Monday, December 19, 2011

Why Most Would-Be Super Executives Will Never Witness Their Greatest Success

Because they get distracted by emotions and their daily tasks.

 The part of the brain devoted to attention is connected to the brain’s emotional center, says Srini Pillay, author of “Your Brain and Business” and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Any strong emotion — frustration with a colleague, problems at home — can disrupt your attention, he says.
Refocusing is hard for many people because they have trained their brains to work on a variety of things at the same time, Dr. Pillay says. He suggests visualizing a reset device in your brain and saying: “I need to press the reset button and get back on track.” This takes the spotlight off the distraction and puts it on the redirection. “You are rewiring your brain,” he says.
Robert Epstein, a research psychologist in San Diego and founder of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, suggests the following: “Stop and listen to music for a few minutes, go for a short walk or take a cleansing breath, where you breath in deeply, count to five slowly, hold it and breathe out very slowly.” This can “blow out all the tension and clutter in your mind, and that can restore your focus.”
But if you are having severe problems maintaining focus at work, you should consult a psychologist or physician, Dr. Komie says, as severe symptoms could be a sign of anxiety, depression or adult forms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Post Conference Depression

I never went to summer camp, but I can only imagine what it was like when it was time to go home. Saying goodbye to old and new friends and leaving an environment full of laughter, learning, and games... complete with mini-dramas and life transformative moments.

In my mind, the end of a conference is like's the end of adult camp and we all go back to our businesses and lives as different people. Maybe a little different - maybe a lot different. And then there's the crash.

At least for me it's that way. Maybe it's a little extreme to say it, but I'd even call it a sort of Post Conference Depression.

Post Conference Depression Symptoms:

  • Obsession with reliving your session's glories and failures
  • Irritability, restlessness...a need to keep checking the conference hashtag for updatesFatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, envy, or a sense of lost opportunity
  • Feelings of overwhelm as you read through notes and business cards collected
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • A sense of loneliness
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and finding taxi receipts

Anyone else go through this? I'm already missing my friends from ASAE Tech 2011 and looking forward to next week's Association Forum Holiday Showcase in Chicago. I wonder if I'll get my conference badge this year ? (Or whatever it is you do in summer camp...)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Letter to My Readers: Noob Excitement

I'm truly excited.

So excited I should insert some exclamation points for authenticity [!!!!!] to properly reflect how I feel. 

I joined NTEN recently. NTEN says it is "where the nonprofit and technology community meets" and tomorrow is a new member conference call. That's right...I'm a noob. It has been on my calendar for almost a month and I am looking forward to hearing about how I can make my membership really count. My plan is to learn the basics from the call, continue to explore the webinars and offerings on the NTEN website, continue to reach out to members of NTEN on Facebook and Twitter, and attend the Nonprofit Technology Conference in 2012.

If this sounds nerdy, so be it. I chose to join NTEN after almost two years of deliberation, so naturally I am excited. Word of mouth combined with online social media engagement is what finally convinced me to join. My good friend (and regular source of inspiration) Maddie Grant has much love and respect for NTEN and I already recognize the names of several NTEN members and staffers whom I've seen on Twitter - all of which has influenced me to not only join NTEN, but also to anticipate great things by joining NTEN.

Isn't this how most of us wish our newest members felt? When I worked for the Optical Society, I wanted our newest members to feel that same excitement for all of the benefits available to them. Awards, scholarships, recognition in the community; I had the ability to help all of them understand how to make the most of their memberships (as did all of my colleagues), but only a small fraction of members took the time to meet the staff and ask questions.

So now I am excited about joining this new organization and I am honestly looking forward to getting involved and learning what I can about how to make the most out of my involvement.

  • How can we help our prospective and newest members feel like this? 
  • How can we keep this excitement going? 
  • How can we keep our newest members engaged?

I don't know all of the answers, but I have some good ideas and I know that as I walk the path of the new member with NTEN, I will have bigger and better ideas to share on this blog and elsewhere. I'll keep posting, if you keep listening and maybe we can all have new insights on how to make the member experience magical together.

