31 May 2011

Imagine a Museum of Museums

It's been a while since I've posted a TED talk, and this is a particularly good one, about the creation of Google's Art Project:

27 May 2011

Friday Top 5

Although it's not officially the start of summer (that would be June 21), Memorial Day weekend marks the observed start of the summer season. I'll be staying in town this weekend - and thanks to all those who left and made the commute SOOOOO easy this morning - while looking forward to the coming of summer. My Top 5 Favorite Things About Summer:
  1. Awesome, delicious, fresh, local produce (CSA deliveries start next week!)
  2. Long evenings, leaving me plenty of time and energy to be out and about after work (I know I have the exact same number of hours after work before bedtime, winter or summer, but summer *feels* different, you know?)
  3. Outdoor summer music festivals (like Swamp Romp - not busy Sunday, June 5? Join us!)
  4. Getting to wear all my cute shoes, accompanied by cute pedicures
  5. Mint juleps, the Official Drink of Summer, Chez Engel
Image Credit: me! That's my back yard.

26 May 2011

Money, Money, Money, MO-NEY

I tend to believe that if the same topic or issue or idea or person or whatever keeps showing up in your life, you should probably snap to: something is trying to get your attention.

For me, lately, that's been the concept of non-dues revenue. I heard a good presentation on this, received an opportunity from an association colleague, presented on this topic myself (and will be doing so again in a week), had the chance to visit one of our non-dues revenue partners at their home office, and of course, this morning there was a Bisnow event on this issue (that I couldn't attend - anyone go? how was it?).

Here's the thing: as associations, we can get revenue from two places - our members, and people who aren't our members.

According to continuing research out of Decision to Join (none of which I can find now that I need it, of course, but updates appear in Associations Now all the time), members whose employers pay their dues remain likely to drop membership if their employer no longer pays. That can come as a result of employers cutting costs, or as a result of people losing their jobs - and with reported unemployment hovering around 9% and real unemployment probably more in the 20-25% range, that's a lot of people.

That leaves us all looking for alternative sources of revenue, both from an altruistic perspective (we want to burden our members as little as possible, while still providing products and services that meet their needs) and pure self-interest (you never want too much of your revenue coming from any one source - too risky).

That's where non-dues revenue comes in. But it's not all created equal. It comes down to a value calculation: is the amount of effort required, both from the association and the non-dues revenue partner, commensurate with the value everyone will receive? And "everyone" includes the association, its members, and the partner.

It's easy to be distracted by promises of lots of cash from something that has NOTHING to do with the purpose of your association. Or to make a bad calculation about how much time something is going to take, or how much revenue it's going to return. Or to try to squeeze a partner too hard. Or become myopically focused on the association's (revenue) needs and not think enough about what the nice partner who's giving you all that money needs.

But the best partnerships, the ones that endure and make everyone happy (as opposed to making everyone annoyed and pissed off), are the partnerships where everyone's needs are being met, not necessarily equally but certainly equivalently. Which is a great thing to remember when a vendor comes dangling a shiny new opportunity in front of you - or when you're doing it yourself for a potential corporate supporter.

