I forgot to mention that Tuesday's night of “America's Got Talent”-watching came with a couple of Matthew's chocolate-banana milkshakes. It was good, Matthew. By Wednesday morning, I had stepped into the shoes of a Communications Manager and Business Development Manager, was working as a journalist as I finalized three press releases, and had attended two meetings, one as an association management trainee, and one as an association staff member. Not too lazy of me.
To finish off the releases, I had to obtain Beth's input. As the CEO and President of the association giving out the awards, it was imperative that she give a few authentic, positive words on each of the recipients. On the way to work, I took down her words and fit them into the press releases after we arrived at the office around 7:45am.
9am brought the nominators of the award recipients. The plan was to film each nominator speaking about the person they had nominated, and the footage would be used for the presentation at the Annual conference. Josh and Beth let me sit in on the filming, and it was fun to be a part of yet another aspect of the association world. I enjoyed witnessing the different speaking styles of each of the nominators. Some were more conversational and funny, while some were more professional.
I also liked listening to the improvement suggestions by Josh and Bill, the man who actually operated the camera. It was obvious that they knew what they were doing, having certain expectations for time length, the angle of the shooting, and the timing of the sentences that were being said. I know nothing about film editing, so I was happy to learn a few things.
After the last nominators left, I went back and finally finished the press releases, making sure one last time that Beth was okay with the quotes I took from her. Soon after my first task was completed, Alaina had another for me: counting ribbons. TSAE has a bunch of little ribbons for different achievements, and they keep a running count of how many they have. I'm sure everyone sees counting them as a waste of time, so I was asked to do it. :) I didn't mind! I don't know how many ribbons there were, but there were a lot. It took me awhile to count them, and I hate to say that I got some allergies from the old and dusty ones. Just another unpredictable part of being an association professional AND a one-week jobber. :D
For lunch, I was important. I'm saying this because the office was teasing me about it, so I'm just going to go ahead and
take the boastful route. I attended two lunches, one with some lovely ladies of the TSAE Board of Directors, and another with some members of the Young Professionals Committee. Beth was kind enough to invite me to the first, and I didn't know what to expect. I was inspired to see a group of older and very successful women take turns sharing what was going on in their lives. It was clear that each woman operated in her own unique way, but it was also clear that there was a lot of respect and love at the table.
Susan, Mary, Gwen, Stacy, Pat, and of course, Beth asked me a lot of questions about my one-week job journey, which led to discussions of lifestyle design, the purpose of formal education, and careerism. However, I took every opportunity that I could to eventually change the subject so I could sit back and observe the lunch atmosphere. It felt like a quick lunch, but I felt encouraged and motivated after it. I secretly hoped that I would be having lunches like these in the years to come.
The lunch with the Young Professionals (YP) was equally satisfying, but different. It was more quiet, maybe “chill” would be an accurate word to describe it. The Board of Directors lunch was more high energy, even before everyone sat down. It felt as if the women were old friends who were seeing each other again after some time.
Josh and Sonnia, another TSAE staff member, were at the lunch. Josh was kind enough to organize the lunch so I could meet people closer to my age, individuals I see as the rising stars of association management. The youngest person (from the ages I was given) was seven years my senior, so if I ever choose to pursue the association life, I'll have a lot of work ahead of me! The YP lunch kind of reminded me of many I've had before. One of those times where you've just been inducted into a society, and you and other new members have been invited to an inductee lunch. The food is good, and you probably know one or two other people, but not many people are talking at the table. Because the environment is new, and/or some of the people are new, constant conversation is a little slow to start.
Since I was the new one at the table and the lunch time was aimed at my direct benefit, I started talking a lot in an effort to take advantage. I think I wore myself out quickly, but I kept going. I answered a few questions I was asked about one-week job, but continued on about my blog, and how I was trying to spread awareness of the “pursuit of passion” mindset through videos of people talking about their personal advice and experiences. After explaining my goals for the lunch in this way, Steven, Megan, Julie, Sarah, (Josh, and Sonnia), came through for the world in perfect form:
We Young Professionals (why not include myself at this point) then walked out of the restaurant and went our separate ways. Sonnia suggested dessert, so Josh and I waited for her to get some ice cream from HEB so we could bring it back to the office. The rest of TSAE staff was happy with this decision. I must say...I've never been in an office that has so much food at any time of the day.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining.
As Alaina left for vacation, I kept counting ribbons until Beth and I left for dinner, death-cheating, the Wii, and chocolate ice cream. There is beauty in a routine, friends.
Thursday: Another day that was quite unlike the others. I woke up at “Beth and David time”, around 6:30am. I decided to wait a few weeks to get a new license, since I knew I was going to be in Texas soon. Beth dropped me off at the Austin DPS, and I collected some good stories, unsurprisingly. With my Greyhound adventures and the DPS visit, I must have a best-selling book in me. I got in line at 7:40am, and left at 8:58am – not bad! Josh and Beth picked me up, and we were off to the Omni Hotel downtown.
In addition to a press release and a video of another distinguished professional speaking well of them, TSAE award recipients get to be filmed on the job themselves. Josh, Beth, and I were at the Omni Hotel to film one of the recipients, Leanne, doing her job as Regional Sales Manager. I don't want to ruin the final presentation video for next month, but it was fun to watch, and this time Josh was behind camera. I should've asked him more questions about how he knew he had filmed for long enough, how he was keeping the camera steady, etc. because I was interested to know, but I was too busy being in some of the videos with Leanne!
Haha yep! I'm an actress too! That was a cool and unexpected exercise. Josh gave me some suggestions too, which I humbly and gladly put to use for the second takes. :)
We left the Omni and headed back to the office. Just like she did on the way to the Omni, Beth pointed out loads of association buildings. Many Texas associations are located in Austin to be close to the Capitol and any sort of legislation, but I'm sure that from now on, my eyes will fall upon any association building in any state after seeing so many this week. Some random association facts for you, courtesy of TSAE:
- The oldest association, American Philosophical Association, was formed in 1735 by Ben Franklin.
- 9 out of 10 Americans belong to at least one association; 25% belong to four associations.
- Associations are the leading industry, contributing 5 billion per year to the economy.
- The top three states by association - employment are California (2,200 Associations; 15,811 employees), Texas (1,678 Associations; 10,165 employees), and New York (1,314 Associations; 12,018 employees).
- Washington has the highest concentration of associations in order to keep an eye on Congress. Nonprofits/associations are the 3rd largest industry in the DC area, behind government and tourism.
- According to the UT Bureau of Business Research, the year 2006 saw 954 associations in Texas.
- Not one college degree is perfectly suited for work in an association. Many association professionals have masters degrees and advanced degrees in law, public administration, and business.
*Lets out deep breath*
If you haven't gotten the point yet, associations are a big deal.
"Every man owes part of his time to the business or industry to which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere."
Thursday's lunch was yummy, mostly because Beth graciously shared hers with me: Club crackers and hummus. Bing Cherries. Yogurt & granola. Take notes.
After lunch, I joined Beth at a memorial service for one of her friends that she had worked closely with for some time, lobbyist Joseph Lynn Nabers. Beth had asked me earlier in the week if I wanted to attend, and though I was hesitant (I was worried it was out of place), I agreed. During the program, it was clear that Lynn was highly respected. Again, I am poor at estimating, but there had to be at least 800 people in attendance. Several of the people present held prominent positions in the Texas legislature, including past and incumbent governors.
In listening to close friends speak about Lynn's character and their adventures with him, I was moved. The stories described a man of consistent virtue, intelligence, and hard work in all that he did. I didn't know Lynn at all, but I knew that at the very least, he was someone I would've looked up to. After the service, I spoke very little because a lot was going on in my mind. I realized that Beth had given me an opportunity to learn yet another lesson not just in work, but in life. Whatever you choose to spend your time doing, you must do it well, fully, and by honorable methods. People will remember you for the last part more than else. When all else falls away, the good you did, or the lack thereof, will remain. "It" does matter, even when you think it does not, even when you think no one is watching. Because someone most likely is.
The work day was pretty much over when we returned to the office. After another first-rate, David-made dinner with the Brookses, Beth and I went to Zilker Park to watch Matthew play ultimate frisbee. No, I didn't play. But I dressed like I was going to, and that's what counts. Beth and I sat on some lawn chairs in the shade, and had discussions of life and luck. Beth Brooks is an expert on luck, so you'll have to ask her to get the full details. Hm - I've used the name “Beth” a lot in this post. :)
Anyway, it was nice to get out in the fresh air and just look at the grass, and the sky. Just look. It's been a long while since i've done that. As i've gained more knowledge by being more open-minded throughout this trip, i've put some of my old habits on the back burner. And that's okay, because they've gotten my attention for most of my life. But i'll be ready when i get enough time to sit in one place and put it ALL together, old and new.
i'm beginning to wonder what sort of woman i will improve into after all of this ends. i hope it'll be a woman who will continually produce uplifting memories that will last far beyond the moment she takes her last breath.
So What About You?
What memories/impressions/images would You like to leave behind, if any at all? What do You need to change or improve in your life NOW to make sure that happens?
Whatever You do, i hope You do it not because You see it as a means to an end, but because You want to do good for the sake of simply doing good, and only that.
Talk soon? Talk soon.