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We’re excited about what we do
and have passion for our profession

But wait, there's more: The meeting is over, but the work isn't (video)

We’re celebrating a job very well done. Several members of the AMPED team just returned from a hugely successful, first-ever stand-alone meeting for our client partner, ACTRIMS (Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis). To illustrate just how successful this three-day scientific event was, the original attendance forecast was 435. You can imagine the challenges and excitement that ensued when the numbers peaked at 629!

Yes, there was much applause and commendation when the meeting closed. But AMPED’s job isn’t done when the registrants go home. There are boxes to unpack, evaluations to review, sponsors to follow up with, and sites to visit for future meetings.

Watch what's next for the ACTRIMS meetings and support team:

  meeting video image"Our work here is done." NOT!

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Breathe! How to keep your staff positive, friendly (and sane) during crunch time

The first few months of the year always seem to be pretty busy at AMPED between membership renewals and client meetings in the spring. While we all tend to get caught up in emails, membership applications and the one-million-and one things on our to-do lists, it is important to remember that your colleagues are in the same boat. Here are a few things we do at AMPED to stay positive (and friendly... and sane) during the busiest times of the year.

Sheldon stress

Take screen breaks. Step away from your desk for a bit – even if it is simply getting up and making yourself a cup of coffee. A break from your screen will allow you a short mental pause, making it easier to re-focus on your to-do list. Swamped? Kill several birds with one stone: have a walking meeting with a coworker! You can chat face-to-face about what you normally would have sent several emails about, get some fresh air, and feel refreshed when you return.

Work collaboratively. Keep that “team player” attitude and remind yourself that you are all working toward the same goal: the success of your clients or organization. Be mindful of what is on everyone’s plate — priority A on your list is not likely priority A on someone else’s. Pitch in and see what you can do to help get it done. At AMPED, we have a staff meeting every Monday morning for exactly this reason — it’s important that we all understand what everyone’s priorities are for the week and what we can do as a team to ensure they happen.

One thing that I love about AMPED is the culture 
— we actually all enjoy working together!

Stay healthy. This one may seem odd in a workplace positivity list, but it’s so true. Not only does regular exercise reduce stress, it can also boost your productivity. Now you’re friendly and efficient. AMPED employees stay at the top of our game by practicing yoga, running, CrossFit, and karate. Fueling your body with the right foods is important, too, especially during those long days onsite at client meetings. We like to plan ahead and ensure our staff office is stocked with plenty of water and healthy snacks like nuts, fruit and granola.

See the future. Don’t let the things on your to-do list overwhelm you. Consider what all of those little items will add up to in the end. A high member retention rate? A successful client meeting? Think about how you will feel in those scenarios and let that motivation power you through.

Celebrate milestones. We’re really good at this one. Survived a busy meeting season? Staff lunch. Got membership renewals out the door? Happy hour! Made it to 10 am without accidentally deleting a file you’ve been working on? Go get yourself some Starbucks, girl!

One thing that I love about AMPED is the culture — we actually all enjoy working together! I think the fact that we all take time to do these things is a big contributor to that. What are your tips for “remaining human” during busy season?

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Simple ideas for saving money in the office

ion water

Call me cheap, but I’m always looking for ways to save money at home. I tell my husband at least three times a year that we should cancel our cable subscription. He shuts down that suggestion immediately every time. And really, if I would just cancel my iced coffee “subscription” that would probably cover the cable bill, but I’m much more enjoyable when caffeinated, so that’s more for the benefit of those around me.

Since my money-saving tactics fall on deaf ears at home, I have tried to establish a few money-saving techniques into our day-to-day office management. Looking to save a few dollars yourself? Give these super simple ideas a try!

Water - We previously had a bottled water cooler system in the office, but as our employee numbers increased, so did the amount of water we were consuming. I made one phone call to our local Culligan dealer, met with a sales rep to review the options, and decided to go with a bottle-free system that is filtered right from our sink. The effort was minimal and it cut our monthly bill nearly in half.

Buy bulk/take advantage of sales – Unless you’re saving even more money by going completely paperless, there’s no reason not to take advantage of a sale on copy paper. Most holiday sales (ie: President’s Day, Columbus Day, etc.) last an entire week. Watch for retailer specials and buy heavily used office and cleaning supplies in bulk. If you have the space, stock up to avoid ordering supplies on the fly.

Mail – When sending packages, people immediately turn to UPS and FedEx, but often, shipping through the U.S. Postal Service is the most cost-effective option. Get some flat rate boxes, but don’t count on them to always be the cheapest. Sign up for a usps.com account and price out standard priority mail. You might be surprised at how cheap it is to get a package to its destination within two days.

