Director’s Desk: Engaging with Your Can-do Communities

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October 2014
by Angela Bole

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At IBPA, we’re proud to provide professional association services to our 3,000 members. We believe independently published books have the power to transform society for the better, and we work hard every day to find more ways to help our members’ books shine.

Of course you know that I think IBPA membership is a smart choice for anyone engaged in the business of independent publishing. Whether you are a self-published author or you run or work for a small or hybrid press, being an IBPA member just makes sense.

Being part of a professional association also makes sense for IBPA. Yes, we practice what we preach. The association we’ve joined is called the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) (www.asaecenter.org), and in August of this year, IBPA staff members traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend ASAE’s Annual Meeting & Exposition.

Going into that annual meeting, I thought about all the ways IBPA members have praised our annual Publishing University over the years. For instance:

“The IBPA Publishing University provided a great atmosphere to learn and share ideas. I left with helpful resources and confidence to grow my marketing plan.” —Colleen Nitznik, Marianne Richmond Studios, Inc., Minneapolis, MN

“I gathered more information and made more contacts than I probably could have in three years of work on my own.” —Pamela Waterman, The Discovery Box Publishing, Mesa, AZ

“This is my second year and again I had a great time, returned to work fired up with tons of ideas on how to market SHRM books.” —Nicole Gauvin, SHRM, Alexandria, VA

I could go on.

Now I know how you feel.

Attending ASAE’s Annual Meeting was a powerful learning experience. Concentrating on association and nonprofit management, we discovered new ideas and solutions that will help us better serve you, our growing membership. And we made new contacts for sharing best operational practices, experiences with new technologies, and approaches to member benefits.

Thriving Today and Tomorrow

In the same way that IBPA members create a community of like-minded professionals banding together to help each other achieve and succeed, so, too, do the thousands of association professionals who are members of ASAE. As a result, we found the ASAE Annual Meeting educational and inspiring. I truly believe that, regardless of your field, being a member of your professional trade association provides a support system essential to your ability to play at the top of your game. ASAE calls this phenomenon “The Power of ‘A.’”

This is important because the pace and complexity of business means our ability to make good program and marketing decisions is more vital now than ever.

During her keynote address at the ASAE meeting, Noreena Hertz—associate director of the Centre for International Business at the University of Cambridge and author of Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World—described the current realities of the world in which we all work:

“History is not an army on a forward march,” Hertz said. “What worked yesterday will not necessarily work tomorrow, especially in a world as fast-moving as ours. We are living in times in which the rate of change is unprecedented, in which figuring out the future and how to succeed in it is increasingly challenging.”

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Well, it doesn’t have to be.

According to Hertz, we can thrive in this environment by developing methods for working that enable good decision making in confusing times. She discussed several methods that help people make better decisions. One of them is using your association as a trusted curator of information so you can separate the signal from the noise more easily.

engagingFor example, IBPA helps you separate the signal from the noise through the magazine you’re reading right now. My favorite among the recommended methods for making good decisions, however, seemed the simplest in theory but the most difficult to pull off in practice: carving out time to think.

As Julie Shoop (editor-in-chief of ASAE’s Associations Now magazine) wrote about Hertz’s talk in a recap report:

“Tactics used by the best decision makers in her research included blocking out time on their schedule for thinking, unplugging completely from technology one day a week, and reading e-mail in batches a few times a day rather than allowing it to be a continuous interruption. ‘Every time we check an e-mail, it takes 22 minutes to get back to the same level of focus we were at before,’ Hertz said.”

I found that e-mail statistic startling. What do you think it would mean for your business if you turned off distractions for even 10 minutes a day and simply thought about your goals and what it might take to achieve them? In the weeks since I’ve been back from conference, I’ve given this a try and I have already begun to see some solutions to a few challenging problems.

“We need time and space to think, to imagine, to dream,” Hertz said. “Dream well.”


About the Author:

Bole,Angela(HeadShot1)Just before Angela Bole became IBPA’s Executive Director, she was Deputy Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG), which fosters conversation and consensus across all sectors of the book business. Before that, Angela served for two years as BISG’s Associate Director and two years as its Marketing and Communications Manager. Angela also serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of IDPF, the International Digital Publishing Forum.

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