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  • Monday, September 12, 2022 12:09 PM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)

    Fridays@4 members came together for the first time in person during the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN. Over 20+ members of the Fridays@4 community were in attendance and participated in our group dinner on Monday, August 22nd at the Nash House Spoon and Saloon. After seeing everyone for two years virtually, it was the first time many of us had met each other in person and it was fantastic.

    The theme for this year’s Annual Meeting was centered around disruption creating opportunity in our everyday work. The last two years have been critical in showing us that in order for our businesses to continue to exist, we must be willing to take some risk so that disruption does not close our business, but rather creates new opportunity. We must use foresight, vision, strategy and collaboration in order to identify changes and pivot as needed.

    Some key highlights from the conference included:

    • Opening Session – Safi Bachall shared that the single distinguisher for disruption is experimentation at pace and scale. He used Circuit City as an example of being a leader in the retail tech space prior to Best Buy coming on board. Best Buy’s ability to experiment on small scales and being nimble eventually gave them the edge to become the leader. He also mentioned that creating innovative cultures take time because of the fear of failure and the lack of risk tolerance in organizations. He shared 5 practical rules for making the shift – celebrate good fails, reduce friction to run experiments (be a gardner, not a Moses), equally love your artists and your soldiers, measure speedboats and helicopters, get quickly to the boats in the water.
    • Marcus Whitney’s session – Marcus shared his journey from working in restaurants while struggling to raise a young family to his journey as a venture capitalist and soccer team owner. As a black man, Marcus is often a minority in the circles he works with in the spaces of healthcare and soccer. In 2020, when social justice issues came to light, Marcus knew he had to do something and that he could possibly have an impact in the healthcare space regarding service to underrepresented groups. He sent a letter to several Nashville healthcare provider executives sharing his concerns regarding healthcare for minorities. He succeeded and was able to begin the conversation with large healthcare providers to create equal opportunities for healthcare for all. This is still something he continues to work on.
    • Leadership tracks – Leadership has changed since the pandemic. People are being forced to pivot faster than ever and for leaders that can create challenges of bringing their teams along at the same pace. Fear, doubt, complexity and being overwhelmed are driving themes in what has been called perma crisis mode, but relational leadership can help shift our organizations to the level they need to be at in what is now our post pandemic world. Global trends and association trends need to be considered. Global trends impacting our businesses are lack of trust, culture, technological changes, Environmental Social and Governance (ESG)/Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) models, complexity missteps and the Metaverse redefining reality. Association trends include more non-dues revenue drivers, trust trifectas between employees, members and stakeholders, safe events, online communities, accelerated micro learning upskills and rethinking our purposes. We also must be willing to make a more humane effort in our workplaces than ever before and balance power in organizations to avoid power struggles.
    • Transitioning in the association world – People are still seeking their next roles or balancing their new roles since the pandemic. The conference offered several panels for association professionals in transition sharing that it is okay to ask for help, reach out to executive recruiters and begin the conversation of what you are seeking, build your network of both people in your space and outside of your space. It was recommended to build a spreadsheet to track your search. As you get offers, trust your gut instincts on whether it is the right fit. If it doesn’t feel right, politely decline and look for something else.
    • The Disruption = Opportunity theme carried through to the Awards Luncheon and Closing Keynote, with award recognitions honoring association leaders who have blazed trails in the industry, a celebration of the 102 newly certified CAEs and a welcoming of the new officers and directors for the ASAE and ASAE Research Foundation Boards of Directors. The Closing keynote featured Cidny Bullens, GRAMMY-nominated musician and LGBTQ advocate, who shared an emotionally inspired life story. He spoke of growing up knowing that he was, as his mother put it, “born wrong.” Although his career rose to great heights, including playing onstage with Elton John in the mid-seventies, he suppressed his true self. It was only after the tragic death of his 11-year-old daughter in 1996 to cancer that he returned to music after trying for years to live the façade of a stay-at-home mom. With the help of his musician friends, including Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams, and Rodney Crowell, he recorded an awarding-winning album of deeply personal songs written as his way to work through the grieving process. Following its release, he traveled the world speaking on behalf of bereaved parents. In 2011 he began what would become a year-long transformation from female to male, when “Cindy” would officially become “Cidny.” Since then, he has performed a one-person show advocating for LGBTQ rights. He ended his address with an uplifting message that through a lifetime of disruption and opportunity, he discovered that, “I wasn’t born wrong, I was born me.”

