Meet Smart. Meet Safe.

By Todd Marinko, Vice President, Marketing, PSAV

Regardless of what phase of reopening your state or country is in, our industry is forever changed due to the
impact of COVID-19. Social distancing, enhanced cleaning procedures, and conference calls have become part of our everyday lives.

But as we begin the return to live and hybrid meetings, what will those events look like?

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Calgary Unveils Designs for $500M BMO Convention Centre Expansion

David Woodward, Executive Director, Calgary Tourism

Tourism Calgary, along with our partners at the Calgary Stampede and Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), is thrilled to unveil the renderings of the expanded BMO Centre, which will become the largest convention facility in Western Canada. The expansion will also act as a catalyst for Calgary’s new Culture & Entertainment District.

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Association Management Companies See an Uptick in Interest


Companies say they are seeing more inquiries as associations seek consulting and look to outsource functions once performed by staff

July 24, 2020
By Walt Williams
This article was first posted in CEO Update

Association management companies say they are seeing more inquiries from associations about providing services since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with many groups either seeking expertise in subjects where they lack experience or needing to outsource services previously provided by staff.

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel

UTSA Travel Information

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How to Prioritize Your Never-Ending To-Do List

By Callie Walker of MemberClicks

Do you ever get so overwhelmed with work that you start to feel paralyzed? The to-dos keep coming, and you don’t even know where to begin. It’s ALL important, and it all HAS to get done. If so, you’re certainly not alone. Even if you’re an extremely organized person, it can be hard to determine what tasks to tackle first.If your to-do list is no longer cutting it, and prioritization is starting to become an issue, try this alternative approach to time and project management:

The Eisenhower Matrix 

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A Note from AMCI's 2020 Chair

A Note from AMCI's 2020 Chair
By Bennett Napier, M.S., CAE

I want to personally thank you, your member firm, and AMCI's strategic partners for the honor to serve as AMCI Board Chair in 2020.

My entire association management career (nearly 30 years) has been in the AMC arena. The AMC Model is all I know, and much like you, I don't take this great field for granted. The variety of industries, professions, and causes that we work with and lead change society on a daily basis.

The membership value that comes from AMCI's marketing of the AMC model, the sharing and camaraderie amongst peers, and the first-class business educational content offered through the Institute continue to reach new heights year after year.

Prior to serving on the AMC Institute board, I was a previous board chair of the Florida Society of Association Executives and also Board Chair of the FSAE Foundation; and a past president of the Tallahassee Society of Association Executives. Those experiences in ASAE allied society organizations provided me a strong appreciation of working collaboratively with other volunteers to uphold organizational mission and achieve long term vision.

The AMC Institute has been blessed with some wonderful volunteer board members over the years, and the 2020 board is no exception, with several newbies, who will challenge the status quo and bring the organization innovative ideas and fresh perspectives.

The 2020 Annual Meeting on February 12 – 14, will be here before we know it and it's already apparent that Long Beach, CA is pulling out all the stops to welcome our community and give us a world class event experience. The location is great for many of our members to get some sun during the winter season. The Annual Meeting Committee has done an outstanding job with the keynotes and breakout sessions. If you have not registered, please take the time to do so today.

And, don't forget to mark your calendars for August 7– 8, 2020 where AMC's Engaged! will be the precursor event to help celebrate ASAE's 100th Anniversary in Las Vegas.

I want to personally thank you and your member firms for your continued support of the Institute. The organization is in a good place, financially and structurally. This would not happen if not for the wonderful leadership and talent of our AMC Institute executive staff team. Our entire staff team at the Institute continues to amaze me in terms of the number of meaningful projects and outreach initiatives that are in progress.

I am a phone call or email away and I welcome any input you have during the course of this year.


Bennett Napier, M.S., CAE
President/CEO of Partners in Association Management
AMC Institute 2020 Board Chair

Case Study: Girl Scouts Embracing Change

By Kellen Company

One of the strengths of the AMC model is its ability to meet evolving client needs, even in the midst of delivering against an existing scope of work. Here, Kellen shares their approach to the strategic reinvention of the Girl Scouts' Triennial Convention and the successful outcomes it delivered.

Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) contracted Kellen to assist in the planning, management, and production of its triennial national convention. The group needed a partner to provide the necessary operational support and strategic guidance to ensure the convention achieved its primary objective: continued growth of the Girl Scouts movement.

