Sunday, October 27, 2019


George Orwell published 1984 in 1949. This used to be required reading in American public schools but I don't know if it still is. The society he writes about, which at the time may have seemed like pure fiction, is, in part, now reality and we may still get the full nightmare if we continue down this path. You'll have to read the book to understand what your life might be like if we allow these similarities to continue. Essentially, your thoughts are policed and you are constantly being watched by Big Brother. Life is dreary and you live in constant fear. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me upon re-reading it.
"It is deliberate policy to keep even the favored groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another."
Many people have a scarcity mindset today because they have been conditioned to fight others for a small piece of wealth and create an us vs. them mentality when in fact, the people you are fighting are in the same boat as you. I'm trying to find more people with an abundance mindset.
"Science, in the old sense, has almost ceased to exist... The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of Ingsoc."
If we allow a society in which scientists and journalists are not trusted, it will be easier and easier to control what people think. There is already a large segment of the United States population and some in other countries who are told not to believe scientists and they can now be manipulated because they have become incapable of verifying information.
"If he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies."
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
"...the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink."
I was on the Mall on inauguration day and saw with my own eyes that the crowd there for Trump did not fill the Mall back to the Washington monument as he said it did. Yet, media dedicated to spreading his lies published this lie. I could see in that moment that lies were being allowed to be published like fact and that many, many people would believe it even if someone told them the truth. They believe that black is white. We are then told to calm down when we get upset about this path our society is going down. Isn't this a big deal?
"To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies - all of this is indispensably necessary."
Those who fight vehemently against a woman's right to choose an abortion conveniently forget that there are millions of children who don't have their basic needs met, much less a loving and productive environment in which to blossom. These facts becomes inconvenient when they want to call themselves pro-life because the reality is they only fight for the lives of the unborn.

None of the reactions here are breaking news. Most of these situations have either been growing for awhile or they have happened in the last three years (has it only been three years? It feels like an eternity because it has represented such a major shift in our society).

Maybe more than any one particular issue like abortion or the environment, a belief in science and ethical journalism is the most important. We can't debate any other issue we may disagree on if we're not having the same conversation and words do not carry the same meaning for everyone in the conversation.
"There is no possibility that any perceptible change will happen within our own lifetime. We are the dead. Our only true life is in the future. We shall take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone."
I'm not sure if this is motivating or depressing but it serves as a reminder that doing work to make society better is valuable, even if you don't see the results you are striving for.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Pride in membership

I've been speaking ill of the association business model for quite a few years now. My industry association involvement was INVALUABLE 15 years ago when I was new to the industry /  before social media / during a time when people derived pride from this type of loyalty. However, as the landscape changed and new ways to learn and network appeared, I was having a hard time seeing how associations could continue to rely on one major event and membership dues to survive (as many of them do). People just aren't loyal in the ways they used to be and they'll go with whoever gets their attention and shows them value.

The good news is face-to-face events are more important now than ever as we're all so isolated by our screens. Unfortunately, business events have been designed to keep your phone in front of your face because we decided we couldn't compete with the distraction so we should program through it. This is one of the many design flaws that keeps me wondering if the value proposition of your annual conference will keep the association in the black. Are your attendees achieving their goals? Is transformational change occurring because you held this event? Are they learning something they can't learn anywhere else? Are they meeting people they aren't likely to meet anywhere else?

As I do more research on mental health and the future of work, it seems as though our reliance on our online networks is making us depressed. I had previously thought that online networks detached from formal associations were all that we needed. This might have been premature. People can and will connect with each other online with or without paying you dues. There seems to be an opportunity for associations here. Sadly, the challenge is getting through the clutter. This is going to take a lot more time and attention than you are probably paying to it. The algorithms are working against you and you will have to pay to make this work. Let me know if you are interested in helping build a bridge to a better community.

Elizabeth Glau, Macleay Park, Portland, OR

Nancy Zavada of MeetGreen, a pioneer in the events industry, generously gave me her time during the busy season to interview her for my Human Centered Design course research. We chatted briefly about chapter leadership. Nancy says, for someone who hasn't been given an opportunity to lead at work, getting a group of volunteers to follow you is great professional development. I was reminded that this was one of the most important pieces of my industry involvement. You could certainly get this experience other ways, but I can't deny that this is an important value proposition for association membership.

The work we've been doing this year on the Meeting Professional International (MPI) Diversity and Inclusion task force is important. If chapter leadership is one of the most valuable experiences your members can have and therefore something they'll pay you for, how do you better design these experiences? The goal of our committee has been to diversify MPI's chapter leaders. The reason this is important is because this leadership experience is even more meaningful for those who aren't likely to get it at work (typically, those without privilege.)

