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Peer refresher.

How many times has a colleague's two cents worth helped you see a challenge in a new light? How many times has a call to a peer steered you to a solution you may not have otherwise found? How often has trolling an e-mail discussion list helped you look right smart when it really counted? And how many times has a trusted peer's empathetic ear or word of encouragement shored up your resolve in the face of a tough situation? I'll bet you are a better professional for your network of peers and mentors.

As I was fighting through the writer's block that preceded this column, I was fresh from two experiences that speak to the importance of networking and access to a strong community of resourceful people--a professional family, if you will--who will be there for you, whether it's education or encouragement that you need. The first experience was "Camp CESSE," the July annual meeting of the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives in Minneapolis. I was there to moderate the group's CEO panel discussion, which had as its theme "What Keeps You Awake at Night?" With four wise association CEOs providing the juice, meeting participants were treated to thoughtful and practical insights into some weighty topics--associations' relevance being one. Personally, I came away with a greater appreciation for some top staff executives' perspectives on key challenges and the priority they assign them (fodder for ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT content planning).

Moreover, I saw and heard an energetic speaker--psychologist, author, and Change Letter editor Janet Lapp--who in a most entertaining way teaches about leading change. Three quick Lapp-isms:

* Not knowing is the skill of the future.

* Everything you do affects everything you do.

* And, Cuando el caballo esta muerto, dejalo. (When the horse is dead, leave it.)

Finally, what is perhaps most germane to this peer networking train of thought is this observation: CESSE members, from those in the publications track to the CEOs, were sharing their challenges and solutions--and relishing the interchange. That's what it's all about.

The second experience came in Detroit, also in July, courtesy of the Diversity Executive Leadership Program and the DELP Reunion, all sponsored by the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. A primary focus of DELP, a scholarship program administered by ASAE in collaboration with allied societies of association executives, is increasing the inclusiveness of our profession. Yet what's really cool, and at the heart of the initiative, are the bonds developed and developing among the past and present DELP scholars. Across a weekend, I witnessed a recently certified CAE pledging her support to another during her quest to certify, more experienced "DELPs" giving their insights into professional challenges, and participants decreeing their responsibility not only to helping one another but to demonstrating to their organizations the value of involvement in the program and ASAE. I wager this network will serve its members well for years to come.

This issue of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT is all about planning and preparation: planning for crisis situations, planning for information technology acquisition and implementation, planning strategy and effecting change, setting and implementing plans to prevent fraud, preparing your association for liability risks. We have to plan and prepare (and remain flexible) for what lies ahead no matter the situation, predictable or unpredictable. It sure helps to have a resourceful community of peers, mentors, and others to help us along the way--whatever we're working on. Even this column is a testament to peer support. When I confessed the difficulty I was having starting this column, two of my colleagues showed me the connection I wasn't seeing between my recent travels and the thread that runs through this issue. And you know what? They were right.

Keith C Skillman

Editor in Chief
COPYRIGHT 2003 American Society of Association Executives
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Title Annotation:Preview
Author:Skillman, Keith C.
Publication:Association Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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