Kellen drew upon its deep event production expertise to design an audience experience that would reignite the passion for Girl Scouts across the globe. The convention utilized eight hotels and included a state-of-the-art main stage production featuring pyrotechnics, flutter-fetti, and a themed event "countdown" built for the opening ceremony. The audio-visual technology included video mapping and digital animation, all leveraged and managed by the Kellen team. Kellen coordinated the management of a crew of 120+ AV technicians required for all of the sessions, breakouts, and main stage live events. As the scope of the work grew, Kellen's experienced meeting planners provided training and support to further assist the new GSUSA conference planning team.

  • The flagship event attracted close to 7,000 attendees from 147 countries and is the most significant driver of membership in GSUSA.
  • The event allowed GSUSA to reconnect, recruit, and deepen its ties to the international Girl Scouts community, ensuring the movement continues for years to come.
  • Featured at the event were VIPs and other well-known personalities, including a video welcome from Michelle Obama.
For more information on Kellen's approach and to see key moments from the convention, watch our 'A 'Day in the Life' of Association Strategic Membership Growth' video. In it, Kellen staff detail their work in reinvigorating the Girl Scouts' approach to member acquisition. You can view it here.

Five Tips to Make Your Speakers Shine


At MCI we are conference planning professionals who work continuously with members and volunteers to ensure not only that conferences are successful, but also to enable volunteers to engage the highest and best use of their time during the conference planning process. Since MCI depends on speakers, in particular, to provide the high quality content which draws attendees to events, it is particularly important to assist them in every way possible to ensure that they are confident and prepared for their session on the day it takes place. Here are the five items below have helped MCI speakers significantly as they prepare their conference sessions.

1. Provide Content Experts for Content Questions

Used software copyright laws? Spectrum auction? The psychology of the legal workplace? Though we may not be knowledgeable on any of these topics, we have had phone conversations on all them before scrambling to refer the speaker to a more knowledgeable member of the association. Before you have to scramble, consider connecting your speakers with a volunteer member, perhaps from the Conference Committee, who can serve as their point of contact for those content-related questions. Just be sure to make it clear that all logistical questions and all forms should still be sent to you.

2. Turn Boring Reminders into Exciting Opportunities

Instead of sending the usual, "Reminder: Speaker PPTS Due Today", I often use subject lines like this:

"Mobile App Launches Next Week! Submit a Resource for Our Attendees Today!"

This is really just a deadline reminder in disguise, but it places the emphasis on how speakers can engage their audience before the conference even begins, building a sense of excitement about the upcoming event. MCI has actually had speakers who were not originally planning to submit materials decide to do so after seeing an email like this — they didn't want to miss out on a great opportunity!

3. Hold a Pre-Conference Play-by-Play Phone Call

Set up a phone call to review a play-by-play of what speakers can expect before, during, and after their sessions. If you have moderators, be sure to include them too. You can provide information on when to arrive, who will be introducing them, and how they will be given time notifications. Your speakers will thank you for the clear directions, and you will be happy on-site when speakers are prepared and confident and have fewer last minute concerns.

4. Establish a Procedure for Handling On-site Issues

Whether a speaker's USB drive corrupts, they forget to ship their handouts, or they can't find their co-presenters (all things that have happened to us), it is best to have a clear procedure for managing major and minor issues on-site. This is as simple as giving speakers instructions for reaching you during the conference. Make yourself available by email and ask speakers to see another member of staff if they need to find you quickly.

5. Say Thank You Early and Often

This is certainly a polite and necessary thing to do, but remember – it pays off for you, too! Speakers who feel appreciated are happier, and happier speakers are, in our experience, more flexible and more apt to go above and beyond for your association. Thank them before, during, and after the event, for the time they spent developing their presentation, the materials they provide, and the efforts they went to in order to travel and give their presentation.

ROI Tools to Support your Strategies for Reducing Employee Turnover

By lone Terrio, Marketing & Communications Director, The Harrington Company

You have a new client coming in during your company’s busiest time of year. Your staff is already stretched to the limit and you are onboarding a new client while hiring to fill the additional staffing needs. Now, you need to make time to train a new employee. For a busy AMC leader, this can feel daunting. You and your team are already working longer than normal days. At the same time, having a good onboarding process and providing the right training can impact how your new employee engages with your company and how long you can retain them.

