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Six reasons working for an AMC is different from working for a stand-alone association

fist bump

For over four years I worked for a stand-alone international medical association. It was a great group of people and volunteers and I enjoyed it very much. However, the association was growing and evolving and with a small staff of only five full time employees serving 3,000 members, our project capacity became limited.  The board eventually hired an AMC when the executive director retired. This was my first foray into the magic of association management companies.  

Boredom is never an option. There are always new projects and challenges. Never the same old same old. 

Expertise with industry best practices. Run into a jam?  There is a very high probability that an AMC has been confronted with this issue before and can easily navigate leadership in the right direction. They have seen and done it all before.

Technology and innovation. With a large staff working on multiple clients, AMCs are tech savvy because they must be. They are organized and up-to-date on the latest and greatest to benefit the needs of all clients and keep projects streamlined and efficient.

Negotiating. AMCs have more buying power, period. If one client needs a service, it is likely that a second or third will as well. Multiple contracts equal quality discounts.

Networking. AMCs have a lot of connections. They’ve worked with several vendors over the years planning meetings all over the country and beyond. They know everyone everywhere! 

Flexibility. The beauty of AMCs is customization. They are extremely adaptable to clients’ requests and can pivot as necessary to accomplish goals with as many team members on deck as necessary. Anything is possible!

I have learned so much already from my colleagues and am proud to be a part of the AMPED team!

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When you wear many hats

hats


In just about every job I’ve ever had, I’ve been considered a “Jill of All Trades." Perhaps it’s because I’m not great at saying no. Or maybe it’s that I missed my calling as a circus juggler. For whatever reason, handling tasks of varying nature has always sort of been my “thing."

It can be tough to find an appropriate position when your skillset can be best described as “pretty good at a bunch of things, but not necessarily an expert in any of them.” Luckily in an AMC setting there are always tasks that fall into the we-have-somebody-that-handles-this-but-that-person-is-really-busy category, and I’m always incredibly happy to handle those miscellaneous tasks because I’m just that person. The following are a few of the traits that lend to being a successful assistant:

1. Accessibility – I subscribe to all of the inter-office messaging technology, rarely have my phone (equipped with work email notifications) out of sight, and can’t stand when I have unopened mail in my boxes. Thus, I’m probably going to see your request rather quickly and do my best to either help you, or let you know I’m not able so that you can seek out another resource.

2. Communication – By default, I speak way more than is necessary. So if you’re waiting to hear from me on a project, well…you probably aren’t waiting to hear from me, actually. I’ve likely updated you about six times to let you know where I’m at and approximately when I’ll be done.

3. Flexibility – Some days I’m printing, prepping and mailing out hundreds of membership invoices. Some days I’m planning taco parties for a board meeting. Office supply runs on my way into the office? Totally fine. Again, “NO” isn’t at the top of my vocabulary list. I like to be flexible and helpful.

4. Resourcefulness – I’m notorious for taking the “long route” when driving. Not because I like to be in the car for long periods of time, but because I’ll do anything to avoid stop-and-go traffic. The same applies to my work style. If I know a solution is within reach, and a deadline isn’t approaching too rapidly, I’ll use all of the resources available to me, even if that means taking longer to find what I’m looking for. More often than not, I’ll learn something useful along the way. (To be fair I will sometimes also use the interoffice messaging to get a super quick answer – colleagues are always the best resources!)

5. Positivity – Of course I have my bad days, but by and large I’m a glass half-full gal. If my tasks seem unmanageable, it’s in my nature to not succumb to the pressure. Even if I have to seek additional resources, I know I can get it done. Sometimes a negative attitude is the single detail that prevents a project from a successful completion. When the pressure is applied, a positive attitude truly goes a long way.

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Approach the new year with childlike courage and curiosity

adultitis

I’m 24 years old and I’ve been diagnosed with stage two Adultitis. According to the test, I’ve been experiencing very high levels of stress and have difficulty laughing. Alas, this fanciful diagnosis, unrecognized by the Center for Disease Control, originates from www.adultitis.org, a website designed by the Wisconsin Association of Executive Directors’ 2017 Summit speaker and founder of Escape Adulthood, Jason Kotecki.

Jason describes himself as “a professional reminder-er and permission granter.” A Madison local, he believes that “a life that embraces a childlike spirit is a life that is less stressful and way more fun.” At this past year’s WSAE Summit, he spoke on breaking away from nonsensical rules that we follow “because we’ve always done it that way,” and instead embracing childlike courage and curiosity. His book, Penguins Don’t Fly: +39 Other Rules That Don't Exist, expands on those ideas, and his playful writing style and illustrations reflect his carefree philosophy. Jason’s humor and personal anecdotes help bind together a collection of small truths used to revive the young at heart.

While Adultitis may be fictional, the diagnosis is all too real, and seems to be common among adults, especially around the holiday season. As 2017 drew to an end, and impending deadlines closed in at work, I took comfort in reflecting on Jason’s closing talk at the Summit, Curing Adultitis: Your Prescription for Less Stress and More Success, and other little wisdoms found in Penguins Can't Fly.

Jason writes, “The purpose of this book is not to tell you how to live your life. It’s to make you more mindful of the choices you make…My goal is to help you open your eyes to the way you think and the actions you take. I want you to question. Investigate. Experiment. Poke. Prod. Play.”

Is that not the definition of innovation: investigate, experiment, poke, and prod? Innovation, at its core, is used to improve; but how can we innovate if we’re stuck in autopilot, working without much thought or any real meaning? That’s how we fall prey to Adultitis. As Jason references, the opposite of success is not failure, but instead doing nothing.

Ultimately, something’s got to give. If you’re suffering from Adultitis, nothing’s going to change unless you do. As we prepare personal and professional goals for this new year, let us focus on mindfulness. Children constantly question, “why?” If you don’t have a good answer as for “why,” it’s time to innovate. Be curious and take courage in trying something new. Like children, live in the moment and make every day meaningful.

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The Hitchhikers Guide to the CAE: Part 2

CAE brochure

So, you’ve committed to taking the CAE. Congrats! [Reality: Insert state of panic here!] Now direct your attention to the CAE Exam Content Outline and this guide. Seven steps stand between you and the designation. Here I offer for you a deconstruction of these “simple seven,” presented in reality from my experience.

Step 1: Review each competency statement. [Reality: A foreshadowing of the content that will be on your mind and in your nightmare dreams until exam day.] 

The composition of the CAE exam is supported by research on job tasks and knowledge needed by association executives. You can learn about that research here. Fundamentally, the CAE exam content is organized into nine domains, which are further ordered into 159 essential association management competencies. Plan to set aside a good amount of time to read these [Reality: I spent 2 hours.] because . . .

Step 2: Rate your confidence on each competency as “high, medium, or low.” [Reality: “I know this and could teach it,” “I pretend to know this and hope no one calls me out,” and “No clue what this means, is it really on the test?!”]

Here’s where I plug the value of the CAE Study Guide, which has a nice worksheet of the domains and a rating area to identify your confidence in this self-assessment (see Section 1: Getting Started, pages 11-24). After reading each statement carefully, take your time to really think about what it means and mark an honest assessment of your current understanding. After going through this once, I went back a second time, adjusting several to a lower confidence level. Be careful about making overly generous assumptions about your on-the-job experience. It may serve you well to initially underestimate your expertise and then discover through your studies that you actually know more.