    On August 9, we discussed highlights from the 2022 Annual meeting and several people shared sessions that positively impacted them. Several people were impressed with Cidny Bullens closing session, but others noted were Jeff DeCagna’s presession on Building a Fit-for-Purpose Board of Directors in the Turbulent Twenties, Brian Summers’ presentation on Faciliatation: The Essential Association Expertise, Richard Greene’s Redefining the Art of Public Speaking, a panel on Executive Transitions and a session from Lowell Aplebaum discussing the shift in power dynamics and how to create balance in your association. Everyone agreed that the best part of the conference was finally getting the chance to see everyone in person after a couple of years of Zoom.

    If you missed this year’s event, ASAE has a virtual option available with some of the sessions. You can register here for the online event. The 2023 ASAE Annual Meeting will be held in Atlanta, GA on August 5-8, 2023. Registration information is usually available on the ASAE website in March or April.

  • Monday, July 11, 2022 10:56 AM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)

    We had our second book club discussion on Rita McGrath's Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen.

    Feborah Dixon led us on a great discussion centered around the key points of the book. If you have not read the book, you can get a summary of it here

    The book focuses on three themes:

    • How do you see an inflection point?
    • How do you decide what to do?
    • How do you bring people along?

    The author uses the analogy throughout the book of snow melting from the edges and that we must be present at those edges to see the change that is coming. There are eight practices she recommends that can help you identify potential areas of inflection before they disrupt your company.

    • Ensure direct connection between the people at the edges of your company and leadership
    • Include diverse perspectives in thinking about the implications of the future
    • Use deliberate decision making processes for consequential and irreversible decision. Use small, agile, empowered teams for reversible experimental decisions.
    • Foster little bets that are rich in learning, ideally distributed across the organization
    • Pursue direct contact with the environment
    • Make sure your people are incentivized to hear about reality
    • Realize when your people are in denial
    • Expose yourself and your organization to where the future is unfolding today

    She also mentions looking at various indicators tied to your business while paying close attention to what she calls leading indicators. Oftentimes, we focus on lagging indicators (operating margins, revenue, turnover) and current indicators (what is happening now) and forget to look at leading indicators (pieces that are not yet facts, but rather qualitative thoughts about the organization). 

    In order for an organization to make the shifts necessary and become innovative and forward-thinking, leaders need practices such as continuous reconfiguration rather than relying on stability. The ability to be nimble and focus on voices outside of the leadership team will be crucial as oftentimes the people in the trenches can see what is happening more clearly than leadership that is more hands off in the day to day hands on work of the company. The group discussed that one of the challenges around this is that associations tend to be more risk adverse than for-profit organizations. Members involvement in decisions and long histories with a level of stability provide challenges in today's environment of change. Don't worry though, the author outlines a plan for how organizations can move their people level to level when coping with inflection points.

    • Level 1: Create an appetite for innovation
    • Level 2: Get started and clear the way
    • Level 3: Local proof of concept
    • Level 4: Launch a few opportunistic wins
    • Level 5 and 6: Begin challenging systems, structures and routines
    • Level 7: Institutionalize
    • Level 8: Continuous renewal in innovation

    At the end of the book, the author provides a chapter for how to use this method for seeing inflection points in your own life as well. 

    If you would like more resources to study the themes in this book, you can visit the links below. 

    If you would like to view the presentation, visit the Fridays@4 event archives. You must be a member to view previous events.

  • Monday, July 04, 2022 3:34 PM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)
    Thank you to our blogger this week, Shelly Trent, for providing a terrific summary of our recent session. Please read below to learn more about returning to in-person meetings.

    Speakers:

    Feborah Dixon, CMP
    Andrea Y. Massengile, CMP
    Darlene W. Somers, CMP, DES

    They’re BAAAACK!  In-person events are back in swing now that most people have received COVID-19 vaccinations.  People are not as nervous about being in close contact with others, so meetings and conferences are opening up again in 2022.  The speakers noted that the attendance numbers were higher than expected, probably because members are tired of Zoom meetings – they want to learn and network face-to-face.  Hybrid meetings are still an option, and many members will expect to have that choice.  Further, international speakers or attendees may not be able to travel yet, depending on the status of COVID in their countries, so virtual options will be needed for them.  Remember that hybrid events come with additional expenses, so conference registration fees may need to be increased to cover the costs.

