Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My experiences in Chennai, India

In just seven short days I traveled over 18,000 miles roundtrip to Chennai, India from MSP (18,289 to be exact). I love that the Delta planes and Air France have the TV monitors in the back of every seat with the GPS maps. This is one of my favorite pictures!

My association was invited by the Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre to provide training to Indian Neurologists on how to incorporate evidence-based concepts into their daily medical practice. Though the program is only offered to neurology residency program directors in the United States at this time, you can learn more about the program at this link.

So it's no exaggeration that life in the United States and life in India is quite different. Take the traffic for example. Here you see three lanes on the road, yet I've seen over 60 motorcycles jammed in between dozens of cars, a few pedestrians, and some public transit buses. Though the roads are dirty, overcrowded, filled with trash, and busy all the time, there are relatively few accidents. I will even venture to say that the drivers in India are the most attentive drivers that I've ever experienced. You'll see that everyone is centimeters from everyone and completely aware of their surroundings.

Another difference is the food. American food can't even compare to the spices that Indians use in their cuisine. Though I avoided fresh fruit, salads, uncooked vegetables, and meat for health, sanitary and safety reasons, I enjoyed many delicious meals. See some of the pictures below.

If it's one thing that I learned about the culture is that the Indians are a thankful and ingratiating people. There were at least three points in the conference where official ceremonies and thanks were offered to me, my co-worker, and our physicians. It was a wonderful experience to share this thanks and kindness, not to mention the honors, accolades, and gifts.

As you might expect, I didn't have much time to see and experience the country outside of our resort since this was a seven day trip. But what I did see was breathtaking and awe-inspiring. Immediately after the conference ended and goodbyes were shared, I jumped into a hotel car and rode off to St. Thomas' Basilica and drove around the city.

Then our final day included a whirlwind tour of Mahalabra seeing temples and carvings honoring the Hindu religion. Many of these carvings were made over two generations of craftsmen and out of single stones of granite over 1,400 years ago.

You'll also see in this next photo that it was raining, a lot! December is the tail end of monsoon season in India and we were not exempt from it this time. Streets and parking lots were flooded, water ran all over the side walks and walkways, and filled parking lots. Within a 30 minute period, I was soaked from head to toe, pants completely soaked, socks and shoes drenched from walking through standing water, but still determined to finish the tour. Our final tourist destination was the shone temple. Seven temples were buried under water for hundreds of years since a monsoon. However, one temple appeared after some water receded, so rocks and stones were used to build a retaining wall to keep it from going under.

This truly was a trip of a lifetime and something I hope you are able to experience. I will admit that India wasn't on my top 10 places in the world to travel, but after experiencing this, I hope I have the opportunity to return and take my family with me. If you do go, I have the following advice to share.
  • Change currency before you get to the country. I tried twice in the MSP and Paris airports but was unsuccessful. By the time I landed in Mumbai I was so tired I wanted to grab my bags and get to the hotel for a few hours to refresh before the last leg of the trip. This caused much frustration to the bag handlers and cab drivers, and also caused me delays when I did exchange the currency. Also let your credit card company know if you're traveling internationally. My Visa card was denied, assumingly because I didn't let them know. However, I was able to get rupees from an ATM and use my work credit card (MasterCard) without problems.
  • Get your immunizations and get mosquito repellent with DEET. I got my shots for Hepatitis A, malaria, and typhoid a week before I went and I'm glad I did. Also get the medication to take in the event you get travelers diarrhea. I can't imagine being ill in a foreign country and requiring medical attention or being laid up for a few days, especially on a plane. I almost didn't get the immunizations since I was only there for 5 days but looking back, I'm glad I did.
  • Everyone speaks and understands English at varying levels. If possible, have a translator with you, preferably someone that you know and trust, or a recommendation from your hotel. In the event that you get blank stares when you ask questions they will come in handy. And when you ask questions, keep them short and ask one question, not a string of them.
  • Be very careful what you eat and drink. It was recommended by my US immunization clinic that you be careful about eating meat, fresh fruit and vegetables (you don't know if it has been washed), and what you drink. I only drank bottled water, brushed my teeth with bottled water, ate cooked vegetables and food, didn't eat anything at room temperature, and still got a flavor for the cuisine. Another tip is that you can ask the waitstaff or chef to make your food less spicy, if you can't take the heat; they won't be offended. I ordered a curry the first day I was in the hotel and cried for about 30 minutes. Don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but hot on the tongue.
  • Be assertive with the bag handlers, attendants, and merchants. I realize there is a fine line between being assertive and being rude, especially when it comes to money. I have some guilt peddling with the merchants for deals (the exchange rate between USD and rupees changed daily but hovered somewhere between 42-45 rupees per $1 USD), but was reassured by our driver that they expect it and enjoy the bartering and conversation with the foreigners. When you're taking your bags from the airport to your car and to your hotel, don't let them out of your sight. Push your own cart and ensure that everything is in your possession. It's common sense for seasoned travelers but it's hard to push away a persistent handler who wants to help you. However, it's hard to get them away without a tip.
  • Finally, bring a video camera and capture the culture and the spontaneous moments. I've provided a video of traffic congestion but also got the sounds of the bikes, cars, buses, people, and horn honking. Within minutes of getting into our car, all my senses were immediately on high alert and taking everything in.
I hope that someday you have the opportunity to travel to India and experience the culture and everything this country has to offer. I hope to go again in the future and bring my wife and son along to share these amazing experiences. Dahn ya vad!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm headed to India!