According to “Strategies for Reducing Employee Turnover and Tools for Calculating ROI” a white paper from the Incentive & Engagement Solution Providers (IESP), a Strategic Industry Group of the Incentive Marketing Association; Bureau of Labor Statistics show that on average, 27% (nearly a third) of employees, voluntarily leave their jobs each year. This results in their employers having to spend up to 20% of a person’s annual salary to replace each employee.

Not only is this expensive, 78% of association managers view vacant positions as unproductive, particularly vacancies in membership-related positions says PNP Staffing Group in their 2019 “Association Salaries and Staffing Trends” report.

With those numbers, and a tight labor market with less than 4% unemployment, it makes sense to have an organizational plan to manage employee retention. The IESP white paper outlines four concepts for reducing turnover and provides tools to help calculate costs.

Calculating the cost of employee turnover
Turnover costs include direct or “hard” costs such as advertising, overtime, temporary replacements, background checks, physical exams, travel, relocation, and employee referrals. There are also “soft” costs for time spent or lost through lower productivity, loss of morale, loss of customer contacts, interviewing, onboarding and training new hires to consider.

Identifying the reasons for turnover
“When looking at employee turnover, you’re not just looking at why one person leaves and what it costs to replace that person, you’re looking for bigger trends or issues the company can address to reduce turnover across the organization,” says Brant Dolan, CPIM, director business development, Quality Incentive Company, and IESP board member.

“Employers need to understand what employees like about working there, but also what frustrates or disappoints employees so they can address system-wide improvements as well,” Dolan explained.

From this information the supervisor and the organization can consider strategies for removing the obstacles to increase satisfaction and reduce frustrations.

Developing strategies to address the reasons for turnover
According to the IESP, once the reasons for turnover have been identified and prioritized, management should concentrate on addressing the top five. For example, if an employee has a high workload and feels undervalued, you could provide an incentive to achieve a stretch goal or look at reorganizing workloads to reduce the burden.

PNP Staffing Group noted that organizations successful in finding and holding onto the best staff in a competitive marketplace follow talent management best practices that are key to their success. Leaders are hearing from candidates that several elements are essential in making an organization a “go to” place to work. These include: managers are held accountable, performance is valued and rewarded, staff work in teams, the organization invests in coaching and training, clear opportunities are offered for professional growth, workplace is productive and supportive with clear opportunities for growth – and of course – a consistent onboarding process.

Calculating the ROI of reducing turnover
The IESP white paper comes with eight calculator tools to help managers measure everything from the costs of turning over each employee such as advertising the job, hiring, and training to the costs and ROI of the turnover reduction strategies such as reward and recognition programs. According to the IESP, organizations that measure their costs and ROI find the investment made to reduce turnover is typically much less than turnover cost.

You can download the white paper and calculators by visiting the IESP website.

Looking to make a new hire? Visit the new AMC Institute Talent Center today and take advantage our employer resources. Find guides, tips, and articles on how best to manage your hiring process. And, don’t forget to visit the AMC Institute job board – the only job board dedicated to helping the AMC industry find and secure talent. AMCs will benefit from flexible, affordable pricing options and messaging specific to active and passive job seekers. Enjoy intro pricing for a limited time only.

Travel Trends Index: Strong Domestic Leisure Travel Carries Weaker Business, Int'l Inbound Travel

US Travel Association

Travel to and within the United States grew 3% year-over-year in August, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index (TTI), marking the industry’s 116th straight month of growth.

The bright spot in the TTI was the strength of the domestic leisure travel segment, which expanded 4% while vacation intentions reached their highest level in 2019 thus far. However, forward-looking bookings and search data indicate there may be uncertainty on the horizon for the domestic segment: the Leading Travel Index (LTI), the TTI’s predictive element, projects domestic travel growth will soften to just 1.8% in the coming six months.

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When the Going Gets Disruptive, AMCs Get Innovative

By Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE – Owner/CEO, Essentient Association Management

You've probably heard the expression "innovate or die" somewhere along the way. Maybe it was in the trenches working 12-hour days or possibly out on the streets trying to drum up some clients for your newly launched association management company. Often attributed to Peter Drucker, it makes me think of a caveman and the invention of fire, or the wheel. There is something primal, yet exciting about that phrase.