Step 3: Note related professional development you have completed in the past five years. [Reality: Wish you’d actually been tracking this over the past five years.]

Here’s a puzzle: How many people does it take to help you track and validate the 100 hours for your CAE application? Answer: 10 or more. One, your association friend who trick-encouraged you to apply in the first place, to seek advice on where to start. Two, your nerdy MS Excel colleague who shares their tracking spreadsheet with you. Three, your brilliant co-worker who suggests who you look through your calendar over the past five years to identify webinars and programs you attended. Four, your secretary who actually looks through your calendar and catalogues these for you [Reality: If you’re that fortunate]. Five, your contact at ASAE who shares that your member profile contains a historical listing of all education through ASAE (see www.asaecenter.org > Login > My Account > Education History > Mind blown). [Reality: Why didn’t I know this already existed?!] Six and beyond, the ASAE Approved Providers that will be inevitably re-sending you the “course completion certificates” to validate how many hours your coursework acquired [Reality: I took courses with 15 different providers.]

Step 4: Develop a plan to strengthen areas of lower confidence and complete professional development requirements. [Reality: Find a way to squeeze in 20 more hours before the deadline to ensure you meet the 100-hour minimum.]

So you’ve tracked your hours, and perhaps you are short a few, or courses you took are not actually applicable for credit (converse to what you initially thought). Don’t panic. Now’s a great time to sign up for a quick webinar, attend a one-day training program, or work with a mentor to meet the requirements. Also, I suggest you go back to Step 2 and review your weaknesses; these are the areas in which you’ll want to dedicate the majority of your study time.

Step 5: Complete all requirements before submitting an application. [Reality: By now you should be eligible, or know when you will become eligible.]

Find a list of the eligibility requirements here. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to read through the several pages on ASAE regarding the CAE. So much valuable content here!

Step 6: Plan to submit an application three months before you sit for the exam. [Reality: Put “submit application” on calendar two weeks before deadline. Calendar notification arrives, you laugh at your ambitions. Eventually and frantically submit at the last minute; 5 p.m. on deadline.]

Here’s where you need to know that the application review period is lengthy, and you’ll need to allow time to be approved and allowed to sit for the exam. You’ll likely check your email every day periodically to see if you’ve been approved. Give it time, you’ll be notified.

Step 7: Mark your calendar. The CAE Exam is given on the first Friday in May and the first Friday in December. [Reality: Countdown until this day arrives and the exam is over.]

This will be a day of excitement, nerves, and most importantly, celebration! Because regardless of whether you pass the exam or not, you’ll enjoy that this is behind you, and you can return to your regularly scheduled life. Good luck!

Note: This is the second of a two-part blog on preparing for the CAE exam. Read the first one here.

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Best of downtown Madison, according to AMPED

best of Madison

There are plenty of perks to an office located at the tip of one of Madison’s most vibrant streets: lively entertainment (some professional, some, well…not), fantastic scenery, and more food and drink options that you could ever imagine. Mathematically speaking, Madison no longer holds the title for most restaurants per capita in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that we are lacking in that department by any means. And we’re incredibly fortunate that many of the most spectacular spots in town are conveniently located just steps away from our office doors.

While we love to entertain our AMPED clients and boards at various places, I thought I’d take a moment to find out what we, the people of AMPED, like best in the heart of this sweet city we call home.

FOOD CART – Good Food
Specializing in freshly made, low-carb, (mostly) gluten and grain-free salads, wraps, and soups, Good Food was the landslide winner in this category. You can expect to wait in line upwards of 15 minutes to simply place your lunch order, even on the coldest of Wisconsin winter days. But it seems like everyone can agree that it’s well worth the wait, as Good Food has been repeatedly voted best food cart, not only by AMPED, but by the entire city.

COFFEE – Starbucks at MLK & Main
Coffee plays a pretty significant role in our day-to-day lives at AMPED and some of us can be rather particular when it comes to our daily cup(s) of joe. Some of us exclusively drink it iced, all year long, while others opt for steaming hot or change it up based on the weather. Some like to patronize the local shops, while others go for the consistency (and rewards) offered by the chains. That said, even with another nearby Starbucks in the category, this location reigned supreme. Special shout out to barista Greg, who can even distinguish our Emilys.

QUICK LUNCH – Ian’s Pizza
Maybe it’s the delightful smell of pizza dough tantalizing your nostrils as you walk by each morning, or maybe it’s the laid-back attitude of each Ian’s employee making you feel at home as you walk in the door, but Ian’s has a way of reeling you in, no matter how many times you tell yourself you won’t eat at Ian’s again this week. The really cool thing about Ian’s, is that if you have any willpower at all, you totally don’t have to eat pizza. You can instead opt for one of their salads, or even build your own. Some might even say it’s better than the pizza. That some would not include me.

HAPPY HOUR – The Old Fashioned
It shall remain a mystery whether this was voted the favorite due to the iconic namesake drink, or the divine fried cheese curds (with Tiger sauce, please!), but if you visit the Old Fashioned and leave without sampling both, you’re doing yourself a great disservice.

AFTER WORK OUTING – Concerts On the Square
Affectionately nicknamed COTS, this event is the one that most AMPED employees can always seem to fit into their schedules – even those who work remotely! What’s not to love about a balmy, mid-summer Wednesday night on the Capitol lawn, wining and dining with colleagues (and their families!) you’re happy to call friends?


And because my AMPED colleagues unanimously felt that a category was missing, I had to add one more:

BEST DONUTS – IT’S A TIE!
A Madison staple since 1996, Greenbush Bakery still has what it takes to go neck-and-neck with new kid on the donut block, Dough Baby. It’s always a good day when someone brings Greenbush donuts to share but who can resist a walk to the girl-powered, coconut oil-fried, monthly rotating menu fierceness of Dough Baby?!

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The Hitchhikers Guide to the CAE: Part 1

Christina w Cert

Get in your time machine and go back two years. Imagine you’re at a dinner with ten peers and an accomplished C-Suite Exec. The food is delicious and the conversation is stimulating. Then someone mentions that they are pursuing their CAE. There is a grand pause. EVERYONE around the table nods their heads in agreement and admiration. For the first-time this evening you feel like an outsider. You have no idea what “CAE” is, but you nod your head too, not wanting appear misinformed, praying no one calls you out. Before long you learn that several others have obtained their CAE, including the C-Suite Exec. Words like “domains,” “LERP,” and “SPIE” spill out in conversation . . . Geez, more acronyms! Curious, you go home that night and look it up: The Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential through the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). Hmmm, sounds intimating.

This is how I first learned about the CAE, maybe you have a similar story? What I did next was most important. Three things stand out as I look back and map out my journey.

1. Ask around
The CAE was foreign to me. I asked a lot of my peers and mentors what it was all about, and why it was worth pursuing. What were their journeys like? At what stage in their career did they take the exam? Did they study? I got mixed responses, but one thing resounded clear: everyone’s journey was unique and personal. Mine was too.

2. Meeting the requirements
I spent a lot of time on ASAE’s CAE webpage. I had already met some CAE eligibility requirements, but did I have enough qualifying professional development activities to meet the 100 hours? To find out, I began meticulously cataloguing my hours in a spreadsheet. I found eligible hours in a variety of places: I looked through my ASAE profile (Login>My Account>Education History). I scanned through my work calendar from the past three years. I searched through my email for “CAE.” And I contacted both ASAE and the organizations that hosted programs to confirm those that were applicable. Sounds like a lot of work, and I’ll admit it was.

I was surprised to find out I had already accumulated 80 hours. Getting the final 20 was fairly easy: I signed up for free webinars.* It’s amazing how many free webinars are out there once you start looking. It doesn’t have to explicitly offer CAE credits to be applicable, programs that touch on any of the nine knowledge domains could count too. You can even count up to 10 CAE hours through mentoring and coaching, like I did.

3. Committing to take the exam
Next biggest decision: to take the exam in December or May? It’s only offered twice a year, and through my chats with peers, everyone encouraged me to take it when the content was fresh in my mind. Since my plan was to include three months of rigorous studying pre-exam, the decision on which month to take it was crucial. What three months were best for me to invest studying time? Were there any conflicts with the exam dates (maybe a work conference or board meeting already scheduled?).

Fast forward and it’s now six months out from the time I would take the exam. Now it’s November, and I was pregnant with my second and due New Year’s Eve. For me I was either committing to taking the exam the following May (studying during maternity leave and a potential job transition) or choosing to wait until the following December (several months down the road, when I’d have two young kids running around). Yeah, I chose May. The nail in the coffin was when a wise woman told me that she studied while going through a massive renovation on her home. Literally, no running water. If she was successful at that time, then I could be too.

If you take anything from this article, know that the CAE is only as daunting as you allow it to be. Smart time invested in learning about the process and other’s experiences can be time well spent. Stay tuned for part 2 of this article, in which I share my study plan and exam prep process.

Congrats to those who have decided to pursue their CAE, and good luck as you begin the adventure!

*Free webinars can be found at ASAE’s upcoming events page, the Wild Apricot blog with a listing of monthly free webinars, Collaborate events page, and the CAE Candidate community.

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The ROI of attending industry events

Czosek at association meeting cropped

I recently had the privilege of attending an event, Disruption + Innovation: The Future Association Landscape, put on by .orgCommunity’s “Association 4.0 Think Tank.” The event gave me an opportunity to participate in excellent educational sessions, make wonderful new connections and catch up with long-time Chicago-area association friends.

Do you ever return to the office after attending an event like this, see all of the email that has piled up, and wonder if the time away from the office was worth it? I do. So I always take time to think about what I learned and how I can apply it. I evaluate whether attendance was a good use of my association’s resources, time and money and what I might have accomplished if I’d stayed in the office.

How do I know if an event was time well spent? Here are some quick questions I ask myself and how they played out for this particular event.

  • While at the event, do I feel inspired? Do I jot down notes? Do I collect tangible tools or information I can use to benefit the members of the associations I manage?
    I took way too many notes and had several ideas for potential articles and conference topics. I thought of a new product offering and how I could make it happen.
  • Do I make 3-5 new contacts who can help my clients?
    The answer on this one is a definite yes. I confirmed two presenters for an upcoming client event, approached a third individual for another and secured an author for a magazine article.
  • Are existing relationships strengthened?
    Another yes. I caught up with two people I’ve known over 25 years. As an added bonus, a number of members from the Wisconsin Society of Association Executives (an AMPED client) were present.
  • Am I intrigued enough by a topic to do additional research when I return to the office?
    Let’s just say that I spent a little time one evening reading and ruminating on CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list — a list of companies they say have the ability to upend multi-billion dollar industries. I thought about how those companies could impact the association industry, the hospitality industry and the industries represented by my client associations. Powerful stuff!
  • Do I share my experience with others?
    You bet! This one was an excellent experience and worth discussing.

By evaluating the answers to these questions, I determined that the “Association 4.0 Think Tank” event was definitely a wise use of my resources!

What was your return on investment of time and resources spent at your latest event? Do you have additional ways to evaluate whether your attendance was a good use of your time? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

 

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The handshake: An art form many fail to grasp

michaelangelo gif

 

Handshaking is an art that many of us, even some of our highest ranking officials, have not mastered. The truth is the simple act of shaking hands is anything but simple.

A proper handshake is critical to making a good first impression, particularly in business settings. While some etiquette rules have eased in recent years, my 1990 copy of Emily Post on Business Etiquette and the Emily Post Institute’s current advice for are remarkably similar. Here are some tips from the etiquette experts:

When meeting someone or greeting an acquaintance after a period of time, it’s appropriate for either person to extend their hand first. In the United States and most European countries, “Your handshake should be relaxed but firm (never limp), and you should look the other person in the eyes, smile and say, ‘I am very pleased to meet you’ or give another cordial greeting. Do not hold on to the other person’s hand or pump his or her arm,” writes Emily Post.

The “relaxed but firm” instruction seems to be particularly tricky. People who wear rings or have arthritis can recall a handshake painful enough to make them want to run screaming from the room. If in doubt, connect in the web between the thumb and forefinger, gradually clasp the other person’s hand and attempt to gauge their comfort.

On the other hand, a limp handshake or extending only the fingers and not connecting web to web gives the impression of weakness or passivity – not how you want to be perceived in either work or social situations.

What about the excessive arm pumping we’ve been seeing in the news? Even if you’re posing for a photo, the range of motion need not be more than two or three inches. In addition, twisting the other person’s arm or pulling them toward you is unnecessary and possibly offensive, as this could be taken as a sign of aggression.

Your left hand has a part to play, as well. Watch two powerful people shake hands and note how often the person who is (or who wishes to be) higher ranking, will reach up with the left hand and touch the shoulder or pat the arm of the other person. You will never watch political debates again without noticing this little dance at the beginning and end, when candidates traditionally shake hands. If in doubt about your rank, leave your left hand at your side.

Feeling under the weather? Some people have substituted a handshake with a fist bump, usually reserved for social situations. You can extend your fist and say something like, “I’m recovering from a cold.” Better yet, skip all contact, apologize and say you would rather be safe than sorry about passing along a virus. People will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Finally, what about hugging and kissing when greeting a business colleague? That’s subject for another blog. In the meantime, check out Beyond the Handshake: Hugs and the Social Kiss from the Emily Post Institute.

Embedded within the physical act of handshaking are subtle expectations involving rank, age, gender, nationality and degree of familiarity. Study the art of handshaking and you will be well on your way to making a great first impression.

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The first thing(s) I noticed about AMPED (and you will too)

buddy

When you take a new position at a new organization, you’re always filled with mixed emotions. You’re excited for the new opportunities and challenges that await, and, at the same time, maybe just a little unsure of making the change from your previous position. The fear of the unknown has a way of constantly reminding you that you’re only human. Anyone who has ever started a new job can attest to feeling so many mixed emotions that you’re not quite sure of how you truly feel for the first few days.

I was no different when I made the switch earlier this week from a position with Omnipress, a great organization in the association industry, to AMPED Association Management, an emerging leader in the association management industry. I was fortunate to have an existing relationship with many of AMPED’s great staff, but, admittedly, there was still some of that nervousness of making a big career change.

