If you don't read Fast Company magazine, what are you waiting for? It's a magazine that I have read since the early 2000s, and every issue has made me think about something I am doing in my life and career. In the November 2010 issue, which was the magazine's 150th issue, there were two really great stories that I think all association professionals should read.
1. Chip & Dan Heath's monthly Made to Stick column focuses on ensuring that you're focusing on what consumers (or members in our case) feel they need, not on what you might think they need. One paragraph captures the crux of their argument:
If entrepreneurs want to succeed, as venture capitalists like to say, they'd better be selling aspirin rather than vitamins. Vitamins are nice; they're healthy. But aspirin cures your pain; it's not a nice-to-have, it's a must-have.
An example: you might create an on demand education program series for your members, which is a great use of new technology that you think would be good for the members. However, what the members really feel they need is an in person meeting that would satisfy their desire to network with their fellow members, etc.
Is what you're providing a vitamin or aspirin for your members?
2. Nancy Lublin, who serves as the CEO of the non-profit Do Something, wrote a fantastic and timely piece about the importance of two little words - thank you. The reason I like this column so much is because she reminds us that it's important to remember to thank the people we often forget - the delivery drivers, mail carriers, interns, the repairmen, etc. that we interact with on a daily basis in our offices.
I think this is all too often forgotten, as we are so concerned with thanking our members and the people who bring in the revenue for our organizations. I found it interesting in her piece that in her organization, they did a test about the names of some of the people who regularly interact with their staff, and the average result from the staff was only 50%... I wonder what the results would be if we were to do the same in our organizations.
Giving thanks is important, and sometimes getting thanks encourages people to go above and beyond the next time they're giving you service. Think about that the next time the repairman comes in and fixes something in your office. Those two small words could go a long way the next time something breaks.