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Writing Your Legal Will Doesn’t Have to Be Hard. Start Here.

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, June 22, 2017

Writing Your Legal Will Doesn’t Have to Be Hard. Start Here.

By; Bill Marsella

 

When you think of writing your legal will, you probably think of meeting with an estate attorney to draft your last will and testament. These legal documents specify, among other things, your plans to leave the assets you’ve accumulated over your lifetime (e.g., monetary assets or real estate) to your loved ones. Additionally, a legal will may also include your plans to make charitable gifts from the assets you’ve accumulated to specific charities or organizations in the community. In short, a legal will is about leaving your valuables to those persons or organizations you’ve cared about during your lifetime. But how do you make these decisions?

Notice that the word valuables begins with the word value. In order to be truly prepared to write your legal will, you must first know and recognize what exactly it is that you value or have valued during your lifetime. You need to be in touch with your values.

Here’s how. Write a legacy letter, also referred to as an ethical will, to your loved ones. What’s a legacy letter? The concept goes back several thousand years in the Bible to the prophet Jacob who, when he was on his deathbed, called his twelve sons to ‘bless them and leave them his prophecies’. Thousands of years later, what was once an oral Judaic tradition has evolved to a written tradition in modern times.

A legacy letter or ethical will is nothing more than putting on paper what you want the next generation to remember about your life. Using the sacred stories of your life to leave to the people you care about your love, you life’s lessons, your wisdom, and most of all, your values.

Before you sit down to write your legacy letter, reflect on the following three questions.

1.     How is the world better because I’ve lived?

2.     If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, what would I want to say to my loved ones?

3.     How would I like to be remembered?

The answers to one or all of these questions will make writing your legal will far easier, particularly when it comes to deciding how and to whom you want to leave your valuables.

 

 

 

 

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Ideas on Effective Communication with Volunteers

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Friday, June 9, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Ideas on Effective Communication with Volunteers

By; Jess Myers

 
In many of the most-respected associations and organizations, dedicated and talented volunteers are the underlying reason for that success. It’s their passion for the association that drives things like membership increases, fiscal health and well-attended conferences.
As an association leader, one of the vital roles you play is in keeping those volunteers engaged, involved and in touch with what is happening and how their work makes a difference. Recognition and appreciation of volunteers is crucial, to make sure they know that their gifts of time and talents are noticed and valued. But just as important can be communication with those volunteers, to let them know you’re in touch, you’re available, and their opinions and inputs are being heard.
In the modern era of traditional and social media, there are myriad avenues available to ensure that volunteers are being heard and that two-way communication is happening. Here are some ideas for effective communication with your association’s valued volunteers:
  • Social media accounts: Most people have a presence on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In addition to being a great place to share personal news and opinions, social media groups specific to your association or your sub-group within that organization can be established. This allows for volunteers to share news and other offerings specific to the organization within an exclusive group. Set up a group-specific Twitter handle that volunteers can follow. Establish a Facebook page for your volunteer group. Post news relevant to the group there. Share photos from association events. Make it fun, and let volunteers know they are part of something valuable.
  • Phone or video conferences: Written communication is great, but seeing faces and hearing voices is important from time to time. Establishment of a regularly-scheduled conference call or video link (using a service such as Skype) is a great way for volunteers to hear and see one another, share opinions, air concerns and communicate more clearly. It’s also a great forum for recognizing and thanking volunteers publicly for their contributions. These calls need not be overly long – most should not take more than 30 minutes – but having them at a regularly-scheduled time can often allow for greater participation.
  • Email blasts: We all check out email, seemingly hundreds of times per day. In less than two decades, it has become the way that communication happens. A regularly-scheduled email update to volunteers about what’s happening, what’s coming up and who is doing great work is an excellent way to keep groups engaged and involved. Depending on the frequency of the communication, the length of an email blast need not be more than a few paragraphs – something that volunteers can read in a relatively short setting, to get a reminder of their group’s activities and their value in the big picture.
Keeping dedicated volunteers involved and active is vital. Making sure they are engaged and informed through various methods of communication is key to make your association a success.