    Federal COVID guidelines are still in place, so meeting planners need to continue to follow the protocols.  However, state guidelines may be different than the federal protocols, and states may not allow masks, proof of vaccinations or a recent negative test, or other COVID precautions.  Other states will, of course, allow proof of vaccinations, and your event planners can use an outside vendor to collect them if needed.  Even without masking, conference planners can set up the rooms with social distancing in mind. 

    Registrants should sign a disclosure statement that says the association cannot be sued if an attendee tests positive for COVID following the event.  Consider surveying members prior to planning your event to ask them what level of safety they feel most comfortable with and then act accordingly.  “Over communication” to attendees about the event safety plan is key during COVID!  Most people don’t read emails carefully, so the more information you provide about your event, the better.

    Keep in mind that some of your speakers and even staff will not be able to attend the event at the last minute, due to a positive COVID test or COVID illness in their immediate family.  Some speakers and/or attendees may even get COVID from their flights.  If your event is in a state or country and you are not familiar with their COVID regulations, consider hiring an attorney from that state/country who can guide your decisions regarding safety.

    Conference staff can use safety protocols such as Plexiglas dividers at registration, masks for all staff, health checks onsite, COVID catering protocols, etc.  Some conference centers and hotels are “back to normal” with events, so if your organization wants to employ safety procedures, it may be challenging to use those facilities.  Ensure that the vendors you use for A/V, catering, etc., are going to follow the procedures you have in place so that your attendees will feel at ease.  Hotels and conference centers underwent dire financial circumstances during COVID, and are no longer being understanding about cancellations, so expect to pay cancellation fees.  If you have registrants who want to cancel based on your COVID protocol, rather than return their registration fees, offer to roll them over to another event.

    Participants, staff, and speakers will undoubtedly test positive during your event.  As your staff and the hotel is made aware of positive tests, it is a good idea to send emails and conference app notifications to ensure everyone is informed.  Once you know that you have COVID-positive people at your event, consider offering them complementary meals delivered to their hotel rooms.  As long as your event is hybrid, those who have tested positive can continue to enjoy the conference from their hotel rooms (as long as they are not too ill).  Continue to send texts to those attendees to make them feel included and check on their wellness.  Most hotels will also monitor the guest’s wellness and needs.

    If you would like more information, here are the additional resources the speakers shared at the end of the presentation:

    To view a recording of the event, please visit the Fridays@4 event archives. You must be a member to access the event archives. If you are not a member, you can join here.

  • Monday, June 20, 2022 12:00 AM | Blake Stenning (Administrator)

    The Fridays@4 Society is accepting nominations for President-Elect and Secretary for a term beginning October 1, 2022. This is a great opportunity to build your leadership skills and help continue to advance our growing organization. Self-nominations are welcome. If you are interested in serving on the Board or would like to nominate someone to serve on the Board, please submit your nomination to secretary@fridaysat4.org. The nomination period will be from June 20 - July 20, 2022.

    POSITION DESCRIPTIONS

    President-Elect
    The President-Elect chairs committees on special subjects as designated by the board. The President-Elect will preside at the meetings of the organization and of the board in the absence of the President. In the event of the disability of the president, the President-Elect will become acting president with all the powers of the President. The President-Elect will serve for a term of two (2) years and shall be elected in an even year. The President-elect will become the President at the end of their 2-year term.

    Secretary
    The Secretary must keep records of board actions, including taking minutes at all board meetings, sending out meeting announcements, distributing copies of minutes and the agenda to each board member, and maintaining corporate records. The Secretary will keep the records and papers of the organization for historical purposes. The Secretary will perform such other duties as the board may assign. The Secretary will serve for a term of two (2) years.


    POTENTIAL BOARD NOMINEE QUESTIONS

    • What excites you about Fridays@4?
    • How would others who served with you describe your leadership style?
    • In your opinion, what are the core responsibilities of board members? List three.
    • What are the core values and experiences you bring to the leadership landscape?How will you take an active role in making connections, building relationships, and business development?
    • What is your vision and what are your priorities to help Fridays@4 achieve its mission?
    • The Fridays@4 Board requires 3-8 hours a week. Please confirm that you are willing to commit to this. How will you ensure that you can dedicate the time needed to serve the organization in a leadership role?
  • Monday, June 13, 2022 4:54 PM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)

    We started our Book Club Discussion Series on Simon Sinek's Finding Your Why. 

