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Cindy's Corner
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A Time to Clear the Air 4 C. Prud'homme Cindy, I appreciate your discussion of the dues issues before the membership. For those of you who don't know me I was RVP 1998-99 and served on the executive committee starting in 2010, ultimately serving as IAIP president 2013-14. It was during my term as president that IAIP moved the management of the association to Meeting Expectations. Several association management providers were considered and ME! was the best fit, both financially and service-wise. I do not recall the specific budgeting considerations however ME! had the flexibility that continues to be important to IAIP. Our association draws upon the expertise of ME! personnel, who know association management. IAIP has always been a member sponsored association who has tried to secure broader industry non-dues financial support. The leaders of IAIP know the seriousness of our current status and do not make this recommendation lightly. As noted above there are several strategies in the works. Please consider supporting this dues increase as it's critical to our future.Sincerely,L Jane Densch
by L. Densch
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Adios November! 0 C. Prud'homme I hope all of you had a terrific, family & love-filled Thanksgiving holiday. For those of you who, like some of my family, do not celebrate the holiday in accordance with your faith, I hope you had a wonderful, relaxing long weekend in any case, filled with football and great prices on turkey and ham! And isn’t every day a great day to be thankful! To any who were hit by last week’s winter weather, I will gladly join you for a visit to our IAIP friends in Hawaii or Puerto Rico! I must share with you, that it’s been a challenging month or two, and December offers hope for a return to a manageable pace. The combination of work and family created a perfect storm that proved to be a test for both performance and stamina!  We lost a member of our family in October, which entailed an unplanned, extended trip to Arkansas, followed two weeks later by a family need that blessed (and challenged) me with the caring of a toddler and a seven-year-old for a couple weeks, all while trying to navigate a change in leadership at the office and some impact to my responsibilities and role there. My head is still spinning! This brings me to two realizations that I want to share, as I’m certain every one of us has been to the same place, or will be, before long. In this experience, I’ve learned to appreciate the generosity of those who show patience, support, and who lend a hand when circumstances prevent us from giving as much as we normally might. Those who don’t tell us we’re letting them down when we ask for help or cannot deliver at the same level we normally might. Those who know we need help even before we ask. Those who step in at the last minute to cover, as my Executive Committee sisters did during the October Town Hall Meeting. Those who tell you that family comes first and mean it.  But more importantly, my situation reminded me to BE one of those people – to forgive the limitations of others and try to understand. To recognize that what a person can commit to or give today, may not be what they can give or commit to tomorrow or at another time in their lives. I am learning to appreciate and understand that our circumstances change, and with them so do our abilities to engage. There comes a time in each of our lives when we need help, when we cannot do all that we wish to do, when we cannot meet the expectations of others, or when we must choose one priority over another, and that’s okay. Just as we receive help when we need it, as we rely on the generosity and understanding of others, we need to diligently remind ourselves that others experience the same highs and lows and they deserve the same support from each of us.  So, the next time one of my colleagues at work or in IAIP isn’t able to take on something I’ve asked them to do, or the next time somebody delivers only half their best, my plan is to take a step back and give them the benefit of the doubt – understand that there may be other factors inhibiting their ability to engage or perform. I plan to remember the times I had to ask others to cover for me, take over something at the last minute, or the times I had to say ‘no’ because something else took priority. And if I do it right, others will receive from me the same support and encouragement that was so generously provided to me. But here’s another important lesson… we are surrounded by amazing, powerful, accomplished colleagues in IAIP! Whenever I needed help, nearby was an IAIP Super-Powered Achiever willing to help me out – who could expand capacity as my own capacity was shrinking. I found myself surrounded by some of the most inspiring, supportive, and dynamic achievers that one can imagine – those who could miraculously create time or adjust to make time where it didn’t previously exist! The friends and colleagues who cheerfully and skillfully picked up my dropped balls and ran with them to score a win was a blessing for which I am eternally thankful! All around each of us are the most inspiring, able, talented, and generous friends and colleagues we might imagine, and they should be celebrated. YOU should be celebrated, each day, because every one of us has been that friend, that supporter at some point – just as we have been the person who needed help. To know that we each can expand capacity and up our game any time a friend or colleague is in need is a very powerful thing – one we should cultivate, celebrate, and regularly exercise. To know that we have the support system and the freedom to ask for help and lean on others is equally powerful. Recognizing these secret weapons, we can surely meet any challenge and at the same time, create and maintain a dynamic, impactful, and rewarding membership and leadership experience! It’s December! Let the good times and the back-to-normal times roll!