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Ewald Employee Spotlight - Bill Monn

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, May 11, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ewald Consulting prides itself on the outstanding cultivation of employees who work in both our St. Paul and Chicago offices. Without a team of driven, passionate and overall innovative people, where would Ewald stand? If you've been curious as to learning more about the internal aspects of Ewald - the people - what better way to start then through our employee spotlights. 

We sat down with Bill Monn, our VP of Member Services, to get to know him a little better.


Q: If you were the 8th dwarf, what would your name be and why?

A: Curious. I always want to know how the pieces fit together. That’s important to me. It’s not just the information; it’s also the context.

 

Q: If you were to describe Ewald as a car, what would it be and why?

A: Ewald as a car would be an SUV. It has many attributes and can do any jobs to fit the needs of just about everyone. I was going to say minivan, but an SUV is the newer version of the minivan.

 

Q: Who is someone you look up to in the office and why?

A: I look to just about everyone in the office for something. Everyone was put on this Earth with a unique skill set and they’re all really good at something. The quicker you can find out what those things are in people, the more special those people become and the easier it is to work with them.

 

Q: What is one small or big life goal are you working towards right now, professional or personal?

A: People have different phases in their lives. Career-wise, I’ve rounded 3rd base. The finish line is in sight, but I want to finish bringing value as long as I’m doing this. I will walk out the door the same day that I feel like I’m just waiting to hit my retirement age, but I feel like I’m still bringing value here. I hate when people say things like “When are you going to retire?” and they answer “I have 123 days, 20 minutes, and 4 seconds.” If you’re that miserable, just retire now!

 

Q: What is something you recommend to other people?

A: I recommend to be motivated and excited about stuff. Additionally, I’d recommend having a positive attitude; it’s contagious! Spread happiness.

 

Q: What is one thing that not a lot of people know you really care about?

A: I care about people and their careers. I also care about people who want to do their job the right way. What’s really been a fun thing for me to do is helping people early in their careers to help show them how to do things the right way. The fulfillment they feel when they do that is awesome. People will be much more satisfied as individuals and among other people if you do this and go above and beyond.

 

 

“If the problems are easy, work on harder problems.” - Bill Monn

 

 


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    Professional Development and its Role in the Association Management World

    Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, April 27, 2017
    Updated: Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Professional Development and its Role in the Association Management World
    Joe Flannigan; Director of Professional Development Technology

    When considering the role of professional development in the association management world, it’s important to look at it from three perspectives: From the association management company (AMC), from the association or volunteer’s perspective, and finally — and most importantly — from the association member.

    Through the Lens of an AMC

    An association management company plays the role of the logistical facilitator. It is not the subject matter expert of the content that an association tries to provide for its members, but it is the expert in terms of technical and logistical support. Associations would be wise to embrace that expertise. Doing so can open up a lot of flexibility in providing the education to its members. AMCs can leverage better deals with venues, freeing up valuable budget room for other projects; provide insight into new or different ideas for education approaches or methods, such as online learning, blended training programs, and certification. 

    An AMC must focus a significant amount of resources on helping associations manage the development of the association’s members. One of the cornerstone reasons members join associations is to develop their own careers; they do that through education and networking — two things an association is keenly suited to provide.

    An Association’s Perspective

    An association’s mission often includes the goal to provide its members with ample opportunities to learn, grow, and share information to advance the industry for which the association was created. This is so common because it really defines why many associations exist.
    From that perspective, associations serve to facilitate those efforts. Their volunteers and board members spend their time to make that happen. Leaders’ expertise resides in their knowledge of the subjects that will interest members. After all, they are members, too. 
    It’s up to volunteers to bridge the gap between content and logistics. They are the key to making the association successful. Staff who work for AMCs should always be mindful of that fact.