It's been awhile since I've blogged, mainly due to a lack of time since my son, Gavin Denison Getchius, was born on September 20. It's been such a wonderful experience to be a father. I look forward to all the milestones ahead in life in raising children.

Today's blog is short and sweet, like my trip to Chennai, India, for work. I leave today and return to MSP on December 7. Here are a few tips for packing my bag. True to form, I'm not going to check any luggage, other than some materials I'm bringing for the conference which saved my company a few hundred dollars since I can check two bags for free on Delta. So how do I travel internationally? With a carry-on suitcase and a backpack.

Here's what's inside my carry-on suitcase:
  • 8 sets of undergarments (t-shirts, socks, underwear)
  • 5 polo shirts
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 4 long sleeve button down dress shirts and four pairs of slacks
  • 3 neckties
  • 1 pair of tennis shoes
  • 1 pair of gym shorts
  • Eye glasses, contact solution, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, mosquito repellent (with DEET) (all less than 3oz, of course)
Since my previous trip to Finland in late 2008, I've packed a little smarter with my airplane entertainment and electronics. The technology available to consumers and on the planes has also advanced. Here's what's in my backpack:
  • International power converter
  • Apple headphones
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Passport, immunization card, and VISA
  • Flight itinerary, hotel confirmations
  • Digital camera
  • Video camera
  • iPod
  • iPad
  • Notepad
  • Two books
I can't wait to blog and share my experiences with everyone. Bon voyage!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Success in grant writing - $1MM+

I am proud to share that I coordinated a six week effort to produce all the appropriate paperwork and budget to be successfully awarded and funded by a government grant. If you'd like to read more about this program and what the funding entails, read here. In summary, the grant is for $1,050,000 to develop, disseminate, and implement four clinical practice guidelines on muscular dystrophy. This is really exciting stuff!

So I will be the first to tell you that I'm not a good writer AND I've never written a grant in my life. So what was the secret to success? A few things including the remarkable talent I have on staff and wonderfully passionate physicians. Like any association, when you hit the sweet spot between hard working staff and passionate volunteers, you want to ride that train all day long! Another reason for this success was because of open communication and clear coordination. And finally, a lot of editing and reading. Each night I took the paperwork home and read, reviewed, and edited. I felt like Miranda Priesly in The Devil Wears Prada, reviewing the files each night and making edits. I will let you know I never called a staff person into my office to belittle them and then say "That is all."

I printed and read through the funding announcement 2-3 times making notes each time. I also saved these notes in a public folder on our network so multiple staff had access to them. I also asked myself the following questions: What is required? When is this due? What are my organization's strengths? Weaknesses? Who needs to be involved right now? In a few weeks? Staff? Committee members? My boss and co-workers? CEO and Board Chair?