Here I sit at the end of just my second day with the organization, and I couldn’t be happier. How was the team here able to welcome someone so quickly and make him feel at home?

Teamwork: The very first meeting I was a part of here at AMPED was a weekly team meeting of the entire staff. Everyone welcomed me with a big smile and got right to work. We went around the room and shared the three main things that each person was working on. Before the first few people were finished, several others had raised their hands and volunteered to help with their projects. Now remember, these are people who already have full plates, voluntarily offering help to fellow coworkers in order to get the job done correctly and on-time. Incredible!

Pride: One of the greatest things I’ve witnessed is the bottomless pride that everyone takes in their work. In the world of association management companies, it’s all about representing the client associations and making them look good. I quickly noticed the pride that AMPED takes in making this happen. For AMPED, it’s more than “client work.” It’s our work. We don’t represent your association. We are your association.

Good People: This one sounds like something a new employee at any company would say, but there’s a distinct difference when it comes to our staff. Each and every person who works here, full or part-time, is a genuinely good person. They care about each other, their clients and the industry as a whole, and truly want to make everyone around them better. When’s the last time you were able to say every person you work with on a daily basis is truly a good person?

Do you want to know the best part of the good people who work here? They’re all incredibly talented! Each has his or her own area of expertise that contributes to the overall skill-set of the staff. Not any single person is more important -- or treated that way -- than the other. It truly is a team atmosphere of some of the best people you’ll meet.

While these are just a few reasons I feel at home here, they’re also why associations choose to work with AMPED in the first place, and continue to do so year after year. If you or your association has ever considered a partnership with AMPED, I strongly suggest you give our team the chance to make you feel at home, as well. I have no doubt that you’ll quickly see why the AMPED team is different in the most positive way possible.

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American Heart Month: Do you know the risks and signs of heart attack and stroke?

Go Red 2017 cropped
In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed February as American Heart Month — a federally designated month to help remind us to take care of our heart so we can continue to enjoy all of life’s precious moments. It’s a month to encourage us to get educated and get involved. By knowing your risk factors and learning the signs of heart attack and stroke, you may save a life — possibly yours!

Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association’s movement dedicated to the growing number of women affected by heart disease and stroke aimed at advocating for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health.

Male or female, consider the following:

  • 44 million women in the U.S. alone are estimated to be affected by cardiovascular diseases
  • Cardiovascular disease and stroke lead to 1 in 3 deaths annually — the number one killer of both men and women
  • 90% of women have 1 or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke
  • Fewer women than men will survive their first heart attack
  • Symptoms can be different in women vs. men
  • Heart disease and stroke know no age, ethnicity or socioeconomic levels, though some are more at risk than others.
  • 80% of heart disease and stroke events may be prevented by lifestyle changes and education
  • More and more young people are affected by heart disease, in part because diabetes and childhood obesity are on the rise. Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least 2 risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

KNOW THE RISK FACTORS

Risk factors that can be managed
You can control or treat these risk factors with lifestyle changes and your healthcare provider's help:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Lack of regular activity
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Diabetes

Risk factors you can't control
You can't change these risk factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Heredity (family health history)
  • Race
  • Previous stroke or heart attack


KNOW THE SIGNS

Heart Attack
For men and women, the most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It may last more than a few minutes, or may come and go. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the following symptoms:

  1. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  2. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  3. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Bottom line: trust your gut! If you aren’t feeling normal or experiencing any of the symptoms above, head to the ER!

Stroke
A stroke occurs when blood flow through an artery to the brain is cut off either by a blockage or because the artery ruptures and bleeds into the brain tissue

The American Stroke Association developed this easy-to-remember guide to help identify the signs of a stroke.

F – Face drooping. Is one side of the person’s face drooping or numb? When he or she smiles, is the smile uneven?
A – Arm weakness. Is the person experiencing weakness or numbness in one arm? Have the person raise both arms, Does one of the arms drift downward?
S – Speech difficulty. Is the person’s speech suddenly slurred or hard to understand? Is he or she unable to speak? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he or she repeat it back?
T – Time to call 9-1-1. If any of these symptoms are present, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Check the time so you can report when the symptoms began.

Getting treatment within the first three hours after stroke onset is critical for minimizing permanent damage.

BEYOND F.A.S.T. – Other Symptoms You Should Know

  • Sudden NUMBNESS or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden CONFUSION, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden TROUBLE SEEING in one or both eyes
  • Sudden TROUBLE WALKING, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden SEVERE HEADACHE with no known cause

There are risk factors for heart disease and stroke that you can control through healthy lifestyle, and others such as family history that you cannot. It is important to know that not all heart attacks and strokes come with obvious warning signs so there is no substitution for routine, preventative health care.

 

On a personal note . . .
My husband, at the age of 52 suffered a massive stroke. By all accounts he ate healthy and exercised vigorously 4-5 times per week. He had no unhealthy habits to speak of. However, hypertension, family history, and ignoring regular physical check-ups outweighed his odds of a major-medical emergency. Two days prior to the stroke he experienced intense headache – a warning sign we were both unaware of. Thankfully, recognizing changes in speech and seeking immediate help saved his life, thus allowing our family to preserve and create many more precious memories.

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Occupational hazard: Fives ways to keep moving at work

Caple health

It happens all the time, especially in the meeting/event planning world, your day does not go as planned. A meeting ran late, a new meeting was called, a snowstorm hit, a project needed more attention. Being stuck at work…it happens. Whether it’s having to put in long hours, or just a schedule that doesn’t allow gym time on weekdays, you can still squeeze in exercise—no matter where you are.

This topic is top of mind as I am currently participating in a research study through University of Wisconsin Health to reduce my sitting time and incorporate more movement throughout the day. According to research by UW Health, sedentary behaviors (typically in the context of sitting) have emerged as a new focus for research on physical activity and health. When you sit for extended periods, electrical activity in the leg muscles shut off, calorie burning rate drops, enzymes that help break down fat drop, good cholesterol HDL drops, and the levels of metabolic energy expenditures is greatly reduced. Incorporating periodic movement throughout your workday has numerous benefits such as:

  • Improved blood pressure
  • Improved glucose and insulin levels
  • Improved metabolism
  • Improved digestion
  • Reduces stiffness in legs and joints
  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers
  • Improved mental concentration and energy levels

Here are some ideas to easily incorporate baseline movement into your workday. They can be done all at once, or spaced throughout the day to keep you moving until quitting bell time.

Lower body
Chair leg lifts
Sit with your back flat against a chair and your right leg stretched straight out with your foot flexed. Lift and lower your right leg, concentrating on the quadriceps muscle to do the lifting. Since you’ll only be using your body weight, try between 15-20 repetitions, then switch to the left leg. Rest and repeat two more times. Repeat the exercise with your flexed foot facing out, concentrating on your inner thigh.

Chair squats and rear leg lifts
Stand behind a chair with your chest lifted, shoulder back, feet straight ahead and hands on the back of the chair. Squat down, as if you were sitting down in a chair, keeping your head straight and making sure not to roll your shoulders forward. Stand back up pushing through your heels. Do 15 repetitions. Then try single rear leg lifts. Stand in the same position, flex your right foot leg straight and lift to the back. Do 15 reps and repeat with the left leg. Take a 30-second break and start again with chair squats. If time allows, complete three rounds.

