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"The Association Executive's Little Instruction Book."

Take advantage of 45 pieces of practical advice.

There is a terrific book out--one of those "stuff you knew all along, but now I'm putting in writing" things--called Life's Little Instruction Book, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. This is a compendium of "511 suggestions, observations, and reminders on how to live a happy and rewarding life" that a father put together for his college-bound son, with adages such as "Compliment three people every day," and "Never cut what can be untied."

It's a nice little book that costs about six bucks. While all 511 statements can be read in about 20 minutes, they contain a lifetime of good advice, much pertaining to practical management. But because there is no specific reference to association management, and because so many association managers pay attention only to that which affects them directly, I thought I would fill the void. Herewith, then, is "The Association Executive's Little Instruction Book" (actually an article now, perhaps a book later).

1. Compliment three people every day.

2. Write out an extensive orientation and training program for all new hires and spend a lot of your personal time with them.

3. Attend important conferences and conventions.

4. Avoid like the plague the unimportant conferences and conventions, and learn how to tell the difference.

5. Every year, learn to do something new--such as WordPerfect or total quality management--pertaining to your job.

6. Look for and ask for good ideas from your peers; you're not in this business alone.

7. Read other association newsletters.


9. Join ASAE and attend all the meetings you can.

10. Join your allied society and become a leader.

11. Learn how to give a decent speech--every time.

12. Never ask a member who makes less than you do to be on the personnel review committee.

13. Invite your staff over to your house.

14. Have a private lunch or dinner with every member of your board at least once a year.

15. Read Fortune magazine.

16. Go to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institutes for Organization Management--send your staff.

17. Support an elected official who supports your industry, and work hard for his or her election (other than giving money).

18. Teach your staff why more often than you teach them how.

19. Be creative. Set aside time every day or every week to consider how to do things differently.

20. Learn how to make a classy introduction at the podium or at a party.

21. Celebrate your accomplishments; then quickly get on about the business of doing more and doing better.

22. Take the lowest person on your payroll to a ball game.

23. Always respond to the press, particularly when you're in the right and have been offended or maligned.

24. Never discuss your salary with anyone except your spouse or accountant (and sometimes not even with them).

25. Look for ways to make your members feel important, even if they might not deserve it.

26. Always give more credit than you take.

27. Never take advantage of your expense account--even a little. The minuscule gain is never worth the exposure.

28. Likewise, never take more vacation time than you're entitled to.

29. Award your staff with bonuses for a job well done. Everyone appreciates a small gratuity now and then.

30. Have a really sharp business card, either engraved or embossed. It's often your only leave-behind.

31. Never wear light-colored suits when you want to be seen as a leader.

32. Never wear wrinkled clothes no matter what.

33. Look people in the eye when you talk to them, and touch people on the arm when you want their undivided attention.

34. Learn how to tell a really good story (not a joke) so well that people will ask for it time and again.

35. Make your chief elected officer feel like a king or queen during his or her entire term.

36. Have a suggestion box and look into it regularly, making sure your staff know you take their ideas seriously.

37. Brighten up your office. Add plants, art, light, drapes, and good furniture.

38. Don't be a scrooge on holidays. Give everyone two days off at the winter holidays and New Year's even if it's not a written policy. (They'll appreciate your generosity and probably won't accomplish much anyway if you make them work.)

39. Don't rely too much on committees, particularly the search committee.

40. Be a mentor to someone.

41. Learn how to make a great toast.

42. Always return from a conference or convention with at least one good idea you can immediately and visibly put into action.

43. Don't place too much value in membership surveys. They seldom will tell you what you want or what is really happening.

44. Be glad you're in association management. If your college plans had worked out, you might have gone down with Michael Milken.

45. Never cut what can be untied.

Jerry Vorpahl is president of Leadership Conferences, Inc., San Francisco, a strategic planning and management training company for nonprofit associations and professional organizations. This article appeared in its original form in the August 1992 CSAE Update, published by the California Society of Association Executives, Sacramento, and is reprinted with permission.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Vorpahl, Jerry
Publication:Association Management
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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