I recently participated in a panel discussion at AMCs Engaged in Columbus, Ohio. The topic was about how and why AMCs have to be innovators in order to up their game, keep their clients and maintain a sustainable business. Being an innovator is often the difference between a best in class enterprise or, just a commodity. And seriously, who wants to be viewed as a run of the mill commodity? Not this AMC.

About ten years ago our largest client approached us with a challenge. A commercial real estate association, they were the 8th largest of 54 North American chapters and wanted to grow their young professionals' program.

Enter the disruption: About a year earlier the association had launched at 35 years of age and under program to help grow the membership and address the cycling out of older members. They wanted to know from us if we could help them develop a mentorship program that would attract and retain the association's Developing Leaders while engaging senior members and enabling them to give back.

The problem was, the mentors were very busy C-suite executives and could not commit to a lot of time.

Our client suggested a dating site-like platform that would match mentors and mentees and facilitate meetings over a 6-month period of time. In other words, this was not going to be your grandmother's mentorship program featuring lengthy application forms, hour and hours of volunteers poring over spreadsheets to search data sets, and staff attempting to manually match column A to column B.

Enter the innovation: Working with our vision and get it done mindset, our web developer built an in-the-cloud solution with a mentee-facing front end and a mentor portal back end. Sandwiched in between was a beautiful interface that showcased our mentors and invited our pre-approved mentees to take part. Our pilot was launched in February of 2010.

20 random mentees were drawn from a large pool of Developing Leaders who expressed interest in being a part of the pilot. On an assigned day and time, they were invited to select up to two of the 20 mentors for meet ups. Like the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, mentees worked quickly to book appointments with their preferred mentors and all available timeslots were gone in less than an hour.

Applying the principles of flash mentoring (or micro mentoring as it is otherwise known), mentorship matches involved meeting up over coffee, over lunch or in a boardroom. These weren't job interviews or sales pitches but an opportunity to connect and network with some of the biggest names in the sector. In some cases, these meet ups evolved into longer term business relationships.

Following a successful run of the pilot, the program grew and we invited our users (mentors and mentees) to provide their feedback so that the platform could be continuously improved, made even more robust and easy to use.

Enhancements were constantly being implemented and mentor / mentee resources added. And the Developing Leader membership expanded exponentially taking this cohort from 160 to over 600, and the association went from being 8th largest chapter in North America to 2nd largest.

It was around the 7-year mark that other associations started to take notice including the U.S.-based association of whom our client was a chapter. Because of our client’s success, they wanted to make the platform available to all of their chapters. The problem was, it wasn't packaged that way.

Enter the partnership: Working with our web developers (they were also some pretty awesome code writers) we formed a partnership so that we could develop a stand-alone product that all associations and AMCs could access. Of course, there was the market research, focus groups and pricing strategies that had to be completed but in fall 2017 we launched Mentorship Rocket, a cloud-based solution that associations have been waiting for. Since then we have signed up several Mentorship Rocket clients in Canada and the U.S. plus, as a bonus, our association clients get access to our platform for free. This helps them to build value for their members just as we have built value for our associations.

As an AMC we continue to seek innovations and develop solutions for our client associations. These may not be as big and bold as Mentorship Rocket but they can be just as impactful if we can help them to overcome challenges, turn a corner or embrace disruption.

We are still an AMC first, but it makes us feel good to know that, because of our innovation, we have been able to develop a product that benefits the sector in a really special way.

Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE is the founder and owner of Essentient Association Management, a Burlington, Ontario, Canada-based AMC. Constance is the co-founder and current President of the Canadian Chapter of the AMC Institute and sits on the Board of the AMC Institute. She is also a founder and partner of Mentorship Rocket (, a cloud-based mentorship platform designed for associations. Constance can be reached at [email protected]

Are You Ready for Real ID?

What You Need to Know About REAL ID

On October 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will implement the final phase of REAL ID enforcement, requiring Americans to present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of authenticated ID to go through airport security checkpoints.

REAL ID refers to a set of security standards established by Congress in 2005 for card issuance, card design and application processing that individual states must follow when issuing driver’s licenses and other forms of identification; most REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses feature a star in the upper-right corner.