by C. Prud'homme
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
A Lesson in Loss 0 C. Prud'homme Life can be humbling. My family and I experienced a loss last week; actually, we’ve been absorbing the loss over an extended period, perhaps as long as 5 years or so. My stepfather, partner to my mother for more than 50 years, died last week after a long battle with dementia and the ravages of a continuous string of infections that medical professionals could no longer battle.  Upon learning of his death, I did what most good daughters do and dropped everything to rush to my mother’s side, in rural Arkansas. There, I’ve spent the last nine days, helping her to clean drawers and closets, dispose of unneeded medical supplies, sort through papers, attend to all the administrative requirements in an assortment of municipal offices, and generally sticking around to offer love, support, an abundance of funny stories, memories both good and bad, and generous servings of wine and fried food.  As I did these things, I was haunted by the nagging realization that somewhere in this experience was a valuable lesson, aside from the obvious knowledge that love, and time are precious. I contemplated for more than a week, unable to connect the dots, but unable to let go the feeling that there was some gem of knowledge in this experience, for me to find and share with you. As I remained close to support my mother, our discussions almost always landed on the same subject… how does an 81-year-old woman who has never lived as an adult without children or a spouse to care for, redefine herself as a single, independent person with a life of her own to live? How does she find purpose and hope in the ashes of a life lost? Perhaps trite, I counseled her to make friends, join new clubs, entertain, travel, volunteer, fill her time with every opportunity she can find, until her life is filled with new joys, new interests, and new adventures that are hers alone. I used every argument I could think of to coax from her resilience and a will to move forward. She, I’m sure, will do her best to do exactly that – we are, after all strong women! The lesson in this that was calling out to me was RESILIANCE. I’m speaking about our commitment to IAIP, to our careers, to all the many changes, the losses, the pinnacles and ravines we will face in our lives and careers over time. No doubt there will be times when we find walls crumbling around us, our futures uncertain. There will be times when we perceive loss that may not be physical. Change may take from us what we find secure and comforting. Yet, we must find our new norms. We must figure out what works for us going forward and seek out new opportunities and power to rebuild our futures.  This is what we are doing with IAIP at this moment. We are rooting out our vulnerabilities and replacing them with reinforced structure. We are expanding into new areas of strength and opportunity. We are redefining and building our organizations to create a sustaining future. And, like family, we are doing it together, sharing in the losses of the past but creating excitement for the future.  As I see the pictures on social media of the new leaders being elected to the various Councils around the country, as I see the work the IAIP Task Forces are doing in executing new strategies that will revitalize IAIP, as I see the excitement building around the regional conferences that are being planned for Spring 2020, I am encouraged, I am strengthened, I am hopeful, and I am proud! Thanks to you all for your efforts on behalf of IAIP, for your resilience, and for your support after my recent loss. I’m proud to be an IAIP member with all of you and I look forward to the future we are, together building!
by C. Prud'homme
Monday, October 28, 2019
Call for Volunteers 0 C. Prud'homme Greetings IAIP Members.  I hope you will forgive this unconventional method of reaching out, but I have an urgent message for all IAIP members and I hope you will take a moment to read.  I’m reaching out to you today to ask for your assistance and your support. When I was installed as IAIP President I spoke to the members attending the 2019 Annual Convention in Reno, NV, and I shared my hope that we would create an army, all working toward the same goal… to revitalize our association and reinforce it to serve our industry for generations to come. We often joke that we can do anything, as IAIP members… after all, we plan conferences, we create amazing experiences out of limited (or non-existent) resources, WE MOVE FURNITURE!  Together, we’ve shown ourselves to be a powerful force, and on behalf of IAIP I’m asking for your energy and your support now, when IAIP needs you most.  Your IAIP Board of Directors has shown commitment and courage in establishing the vision and making the decisions that will reinforce our association and ensure relevance for the future.  We’ve heard your concerns, we’ve heard your suggestions, and we’ve defined strategies that will expand our customer base, expand our products and services, and defined new sources of revenue that will, over time provide needed resources and provide relief and greater value to our existing members. But, somebody needs to make these visions a reality.  Somebody needs to investigate them, work out the kinks, create and implement the solutions.  That’s where you come in. This year we will build a corporate membership program, create new professional development programs to be delivered to the workplace, implement special interest communities, investigate a new e-learning platform, establish a program to train and license non-member trainers to deliver IAIP programs, perform a technology gap-assessment, develop a governance model to ensure that our use of association management resources delivers the value that is intended, and a host of other important initiatives.   We have so much important and transformational work to do! All of these new opportunities have been turned over to IAIP Task Forces to implement, and their efforts will only be as successful as the willingness of our members to engage.  The more who join our army of volunteers to build these solutions, the more quickly we will be able to realize the benefits and begin generating the needed revenue to sustain the association.  Time is not a luxury we have, and we need to act quickly now – build quickly now.  These solutions need to be generating revenue for IAIP within the next 18 months. My call to you is to jump in, join a winning team, help us expand our capacity so we can, more quickly build the solutions that will sustain IAIP for generations to come.  We need your help.  Will you be part of the team that revitalizes and rebuilds our association?  I’m counting on you, your Board of Directors is counting on you, and your fellow members are counting on you.  Join our team today, please, and let’s get this job done!  I appreciate your commitment and your engagement and look forward to the future we will build together!