All the best,


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Caption Contest

Submit a caption in the comments for the drawing below for a chance to win the book, Get Seen. Captions will be voted on and determined by Acronym Soup readers. All submissions due by Friday, December 4 at 5 pm ET.

From the book description:

Get Seen by Steve Garfield, the "Paul Revere of video blogging," offers a quick and complete toolkit to get you up to speed on the latest that online video and related media have to offer.
  1. Examines success stories of how companies have used online video
  2. Presents a series of plans and tools that businesses can follow as they expand onto the social web
  3. Provides clear step by step directions on how to record, edit, and export videos, where to post them, how to build a community around their content, and what to do to increase views

Monday, November 28, 2011

Association Pareidolia

 The poet, the artist, the sleuth - whoever sharpens our perception tends to be antisocial... he cannot go along with currents and trends.

Alfred North Whitehead
English mathematician & philosopher (1861 - 1947)

"We need a Google+ Page for our association by the end of the day."
I think too many association folks are seeing the Virgin Mary in their toast.

That is to say some associations are jumping in with trends too quickly because they are convinced they have seen the "writing on the wall" and not taking the necessary steps in thinking things through all the way. I've seen this a lot lately with regard to mobile apps and Google+ pages.

It is human nature to see patterns. There are many reasons why this is part of our biological makeup. Our DNA is haunted by our need to recognize patters for our survival. But sometimes we make assumptions or move forward without pausing long enough to ask simple, clarifying questions and that can pose some problems for us in the long run. The problem isn't in seeing patterns - the problem is in how we interpret them and many times our primal instincts takes over for our more advanced problem solving skills. Those primal instincts can occasionally lead us down the wrong path.

Pareidolia (play /pærɨˈdliə/ parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. Wikipedia
In addition, some association executives get so excited about the potential, that many of these trends can seem like the miracle technology that will transform the association overnight. 

To be clear, I am not arguing for taking longer (or too long) to make decisions. Associations can be painfully slow when it comes to making things happen. I am suggesting association executives and staff make suggestions and changes based on thoughtful deliberation. 

For example, before you proceed with creating a Google+ Page for your association, answer the following questions (and any others that seem appropriate) in your own mind:
  • Who is the audience? Who will monitor and update the site? Who needs to be a part of the project? Who needs to sign off on it?
  • What are you trying to achieve with the page? What are your goals for it? How will you reach them? How will you measure success?
  • When will it launch? How will it launch? How will you tell people about it?
  • What will you use to monitor it? Will you integrate it with other social media tools? What kind of measurements will you take from it and what will you use for benchmarking?
Once you have answered these questions you can feel better prepared to move forward on your initiative with deliberate steps in the right direction. Will you still make mistakes? Probably. But they will be a lot fewer than if you hadn't thought through your new technology project. 

What do you think? What should association executives always think through before moving forward with new technology or projects?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why It Hurts to Say Thank You

My cousin and I haven't always seen eye to eye. Our temperaments are on opposite ends of the spectrum and we've even had social media fueled disagreements that brought our family around into camps poised on each side ready for battle.

Aside from all that, we love each other.

But I bristle at the idea of saying "thank you" to him. Why? Because even if the "thank you" is heartfelt, it is bitter.

I like to think I'm above pettiness, but when I feel I've been wronged, there is a petulant child inside me that refuses to forget about it. [Read about how we're hard-wired not to forgive.]

Associations with their internal politics are like that. With organizations that have been built around personalities and the drive of key members, inevitably there are egos involved in an atmosphere that can seem familial in positive and negative ways.

For Thanksgiving this year, how about we look at the other side of gratitude and work on forgiveness. If you are waiting for an "I'm sorry," providing a "thank you" can seem like torture, but isn't it worth it? To be bountiful in all things enough to move past someone's misdeeds?
  • To the boss who fails to promote you: Thank you.
  • To the direct report who talk about you behind-your-back": Thank you
  • To the board president who undermines you when you are out of the room: Thank you.
  • To the IT director who puts all your projects at the bottom of their to do list: Thank you.