Instead of sending out the announcement, requirements, and application and asked people to read it, I sent out the requirements calling out a few critical pieces of information and summarized in a 2 paragraph email and meeting invite. I told them who needed to be involved and who was funding this opportunity. I told them what needed to happen and mapped out a timeline. I gave them the network path where all the files were to be kept (I was quite particular with version control and backups, password protecting all documents and making daily backups). I shared with my staff how this project is directly related to the mission and vision of our organization, and I told them how they were to be involved.

In my own mind I knew that 6 weeks would fly by, and they did. I blocked out all open times I had on my schedule for the next six weeks to ensure I would not be pulled into an unnecessary meeting and began to write. I also sent calendar invites to my key staff that would be involved in the review and got firm commitments from them to review, edit, and turn the document around to me. Since I knew that not everyone needed to see the intricacies of the budget, I began to write the narrative first. (I smile thinking back on this because I was limited to 30 pages of single spaced text in the narrative which I thought I'd never come close to). I finished my draft of the narrative and sent it to staff keeping with the deadlines we agreed to do. Then I got into the budget and cranked that out in another two weeks, knowing that my boss, our finance staff, and CFO would need to sign off on it. Once my staff were done reviewing the document and sent me their edits I went through and read them one at a time. Because I was paranoid about version control I didn't let them touch my master document, rather, I took a slightly more inefficient route and emailed them the document, read their changes, then picked and chose what to incorporate into the master document. Then I sent for physician review using the same methods of having them respond via email with edits in their word documents.

Once I received the edits, I reviewed, incorporated and sent out for one more brief review. Concurrently I worked with our CFO and our Controller to ensure the financial pieces fit into place. I'm happy to share that the stars aligned days before the application was due. Not once did I feel rushed or pressured, which would've caused mistakes and frustration. When it was all said and done, I submitted our completed application, including the required narrative and budget, 36 hours before the deadline.

The most important thing I did once this was submitted was made personal face to face visits with the staff in the office and said thank you. I know it certainly went a long way to see them in person over an email. I also made individual phone calls to all our volunteer physicians that worked on this project.

What success stories are you happy to share? If you write grants, what are some of your tips?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Google Voice Updates

I'm providing an update to a post that I wrote on about the benefits of Google Voice for the workshifter. You can see it at this link. This update is pretty brief but provides some additional benefits for the remote worker and/or road warrior.

1. Call phones icon is now in Gmail Chat.
This really comes in handy for me. Now instead of my office phone being forwarded to my Google Voice number, which rang to my cell phone, it now rings to my cell phone AND gmail chat. The reason it's so nice for me is because I work in the basement of my home in my own office and don't get great phone service. Since I'm connected to the internet, I can take the call VOIP in gmail chat and not need to use my cell phone minutes. SCORE! This means I can keep my minutes low and save money on my cell phone bill!

2. Voicemail transcription to your e-mail or SMS
This is so nice for me. I have the opportunity to read the message, no it's not perfect yet, and get the gist of what's going on and can determine whether or not I need to respond right away.

3. Use your Google Voice number as your primary number in the event of an emergency.
My wife and I are preparing to become proud parents (her official due date is tomorrow, but will likely be pushed back a week). What if there is a problem at daycare? Who should be called? Instead of listing four phone numbers (my work, my cell, my wife's work, and her cell), why not list my Google Voice number? I can use this phone tree to ring all four phones at the same time when the daycare is calling me. Whoever picks up first takes the call and in the event that our child needs to be picked up, my wife and I can communicate who is going to do what, and when. are you using Google Voice? Do you have additional tips to share? I'd sure love to hear them and hope that you'll share with others.

p.s., I have decided not to share a specific write-up on the data from my ASAE Generation Y presentation because it might be written in a peer reviewed journal. I'd love it to appear there first, then retweeted and posted here. What I have done is embedded the slides below.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

ASAE Young Professional Leadership Academy reflections (Part 2)

Being in the leadership academy gives you exposure at ASAE. At most meetings I attended, the ASAE young professional leadership academy was mentioned publicly, intriguing other young professionals and seasoned professionals who were enthusiastic that ASAE supported such a program, something, which I was often reminded of on a frequent basis, that wasn't available when the seasoned professionals were learning the ropes. Additional exposure included the opportunity to dive deep into a research project (future post) and present at the 2010 ASAE Annual Meeting. I did just that and can't wait to share these experiences.

