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Cindy's Corner
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Mom is Always Right 1 C. Prud'homme Thank you for all they you have done in the past, what you are doing now and what you will do in the future for IAIP and the members. I am a lucky recipient of that little nudge in the "growth" direction. Thank you!
by C. Harris
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
The Gift of a Moment 0 C. Prud'homme In April you received a communication from the IAIP Board of Directors, announcing the cancellation of the 2020 convention, which was to be held in Louisville, KY in June.  Cancellation quickly became a ‘plot twist’ as we work to convert the Louisville convention to our first ever virtual convention!  I would like to say a few words to you about this decision and about the COVID-19 pandemic, in general. First, I would like to tell you about the hard work and exceptional effort that went into the convention by the volunteers on the Convention Planning Task Force.   Our four co-chairs, Margaret Wildi, Deborah Wade, Rachel Shubert, and Kristin Boman did an exceptional job planning, for you, a value-packed event.  There were many volunteers working on the convention for the past 10 months, recruiting instructors, vetting speakers, planning events, and many tasks that are performed behind the scenes.  Now they begin again, repeating much of the same work, so that we can enjoy the convention virtually.  While I cannot thank each volunteer individually in this message, I would like to thank every member who worked on this convention, from the early planning stages to the final details, and I want you to know I see you, I appreciate you, and your work has been very important to the association.  Time and effort are the most precious gifts we each have to give, and this team gave abundantly.  I cannot thank you all enough.   I extend this same appreciation to the staff of Meeting Expectations, as they give us a valiant effort right now to create and manage our virtual event.  It is no small task, and they are working morning, noon, and night to support us in this effort.  It’s a privilege for me to be part of such a devoted and inspiring team.  Their gifts extend well beyond any duty or obligation we might imagine. I’ve received many kind, compassionate messages about the cancellation of the Louisville convention, which might have been a special moment for me as the presiding officer.  I want to share my perspective about that.  My ‘moment’ has been many moments that occurred before this day.  My moments came in watching the Board of Directors unite in defining transformational strategies to rebuild our association and seeing these strategies work!  They came in seeing Task Forces struggle with ambitious objectives, but never giving up and working very, very hard to meet the challenge.  My moments came in watching our Regional Vice Presidents connect with one another, solve problems together, sharing best practices with one another, and supporting one another in all the work we’ve done.  They came in being part of an inspirational team of professionals and now, dear friends.  My moments came when members participated in our new offerings, such as the town hall meetings, the virtual regional conferences, our virtual happy hours, and the new pop-up shop.  The moments that meant the most were the moments I spent trying to lead our organization to new possibilities and an ambitious future, and knowing that I could count on all of you to help us get there.  There’s no better feeling than that of ‘safety’… knowing that no matter the circumstances there will be a team of people who have your back.  Without a team, leaders are nothing, and this is especially true in the case of IAIP this year.  This entire year has been a series of ‘moments’ that became gifts.  I thank you all for that honor, and my only regret is that I will not be able to personally thank and hug all of you in June for your contributions and support. Finally, I want to share with you the real bottom line… you matter to me, and to all of the members of the Board of Directors, as well as our team at Meeting Expectations.  Your health and safety are the most important things to all of us, and the issue at the forefront of all our minds in making the decision to switch to a virtual convention  was the question of whether each of you would be safe if we tried to bring you together.  We will look for other ways to bring members together, to bring you the value of your IAIP membership that you’re expecting, and to offer educational and networking events that you can participate in.  But we won’t risk your health or your safety by bringing you to Louisville in June.  If you have been considering leadership in IAIP, I encourage you to start that journey.  Give that service; take that risk.  True, it is hard work and sometimes thankless.  But the gifts you receive in return, those many ‘moments’ are far beyond your wildest imagination.  They are most precious.  They make every day worth giving! I look forward to the next time we meet in person, and until then, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support, understanding, volunteerism, and engagement throughout this past year.  You’re the reason we keep doing what we do!  Stay home; stay safe!    Until next time, Cindy Prud’homme, AINS, CPIA, CIIP, CLP  
