Hello, everyone, and welcome to victory talks, where we’re all about creating winning mindsets, and growing your organization. If you’re looking to scale your business, grow your event, or learn about best practices in sales and marketing. This is the podcast for you, based on the principles of the best-selling book sales, outside the circle. We introduce your host, Bill McGlade.
Bill McGlade 00:28
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to victory talks. As always, I am super excited about our guest today. Before we get into it, as a quick reminder, we have our sales did for your eyes only event coming up on April 23, 2021. That’s right, we are in 2021. It is a virtual event. It’s only three hours long, and it’ll be a high impact, 15 minute TED Talks, Speaker sessions back to back with live commentary between myself and Brad Weber. It’s going to be fun. So make sure you register for that. We’ll put the links in there. All right and on today’s episode, as always super excited. If you can’t hear my voice, we’re going to be talking about how to create a member focused culture for your association and I can think of no one better than Frank Rudd and why don’t you introduce yourself, Frank and tell us a little bit about why you’re here today?
Frank Rudd 01:25
Sure, Bill, thank you so much. Thank you for having me on his program. I always love to talk about FSAE and the exciting things we’re doing. I am the CEO, president of the Florida Society of Association Executives. April one will be my seventh anniversary, which is absolutely just flown by my staff threatened my very first day to do I decorate my office and I bet that won’t start well. But we did have fun with that on the first day.
Frank Rudd 01:28
It’s not a bad culture to embody either.
Frank Rudd 02:00
You’re right. Yeah and I am a lifelong Association man. I have worked. Actually majored in college at Florida State and it was an association management option in the School of Business Management. Something that FSAE sponsored way back in the mid-80s. I hate to say but so I have spent my career working for different associations. I’ve always been a member of FSAE. As a committee chairman as a volunteers, participant, but I saw this when this opportunity came open, I thought this is just a great way for me to take what I’ve learned to help an organization that I think really needs some help at the time and to do some great thing. So it’s been fun. It’s been a long time of utilizing what I think I do best is talking to people and people skills and it’s a great thing for associations and managing Association.
Bill McGlade 02:55
So you definitely need some people skills in this industry is where, well, in live events come back, we’re constantly networking, connecting, talking, developing those relationships and I’ll say this, Frank, you are one of the few that you actually majored in this field in industry, unlike the many of us who have just fallen into it, and for grateful all of us that have fallen into this. I know, I’m one of them.
Frank Rudd 03:22
Yeah, I was talking to somebody yesterday about, they were working for their association to CEO and they had fallen into it sideways. I said, yes, most everybody, at some point falls in sideways to the association world finds out about it,
Bill McGlade 03:33
But then they don’t leave and I’ll say, they love it. They don’t leave. Unfortunately this past 2020 has, forced some to leave and we’ve lost some great talent, but hopefully they’ll be back once everything opens up. So Frank, in our brief discussion before this, we talked about culture, and how to really create a member focused culture. Let’s start with the main question that’s going to be on everyone’s minds. What is a member focused culture?
Frank Rudd 04:05
I think, in my regard, and my talks, when I came to work here seven years ago, and I sat down with my staff, we talked about what we needed to do we needed to everything we do, we need to look at a member and go, how are the actions that we’re doing affecting the members? Is this something that they want to they want? Is it something we’re just trying to do to make money? I think everything we need to do, it shows that it’s a member benefit and shows it’s benefiting the members, and it shows that it’s something that helps them resonate with what FSAE does.
Bill McGlade 04:39
And that’s great, and maybe I’ll throw you a little bit of a curveball here. But in this last 2020, how did you all do, based off of that member focused culture because it sounds like having a culture like that, and showcasing the benefits and the value constantly. It’s going to keep your members and retain them.
Frank Rudd 04:59
It does And we definitely have had a dip in membership, mostly because of jobs have been eliminated and things that have happened. But for the most part, I feel real good about our member retention and again, we just sat down as a staff and go, what’s now that all of a sudden, the most depressing part of my job, I think, in seven years was about two weeks ago, a year from now and we sent an email out to all of our members, and I had over 100 responses of people that were furloughed who were out of their work who weren’t working anymore and I just I said, it does and it’s just friends of mine, who I’ve had for so long and so we really said, What can we do, and we really thought they need the connection, they need to know that FSAE cares about them and we reached out, we picked up the phone. We couldn’t make visits at the time. But we picked up the phone, we emailed I made sure our staff, we talked about emailing a certain number of members every day, just say, hey, just checking on, you see what’s going on and doing. We get into the zoom world that everybody else got into but our first several zooms were connection, people getting together, go, hey, there’s another person out there that we’re working home. So we really, it really touched a nerve. A lot of people they really liked that they wanted to know the FSAE cared and FSAE wanting to keep everybody connected.