How has my leadership style grown and changed since participating in this program? Here are a few of my takeaways from this program on leadership. A leader...
- maintains integrity and company values in times of success and times of trouble, times when in the spotlight and in private
- builds a great network of individuals and confidants to exchange ideas and build a sounding board
- recognizes the contributions of others and seeks creative opportunities through financial and non financial incentives to do so
- creates an environment where collaboration is second nature, not operating in a silo
- embodies the mission, vision, and values of the organization
- walks the walk and talks the talk

I can't wait to share my journey of leadership as I try to write more frequently on this blog. I hope that you'll share your lessons learned, stories, and life experiences.

Next week - a look at my group project research offering perspective and insights into the generation y's actions in the workplace.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

ASAE Young Professional Leadership Academy Reflections (Part 1)

The time has come! I graduated from the ASAE Young Professional Leadership Academy. I want to thank ASAE, my association for their gracious support of financial resources and my time, and American Express for their generous support.

I started this journey with my eyes wide open, not knowing what to expect. As I shared in my final presentation on 8/24/2010 at the Annual Meeting, I was hoping I'd find other individuals like me. Individuals that had questions, knew they could accomplish the impossible, refused to stand for the phrase, "we've always done it that way", and felt that they were missing the connection to their organization's mission, vision, and values. While I don't have answers to all the questions I had coming into the program, I have tremendous insights as I graduate and start another chapter.

So what happened in the last two years? I had the opportunity to expand my role in my association and move into a senior management position managing three staff, and two additional committees. I hate to sound like a power player, but moving into this role has given me a voice and provided me the opportunity for direct contact with other department leaders in my association. While I still encounter red tape and the occasional runaround, I've been able to better communicate the needs, praises, and frustrations of members I work with on a frequent basis to the departments and be heard and taken seriously.

Enough about the mundane, what about the program? I want to answer some questions that I have received from my association's staff and others I've "met" virtually through social media.

Would you recommend this program to other young professionals?
Without a doubt, yes!

Would I do it all over again?
In short, yes.

What if I had to pay out of pocket?
It's tough to answer that honestly. Thinking in the mindset of September 2008 where I was in my career, my wife being laid off and finding another job, our desire to plan for a family, and college debt, I'd say no. That would be my honest and truthful answer before being exposed to the program. Fast forward to today and the answer would be yes, yes, yes!

What about the leadership academy puts a spring in your step?
The opportunities for exposure, networking, access, peer support, and the ability to be mentored by two professionals. I really learned a great deal from Cynthia D'Amour. Please check out her website and read her book, "The Lazy Leader". I've found it to be awe inspiring and engaging, just like Cynthia. And continually check her page to see when she'll be speaking in your city or close by.

More to come next week continuing lessons from the leadership academy, my take on being a leader, and some data sharing from our leadership academy research project.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Final day of ASAE Annual Meeting programming

Learning Made Portable (Monday, August 23)
I found this session to be quite engaging in terms of discussion and in terms of content. The speaker had a great amount of resources from her association and crowd sourced for additional examples. Below are a few summary thoughts.

Spend a lot of time exploring mobile. This is an untapped opportunity as traditional workspaces are changing. People are combining personal and professional into the same workspaces. Smartphones are engaging more individuals in more places outside of the office. Consider using smart phones for test preparation and make it game play. Make it ridiculously easy to do in a short amount of time.

Put ratings and reviews on your products. More and more of the online model is about sharing and obtaining customer feedback. This is especially true in my personal life. My wife and I are preparing for the birth of our first child and are pouring over customer reviews of baby products. What worked well, what didn't, what do users wish the product had, etc... How neat would this be for members in terms of Publications, products, services, and online self-study course offerings.

Measuring success- what are key goals of organization? Need to be measurable (increased subscribers or percentage, click throughs, etc) make sure it's tangible and in aligament of strategic plan.

