Inspiration—an Inspiring or Animating Idea, Action or Influence

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I have been inspired to write an article about inspiration. Maybe it’s because I hang out with, study, coach, observe, interview, listen to and play with inspiring people. Maybe it’s because I just left an extraordinary vacation destination, drove on one of the most beautiful, scenic drives I have ever taken and come home to a home by the ocean. Maybe it’s because I know people who are building things, writing things, dreaming things and recording things. Maybe it’s because I just watched a fireworks display to celebrate my country’s birthday and I thought about all of the dreams, inspiration, work and determination that went into what makes it so special. Maybe it’s because I just celebrated a significant wedding anniversary with the girl of my dreams. Maybe it’s because my kids seem to be living the lives of their individual designs. Maybe it’s because I have a long-time business partner who inspires me. 

Whatever the reason is that I am inspired; I am pleased to say that I am!

Many of the people who read my articles are leaders. Whether you are a leader or not, I have some questions for you: Are you inspired? What inspires you? Who inspires you? What happens when you get inspired? Are people inspired by you? What happens when you inspire them? What happens to energy? What happens to creativity? What happens to possibility?

I was invited to go and play golf with a friend I know and two friends I was about to know. I met a very successful entrepreneur and a world class athletic champion. I met some very successful people, who were so friendly, welcoming and fun. I stayed in an extraordinary home. Before others got up, I had an hour or so alone with our host to talk about his life, his passions and his dreams. He had literally been instrumental in the building of a small city. He is now passionate about rebuilding the homes, the businesses and the people’s spirits after a devastating fire ripped through the city. Did you catch it? The “spirits” of the people need to be rebuilt.

Inspiration! In spirit! It is not about what is happening to us on the outside. It is about what is happening to us on the inside. 

What inspired me about my host was not what he has done, but rather who he is.

He and his wife welcomed me into their home. He was kind, thoughtful, thought provoking, bright, caring, generous, curious, active, fit, devoted, grateful and inspiring.

He is older than me but I was inspired by his energy. He seemed to be leading a lot of initiatives. He had ideas to change things for people and he puts them into place.

As I drove down the Sea to Sky Highway, my mind was racing. Why did I meet him? Why did we have those conversations? Was it orchestrated to help him or help me? What am I going to do? Who am I going to be? How will I think differently?

A few years ago Dick Kopplin gave me a book called “The One Thing”. Shelley and I love this book and we talk about it a lot in our Extraordinary Leader Program. This past week we had the chance to interview one of the co-authors for our “Conversation with the Masters” call. 

We had so many people reach out after the call to say they were inspired by the author’s message. We can be inspired by many things and perhaps that can diminish the power, the energy and the impact of the inspiration. When we are inspired about our one thing something very powerful happens. 


Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at or We believe you could have your best year yet!

Congratulations! You’ve Lost Your Job!

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In 2003 CMAA asked me to start a coaching program to support its members. This is one of the first articles I ever submitted. It seems like I have been sending it out to a lot of people lately. If you have recently lost a job please read it, if you haven’t recently lost a job, please read it so you don’t.

Okay MacDonald, this time you have gone too far!
  How can you say congratulations about something that has so much pain and stress associated with it? Don’t you understand what it is like to go through this process? Yes I do! I have gone through it with colleagues and coaching clients on many occasions and I have experienced it personally. In fact, in the year 2000, my wife and I lost our jobs on the same day. You can imagine the stimulating conversations that those events inspired and if I remember correctly, I think our sleep patterns were altered somewhat. I hope the provocative title of this article doesn’t make you think for a moment that I don’t empathize with you if this is the challenge that you are currently facing. If it has happened to you, you can’t help but have empathy. It is my hope that this article will help you to position yourself for what is next.

We can see losing a job as tragedy or opportunity. There are two very different levels of energy that come from each of those two perspectives. When you’ve just lost your job you need your energy to come up with a solution. Managing our energy is critical and the thoughts we choose to focus on have a direct impact on our energy level. 

Let’s focus on the opportunities.

You now have time. Do you remember what that is? You have been busy dealing with a myriad of issues and problems. One of the first realizations is that they don’t belong to you anymore. Take time! Relax. Read. Record your thoughts… decompress, learn, play, plan and be!

In his book “The Pursuit of Wow!”, Tom Peters talks about “little-r and Big-R Renewal”. He suggests that little-r renewal can be done by activities like reading, listening to tapes, working with a coach, taking a course, attending a seminar etc. When talking about Big-R Renewal, Peters recommends that executives leave their jobs and take six months to a year to work in the inner-city or move to a third-world country. His belief is that this will give the executive the ability to be a completely different thinker, leader and human being. Whether you have a year or a weekend, take as much time as you can to renew.

