The great and not-so-great from ASAE11

St. Louis marked my fourth ASAE annual meeting and I must say, it was one of the best. Here’s what I liked and didn’t like about ASAE11.

The Great – Closing General Session Speaker Peter Sheahan

Peter Sheahan was the best keynote speaker I’ve ever heard at ASAE.  Why?  Because he did two things that speakers in this forum almost never do: He did his homework on his audience and didn’t push a product.  Peter was smart, funny, and most importantly, related his research to what we do as association professionals.  Some have mentioned that he should’ve been the opening general session speaker, but I disagree.  Imagine how disappointed you would’ve felt if he was the opening act which leads us to…

Not so great – Opening General Session Speaker Tina Brown

I understand that she was a last-minute replacement and I did like the content.  She gave some valuable tips on managing print and digital content.  However, it was obvious that this was a speech that could’ve been given at any conference.  Cater to your audience.  Yes, it’s that important.

Great – Including your members in your opening and closing sessions.

I’m honored to have shared the stage with colleagues I’ve never met, hearing about the great work they do.  Especially hearing from the small staff associations was outstanding. We need to do more of this.

Not so great – the vast number of empty tables at the awards breakfast.

Getting up early after a late night is hard.  I know.  I was struggling. However, we need to show the new CAEs, DELP scholars and members of the Leadership Academy that we care and are proud of their achievements.  Maybe the breakfast should be moved to 8 am.

Great – Session selection

For the first time, there were more sessions I was interested in than not.  Outside of Ignite, my two favs were the Build and Coordinate Government Relations Advocacy and the Tips and Tricks from Association Mobile Warriors sessions.  Both were packed and generated great conversation which leads me to…

Not so great – the continued lack of Government Relations sessions

There were only 2 GR sessions offered at ASAE11.  That is unacceptable.  Besides those of us who do this work for a living, there are others who want to learn more about it.  I know GR is not the focus of this meeting.  That’s what GR School is for. However, if we need to know Government Relations to earn a CAE, it must be important right?  Here’s a fair compromise: have at least one GR session per day of the annual meeting bringing the grand total to 3.

Great – Exposing DELP scholars to the membership

Between the opening and closing general sessions, there were no fewer than 8 DELP scholars on stage.  This is incredible.  I hope to see more of my colleagues participating in future ASAE annual meetings.

Great – The Roberts Mayfair hotel

It may not have been the biggest, fanciest hotel.  However, it next to the Renaissance, a 1/2 block from the convention center and if you booked early enough, a nice, clean room could be had for less than $100 per night.  I also learned that the property is a minority-owned business.  The next time you stay in St. Louis, check them out.

Not so great – The rude a-hole of a cab driver I had Saturday night.  ’nuff said.

Great – Everyone else I encountered in St. Louis.

From my shuttle drivers to and from the airport, the convention staff to the locals, I met some incredible people who were happy we invaded their city.  St. Louis, you were a great host.  Congratulations on a job well done.

I have so much more to say about ASAE11 that I’m saving for another blog post.  Stay tuned…

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