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How to Design Smarter Learning Experiences

Recently, I listened to a Leading Learning podcast that featured Connie Malamed a learning experience design consultant. Being in the LMS industry and seeing all of the different ways our clients design and present their eLearning programs, I always find topics like these interesting to share.

Visual Design 

The podcast kicked off with talking about visual design — visuals can be used to express ideas and concepts with so many different ways to use visual to depict scenarios. eLearning Industry listed 6 reasons why visuals are the most powerful aspect of learning:

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A Few Ideas for Supporting Association Chapter Leaders

By Colleen Bottorff of MemberClicks

It’s easy for communication to break down between the national organization and leaders at various chapter organizations. People get busy, often chapter leaders are volunteers, and trying to keep a dozen (or more) of them all on the same page takes a lot of collaboration and coordination.

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The Hunt for Your Perfect LMS is Over

Jennifer Rathgaber of Community Brands

Learning Management System Matchmaker: Deal Breaker Edition

Finding the perfect learning management system (LMS) is a tough job. What is it about a successful LMS that your association should be looking for? Here are the deal breakers and what to avoid.

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Omnipress 2019 Conference Industry Report

How many ways do you distribute your conference materials? How are your peers delivering content materials? Want more efficiency in how you are providing content at your upcoming meetings?

Check out the 2019 State of the Conference Report by Onmipress and find out the latest trends you'll want to incorporate into your next meeting! 

Consensus – The Association Leadership Challenge

By Rick Church, Head Coach, CM Services Inc.

Consensus is a collaborative process by which decisions are made based on overwhelming agreement of a group. Ultimately a decision by consensus is one that everyone supports (or can live with).

Associations are groups of people or companies with similar interests or in similar professions or industries. 

Even though bylaws and rules of order typically set numerical requirements for voting, associations by their very nature must make many decisions through a consensus process because there isn’t one person in charge or one “owner.” 

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Association Management is a Team Sport

By Beth Quick-Andrew, CAE, Q&A Business Solutions 

With a Major League Baseball game on in the background as I write this article, I am reminded of why I am such a big baseball fan. Baseball is a great metaphor for association management. We must work together at all levels of the organization in order to put a great team on the field to ensure a win for our players…our valued members!

Welcome to the Show!

When a baseball player starts in a major league game, it is a lifelong dream realized. When a member joins his or her professional or trade association, it solidifies his or her commitment to their profession or industry. At the national or international level, major league resources such as industry research, large conferences with varied education and sponsors, call in help desks for questions, affinity discount programs, just to name a few are available to members at their fingertips. Members may join their national/international professional or trade association by way of a chapter or member section, having had a great experience connecting with peers geographically or by specialization.

Conversely, national/international members join a chapter or member section to have a more individualized connection to the association. Components provide local or regional networking opportunities with the ability to truly connect face-to-face with peers in the profession or industry. The value of face-to-face interaction is immeasurable. This is where a referral may be given, a deal may be made, or a job lead is handed off. This teamwork happens when people unite for a common purpose. 

Follow the Same Game Plan

To generate a win for the members, it is important that all levels of the organization follow the same game plan. Best-selling author Simon Sinek reminds us in Start with Why to focus on why the organization exists and how each level of the organization can support the why. What does this mean for the association at all levels:
  • We are all on the same team. Members are not “your members” (visualize finger pointing at each other) …they are “our members” collectively regardless of national/international or chapter membership. We are all on the same team.
  • National/International staff is not the umpire who misses a call. There is no need for chapter managers to charge out of the dugout and argue the call. Don’t assume ill intent. Generally, there are very valid reasons for any decision.
  • Whenever possible, it important to keep all team members in the loop when decisions are being made and avoid unilateral decisions that impact multiple levels of the organization. Make sure the signs are communicated effectively.
  • Teams get off track when team members don’t feel heard. Listen to what each member of the team is communicating. Keep the focus on a winning strategy for all members.
  • Professionals manage the association at all levels. Don’t assume that a chapter administrator/executive is just “an admin doing nametags.” Many chapters are managed by association management professionals who hold the CAE credential and/or work for Association Management Companies. They swing for the fences every day.
  • A key to team success is positioning members where they can be the most successful. Some member offerings are best done with the resources of the National/International organization. Others may be best offered through a chapter or component. Levels of the organization should not be mutually exclusive, but rather complementary. One player rarely makes a double play alone.
Put Them in the Hall of Fame
  • Success is the residue of hard work and lots of practice. Celebrate those successes and engender innovation at all levels of the organization. Awards programs are great for recognizing the unique, creative and impactful member efforts to advance the mission of the association.
Game time situations require different strategies depending on a variety of factors. Always remember, a grand slam can happen with any combination of base hits, walks and a big home run. Make sure your coaching staff is focused on positioning members to swing for the fences no matter where they are in your organization.