by C. Prud'homme
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Membership Renewal 0 C. Prud'homme As our industry, and society as a whole, struggles to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its social restrictions, I think it’s important to be mindful of those things that are promising and encouraging, to balance the struggles we’re all facing right now. It’s true that many businesses are taking a beating, as state after state requires that they shut their doors and send people home to work remotely, if at all. The field of risk management, fortunately, has been deemed an essential service and so most of us are conducting business as usual, perhaps from the confines of our homes instead of an office. The fact that we still operate has protected most of our revenues, no matter what segment of the industry we work in or the services we perform. New business may be suffering, but fortunately, renewal cycles continue, and the greater part of our revenues remain stable. Collecting premium from businesses that are impacted is going to be a concern, no doubt. But as an industry, we’re faring better than many others, and for that we can be grateful. In light of the challenges the world is confronting, how can we plan for and justify continued membership in IAIP? More importantly, how can we justify the continued support of our employers and our industry? I would argue that membership in IAIP that has helped to prepare each of us to navigate these difficult times; and is now helping us to continue delivering value to our employers, our customers, and our communities. Our past investments in ourselves, in our professional development, in our leadership training and practice, has prepared us to be our best in times that some would consider our worst. To any member or to any employer who questions the value of IAIP membership when so many individuals, communities, and businesses are struggling right now, I would say that an investment in an IAIP member is precisely what is enabling each of us to navigate these circumstances now. Through IAIP membership and engagement we have each learned to be better professionals, to lead ourselves through any situation, to communicate better, to coach better, to teach better, to provide service better, to make decisions better, to solve problems better, and to protect our employers, our clients, and our profession better. Through the course of our IAIP memberships, we have trained and prepared ourselves to be our very best, even during times that are perceived as the very worst. To an employer who questions the value of IAIP membership for their employees, I would say that if you don’t see the benefit to your business, take a good look at what is happening right now, as your employees continue serving your customers from home, as they continue producing at high levels, as they apply innovation, creative problem solving skills, and high levels of engagement to keep your businesses operating right. To those asking the question, “what value is there to my business in supporting IAIP” I would answer that the value has been received through the building of a solid professional foundation that is serving each business leader today! It’s not a question of finding the value that a business WILL receive through supporting IAIP membership, but a matter of looking around and seeing that benefit working for you right now! As each member approaches their IAIP renewal and wonders if they’re worth the investment, and as each employer considers the investment their employees are asking them to make in their IAIP membership, know that your past investment has paid off, is paying off today, and will continue to pay off in the tomorrows to come. Through your IAIP membership you have prepared a top-quality risk management professional, and through your continued investment you will reap the benefits of that training and preparation for years to come, through each of the challenges that will confront us in the future! Renew your IAIP membership today. Make your commitment to the future of our industry, the future of your businesses, and the future of your employees. It’s an investment that has been proven time and time again, and the evidence of that is in front of each of us today, as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Together we will get through this, provided we keep the faith and continue our trust and commitment to one another!
