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Ben's Tips

Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Associations Matter

Now, more than ever, we see the importance of associations. They have the power to connect and support communities even when life doesn’t go as expected.

Helping these great organizations keeps our team motivated no matter what the job brings. What inspires your team?

Learn more:

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Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Culture & Rituals

Ben shares how his team is promoting culture and maintaining rituals virtually. Learn more:

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Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Virtual Connection

Social distance doesn’t have to mean emotional distance. Our President, Ben, reflects on fostering togetherness while working remotely. Learn more:

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Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Collaboration Tools

How does your team collaborate to get work done? We recently found the right mix of tools and technology to help us communicate and boost productivity. Learn more:

Video transcript available below:

So our team has been working really hard to try to find collaboration tools and we’ve looked at a whole host of software solutions. I’d be happy to tell you the ones we looked at that didn’t work for us. But recently we found one that we’re liking called Monday.com. It’s a little confusing because we just had a meeting on Tuesday about Monday and I was confused about what was going on. Not really.

But then the thing that we found out was one of the deficiencies for Monday is it didn’t have what’s called a chat function. Sort of like we would instant message each other at home. Irene from our team actually found that Slack had a free tool for chat. So it requires us to have another application open but actually in the weeks we’ve been using it, I find it really useful to just be able to dash off a sentence to somebody and I don’t interrupt their day. They get it and they don’t have to respond to it instantly and the collaboration bit on Monday seems to be working pretty well for us. But I’m really interested if you have a really great collaboration tool or a really great chat tool or some other tool that’s helping your efficiency and your productivity. There’s just not enough hours in the day and we’re trying to do the best thing that we can. So let me know and if you like Monday, we’ll talk to you about it on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. We don’t care.

Good luck. Work on your business. Stay in touch.

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Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Sub-Strategies Don’t Work

You can’t develop successful small-scale initiatives like marketing campaigns without first knowing your overarching goals. You know what your association needs; we’ll help you get there.

Video transcript available below:

So you know, self-diagnosis is really hard. We recently had a meeting with a local not-for-profit and they wanted to engage us to do marketing services for them and in our discovery of that, we realized that they actually didn’t have an overall strategy. It would be impossible to craft a marketing strategy if we didn’t have an overall strategy. We agreed to facilitate a couple of days of overall corporate strategy for them. Among the things that we did were SWOT: strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. And interestingly enough, marketing was not one of the top five weaknesses that they had for their company.

I think what we learned from their strategy session is that they had a lot of affinity about where they wanted to go, they just needed to put it all on paper, which they hadn’t done for some time. And I think it was helpful for them to get goal congruence about what growth looked like and what resource gaps they had. You can’t do sub-strategies like marketing strategy if you don’t have an overall strategy. If you have any questions about it, feel free to give me a call. I promise to have an opinion.

Good luck. Work on your business. Stay in touch.

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Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: An Auditor’s Job

An auditor’s job is your job — a financial audit isn’t designed to fix your mistakes, just to ensure you haven’t made any. Watch now:

Video transcript available below:

Good morning.  I’m thinking about audits today, financial audits, because I just had a meeting with our largest client’s independent accountant for their audit for the year that just ended.

The one thing I always think about is that I hear from people on Boards I serve on and otherwise who think that an auditor’s job is to come in and to fix the books, to make entries that you didn’t make, to correct things. We think that auditors are there to verify the books and to make sure that all the things that have been accounted for, have been accounted for correctly. That process requires that we have a detailed analysis of the balance sheet and generally to make sure that where things should go on the income statement have gone.

I don’t want to tempt the evil eye, but I’ m proud to say that for six years in a row for this client, there hasn’t been an adjusting auditor entry. And I think that’s just normal practice and everyone should shoot for that.

If you’re still having issues where your auditors come in and make adjusting entries, you may want to talk to them or certainly, you can call me. I’d be happy to chat about it.

Good luck! Work on your business. Stay in touch.

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Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Creating Connection

Giveaways are a great way to provide value for your members while deepening connections and highlighting your creativity.

Watch Ben’s tip to see how one association has leveraged giveaways to create a longlasting impression.

Video transcript available below:

Good morning. We’re always trying to think of interesting ways that members can connect with other members and one of our associate members for an association we manage, a company called Atlas Die, about 10 years ago, started making customized coasters with a picture of the cities that they were visiting. Because this association meets twice a year, Atlas Die has now made 20 of these coasters that they hand out to all of the members.

Personally, I’m not sure how interested I was in having a coaster for the city of Baltimore, but every time I take one and now I have a collection of all 20. It’s a way that Atlas Die has provided value, and it’s also a way that Atlas Die has created a connection for themselves and their members. I think it was a really great idea. I wish I thought of it.

Good luck! Work on your business. Stay in touch.

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Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: 2020 Is Coming

Ben reminds us why strategy shouldn’t be a secret and reflects on his yearly goal-setting process.

Video transcript available below:

2019 is almost over, and we had a great 2019 here at The Markens Group; we hit most of the goals that we set. 2020 is coming. My goals have already been established and shared with our team because strategy is not a secret. Each of them has goals that they are going to do to help me achieve my goals.

In addition to business goals, I always think it’s helpful to have a personal development goal. My goal in 2019 was to get better at pivot tables. Is that going to make us more successful? Probably not. Is it going to make me feel better when folks ask me to weigh in on this spreadsheet or that analysis? Yeah.

So set goals for 2020 if you haven’t already, share them with the folks you work with and have a great year.

Ben’s Tip will taking a sabbatical for a couple of weeks and we’ll be back after the first of the year.

Good luck! Work on your business. Stay in touch.

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Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Football & Association

Ben shares how social events can work to build camaraderie and promote trust at your next association meeting or event.

Video transcript available below:

So you know, there’s great power in association. We work with organizations that come together to solve common problems or to advocate together or to promote and grow an industry. Almost none of the work we do is purely social, but we find that having social events helps bring folks together to create relationships and common bonds.

Recently, between two hard days of work, we had a really nice event at a football stadium where we went and had a few beers, threw a few footballs around, had a few laughs, and built relationships so that the next day when we came back to do more hard work, there was a little bit more camaraderie and trust.

While it’s never just about the social part, the social part makes the business part richer because we have better relationships. Tell me what social activities you do and how they help your association better work together.

Good luck! Work on your business. Stay in touch.

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Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Thank(less)

Ben shares a simple way to give immediate feedback, and reminds us why it’s important to stop and say, “Hey, you know, this place looks great.”

Video transcript available below:

So you know there’s a lot of jobs out there that people work hard at, but they don’t receive a lot of recognition. I think of people, for instance, who clean the restrooms in airports. I saw this thing recently which is really pretty simple. It’s four faces, from a smiley face to a frowny face, and as you leave the restroom, you’re invited to hit the button.

I think what happens here is the person in that job gets contemporaneous feedback on how well they are doing or how poorly they are doing. My experience is, people want to do better. By hitting the button, we give them thanks or feedback about how to do their job better.

Think about the people in your organization who may not receive as many thanks as they ought. Think about how you can thank them or give them feedback on a regular basis to do better.

By the way, the next time you see someone doing a thankless job like mopping the floor in the lobby, stop and say, “Hey, you know, this place looks great. Thanks for doing it.”

Good luck! Work on your business. Stay in touch.

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