Connecting Culture to Brand

by Ken Monroe, Chairman & CEO, Bostrom

There’s no question that an organization’s culture can be challenging to precisely define and measure, but we all know it is essential that the effort be made to design, establish and maintain a strong culture. Although there has been significant attention focused on organizational culture in recent years, there has been more dealing with the concept of brand. The treatment of brand began mostly as a marketing concept, but has morphed into a broader concept that encompasses the overall identity of the organization. Culture and brand are closely related – or they should be. The culture of an organization may be viewed as its “personality”. It captures the essence of the organization’s purpose, its worldview, and its values, sometimes characterized as “how it does business”. It is something that emerges from, and is expressed through, the everyday functioning of the organization. Brand is more of an external identity concept. An organization’s brand captures how the organization and its products/services are viewed by the outside world – its customers or members, its suppliers, and the community at large with which it comes into contact.

Both culture and brand share the need to be genuine in order to be effective and positive drivers of organizational success. As the saying goes, you can’t fake sincerity, at least not in the long term. It is essential therefore that the “personality” of the organization (its culture) and the “perception” of the organization and its products/services (its brand) be in sync. If they are not, neither will be believable or effective. 

A common description is that “culture is brand and brand is culture”. However, there is a hierarchy and sequential dimension to the relationship between them. Culture is a more fundamental dimension of the organization. It emerges from within as the ultimate impact of how the organization functions, the attitudes and behaviors of its employees (alignment from the very top to the very bottom), the way customers or members are treated, and the true and ongoing commitment to quality of product/service. This is how the personality of the organization manifests itself. It is how it does business and is multi-dimensional to the extent that everything the organization does defines and affects it. If a consistent culture is not evident on the inside of the organization, desired outside perceptions will not follow. 

Brand is a similar but more contained or specifically targeted phenomenon. It emerges mainly from how the product/service is defined, marketed, delivered, and stands the test of time. It is closely related to the organization’s value proposition in that it relates to how others -- but mainly existing or potential members/customers/clients -- perceive the likelihood of receiving high quality and good value from their interactions with the organization, especially related to services, purchases, or other business interactions. 

It is essential, therefore, for culture and brand to complement each other. But in thinking through the process of creating and maintaining a strong culture and a strong brand, an organization must start with culture. Culture can and should be the base for establishing a strong brand. If the organization starts with a brand concept, and then tries to fit its culture to the characteristics of the brand, there is a strong potential for culture to become mostly a marketing tool and not a way of doing business, and as a result, it will not be believable. 

For both organizational culture and brand, it is important to distinguish between desired and actual. Culture and branding each take a lot of introspection and discipline to define and achieve. Each requires “walking the talk” once it is defined and shaped. To be successful, both require long term commitment. Branding is not a short term, product-specific marketing campaign, and culture is not an organizational development program aimed at correcting a specific problem. 

For such long-term efforts to be successful, ongoing attention is needed. It is a total commitment to understanding and defining the culture the organization wishes to establish and live up to, starting with the everyday activities of all employees. Branding has similar needs, encompassing product/service design, communications (including website design), customer interaction protocols and pricing. In both cases, BEHAVIOR DRIVES SUCCESS for both culture and brand. Bostrom recently went through a corporate rebranding initiative that used elements of our culture surrounding creativity, discipline, trust, collaboration, transparency, accountability, and fun. We looked at what had contributed to our longevity in the market, to our association partners we’ve had for one to thirty years, and the transformation our company has recently gone through to deliver modern services we feel have the most impact on our client success. It was critical we matched our brand with who we were culturally as a company. 