by C. Prud'homme
Friday, April 17, 2020
It's April and Things Are Getting Surreal! 0 C. Prud'homme It’s April Fools Day, and one could conclude that old Mother Nature is playing a cruel joke on all of us, through the COVID-19 pandemic we’re all experiencing. The interesting thing in all of this (I say interesting, because ‘funny’ just doesn’t seem appropriate any longer) is how the pandemic is affecting society, and how we each behave in very different ways, given the gravity of the situation. The range of behaviors from individuals across the globe has been enlightening, to say the least. Some of the reactions were entertaining, at times, and others put the exclamation point on the word Pandemic! All of them served as a wake-up call, as we’ve witnessed the best and the worst of society. A few things struck me as most impactful. First, the variety of risk tolerance exhibited by people interpreting the same set of facts. At a time when others were planning to cancel gatherings, even before the instructions to do so were issued, I found myself advocating for ‘business as usual’. What some perceived as ‘being cautious’, I perceived as an over-reaction, or perhaps just a premature response. History has spoken on this question, and there is no doubt about who was right and wrong! We learn so much about ourselves through trying times! The next thing I observed was the level of opportunism that came into play. It started with toilet paper – yes, toilet paper. Now, there is no shortage of toilet paper in the world, and certainly no obstacles to producing as much as demand would require. Yet, you cannot buy toilet paper unless you get very, very lucky. Nor can you buy disinfectant cleaners, paper towels, or, in many cities, hamburger. I never believed, in my lifetime that buying a pound of hamburger would be cause for celebration. Yet, here we are. What many perceived as a hoarding problem, rooted in fear, social media quickly taught us was actually opportunism – as the pop-up shops started appearing on social media feeds offering these products at unheard of prices. Yes, individuals were buying up the supply and using the pandemic as an opportunity to gouge the public, to the point where if you wanted these products you needed to capitulate to the price gouging or be prepared to take your chances in long lines at the grocery stores, hours before they open each morning. Fortunately, Amazon sells a DIY bidet kit for $30 which could be a viable alternative to the $50 being charged for a 4-pack of toilet paper. We saw many people use the pandemic to push their political or social agendas. Very early on legislators starting drafting legislation to challenge established case law, through denial of controversial medical services, restrictions on medical professionals, and challenges surrounding the separation of church and state. Many individuals participated in the mass spread of propaganda informing the public that the pandemic is punishment for being unfaithful, disobedient, and for the challenges by many to the Second Amendment. Thus, began a run on guns and ammunition, as if these might end the pandemic. Doctors’ offices closed as laundromats remained open. Banks shuttered their doors while payday loan companies operated, business as usual. The responses to the pandemic were not all negative; overwhelmingly we saw a unification of the public around certain causes or behaviors. People, keeping a safe six feet apart from one another, took to the sidewalks for song and dance parties each evening. Birthdays for children and the elderly were celebrated, not with a party or gathering, but with drive-by visits or signs and greetings from the roadside or sidewalk. Children visited beloved parents and grandparents through closed windows, just to enjoy the sight of one another. Nurses, most of whom earn about half the salary I was earning in IT at the start of the year, suddenly became our most valued (though underpaid) heroes. Even without adequate protective gear, we see our medical professionals working 18-hour shifts, tending to the sick and dying, and in many cases providing the most important service of all, coordinating video calls to the families of those dying in isolation, so loved ones can say their goodbyes from a safe distance and so people dying alone might not feel quite as alone. Grocery store workers, who were previously somewhere around the bottom of the respect food-chain, suddenly became our heroes as they restocked shelves each night, sanitized surfaces to protect us as we shop, and who clean the carts and the parking lots of discarded gloves, masks, and used disinfectant wipes. And finally, we saw innovation and commitment, as the field of risk management, determined to be an essential service, and our members struggled to find new ways of servicing their customers and keeping their businesses going, while balancing the need to isolate and distance. Managers and employees who once believed that work could never be productive when conducted at home, suddenly found themselves and their coworkers doing their job in exactly those circumstances. Technology challenged individuals quickly got up to speed on video conferencing tools, virtual desktops, and a variety of connectivity hurdles. Those who had been previously labeled as resistant to change suddenly found everything around them changed, and workers adapted quickly and effectively. For IAIP members, regional conferences which were forced to cancel are being reorganized as virtual events, ensuring that IAIP members can still enjoy connections with their fellow risk management professionals. What will these look like? We’re going to find out! Perhaps the most profound response I noticed was the coming together of people, in a united effort and with a common caring for one another. Friends who had lost jobs through the shutdowns quickly pivoted and volunteered time to sew masks for first responders, cook and deliver meals to those working to serve the public, celebrities reading books to kids via Facebook live, musicians organizing free online concerts, and the release of complimentary movies, shows, museum exhibits, and other cultural and educational attractions to benefit those locked in the house, yearning for stimulation. Generosity presented itself in abundance. We saw friends checking in on one another to make sure we’re okay. Younger generations calling on their parents or grandparents to help them get through the social isolation. The many text messages I received each day from IAIP members who had learned I had been sick for a few weeks and the many offers to help out in any way possible. Younger IAIP members checking on older members to offer a friendly smile; older IAIP members checking on younger members to do the same. While its true that hard times can bring out some ugly moments in all of us, it’s also true that in these times we show our grit, find opportunities to become our best selves, and set aside differences so that we can celebrate what is valuable and right in all of us. Through this pandemic, we’ve found in ourselves kindness, generosity, innovation, tolerance, and flexibility. Perhaps there is truth to the proposition that COVID-19 has brought us back to the things that are important – the love of family, the safety of home, and sanctity of service, and the resilience of hope. Perhaps, most importantly we’re learning not to sweat the small stuff. Sure, many of us have lost our jobs at a time when opportunities are scarce, employment has gone from its highest state to its lowest in a matter of 30 days, an invincible people have been humbled and now worry for the lives of their loved ones, and working parents who previously juggled careers by day and families by night are now doing all at the same time, as if they’d prepared for this all their lives and have quickly ‘retooled’ to become home educators as well. To some, things might seem pretty dire, and things will get harder before they get better. But we have our homes, we have our families, we have each other, and we have toilet paper. What more can a girl ask for? May your April be healthy, happy, innovative, and enlightening!