Bill McGlade 06:16
You touched on a hot topic that’s out there, and it’s building that community, right? You kept your community going during a time that they couldn’t meet physically and that’s something that everyone needs to keep in mind moving forward, you really need to formulate that community, have a chance to actually give you responses like that and connect it, whether it’s zoom or text chat, or whatever it might be. So Frank, can you tell us a difference between kind of the ASAE and FSAE because I know I’ve always been kind of confused about that. Are you the same? Are you chapter you difference?
Frank Rudd 06:54
Yeah, it’s different for me, because I’ve worked for a lot of different associations and most of the time, the state association, the National Association is a parent and there’s, there’s that type of relationship. ASAE and FSAE truly are not, we don’t have that relationship. We are they are definitely the National Association Real Estate Association. But there’s no reciprocal membership. When you join FSAE you join ASAE. Obviously, we have a lot of the same goals and a lot of things, strategic plans in life, but they don’t really have a connection. The connection that we’re able to do is we have a group called the Association of Societies Alliance, ASA, which is all of our Well, there’s about 40 states, if you stay too small, don’t have staff, but there’s about 40 of us that get together twice a year and meet and we do a lot of zoom calls a lot of community involvement. But all the states get together. So it’s really more of that and we take that united voice and talk to ASAE about issues that are affecting things in the state level. So it’s definitely a little different than most and it’s broken. As far as many members, I’m a member of FSAE and ASAE. But there’s no collection there.
Bill McGlade 08:10
Now, but I like the direction that you all take and taking a united front and talking to the national level. So that concerns are met, enhancements are met needs are met for your members, but also for their members, since it’s they’re members of both. Alright, so you mentioned something a little funny, when we first talked, right? And it’s about your first day, not the April fool’s aspect of it, but also your first couple of weeks when you were looking to hire on new staff and everything. So let’s delve a little bit into how you went about creating that member focused culture and the culture that you have, and I think it all starts from that kind of Aha moment that you mentioned a little bit earlier.
Frank Rudd 08:56
Yeah and I look back and I really, when I sat down here, and we have a staff of six here at the office and when I met with everybody individually, we met together as groups, and you start finding out people’s strengths and you find out everybody where, what excites them at all and, of course,
Bill McGlade 09:16
So many people don’t do that, when they first come in. They just come in, they say I am going to start fresh. Or they say, you know what, I don’t really care what excites you or what you’re passionate about. So what you did already was embodying a great start of a culture by sitting down with them and understanding and listening.
Frank Rudd 09:35
Yeah, this is my third organization that I’ve been CEO of, and I think that’s lessons learned as I’ve gone through things for sure. as I’ve gotten older and realized we talked a little bit a little less autocratic and a whole lot more democratic for everybody and it works good. But I really sit down to talk to everybody and I realized, oh, my goodness, I have an absolute Brilliant staff that has these wonderful ideas that drizzly under the previous leadership had been stifled, they haven’t been able to let these people they had these ideas they weren’t ready to run and I guess, when you get a certain point your life when you’re new you’re not worried about I’m like, Guys, let’s take these ideas and run with them and I laughed, we talked a little bit before the call about hiring people when I first was in my job, I’d I interview somebody, I hire them and first time the staff would meet on the beat when they walked in the door. This is Suzy and she’s your new membership person and as I got here, and I started interviewing people, and my staff was, well, what are we going to beat him? I’m like, well, when they start to work here, they had no, that’s not good and they were right, it was not good. And, and I learned lessons the hard way, when I did that before that and so from then on, we had, I meet with somebody, the staff would meet with them, we all meet together, we come to consensus of who can fit. We only have a staff of six, you certainly every cog matters, and it doesn’t, one bad one in there, it really does affect things. So I’m just so happy with the staff we have here now, together, we had a great team, but they helped me learn that it’s more than just what I need is what the staff needs to fit together.
