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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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in Workplace Issues 622 0
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hey girl

Next week marks three months since I began working at AMPED, but it feels like I should be celebrating six months. That is NOT a bad thing. Fortunately, with guidance from seasoned AMPED staff, I was able to jump right in!

On my first day at AMPED, Owner Lynda Patterson handed me two postcards: one for a local Madison event and another for IMEX America (a worldwide exhibition for meetings and events) in Las Vegas. I was excited to learn that I would represent AMPED at both events, but then swiftly panicked realizing I had so much to learn! Both provided opportunities to network with meeting industry professionals — local and national — and I had my work cut out for me to become knowledgeable of our company and diverse clients.

I made a point to learn the history of our client’s annual meetings as well as future goals to prepare for one-on-one appointments with exhibitors at IMEX. After 22 appointments and presentations in just two (long) days, I returned home more confident in my job and excited for potential meeting destinations and partnerships for our clients. Additionally, after repeating the “About AMPED” speech 22 times, I can say that I successfully have it down!

Just two weeks after I started, one of our clients held their annual summit. A few weeks later, we brought a client board to Madison for a retreat. And this week we host a leadership training program for yet another client. I quickly learned that there is always something going on at AMPED. It can be overwhelming, but these face-to-face opportunities allow us to get to know our clients better. I may not be fully involved in the details of these meetings but being present allows me to soak up information and help me understand how to work with each client to be successful.

One of the reasons I was drawn to AMPED was the importance of company culture — a professional environment that is fun, flexible and rewarding. Within days, I felt that to be true. Each Monday morning, AMPED staff comes together for a meeting to discuss the week’s top priorities allowing us to get a glimpse into each other’s busy schedules as well as offer up help and suggestions. It is a great way to start the week and prepare for big projects and deadlines and know that your colleagues have your back if needed. On Wednesday mornings, you will see the AMPED team walking together to a local coffee shop for “$2 Latte Wednesdays,” giving us the chance to get out from behind our desks and get to know each other on a personal level. And being new to Madison, I’ve started a new tradition called “Food Truck Fridays” so I can experience all the delicious options found on the Capitol Square. These touch points throughout the week help me get to know my colleagues, both professionally and personally, while also getting a sense of the overall work we are doing as a company.

Sure, there are days when I am reminded that I have lots to learn and wishing that I could be in the shoes of seasoned AMPED staff, but I am grateful for the experiences, both good and not perfect, that help me become a better meeting planner and colleague. Don’t be afraid to jump right in, professionally and socially. It makes those pesky Monday mornings much easier to deal with when you enjoy your work and those who work beside you.

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Tagged in: culture meetings new job
in Workplace Issues 1161 0
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international-meeting

I’ve been very fortunate to travel the world because of my profession of putting together special events and various types of meetings for international associations. I’ve met so many people, experienced different cultures and seen marvelous landscapes. I’ve also met hard-working convention services staff, tour operators and logistics experts — all with the focused desire of helping a meeting planner’s event to be successful. I’ve learned a few things along the way. I learned that trivial things like paper, holidays and break time mattered.  No, it’s not written in any meeting planning books or convention services manual. Here are a few I’ve learned from experience.

If you prepared hand-outs of a presentation and need extra copies, know that the 8.5” x 11” letter-sized paper we’re so used to is not universal. It is rare in some parts of Europe and the Middle East. They use A4 paper. So, be OK with having different sized hand-outs. Better yet, bring enough copies or print onsite.

Especially in the Middle East, some countries have generous vacation leaves and holidays to as much as 60 days a year. If you send a question to your local contact, don’t be surprised that it doesn’t’ get answered for some weeks. Allow plenty of time in your timeline, clarify and communicate expectations ahead of time.

They say that U.S. workers log in the most work hours among other industrialized countries. We eat our lunch at our desks and seldom take breaks. Early on, when I set up vendor meetings abroad, I packed them by the minute in the hope I could get work done quicker and return home sooner. I learned that I need to be culturally sensitive and avoid scheduling too fast of a lunch meeting or too early of an afternoon meeting. I’ve discovered that taking it easy is one way to encourage vendors to work hard on your behalf.

The key is being flexible and adaptable. When faced by a disruption in schedule or process, relax and smile. As Julius Caesar said, “experience is the teacher of all things.”

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Tagged in: culture Global
in Global Strategy 2752 0
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global-etiquette

Working in today’s world means frequent interactions with different cultures and adapting to new business practices. Just because our reality is evolving to be much more flexible with these nuances does not mean they deserve any less thought, respect or effort in their understanding. When it comes to working with a global team, here are some points to take into account to achieve success:

Do your research. Doing a little homework about the new languages, cultures and traditions of those you will be working with is invaluable. You’ll be surprised at how unique business practices can be. For instance, in Japan, the business card exchange has a great amount of presentation and symbolic gesture. In France, you exchange a prescribed amount of “bisous,” or cheek kisses, depending on the type of relationship. And in India, business meetings begin with small talk that often takes over and in the end no work is actually accomplished.

Don’t be afraid to put down the books and articles. Learning these basics will help you ease into working internationally and, with practice, you will become more comfortable. What you don’t want is to put yourself in a position where you are labeling a culture with stereotypes and expecting these behaviors with each interaction. In reality, you will find other cultures often recognize that not everyone understands or follows their traditions and they will do their best to make you feel comfortable. If you ask, they might even teach you some things you couldn’t have learned in your research.

Willingness to learn. Talk to your new colleagues and leaders and find out what makes their culture important to them. Ask about how they feel, act, think, vacation, work, to expand your own horizons and build these relationships. If you are not willing to learn what makes different cultures different, you will quickly come off as disinterested. What a shame to miss such an opportunity! Disclaimer: Always be respectful and be careful of pressing too hard if it is clear the person is uncomfortable sharing.

Role of technology. It can be a challenge to plan conference calls and secure a time that works across six-plus time zones, not to mention trying to coordinate travel for in-person meetings where you find yourself dealing with currency conversions, customs and visas. With varied physical locations, it’s tricky to reach someone on the other side of the world when it’s 2 a.m. for them and you need to know right then who the special guests are that they’re inviting.

With a little patience and planning, these hurdles can be overcome. Many tools are available, like the World Clock Meeting Planner at www.timeanddate.com that assists in planning meetings in different time zones. You can even customize the locations you’re working with and save your own “Personal World Clock.”

Communication is key. Good communication and people skills are keys to any relationship. When you are working across cultures, this is ever more important. Just because you underlined, bolded, and italicized your request in an email doesn’t mean the message that it’s urgently important reached the recipient. What it comes down to is treating each person as we want to be treated. That Golden Rule we learned in grade school holds true even in today’s ever-changing world.

In the end, we live and work in a world that is becoming increasingly more connected. While we may not be able to control what brings us together, we can certainly make the most out of meeting new friends and colleagues from around the world. It just takes a little extra effort to recognize that we are as much alike as we are different and that we all have much to bring to the table.

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in Global Strategy 3214 0
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