from a Newb…

In Work and Play on August 15, 2010 at 11:09 pm

It would take the worlds  tectonic plates rubbing together and forcing California into the Pacific to keep me away from my first American Society of Association Executives Annual Conference.  Here’s why I’m excited:

Number 1.  I get to be the attendee for once!  The Florida Society of Association Executives holds its annual meeting in July every year.  The staff takes a reprieve during the semi calm month of August before gearing up for planning of the next year’s conference and Winter events.  What a treat to rejuvenate and brainstorm new ideas at ASAE’s Annual.  FSAE puts on a great program for the Florida association world so I can only imagine that the national level is quite intense.  The caliber of experts and speakers that I will get to experience in the coming days are unprecedented in my infantile 2.5 years of association work and I am for lack of a better word, pumped!

Number 2.  I get to meet and hang with many of my Twitter colleagues.  I gain useful resources, I laugh out loud, collaborate, and share with many association professionals across the world that I have yet to even meet in person.  So, if we’ve shaken virtual hands, I won’t find you crude or creepy if you just walk up to me and say, “I follow you” and extend your in-real-life hand.

Number 3.  The unknown.  I have my goals set and my schedule completely mapped from the time I arrive on Saturday morning until I leave on Wednesday.  However, I am one that partakes in those spontaneous things of life and can’t wait for that unexpected idea to hit, that unforeseen conversation to happen or that unpredictable entertainment to impress.

Number 4.   I truly mean it when I say that I hope that upon my return, my fellow staff, boards and members find me revitalized, armed with good ideas and better prepared for our organizations future.

Number 5.  In the case of the plate tectonic shift, I know that an UnAnnual will form (thanks in advance @maddiegrant and @lindydreyer), and I will join in and still be able to accomplish all of the above.

I know there are many more reasons to be excited about attending, but for now those are the thoughts of a newb.  I hope my excitement is contagious to seasoned attendees.  For those readers attending, safe travels and cheers to an awesome event.  Can’t wait!

@FSAE, #ASAE10, @ASAEcenter, #YAPstar, #ASAE10flashmob

Oh, Crystal Ball

In Work and Play on April 13, 2010 at 2:33 am

Reach out and rub your hands on the crystal ball in front of you.  What do you see for your organization’s future?  What does it look like?  Employee turnover?  Long days of staring into the computer screen?  Negativity?  No doughnuts on the kitchen counter?

–  Fun Song to Play While You Read This

Instituting several simple habits of leadership may likely mean you’ll  be seeing success in your crystal ball and in the future of your life and your organization.  My recent attendance of Emmanuel Gobillot’s keynote session at Fusion Production’s fabulouso event, Digital Now, at the Contemporary Disney Resort inspired this post.

@egobillot addressed everything from his kid for sale on ebay to the nonsense annual employee evaluation.  @egobillot humorously relayed many often uncharted leadership pointers that reminded the attendees that they too could create a contagious and successful culture.  I’ve gleaned some of the leadershifting ideas.

  • Less conversations started with preconceived conclusions.  More discovery.
  • Less processes. More valuing, nurturing, helping and loving.
  • Less annual performance reviews. More performance conversations every day.
  • Less complexity around us. More simplification.
  • Less roles, rules, and economic incentive.  More individuals, reciprocity, social and moral obligations.
  • Less mission statements.  More stories.
  • Less actions.  More effective actions, magical conversations and shared history.
  • Less engagement in just the last 5 minutes of the project.  More engagement in the narrative of the whole project.
  • Less ignoring that you hate what you do.  More relearning to love what you do.
  • Less artifacts of business.  More human relationships.
  • Less hiring turkeys to climb trees.  More hiring cost-effective squirrels.
  • Less negativity. More asking, “Have I made them stronger and more capable?” And more of it. And more of it.

Look down.  There’s really not a crystal ball in front of you, however, I hope you do see success, magical conversations and doughnuts on the kitchen counter in your future.


Fun Picture Taken During Conference Tweet-Up

Fun Twitter Follows from this Conference, sorry for those I missed.
@DigitalNow, @egobillot, #diginow, @FSAE, @christytj, @DanScheeler,  @BobFarrace, @tomhood, @BMACMPI, @Iayres, @wadatripp, @andrew_zolli, @lrainie, @rgmcgrath, @hughKlee, @devildawg, @lilacsjudygray, @NFiStudios, @craigfowler, @elizabethb, @sterlingraphael, @LindaChreno, @daxkoconnect, @koschemann, @jasonsamuels, @BillSheridan

This Is Me. Unfolding My Piece of White Paper…

In Work and Play on March 8, 2010 at 11:47 am

This Is Me. Unfolding My Piece of White Paper...

You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-girl wolf pack. But when I joined FSAE, I knew I wasn’t alone. And my wolf pack… it grew. So there… there were 800 of us in the wolf pack… And two years ago, when I was introduced to the association community, I thought, “Wait a second, could it be?” And now I know for sure, I just added hundreds of colleagues to my wolf pack. Hundreds of us wolves, running around in the Florida sunshine together, and in Tallahassee, looking for networking opportunities and education.

So tonight, I make a toast, a toast to this blog and to everyone that will ever read one of my posts. May every reader feel they too are a part of the one-girl wolf pack and get tickled or inspired from my thoughts on association work, online education, volunteerism, networking, meeting planning, social technologies and perhaps even a random story of parenthood.  I can’t always claim original thoughts, but as Eugene Delacroix claims, “What moves those of genius, what inspires their work is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.”