In my mildly post-tour depressive state I find myself compelled to share my thoughts on ASAE11 if for no other reason than I think I need to in order to process everything and clear my head for real life and back to work. Like many, I travel a fair way to be with ASAE annual meeting every year and if I don’t get some of this out of my head now I will be in a foetal position mess on the flight home.
Let me start with my top 10 takeaways in a list and then a deeper dive into some of my thoughts (that way you can exit my post at your convenience!).
The Top 10
- At ASAE10 last year I met people; this year I connected with them. There is a big difference.
- I was excited about visiting St Louis as I would never have ever gone there were it not for ASAE11. The city and it’s people exceed all my expectations.
- I love the discussions about the future of associating versus the future of associations via @pinnovation.
- My accent still has some currency in helping me network in the US.
- I focused on two new takeaways and one new connection each day per @tommorrison.
- I did the 5k run for the first time and loved it.
- My online tribe (@Yapstar, #assnchat) are also firmly offline friends and colleagues and the tribe grows each year.
- ASAE staff do a wonderful job and I am very proud of my membership; particularly Megan Artz Denhardt; Mandy Stahl and Joe Rominiecki.
- Can’t believe some Association Executives still think and say out loud that social media is a fad.
- I believe my connection to @yapstars is pivotal to my career in Association management.
The variety of session topics, style of sessions and background of the speakers seemed to be deeper and broader than I have experienced in the four years I have been travelling to the US from Australia. This only made it harder to choose between supporting the high quality sessions my friends were presenting and hearing from new speakers about topics totally resonating with my role. I mixed it up each day to get a bit of both and I scored some great sessions including the highlights for me being Shelly and Mark Alcorn “Change the Language, Change the World”; Social CRM with Maddie Grant, Sterling Raphael and Tom Myroniak of SEMA; and, the Association Mobile Bad Asses with Ben Martin, Renato Segueco, Kiki L’Italien and Sandra Giarde. Every session gave me something I will take home and use in supporting my team and my organisation as well as being brilliantly presented in new, fun formats.
The Ignite 1 session which was the only one i got to was a revelation at ASAE11 and this format will become at home in SAE events in the short term future. I know many colleagues and friends talked about developing their own Ignite session already to prepare for future events. Well done to those brave enough to test themselves in this format; they excelled.
One of the reasons ASAE Annual Meeting is a must-attend event is because it is easy to balance the learning and fun and not have one take over the other. The learning is so good you never let the fun mean you miss a session by being late and you never take the learning so seriously you think it is not okay to enjoy the many fun events on offer. Complimenting the excellent social events organised by ASAE (and they were great this year again) is a host of vendor sponsored events that if you are invited to are a great way to enjoy an evening networking and visit new venues in the host city.
Inevitably one venue becomes a hub for post conference activity when the formally organised events are over and this year it was Big Daddy’s. Open every night to 3am ensure that there was always a crew heating up the dance floor. The staff were friendly welcoming and let us have a genuinely good time no fuss. I appreciated them asking me for ID too!
As a result of the great music we danced to ASAE11 will have a series of anthems for me that when I hear in the future will bring back a hint of post-tour depression. Not because of the music (it is not all to my taste) but because it was fun dancing to it and fun being with the crew I was with when I heard it. LFMAO’s Party Rock Anthem leads the pack and will no doubt be remembered as the song that punctuated each night’s revelry and got everyone on the dance floor.
I want to make specific mention of the YAP Network-FEST event on the Monday night. Organised by the @YAPstar brains trust the party took on a fundraising role helping Kiki L’Italien and Kylee Coffman raise money for tornado-ravaged Joplin. When my purposely ordered red shirt did not arrive before I left Australia I improvised with a red tie. Kudos goes to my good friend Ben Martin for the red skinny jeans and Avectra purple kicks which helped spur on donations totalling over $2600. Great job YAP, you rock.
Nothing beats the people I get to hang out with and the people I met this year. The people make ASAE Annual Meeting what it is for me personally and professionally. My accent is always a great conversation starter and it helped me meet cool new people like the Peach New Media crew (Dave, Nat, Jack) and a heap of other new Execs which I will spend the next year connecting with online so we are more friends in 2012. I am not naturally social like my wife is (she attracts attention and can find out the most uncanny things in a short period of time) and so I make a point of coaching myself into simply walking up to people and introducing myself. I had some in depth conversations with people I knew and didn’t know as a result and they meant I listened and learned with earnest.
Tom Morrison and Elizabeth Baranik were in the same hotel and made sure I didn’t miss my schedule or the shuttle bus and were great hosts to me. With them Teri Carden, Sandra Giarde, Ben Martin, Maggie McGary, Jeff De Cagna, Maddie Grant, Jamie Notter, Lauren Wolfe, Kiki L’Italien and Sterling Raphael continue to include me in things they know I will enjoy and benefit from. I am grateful again to you for keeping this little Aussie battler involved.
However there are three people who make the whole experience possible and deserve your recognition. My boss Lauretta Stace gives me the opportunity to travel to the US as part of my professional development plus she gives me the latitude to test new things when I get back to work full of ideas. My assistant Courtney Czisz takes care of all the details and correspondence required to ensure my iPad app TripIt has every single detail included for safe and effective trip. Most of all, my beautiful wife Nicole supports my career to the point of letting me be away for 12days this trip and she takes care of our great kids while also holding down her own work commitments. I am eternally grateful for this support and can’t wait to be home with Nic and our kids Lockyer (9) and Keeley (6).
- To celebrate all the boxes I ticked on this trip and share them with my family & friends.
- Record some audio files for people who would like an Aussie accent on their phone as wake-up calls!
- Finalise the #YAPstarAUS tour of Sydney Australia in September 2012. We will publish a draft agenda for everyone to provide feedback on and start seeking support for it from sponsors and people who would like to join the Tour.
- Rock my Avectra sponsored purple kicks and work with them before 2011 finishes.
- Prepare a presentation application for FSAE12 and work on the time away from @fitnessorgau for me and my family to attend FSAE annual meeting in July 2012.
- Provide some information about the transformation of Fitness Australia into a national and very successful industry association to those who gave me their cards and asked for some help.
- Share the experience as best I can with my team back home so that our staff and organisation prosper as a result of the things I learned at ASAE11.