29 June 2012

Friday Top 5

In case you've been, I don't know, in a coma for the last 24 hours, SCOTUS voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Even more amazingly, Chief Justice Roberts was the deciding vote (and whoever had that in their office pool just made a MINT).

Top 5 Best Things About ACA:
  1. Children can no longer be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Starting in 2014, ADULTS can no longer be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Also, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.
  2. People can stay on their parents' insurance up to age 26 (I definitely could have used this when I was fresh out of college and badly underemployed).
  3. It encourages a paradigm shift to PREVENTATIVE care (you know, addressing things before people have big, expensive, intractable chronic disease type problems) by making many preventative wellness services free.
  4. Health insurance companies are now required to spend 80% of their revenue providing, you know, HEALTH CARE. Think that sounds extreme? Would you give to a charity that spent more than 20% on overhead?
  5. You no longer have a lifetime limit on coverage. Think that's not a major issue? Medical costs and issues cause over 50% of personal bankruptcies
Don't feel like wading through a 2000 page bill? Here's a good plain English explanation of the key elements. 

Also, this

28 June 2012

It's Our Fault

Overheard the other day: "You don't want to have a debate in front of your CEO."

Are we sure about that?

We all complain that our CEOs are out of touch. Don't lie, you do too.

It's out fault.

When we've completely insulated them from the sausage making, we can't get mad when they have no idea how the sausage gets made.

I'm not arguing that your CEO needs to join every second of every standing staff meeting of every department in your entire organization all the time. Meetings are damned expensive. Look around the next time you're in one, and mentally calculate the per-hour cost of all those people sitting around the table listening to pointless "updates" with no required action or attached decisions. An $80,000 salary means about $40 an hour, plus about another $20 an hour in benefits. $60 for one hour for one person. Tossing the CEO in the mix dramatically ratchets up that cost.

But if your CEO never hears the options or sees the thought processes that go into narrowing them down and selecting one, it's no wonder she seems constantly in the dark. She is. And you're the one who's keeping her there.

27 June 2012

What I'm Reading

26 June 2012

Forget the Box! There is no Box!

How often do you hear the phrase: "think outside the box"?

I'm guessing the answer is: "way too damn much!" 

When did we decide that ideas are supposed to live in boxes?

(Well, OK, we can find the origin story, but that still doesn't answer the question.)

Or that ideas could be divided into "box" (aka "safe") ideas and "non-box" (aka "risky" or "wacky" or "dangerous") ideas?

What if we forgot about the stupid box entirely? What if there was no box to confine or exclude our ideas? What if there were just ideas, available to be evaluated on their own merits, not their relationship to some cliched box?

25 June 2012

Always the Last to Know: Readz

Does your association have a magazine or newsletter? Is it online? Is it just a boring plain HTML version of the printed stories? Readz wants to help you out, by making a multimedia rich version of your publications that looks gorgeous on tablets.

22 June 2012

Friday Top 5

It it H-O-T HOT out there. Sizzling hot. In the spirit of trying to be positive, the Top 5 Best Things About Blazing Hot Weather:
  1. I'm inside a lot, and my cat is happy of the company.
  2. Iced coffee tastes great and is faster to make in the morning than hot coffee.
  3. Nobody thinks it's weird if you want to have ice cream for dinner.
  4. I started my basil late this year, and it's totally caught up to where it should be.
  5. Great excuse to plow through those Netflix DVDs that have been sitting there for months while the weather was nice.
Remember to stay hydrated! (beer counts, right?)

21 June 2012

Non-Profit IT Staffing 411

NTEN recently released their annual Non-Profit IT Staffing report. The report itself is free, so if you do HR, IT or tech planning for your association, you should definitely go get it.

But that's not the cool part.

This is:

Does your association ever produce benchmarking reports? What ideas could you borrow from the fun and engaging way NTEN presented their information?

20 June 2012

What I'm Reading

  • Have too much to do? Answer: clarity.
  • Social media – less is more?
  • Deirdre Reid provides a great summary of the annual MGI membership survey report.
  • Simple, but not easy, ways to be a better leader.
  • A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a picture plus the right words is worth even more.
  • Branding success in three words.
  • Say it with me, kids: attention doesn't scale (someone please tell Mark Zuckerberg).
  • Facebook Page running out of steam? John Haydon can help you re-energize it (warning: the first thing he's going to tell you to do is FINALLY create that editorial calendar).
  • Information may WANT to be free, but IP messes are going to trip it up every time. (subscription required)
  • I'm currently reading Groove Interrupted, a book of essays by Keith Spera about the effects of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath on various New Orleans musical legends, which I picked up at Louisiana Music Factory on my recent trip.