What will you share with your association? I plan on asking my association if they are considering the development of any apps for our scientific journal. We could certainly take our journal to a mobile app with the ability to rate articles, comment in the virtual space, hyperlink to references in the article, access videos and clinical images, and embed our podcasts which are produced on a weekly basis. Think about the opportunity this provides. Do we need to go through red tape and approval processes for the letters to the editor? What could this do for mobile advertising? Could we work with companies to link to their sites, videos, and other content within the app? How about opportunities to tag the articles and link to other articles within that specialty? Could we offer a link right from the mobile device to a website to complete a form to obtain CME? Accept or reject articles when asked to peer review prior to publication?

These are a few of my thoughts and questions, more than answers. Please share how you are gluing mobile and some of your successes and challenges with the process.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

ASAE Day 1 of Learning

I have the awesome opportunity to attend the ASAE and the Center for Association Leadership Annual Meeting. This is the Mecca of association meetings that provides the opportunity for networking, learning, and everything associations. 
Today's general session keynote speaker was Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic. Coincidentally, I sat next to him on the plane from MSP to LAX last night and had a wonderful conversation. His talk focused on leadership, obviously, but said that everyone is a leader, not just the senior staff or the CEO. I will also provide you with a few bullet points of his talk
- the industrial way of work is DEAD. Command and control is DEAD, and if it isn't at your organization, it should be
- Put the org ahead of your interests 
- Choose the correct leaders for substance, quality and integrity
- Be true to your life story. 
- Values of the organization should be the same around the world. 

The only learning lab that I attended was a discussion of the results from an ASAE survey titled "The Decision to Learn". Here's a few tidbits to share
- respondents stated that access to professional education programs is important! 
- when responding on a 5-point Likert scale with 1 being low and 5 being high physician healthcare executives prefer to learn from Practicioners! (4.63 out of 5) 
- the biggest barrier to learning is travel and fees, including lack of support from employer. 
- millennials want to increase competence in job and are more likely to be motivated by a pay raise
- millenials perceived different barriers to learning including the inability of disposable income to pay their own way, don't have the time to devote to learning, and state that their employer doesn't recognize benefits of professional education (I wonder if that is because millenials want education outside of their core responsibilities)
- learners don't like tests or quizzes.

I hope that you found this useful. I will write another post tomorrow sharing my takeaways. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Benefits of Google Voice for Workshifters

Hi all! I was asked by the folks on the Workshifting blog to provide some content after I wrote my own post about virtual presence. Check out my blog post on their website and share your comments!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Quantifiable benefits of workshifting

Below is a brief summary of Citrix Online's excellent report of workshifting. What are your thoughts? Did any of the findings surprise you? Reaffirm what you're feeling and seeing in your workplace? I welcome your thoughts and feedback and hope that you'll make use of this report.

A summary report of the Citrix Online 2010 report:

In “ (Kate Lister & Tom Harnish, 2010) Workshifting Benefits: The Bottom Line” the authors attempt to quantify the benefits of workshifting --working from anywhere-- for employers, employees, and the community. Workshifting is recently a new concept, formerly referred to as telecommuting or teleworking. It has increased by 74% from 2005 to 2008.

Why allow workshifting and who benefits?

Employer (quantifiable benefits)
  • Increased productivity
    • 27% more productive
      • less distractions
      • more effective time management
      • longer hours
    • If 50 employees were permitted to workshift at least 50% of the time, the company would see an increase in productivity of $288,176 per year.
  • Decreased real estate and related costs
    • Hard for the employer to scale down office offerings
      • less purchase costs (furniture, parking, supplies, security)
    • If 50 employees were permitted to workshift at least 50% of the time, the company would save an average of $151,846/year in electricity alone.
  • Decreased turnover
    • Reduce attrition by 25%; average cost of turnover = 138% of wage
      • Average wage = $32,136
    • 2/3rds of employees on this survey report that they would leave their current job to ease their commute
    • Projected annual savings to the company = $38,046/year
  • Decreased absenteeism
    • Average cost of an unscheduled absence = $310 per absence
    • Telework is the second most effective method of reducing absences Reduce the number of hours wasted in meetings
    • Able to handle personal appointments without losing time; able to work at home when sick and not infect others.
    • If 50 employees were permitted to workshift at least 50% of the time, the company would save an average of $56,700/year in reduced absenteeism.
Employer (non-quantifiable benefits)
  • Ensure continuity of operations
    • Snow and ice storm, H1N1 flu, major road construction - NO PROBLEM with workshifting
    • Sick family member that needs to be cared for - NO PROBLEM with workshifting
  • Base productivity on results; not time in the chair (performance based management)
Half-time home-based workers