Differentiation is a key need that organizations require for business success. How does the organization make itself and its products/services stand out from its competitors? If there is one marketing concept that best generates business success, and is also one of the most difficult to achieve, it is market differentiation. A key to differentiation may be found in organizational culture and branding and the relationship between the two. An organization that has a strong and consistent culture and brand identity has a good base for defining and communicating what is unique about its products/services and how it provides them. The core tenet of good salesmanship is for the salesman to gain the trust of the customer before “selling” the product (i.e. to sell him/her self first). Applied to overall organizational differentiation, this core tenet of salesmanship can leverage a strong corporate culture and brand to make the organization and its products/services stand out as distinct (and hopefully better). 

WRITE IT DOWN. For both culture and brand, there is sometimes a tendency to “talk it through” and then summarize the final result as a set of values and behaviors (culture) and a concise characterization of the brand as a “brand promise” or “tag line”. These can be important and valuable ways to communicate the organization’s culture and brand, but they are not enough. It is too easy to gloss over important nuances in such concise characterizations. The development process for both culture and brand should carefully document, ”in writing”, the major discussion points and decisions that go into generating them. Seeing results on “paper” is an excellent way to quickly spot gaps and inconsistencies that need to be filled or clarified. The process of designing, assessing, and implementing strong and sustainable culture and brand is substantially enhanced through documentation. Characterizing the results for purposes of communication in the form of a values statement, a brand promise, or a tag line are good ideas. But for both the essence of the culture and the brand to be something that is ingrained in all employees and participants in the organization and something that they walk around with in their heads day-to-day, documentation far beyond these concise communications tools is needed. 

In today’s complex, fast changing, and competitive environment, organizations must strive constantly for consistency in who they are, what they do, and how they do it. A combination of strong, mutually reinforcing organizational culture and branding are keys to success in differentiation in the marketplace, and in assuring that the organization provides products and services that meet the needs of its customers or members, and lives up to the expectations of both the stakeholders and the organization providing the product/service.

Cultivating Meaningful Working Relationships Across Generations

By Carly Silberstein, DES, CED, CEO, Redstone Agency

For the first time in history, we have four generations active in the workforce. Day in and day out we hear about the challenges of this reality on society, businesses, and associations alike. Let’s take a quick look at a few ways that we can all cultivate more meaningful working relationships by focusing on the common ground, or similarities, and leveraging our differences.


Association/workplace training and education on generational and societal research is incredibly beneficial (XYZ University can help with this). This type of training can help provide a common ground or understanding of where our fellow colleagues and members are coming from. What is their value system? Which life events, societal shifts and/or technological advancements have shaped your colleague/members lived experiences? How has this possibly impacted their upbringing? Armed with this factual data, people can grasp some of the realities that may not have been known to them or may have been accepted as stereotypes or generalizations. It is also recommended that associations and organizations do what they can to determine the preferred method of communication for each person (member/employee). Communication is central to everything that we do in all aspects of our lives, so understanding communication preferences and finding a common ground, is essential for establishing productive and meaningful working relationships. 

For more background information on this topic, please read “With 4 generations in the workplace, employers expected to juggle vastly different expectations”. 

Open-mindedness and non-judgmental approaches 

It is important that organizations foster safe environments where people are encouraged, celebrated and acknowledged for their unique contributions. While easier said than done, one way that associations and corporations can do this is by facilitating cross-generational work teams, where it makes sense. In certain industries or work environments this is not always possible, in these cases, encouraging ad hoc brainstorming or cross-departmental ideation, will allow people who don’t often have the opportunity to work together, to come together, share their thoughts, ideas and experience related to the problem or scenario at hand and will likely yield a better result than if the problem was solved in isolation. This type of work ought to be highlighted and celebrated. 

Collaboration versus competitiveness – Working and learning from one another – Knowledge exchange versus transfer

This can be facilitated through workplace or association programs such as co-mentorship, buddy system, sessions and workshops which highlight different members and employee skills and strengths, award programs (new member / employee versus legacy), etc. Similar to the examples provided above (creating an open-mindedness and non-judgmental work environment), we need to be thinking about opportunities for collaboration versus working in silos. 


We are constantly surrounded by differences; whether it’s generational, personal preferences, cultural, or whatever else. We won’t always see eye to eye with our fellow members or colleagues. This is just the reality. Working with individuals who may be of another generation is no different. Take a deep breath, and practice patience and kindness. At the end of the day, we are all human and are just trying to do our part. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other ways to cultivate meaningful relationships. How are some of the ways that your association / organization is leveraging the similarities and differences of employees and members of different generations for a more productive and profitable workforce?