    Professional Development for Members

    When you boil it down, the ultimate reasons for associations to exist and for members to belong to those associations are one and the same: to grow within the industry. Associations look to grow their membership to be able to do more and offer more to their members. Members are looking for ways to learn more about their industry — to grow professionally.

    Members seek out opportunities to gain knowledge. Associations are there to provide those opportunities. Those can manifest in many different ways: Conferences, networking, newsletter articles, and more.

    Association management companies must work on ways to facilitate those options.

    The relationship among these three perspectives is symbiotic in nature. Members are looking for a way to grow, and find that with associations, which essentially pool their own resources to improve the opportunities for professional development that they offer. These offerings are made better through the use of the AMC, who has its own set of resources to amplify the bottom-line offerings.

    Volunteers sit between the member and the AMC. They need members the same way that AMCs do: to be a part of the organization. Without members, associations cannot function. They won’t have volunteers to join committees, plan meetings or events, or provide ideas. If there are no members, there is no association. If there’s no association, there’s obviously no association management.

    You can look at the AMC’s role in this relationship from two perspectives. First, the success of an association makes economic sense. Successful and happy organizations keep the lights on and the coffee brewing. Second, fostering the relationship through creative and effective leadership improves outcomes for everyone. 

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    On Neutrality, and Respectful Debate, in These Politically-charged Times

    Posted By Murphy Pickett, Tuesday, April 4, 2017
    On neutrality, and respectful debate, in these politically-charged times
    By Jess Myers, Ewald Consulting
     
    In the wake of the 2016 election, and as a result of the seemingly endless run-up to it, we’ve all heard the notion that the people of the United States are currently more divided than they have ever been before. Since most associations encompass a vast swath of opinions on all sides of whichever political debate seems to be raging at the moment, it’s safe to say that association members have the potential to be divided as well.
     
    To avoid inter-association disputes related to political opinions, it’s now more important than ever to be mindful of all views and beliefs when working within and on behalf of your association. When you’re behind the wheel of a car, being in drive or reverse is how you go places, as opposed to being in neutral. But taking a neutral position politically is the smartest and safest way to ensure respect for all opinions and association harmony in these charged times.
     
    By posting things that are politically neutral you inform without the risk of offending. But clearly, even the most seemingly innocuous post can generate strong opinions, or contain a nugget that may spark a debate among members on different sides of an issue.
     
    That’s OK. We all have opinions, and we have the right to respectfully debate and disagree. But the word “respectfully” is the key to making it all work. That means avoiding public airing of topics that generate strong emotions and are likely to lead to harsh words and potential hurt feelings. When you post on behalf of your association, be it on their web page, on social media or via your own channels, consider the content and the audience carefully:
     
    - Think about your association members on opposite sides of the political divide, and how each might receive the information being shared.
    - If there is strong support for posting an opinion piece on one side of an issue, consider the concept of “equal time” and allow an association member to post a counter-point of sorts explaining and advocating for their position.
    - Make sure that it’s known that the opinions of a particular association member are theirs alone and do not reflect an official position by the association.
    -  Monitor the debate between members if your association has a public forum, and don’t be afraid to step in and delete comments if a passionate discussion devolves into personal attacks or other content that’s inappropriate for the site.
    - Be a peacemaker, reminding association members that we are all working toward the same goal of advancing and growing the organization, even if the ways in which we see the world differ.
     
    Just like getting behind the wheel of a car, you know there’s an inherent risk every time you shift into drive. Always remember that staying in neutral is much safer.

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    Ewald Employee Spotlight

    Posted By Murphy Pickett, Tuesday, March 28, 2017
    Updated: Tuesday, March 28, 2017

     

    “Always ask for feedback and follow up.” - our humble, curious, and *sometimes* funny VP of Marketing and Business Development, Paul Hanscom, sit down to tell us a little bit about himself.