by C. Prud'homme
Thursday, April 2, 2020
On to Plan B! 0 C. Prud'homme This morning I found myself thinking that things are going to be a little harder today than most days. I see the day as it is: a day filled with challenging decisions, a good amount of work to be done, and a beautiful sun shining; a day that offers many opportunities to those who are watching for them. Whether things come easy or hard, the day is ours, and it is a gift that is not given to all. What can be done with it is in our hands! Today, we reported to IAIP members that the proposed dues restructuring motion was not adopted. While a majority of members supported the proposal, the required two-thirds did not. One could argue the obvious defeat, or one might see success in the fact that voter turnout exceeded expectations and a majority of members supported the proposal. Still, the increased dues revenue is not an ingredient we have to work with in our recipe for association success. Like all good cooks, we must improvise or abandon the recipe. Many members attended the Town Hall meetings and read the FAQ document we provided, so they understand that the additional revenue that would have been generated by the dues restructure was necessary to make investments in our infrastructure, to support our new Corporate Membership product and our new services - the Corporate Talent Development program and Non-Member Instructor Certification program. The failure of the proposal was not a failure in our strategies for growth. It was a rejection of our ‘application’ for financing. What we do with this rejection is the same thing I do when I receive a communication from a potential employer with disappointing news; move on to the next opportunity! We make our way through all the opportunities that were not meant for us in order to get to the one that is. If we still believe the investments are needed, we now look to other opportunities to fund them. Perhaps some investments can be eliminated or addressed in other ways. For instance, it’s likely we will still need an e-learning platform to support businesses purchasing our products and services. But, do we need to fund a marketing campaign to promote these products and services? Do we really need to enhance our existing platforms to drive more value to our current members? There are other ingredients we can use to build a recipe that works for all of us. Can we use them in the right ways create a delectable result? ·         Member Fundraisers: Can IAIP members help raise the funds to invest in an e-learning platform? Members moved mountains when it came to the purchase of a building years ago. Could this be a strategy we should leverage now? What can you, as an individual member, local association, council or region do to help raise the needed funds? ·         Marketing: We recently witnessed, through the power of networking, how quickly we could fund our IAIP Awards – every award sold out within 60 days. What if members used their networks to introduce our Corporate Membership or Talent Development programs to their HR departments and business contacts? In a recent success, all it took was one member providing contact information for the head of their Human Resources department. SOLD! What if other members provided contact information for HR leaders who are looking for solutions for their employees’ talent development? What if some members helped in the introduction and used their goodwill to endorse the value of our offerings? Give us a name and phone number, introduce us yourself, help to schedule the first meeting or not… we can build on whatever our members have to offer. ·         Individual Membership: Members often speak of a time when there were tens of thousands of members. What can we do right now to bring in more members and to keep the ones we have? Are we putting in the sweat equity to build a solid foundation of education, networking and career development? Are we committing to the longevity and health of our association by making a personal commitment to continue our memberships in spite of our age, our employment, the continuation (or not) of our local association, or in spite of changes in the support we receive from employers? Are we inviting colleagues to IAIP events and making a point to attend ourselves? Are YOU registered for your Regional Conference and the 2020 Convention in Louisville, in June? We are the best marketers of our association, but building membership organically requires a dual commitment from each of us – a commitment to building and maintaining exceptional value and a commitment to showing that value to peers and colleagues. ·         Volunteerism: Members often express their desire for enhancements to the benefits they receive as members. Not all this work requires that we purchase new solutions. There is much to be achieved by the efforts of dedicated members, and this is the work of our task forces. Are you a member of an IAIP task force? It’s not too late to join the effort to build our tomorrow! Our progress is only limited by the number of volunteers who are willing to work on our initiatives. So, it’s a day of decisions for each of us. How can we create a recipe for success? Our application for funding may have been declined, but our strategies remain sound. Opportunities are still within reach. It might take a few more of us sharing the load and the burden of building. But as IAIP members have always known, more cooks in the kitchen does NOT spoil this recipe! We have a long history of working together to achieve amazing results, and I cannot wait to see what IAIP members cook up for us this time. The day is young and the sun is still high in the sky.