Upper body
Arm circles
While they may seem like an old-school exercise, arm circles work! Sit straight in a chair with your back flat against the chair and arms out to the side. With your palms facing down, circle your arms forward making small circles. Try to circle for 30 seconds, then take a short rest and repeat in reverse.

Water bottle curls and kickbacks
Again, sit straight up in your chair. Grab one or two full water bottles (if you only have one, do single-arm exercises; if you have two, work both arms at the same time). To exercise your biceps, hold the bottles with your arms straight down and palms facing out; curl your arms up just past 90 degrees, hold for a squeeze and then lower your arms. Do 15 repetitions, rest and repeat. For a triceps workout, hold the bottles with your palms facing inward and elbows up; extend your arms back. Do 15 reps, rest and repeat.

Just stand
During the day, remember to get up from your desk at least once an hour and just move around. Incorporate strategies to encourage movement such as standing during your phone calls, taking an extra lap around the office when filling your water bottle, taking the stairs whenever possible or exploring adjustable works stations.

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The Power of Associations: Help spread the Word

power of a logo jpeg

Every day when I go to work, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have stumbled (like most association management professionals) into a career that I love! Working with my clients gives me a front row seat to view how associations allow people to truly connect around a shared interest.

I’ve worked in the association industry for longer than I’m going to mention in this blog, and I’m constantly amazed at the “Power of A” – the term used by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) to show the reach and impact that associations have on people, the economy, legislation and more.

As an association professional, it’s important to know the impact that associations have and the importance of groups like the ones we serve.

A few of my favorite association statistics from ASAE include:

  • The IRS recognized 66,985 trade and professional associations in 2013.
  • During the 2013 fiscal year, there were 1,524 new applications for 501(c)(6) status.
  • Membership organizations of all types employed more than 1.3 million in 2013.
  • Membership organizations generated payroll of nearly $51 billion in 2013.
  • Associations represent a major piece of the meetings and conventions industry in the U.S., supporting nearly 1.8 million jobs and accounting for $280 billion in direct spending by attendees.

Those are some pretty impressive numbers!

What’s even more impressive is the power associations have to connect people who are engaged in a common business or career, share a mutual interest or are brought together for the good of a mission-driven organization. There’s incredible power in creating a community where we’re supportive of each other and share our knowledge so that everyone has a better chance for success.

I’m excited about the future of associations and encourage you to spread the word about “The Power of A." Your members should know the impact they have on our world! For more information on our collective impact and help spreading the word, some excellent resources are available at http://www.thepowerofa.org/.

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Entering the world of association management: A millennial’s perspective

Miller on Abe

There’s a graduation tradition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to walk up its grand hill, climb up the statue of Abraham Lincoln and whisper your hopes and dreams into his ear. Why there’s a statue of Abe on Wisconsin’s campus and why it’s turned into a lucky charm is beside the point; what matters, is that that moment – sitting on top of the hill, on top of the world – is the moment for Wisco grads, to bask in all their glory and look out onto their bright, metaphorical future. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to feel…

In my experience, climbing up to ten-foot tall Abe was kind of a disaster. All I could think was, “Dear God, don’t let me fall.” I’d graduated with a double-major in History and Communication Arts-Radio, TV and Film, and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Here I was at the top, with a clear and open path ahead, and I couldn’t see my future at all –“don’t fall; don’t misstep; don’t fail.”

Do I sound like a liberal-arts, millennial cliché? Perhaps. But I consider that feeling of fear not just as a millennial moment, but a very human one. Whether it’s a “quarter-life crisis” or “mid-life crisis” – you can call it whatever you like — leaving behind one life stage/lifestyle and starting anew is overwhelming, and it’s not just specific to my generation.

Think back on your first job and feeling that moment of uncertainty. In my case, I walked into the world of association management completely blind. I didn’t know such a field even existed before my interview, and honestly, I still struggle to describe exactly what I do to my parents. Unsure of pretty much everything, I questioned the most basic things, like whether to use “reply” or “reply all” in emails or if I used the correct ratio of coffee to water in the coffee pot.

They say that millennials are more invested in their work environment than their actual work, and to a certain extent, I couldn’t agree more. But, it’s not the space that creates the environment, it’s the people who fill that space. I knew I had found a good office when my coworkers’ faith in me helped to regain faith in myself.

At AMPED, I’m surrounded by “people” people who encourage me to take those steps, and missteps down the uncertain road to success. As someone who has been working for just three months, I know that I will undoubtedly take those missteps and sometimes fall (let’s face it, I have yet to master the coffee/water ratio). But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that you don’t need to rely on one big moment to get you to where you want to go –it’s the series of those missteps that force you to readjust and set you in the right direction.

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Tips for avoiding the office illness

Hopefully this is just a little refresher course, but in case you're not sure how to best prevent falling victim to whatever's "going around," read on!

im sick

Don't share. As much as your coworkers might feel like family, it's probably best to keep the food sharing to a minimum during cold and flu season. As an alternative, you can offer individually-packaged serving sizes or a sanitary way to dole out the goods.

Sanitize. Sharing an office means sharing supplies, appliances, restrooms, common areas, etc. Do your part to keep these spaces clean by using antibacterial wipes or sprays after each use when you're sick, and otherwise daily to keep germs at bay. There are so many options on the market these days, including natural, plant-based products that promote overall wellness without the use of harsh chemicals.

Alternate meeting methods. If you're scheduled for a one-on-one with a coworker but you're ill, opt for a conference call to avoid sharing too many germs.

Vitamin C. While studies don't show significant evidence that Vitamin C actually prevents colds, it is said to help cold symptoms disappear more quickly. Rather than chugging sugar-laden orange juice once you're already sick (not-so-fun fact: the bacteria that makes us sick thrives on that sugar!), add some extra Vitamin C-filled foods to your diet during cold and flu season. Think brightly colored foods like kale, peppers, Brussels sprouts, and of course, oranges. Supplements like Emergen-C and Airborne can't hurt either!

Sneeze into your arm if you don't have a tissue nearby.

Stay hydrated.

Work from home if you must.

WASH. YOUR. HANDS.

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So much to learn: Tips for gaining association know-how

embracing elearning

“There is a first time for everything,” as the saying goes and my career in association management has yielded many examples of this. I have always enjoyed the wide variety of tasks and responsibilities involved in this work because there is always something new to learn. However, I’ll admit the prospect of facing anything new can make me a little anxious. Given that this was not a career I planned for while I was in school (my degrees are in political science and political management) virtually everything about association management has been a new experience at one point or another. This has meant a lot of learning on the job. Luckily over my 10+ years in this field I have been able to figure out some strategies that make taking on a new experience a little less intimidating.

Go back to school. Ok, maybe not literally but there have been many instances when I have sought out some extra educational resources to help me better understand something new. I have found this especially useful in cases where I am required to learn a new program or skill. For example, once, early in my career, I was asked to learn html coding to help design and maintain a basic website. Having no background in this kind of work I did a little research and found a great online course. It was comprised of six weekly sessions and some “homework” that I could complete based on my schedule. I walked away with a much better understanding and enough knowledge to get started. A more common occurrence is the need to learn new software or web programs. A habit I’ve gotten into is checking out the program’s online help/training component. These types of resources usually prove very beneficial as I’m initially learning how to navigate the program and later if more in depth assistance is required.

