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

    Heather Story
    Volunteer Strategies

    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. 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. 
    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
    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

    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

  • Tuesday, April 12, 2022 10:17 AM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)
      Anuja Miner
      Director of Strategic Sales
      Manufacturers Alliance

    In this week's member spotlight, we want to highlight Anuja Miner who joined Fridays@4 in August 2020 after losing her job during the pandemic. A University of Michigan graduate, Anuja has spent most of her career in association management serving in a variety of positions from membership to executive roles. All has turned out well for Anuja, after building her network in the last year she has recently landed a new role as director of strategic sales for the Manufacturers Alliance. Congrats, Anuja!

    We asked Anuja about her experience at Fridays@4 and asked her to share with others why she is member and how her membership has helped her. For Anuja, it all boils down to community and connection.

    Anuja joined Fridays@4 on the very first call in August 2020.  "I wasn’t sure if it would sustain itself since we only had 13 participants on that call. I thought it was a group that was specifically created for association professionals who had recently lost their jobs and Fridays@4 was a place for individuals to network" she shares. "However, it has become so much more than that."  Fridays@4 was co-founded by Shelly Trent and Paul Weintraub and has grown from those 13 participants to close to 400 members. The society has developed an impressive list of relevant and engaging speakers that attract over 30+ participants on weekly calls. "I truly look forward to attending and participating in the weekly calls and avoid scheduling anything that would conflict with the virtual meeting. It's become a community where individuals can speak freely, network, share ideas, engage others and seek answers to questions that impact them directly without any judgement from the group and the credit goes to the founding members" says Anuja. 

    Anuja has used the connections she has built in Fridays@4 to help her during her recent search. She reached out to Shelly Trent who has always been helpful in providing advice. Anuja believes that the best part about this group is the fact that "it all came together because Shelly and Paul saw a need to build a community where association leaders could come together and connect."

  • Tuesday, March 29, 2022 9:08 AM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)

    The Fridays@4 Society ended last week restoring balance and health to lead us into the weekend and beyond. Melissa Curtin shared with attendees how to tap into the intelligence of our hearts to build resilience and provide coherence.

    She reminded us that often the stressors in our life are mostly of our own creation and that ultimately, we are responsible for our stress. Humans often focus on items that are in our past of how we could have done things differently. But those items are in the past and we need to be present in the here and now and focus on our future. Humans live in a chronic state of stress and COVID didn’t change that. It may have even exasperated it even more. And when stress sets in, we tend to turn to comfort first and not necessarily items that would help us regroup and refocus such as exercise, nutrition and proper breathing.

    The key to building a healthy life is understanding your body and understanding what stress does to it. The speaker equated stress to a rattlesnake bite and how you have limited time to get the antivenom after a bite. Our bodies when they feel stressed release cortisol and once released it can take 13 hours to get it out of the system, so we must react quickly to stressors and build resilience to fight the negative affects that can occur with stress. Resilience falls into four domains – physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. If you can balance these areas, you build coherence and maintain balance.

    The other piece to understand is how the heart is affected by stress. If the cortisol levels are released and we are feeling negative emotions, then we develop a cortical inhibition which causes fogginess in our brain and reduces our ability to function. If we experience good emotion, we develop cortical facilitation which allows us to think clearly, make better decisions and function at full capacity. The signals the heart sends to the brain allows the brain to determine what our overall emotion will be and if we can remember to breath and refocus, we can reverse or stop the negative effects of cortisol and become fully coherent. This is all explained more in a video from the HeartMath Institute on The Fascinating Relationship Between the Heart and Brain.

    Towards the end of the session we practiced the Inner-Ease™ Technique.  The first step is to acknowledge your feelings, then focus on heart-focused breathing imagining each breath allows you to feel inner-ease and then when things calm down acknowledge the commitment that you want to anchor. Attendees left the session feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the weekend.

    If you would like to see the session, a recording can be found in the Fridays@4 event archives.

    Additional Resources related to this topic can be found on the HeartMath Institute website.

  • Thursday, March 24, 2022 3:58 PM | Jennifer Poff (Administrator)

    Tuesdays@2 kicked off on March 22nd with learning how to beat the bots in an age where a machine may be the first review of your resume. Approximately 40-50% of all businesses now use some form of an applicant tracking system (ATS) for resumes. The system relies heavily on matching key words between the job posting and the resumes received. It narrows down the candidates to approximately 25% before human review begins.

    What tips did our speaker, Shelly Trent, share with us to beat these bots?

    1. Simplify resume formatting and place jobs in chronological order. No headers, footers, tables or serif fonts. The ATS can’t read special formatting and your resume could be blocked.
    2. Watch out for misspellings and incorrect grammar. The one exception is if there is a misspelling or grammar mistake in the job posting you may want to recreate that since the system matches the job posting with the resume.
    3. Application required in addition to resume indicates there may be an ATS. Be sure to enter details into the application and clean up any transfer of information that auto populates into the application.
    4. Remove objective statements and replace with headlines. Tell the organization or recruiter what your value proposition is. Then highlight your accomplishments in the area where you share responsibilities. The more you can quantify about yourself, the more you will stand out.
    5. Language should match the posting. Most ATS reviews look for 85% of the wording that was used in the job posting. You will need to tailor your resume to each posting.
    6. Remove street address. You don’t want someone to be able to Google your address as they could make false judgements based on size of house and income.
    7. File name should include your name. When you save your resume file use your name in the file name. For example, JaneDoe-Resume-2022. Do the same for cover letters. Pay attention to file type as well. Some systems can’t read pdfs, so you may need to submit a .doc or .docx file.
    8. Use your network. Social media is king in today’s job search. For every 10 minutes you spend on your resume, spend 1 hour on LinkedIn. 73% of recruiters today have hired from social media and knowing someone within a company or has ties to the company may help you in the event you get blocked initially by the ATS.

    There is a tool that job seekers can use to determine how their resume matches up to the posting. is a site that allows you to scan your resume and the posting to see how the ATS might impact your chances. In addition, it also has tools for LinkedIn optimization, cover letter assistance and other job search resources.

    Here are some additional resources shared to help you craft that standout resume:

    10 Boilerplate Phrases that Kill Resumes
    Liz Ryan SFGATE

    Confessions of a Recruiting Director
    Brad Karsh

    A recording of the session will be posted soon along with other previous content can be found on the event archives page of the Fridays@4 website.

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