by C. Prud'homme
Thursday, October 3, 2019
Can An Ant Eat a Moose? 0 C. Prud'homme Last week my seven-year-old granddaughter asked me if an ant can eat something that’s bigger than itself.  When I told her yes, she asked me how that can be, so I explained to her that many ants, working together carry the bigger object back to their nest, where they share it among themselves and feed the entire colony.  Then she asked whether they could eat a moose.  I didn’t have words to respond to that. The same week I was having this interesting conversation, I was preparing a presentation on the importance of Leadership for Gamma Iota Sigma students later this week.  One of the main points of that being leadership is a team sport – leaders will see greater success through the achievements of their teams than they will through their own contributions.  Thus, the mission of any leader is to compel a team to perform at its very best.  How does a leader influence others to make that happen? Surely, ants can teach us a lesson in leadership and teamwork.  After all, if they can carry a moose, surely, they can achieve anything, right?!  So, how does a leader convince an army of ants to carry weight greater than themselves back to the colony so that all can benefit?  How does a leader in business, or in IAIP motivate an army of employees or volunteers to achieve challenging things that will benefit the entire organization? I don’t know if there are easy answers to those questions, but I think IAIP’s CLP program is a good place to start.  To move an army of individuals toward a common goal, for the good of all, requires that everybody understand the purpose and mission of the organization.  They must develop, communicate, and all understand the strategic plan.   Negotiation, persuasion, change management, and delegation would all have their place.  How would you turn resistance into support?  How would you help each member of that army see their role and the benefits they will realize by helping to meet the goal? I believe this is the challenge that lies before us, as members of IAIP.  There are some lofty goals ahead of us with some amazing rewards that will benefit us all.  The weight (and the work) of the goals is greater than any of us can carry alone, but together we can realize unimagined accomplishments.  Revitalizing an association?  Building a future for the members of tomorrow?  Expanding our products, our services, and our customer base?  Alone we wouldn’t know where to begin, but together we’re a powerful army.  If you’re serving in a leadership role in IAIP, I recommend you start on the course of CLP study & get your designation – build those skills you’ll need to lead your team.  We have our destination and our plan; now we just need to begin the work of taking ourselves there!  If you’re one of the army, we know your efforts will be much greater than anything any of us could achieve alone – we will realize our organization’s success through your efforts.  We cannot get to our destination without you. Together we have a lot of work ahead.  But we’re not intimidated; we’re ants and we can carry a moose!  If a seven-year-old girl can imagine it, why can’t we make it come true!
by C. Prud'homme
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
What Language Are You Speaking? 0 C. Prud'homme I was thinking recently about the challenge many organizations like ours face; members not renewing at rates that exceed their ability to recruit new members, the result being a steady decline in overall membership. This is the reality for organizations across the country. Recently, I found myself giving counsel to some members. The concern was the subject matter and tone of the casual conversations during meetings. I’m a believer that, in this world where we say we control nothing, we actually control a great deal more than we like to acknowledge. And who doesn’t want to control their membership numbers? I’m one of those people who gets excited about the things I like to talk about, and I can easily misinterpret people’s silence in conversations to mean that they agree. But with age comes a certain amount of wisdom, or at least experience, and I’ve learned that people remaining silent does not mean they agree. Sometimes, it means the opposite. They may simply not want a debate. Sometimes, taking a strong position can cause others to feel ‘run over’ and the preferred course of action is a quick escape out the back door at their earliest opportunity! When faced with a ‘fight or flee’ instinct, some of us choose to stand our ground, but others are going to flee to avoid confrontation. Could it be that this is part of the problem with the declining membership associations are facing? What message are we sending to our members in the conversations we have, when we’re at our most relaxed, when our guard is down, when we’re with those we trust? When we meet at the local or council level, are our conversations focused on building up members, their careers, their success, their advancement? It’s important to recognize that not all members speak their minds. Many hold their tongues, keep their own counsel, and quickly remove themselves from environments that do not reflect the positivity and professionalism they expect. It becomes easy for us, especially those of us who are more opinionated than others, to think that we’re stating obvious truths, with which everybody agrees; when in fact the opposite is true. Many who hear negativity, judgments, or harsh critiques may perceive us to be unkind or unwelcoming. If we fail to support one another, other members are likely to wonder if we will be there to support them. Do not underestimate how powerful our words and our actions can be! The next time you’re at a meeting, listen carefully to what’s being communicated. Is the dialog positive, supportive, and tolerant of others, or could it use some work? Are you building relationships or undermining them? Do you want to allow negativity or carelessness to open up that back door to less-confrontational members if they begin to feel uncomfortable with the messages they’re hearing or the conduct they’re observing? Don’t be ashamed if you find that you need to ‘up’ the professionalism a notch or two – it’s something we all need to pay attention to. When we get too comfortable, we sometimes need to buckle down and start paying attention again to set ourselves back on track. If we all focus on creating an environment that’s accepting and supportive, and commit to building up our entire membership, we will enjoy a healthy, refreshing and diverse community for generations to come!
