Board Leadership

By | Board, Industry, Leadership, Mission Delivery, Organizational Health | No Comments

massey2I have attended a lot of meetings of boards and committees.  I know I have averaged more than one a week for the past 15 years – so I have to be approaching a thousand.  I have come to know and become friends with many board members and they tell me things in the parking lot after meetings.

First, some brutal facts:

  • Boards haven’t changed much in the last 3 decades.
  • Most boards have 3 groups: fully engaged, sometimes engaged, and barely connected.  The percentages of each group can vary.
  • Board members may love the organization; but they still don’t think much about it between meetings.
  • Many board members ask themselves if they should attend a meeting about 30 minutes before the meeting.

Some observations:

  • Governance has trumped leadership.
  • Staff and board expectations differ.
  • Roles are not clear.
  • Board meetings are too much…too many agenda items, too many people, too many reports, and too much of a choke point for effective leadership.

But everything listed above can be changed if leaders are willing to shake things up a bit.

  • Separate governance activity from leadership of the organization.  Governance is only whatever the organization or government requires. Everything else is designed to lead the organization.
  • Staff need to change their expectations of board members. Volunteers are involved to make their community better through the organization. While they want the organization to be better – it is primarily so it can produce more significant results in the community.
  • The old model of boards declaring “what” to do and staff figuring out “how” to do it is changing.  It is much more of a hybrid and joint effort.  For each issue, separate “providing input” and “making decisions” for role clarity.
  • Make board meetings less about information exchange and more about strategic discussions.  Use an online system to share information and spend valuable meeting time in facilitated discussion.

And finally, some “what ifs:”

  • What if we lead more from an association and larger community perspective than from an aggregate of neighborhoods and programs?
  • What if we provided more research than anecdotes?
  • What if we had a Vision Council in addition to a board?
  • What if we had the courage to say “no” to some good things so we could say “yes” to some transformational things that would produce significant, measurable results?

Are you disturbed by all these observations?  I hope so.  Let me know what you think by adding your comments below.

Rod Grozier Starts Company Focused on YMCA Facility Development

By | Facilities, Industry, Mission Delivery | No Comments

I am sure you know my good friend and business partner for the past 14 years, Rod Grozier, has realized a career-long dream of starting a company focused on YMCA facility development.  I could not be more happy for Rod.

A leader with a vision is fun to watch.  You can tell they are thinking about it most of the time.  They talk about it in vivid and colorful detail – almost like it already existed.  Their excitement is contagious.

This is how it has been with Rod for some time.  He wants EVERY YMCA facility to be that wonderful blend of mission, market, and management.  He needed the right business platform to get that done, and I am so pleased that we were able to work together to make that happen.  GRO is a separate, new company ready to serve all your YMCA’s facility needs.  A lot of credit goes to Dave Gray, Daxko CEO, for his spirit of business incubation and willingness to be creative for the greater good.

While the structure will change – functionally you will notice little difference in how Rod and his team will work with the rest of Daxko moving forward.  Planning, market research, and financial development will continue to be seamlessly integrated with facility development.  As you know, Rod’s company has already been selected by YUSA to be their partner of choice for YMCAs seeking facility development and facility management expertise. That arrangement should allow Rod to reach a greater number of YMCAs, which is key to the vision.

Rod was one of the founding partners of Triangle2 in 2000.  He is one of four people (with Julie Sistrunk, Lori Swann, and me) who have a small “T2” tattoo.  The four of us have helped several people launch businesses – but of course this one is very special.

I once heard a client say to a group of YMCA CEOs, “you would be crazy to build or renovate a YMCA without Rod Grozier.”  He is right.  Don’t be crazy – find out more at:

What We Know About Engaging Millennials

By | Engagement, Industry, Marketing, Mission Delivery | No Comments

Millennial preferences are something I talk about often with executives. Thinking and marketing specifically to millennials (those roughly born between early 1980s and early to mid 1990s) is vital to the success of your association.

Millennials are really passionate about the causes they believe in – they just get tuned into and express their commitment to those causes in new ways. The key is to engage with millennials in the ways that motivate them the most. Here are three millennial traits that when channeled successfully, mean a more-connected and happier millennial membership:

1. Millennials crave experiences. Millennials want to be part of unique experiences and they want the organizations they support to reflect that. This explains the popularity of unique, experience-based races like “color” runs (where participants are sprayed along the running route with colored cornstarch), obstacle course races, and even mud runs.

A recent Vision Critical article on engaging millennials states, “Instead of the traditional advertising route, some brands now shift their marketing dollars to events where millennial consumers can experience the brand. In 2011, Chipotle launched Cultivate, a food and music festival that attracted more than 17,000 people in its first year. The event featured live music and chefs from around the country, while incorporating educational elements that let attendees see how food is raised and grown.” Allow millennials to experience something unique with your organization to foster their loyalty and connect them with your mission at the same time.

2. Millennials make purchases that support their beliefs. For-profit brands like TOMS shoes resonate with millennials through specific charity work. TOMS “One for One” promise states that TOMS will match “every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes for a child in need.” It’s a simple premise, and one that resonates with the millennial generation. Wearing a pair of TOMS means that a child gets a new pair of shoes, who can’t get behind that?

YMCAs, JCCs, and community centers all support local health, wellness and other causes. Explaining the mission in a way that is simple, straightforward, and specific on social media and on the web fosters millennial loyalty and encourages them to support the cause.

3. Millennials have diverse tastes and they value variety and customization. Along with their need to seek out authentic experiences, millennials are redefining everything to running shoes (you can design your own at to their fitness routines.  According to, “millennials are an active generation that values experiences over stories,” and “Community is key.” Associations that reach out in a targeted way to specific sets of millennials will get ahead with this generation. Boutique gym-type offerings also appeal to the millennial generation. Many associations include diverse offerings from super-intense HIIT to ballet-inspired barre classes. By tracking membership types, demographics, and preferences you can send program or class offerings that might appeal to the right members.

As millennials become a larger consumer force, more research will emerge about their preferences and habits. See below for the resources used in this article as well as a few others.

Millennial Resources: