“We do not learn from experience,” said John Dewey, an American philosopher from the late 1800s. “We learn from reflecting on experience.” With a nod to reflection, Indiana Society of Association Executives reached out to top leaders to ask:
“Looking back at your journey to executive director, what would you do differently if you had to do it all over again?”
Answer — from Mary Ann Passi, CAE, Executive Director, Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA):
“If I had it to do over again, I’d plan my professional route more strategically. I was ambitious and received the training I needed to go to the next level, however, that’s where my planned steps stopped.Additionally, I should have gotten more involved in my professional associations earlier in my career. The networking and the connections you make through shared volunteer experiences are invaluable to your career. Incorporating this volunteer leadership into my career path is something I recommend to newer leaders today.”
Answer — from Steve Ingram, CAE, former Executive Director and current Senior Consultant, Raybourn Group International (RGI):
“I would focus more time, effort and resources on building relationships with volunteer leadership and providing more training / orientation about their role. Having well-trained, engaged and passionate volunteer leaders working in partnership with the ED and staff team is essential to building consensus and achievement of organizational goals.”
Mary Ann and Steve, thank you for participating in this installment of “Ask the Exec.” Below are a couple of resources that coincide with your insights:
- Setting a career strategy — “Career Rocket Fuel,” authored by Brian Fetherstonhaugh, chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne, is a lengthy read, but well worth it. In fact another state association leader, Gary Bolinger, CAE, president & CEO, Indiana CPA Society, shared it with his staff.
- Engaging volunteer leaders – “Study Looks at What Drives Volunteer Leaders’ Commitment” was featured last June in Associations Now magazine (publication of the American Society of Association Executives). It is authored by Rob Stott, assistant editor of the magazine.
Life teaches lessons, and we absorb those lessons through reflection. Who else has reflections to share? Looking back on your own career, what would you do differently if you had to do it all over again?