Ask someone. Working in association management means I have the privilege of working with some very amazing people! Over the years I have worked alongside attorneys, journalists, economists and graphic designers. Basically I’m surrounded by people with an amazing variety of backgrounds and skills. My colleagues are always eager to offer guidance or advice. It’s an incredible pool of knowledge! In addition to colleagues I find online forums to be helpful. Even if I’m not submitting a question myself, a quick search often yields answers to my exact inquiry.

Be confident. Learning anything, whether new skills or about a new project, can be daunting but it is possible! No matter the assignment I’m facing, I have confidence in my ability to learn new skills and to effectively apply these new skills to achieve a successful result. Taking time for some training, research or collaboration can go a long way toward making a new program or project more manageable and a successful outcome easier to achieve.

My career in association management has certainly been a series of “firsts” and these are just a few of my strategies for managing them. How about you? Any tips or tricks for handling the many new experiences and assignments we face as association management professionals?

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8 Ideas for easing your stress, naturally

chocolate

STRESS! We know it all too well. We all experience it on a daily basis at work, at home, and everywhere we go. In the AMC business, many are preparing for the busy meeting season along with site visits for future events which can mean lots of travel and deadlines. Stress, in manageable doses, can actually provide the needed motivation and energy needed to survive these seasons. So…stress in and of itself is not the enemy. Our reaction to it, however, is key!

Author Andrew Bernstein said “The truth is that stress doesn’t come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about your circumstances.”

Before, I offer a few ideas on stress reduction, I must provide the disclaimer that I have in no way mastered a state of total inner peace! As one of the newest members of the AMPED team, this is my first ever blog post, which in and of itself has generated a considerable spike in cortisol levels and therefore qualifies me to speak on the topic — right?! Actually I have had a long-time passion for natural health solutions and organic, clean eating.

First a little chemistry. Stress is, in part, the result of heightened levels of cortisol. What is cortisol? DrAxe.com offers the following explanation:

“The adrenal gland, following signals from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, is responsible for the secretion of cortisol, a type of essential glucocorticoid steroid hormone. Cortisol levels are highest in the morning around 7 a.m. and lowest at night (called a diurnal rhythm). Cortisol is also present in both chronically stressed individuals and those who are perfectly healthy. This vital hormone possesses dozens of different purposes within the body and makes numerous chemical interactions every single day.”

In fact, we depend on cortisol production in order to respond to our surroundings, stay motivated, and to stay awake. However, overproduction can lead to “brain fog”, mood swings, and fatigue and insomnia-just to name a few. Chronic, long-term elevated levels of cortisol can lead to high blood pressure, compromised immune system and a whole host of diseases. Okay, enough about cortisol for now.

Natural solutions to help curb everyday stress are numerous so I will simply mention a few I have incorporated or whose effectiveness I have closely witnessed on someone else.

1. Exercise - Most of us have experienced the positive mental effects and energy boost from regular, moderate exercise. Just a caution that the risks of overtraining are as great as doing no exercise at all.

2. Acupuncture - Can help reduce symptoms like pain, insomnia, headaches.

3. Essential Oils - Breathing in lavender, ylang ylang, bergamot, and frankincense, for instance, can effectively help with sleep, cortisol reduction, balance hormone levels and improve immunity.

4. Deep breathing exercises.

5. Humor - Laughter is, of course, the best medicine. According to the Mayo Clinic, it enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

6. The great outdoors - Simply getting out in the natural world around us and unplugging can promote relaxation. Also, a daily dose of unfiltered sunshine hitting our skin creates a reaction that allows our skin cells to manufacture vitamin D. The growing list of diseases and conditions linked to vitamin D deficiencies warrants further investigation of specific sun exposure guidelines recommended for your skin type and where you live. Regardless, it is well documented that light therapy boosts immunity and mood, thus reducing stress.

7. Sleep - Adequate and quality sleep allow the body’s cortisol levels to naturally drop in the evening and rise again in the morning giving us energy. Those with chronically high stress will likely experience the opposite by being “wired” at night and fatigued all day.

8. Adaptogenic herbs and superfoods - They have the ability to help balance blood pressure and blood sugar levels which in turn help lower fatigue and provide a natural antidepressant.

One superfood we almost all love is Cocoa. Yes, CHOCOLATE, for example, has been used for thousands of years to promote better overall health. Keep in mind, choosing dark, minimally processed chocolate will yield the maximum benefit. (This of course goes for all food — choosing unprocessed or minimally processed fresh, organic, seasonal, grass-fed meats, and wild caught fish whenever possible will give your body the proper nourishment to combat stress.)

Avocado is another superfood that has gained popularity for good reason. It is a healthy fat, containing 20 essential nutrients including fiber, potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins, and folic acid. It acts as a natural hormone balancer which helps protect the heart and improve mood. Whether you love avocado or you avoid it, give the following recipe for Chocolate Avocado Spread a try and you just might change your mind! (recipe-courtesy of erikaelizabethnutrition.com).

There you have it! A few of my favorite ideas to consider as you approach the busy meeting/travel season! Lastly, credits to some of my favorite sources in natural health: JJ Virgin, Dr. Axe, holistic nutritionist Erika Peterson, Dr. Mercola and many more that influence the choices I make.

What’s one of your go-to stress reduction tips?

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Running a successful association: It takes a village

brydgesteam

 

As in most things, running an association successfully takes a village of committed, talented people who listen, trust each other, and lean on each other for support. It’s important to check in with your team to make sure that the village continues to run efficiently, effectively, and collaboratively to ensure success.

Here are some good ways to make sure your team is successful and your village is strong:

1. Have an understanding of how you’re going to be with one another when times get tough. Running associations and meetings is full of fast-paced activities and doesn’t always come without problems. Having an understanding of how you’re going to treat one another and react to problems together when the tough stuff hits, will help you get through smoothly to the other side.

2. Good communication is key. Being able to effectively communicate with one another can make or break your team. Clear communication ensures that everyone is on the same page which is essential and will help to mitigate any problems that may arise.

3. Allow people to get excited about their projects and “own” them. Essentially, don’t micromanage. We all have our unique strengths, it’s important to allow people to let those strengths shine. When people are excited about the work that they do and can really “own” it, the work is better and the team is better.

4. Make sure everyone can be heard. Does each person on your team feel that they have a voice? That they can assert their opinion and have that opinion really taken into consideration? Do people feel like they can ask questions? Making sure that everyone on the team has a voice is important for collaboration and trust. It can also lead to exciting new ideas or foster a different way of thinking.

5. Listen to understand, not respond. This is one of my favorite Stephen Covey “habits.” Are you solely listening so that you can jump on a response right away or are you really understanding where your team is coming from and the way they understand things to be? Ask good questions to make sure you are understanding, not just responding.

6. Spend time with one another. Away from the office. Get to know each other on a personal level and have fun with one another. This will certainly help in listening to understand, building better communication, and increases the trust you have in one another.

7. Learn from the mistakes and celebrate the successes. We certainly try to be mistake-free, but, they are bound to happen. Be sure that you’re utilizing mistakes as learning opportunities and work as a team to come up with ways to “do it better” next time. In the same vein, identify ways that successes can be replicated in other areas, and make sure to celebrate even the smallest win!

Ensure your village is healthy and strong by checking in with your team regularly on these things. Ensure there is effective communication and that everyone is collaborating together to achieve a common goal.

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Six ways your association can rock the labor shortage

gig economy

Every day in the United States, 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65, a trend that will continue until 2029, when the last boomers reach the traditional age of retirement. This mass exodus from the work force is already creating a vacuum of skills and experience. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that replacing retiring Baby Boomers is one of the key challenges facing HR professionals.

Despite the demographic facts, few organizations have planned for how to retain and accommodate an aging workforce, according to the SHRM report, The New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages. Most employers are taking a wait-and-see approach to labor and skills shortages.

This demographic phenomenon presents associations with an opportunity to step up with solutions. How? By offering education, benefits and networking opportunities that support older employees who want to remain active participants in the work force.

Here are six ideas for how your association can serve older members, based on my experience as a boomer who counts herself among the many who expect to work well past 65.

Technical skills training. Everyone knows how quickly technology changes, but many employers continue to hold onto the notion that older workers can’t learn new technology. This is a generation that went off to college with manual typewriters and slide rules; we have a demonstrated ability to adapt. What training can you offer to help all of your members learn new technical skills?

Industry knowledge. Sure, we’ve “been there, done that,” but we still need to stay current in trends and developments in our field. Is your association the go-to source for developments in your industry? Are you ahead of the curve in reporting industry news? In addition to offering original content, do you help members sift through the avalanche in their in box by curating information from other sources?

Flexibility. Many older workers work part time or on a contract basis. Some choose to work in the “gig economy” because they want more control over their schedules or they are away part of the year. Others are caring for grandchildren or aging parents (or both). Or, part-time or freelance work may be the only gig they can find. How can your association offer these members the flexibility they need?

Affordability. Because employers can be reluctant to invest in the professional development of aging employees or contract workers, your older members are more likely to be paying their own membership dues and registration fees. What are some ways you can offer affordable opportunities to participate in your organization? Can you offer a membership category for part-time employees or freelancers? How about meeting for breakfast or happy hour instead of hosting more costly dinners?

Networking opportunities. If you’re part of the gig economy, you’re always looking for the next job. Members of all ages want opportunities to network that involve more than a business card exchange. How can your association help members make meaningful connections and showcase their expertise? When you’re looking for a guest blogger or workshop presenter, consider inviting older members.

Camaraderie. One of the reasons people continue to work past retirement age is the sense of belonging that comes with the workplace. Associations are ideally suited to offer members the social benefits of working together for a purpose. What are some innovative ways your association can involve members who have “graduated” from board and committee service but still want to be a part of the group?

While much has been written about recruiting and retaining younger members, I encourage you to consider how you can engage older members. In the end, we participate in associations for the same reasons younger members do – professional development, social interaction and a commitment to a common goal. Rock on!

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A day in the life of an AMC staff member

wiseman w mug II

Each week you read on our blog how we all “wear many hats!” While this is the case for many association professionals, I feel that it is particularly true for AMCs like AMPED. Between the various needs of our different clients, some days we can be all over the place! I thought it might be fun to document one whole day at work to get an idea of the wide variety of tasks we tackle. It would have been hard to capture it all, but I did my best. Enjoy!

7:25 a.m. — Kiss dog and husband goodbye. Yes, in that order.

7:25:10 a.m. — One more kiss for the dog - she’s so cute. Off to the office!

7:43 a.m. — Pass by my usual drive-through Starbucks. Running a bit late. Decide I can make it without caffeine today.

7:56 a.m. — Arrive at office. Spend a few minutes reviewing each of my in-boxes (six total). Respond to messages that have quick answers and prioritize my day.

8:00 a.m. — Laugh at self for thinking I could survive without caffeine. Grab a coworker and head to Starbucks. We are both named Emily and we both get iced coffee. That really throws the baristas off.

8:05 a.m. — “The other Emily” and I use the walk back from Starbucks to discuss a knowledge-sharing session my colleagues had yesterday that I missed due to a call with a potential member. I give her a heads-up that I need her help pulling a specific set of abstracts from a recent client meeting to add to the client website.

8:30 a.m. — Recurring calendar reminder: time to update a client’s member list in email marketing service site. This particular client has rolling membership renewals, so their member list is constantly changing. They use this service to send out weekly e-newsletters and upcoming webinar invitations, so it is vital that it is consistently up-to-date.

8:45 a.m. — Lynda will be in the office today. Write up a quick list of items to discuss with her, including an upcoming client Board meeting.

8:53 a.m. — Follow up with emails from members for a particular client regarding their membership directory listing. Make changes to the database if required.

9:30 a.m. — Come across a voicemail from last night for a client member who wants to renew their membership. The message is a bit hard to understand, so I spend a few minutes searching the database for partial phone numbers and names to see if I can figure out who this is.

9:35 a.m. — Find the company name and confirm the phone number. Review my notes from the renewal workbook. Oh, awesome! This was a company that previously told me they weren’t planning to renew their membership. My follow-ups had worked! *Pats self on the back*

9:36 a.m. — Pick up the phone to dial the member.

9:36:15 a.m. — Realize the company is in California, where it is only 7:36 a.m. Ugh. *Hang up phone and create myself a calendar reminder for 11a.m. to give them a call back.*

9:45 a.m. — Calendar reminder pops up to write AMPED blog. Already on that! *dismiss*

9:56 a.m. — Pop over to “the other Emily’s” office for her to show me how to find those abstracts. Turns out to be super simple. Spend the time originally dedicated to writing my blog to updating the client website. Web updates for this particular client aren’t typically in my job description, but I work closely with the volunteer leader who inquired about it and I know the person that would normally take care of this has a lot on her plate, so I don’t mind at all. (Reason #536 I love working at AMPED – we all do this sort of thing for each other.)

10:20 a.m. — Microsoft Word crashes. Luckily, both documents I had been working on saved.

10:25 a.m. — Website updates complete. It bothers me that previous entries on the page are inconsistent. Spend time cleaning up the format and notify volunteer leader that the page has been updated. Notice that one portion is completely missing. I assume the client will want it added in, so I send an email to a colleague to find missing info.

10:30 a.m. — Three email campaigns were scheduled to go out today to notify various groups for one of our clients about an upcoming webinar. Watch notification emails as they come in to make sure everything seems right. Notification emails end up in my clutter inbox. Give clutter a quick once-over to make sure there is nothing important.

10:33 a.m. — Review inboxes and respond where necessary. One question required a bit of research, so I spend a couple minutes searching through documentation for an answer. Not finding what I need. Send an email to the person who will have the answer.

10:41 a.m. — Office manager, Trisha, comes in to let me know that she ordered a Graze Box trial for the office. *Yay! We love snacks.* Speaking of snacks…

10:42 a.m. — Grab snack from fridge.

10:47 a.m. — Tony pops over to discuss a potential member for one of our clients and come up with a quick plan to keep them engaged.

10:54 a.m. — Jeanne asks me about award order for client Board member. Shoot. Should have filed original email in ”waiting for response” folder. Send reminder email to Executive Director to select the award.