    Ann Link led the discussion by sharing some of the key highlights from the book followed by a lively discussion from our attendees. Sinek and his team have created a framework over the years to help individuals and their organizations find their why. He uses what is called a Golden Circle which he explains in his first book and discusses during his TED Talk - Start With Why.

    The book "Finding Your Why" is more of a workshop guide that provides instruction for how readers can find their individual why, their department why or their organizational Why. It also breaks down on the type of people you can bring in to help with this. For individuals, it can be difficult to find your Why on your own and therefore you should include a partner who can help identify themes in your stories to help draft your Why. For organizations, it is recommended to bring in a facilitator in certain scenarios. If you are the facilitator for this exercise, the book provides guidelines for that as well.

    For individuals, our Why or purpose in life is fully developed by our late teens and is based on memories of events throughout our lives. After going through the Why exercise, your basic statement will follow a pattern of "To _____ so that _______". This statement will be relevant to your personal life and professional life. We don't have a separate one because our Why is at the core of who we are. 

    In organizations, you will have an overall why and then you can have what is called nested whys for each department; however, all nested Whys will serve the companies overarching Whys. Sinek and team believe that an individual why must align with a company Why in order for success to take place and for the individual to feel fulfilled. This doesn't mean that a new staff member would create a Why, but rather would need to make sure the Why of the culture fits their current purpose. The Why for a company doesn't usually change, but rather identifies people who fit their Why to help move them forward.

    As you work through the exercises to determine your Why and discuss pieces of the Golden Circle, you will learn that What you or the organization offer are your products, services and job functions, the Hows are your values, guiding principles and actions that differentiate us and the Why defines what you and the organization stand for - the collective purpose, cause or belief. The What will be the easiest to understand and the Why the hardest. The What comes from our neo-cortex or the part of the brain responsible for rational, analytical thought and language. The Why corresponds to the limbic brain which is responsible for feelings, but has no capacity for language making it difficult to communicate our Why, so we must pose questions in the form of What first to get there.

    If you would like some more information around Simon Sinek's Why philosophy and how to incorporate it into your personal and professional life, please check out the resources below.


  • Monday, June 06, 2022 1:16 PM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)

    Heather Story
    Consultant
    Volunteer Strategies

    Treasurer
    The Fridays@4 Society


    Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organizations and in order to succeed association professionals must embrace working with volunteers to meet the mission and vision of their organization. In new organizations, the volunteers are often the staff managing the operations until there is enough funding to hire staff. And sometimes, we need an expert to help us with our volunteers and that is where Heather Story comes in.

    Heather began her association career with an international organization where she worked in their publishing, marketing and membership departments. During that time, she was given a challenge of “revitalizing staff support of [the] association’s societies and divisions”. It was during this time she discovered her passion and talent for working with volunteers. After spending several years with the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), Heather left the Atlanta area to move to Knoxville, TN where she decided to build her own business, Volunteer Strategies.

    So how does Heather help volunteers in associations and nonprofits? “Volunteers have great ideas about what they want to accomplish, but frequently get bogged down in the operational aspects of how to achieve their goals. My passion is developing systems and processes to help volunteer leaders in associations thrive so they can focus on being the experts in their industry.” Building processes and systems is something Heather definitely helps with in her service to Fridays@4. She is one of the founding members and currently serves as Treasurer. In addition to overseeing the finances, she is responsible for ensuring there is a solid structure to support the vision of the organization. Heather also helps research technological tools and identifies innovative solutions that will help the organization continue to grow.

    “When the four of us got together and started Fridays@4, I had no idea our weekly Zoom calls would turn into a full-blown association. Born out of a need we saw during the 2020 ASAE virtual conference for people to find a way to actually connect with one another while navigating pandemic lockdowns and layoffs, it has been both exciting and challenging to start up an association from scratch,” she shared. The organization has definitely grown and continues to expand thanks to Heather and a few others for taking an idea and running with it. She mentioned that Fridays@4 has been a learning experience by providing a broader understanding of how important your team is to the success of an organization. Focusing on individual strengths and challenges while taking time to build the team is mission critical to any organization.

