IA Institute Board Elections — I’m Running

Update, 9/20/2011: Wow, I’m so honored to say, I was selected! Here are the details.

Original post:
I’m really excited about some of the changes and updates going on with the IA Institute, one of the professional organizations supporting the information architecture discipline. And so when they made the call for nominations for the board of directors, I decided to throw my hat into the ring.

If you’re in the IA Institute, I’d value your vote — but there are several great candidates. Please be sure you cast your ballot by 9/19/2011 when the election ends.

Kicking off the NAMA board year

I joined the board of the local chapter of the American Marketing Association last year, and I’m about to start my term as the chair of the Shared Interest Group [SIG] program for NAMA.

We’re working on nonprofit, health care and digital media SIGs for the 10-11 year, and we’re focusing on providing real value for our members through the SIGs year-round.

For years, I knew about NAMA but didn’t see the value in the organization. You know there’s no one more enthusiastic than the reformed skeptic, and that’s me. The minute I got involved in a NAMA committee, I began to make contacts that have proved incredibly valuable to me, both personally and professionally.

So the retreat today was a lot of fun, and serving on the board gives me a chance to give back to the marketing community that has meant so much to me.

On an exciting note: This spring I’ve also chaired a task force for NAMA to evaluate and recommend updates to our web presence. We’ll unveil our work toward the end of the summer.

Why I still go to SXSW

I’ve been to South by Southwest Interactive more than any other work-related conference. In fact, in the past few years, I’ve only missed it because of the arrival of my two youngest children just before and just after the dates of the conference.

Someone asked me the other day why I go. The reason is simple: It’s one of only two conferences I’ve ever been to where I’ve always learned something. And I’ve been in marketing a long time — so I’ve been to a lot of conferences.

The other great conference? GEL. If you depend on customers [who doesn’t?], you should be at GEL. I am sad to miss that this year, but our family schedule won’t allow it. Next year!

A big, urgent question

A great post today from Mark Hurst’s blog: Are we doing what we love?

The other night I was at a board meeting for a nonprofit agency I serve. And as sometimes happens at those kind of events, we participated in an icebreaker — you know, a get-to-know-your-fellow-board-members-better activity. Each person drew a question to ask the person to her right. Someone earlier around the table got the inevitable, “Who’s your hero/who has influenced you the most?” question. At the time, I breathed a huge sigh of relief — I can never answer that question. It’s not that many people haven’t influenced me. I could start now and go all day naming the good role models I’ve had. But “hero”? That elevates it too far, in my mind. In our society, we see heroes debunked daily [or hourly, this summer], and I struggle to burden another person with the hero moniker. We’re all just doing the best we can, I hope.

But I received my copy of the Good Experience email newsletter today, and I may need to revise my answer to that question. Mark Hurst may come pretty close to being my hero, after all.

In 1997 Mark Hurst founded the firm Creative Good, which remains groundbreaking in evaluating and improving the customer experience. I was lucky enough to attend his Gel Conference several years ago, and it remains far and away the most inspiring, useful conference I’ve ever attended. I continue to use what I learned there — mostly about your mindset in approaching your customers’ experience, as opposed to the specific tools you’re using at this moment. If you’re communicating well with, and responding well to the needs of, your customers, you’ll be successful.

Today, Mark highlighted a post on his blog that reminds us to review the big questions. Are we doing what we love? Is it worthwhile? What’s our real goal?

These questions seem critical to me. It’s so easy to get absorbed in a. the rat race b. media-fueled speculation about anything c. self-induced stress — whatever the economic or political situation, but perhaps more now than ever. And Mark gently reminds us, we need to remember what we’re doing in the first place. Take a look, and take stock of your own experience.