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January 28, 2007

Associations Now January 2007 reading

Got to read the January 2007 edition of Associations Now on my flight yesterday. I was looking forward to reading the cover story, The Power of Paradox by Robyn Waters, a former Target employee, and closing general session speaker at the Great Ideas Conference. Target, the upscale discounter, embodies the very paradoxes we face in association management today in many ways.

Waters exhorts association professionals to embrace paradoxes in our world, not ignore them. Fortunately, I have a deep interest and curiosity in many things, including those things that on the surface seem to stand as contradictions. She describes eight paradoxes in our society – few of which seem to have any direct impact on associations. However, broader trends in society always affect our work.

One paradox that does have a straightforward application for associations is the trend that Waters calls social capitalism. Waters states that “Today’s progressive companies are finding new ways of doing business that have as much to do with doing good as they do with making money.” Two opportunities for associations here: First, approach businesses who want to do good, letting them know about your association’s mission and how they can be involved. Second, if your association’s mission isn’t exactly charitable or doesn’t have as one of its goals the improvement of our society, consider adopting a charity or set up a fund or program to do good in our society. I was recently asked what recommendations I would make for a start-up association. One of the things I suggested was exactly this point. To have maximum impact, associations need to be contributors to the advancement of society. Our CEO always says that having the improvement of society at large as one of its goals is one of the marks of a mature association.

The other article I found refreshing was Drain Your Brain. I was somewhat gratified to learn that I’m doing pretty well in this area: I’ve been able to maintain pretty good balance in work and life. As a Myers-Briggs introvert, I’m comfortable (and actually need) alone time and contemplative solitude. I deliberately make space in my schedule for it, at least once a week spending 30 minutes reclining on my living room couch in silence and darkness after my daughter has gone to bed.

I was also able to get through the companion volunteer edition, which came with the January 2007 edition of Associations Now. Will blog on it later.

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