    Her biggest piece of advice for those who are between opportunities or may be thinking about changing careers, “build and nurture your network.” People often stay focused on their network as it ties to the association they are currently involved in, but we need to expand that base through outside networks. Organizations like Fridays@4 allow you to network with individuals that work in associations and nonprofits and gives you a base to seek advice outside of your internal organization. Heather shares that she has made some great friends through her connections with Fridays@4. “You need people in your life who not only understand your professional world, but also know you personally. It’s been a fantastic outcome from my Fridays@4 involvement.”

    While working with volunteers can sometimes be a challenging part of any association role, they are crucial to the existence of associations and nonprofits. They provide the expertise, passion and support needed to achieve the mission and vision of the organization. Heather’s one piece of advice she would share with all associations is, “Make supporting, recognizing and developing your volunteers a priority. With all of the day in and day out pressures of running an association, it’s easy to let volunteer support fall to the bottom of your list. Don’t let that happen. The payoff will far outweigh the effort.”


  • Monday, May 16, 2022 12:46 PM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)

    During our recent Fridays@4 session, Michael Butera shared major trends impacting associations and how we need to utilize long-term thinking to effect short-term strategy.

    Many associations have long histories of success which can impact their ability to be change agents in today's world of continuous rapid disruption. ASAE has developed resources for association leaders to use as they begin to think about the future through their Foresight Works project. Michael shared that the Drivers of Change: Summaries and Forecasts resource can help with beginning discussions around the future, as well as McKinsey Insights

    There are three major trends impacting today's association:

    • Technology
    • Globalization
    • Life-long learning at both the personal and institutional level

    In order for organizations to survive in today's environment, they must use long-term thinking and be aware of how these major trends can impact them. What does the future look like? Where do we stand currently versus where we need to be? How do we get support for future initiatives? Michael shared there are three components to long-term thinking that are key.

    1. Independence of thought or the ability to be objective in the conversation 
    2. Creating personal and institutional curiosity
    3. Resilience

    As you begin the process of long-term thinking, there are four options to discuss.

    1. Impact of proposal
    2. Acknowledge immediate gratification
    3. Seek outside guidance and ask powerful questions
    4. Decide and move forward remembering failure can happen and that is okay 

    Once you find an area or issue, you would like to work through, create a simulation of that proposal by presenting the issue, sharing the data answering the 5 Ws (who, what, when where and why), reflect on the options and ask if we want __________, we must first do ____________.

    As you move through the process you are adapting to the environment. You are developing curiosity, balance and strategic foresight with a respectful use of power. You are okay with failure and celebrate it. You are asking the questions that encourage thought and discussion and you are creating an association that will thrive and remain relevant in the future.

    We also need to be aware of four classic association activities that can lead to long-term failure. As leaders, it is our responsibility to educate our boards and make sure we avoid these classic mistakes or transition out of them as we move forward.

    1. Strategic planning in one day. One day is not enough time to build a strategic plan. It doesn't allow for scanning the environment and doing a proper SWOT analysis. You need to be able to have discussions around the environment, what the challenges might be in the future and find data to support the discussion.
    2. Failure to invest in infrastructure. Organizations that fail to support staff professional development, technology and other resources to move forward will fall behind. Allocation of resources is critical in the process and oftentimes these are areas associations may cut due to expense, but it can cause more harm than good.
    3. Secession planning. Most organizations create a secession plan for their C-suite executives, but oftentimes forget to expand for below that. Staffing is not the only area that can be impacted by secession plans, organizations should also think about plans for business units and departments.
    4. Agendas without strategic discussion. Agendas that include someone reading a report that could be covered by pre-meeting prep need to be moved to the consent agenda. With limited time in Board meetings, the meeting should focus on strategy and future rather than items that have already happened.

    Not only can you use this for your organization, but there is a personal impact too. Some suggestions for building your own personal future plan are:

    • Keep a journal. Spend 5-10 minutes a day reflecting on the activities of that day. Write down what went well, any challenges and what you can do better.
    • Write, rewrite and read out loud your long-term goals.
    • Reflect on decisions made. For example, If I want to get to ____, we must first do ______________.
    • Study outside of your discipline. Read a book, listen to a podcast, google an area of curiosity, watch a Ted Talk, etc. 