19 June 2012

But What Do You Want Me To DO?

This may be the most important question you need to ask yourself when launching a marketing campaign. If you aren’t clear about the answer to “what do you want me to DO?” your campaign’s not ready for prime time.

You need to have ONE, CLEAR call to action.  Not three, not five - one. The Paradox of Choice tells us that if people are presented with too many options, they end paralyzed and unable to choose anything. But you need to have that one call to action. Otherwise, you have no campaign, and why are you bugging people in the first place?

Another common campaign planning flaw: you need to know what the next action you want people to take AFTER that is.

You are planning that your campaign will be at least somewhat successful, right? So at least some of your targets will actually take your desired action. Which means in their busy lives, they've chosen to engage with you. They've hopped onto the first rung of the ladder of engagement (a concept derived, as far as I can tell, from a 1969 paper on citizen participation).

What's the next rung?

You can't wait until your campaign is underway to figure that out. Attention spans are short, and there's always someone waiting to snatch that slice of focus you've earned for your association, profession, industry, or cause away from you. If you don't have a logical next step for people to take, one that deepens their relationship with you and further engages them  - but not too far, too fast (you don't want to jump straight from the first flirty text exchange to asking them to marry you) - they'll flit away to someone who does.

18 June 2012

Always the Last to Know: GoogleDrive

Just after I jump on the Dropbox bandwagon, Google comes out with this:

GoogleDrive: resistance is futile?All ur files iz ours.


15 June 2012

Friday Top 5

I was going through some old files recently, and stumbled on something I prepared for a friend's bridal shower. The couple didn't want stuff. They wanted tips and favorite things about the DMV. I provided my Top 5 Cheap Dates, which I'm now sharing with you:
  1. Wednesday Jazz Jam at HR 57 on H Street NE. Cover is $8 and you can BYOB if you like. You never know exactly who you’re going to see, but the house band is good, and whoever else shows up is gravy.
  2. Browsing Eastern Market on a Saturday morning, followed by brunch at Montmarte. This can get expensive if you happen to see some antique or piece of art you just HAVE to have, but if you focus on WINDOW shopping, you should be in good shape.
  3. Mini golf at the H Street Country Club. Play a round on the wackily DC-themed 9-hole indoor course for $7 a person. Cocktail servers come right to you, and the food is quite good and not expensive, should you be inclined to hang around to dine.
  4. Capital Fringe Fest. Every July, DC hosts a two week festival of fringe (aka unjuried) theater. Tickets for performances are $15 each, but you can buy fringe packs and get them cheaper (my favorite? 6 tickets you can use in any combination you want for $75). Some of what you see will be amazingly good, some of it will be amazingly weird, but either way, it’s a guaranteed good time. Tickets go on sale MONDAY.
  5. Dino, a fantastic Italian restaurant in Cleveland Park, has all sorts of specials all the time. They usually do restaurant week pricing for at least a month (January and August), they have wine specials many days, during happy hour there are generous free antipasto type snacks at the bar, they have free corkage days, they offer 3 course prix fixe meals every night, etc. 
Have fun AND save a few bucks.


14 June 2012

Clarity Is the Key

Thinking about putting together a marketing campaign? Not sure where to start?

You have a lot of options: the 4 P's, the 4 C's, market analysis, competitive landscape analysis, pricing strategies, making a list of your available assets, thinking about resources and budget...the mind reels.

Let me make a suggestion:

Clarity about your audience and goals → clear results. Start here.

Don’t know who you’re trying to reach or what you want to accomplish? Go back to the drawing board.

If you know your audience, what they need, and what you want them to do, everything else will follow.

13 June 2012

What I'm Reading

  • Jamie Notter writes about the difference between failure and mistakes, and why it's important.
  • Do you ever facilitate a meeting or conversation? Of course you do! Consider this your periodic reminder to check in on Jeffrey Cufaude's Facilitation Friday posts.
  • Jason Lauritsen urges us to unleash our personal magic.
  • Copyblogger on the ego, the heart, and writing great copy.
  • How do you know when it's time to let go
  • Re-reading Angela's Ashes and trying to finish up The Back of the Napkin in time for the Association Chat bookclub meeting tomorrow night. Will I see you there?

12 June 2012

Snow White & Risk Management

Fairy tales and risk management are not as disconnected as you might think.