Image credit: Mayor Sam's blog

25 May 2011

What I'm Reading

  • How to pretend to be a social media expert. HEE!
  • Association Media & Publishing has released their 2011 Excel Awards winners. NACHRI's on the list (yay, us!), so I'll be attending the awards dinner on June 1. See you there?
  • Simple tips for better presentations. I'll bet most of us do these as unconscious competents, but being a conscious competent is always better.
  • Under attack in the social space? Follow Intel's lead to a great response.
  • Now that business people have done such a bang-up job with Wall Street, the housing market, the banks, car companies, and the economy in general, they've set their sights on the non-profit world. This should go well (and thanks to my friend Vernon for the link). 
  • It's small staff association week on Acronym. Small staff organizations are my once and likely future location, so I appreciate keeping up with what's going on in that world.
  • Deirdre Reid has a report from her at-home retreat week. Like most things in life, it wasn't what she planned, and that turned out to be better.
  • Jeff Hurt calls out associations in "5 Reasons Why Your Association is Failing." Right on, man!
  • KiKi L'Italien has turned over her blog and Twitter stream to help with the rescue and recovery efforts in her hometown of Joplin, MO. Go visit to see what you can do.
  • Still picking up All in a Word from time to time, while also re-reading the delightfully creepy original Frankenstein on the Kindle. I also love the movie Young Frankenstein, being both a Mel Brooks fan and a fan of old horror/monster movies (fond memories of the fantastic post-Saturday Night Live TV show Saturday Night Dead when I was a teenager), and I had forgotten the many direct quotes from the book in that movie. LOVE!

24 May 2011

Here Comes Clay Shirky

Another entry in my irregular "What I highlighted and why while reading Here Comes Everybody" series.
The more ubiquitous and familiar a communications method is, the more real-time coordination can come to replace planning, and the less predictable group reactions become.

Shirky, chapter 7, page 175
If there are scarier words than "less predictable" to most associations, I'm not sure what they are. For many associations the phrase, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten" isn't a threat - it's a warm, snuggly, comforting promise.

Some of you may recall the brouhaha last August/September around the ASAE annual meeting and general dissatisfaction with a number of aspects of the meeting. Last year, we pretty much just kvetched. And hit the bar. And kvetched at the bar. But as more and more ASAE members get more and more comfortable with social tools, who knows? Rogue unconference sessions, anyone?

The thing is, I'm just using ASAE as an example, because it's something a lot of us are familiar with. It could be your association and your members and their dissatisfaction with your meeting, or your magazine, or your website, or your customer service (like I overheard at a local sandwich shop the other day: "The ice machine is broken." "Well, the fountain sodas are really cold." Yes, really.), and as they get more comfortable finding and talking to each other in real time, who knows what revolutions they might be fomenting?

That shouldn't scare you - it should excite you. If you're paying attention and listening and in the conversation yourself, who knows what kind of great new ideas you might discover? If, on the other hand, you want to stay in the safe world of always doing what you've always done...well, I guess someone has to be the last guy making buggy whips.

23 May 2011

Always the Last to Know: Wix

Another thing I learned about in my recent resume reading: Wix.com. It's a free tool that allows you to create a drag-n-drop Flash website/online portfolio. And apparently, it's the hip new way to share your online experience.

20 May 2011

Friday Top 5

I think (she says hopefully) we're nearing the end of the basement renovation project, and, as per usual with our contractor, right on time.

Spouse and I will be spending the weekend doing the painting (it's one of the jobs we always do ourselves in the interest of saving a little cash where we can), which kind of sucks, since the weather is going to be so nice here in DC, but it is what it is.

Top 5 Reasons I'm Looking Forward to the Basement Renovation Being Done:
  1. All 3 major services (water, gas, electric) will once again be on. All the time. Reliably.
  2. I'll be able to do laundry any time I want to, without having to check whether or not I can get to the W/D (the answer was "no" for the first 6 weeks of the project) and whether or not they're currently hooked up (the answer's been "no" for the past 2 weeks, and both times, it happened without warning).
  3. Not having to locate the cats every morning and lock them in the front part of the house before leaving for work = more time for reading the newspaper. 
  4. Separate guest room and, more importantly, guest bathroom. That will be nicer than my bathroom, at least for now.
  5. Five words: Philadelphia Eagles themed woman cave. Oh yeah - it's on! Football nirvana.

19 May 2011

Going Beyond Exhibiting

Presenting again, this time on taking corporate supporters to the next level (beyond exhibiting, natch), with Nicole Kukowski of Global Giving for the Association Foundation Group's 2011 National Conference.