    Michael shared three additional resources for us to explore the topic further.

    The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World
    Dorie Clark

    The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World
    Peter Schwartz

    The Art of Powerful Questions: Catalyzing Insight, Innovation and Action
    Eric Vogt, Juanita Brown and David Issacs


  • Monday, May 09, 2022 10:33 AM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)

    Companies must prepare for disasters more today than ever before, yet 62% of companies don't have disaster and recovery plans in place per the Ad Council. Shelly Trent, in a recent Fridays@4 session, shared there are five types of disasters organizations should plan for - geological, weather, biological, human caused accidental or intentional crisis and technological. Failing to prepare for these disasters could put your organization at risk of failure. The guidelines below are meant to give you access to resources and steps to create the plan now before disaster impacts you and your organization.

    Why does your organization need a plan?

    • You need to be able to protect the safety of employees, members/clients and others from potential hazards in the event of an emergency. Be mindful of those who may need assistance due to disability or functional needs. 
    • You need to minimize disruption to your organization. Backup plan for operations in the event your building is inaccessible during the emergency. 
    • You need to plan to protect facilities, physical assets and electronic info.
    • Protect the organizations, brand, image and reputation.

    How do you create a plan?

    • Review online resources and templates to get you started. Ready.gov is a great site to start.
    • Create a planning committee including staff and members from every department to help determine what disasters or crisis might occur. You want to plan for every possibility, no matter how rare. Once the committee has developed recommendations, get buy in from senior leaders and the board to enact.
    • Provide every employee with a clearly outlined plan and train them. Include a process for when to do what, where to go and who to contact. 

    What are the goals of the plan?

    • Minimize potential economic loss
    • Decrease potential exposure
    • Reduce probability of occurrence
    • Ensure organizational stability
    • Provide orderly recovery
    • Minimize insurance premiums (having disaster plans can save you money on insurance)
    • Reducing reliance on key individuals
    • Protecting assets of the organization
    • Ensuring the safety of staff and members/clients
    • Minimize decision making during a disaster
    • Minimize legal liability

    Once you develop your plan, you will need to regularly test and update your plan. There are five components you should test - activation and notification, information management and communication, resource deployment, command and control of supporting teams and incident documentation for legal and insurance claims.

    Shelly shared there several resources for your organization to get started. 

    Ready.gov
    DisasterAssistance.gov 
    IRS Tax Relief in Disaster Situation
    Red Cross
    State Offices and Agencies of Emergency Management
    Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety
    Federal Emergency Management Agency
    National Weather Service
    Disastersafety.org
    Disaster Recovery Plan Template 
    National Fire Protection Organization


  • Friday, May 06, 2022 3:00 PM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)
       
    Paul Weintraub, RCDD, ESS, RTPM, TECH, CAE

    President and CEO
    The Fridays@4Society

    Head of International Business 
    Superior Essex Communications

    Shelly Trent, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, CAE, JCTC, JCDC

    President-Elect
    The Fridays@4 Society

    Career Coach/Speaker/Writer/HR Professional Your Career Collaborator LLC

    Innovation is the key to success for associations of the future. Leaders must develop an ability to scope out the market, identify missing opportunities and quickly leverage new ideas. The pandemic has escalated the need for stronger innovation, for associations and individuals to seek out what is missing in the marketplace and their current offerings. Leaders are emerging in the association space with new ideas and new organizations. Fridays@4 is a product of an innovative idea coming to life because of passionate leaders who saw a need and felt the call to serve.

    Paul Weintraub and Shelly Trent saw an opportunity after the 2020 ASAE Annual Meeting to create an organization that met virtually and could connect professionals in the association space that were looking to further develop their career, build leadership skills and learn about trends impacting today’s workplace. And most of all, offer this free of charge to people who need it. This was the start to building the Fridays@4 Society. An organization that today has almost 400 members and is continuing to grow.

    Both Paul and Shelly have served associations for many years starting as volunteers and then joining the staff before branching out into their current roles. Paul’s purpose comes from a calling to serve, loyalty, and comradery towards associations and their members coupled with an appreciation to serve and build communities. Shelly’s passion is based around her expertise in human resources and career coaching and willingness to give back to individuals who are in the midst of changing careers or are searching for their next success. Their personal enthusiasm for helping others, blended with their experiences, led them to building an association that allowed both to increase their leadership skills, share their passion and expertise in career development and connect a community.

