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AMPED blogs you may have missed

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It’s part of the culture at AMPED Association Management that staff regularly share with one another tools and processes they use to support our mission: to perfect operations and accelerate growth for the organizations we manage. In fact, we specifically share “hacks” during our weekly staff meetings — what works for one person or organization may also work for another. It’s that sharing of knowledge across diverse associations that is the beauty of the AMC model.

Another, more public way of sharing what we know is through the AMPED-UP! blog. Staff members write weekly about challenges, tips and solutions for all things associations, from technology, to governance, to workplace issues.

Here is a list of top-read blogs from the last few months that are not to be missed.

Nine questions that can green-light or sideline your next association initiative
by Tony Veroeven

Planning a joint convention: Tips for a successful and positive collaboration
by Michael Battaglia

How to develop strategic priorities using a breakout session model
by Jen Brydges

When a hurricane hits your convention city: How our meetings team prepared for the worst
by Chris Caple

Is Squarespace right for your association's website?
by Emily Viles

Why you should attend user conferences for your technology platforms
by Emily Wiseman

First impressions: How to welcome new members
by Terry Driscoll

The Hitchhikers Guide to the CAE: Part 1
by Christina McCoy, CAE

What’s in your bag? Using video to up the entertainment value of your social presence
by Kristin McGuine

Certification program is opportunity to recognize key members
by Kim Siebecker

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When you wear many hats

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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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What is your association’s competitive advantage?

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Anyone who has been part of managing an association knows one thing for sure: there is an association for everything. The down side to this is that there are usually two or three or four associations for everything. That means that every association must set themselves apart from other associations that are competing for membership dollars. You’re not just trying to get industry members to join, you have to constantly be proving your value over other associations.

It's not unlike business in the for-profit arena. Those types of organizations must constantly be proving their competitive advantage to current and future clients in order to succeed, and the same goes for associations. In my opinion, there are two things that set every association apart from their competitors: their members and their content.

Members
Being a member of your association gives people access to your other members. With most associations, that means access to some of the “biggest and brightest” in your industry or niche. This is absolutely one of the most powerful attractions for potential members, and probably why a large number of your current members renew each year. If they know that becoming a member and attending your events means they can rub elbows with some of the biggest names in your industry, it’s almost a no-brainer.

There's a great opportunity for you to leverage your membership in your growth efforts. Let people know that the Elon Musk of your industry is a member and part of the board, with their permission, of course. Share the fact that your industry’s biggest names are part of your association and I guarantee others will want to be part of that. We all want to be part of success, and showing that those who are already successful value your association will inherently grow perceived value to potential members.

Content
The second thing that sets your association apart is content. There isn’t (or shouldn’t be) any other association that offers the content that your association does. Every single association produces content, whether you know it or not, and I don’t just mean the content you put on your website or your blog. Anything your association produces for your members' benefit is content. This includes things like certifications, guidelines, best practices and more. Members are constantly looking to see what others in the industry are up to, and you can be the voice to allow people to see things like that.

One source associations overlook is member-generated content. Enable your most active members to share their experiences with the rest of your members by making it easy to get that information to you. The number one reason I hear that active members aren’t willing to submit content is it’s too time consuming. If you can make it as easy as possible, and show them how, your member-generated content pipeline will always be full.

Taking the for-profit approach when preparing your association for 2018 might be just what your association needs. Take the time to layout your association’s competitive advantages and you’ll quickly be able to identify the things you should be focusing on and promoting in the year to come.

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Rolling with the punches - That’s what meeting planners do best!

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The end of the year is a time of reflection. And as I think about my career at AMPED, I am reminded of a number of fun and crazy adventures we’ve had while onsite at client events. No matter how big or small the meeting, there are always things that we handle quietly behind the scenes and attendees never know the wiser. Here’s a little trip down memory lane…

For starters, onsite registration numbers were higher than expected for a client meeting we held a few years ago in Scottsdale, AZ. It was the rush of registrants that arrived just before the opening reception that left us needing to replenish lanyards, badge sleeves and cardstock before registration re-opened bright and early the next day. After shuttling all 500+ attendees to the Heard Museum for the opening reception, another team member and I asked one of the bus drivers to take us to the nearest Office Depot. Keep in mind this was before the days of Uber! Just imagine a 56-passenger bus pulling in with only two people aboard desperate to restock, just minutes before closing! Meanwhile the rest of the team stayed back at the reception to make sure everything went flawlessly.

Or how about when you realize the name badges for a 600-person meeting have not been stuffed correctly and all need to be reassembled! This particular client had complex name badge requirements with color-coded sleeves, ribbons and even gems! We partnered with a vendor to print, stuff and ship the name badges. As we reviewed the shipment to make sure all was in order before registration opened, we realized about 20 badges in that everything was off my one. What else was there to do but un-stuff and re-stuff? That’s exactly what we did! Don’t worry, we later got a credit from the vendor for the inconvenience.

There are also times when the little things count — going the extra mile for even just a handful of attendees. Like the time an attendee was under the weather so we sent a care package to his guest room. Or the day that a spouse missed the bus for an afternoon tour so we arranged an Uber to get her where she needed to be. Or the yoga instructor who didn't show, so a colleague stepped in on a whim to lead a “chair yoga” session!

The list could go on and on. Can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store!

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