Bill McGlade 11:19
Yeah, all my former organizations, we hired for culture first, and then skill set, second, and culture meaning, Hey, are you going to fit in, right, from a personality level and so before even meeting me, as kind of a final decision for all of that, they would always meet with my team first, and I’d get the feedback from my team, and then I’d have them come meet with me, as far as the skill set to make sure that they were able to do the job as well. So it culture is a huge thing that I embody as well for whatever organization I’m part of, and even here at victory. So it’s good to hear that you learn that lesson, as well.
Frank Rudd 12:02
I wish I’d learned it 30 years ago that I would have been a lot more better hires throughout the years. But it’s great, I think, leadership is an evolving process and that’s what it kind of what I’ve learned. I things then things I’ve done, and we had, when I was about previous job, I was the executive director for Engineering Society and I still call it my managerial glare moment. When I first started that job, I came in and I realized that things were happening, phones were getting answered, people weren’t getting responses and I had this Jerry Maguire moment, I sat up one night, all right, and I did this paper, and I did this servicing our members and these are expectations that I have how we need to service our members. This expectations I have, these are things that need to happen to make our members feel like they’re valued and part of that and so I did take those things and brought it over here and adopted them at FASE and just how we think that members should be serviced and that. So those are the type of things that have kind of evolved for me, as I’ve learned that we’ve got to really reach out and that it’s not about us, it’s about our members.
Bill McGlade 13:14
And as you said, leadership is a evolving spectrum. It’s always a learning experience and if you’re not learning and you’re not making mistakes, then some will even question Are you a leader, right? Because you have to make those mistakes, and you have to learn from them in order to grow and I mean, obviously, your staff is very happy with the approach that you’ve taken for all of that. So I’m sure that your team will be saying great things when they start listening to this episode as well. So can we dive a little bit more into some of the actual nitty gritty of what you did to help create the actual member focus kind of culture? What did you do with the members? What did you do with the staff that helped them to gather around that entire mindset as well because it all starts there with that mindset?
Frank Rudd 14:03
Sure and I think when I first got here, I literally, I got, I said, I need a list of the last 75 people who have joined this organization and I literally sat here for hours at a time and I picked up the phone I called and I called him and said, Thank you for joining FSAE. What can we do to make this organization better for you and I had my staff make those calls. I really took the lead on that because I wanted to, but it’s funny, because if you go back to I had some great conversations and you call some of the millennials who you know, their bosses are calling out, hey, why is this guy calling me, they never would have returned my call because I just but then they text me go Thanks for the call and so it was it was funny to have those conversations, but it just really got things going. Even as far as new member packets from there on out anybody who is in Tallahassee had a new member packet. I got the car and I drove over to the Florida Bar and I’ve had a new member I’d say, Bill, here’s your membership packet. Thank you for being part of FSAE. What can I do? And they’re like, what you’ve learned this for me? And I’m like, well, mostly because my staff wants me out of the office and they want you know, it’s pretty day and I get out but it was kind of that involvement. I think we really tried to order the problems. I think FSAE had been his to Tallahassee centric, we were not the Florida society we become too much of so I really, staff we talked about this and we got out and we got around the state and we had a lot of meetings around the states roundtables, power luncheons, trying to get around the state and visit the people. When you visit people in their environment, you visit people in their hometown, it’s so much better, and you get the (Cross talking).
Bill McGlade 15:43
Appreciated. It shows a deeper level of connection that you’re willing to make. Most people don’t realize how big Florida really is, too. So I mean, you going around the state, it’s not like it’s an hour drive, two hour drive, there’s some that are 4, 5, 6 hour drives from one end to the other, maybe even more.
Frank Rudd 15:59
So I have the association where I’ve always been the road warrior, I love to get into getting to Tahoe and just take off and see the world.
Bill McGlade 16:08
But at least in Florida, you’ve got those high speed limits. So that’s good, right? The drive up to Jersey, you’re always welcome here too. Alright, so, that’s those are some of the steps that you’ve taken, especially in the beginning and then constantly so how do you continue that culture? How do you ensure that everyone’s still embodying you know, that mentality of the member focus? Because, even if you do that in the first year, right, there’s a lot that can keep going, people can get kind of complacent or stagnant or unmotivated. So how do you keep everyone motivated to continue along that path?
