Connections - Summer 2016 - (Page 29)

> choices Beyond Mentoring I'M NOT BIG on formal "mentor" programs (I've never seen one that really worked well), but I am big on my mentor, Wayne Gross, CAE (Ret.). Perhaps mentoring programs are hard to pull off because good mentors are hard to come by. He was one of them. As is often the case, I'm on the plane writing this, and Wayne is out there somewhere in the clouds, and we still have conversations. Don't be alarmed-old conversations are replayed or morphed into new ones where he gives me sage advice, especially when I'm on the way to a board meeting. "Always be honest and straightforward, but assume the board members talk to each other frequently and off the record," Wayne said. "Each of them has their own agenda, and it's your job to make sure there's an overarching agenda that fits as many of their individual agendas as possible. You have to find the common cause which gets to a higher level," he told me. Wayne and I traveled the world together several times. From China to Ecuador, Russia to Italy, we shared planes and cabs, water taxis and streetcars. What we shared most though is what could only be described as a conversation elevator. Our talks would go from granular detail to looming strategy; he had a way of making sure every detail was lined up to a purpose. He would read Romanov history on our way to Russia; this was a man who wanted to understand everything. "Make sure there is a tradition behind the board gifts and the board dinner. Build a formal evening they look forward to; they have a right to some pride in their profession, and you take pride in reinforcing theirs," he said. Wayne had wanted to be in the military, but he lost the tips of several fingers working a construction job, and it disqualified him. It's too bad, for he would have been a fine commander of troops. He admired the fact that I had been a military officer and that I knew how to say "yes sir" and just get it done at the right time-sometimes just in time, for debate can only go on for so long. I lamented to him that I had mixed results-more bad than good-in hiring several millennials. So far, only one, a young lady from a small Southern town, has passed the test. "They've been raised to think they get a trophy just for coming to practice," Wayne said. "You've got to spell it out to them in no uncertain terms that they do A or B will happen, and then let B happen if A does not. They're smart, they'll learn. Probably not all on your watch, but they'll know when they get to the next guy's shop. Maybe, that's it. Pick those that have already learned the lesson." Sometimes Wayne would talk of his own failures and lessons learned. The industry we were working in at that time BY JOHN P. HARRISON, CAE, CMP collapsed, and did so drastically. What happens to the industry soon happens to the industry's association, and the association went from over 100 employees down to 20-something. Wayne had persevered and resized the association, but not at a pace quite fast enough for some on the board hungry for his job. "Don't let your big picture plan be just in your head," he said. "Let them know. Communicate two things: Where you think the association is heading in terms of staffing and resources, and that it's their association, not yours. They've got to know that you believe that deeply. I told them where we were headed, but I didn't give them a timeline fast enough. It's easy to keep strategy to yourself sometimes. Don't. Share the highlights." I told Wayne of my current association and our new-found success built primarily on events- using a fundamental business model I had learned from Wayne. I also told him of other associations in the space now trying to emulate our model to survive. "Be there first, be there best. Don't get infatuated with so-called win-wins unless they are a clear winner for your group and for the industry. Stake out your territory and keep it. The pie can only be sliced so small or eventually no one eats. Be wary of any trade-in-kinds that are hard to valuate. If you've got the money, straightforward Continued on page 30 connections > 29

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Connections - Summer 2016

Message from the Chair
GSAE News & Events
New Members
Keeping Up with Technology
Achieve More by Connecting the Dots for Your Association
5 Ways to Meet Virtually
How to Enhance Your Events with Mobile Games
Overtime Rule Released: How Associations Can Prepare
The Humor Rules for Business Presenters: How to Be Funny, Not Offensive
ATHvengers Assembled at the GSAE Annual Meeting
GSAE’s July Luncheon: Photos
Meetings Thought Leadership
Destination: The Emerald Coast
Choices: Beyond Mentoring
Index of Advertisers

Connections - Summer 2016