How do you bring pride back to membership? You decide who you want to serve and who you don't. You can't make everyone happy but if you can make some people feel like you are fighting for them, they'll do anything for you.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Hiring: Privilege

What is wrong with this job description? Do you really have a diverse team (or is it diverse because it is international)? Do you want someone to spearhead innovation or do you want someone who has learned the ways everyone else has already done it? How would you make this job description better? Is the issue with the person they are looking for or the posting? I'm open to feedback here. Maybe I'm not aware of the reasons why this position requires the following. I underlined the requirements I find to be exceptionally disappointing.


Why we're awesome... blah, blah, blah... Not including this section to protect the innocent (or guilty, in this case).

The Special Operations Manager partners directly with our Senior Management Team to spearhead innovation projects focused on developing, implementing, and executing a variety of strategic initiatives focused on scaling our business through expansion and lean operations. Successful managers are consultants who are trusted by cross-functional partners to design and prototype systems and tools that will help our teams manage capacity on an ongoing basis.


Identify, prioritize, structure, and solve an array of other complex business problems, using analytics and business judgment for assigned department
Spearhead continuous improvement projects through high-level strategy.
Conduct analysis of our current strategies/campaigns and identify new ones.
Manage cross functional projects that will add value and maximize the growth of our overall business performance.


An exceptional academic record with degree from top tier college or University (Engineering and Business degrees preferred.)
2-5+ years of experience at a top tier management consulting firm with focus on operations projects or experience with one of the leading manufacturing companies
Exceptional project and people management skills
Superior analytical skills and operational modeling capabilities
Demonstrated ability to deliver impact
Ability to thrive in an unstructured, fast-moving and constantly evolving high growth environment
Interest in developing people
Willingness to travel

Our team is diverse, high-performing and international, helping us to create a truly inspiring work environment in which you will thrive!


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Events Industry Response to the Business Roundtable recommendation

You may have heard about the CEOs committing to a more holistic picture of their business and its place in the world. I'm optimistic that this is a step in the right direction. We need to help our organizations move in this direction.

"The Business Roundtable recommended that corporations must change the way they operate and now focus on their employees, the places where they conduct business and their vendors to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. This will come before the needs and wants of the shareholders." -Jack Kelly, Forbes 8/20/19

A new focus on these three stakeholders could change the way events are designed and managed. The conversation for the events industry now is how to leverage the momentum to make the changes we know to be in the best interests for our organizations and communities in the long term.

Employees: event organizers are problem solvers. Even when faced with difficult timelines or requirements, we make it happen. At what cost? Since our profession is known to be one of the most stressful jobs, our employers can start to look at how to change that. A more strategic, intentional design to which events are deployed is a good start. What is your suggestion for increasing the timelines you are faced with? How do we shift from reactive to proactive?

Places: event organizers choose the places we hold our events. Are they good partners in helping us create minimal environmental impact? Does the destination have laws or regulations that discriminate and therefore make some of our potential attendees feel excluded or unwelcome? There are a lot of resources for creating more sustainable events, which would take into consideration both of these factors. (Sustainable = People, Planet, Profits) Check out the new Centre for Sustainable Events.

Vendors: event organizers have been known to take advantage of their vendors. When you are "the customer", it is easy to forget the humanity of the person serving you. This is what all of this boils down to. We all need to look out for each other and remember that we're more alike than different but what makes us different is what makes the event, campaign, or organization better.

This is one simple slice of how these recommendations intersect with the work we do. How do you think we can support our organizations in doing this work? How do you cross the bridge from where we were to where we want to go?

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bridge Building

As I was crossing this bridge, I realized that bridges are my thing. I remember drawing a bridge a LONG time ago in an art therapy session that was part of some organization I belonged to and I used "crossing the divide" as the original tag line for my blog. I also love bridges like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge, but who doesn't?!?

It has been a long road to get to this bridge. I lost my job in February and then spent four months volunteering for a friend's startup, but that didn't go according to plan either. I wish I would have had the guts to record videos during that time, although they would have been painful to watch. We tend to want to "get it all figured out" before we share the journey but I've discovered that life is the journey.

Now that I've spent a few* months trying to figure out what direction I should be going, it seems that one of my skills is bridge builder! Many friends have spent time on the phone, in person, via email and slack helping me talk about the destinations to which I want to build bridges for others. I'm building multiple bridges as I learn the philosophies behind topics like human centered design and systems thinking.

The pace at which the world is changing keeps speeding up! We need to figure out how to build bridges quickly to places where we've never been. This will be the new direction for my blog. It will feel like we're building a couple of bridges together, but I promise they'll end up connecting.