It may hurt to say, "thank you," but maybe we're stronger for it. That's what I'm going with this year. How about you?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top 10 Reasons List Posts Annoy Me [Warning: Snarkathon]

10. List posts assume we're gullible. 

As if no one else has read headline tips for getting clicks, list posts are now a big red warning for me that I'm being suckered.

Many of us have read about the allure of using numbers in your headlines. The fact that list posts will automatically build traffic angers me (and others, too). It makes me feel like a boob when I click on one, so I try not to.

Apologies to any of my regular readers who were lured in by this post because you think I'm awesome. I don't think *you* are a boob. But list posts are just too easy, non?

9. List posts are like shopping at Costco.

How about this?

How many reasons do you need for working out more? It's just better for you. You know that. You don't need a list, right? Let me's the list:
  1. Longer lifespan
  2. Better at work
  3. Better sex life
  4. Better deals on clothing
  5. Fights aging
  6. Defends against unicorn battles
Okay, so guess what? Except for that last one, we already know this stuff. I just schooled you on why exercising is really beneficial...fighting unicorns. You heard it here first. Better get on that treadmill!

Why do we need this?

How many packs of gluten free pasta do you need to have on hand? Probably not 10. Not for the average household. Do you want to fit into your favorite pair of shorts in the summer? Stay away from Costco.

You see, in the midst of looking for answers (like a list of ways to make life better or buying in bulk to save on groceries) you can get caught up in the game of numbers and forget your overall mission.

8. List posts work in spite of their overexposure.

Even before I post this I know it will get more clicks than my usual post. Why? Because list posts work. They are perfect linkbait. People like the illusion of control. People like numbers. But this makes list posts more popular than they should be. Many people (not all) write list posts in order to game the system for more traffic. Some list posts are really stellar and others (too many) just sit cold and moldy on the floor of linkbait hell.

I hate list posts.

7. List posts are overdone.

Blog posts about hating list posts date back to 2008. Four years ago people were sick of seeing list posts. That was before Twitter really hit mainstream.

6. Most of the lists over 3 are just stretching for meaning. 

You could usually cut off a list at 3 and have all you really need. Why are you even still reading this?

Look at the 10 Commandments. Did we really need 10? How about 1 really good one?

Be good to others.

Sure...God may not need an editor, but who said that Moses was the best transcriptionist?

5. Mental blocks with lists: Santa can't ever get it straight which list I'm supposed to be on at Christmas.

I should always be on the "Good List," but I never received the following:

  • 1981: A brother (even though my sister turned out to be awesome)
  • 1985: All of the contents of our local Wal-Mart (I used to imagine how awesome it would be to have all of the toys, electronics, and school supplies in our local Wal-Mart)
  • 1986: A trampoline
  • 1989: An easel and paintbrushes
  • 1990: A magical overnight makeover to make me popular and gorgeous
  • 1992: An underground swimming pool
  • 1994: A new Lexus
  • 1995: Stardom
  • 2005: Wealth
  • 2008: A year-round personal trainer and private chef
  • 2009: A live-in nanny and a personal assistant
  • 2010: 2 live-in nannies, live-in housekeeper, Botox, liposuction, a bigger house with more storage, and a personal assistant

Santa, feel free to make good on any of the previous years and we'll call it even. 'kay?

1. The number on the list usually doesn't reflect value.

...and often the posts aren't even numbered correctly. Like this post. Why did I jump to 1 already? Why not. It doesn't seem to bother other bloggers with list posts. I've clicked on posts with a number in the headline and the body didn't reflect the list making me feel like a boob.

What are your thoughts? List posts can be awesome, right? Tell me why. Or better yet, give me examples of good ones. Please bring enough to share with the class.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Sunday Routine

It's Sunday and I am under the gun to wrap up my expense reports and prepare for the meetings the next day. My day will also include taking my daughter to the playground, drinking much coffee, picking up grocery items, and cleaning in preparation for the cleaning ladies (I know cleaning before cleaning ladies come sounds OCD, but it's really all about removing the top layer of mess so they can reach the bottom layer - my daughter is about to turn four...this is the way of our life).