     

    Q: If you were the 8th dwarf, what would your name be and why?

    A: Scrappy. Because I pull it together. When you don’t have all the resources you need to cook a souffle, but you find a way.

     

    Q: If you were to describe Ewald as a car, what would it be and why?

    A: Toyota Camry. It’s comfortable and it has everything you need to have a great vehicular experience. Sufficient bells and whistles. We don’t aim to be a Maserati, so we aren’t that... We help the Ford Focus organizations to become one version better.

     

    Q: Who is someone you look up to in the office and why?

    A: Erik Hillesheim because he’s taller than me. *laughs to self and slaps knee*  But also Blake. Blake makes himself available for people for coaching. He doesn’t allow relationships to be sacrificed, even if deadlines are tight for getting work out on time. On top of that, he can manage the details and is reliable.

     

    Q: What is one small or big life goal are you working towards right now, professional or personal?

    A: I want to increase the awareness of and presence of our company in leading forums for association thought leaders like ASAE and the Association Forum.

     

    Q: What is something you recommend?

    A: I recommend to always ask for feedback and to follow up. Oh, and to not use the word millennial, ever.

     

    Q: What is one thing that not a lot of people know you really care about?

    A: I feel like the things I care about that I want to put in here everyone knows. Foreign affairs… Having spent time abroad in around 20 countries and immersed in another language, I appreciate various perspectives on different issues. I’m especially excited about some of the newer global clientele we’ve started working with.

     

    Interested in Ewald Consulting? Want to learn more about what we do? You can reach our Director of Marketing, Kate-Madonna Hindes at katemh@ewald.com.

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    Webinars: What Kind of Content is Best for Them?

    Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, February 23, 2017

    Webinars: What Kind of Content is Best for Them?

    By: Larry Bell; E-learning Specialist

     

    Ewald Consulting hosts a variety of webinars for our clients, from the most basic sessions to more elaborate presentations. Each webinar achieves its goal, but interactive sessions result in more engaged and responsive participants who are more likely to ask questions, it seems.

    Here are a few pointers to help make your presentation more memorable:

    ·      Opening & Closing Pages – First impressions are important in nearly every situation. Webinars are no different. Participants can get a feel for your presentation from the opening slide, so spend a little time with it. The subject matter could range from the latest in medical technology all the way to high fashion. It does not matter. Your opening slide is the first opportunity to grab the participant’s attention, so you should give it a little life. The same with your closing slide. It is your last chance to make an impression on attendees, so make it count. It does not need to be as jazzy as the opening of the presentation, but it is helpful to have necessary items like contact information, next steps and so on. As with all content, be certain that everything is legible. For example,  yellow text against a white background will be very hard to read.

    ·      Images & Graphic Quality – Always strive to include high-resolution images. Yes, sometimes it may take a little extra effort to find that “high-quality, multi-colored bar graph,” but it will be worth it. High-resolution images lend a degree of professional polish to your presentation, and reinforce the credibility of your content. If you use slides with your presentation, show participants that you are taking this presentation seriously by demonstrating that you have taken the time to create an engaging slide show with high quality images properly embedded into your PowerPoint.

    ·      Test and Test Again – Once your presentation is all put together, be sure to run through it to make sure all images appear where they are supposed to be, your transitions and special effects behave correctly, and so on. The next test is once the slides are uploaded into Adobe Connect (where our webinars are hosted). Please make good use of your tech session and double check your slides. Any item that isn’t embedded into your presentation will be out of its original placement, or might not appear at all.

    ·      Tech Sessions – Ewald Consulting’s webinar platform is Adobe Connect. If you are unfamiliar with Adobe Connect it is essential to schedule and attend a tech session. This is where presenters have an opportunity to become familiar with Adobe Connect, if they are new to it, in addition to organizing how the webinar will run (assigning moderator, etc.). Most importantly, tech sessions are the opportunity to test your PowerPoint slides in the platform before actually “going live.” You are able to see if your presentation is perfect, and all of your hard work paid off, or if any items need changing. Maybe your transition effect isn’t working properly or your presenters’ photos are out of alignment because they weren’t embedded properly, or more commonly, your initial font selection has changed to a default. The tech session is your opportunity to find and correct any errors, to ensure that your webinar is flawless.