Productivity increased



Electricity savings



Absenteeism savings



Turnover savings






  • Use and spend less on gas
    • The average commute = 30 miles/day (a third of commuters have longer drives = 60 miles/day)
    • If an employee telecommuted at least 50% of the time, the employee would save an average of $362/year ($18,080 for 50 employees)
  • Incur less work related expenses
    • Parking, food, clothing
    • If an employee telecommuted at least 50% of the time, the employee would save an average of $3,841/year ($192,086 for 50 employees)
  • Get more time back in your life
    • Commutes
      • Low = 29 minutes
      • Average = 52 minutes
      • High = 79 minutes
    • Better work life balance, happier, and healthier individuals

Friday, June 11, 2010

How I manage my virtual presence

Are you familiar with this term? Wikipedia doesn't actually define it. I would define virtual presence, in terms of instant messaging technologies (i.e., Skype, AIM, MSN Chat, Google Chat, Facebook chat, etc...), as your availability, and sometimes willingness, to engage in virtual conversation. You'll note that I have not included e-mail in my examples because e-mail is considered an asynchronous form of communication.

So how do I manage my virtual presence on these days I work remotely and travel? Oftentimes, I am logged into our internal chat system (Spark) and onto Skype. However, I'm continually changing my status on both when performing various activities. Here's a brief summary of how I manage my virtual presence.
  • When I arrive in the office, I log onto both programs and set my status as available. Spark has an option that says "Available - Free to Chat" but I always select available. I can't think of a time where I was "Free to Chat". I have too much work to do.
  • When I'm on the phone or on a webinar, Skype is set to "Do Not Disturb" and Spark is set to "On the Phone - Busy". When I finish up with the call, I often move immediately to "Do Not Disturb" because I'm wrapping up my notes and finishing my thoughts.
  • When I'm in the office but at a meeting in a conference room, someone else's office, or I'm having a meeting in my office, both Skype and Spark are set to "Away"
  • An additional rule that I follow; don't chat with someone or immediately respond to an IM when your status is anything other than "available". I equate this to responding to an e-mail or picking up a business related phone call when you are on vacation or taking PTO. Immediate responses mean that your status doesn't matter. Simply give it a few minutes, change your status, and chat with the individual. If it was truly an emergency, I would be called.
How do you manage your virtual presence? Do you follow these general guidelines? Do you have additional ones to share?

I hope you share your thoughts and comments.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Next stop: your website

I recently joined a website as a new member but found the site overwhelming. Where am I going to start? How do I really know what I'm looking for and how are you going to ensure that I find it? Here are a few tips for web developers and content generators.

1. Make sure that your search function is working
If I go to your website and type something into the search box I'd like to have a list of resources on your website.

2. Consider a short instructional video giving me a tour
Typically when I register for a website I'm asked what my interests are. Why not have a guided tour created in a program like Adobe Captivate that can give me a quick overview of where I can find your content.

3. Have your contact information readily available, mainly, an e-mail address
Since I'm busy and on the go, if I'm looking for a resource at your website, I'll most likely send you an e-mail and expect an answer, not a generic response, within 48 hours. If I'm really under pressure, I'll pick up the phone, but don't make me search for it because I might not be back.

4. Don't make me scroll through pages of text.
I'm not a fan of scrolling through pages of text to see what's new. Keep a list of trending topics at the top of your page and link me somewhere else instead of posting five, two-page stories on a single web page.

5. Make sure your web developers aren't in a silo.
A web developer may be great at their job but are they a content expert? Have they obtained input from the content expert or end user on how they'd like content posted and displayed? Talk to one another before you make something final and come to find out that it's nonsensical and nonfunctional.

