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ASAE'S annual: Aloha and Mahalo, Hawaii.

The hours in airplanes were worth it for the 4,090 people who attended ASAE's annual meeting August 23-26 in Honolulu. Meeting participants, 1,563 of whom were association executives (89 percent of those, decision makers for their associations), engaged in a satisfying mix of educational programming (more than 100 sessions), networking and idea exchange, trade show trolling (540 exhibits, 425 exhibiting companies), and entertainment (including a concluding concert by Kool and the Gang).

Enlightening education. Attendees found plenty to chew on during the convention's educational sessions. Among the highlights were the general session speakers. James Bradley, son of Iwo Jima flag raiser John Bradley and the author of the best-selling book Flags of Our Fathers (2000, Bantam Book), urged the audience to "consider doing the impossible in our professional and personal lives." Bradley, whose book is based on his research around the lives of the five Iwo Jima flag raisers, pointed out that the Pacific survivors he has interviewed all said that the difference in survival was attitude. "Examine the impossibilities in your lives," he urged. "Write them down. Maybe the difference between accomplishing it or not is in how you look at it."

Harvard Business School professor and author Rosabeth Moss Kanter focused her remarks on the characteristics of winning and losing teams (both in athletics and in business). Teams with the longest losing streaks, her research shows, are characterized by widespread denial that sets a negative cycle in motion.

However, "there's more communication on winning teams about almost anything," said Kanter. "CEOs are more likely to admit they don't have all the answers. They engage more people in a grand vision and let people make it happen. You get change by inspiring people to dialogue." In short, according to Kanter, winning teams take active initiative. "We can't control everything, but we can always find small things that will make a difference."

Another educational highlight: Meetings and Expositions Days, a sort of conference within a conference targeted to senior-level meetings professionals and association executives focusing on meetings, showcased, among numerous educational programs, keynoters Scott Bedbury, the brand strategist behind Nike's "Just Do It" campaign and the Starbuck's reinvention of the coffee category, and Chip Bell, whose consulting practice focuses on building a culture that supports customer loyalty.

Among the gems in Bedbury's presentation: "Great brands learn from all their mistakes." This was particularly true at Nike, he said, where people were expected to make mistakes in the name of innovation. Equally expected, though, was that you and the company learn from them.

Bell told the audience that people will be devoted to organizations that know who they are and express it through their positive actions. "Craft processes through your customers' eyes," he urged. "Sometimes things make sense when you're looking at them from the inside out, but they don't make sense from the outside in. The customers are looking at things from the outside in."

New day for ASAE. ASAE leaders counted the meeting an overall success that the association will build upon. ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV noted that attendance exceeded earlier projections of some 3,000 people, with attendees contributing approximately $11 million to the local economy during their stays. Red Cavaney, CAE, 2002-2003 chairman, marked the Hawaii meeting as "the beginning of a transformation" of ASAE to a vastly more customer-focused organization.

Barbara Belmont, CAE, ASAE's current chairman, vowed to continue the momentum, with emphasis on evolving ASAE's focus on critical issues in association management, assessing and evaluating value propositions for all member segments, and looking at ASAE relationships with allied societies of association executives and ASAE sections and committees (task forces for which Belmont has already formed).

Foundation notes. Also during the meeting, the ASAE Foundation debuted its new book, From Scan to Plan: Integrating Trends Into the Strategy Making Process. The foundation's Silent Auction brought in $242,000 in contributions, including $130,000 for the convention center rental donated by the Boston Convention Center.

RELATED ARTICLE: ASAE Board takes action.

A good portion of the August 22 ASAE Board of Directors meeting as well as a full-day session on August 23 focused on the work of the ASAE Planning Committee. Determined to develop and refine a short list of strategic issues and learn to leverage the ASAE Foundation's Scan to Plan research findings, the board has committed to focus ASAE on the critical needs of the association management profession by identifying and prioritizing strategic issues that will then be tied to the organization's programs and budget. The November board retreat will focus exclusively on the work conducted by the Planning Committee since the August board meeting. Other actions taken by the board:

* Formed an Allied Societies Task Group composed of executives from various societies of association executives, ASAE board members, and ASAE staff. The group will define the future relationship between the societies and ASAE.

* Approved the ASAE Standards of Conduct for association professionals as proposed by the Ethics Committee.

* Accepted the Association Lobbyist Guidelines after making changes to the first paragraph.
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Title Annotation:American Society of Association Executives conference; Headlines
Publication:Association Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2003
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