I abhor expense reports (and timesheets - this is a great blog post from an author who hates timesheets on a similar scale) and I am chronically late at submitting them. Even after a few weeks of submitting my timesheets on time, I was back wearing the dunce's hat this week for late expense reports. I hate this kind of thing.

While I don't condone violence, can't deny this image made me laugh.
This is kind of my regular Sunday ritual, so when I saw the #SundayRoutine hashtag this morning, I thought about what my routine is and how many other people are doing the same things. Actually, I have often wondered what goes through association folks' minds when Monday looms. I imagine there are a lot of people like me who have things already waiting for them before Monday hits. But is that anxiety really necessary?

  • Does the anxiety make a difference in the outcome?
  • Will the stress make you more or less productive?
  • Are you putting pressure on someone else before Monday? Is it necessary?

I used to stress out a lot on Sundays. I had a project meeting waiting for me Monday morning that would sometimes run for two hours and could make or break my week. So many times I complained to my husband about my Monday morning meetings, but it took two years of them before I thought to suggest meeting a different day and time to my boss. Two years!

Many times we make our more negative routines what they are by either forcing ourselves into an uncomfortable schedule or by not suggesting a better way.

Today my professional Sunday routine is all about wrapping up time sheets and expense reports for work and I am happy to have a weekly report on a more manageable Tuesday at 10 am. But I still put off the tasks that I loathe. I'll even read blog posts about time management rather than actually attack the task I don't want to do. [For a great blog post on Time Management for Association Folks, take a look at Nikki Jeske's post for the Affiniscape blog.]

So what is your Sunday routine? What might you change so that your Monday is a little bit better? Is there a change that could be instituted association-wide to make the association run better? How would your association become more effective and productive?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Associations Must Listen to Kenny Rogers

You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run

-"The Gambler" is the title of a song written by Don Schlitz and recorded by American country music artist Kenny Rogers.

Last night my husband made dinner. This is not a common happening in our house, so when it happens there is much rejoicing. You might wonder what that has to do with associations or Kenny Rogers, but that's for later. Right now I'm talking about chicken. 

Because that's what he made. My husband took marinated chicken breasts and baked them with some crushed garlicky tomatoes and the results were phenomenal...tender, delicious, perfect pieces of protein delivered to me on a plate with a smile. 

We watched some hockey (my concession) and I decided to make some herbal tea. I ran upstairs and when I got to the kitchen, this is what I saw...

Do all husbands do this?

For those who need help figuring out what is happening in this picture, please note the controller on the oven indicating the oven is still on...baking chicken that was taken out two hours before. 

I admit my priorities can be a bit skewed sometimes, but I would almost always rate "not burning the house down" above "delicious chicken." 

Association executives can turn up the heat on themselves and staff to get a project done or to handle a looming crisis, but forget to dial it back when the crisis has passed. The results can be burnout for all involved.

As Kenny Rogers sang,

              "the "secret to survivin' is knowing what to throw away, and knowing what to keep." 

Is your organization holding on to old anxieties? Is your department keeping the ghosts of crisis around well past their release date?

Stress at work can wreak havoc on the most gifted of teams. To manage stress at work, check out these tips or just invite your team out to happy hour, sit back, and listen to some Kenny Rogers. There will be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done...or when the check comes. Either way.

KiKi's Husband's "Have Home Insurance" Chicken Recipe

1 Tbsp mystery seasoning (basically anything he thinks is exotic found in the cabinet...paprika...)
1 spray olive oil cooking spray
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (potentially marinated in italian dressing overnight)
1/2 tsp table salt, or to taste
1 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes with garlic (or garlic and basil) 
** sometimes 1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded or parmesan...however you feel that night

First, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray an 8-inch square pan with light cooking spray.

Place the chicken in the pan and dump the tomatoes over it. Then put the cheese over the chicken and tomatoes.

Bake until chicken is cooked thoroughly and the cheese begins to bubble a bit (approximately 25 minutes).