by C. Prud'homme
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Plot Twist! 0 C. Prud'homme They say that when change comes, the healthiest thing you can do is yell, “Plot Twist” and move forward to explore that new path forward. This might be easier when the path forward is already defined and neatly set before you. It’s binary… you take the step forward or you do not. But that is seldom the case. What happens when any path is possible and it’s up to each of us to carve it? Now we have a three-dimensional puzzle and endless possibilities: scary stuff! As many men and women my age are likely to do, I’ve spent a lot of the past couple years thinking about what the next chapter in my life should look like. What do I want to be when I grow up? What will be my next, and final career? Like many of you, I’ve been looking for the way to make a difference and have an impact. What do I want my legacy to represent? Every life should have meaning and purpose. How does a person do that and still pay the bills? Some of you may know that I joined the ranks of many others this week, when the career I’ve pursued for 35 years took a twist. After 22 years, the same employer that promoted me many times, used me on critical, complex efforts, offered pay increases and bonuses with regularity, and treated me like a respected team member decided that my contributions were no longer needed and my experience and services no longer worth their investment. It all ended with an abrupt walk to the front lobby, beyond the secured doors of the place I once called home. As I hugged the human resources representative whose job it was to get me gone quickly and quietly, I found myself hurriedly dropping last words of advice, asking for care for those who reported to me, asking for leadership concerns to be addressed to eliminate risk to the company. I was still doing my job, even as it was taken from me. I’m sure many of you can relate. The outpouring of support from membership has been inspiring. Real teamwork makes itself known in the ‘you can do it’ cheers that have been so abundantly offered. The text messages, phone calls, emails, and digital messages warm my heart. The shared wisdom from those who have walked this path offers encouragement, direction, and reinforcement of my belief that together, we are a powerful force. In an industry and society that sometimes makes us feel as if we’re unworthy and insignificant, through IAIP we show that we are unstoppable, undeniable, and a powerful menagerie of wisdom and experience. I find myself with a familiar challenge, faced by IAIP, by many of its members, and now me, in trying to define what I should be when I grow up. The path before me has not been defined, and it’s not binary. I can and must carve that path and ensure it will lead me to a destination I really want to achieve. Falling back on existing knowledge, industry experience, previous professional roles and patterns is an easy course. But, also before me are the more challenging and risky: coaching in areas where there is expertise but not a client, writing on subjects that are profoundly important but no established audience, teaching when there is no student, working where there is no income. Following a predefined course can allow a fast, streamlined journey to a destination that has already been defined. Carving a new path to a new destination, from nothing and with nothing presents great risk, but carries the potential for enormous reward. So many of you have done this so well, before me. I don’t yet know where this journey is going to take me. At the end of this life I don’t yet know what my legacy will be, my purpose, my ultimate value. But the one thing I do know is that IAIP members will have helped me to get there, cheered me on, provided me education, professional development, confidence, inspiration, and many worthy examples. In grace each of you has walked, and now I will follow. I lean on your strength, your courage, your confidence, and I am proud and honored to call you my friends and my team. Whether it’s our careers, the plot twists that life throws at us, or the future of our industry and our association, I know that with you walking beside me, we can define our future, carve our path, walk our truth, and leave our legacy. Thank you for sharing this journey and for the strength and support you so generously give along the way!
