23 August 2012

More Thoughts on #ASAE12


The Good:

I love what ASAE has done with the volunteer committee structure. First of all, they've forced us to be more efficient by scheduling MUCH shorter committee meetings. Hallelujah! Sitting in a committee meeting for 8 hours is torture that shouldn't be forced on ANYONE. I also like the fact that the committee years now run according to the work the committee does rather than the Annual Meeting schedule. They finally realized that it is crazy to, for instance, seat a new health care association committee less than three months before the health care conference. I do wonder how it's going to affect switching committees, but overall, I think it's a good thing.

I loved the recognition of CAEs, DELP scholars, the Fellows, etc. The CAE Lounge was in the middle of everything, and ASAE staff worked to have CAE hosts there around the clock to welcome people, answer questions, and promote the credential. And I loved what they did with the Johnny Cash doppelganger who recapped the meeting at the closing event, giving all these accomplished people we need to recognize and know a second virtual stage walk in front of everyone.

I chose well in my sessions. I was privileged to facilitate a challenging discussion on diversity and inclusion with a panel of passionate, outspoken association CEOs. I had the chance to sit down in a flash session facilitated by Jeff De Cagna and share thoughts with a bunch of association professionals who share the perspective that our lack of innovation is killing us, and it's time we did something about it. I laughed and thought and learned my way through another amazing set of Ignite sessions. I took frantic and copious notes as experienced association vendors and executives talked about how to form good relationships and "make it rain." Thanks to Shelly Alcorn, I got another lesson, for the second year in a row, in how sharing the truth of ourselves - even the silly, shallow, or embarrassing parts, can bring us together. And I learned a new term from Dan Pink: ambivert. I suspect I'll be using it a lot.

From an entirely selfish perspective, having just launched a new business two weeks before the event, it provided a tremendous boost for me. I had access to a significant chunk of the association world and time and opportunity to explain what I was up to. We'll have to see how they pan out, but I came back to DC with leads, baby!

I loved ASAE's continuing commitment to social responsibility activities at the conference, not only providing bodies to do projects in the local community, but also providing dollars that will continue to have an impact long after we're gone. We had a goal of raising $50,000 for the North Texas Food Bank, and we topped it by over 20%, raising over $60,000. We made a tangible difference for Texans experiencing food insecurity, and that's something to be proud of.

I also loved the fact that ASAE has embraced the concept of the after party, with semi-official events at the Aloft Hotel and Dallas's famous Gilly's. For those who missed it, we even got John Graham up on the equally famous Gilly's mechanical bull to raise money for the Foundation to the tune of $10,000. Yes, really.


The Bad: 

I expected the open general session to be political theater. I did not expect Michelle Bernard to lose control of Rove and Carville so completely that Rove got far more than his share of the air time.

I like the "yay associations!" tone, but as I also expressed in my shorter recap last Friday, we have to find a way to own up to the harm we do, too, whether it's lobbying against health care reform or financial disclosure or placing the wants of our professions and industries ahead of what's good the country and the planet. I know, the general session is probably not the place for that. But then what is? How can we celebrate the good we do without also acknowledging and taking responsibility for the damage? 

There still isn't enough time for sessions. I know we need to provide plenty of time for the exhibitors who are paying large sums of money to be there. But many of us don't need seven hours on the show floor. Of course, the flash learning spaces are open during the exhibits, and maybe it's my fault for not organizing people to hold unconference sessions in them during the exhibit hours. But there has to be a way to make the exhibitors happy and still provide more than seven breakout slots over the course of three days.

On a semi-serious note, it was weird for this rabid Eagles fan to be at Cowboys stadium and not do something like start a fight. I did engage in a little mischief, OF COURSE, but you'll have contact me privately to find out what it was (if you haven't already heard).

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