Frank Rudd 16:47
I think it’s been good for us, because we literally had about 650 members, when we first got here, we hit 1200 Peak right before the pandemic, and it just to me, that’s my inspiration. Yeah, well, I’ve always been a sports guy and I always try to relate things in wins and losses. To me, when we’re building members, this is me, I try to use that sports mentality to carry over and I think that works for everybody I think they get when they see members get excited. When they see our annual conference, go to over 500 people when it was about 300 people in years prior that, that’s exciting for our members, I mean, our employees, our staff, just, they feed off of that and I think our members feed off of that. That’s what was such a downer last year, I’m having an annual conference, because oriental conferences is a really big, it’s a big pep rally, it really is, it’s a place for everybody Connect and it really sets the tone for the next year as far as getting people excited about wanting to be involved in FSAE and in doing that, we used to have to fight to get people to sign up to run for offices, and now we have every position we have is seems to be three or four people running for every position. So those are kind of things that I think people are excited. I also just think feedback, we do a lot of trying to get a lot of feedback, a lot of surveys. We were always trying to find out what people want. People are brutally honest, and I’ve never faulted that feedback. I love it and we take it and we try to use that feedback and the surveys and what our members want to get better for next year.
Bill McGlade 18:31
And you need that feedback. You need that honesty to make sure that you’re getting better and so I love that part of it. I love that your annual conferences, a pep rally, because people do need that. I remember going to this one event every year, and it’s and it was for the education it was for business it was for all of that but really it was to see industry friends I haven’t seen all year and I loved it because hey, right, I get to actually hang out with you for a whole week. Alright, and I’ll see you next year because probably not going to travel across the country again to see it but I love that because it is a motivating aspect.
Frank Rudd 19:15
The best part of my job it’s funny is our annual conference. We have this year where Hilton Bonnet Creek. They want to show we were at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Marina the before and the breakers and they always put on a show in the Palm Beach CVB and the Fort Lauderdale CVB. So they always want to outdo each other so they spend an inordinate amount of time and money to outdo each other and we get to benefit from it because we get to show up our members or people who are going to book future meetings for them. So they want to put out their best foot forward on that. So it’s great. We have great we have meetings that are just absolutely off the chart, which it shouldn’t be since we’re FSAE.
Bill McGlade 19:57
I love that. I love that mentality. So, even before the pandemic, there was always this this question that kept coming up. How do we handle the challenge of the new age groups coming in and members and membership? And I always used to battle this question a little bit back and forth, because it’s not that Millennials or Z’s, or all that they don’t, it’s not that they don’t like memberships. It’s, their value points are a little bit different for memberships. So how have you tackled that challenge throughout the years?
Frank Rudd 20:34
We definitely have tried to we always talk about return on investment and I think that’s something I laughed when I worked for Engineering Society. I remember getting one of my engineers talk to me, why did you join because when I’m 1870, my boss tapped me on the shoulder, my first day of work, so you’re going to his engineering meeting, and this is what you’re gonna do, you’re gonna join, you’re gonna be part of it and now he goes by and tells people to go and part of what comes me goes, why, what’s in it for me, so you’ve got to, really, you got to show those things. But again, what you got to do is do programs for them and I love that we have started since we’ve been here a young professional group to find out what they want, find out these they want to do, I’m bummed to find out now you will no longer young professional, but they don’t let me in their club, but they do a great job.
Bill McGlade 21:27
I just got booted out this past year, too.
Frank Rudd 21:30
Yeah, but then doing things like that were able to find out ask them what they want, find out what they need and I guess, ultimately, it does that the rubber hits the road. But the fact that they’re renewing shows that they have interest in it, that programs are worthwhile to them.
Bill McGlade 21:53
And what you said that was key, right? You asked, there’s so many out there that just start putting programs together or different value props for why wipes, but they never even asked their actual young professional members or potential wipey members what value they would actually want and gain from a membership into their organization. So the fact that you asked already, that’s huge.
Frank Rudd 21:57
Yeah and I think that’s the feedback. I’m so proud of that. That group, also the DEI, our diversity, equity and inclusion group that we’ve started, same thing we’ve got we get, you know, get to look at things that that I don’t see in life, and that we’re able to have experiences are brought forward that helped me learn how we’re going to do things in the future. So
Bill McGlade 22:41
Alright, and then I think that the last question, and this one’s a doozy, obviously, because of the state of the industry right now. How do you because live events are coming back, There’s no doubt they’re coming back. So how do you envision FSAE utilizing not only your live events, and your member groups and all that, but any virtual components moving forward?