     

     

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    Hashtag Taken Hostage ​

    Posted By Murphy Pickett, Friday, February 10, 2017
    Updated: Friday, February 10, 2017

    Hashtag Taken Hostage

    By Erik Hillesheim; Finance and Data Associate

     

    Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have created new avenues for associations to start conversations with their members, potential members, vendor partners, and industry leaders. Now that we’ve turned the page from 2016 to 2017, it seems as though everyone and their brother has come to adopt some form of social media. With the challenge shifting from getting online to cutting through the noise of everyone who is online, hashtags have become an important way for associations to do just that.

    Associations are using hashtags to brand themselves, create a unique, focused channel of conversation, and to speak directly to their stakeholders. This allows members to share their favorite quotes from webinars, vendors to share their praise for an Annual Conference, and volunteers to express their gratitude for the association. But, just as an admirer can praise your organization, so can a critic or the Internet troll spread their thoughts for all to see. Particularly, they can abuse or misuse the campaign hashtag that your association employs.

    Recently, the NYPD tried to start a hashtag campaign #myNYPD to allow citizens to share photos of themselves with police officers in an effort to start positive conversations about the force. This backfired when people took the opportunity to post photos of police violence.

    Just as any other company or organization, an association is at risk of having its hashtag taken hostage. Here are a few guidelines to be proactive in ensuring your hashtag isn’t taken hostage.

    1.     Search the hashtag your association is thinking about using to ensure you know what other content, if any, will show up next to yours.

    2.     Make hashtags as narrowly focused and specific to your brand as possible. This will minimize the possible misuse.

    3.     When lumping words together, make sure there is only one possible interpretation of the hashtag.

    4.     Read your hashtag out loud. Then have your cube-mate read it out loud. Then have your boss read the hashtag out loud. Repeat for good measure.

    Suppose you’ve taken the precautions above and still, somehow, a critic has found a way to launch a tirade on your page. This might happen when releasing a new education program, using a conference hashtag, or while running a special competition. While every situation is different, in general we advise following these general steps:

    1.     Contact the critic via a direct message and apologize. Ensure them that you are there to listen to their concerns.

    2.     Monitor your reputation on the hashtag and perform customer service. Ensure that you are prepared to answer any questions that people may have.

    3.     If it gets too out of hand, discontinue the use of the hashtag and prepare a public announcement.

     

    Currently have a hashtag taken hostage or want more advice on how to prevent it from happening?

    We’re more than happy to help you plan for or respond to any sticky social media situations. Feel free to shoot our Marketing Director an email: Katemh@ewald.com. We hope you all have had an excellent start to 2017.

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    New Ideas for Your Trade Show or Event

    Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, January 26, 2017

    New Ideas for Your Trade Show or Event

    By Meghan Tompkins, Meeting Planner

    In November, three Ewald Consulting meeting planners attended the 2016 Meeting Planner Symposium hosted by Associations North. This is the second year the event was held. It was organized by Minnesota meeting planners who volunteered their time to ensure we have great continuing education opportunities available in our state. Our meeting planners were there to learn about new and innovative conference ideas to bring back to our staff, and to implement these ideas with our clients.

    The Meeting Planner Symposium was all about being innovative and thinking sideways. The whole meeting was held in one ballroom and when planners weren’t in the general session, they were in one of three concurrent sessions separated by pipe and drape. The educational tracks in the program were color coded to match lighting in the session rooms, making the conference extremely easy to navigate. The three tracks included trade show design, audience engagement and sponsorship ideas.

    Interesting ideas to think about, according to our Meeting planners?