by C. Prud'homme
Thursday, January 30, 2020
I'm Going to be Like Deborah When I Grow Up 0 C. Prud'homme I recently found myself reminiscing about my earliest days as a member of IAIP, and attending one of my first regional conferences. I recall entering a room full of impressive insurance professionals, and seeing at the podium one of the most beautiful, graceful, composed, and inspiring people I’d ever had the pleasure to meet. She was more than just a leader – she was somebody I wanted to be when I grew up. I recalled telling myself, “I want to be HER when I grow up!” That vision is still so fresh in my mind. Since that day, as I’ve progressed on my own leadership journey, I’ve kept that vision, that feeling in mind as I try to model my own behaviors. I hold that picture up as the goal I want to attain, and I keep working toward that image. True, I’m a far cry from this role model, but she will forever serve as a goal I wish to attain for myself – the person I want to be when I grow up. There isn’t a week that goes by, that I don’t ask myself, “What would Deborah do in this situation?” This brings me to the subject of role models and vision… the importance of being able to envision what success means for each of us. Do you have that one person who inspired you to be just a little better? That picture in your mind of what success really looks and feels like? They say, to make a meaningful impact on one’s goals it’s important to write them down, then envision what success will look like. I don’t know about writing goals down, but I definitely can relate to the theory that a person must be able to envision success in order to achieve it. If not, how do you know when you’ve arrived? I believe that vision is an essential component of success. Just what does that future state look like? Who am I when I finally grow up? If we don’t know, if we cannot see it, we’ll never know what we’re truly working toward. I apply this truth to my vision of IAIP, and what it will look like when it has finally grown up. I can hear you all saying right now, “We already ARE grown up – we’ve been around for more than 70 years!”And that’s true. But the grown up IAIP I envision is the one that is reborn, revitalized, and living its NEXT best life. If we can envision it, we can make it happen! People may only live once, but organizations can be reborn over and over again, as long as there are people willing to make it happen and resources available to fund and sustain the effort. Let me share what I envision as the future of IAIP. I see an organization that has found its place as the premier provider of talent development products and services, with specialty in the field of risk management, but with products and services that can benefit any growing business or career-minded individual.  I see diversity in revenue opportunities, through individual memberships, company memberships, networking events, educational products, training certifications and licensing, and talent development programs delivered on-premises to companies. I see engaged members, advancing their careers and building their business network, coming to us, not one-by-one, but in groups of 20, 50, 100, or by the thousands, through support and encouragement from their employers; and these same members being viewed as the subject matter experts on all matters related to risk management and insurance – representing our industry to the media, to regulators, and to all who are in need of a risk management perspective.  I see us at our BEST, and getting better with each year we expand that vision and continue our journey. Can you see what I see? Do you see the IAIP of the future – the organization we’re going to be when we grow up (again)? Seeing success is the first step to achieving it. If we can see it, we can build it! It becomes a matter of breaking down the steps and priorities, creating that roadmap, so we can take ourselves there – eating that elephant one bite at a time! We have the roadmap, and we’re on our way. We’re building the products and the new services, and have just started offering them. We’re beginning our outreach to an expanded client-base, we’re planning for the infrastructure that is needed to distribute, administer, and deliver these new products and services and to support these new members.  We know what we need to do; we just need to keep doing it and get others to join us so we can accomplish that much more. Can you see the path ahead – the success that lies within reach? If you cannot, start with the picture I’ve painted above. Spend some time talking to your Regional Vice President or a member of the Board of Directors, not about the IAIP of the past, but a vision of IAIP of the future. Let us paint that picture for you – bring you on this magical journey that lies before us. Join us in our efforts and help us take each step toward this picture of the IAIP of tomorrow. Let go of the sad memory of decline, and envision a powerful rebirth – an IAIP in its new prime. It’s empowering and exciting and revitalizing to envision an IAIP with its best years ahead! If you can see it, you can BE it! We ARE going to be it. And, with a little more work, I may one day be Deborah when I grow up.  
by C. Prud'homme
Thursday, January 9, 2020
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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