Friday, November 20, 2009

The 3 Most Important Benefits I Get For My Membership Dues

I just spent a couple of days in Providence, RI, with ASAE & The Center association leaders and I have come away from it with more connections, knowledge, and motivation to help get me revved up again to live life like I mean it. If anyone wants to know what they get for their membership dollars, I can tell you what my membership dollars pay for:
  • Knowledge - The listservs, section councils, education sessions, publications, and other ongoing communications that add to the overall industry knowledge that is available has helped me from the very beginning of my association career. Much as the platform for the listserv conversation needs to be made more efficient, it was the first ASAE product I was drawn into and it provided the most learning for me in the early days. It also helped acquaint me with some of the big names in the association world.
  • Connections -I love the Annual Meeting, with all of its ups and downs, because I get to learn from the most experienced and interesting minds in the community in the hallways and at the social functions. I back up what Jeff Hurt said recently about challenging conference attendees and speakers to put more effort into making the best of the learning sessions and opportunities available for teaching at the meetings. I have never walked away from a conference or workshop without learning something extremely valuable to help me do better in my career and for the industry. The times when I have learned the least have been when I haven't participated as fully as I should have in one way or another.
  • Experience - ASAE & The Center has afforded me the opportunities to volunteer for councils, task forces, and all kinds of activities which have enabled me to learn detailed data about studies related to my work and have helped me to hone a variety of leadership skills. Through my volunteer efforts I have been able to fully embrace the importance of what all of us do for our organizations' members and in that way I think I will always find myself evangelizing membership. Passion is not too emotional of a word to use.  If a person isn't passionate about their industry, learning, career, community, money, or anything else influenced by the power of an association; then what else? 
While I was at the ASAE & The Center Leadership Retreat I received valuable career advice from friends who make hundreds of dollars per hour for consulting. This isn't the first time that has happened (and I'm fairly certain it won't be the last). But what am I giving back to ASAE as a result of their help in making this exchange possible on an ongoing basis?
  • My energy and time - Because of ASAE & The Center's investment in me, I am going back to my council (I am vice-chair for the Component Relations Section Council) with a new commitment to helping the rest of the group get the most out of their time as possible by leading in a way that will help them and the Society.
  • My money - I recently donated to the Annual Fund for Research & Innovation and I am going to be posting and tweeting occasionally about this on an ongoing basis to see if I can get my friends to do it, too.  [I'd like to check in with ASAE and see if there is a way that I could prove to ASAE that the association blogger and Twitter community can put up some serious dough...maybe get a code and more price points at which to donate online ($100 is the least amount you can donate easily online right now) so that we could show our strength. I'll let you know if anything like that comes together. :)]
  • My attention - I will care about ASAE. I will talk about ASAE. I will share news about ASAE and with that attention others will see how much value I place with my involvement. If people see how much I get from my experience, then maybe they will join or participate more, too. This may seem like the most passive of the three ways I am giving back, but it could be the most valuable in the long run.
What do you get from your memberships? What do you give back?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Stress Check List: New Job

Years ago I read a stress list that featured all the life changing things that could cause one to be overly anxious or depressed. On the list were the usual suspects: divorce, death, trauma were included. There were also a few that one may not expect, such as marriage, giving birth, and changing jobs. It's this third one that I've been experiencing recently and I can say that anxiety is most definitely a part of my life right now.

My new job is fantastic - that's the positive side of the coin. The people I work with seem especially smart and funny while the balance between life and work is a priority from the top.

But no matter how amazing the workplace is, it cannot change the fear I have of smiling and having something stuck in my teeth - forever branding me in their minds as "the slob." (check)

...or of having lipstick smeared on my face. (check)

...or of forgetting someone's name. (check)

...or of forgetting some code and locking myself out of the suite. (check)

Everytime I open my mouth to say something, it is likely that at least one person in the room hasn't heard me speak before, so I am hyper aware what I say could impact their view of me for years to come. No pressure.

After working at my previous job almost five years, it is hard to start over and to learn the ins-and-outs of the communal kitchen: rules for sharing office creamer and the labeling laws for food kept in the refrigerator. These things are still marked "tentative" in my brain.

Also, I am going from working for associations to working for associations as a consultant. There is a difference there.

Still, as anxious as I am, I have a lot of nervous excitement for this new direction. I am working on a subject I'm passionate about and I now have a legitimate reason for reading materials about social media and technology for communities. Fabulous news!

I know this is an unusual departure from my typical blog posts here on Acronym Soup, but I was thinking of all the people I knwo who are going through job changes and I felt compelled to share my thoughts. If anyone wants to share similar stories or tips for starting out on the right foot with a new job, please post! How do you start your day? What are some things to avoid? Please share!