Garnish with some fresh basil or oregano leaves. Or olives. (My husband doesn't usually "garnish," but a side of olives from the supermarket olive bar usually accompanies the chicken.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

News You Can Lose for Mobile Apps

If you hear any of the following statements, feel free to smack the person saying them in the head. Actually, don't do that. But feel free to imagine it in great detail.
  • "Our members don't use smart phones."
  • "No one uses apps but kids in school."
  • "We have so many irons in the fire, we don't have time to consider anything mobile."
  • "Aren't mobile apps just that Chubby Bird game everyone's talking about?"
Please do the right thing. Think about mobile apps and investigate how you might use them. Educate yourself on the time it would take to develop one should the time come. Educate yourself now. 

Add mobile development to your budget. Thank me later.

Existing budget vs. Mobile app

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Association Horror Story

If you've watched the FX show, American Horror Story, you are familiar with the twists and turns of the narrative. Things are never what they seem.

I hate it when people read over my shoulder.

So it goes with associations. See if any of these mysterious occurrences appear in your workplace:
  • A project you thought was finally supported has been dropped without anyone's explanation - no one seems to remember it ever existed.
  • You begin digging into a seemingly innocuous request and find some skeletons in the association's closet.
  • You come across a "dead" program that is still on the website and in the budget, but it has been inactive for years.
  • A coordinator in one department equals a senior manager in another department and the titles and payscale is all over the place.
Where do you turn when these things happen? Do you call your ED? A consultant? An exorcist?

Better yet, what or whom do you blame?

Many people turn to the topic of transparency at this point. As in, "if our associations were more transparent, we wouldn't have this problem." But we can't blame all organization mysteries on an opaque culture. My guess is that ghosts are everywhere...even in the most transparent associations.

Actually, that makes me ask, is there an association that our industry would recognize as being "the most transparent" -- what is it? I digress. My guess is that even there you would find mystery line items or obscure programs that collect cobwebs each year.

How have your dealt with your own association horror stories? How did you handle a mystery and did it change the way your organization operated?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Do Not Go Blindly Into That Good App

There have been a lot of posts in the association world lately about apps, and with good reason. Everyone is buzzing about apps! If you can order groceries, turn on your car, video chat with a friend in another country, and do your banking all from apps on your phone, the next obvious step would be to have your association's app available to everyone, right?

I'm with you. I could go into details about how I think it is wise to include an element of game dynamics in your app to keep people invested and coming back. I could remind everyone of the ongoing debates on whether or not associations should spend money on app development.

But before we go too far, let me warn you this is not a post about native versus web apps or whether or not your organization should be considering an app. For that, you can check out this post, this post, or this post and get your fix for that kind of discussion. This is a post for associations hoping to create an app and concerned with time.

Just like the wrong way to build a social media plan is to start by saying, "We want a Facebook," it is the wrong idea to start out your quest for an association app by saying, "Everyone else has an app, so we need one, too." Organizations should always identify the audience, goals, strategy, and the technology they will use before making a decision on whether or not they need an app.

In the very least, you need time to execute your desires once you figure out what they are. I have one really good reason why your app deserves this time for planning: crappy apps breed unhappiness. Good apps create a positive experience and way to connect.

The typical development time for a "successful" app in my *completely unscientific poll* for association executives is about 6 months, but this can vary wildly based on what the app is supposed to do. An old post on iPhone app development features a timeline of 2.5 to 3 months. If you would like to share your own organization's experience and timeline, please post in the comments. I think there are many, many people out there who would love to learn from you!

The timeline for a well-executed app has a wide range dependent upon your organization's goals. So what are your goals? Do you want to keep people up-to-date by providing an app of your blog or events calendar? Do you want to build an app for your upcoming conference? Do you want to create a game within the app for students in your organization? Do you want your members to have their database information available to them?

I asked a few people on Twitter about their app-development process and their responses confirmed what I had witnessed in the association space. It takes much more time to discover the vision for the app, gather buy-in or arrange for the budget approval, and evaluate options for implementation (in house development vs. outsourced development) than they originally thought it would. Also, the details were beastly.