No handouts this time, but slides are below:

18 May 2011

What I'm Reading

Lots of traveling again this week, so not much reading.
  • FB v. Google - it's getting ugly.
  • AmEx is on the cutting edge of cause marketing once again.
  • Could email be the key to social media success?
  • Loving Wonkette - how did I go this long living in DC without becoming addicted?  It's a mystery.
  • Someone had dropped off a paperback copy of Gap Creek in our break room. I read it on my trip to Dallas earlier this week. I know it was an Oprah book club selection, but I have to say, I didn't like it. I find men often don't do well writing female protagonists, and this one was no exception.
(Told you it's been busy...)

17 May 2011

Here Comes Clay Shirky

Another post in my irregular "What I highlighted and why while reading Here Comes Everybody" series.
Whenever you improve a group's ability to communicate internally, you change the things it is capable of. What the group does with that power is a separate question.

Shirky, chapter 7, page 171
You can use Facebook to bully someone to the point she tries to kill herself - or to help support your revolution. YouTube can give us The Pink Glove Dance, or "fat people getting hurt" (I'm not even going to link, because it's offensive on many levels). Twitter can help people get news and find each other after a major natural disaster, or help fans of bubble gum pop attack one of the most exciting young artists in contemporary jazz.

They're just tools, just like a hammer can build a school or break a window, and just like fire can keep you warm or burn your house down. And there's no more sense in blaming the tools for their misuse than there is in blaming the car for a hit-and-run.

What new things are your members capable of, now that they can talk to each other without you? What are you doing to facilitate and be involved in those conversations? What is your association doing to direct that power to the good?

16 May 2011

Always the Last to Know: Arduino

Ever wanted to build your own computer - or your own robot? Check out Arduino, a simple open source electronics hardware platform, and make with the inventing.

13 May 2011

Friday Top 5

So of course it's been beautiful all work week here in DC, and now that the weekend is upon us, it's raining.

Trying very hard to look on the (virtual) bright side here, Top 5 Things I Love About a Rainy Spring Weekend:
  1. Showers --> flowers
  2. Rain washes all the pollen off my car without having to pay for the car wash
  3. Everything looks so GREEN (bonus points if you get the movie reference)
  4. Barring dumping down rain, a walk in the rain in the spring can be lovely (again, gentle, warm rain is required)
  5. Gives me an excuse to putter around the house all day (which I love to do on occasion) 
What plans do you have on tap for this rainy weekend?

12 May 2011

Resume Tips for New Professionals

(Re-posting this since Blogger blew up last night and lost the post, taking me back to draft, so this version might be a little different.)

And good reminders for not-so-new professionals.

I've recently been reviewing resumes (a LOT of resumes) for a summer internship NACHRI is looking to fill, and I have some advice to offer as a result:

The MOST important thing? On the first pass, I'm looking for a reason to knock you out. Don't give me an easy one.

In addition:
  • Proofread.
  • If the ad calls for specific experience, make sure your resume talks about that specific experience.
  • Don't provide too much information. If you're still in college, you don't merit a 3 page resume. Really, you don't.
  • But don't provide too little, either. I got one resume that was gorgeous to look at - pretty font for the name, lots of white space, beautiful lay out. It included - I'm not kidding - 4 really minimal pieces of information. That's not enough to help me figure out whether or not you're worth talking to.
  • Pay attention to the job requirements - if you have to have a specific degree or certification, don't apply if you don't have it.
  • I know it's easier for YOU to just call your resume "Resume.doc" or even "NACHRI.doc." That's not easier for me. Call it "MyName-NACHRI-Resume.doc." See? Easy for both of us!
  • Don't list "Internet browsing" under your skills, tech or otherwise. Telling me you know how to surf the web is not going to dispose me to interview you. Five year olds know how to surf the web.
  • "Your job is perfect for ME ME ME!" Uh, no. It's about how are YOU going to help NACHRI, not how NACHRI is going to help YOU.
  • Don't use a "creative" (aka "illegible") type font. It doesn't show me what a special, unique flower you are. It shows me that you don't care if I can read your resume or not. 
  • Did I mention proofread? And not just for things like misspelled words. Don't write an objective that includes "looking for a job at XX" when you're sending the resume to "YY."
Amber Naslund has some good advice on this one, too.