You can design the rest of your life. Assess how it has gone so far. What has worked? What could be better? Take a look at the various parts of your life and decide what you would like them to look like. Look at your health, relationships, family, recreation, spirituality, physical environment, career and money. Make a list of what you would like to do, have or be. Design what you want it to look like, not what you think it can look like. Don’t be limited by what you think is possible today. I am sure that you have heard the saying “Ask and you shall receive.” This is a powerful message. When we built the new clubhouse at one of the clubs I managed it was amazing how much the finished product was like the design. Do you have a design for your life?

Get a clear picture of you. Take time to understand your values, your needs and the way you operate. Do some assessments or review the ones you have done in the past. Ask your friends or coach to give you feedback about your strengths. Often as a job has come to a conclusion it is easy to start focusing on weaknesses or “what is wrong with me”. Do a S.W.O.T. analyses. What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? You have the opportunity to gain clarity about who you are, your passions and your competencies. Your ability to articulate this information will be key in moving you toward the right fit on the next step in your career.

See what you don’t see now. In other words you have an opportunity to go beyond limited thinking. When I lost my job I became a Club Manager looking for a job. I read a book called “Work Less Make More” by Jennifer White. I read something that has been substantiated many times in my role as a coach. If you ask someone to tell you who they are, they will tell you what they do. When I looked at who I believed I was I found that Club Management was good fit for me in many ways, but there were other opportunities. I found a career where I could do the things I liked the best about my previous career and still stay in the geographical area that I lived in. You may be a great Club Manager or a great Yacht Club Manager or a great Small Club Manager, but you are much more than just that.

Opportunities Galore! Here are some opportunities for you. You can have more balance, make more money, manage a bigger club, manage a smaller club, manage a different kind of club, manage a club with a different form of governance. You can discover a new city, state, country or continent. You can use your skills in a different industry. You can create multiple income streams. You can start a business. You can write a book. You can work less. You can devote more time and energy to your kids, your significant other or your friends. You can find out who your friends are and if one of your friends loses their job you can show them how a true friend reacts. You can have more fun, more joy and more fulfillment. 

Two more opportunities!  I would like to end with two opportunities that are available to unemployed and employed managers alike. They are more evident for the person who has just lost their job but can benefit all of us. 

The first one is that we can get past hate, anger and resentment. It is easy to hold on to one of these emotions when we experience job loss. We think holding on to them somehow punishes the object of our disdain but clearly it is hurting us. It can change who we are, and it sucks the energy that we need for things that matter. 

The second opportunity is to be accountable for all that you have in your life, the good and the bad. If you have lost your job don’t be a victim of it. Take ownership for what happened. Take ownership of how you handled or didn’t handle things. Take ownership for not paying attention to the signs you saw. Take ownership for tolerating some of the things you tolerated. There is weakness in being the victim and power in being accountable. It is my hope for you that you take on this personal power. The last thing that I want for the people I work with is that they recycle the same behavior in the next opportunity. Own what happened and be in control.

I would like to share with you a lesson I learned when I lost my job as a club manager. One of my colleagues, whom I admired and held up as role model, called me to say that if I needed anything I shouldn’t hesitate to call. I truly needed his help and didn’t ask for it because I didn’t want him to know I needed it. Please don’t let your ego get in the way of getting what you deserve in life. Asking for help can be a display of strength as opposed to being seen as a weakness.

There is no doubt that a job loss will change your life. If you focus on the opportunities that you have I believe your life will be changed for the better. And to that I say, “Congratulations!”

If I can help you get through this exciting challenge, ask!

Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at or We believe you could have your best year yet!


Risk Management Update – Drones and the Club Industry

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As clubs continue to seek new ways to market their products and amenities, and to gain efficiency in the services they provide, more and more they are relying on innovative technologies such as drones. Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have gained in popularity in a variety of industries over the past several years and have developed some very useful applications for the club industry.

Many clubs now utilize drones to enhance the impact of their real estate marketing via aerial videography of their grounds, amenities, home sites, real estate inventory and the club’s proximity to surrounding points of interest. Clubs have also begun to use drones in monitoring and assessing course conditions such as areas of high stress, wet areas, patterns of disease, and a variety of other golf course maintenance applications. 