    1. Trade Show Design

    Space in your exhibit hall for startups: This allows smaller companies a chance to exhibit at your show and also allows you to work with these companies before they exhibit in the main hall. Put four companies within one 8x10 space — allowing more companies to get involved and start building relationships with your attendees.

    Neighborhoods: If you don’t need to separate competitors and have a larger trade show, neighborhoods may be a great idea. This is the idea of putting companies in the same industry/niche near each other so attendees have an easier time navigating the exhibit hall.

     

    2. Audience Engagement

    Idea Wall: To increase attendee engagement, give each attendee a tablet of paper during the keynote. Have them write down any great ideas they’ve learned and pin them on the idea wall. All of these ideas are compiled and sent to attendees at the conclusion of the conference. This can also be done electronically.

    Service Project: For an offsite event, do a service project rather than another networking event.

     

    3. Sponsorship Ideas

    Three Year Rule: Even if a sponsorship is successful, change it up every three years to keep your event relevant.

    Debrief Call: Make sure you have a debrief call with your sponsors prior to the event.

    Although all of the information presented was important, what stuck with our staff the most is the importance of having a conference goal. It’s crucial — yet so easy to forget. Why are we putting on this conference? What will be our success measure? What do we want attendees to get out of this? Answering these questions will aid in all aspects of meeting planning from choosing the location, to the event flow and picking the event speakers.

    It was a fun task for our planners to be attend a conference, rather than planning it. Continuing education is important to Ewald Consulting because investing in our employees is also investing in our clients. Thank you to Associations North for planning a great day of learning and networking for our staff!

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    Key Takeaways from IMEX Event

    Posted By Carissa Wolf, Meeting Planner, Tuesday, January 17, 2017
    Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    Ewald planners participated in IMEX’s Hosted Buyer Program to attend their 2016 America Conference held this past October in Last Vegas, NV. The conference, which had over 12,000 total participants and 3,250 exhibitors, provided an opportunity to meet with suppliers from around the U.S. and the world and learn from the best in the industry.

    Each planner met with a minimum of 16 exhibitors over the course of two days. Exhibitors included hotels, technology, and Convention and Visitors Bureaus across the United States and the world.  

    In addition to the tradeshow, planners attended Smart Monday sponsored by MPI. I visited the Play Room to attend an interactive session on the little things that meeting planners can do at events that make a big impact with little cost. It was a great opportunity to network with other planners and share ideas on how to engage with attendees in a meaningful way.

    Another session that I attended was on Wi-Fi 101 Comprehension and Negotiation Tools. It was a helpful look at the basic tenants of Wi-Fi and a Wi-Fi network and on the key questions to ask when negotiating Wi-Fi with a hotel. I learned that hotels can provide a Bandwidth Utilization Report so we can review peak and number of connections used throughout the conference. It was also recommended to download speed test prior to a site visit as a way to test the internet strength.

    On the exhibit floor, I met with Event Management software companies and mobile app companies to talk about all the new tech capabilities available for our industry. I really enjoyed meeting with EventMobi as I had an opportunity to talk with our contact about the new tools, such as uploading photos, that will be released in the New Year.  It was really neat to meet with companies who offer Event Management software and demo their online registration functionality and interfaces.

    Tags:  event planning  IMEX Hosted Buyer Program. meting planning 

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    KNOWLEDGE & RESOURCES

    MANAGEMENT | View all Management articles
    A Successful Year Starts with a Solid Budget by Bill Monn
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    MARKETING | View all Marketing articles
    9 Marketing Ideas for Your Organization by Kathie Pugaczewski
    Read full article

    MEMBERSHIP | View all Membership articles
    A Holistic Approach to Membership Recruitment by Darrin Hubbard
    Read full article

    VOLUNTEERISM | View all Volunteerism articles
    Three Ways to Stronger Volunteer Engagement by Paul Hanscom
    Read full article

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