What do you expect from websites? Do you have examples of great sites to share?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2010 Great Ideas Conference Experience

I had the opportunity to attend the ASAE Great Ideas Conference in Colorado Springs over the last 3 days. I attended sessions on social media, online communities, crowd sourcing, staff and volunteer satisfaction, tweetups, and the future of publications. Several individuals have already written blogs with their perspectives. I am now offering my own.

My biggest takeaways

1. Don't worry be crappy.

It pains me so much to continue to delay launch dates because everything has to be perfect. I would rather roll out a partly completed product or service, allow members or staff to provide feedback and provide opportunity for feedback and improvement. Holding back in this area continues to stifle innovation and further delay the indispensability of an organization to its membership.

2. Thank your staff and vounteers

No matter the commitment for volunteers (a single day, week, month, or multi-year commitment) say thank you. If you or your organization brought a group of people together to develop a product or offering, share it with he volunteers for free instead of having them come to you.

3. Lack of autonomy in the work place

Look at all your organization's rules that hinder autonomy. Why do you have the rules you do? Dress code? Personal use of work equipment and time? Consider reviewing these rules and see if they are really needed. Releasing the control may show your employees that you care about them as people, not just machines and blobs.

4. Print isn't dead?

I heard that print will be dead when ALL text books go digital or when all the individuals that love paper, magazines, newspapers, and printed documents are dead. While I see some truth to that statement I think that more options need to be given to association members to opt out of print publications including journals, newsletters, fliers, brochures, promotional materials, etc... Most, if not all, of these documents are created in programs that can be made into PDFs. You'll even have additional functionality by turning on live links and continuing to give your members a tour of your website.

Organizations also need to be better about providing tables of contents with relevant, chunked information where members can cherry pick what they'd like to receive electronically.

5. Member satisfaction

My favorite idea lab that I attended gave 9 great questions for assessing volunteer satisfaction within your organization. These questions each have a 10-point likert scale where 1 is strongly disagree and 10 is strongly agree.

a. Staff and senior volunteer leadership acts with authenticity and inspires trust.

b. Negative volunteers are not promoted into leadership positions or indulged for their behavior.

c. The organization provides a wide variety of ways to get involved as a volunteer with a range of time commitments.

d. The organization supports and nurtures the personal and professional development of volunteers.

e. Staff makes an effort to understand the intrinsic motivations of each volunteer and to ensure that their personal goals for volunteering are met.

f. There are many ways to volunteer with a wide variety of commitment levels.

g. The organization provides an environment that actively encourages the development of personal and professional relationships between volunteers.

h. Volunteers are routinely given fun, creative, and rewarding work to do.

i. The organization and staff demonstrate genuine appreciation for volunteers and their contributions.

I would highly recommend this conference to you and your colleagues. ASAE & The Center provide a great atmosphere for networking, growth and learning, within your area of focus and outside of it, and top notch speakers at opening and closing sessions. Thanks to each and every one of you who shared your great ideas with me. I hope to see you next year at the BROADMOOR resort in March 2011.

Virtually ~ Tom

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Working" multiple jobs

I was surprised to hear that individuals in MN are among the highest in the nation to work multiple jobs. I provided my perspective today and found this story fascinating. What are your thoughts? Do you work multiple jobs because you need to, want to, or that's just how you are?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How I Work

I was recently out at dinner with a co-worker and some colleagues when the co-worker said semi-jokingly about me "He's so tech savvy. He's got his iPhone, two monitors, and keeps up with Facebook and Twitter. It must be a generational thing."

I'm happy to share that I use technology to my advantage and multitask like you wouldn't believe. You'll see me reading PC Magazine or Mac World looking for a few additional tips and tricks to improve my efficiency. My love of, and ease of use with technology, may be a generational characteristic, but should I really be called out as a token Gen Y'er just because I have a smart phone and engage in social media? I don't mind being praised for being productive and effective, but I'm not fond of others in my generation that will be held to the same, or higher, standard that don't embrace technology like I do. Take my wife for example; she is just fine using Internet Explorer instead of FireFox or Google Chrome, using one monitor for our home computer instead of two, and would rather talk on the phone than video chat with me while I'm traveling.

In short, don't lump generation y into a category just because we are more facile with technology. Allow us to work with you and share our love of efficiency and technology with you. Who knows, you might see some instant rewards.

'til next time ~ Tom