AT logoOver the last 3 years I have become obsessed with
associations. Periodically I have to ask myself, Why? Why do I care if these
organizations, more than any others, live or die? 

I suppose it all goes back to my interest in professional communities.
When I was a kid my father was a consultant to the National Institute
of Mental Health and the Mental Health Association. My dad was a
communications professor. He got a grant to run a graduate level class
for exceptional students that was focused on PR for mental health
organizations.  It was one of the coolest things he ever did in my
opinion. And what was even cooler was that he invited me to participate
in a lot of their activities.

When I was about 13 years old I had the chance to work together with
expert writers and photographers, making Public Service Announcements –
you know, those advertisements you see on TV late at night when no
advertiser in their right mind would pay for time?  Well, we
created campaigns for mental health programs that turned into TV
commercials and copy in national newspapers like the New York Times.
Our ads, the very ones we created, were run on the big 4 (the only 4 back then!): NBC, CBS, ABC,
and PBS. It was a real thrill to see our ideas come to life on national
television and in big name newspapers.

I learned to love professional collaboration. I thought it was so cool
that adults could pool their creative talents and generate things that
could change society. The idea that a bunch of professionals working
together could make a difference, change the course of civilization was
ingrained at an early age.

I think this is one of the reasons why I liked working on Knowledge
Management so much when I was at the World Bank. I helped create over
100 communities of professionals around the world in areas that spanned
the sectors, from the privatization of education to biodiversity. It
was a real thrill. And I got to help run the groups in the
Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development vice presidency. I
loved it.

Now, here it is in 2014 and technology is disrupting every business in
operation. I have become good friends with a number of CEOs of
associations, almost 100.  I get to see the world through their
eyes, which means I learn about Earth and space scientists, printing
equipment manufacturers, cardiologists, nurses, bug scientists, sign
manufacturers, and so many others. It is like getting a birds-eye view
of what makes America great, all the professions and trades.

I figure if I can help them reinvent their organizations to succeed in
an age of rapid innovation and tumult, I am helping to make our country
and our world a better place. Plus I get the thrill of learning about
their professions, trades and causes.

I will be running a free weekly video series for these leaders. If you
are interested, take a look at – and if you would
like to be notified of new videos weekly, send me a
and let me

Now you know why I am obsessed with associations.

A man only learns in two ways, one by
reading, and the other by association with smarter people.

Will Rogers