    The ability to build an organization from scratch, with no funding and no staff is always a challenge, but Shelly and Paul have met the calling and have addressed the challenges along the way. For Shelly, the biggest challenge has been “getting our 501c3. There was a lot of detailed paperwork involved, and after we filed, they sent us additional questions to answer. It took about a year to get the status. We are proud of it, though!” Paul feels the challenges have been “working with the board and volunteers, keeping everyone focused and pulling in the same direction, but we have a great team and we have been able to work through these challenges and have seen the association blossom as a result.” In a podcast with Mary Byers, Paul mentions the intentional focus on volunteer selection and using a volunteer’s area of expertise to help with the individual task items to run the organization which is 100% volunteer driven and continues to seek new volunteers.

    There have been many successes, surprises and humbling moments along the way. Paul and Shelly have been surprised at the speed of growth, the willingness of people to help the organization at no charge and the ability for people to regain their confidence and change their demeanor after connecting with others.

    As the organization moves forward and approaches two years in August 2022, the organization’s strategic plan includes increasing programming with different day and time offerings, expand to be a resource for other associations who need a career center for their conferences and developing a paid membership offering that allows members access to more in-depth career coaching services. They do want to remember the key reason why they built the organization though and that is to allow people make meaningful connections through a solution that is affordable to all. “ASAE does a good job of meeting the career needs of members; however, their career services are quite expensive and out of reach for most mid-level association professionals. Fridays@4 is filling the need for those who can’t afford the high-priced career coaching services,” says Shelly. “’Associations transform society through the power of collaboration’ and sometimes, I think that message is lost in the day-to-day of the job. This mantra, along with the understanding of what this statement really means, needs to be embraced by association professionals at all levels,” shares Paul. And this is what Fridays@4 does, it allows for professionals from across the US and globally to collaborate, expand their networks, and gain knowledge in a complimentary virtual environment.

    Paul and Shelly really saw an opportunity along with a few others to build a new association. They saw an opportunity for innovation. They are building a long-lasting product and consistently scanning the marketplace for new ideas and evaluating current options. With 30-40 members on average each week attending the virtual sessions, Fridays@4 continues to be a valued product among association and nonprofit professionals who need to connect and need support. For more information on Fridays@4, please visit the organization’s website or connect through the LinkedIn groups – The Fridays@4 Society or Fridays@4 Association Career Strategy Group.

  • Friday, April 22, 2022 1:51 PM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)

    Kenjie Davis shared both the perks and challenges of becoming a consultant and lessons learned as he has built his own practice. The key lessons are there is no one solid path to being a consultant, developing a network is key as word of mouth will be your strongest advertisement and sometimes you have to take on side hustles before your consulting business becomes successful.

    We had 10 consultants on our call that shared their stories including some with newer startups. Their expertise ranged in strategic planning, medical/technology writing, information technology services, and association management system assistance. The experience has been more pros than cons for each person. While our call consisted of independent consultants, there is another option for those who may want to have a greater safety net while starting in the space. There are many consulting companies out there that are already established and you can always join one of those. 

    So you what happens if you still decide to go on your own?

    You are the boss. This is both a pro and con as it means you are responsible for every aspect of your business. Yes, you can pay someone to help do things such as build a website or manage the finances, but you may not have the funds for that in the beginning. You will need to think through a plan of how you will handle finances, marketing, legal set up, technology and the various projects. 

    Build your network. Your network will bring you more business than any other method of advertisement. Attend events, participate in online groups, volunteer for a local nonprofit who can later serve as a reference and reach out to other consultants who may need your help on a project.

    Research. Read books on consulting and business building. Visit various websites. Utilize your network for feedback. 

    Get a coach. This will allow you to bounce ideas off of a third party as you are building your business and if coaching is part of your business it always helps to say you utilize a coach too.

    The group recommended several books for those who are thinking of starting their own practice to read. The books are:

    Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty
    Patrick Lencioni

    Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork
    Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy

    Book Yourself Solid
    Michael Port

    Website suggestion:
    Consulting Success – includes a 47-page blueprint for free


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