  1. @kikilitalien we outsourced ours and spent a month + getting the data transfer together. #assnchat
  2. @kikilitalien we're now meeting to see what else it can do. #assnchat
  3. @shannonburke Thanks for sharing! What was the toughest part of the process for your crew? #assnchat
  4. @kikilitalien #assnchat Most Difficult - The level of precision data must retain. It really lives up to "you get back what you put in"

Jeff De Cagna of Principled Innovation has a list of questions he suggests association executives look at while considering an app and Joshua Paul from Socious shares a helpful list, as well. You might just want to take a little more time to develop your app so you can make sure you do right by your members and be sure you've taken a look at the right questions before announcing you have a new app to the staff or members.

Deposite: 2 cents. ;-)

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Social Media Sweet Spot Notes: Episode 99" on Storify

Hate feeling like the last to know? Me too. Here are the links and topics we talked about (or meant to talk about) on the DelCor Social Media Sweet Spot, Episode 99.

  1. Chats:
    1.     #assnchat every Tuesday at 2 pm ET – this week’s chat was about professional development. Next week’s will be about performance reviews.

    2.     #Eventprofs chat that takes place on Twitter every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET (there is another that happens on Thursdays at 12 Noon ET).

    3.     The next  #measurePR chat will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 12-1 pm ET.

    · – Podcast #1: Storytelling for Associations with Christina Smith (
    ·      Next episode of Association Cocktail coming soon!

    ·      Klout freaks everyone out on Wednesday, October 26th by changing its algorithm

    ·      OMG – Another social media snafu with Chapstick! Or, Why the Legal Dept Should Not Run Your Social Media Strategy (nod to Catharine P. Taylor for that one)

    Upcoming Meetings & Speaking Gigs:
    ·      ProgressU: Blogger Summit – NOV 10, 2011 AWESOMENESS WILL REIGN SUPREME!!!

    ·      EventCamp Vancouver - #ecv11
    ·      EventCamp East Coast
    ·      ASAE Tech
    ·      Call for proposals for ASAE Annual, etc

    Blogs of Note:
    1.     Eric Lanke Blog: Why Innovation Is Hard (
    2.     The Wall Street Journal Online: Put on a Happy Face. Seriously. (
    3.     Ragan’s PR Daily: (From Oct 17) Nearly 100 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use social media (
    4.     Joe Gerstandt’s Blog: Talent Is Irrelevant (
    5.     Both Sides of the Table: Lead, Follow or Get the Fuck Out of the Way (
    6.     Danny Brown Blog: A Letter to Joe Fernandez of Klout (
    7.     The Online Community Guide (by Feverbee):  The One Essential Task For Newly Hired Community Managers (
    8.     SocialFish: It’s a Personnel Issue! – NLRB and Social Media by Leslie White (’s-a-personnel-issue-nlrb-and-social-media.html)
    9.     Social Media Influence: Social Media News & Intelligence (by Bernhard Warner): The amazingly gratifying angry customer service Tweet (
    10.  David Armano’s Blog: Klout, Kred and the Ugly Truth About Social Influence Measurement (written by Jennifer Leggio, a Forbes social media blogger and raconteur.) (
    11.  Social Media Insider blog: Read My Lips: This Chapstick Social Media Controversy Is Really Stupid (

    Cool Tools and Websites:

    Watchittoo (used by TechSoup for “Nonprofits Live!)
    Watchitoo’s collaboration platform allows up to 25 meeting participants to collaborate in a virtual video conference environment, around nearly any form of rich media (like PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, documents, photos and Hi-Definition video clips), from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The platform allows this rich media and video collaboration to be viewed by audiences of thousands of people. If you work out of coffee shops, hotels, airports and your home every bit as much as the office, is for you.  We share resources on telecommuting, online tools, travel, technology, business & virtual offices to help you shift when, where & how you work. is powered by Citrix Online. Learn more about workshifting and how workshifting is saving employees, employers and the environment while improving business performance and employee satisfaction. Learn more about the easy-to-use online collaboration tools that Citrix Online provides.