Connections - Summer 2016 - (Page 29)
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,
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
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Connections - Summer 2016
Message from the Chair
GSAE News & Events
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