On August 16-18, my colleague Anne Meade and I attended the 2009 American Society for Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Meeting and Exposition.
Although Anne and I have been members of ASAE for a combined three years, this was our first time attending their annual meeting. For those who may not know, ASAE is an association for association professionals. Associations are vital to the integrity and well-being of many professions in this country, as they provide essential education and professional development services. I immensely enjoy working in this sector, as I’m reminded daily that my work is “not for nothing.” Rather, my work seems to represent a microcosm of the association community at large, as both gain momentum—and potential for success—when making direct a impact on the lives of others.
More than 4,000 people convened in Toronto to network, learn, share, and, most importantly, engage! We heard from three amazing keynote speakers, including Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, and we each participated in six breakout sessions on topics of interest to our roles at PRIM&R.
Since I’m responsible for overseeing PRIM&R’s annual meetings, I joined fellow event planners in the breakouts devoted to meeting management and professional development. I learned about positioning educational programs for success in a down economy, building customer-centric meetings, increasing the value of educational programs, and creating high-impact educational events.
Though my time in Toronto was abuzz with networking and learning, one session continues to resonate with me. Led by Peter Weddle, recruiter, HR consultant, and business CEO-turned-author, the session was titled, “Work Strong: How to Take the Champion You Are to Work Each Day.”
In it, Mr. Weddle emphasized that everyone is capable of building a healthy career and that it is his or her responsibility to do so every day. More specifically, Peter noted that, when you break it down to DNA, there is only a 3% difference between you and another person. When we focus on cultivating this 3%, we realize that we are “people of talent” and we become empowered. This mentality, according to Mr. Weddle, allows us to focus on what makes us unique and valuable.
Mr. Weddle recommends daily “exercises” to improve one’s career, including increasing your knowledge, developing skill sets, strengthening professional contacts, and helping others. Everyone who attended Mr. Weddle’s session received a red wrist band (a la Lance Armstrong) that said “work strong” to remind them of this philosophy. I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Weddle while onsite, and also received a signed copy of his book: Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System.
Overall, Anne and I had an amazing time. We brought back many ideas and lots of professional contacts, as we had the opportunity to network with those struggling with the same issues as we do. This rewarding experience reminded me of the value of professional networking that is so central to PRIM&R’s conferences and it challenged me to provide an even better onsite experience for our attendees.
Thank you to PRIM&R for allowing Anne and I to go to this conference, and thank you to the ASAE staff! It was a terrific conference, and we know that such success takes a lot of good work and professional management!