Automatic withdrawals – Take a look at your financial statement at the end of the month. Any service or product that is paid via automatic withdrawal or is set to automatically re-order is worth a second glance. You might be surprised to see that your service fee has increased without your knowledge or you’re using far more of a product than you even realized.

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Buyers beware, seller’s market is here to stay…

hotel room door

Is your association seeing the impacts of the seller’s market when it comes to finding a hotel partner to host your next event? Don’t expect this trend to fade in 2016. Hotel demand in many destinations around North America has surpassed supply. Although the 2016 Global Travel Price Outlook indicates that hotel construction is booming in the United States with nearly 100,000 new rooms added in 2015, the report also suggests that hotel demand continues to grow at up to quadruple the rate of supply.

If supply and demand concerns aren’t enough to get you fired up, how about this? According to the 2016 Meetings and Events Forecast from Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) Meetings & Events, room rates will grow by 4.3%.

How can you tackle the issues of supply and demand plus increasing nightly room rates head on? Plan ahead. Contract lead time continues to shrink and often hotels in high-demand markets will no longer hold space when responding to RFPs. Increased lead time can increase you negotiating power.

Channel your inner Francis Bacon who once said knowledge is power. Be fluent in the value your meeting brings to the venue and be prepared to readily talk stats such as pick-up history, food and beverage spend, required square footage of meeting space and so on.

Keep your eye on the numbers. Food and beverage costs will continue to be a significant driver of per-attendee costs. The 2016 Global Travel Price Outlook also predicts a 4.5% increase per attendee, per day! The pressures of keeping up with the latest trends and rising ingredient prices are major contributing factors. In fact, the National Restaurant Association says that wholesale food prices have surged nearly 25% during the past five years!

All of this said, the most important piece of advice is to negotiate with care, as attrition and cancellation clauses are becoming more and more strict. Good luck!

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Starting the New Year with a clean slate

Marechiel family for New Year 2016

Aah, a new year! When I think of a New Year, I think of making New Year’s resolutions. Google “New Year’s resolution” and 140,000,000 search results come up. Before I could make my own resolutions, I needed to reflect on the year that passed. This process would hopefully guide me toward making new goals. I have so much to be grateful for. 

Professionally, I had the privilege to be assigned an executive director role for a new client account. To me, this meant I’m trusted in my ability to manage an organization. I received a recognition from the association community with the ASAE DELP scholarship. I interpreted this as: my contributions and leadership capabilities are appreciated.

In my family life, three of our four kids in college are doing well. (Yep, they are all on the Dean’s List!) Our youngest who is a senior in high school is enjoying a banner year himself organizing an Ethics Symposium to address bullying, self-esteem and moral standards among his peers — an encouragement that my husband and I must have done something right in our parenting . Everyone in the family is healthy. When many folks are experiencing health issues that limit their ability to live and enjoy life, we couldn’t be more thankful.

There were also things that didn’t go as I had planned. Did I achieve my weight goal? No. Did I participate in all the socio-civic and volunteering opportunities that came my way? No. Did I spend time with that one girlfriend I wanted to continue deepening my friendship with? No. Did I make enough time with my husband to continue to strengthen our marriage? No. Did I fret when I didn’t achieve the goals I set? Yes. Should I? No.

A wise mentor has told me, the year that has passed is done. The New Year is an opportunity to start a new slate. She asked me to declare to myself that the year 2015 is over. What’s done (and not done) is done. I need not worry and carry the baggage of what should have, could have, and would have been. So, in this spirit I am planting the seeds of greatness by letting go and celebrating this new beginning by creating new intentions in 2016. Here are questions to ask yourself as you begin the process of starting anew.

What are you committed to accomplishing this coming year in all areas of your life? Strengthening your marriage? How about a date night twice a month? Improving emotional connections with your children? Can you spend one-on-one time with each of them? Attaining a professional certification by year-end? (I plan to commit one hour a week to professional development training to hit the prerequisite hours before applying to take the Certified Association Executive exam.) Want to improve your stamina and endurance? How’s about starting at 6,000 steps for five days and increase in time to 10,000 steps?

In order to produce the above, what do you need to develop in yourself? The answer to this question is different for everyone. It can mean having a set schedule plotted on one’s calendar, or imbibing internally motivated traits like staying determined, or practical tricks like creating visual reminders.

As you consider relationships that you wish to enhance or develop or things you need to develop in yourself, what do you think could stop you or be the reason at the end of the year that you would not fulfill them? Is it an issue of time? Will lack of sleep inhibit you to adopt healthy habits to develop your stamina? Reflect on those and you’ve won half the battle.


What is this year going to “be about” for you? Is it going to be a year of learning? A year of forgiveness? A year of peace? A year of prosperity? Declare it!


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