What about you? What advice can you share to help new job seekers?

11 May 2011

What I'm Reading

  • Is sitting all day really bad for you? (You probably already know the answer, but Mashable explains why.)
  • Quora opens to brands - thoughts? opinions? end of the world as we know it?
  • Unlimited vacation - can it work in the real world? (Apparently yes, but I find it highly suspicious that people self-limit to less than what most employers would offer professional level staff these days.)
  • Forget marketing "impressions" - what about "expressions"?
  • Deirdre Reid is taking a week's retreat. It sounds wonderful and brilliant, I'm envious, and I'm wondering what I could do to make it happen for me.
  • Is the end of offshoring coming?
  • Is your association thinking about going mobile? Read this first.
  • In an effort to save money while we're in the midst of our basement renovation project, I'm doing a lot of re-reading lately. I re-read Julie & Julia over the weekend. If you've only seen the movie, although it's totally worth it just to see Meryl doing Julia, you haven't got a fair picture of Julie Powell. She's a lot funnier (and she swears like a sailor and drinks like a fish, which I can respect) than the Amy Adams whiny interpretation of her on film. I'm now re-reading Watership Down, which I haven't read since I was a teenager. Such a lovely book, even though my copy is literally falling apart. Of course, buying a new one would be counter to the whole austerity plan, so I'm keeping Scotch tape (and tissues) nearby.

10 May 2011

Awesome Fundraising Video

Is your organization willing to risk doing something edgy to be effective?

09 May 2011

Unassociated, the Sequel

I'm at Unassociated today. Hopefully, you are, too, in which case, be sure to say hi. If you missed this one, follow the happenings at Unassociated.org. I would assume there will be a hashtag...?

06 May 2011

It's All About Community: Resources

I'm presenting for the American Academy of Family Physicians at their Annual Leadership Forum today, so no Friday Top 5 this week. Instead, it's my usual "here are all the resources from my presentation" post.

Referenced in the actual presentation:
Social media policy resources:
Other good stuff:
Finally, the slides:

05 May 2011


No reason for this post other than I'm NOT at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival this year for a variety of reasons and for the first time in 6 years, and damn, do I miss it.

04 May 2011

What I'm Reading

Another slow week for reading - hey, I was too busy belly dancing, working through edits to the 2010-2011 NACHRI accomplishments brochure I drafted, attending GetWell Network's Get Connected users group meeting, and doing final preparations for my presentation later this week for the American Academy of Family Physicians Annual Leadership Forum.

03 May 2011

What Do You Belive In?

From a recent issue of Bisnow:
When you ask most people about their jobs, they tell you what they do and how they do it, but not why. "Why you do what you do is what makes people lean in closer," Mary [van de Wiel] says. For example, Duarte, a company which creates presentations for many high-profile speakers, describes itself on its website by saying, "We love whiteboards, sweet design, vegan cookies, bacon cheeseburgers, the afternoon regroup, and the 4 am idea. We believe in the power of a great story to move an audience and the power of an audience to change the world." It does not say Duarte is the leading PowerPoint design firm in the world. Mary says: "You get a sense of who these people are, and you say, 'Yes, I want to work with them.'"
What is your association's mission statement? Does it truly reflect what you believe in? Would it make anyone excited about joining your cause? If not, what can you do to change it to more truly reflect what's great about your organization?

02 May 2011

Always the Last to Know: Bo.lt

You've got the Grey Album. You're a master of Google Earth. Your dragon-style Final Cut fu is mighty. Are you ready to remix the web? Bo.lt lets you do it.