While the benefits of drone usage are easy to see, from a risk management standpoint the use of UAVs brings into question a few key areas of concern: the insurance, legal, regulatory and ethical considerations of drone usage. Listed below are a few things to review and discuss with your risk manager to determine if the use of a drone or a drone service provider is right for your club:

  • Regulatory requirements - The FAA has oversight of UAV operations and requires any pilot of a drone weighing less than 55 pounds to be licensed and to have passed a written examination. Drones cannot be operated at an elevation greater than 400 feet and must not be used in any airspace within 5 miles of an airport.
  • Legal concerns – In addition to the FAA requirements, many local and state governments have ordinances in place which may prohibit the use of drones in your area. These local ordinances do not always coincide with the FAA requirements and, in some cases, may be more restrictive.
  • Ethical considerations – Potential areas of concern from the operation of UAVs include neighbor’s rights of privacy, potential for unintentional trespassing, and allegations of harassment.
  • Insurance coverage – Most commercial general liability (CGL) policies contain an absolute exclusion for aircraft operations, even for unmanned aircraft such as drones. The insurance marketplace has developed several “drone specific” policies which can be purchased to cover the hazards of bodily injury and property damage resulting from UAV operations. If your club chooses to operate the UAV, please check with your carrier to ensure that workers compensation coverage will apply in the event of an injury to an employee. Should your club choose to engage the services of a drone or UAV contractor, a certificate of insurance showing coverage for aviation liability and workers compensation should be obtained prior to commencing work on behalf of the club. The club should also be named as an Additional Insured on the subcontractor’s insurance policy.  

The emergence of drones and their benefits to club operations is exciting and new. While the benefits will most certainly outweigh the risks involved, conduct a little homework with your risk manager and your local authorities to make sure your exposures are addressed in advance.


Todd Perdue, PWCA, is Risk Advisor, SIA Group, in Jacksonville, NC. He can be reached at (800) 682-7741 or


Leader, Don’t Forget to Lead!

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In the year 2000 we started coaching leaders in the club management industry. We have coached leaders who have just lost their jobs, we have coached leaders who are being interviewed for new jobs, we have coached leaders who are at the top of their game and we have coached leaders who are facing some inevitable challenges that arise in an exciting and very personal profession. 

When we look at the successes and failures of people in the industry, we believe that it is probably a very small percentage that does either with a lack of knowledge of how to lead. We have observed that it is more likely people fail, slow down or limit their success when they or someone critical to the organization forgets to lead. 

Leader, Don’t Forget to Lead!

How many times have you come out of a seminar and heard someone say “I already knew that”? It is the old knew it vs. do it problem. Knowing how to lead is not the same as leading. Leadership is a privilege and a responsibility. It is the opportunity to bring the best out in many to get an Extraordinary result for the organization and the people in it. It is a chance to energize, inspire, dream, create and expand, yet when we forget to lead all of the opposite things can happen.

Why Do Leaders Forget to Lead?

  • They learned to manage first so they default to management
  • There are so many distractions that can take them in other directions
  • They forget that everyone is watching
  • They start to believe their success is about them and not the people they lead and serve
  • They can’t say “no” to the unimportant things
  • They convince themselves that they know it all
  • They are more comfortable telling vs. asking
  • They are too busy defending 

Some leaders reading this list will relate to every item on the list. Even the most successful leaders may recognize something on the list that applies to them right now. This article is not intended to be a criticism of you as a leader, but rather a reminder that there are a lot of things that can get in the way of you performing as the leader who can make a profound difference in the organization that you lead and in the lives of people you are privileged to lead.

Leaders manage things and they lead people. They manage budgets, schedules, inventories, assets, but they lead people. How do you like it when someone manages you? You know, when someone needs to show you that they know better than you do. They want to tell you what to do rather than set a vision for what they want and ask how you will take them there. It may make you feel like they don’t understand your skills, your knowledge and your commitment. Do you ever find yourself doing that to others?

A key to being a great leader is helping everyone you lead understand the power of accountability. Every person in the organization is accountable for their part in making it successful. It is like developing a community of leaders. This flies in the face of the concept of being the boss and would be uncomfortable for many. The boss thinks accountability is what you set up to punish or fire someone. The leader thinks of accountability for every individual is something to empower and develop someone. 

A Reminder for All of Us About Leadership

Leaders Have Followers! Sure it is possible to have people follow you because you have the title that implies that they should. True leaders don’t need the title. People follow them because they believe in them. They believe in what is important to them. They want to be like them and perhaps one day they would like to be in their position.

Leaders Have Character! Leaders live to a high set of principles and standards. They do the right thing even when nobody is watching. They behave the way they would hope there people would behave. They care about others. They care about the truth. They are powerful with their words and their actions. They know how to lead and they remember to lead.

Leaders are Learners! You are either green and growing or ripe and rotting. Leaders are reading, listening, developing and constantly improving. Leaders challenge their people to do the same and provide the resources to do so.