Leslie White and I recently presented on this topic for the ASAE Finance, HR and Business Operations Conference. Leslie opened by introducing the main concepts behind risk management, then we led attendees in a simulation. Different characters in the story played different parts:
  • Snow White: the association
  • The Evil Queen: the threat
  • Doc: the Executive Director
  • Grumpy and Happy: Board members
  • Sleepy, Sneezy, Bashful, Dopey, and the Huntsman: staff members
  • The woodland creatures: members
  • The Mirror: the risk management consultant
Oh, and Prince Charming? Why, the Happily Ever After resolution, of course.

11 June 2012

Always the Last to Know: smartphone photography

Duh - I know how to take pictures with my smartphone (we all do), but I don't always take GOOD pictures with my smartphone. Fortunately, AM&P's got my back, with tips for taking great smartphone pictures and some bonus app recommendations.

08 June 2012

Friday Top 5

I've been going to New Orleans at least annually for the past 12 years, most recently for last week's vacation. You would think in all that time I'd have seen and done everything there was to see and do. Nope. My top 5 favorite NEW discoveries in the City That Care Forgot:
  1. Louisiana Bistro - Chef Mars offers "Feed Me," a tasting menu where you put yourself in his hands. All but ONE table ordered it while we were there, and he didn't repeat a single dish between tables. And the food was amazing.
  2. Bar Tonique- PX level hand crafted cocktails on North Rampart Street, and a bartender who rescues baby birds. Yeah, you right!
  3. Kermit Ruffins's Treme Speakeasy - Kermit cooks, his kids are the wait staff and bartenders, then he plays. Had my first raccoon.
  4. Sasha Masakowski - outrageously talented young modern jazz singer.
  5. Chegadou - Brazilian jazz band recommended by our fantastic waiter at Michael's on the Avenue, Alan. Great night at Rock-n-Bowl.
And a bonus 5
  1. Luke - John Besh restaurant, fab Sunday brunch (grits with poached eggs, softshell crabs and light-as-air whipped hollandaise).
  2. Ruby Slipper - CBD diner/breakfast & lunch joint that offers a pulled pork eggs Benedict. You read that right.
  3. Windsor Court - amazing jazz drummer Shannon Powell's new home. Also makes an aviation cocktail snowball that was so good, Jim's now trying to duplicate at home.
  4. Spa at the Ritz - aaahhhhhhh.
  5. Domenica - another Besh restaurant, more casual (cheaper), Italian, delicious food.
Need a New Orleans fix of your own? There's still time to join us Sunday at Wolf Trap for the annual Louisiana Swamp Romp. As usual, we'll on the far right of the lawn as you face the stage, as far down as we can get.

Image credit: me!

07 June 2012

MarComm Makeovers

Last one from MMCC, I promise, but I wanted to share the slides from the presentation I did with Layla Masri and Chris Durso.
For the session, Layla, Chris and I took on actual association work (a website, a publication, and a campaign) and showed how we, as marketing & communications professionals, would make them over to be more effective.

I'd definitely grab our handout, too - it's pretty useful.

06 June 2012

What I'm Reading

  • Getting something to go viral is hardly a lock, but you can increase your chances.
  • You know how email's for old people? Turns out Facebook is, too.
  • Acronym has recapped key takeaways from day 1 and day 2 of the recent Marketing, Membership and Communications Conference.
  • Shelly Alcorn brings us up to speed on for-benefit corporations.
  • What do your customers REALLY want?
  • Is your association ready for the coming demographic shift?
  • "We're open minded!" Fact or fiction?
  • How disruptive innovation can change your career.
  • Is Twitter better than Facebook for brands?
  • You want to REALLY change your workplace? Try talking instead of training.
  • Since I was on vacation last week, I read the two latest books in Barbara Hambly's Benjamin Janvier mystery series: Dead and Buried and The Shirt Off His Back. Being in New Orleans makes me crave books set in or about characters from the city. I'm also in the middle of Dan Roam's The Back of the Napkin in preparation for the next Association Chat bookclub meeting on June 14. You are going to join us, right?

05 June 2012

Carpe Annum

OK, this is a little self-serving, but the video of my very first IGNITE presentation is up and I wanted to share!

Curious about this year's resolution? Check out my Tumblr.

You can get all the MMCC IGNITE presentations at ASAE's YouTube channel.

04 June 2012

Always the Last to Know: Hack College

OK, this isn't strictly technology per se (or association management for that matter), but it IS pretty cool.

HackCollege is a student-led movement to change the collegiate learning experience, looking at how technology, particularly social media, can and should impact the way students learn and prepare for the future.

Or in their words, create Student 2.0.

Viva la revolucion!