Frank Rudd 23:06
This is I’m not breaking ground on this, because everybody knows this. But what the pandemic done is helped us move 15 years into the future as far as what meetings are going to be and so yes, our annual conference, the end of June is going to have a virtual component to it, we’ll have cameras there and there’ll be people who’ve already signed up for the hybrid event that will be home watching the programs, because so it helps us FSAE, is about people, it’s about connecting. So I think that face to face will never go away. But I think we’re also realizing now we can take this to the next step and help people who can’t travel, who want to hear that speaker who live in New Jersey. Sometimes they don’t want to come to Orlando, which I don’t understand. But they get to hear that speaker, they get to be a part of it and we want to be face to face, we want to do it the safest way possible and we got a great team that tells me every day that what we’re doing as far as meetings and follow up for meetings about people, whether they were able to come to a meeting and not get sick. We’ve already started having meetings in Tallahassee, here we have 30, 40, 50 people and it’s gone very well so far.
Bill McGlade 24:23
That’s great to hear and it’s great to hear that you have a plan moving forward for the virtual component hybrid, and live obviously, as well. So I’m happy that you’ve got a plan, right? So many people are still just kind of standing still until they hear what’s going to happen next and I don’t think that’s the right approach.
Frank Rudd 24:45
And I think that’s one of the great things. One of the reasons I took this job to free as is what I always like about FSAE our board has always let us be cutting edge. They let us go out on a limb and try things and Okay, it doesn’t work. We try to at least though so at least if we show something thing that we’re able to do, like our annual conference last year, which was totally virtual, we were one of the first ones to do that, that way our members see it, and they were able to learn from it and it’s not a total success, at least we’re, there’s things we’re able to pick up from that and move forward with that. So I always appreciate that our boards given us a chance to be cutting edge to be innovative to take chances and that helps a lot and I think it sets a good tone for our profession.
Bill McGlade 25:26
And that’s an important note for all the boards out there. Empower your team and your organization to be cutting edge. Don’t shackle them, you have to be able to take some chances in order to grow.
Frank Rudd 25:40
Absolutely. You’ve heard the old saying that’s one thing I ever want to hear about is, there’s two things that we I heard when I came, that one and the other one I heard was oh, we tried that five years ago, Mike. Well, that was five years ago. Let’s try it again. So yeah, there are two mentalities. It’s something we’ve done a great job here doing.
Bill McGlade 26:04
Alright, Frank, so any last parting wisdom, knowledge, advice, nuggets that you want to impart on our audience today?
Frank Rudd 26:14
Oh, I think I love doing what I do. I love the association business. It’s a great thing, because it helps connect people, it helps bring so many organizations together, it helps bring so many new things together. I think associations need to just keep trying new things they need to get out of the, we can never do it. Like we’ve always done it, because we got to keep trying new things and keep doing those things. Power your staff. They’ve got the best ideas for sure. I know, my organization they do they got the best ideas. Let them let them bubble up and let them run with them.
Bill McGlade 26:55
Give them a chance to actually speak their mind and throw out their own creativity. So Frank, do you have to be in association in Florida to join?
Frank Rudd 27:06
You do not know we have quite a few members who are outside of the state, who want to be part of the educational programs we’ve got who want to be part of the community and so now we have quite a few who aren’t. We have a lot of estate, we have a lot of local associations, Board of realtors, those type things. We have a lot of international groups, the International Association of account of auditors. So we have local groups to national groups. We have in state now state so we really just anybody who wants to be part of the association, profession, the culture and to learn, we’re happy to accept them.
Bill McGlade 27:41
All right, you heard it there. You want an organization that is member focused and a member culture. Take a look at FASE. I’ll put I’ll tag Frank in there because he’s willing to answer all your questions. As you can see, he’ll do his bribe to you if you’re in Florida.
Frank Rudd 28:00
Yet, let me know I’ll get in the car and come see you.
Bill McGlade 28:03
I love it. Alright, thanks, Frank, for your time today. I appreciate all of the great nuggets and wisdom that you’ve imparted on our audience. We will definitely make sure this is out there and sharing for everyone.
Frank Rudd 28:15
All right, Bill thanks for the opportunity. Thanks for all you do.
Bill McGlade 28:19
Thank you, Frank and for everyone. Don’t forget to register for sales did for your eyes only April 23rd. Thanks again. We’ll see you next time.