CRPs head into 21st Century by way of CEX 2020 …

CEX 2020 may be over but the lessons learned are only now being absorbed. It was a whirlwind of sessions, games (trivia, bingo and a wild scavenger hunt), and networking all in a virtual setting. There were tech issues, which were taken in stride, and some bad jokes (thanks, Peter), but in the end, it was a resounding success. Here’s a quick snapshot – and a few personal takeaways – of what we did over the span of two afternoons.

Day One:

After a warm welcome and an icebreaker, we began with Pamela Green sharing how Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle model applies to associations (view Sinek’s TED Talk or read his book Start with Why). In The Golden Circle: Why Some Succeed Where Others Do Not, we were asked to think about our personal and our organization’s “why.” Knowing the “why” of our organization (the reason why it exists) is essential to helping the mission move forward. But knowing your organization’s “why” isn’t enough. It needs to permeate throughout the organization, from the top down to our components and volunteers. Pam shared some ways we can succeed in taking on this challenge using the concept of Golden Circle to understand our organization’s “why” and how we can connect this “why” with our components.

Takeaway: Great leaders and not so great leaders do some of the same things. The magic happens when the leader can successfully communicate the “why” to others within the organization.

Charlotte Muylaert of Billhighway followed with Bright Spots: What’s working and how can we do more of it? where we learned how to identify and reproduce the attributes of the bright spots among our chapters. The session included four stories of organizations that were able to take the success of one chapter and spread that success to others delivering a collaborative spirit, and in some cases, a financial win for the chapters and the organization. Read her recap “6 Steps to Identifying Chapter Bright Spots.”

Takeaway: Focusing on the bright spots among your chapters can help you guide all your chapter leaders to success by providing them with a road map that builds upon what has already been proven to work.

The day ended with a virtual after-hours networking event featuring Liz Demery of DC Improv.

Takeaway: who knew Zoom could be so fun?

Day Two:

Your Nerdy Best Friend Beth Ziesenis opened day two with 2020 Tech Wins: How Apps & Tech Let Us Triumph​. Beth Z served as emcee, introducing CRPs who shared the newest tech tools they’re using to help their chapters navigate this new reality. Featured tech tools and creative solutions include:

  • Venngage: Infographics to Simplify Social Media and Chapter Program Promotion
  • Animoto: Using Video to make an Impact – Simply and Effectively
  • ClickBid Saves the Fundraiser
  • A Chapter Board Maintains Connection with Hybrid Meetings using a pop-up screen and video projector connected to a laptop to display the Zoom attendees, an inexpensive video camera on a tripod to shoot the in-person participants so they could be seen by the remote attendees, and an external microphone/speaker unit (like a speakerphone) so everyone could hear each other.

Participants also shared their favorite tech tools via an online doc for all to view! And Beth ended the session with five questions we need to be asking ourselves in these crazy times:

  1. Are you learning how to focus? Have you reclaimed the time you’re spending on virtual? Suggestions: time-boxing: put tasks into a calendar with time limits. helps you figure out how long a task actually takes with so you can adjust in the future. Set the time for xx minutes and focus on one item with no distractions
  2. Are you using what you already have? Repurpose what you already own. Some great tools include: Lumen 5 (creates a video from content that already exists), designRR (creates quick e-books), Magisto (creates slide shows; creates highlight videos)
  3. Are you making online security a priority? Be sure to create a unique password for every site
  4. Are you taking things off your plate? Automation … automation … automation! Some great tools include Zapier and IFTTT (syncs data), smart speakers and smartphones.
  5. Are you taking care of yourself? Self-care is number one priority!

Takeaway: There are many tech tools, some relatively inexpensive, to help you increase your productivity. Don’t be afraid to experiment.  

In CRP Love: Treat Yourself & Hone Your Skills, we got to choose between one of two rounds where seasoned pros helped to sharpen our skills on topics such as facilitation, tough conversations, communications, presentations and pitching. Note: Watch for my personal post on navigating difficult conversations and successfully coaching volunteers through listening. Coming soon (still absorbing the info!)

Of course, a conference is always about what we’ve learned and about making connections, so in Solution Rooms: Crowdsourcing Solutions to Unanswered Questions, we were invited to reflect on our “aha” moments and networking goals. Divided into small groups, we then shared an unanswered question followed by a fun and collaborative facilitated exercise to crowdsource solutions, forge new connections, and develop resource lists. We all took the opportunity to commit to at least one action step and to select a post-conference accountability buddy.

Takeaway: By committing to at least one action step towards solving a challenge and selecting an accountability buddy, you are assuring you are on the road to success.  

The conference wrapped up with a lively presentation on The Fundamentals of Fun by Peter Houstle and Peggy Hoffman of Mariner Management, who shared steps CRPs can take to put a smile on their leaders’ faces and funshine in their outlook. Because, after all, who really wants to work in a funless environment. Here’s a link to the handout of fun ideas.


A special thanks to all our partners and sponsors! We couldn’t have done it without you!