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May 04, 2005

Beginning of the fiscal year

It's the beginning of our fiscal year (May 1) and things are nuts. Positively nuts. Dues notices went out on Monday, and by Tuesday morning my inbox was stuffed full of questions and special requests from members. Not to mention our upcoming leadership conference that I'm coordinating and the fact that several of my projects are getting underway with the beginning of the fiscal.

A couple of things:

1. Last week during the CAE conference call, one of the questions was "did you get a raise for passing the CAE exam?" Well, we do all raises at the beginning of the fiscal year, and I just got mine. It was more than I was expecting, and yeah, passing the CAE exam had something to do with it.

2. Our budget was approved last week by our board. On the surface it looked like a tough sell: We ended last year with about 10% (!) of our total revenue going into reserves -- it was a banner year. A windfall year. Our FYE 2006 budget only has about 3% of revenue going into reserves and personnel expenses are up rather significantly. Education revenue is down over last year. There's a modest dues increase. It looks bad on paper. And our President & CEO has to sell it to a bunch of CPAs. It looks bad for him. But he gets great support from our executive committee and unleashes an onslaught of figures and benchmarks that leave our board with virtually no questions. The budget passes with an anticlimactic, unanimous vote.

This was an object lesson for me. One that you don't get studying for the CAE exam; one you can't learn in the classroom. I'm still processing it all, but I want the tools our CEO used to control the atmosphere in the room, circumvent confrontation and come away looking like a champion. Much of it came from years of working with our board to install policies on capital expenditures, dues increases and tying our budget to our strategy -- 28 years of practice in the same association can't hurt either.

It was really one of the most profound experiences of my association journey. I'm glad this blog gives me the opportunity to record my thoughts to remind me of this experience later in my career.

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