10:56 a.m. — Process new member application and send email with invoice and payment instructions.

11:12 a.m. — Realize reminder had popped up to call member in CA from earlier. Dial number, but learn that contact is only in office on Monday and Friday. Get email address from secretary and send follow-up. Create reminder for me to follow up on Friday. Respond to other emails while in Outlook.

11:47 a.m. — Process continuing education reimbursement application for a client member. Members receive up to $50 reimbursement every two years, so I first check to make sure this particular member qualifies.

11:52 a.m. — *HR hat on.* Discuss staffing plans now that two of our interns are gone for the summer.

12:00 p.m. — Only halfway through the day? Hope people are still reading! Discuss onboarding/orientation plan for new volunteer leaders with outside Executive Director for one of our clients.

12:05 p.m. — Help Tony and Brittany prepare for meeting with a client partner member. Discuss 2017 sponsorship package, including membership, conference registration, marketing support, etc.

12:20 p.m. — Quick walk around the Square. Stop at local cheese shop to put together Wisconsin-themed gift basket for aforementioned partner member meeting. *These are the really rough parts of association management.*

12:40 p.m. — Catch up on emails while eating lunch. I normally try to eat outside on nice days like this, but I’m taking the afternoon off on Friday and want to keep things moving.

12:55 p.m. — Calendar reminder for member database training with new Latin America staff person for one of our clients. Pull up documentation, database and screen sharing software. Quickly finish lunch.

1:00 p.m. — Give high level overview of membership database to new Latin America staff. Thankfully I have all of the most common database procedures documented. Our cloud server allows me to share the documentation via a web link to ensure that our Latin American staff always has the most current version of the document.

2:15 p.m. — Reach out to account manager for VoIP service to follow up on a new phone order and inquire about headsets for some staff that share offices.

2:21 p.m. — Update membership and staff reports for upcoming client Board meeting. I’ve already had various staff members update their areas, so I just need to finalize my sections.

2:30 p.m. — Does it bother you when you ask someone two questions in an email and they only respond to one?

2:46 p.m. — Provide updated membership numbers to finance manager so she can update budget forecast for client.

2:48 p.m. — Receive answer to question from 10:33 a.m. Pass along response to member and quickly respond to other emails while in Outlook.

2:52 p.m. — The new member application I processed this morning has made payment online. Complete processing membership and send welcome kit.

2:55 p.m. — There’s someone with a megaphone yelling outside my window. It’s always something . . .

2:58 p.m. — Review graphic and member listing for publication in a client’s magazine. Doing so reminds me of some web updates to make. Create reminder to do so once I receive answers to a couple questions.

3:13 p.m. — Follow up with a few new client members for their logos and text for their listing on the website.

3:18 p.m. — *IT Person hat on.* Boot up former employee’s laptop to look for document. Not able to find it. Deliver bad news to colleague.

3:28 p.m. — Yep! I was right – the client asked about that missing portion of the website from 10:25 a.m. Good thing I’m already on it.

3:31 p.m. — *All hats on.* Catch up with Lynda: potential clients, potential employees, upcoming client Board meetings, client financials, life.

4:32 p.m. — Review inboxes. Someone requested a list from a recent client meeting, so I repurpose one that I already have rather than starting from scratch.

4:40 p.m. — I won’t get to a larger project that I had planned to work on this afternoon, so I move it to tomorrow’s calendar. One of our clients is implementing a complete Association Management System to replace several independent systems (event management, email marketing, abstract management, etc). Moving a client to a new database is a big project and takes lots of prep work, so I block off an hour or so on my calendar every couple days to chip away at it.

4:42 p.m. — There’s a line out my door since I’ve been away from my desk. Assist colleagues with a few questions regarding financials and where to find specific documentation.

4:53 p.m. — Prepare projects for intern to work on tomorrow.

4:59 p.m. — Check survey sent to a client board regarding their availability for an in-person meeting. Send reminder to members who have not responded.

5:01 p.m. — Review calendar and to-do list for the day to ensure there was nothing missed.

5:03 p.m. — Shut down laptop, lock up. Head home to my cute dog (and husband)!

5:06 p.m. — *IT hat back on!* I notice an email on my phone from a colleague who accidentally deleted a file. Unfortunately she hadn’t saved it at all yet, so I am unable to recover. Deliver the bad news.

5:50 p.m. — Send background information files on a potential client to a new employee. I can do this from my phone. *Cloud computing for the win!*

5:59 p.m. — Okay now I’m done working for the day. Heading in to the gym.

9:04 p.m. — Peek at inboxes on my phone one last time. I like to have an idea of what will be on my plate when I get in to the office tomorrow. I swear I’m done now.

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Whistle while you work

smiling dog

We’ve all heard the grumblings from co-workers, friends and family, “I wish I could talk to a 'live' person.” It’s a sure thing that you have recently encountered recorded messages, instructions to “press 1,” or long wait times.

So if someone actually does get you on the phone, he may not be in the best of moods.

As a serial tasker (thanks to Emily Wiseman for that insight!), I find it difficult to focus fully on callers and give them the attention they deserve. In the past, they have probably heard my computer keys clacking, or the shuffling of papers in the background as they try to explain the reason for their call. With our ever-increasing workloads, it is difficult to keep the focus on the caller.

So what do I do when receiving a call in the middle of a very busy workday? Stop, listen and smile.

Why smile? When talking on the phone, you are at a disadvantage in that the caller cannot see your body language: the tilt of your head, facial expressions and hand gestures. All are lost in today’s emails, texts and phone calls. Your voice is the only clue as to your attentiveness.

Professor John J. Ohala, University of California, Berkely, Department of Linguistics theorized in his research paper The Acoustic Origins of the Smile, “…words sound better to humans when accompanied by a smile. By smiling, the cheeks are pulled back reducing the size of the mouth cavity and this produces higher vocal tract resonances.”

From Improving Your Inflection on the Phone:

  • A monotone and flat voice says to the customer, "I'm bored and have absolutely no interest in what you're talking about."
  • A high-pitched and emphatic voice says, "I'm enthusiastic about this subject."

Don’t just go through the motions
According to Dr. Mark G. Frank, et al, Physiologic Effects of the Smile, a smile with Duchenne marker is the “enjoyment smile” and is one that involves specific facial muscles creating an upward pulling of the lip corners and crinkling of the eyes. Individuals who smile with the Duchenne marker “…are perceived as more sincere, honest, friendly, and approachable…” Well, that’s all well and good when someone can see your smile, but why smile when talking on the phone?

In an interview with NPR, Amy Drahota with the University of Portsmouth, discussed a study conducted by the University, in which she posited that you can tell the difference between an enjoyment smile, and one that is “non-Duchenne.” The test involved participants answering a series of questions with just one phrase. The test was designed so that the one-phrase answer, in response to the questions, would increasingly cause the participant to (a genuine, Duchenne) smile. The sound bites of the one-phrase answer were then played to a second set of participants who were asked to determine if the person in the sound bite was smiling. The study concluded that people are able to detect a genuine, enjoyment smile by the sound of your voice alone.

The sound of a smile will convey to the caller you are friendly and approachable, and able and willing to help. I find that taking the time to smile puts me in a better mood and better able to handle any of my clients' needs. 

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