by C. Prud'homme
Monday, August 26, 2019
Choose Kindness 0 C. Prud'homme Happy August! Already a month has passed, and it seems like we’re just getting started. But before we get too far into our new leadership year, it’s a good idea to take inventory, understand where we are, what we’ve achieved so far and what’s coming up next. That is the best way to ensure we have a clear path forward and can start checking off those objectives. It helps to have a plan, right?   We wasted no time getting down to business, as last year’s board of directors partnered with this year’s board to finalize several important strategies that will help us revitalize and transform IAIP for the future. We’ve already released those strategies to our IAIP Task Forces, so they can get busy executing and implementing our vision. Task Forces have all been filled, and volunteers should be hearing from their Task Force Chairs right about now. We do appreciate the many of you who volunteered, and I promise that your work is certain to be impactful! We’re going to be sharing our vision and plans for IAIP in a future Town Hall Meeting, so I’m not going to jump the gun by talking about that now. But let me tell you, there are some exciting times ahead of us and there will be many opportunities for all of us to contribute. What are you doing to make your IAIP year count? It doesn’t matter if you’re a member of a local association or a member-at-large, or whether you’re active in the workforce or happily enjoying retirement. There’s still a lot of opportunity to make a difference, and many opportunities to realize the value of your membership. I want to consider, for a minute, the subject of friendships… those connections you make with IAIP members over the years. As I read about another mass shooting this weekend in Texas, I saw the many expressions of gratitude from our members that our own Betty Curry was safe, it reminded me of one of the most valuable benefits of IAIP membership – the relationships we build over the years. It was only last week that I joined two of my dearest friends for dinner and thought how very blessed I am to have met them through my membership in IAIP. Those relationships nourish us and sustain us. In a world that is often unkind, it matters tremendously that we always have friends in IAIP who will offer kindness, generosity, and acceptance and who are dedicated to our success and happiness in ways that others are not. This should be the first way we make our membership count. Bring kindness to your world and the worlds of those around you. Have you been to a local association meeting recently, or a council or regional meeting? Others are counting on you; you bring value to their lives. Have you supported your fellow insurance professionals, and your own careers by attending a class or conference that your nearest IAIP group is offering? They can only succeed when others support their efforts. Have you engaged with your fellow members, carved out a small amount of time in your busy schedule to include them? Have you given encouragement and support to others, when it’s so easy and tempting to pass judgment instead? When given the choice, have you chosen kindness above all else? It’s not too late. As members of IAIP, we are all here for one another. We share each other’s successes and each other’s failures. We are only as strong as one another and when we forget to be kind, we undermine our association, just as a small handful of unkind individuals outside of our association can undermine the fabric of our society through their anger and violence. When we decide to support one another, when we join hands and work for a common purpose and when we forgive one another and embrace one another for our differences and imperfections – that is when we are at our best as human beings, as insurance professionals, and as an association. In a world that can become discouraging at times, I think about the IAIP friendships I’ve gained, and I realize my membership has delivered value that I never even contemplated. So my message is: be kind, be supportive, love one another, help each other. Leave judgment behind. Hold each other up instead. And more than anything else, enjoy what each individual member brings to our association – let them share their value with you, and take the time and make the effort to share your value with them.
by C. Prud'homme
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
A Lesson in Diversity 3 C. Prud'homme Cindy, the tree fell and I heard it, yes, some articles will get little or no response, but keep going, many read and don't respond Nice article to ponder, I hope all local presidents read it to their groups!
by L. Luka
Friday, August 2, 2019
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