Leaders are Visionaries! They dream, they look forward, they see what is possible when others see the obstacles. They challenge their people to dream and innovate. They don’t care where the best ideas come from they just want to inspire and access the best ideas.

Leaders are Communicators! They articulate the vision. They paint a vivid picture of where the organization is going. They care about how their message lands. They ask powerful questions. They listen to the answers. They hear what is said and what is not said. They listen without memory, judgement and desire to make sure the truly hear what is being said. They communicate to build up vs. knock down.

Leaders are Coaches! They care about the success of the team and they care about the success of the players on the team. They display this and it is also displayed by the leaders they lead. Everyone needs to know their roles; everyone needs to perform it to the best of their ability. Everyone needs to share in the successes and the failures. Everyone needs to learn from both.

Leaders Lead Themselves! Leaders know that they are imperfect. Leaders have humility and they are willing and insistent on looking in the mirror to make sure they are the example they want to be. Leaders are willing to get support on being the best they can be. Leaders don’t point at others as the problem, they look within first.

Your organization, your department, your family, your life and the world are all waiting for your leadership. Don’t forget! 


Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at or We believe you could have your best year yet!


Mastering Social Media as a Millennial

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Social media - Phipps

According to Forbes, by the end of 2017, Millennials will make up 38 percent of today’s workforce. By 2020 (a mere 13 years from today), they will make up approximately 70 percent.  

Millennials are at the apex of the social media movement. A Boomer may say “who needs social media?”  A Gen-Xer may argue that social media has its place but cannot replace the personal touch. A Millennial has always had social media as part of their world, and therefore they see it being connected with their professional future.

Boomers, remember when your parents may not have had a car yet, but you could see your future with a car? Gen-X, remember when your house had one phone now you see every person you know needs their own personal phone. Then can you blame Millennials? They see Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram as the same type of development tools. 

Our office conducted a generational communication experiment. With almost 100 total participants, we had an almost perfect disparity of having approximately 33 percent of each generation being represented. Ninety-one percent of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964, or ages 53 to 71) said if social media existed during their teens and twenties, they would have used it. Of the Boomers involved in the survey, 79 percent said they were currently active on at least two different social media platforms. Those same Boomers had similar feelings about what they are seeing from the social media sites from today’s Millennials. If you are a Millennial, consider what Gen-Xers and Boomers are saying about the Millennial generation when they look at your social media pages:

  • Stop taking selfies for your professional pictures.
  • Stop taking mirror pictures for your professional profiles and avatars.
  • Stop making negative comments about others.
  • Stop taking pictures with negative images.
  • Stop posting personal content on LinkedIn. 
  • Start dressing up for your pictures (at least from the neck up).
  • Start grooming your hair and face.
  • Start smiling.
  • Start sharing positive positing.
  • Start sharing professional content on LinkedIn.

Whether you are a Boomer, Gen-Xer or a Millennial, you have an opportunity to be mentored by those with more experience. Use your influence to embrace opportunities to be a future mentor to the next generation of leaders. 

Phipps 2017

Vincent Ivan Phipps, M.A., CSP, is the owner and CEO (Chief Energy Officer) of Communication VIP Training and Coaching. He specializes in motivational keynotes, interactive workshops, and individual coaching. Vincent’s areas of expertise include: Communication, Motivation, Leadership, Customer Service, Conflict Resolution and Speech Coaching. Vincent has earned the highest earned honor awarded by the National Speakers Association called the Certified Speaking Professional. This recognition has only been given to 12 percent of the world’s best speakers and trainers. 

Passion vs. Going through the Motions

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Passion vs. Going through the Motions

Our job as coaches is to bring the best out in people. We help them get clear on what they want in life. We help them to determine why they are doing what they do. We challenge them to dream bigger and live the life they design. We help them become more self-aware. We help them to see the gifts, the genius and the uniqueness that moves them toward their design. We help them see the beliefs, the language and the habits that maybe getting in the way of bringing their design to life. We encourage, we acknowledge, we challenge the people we are privileged to work with. We celebrate their successes and we celebrate the failures that help move them toward their goals.

One of the keys to their success is often inspiring, creating or reacquainting them with the passion for what they do. Extraordinarily successful people are passionate about what they do. Having said that I realize that someone may contact me to say “I am very successful and I hate what I do!” Well congratulations in advance for proving me wrong and I am very sorry to hear that about you.

When we are in our passion, life is better. When we are in our passion, we don’t know where the time went. When we are in our passion, we tend to work on technique, competence and confidence. When we are in our passion we look better. We are energized and fulfilled. 

The extraordinary people we work with are in their passion at work, at home, at the gym, in their hobbies and in their solitude. 

There are also a lot of potentially extraordinary people who are just going through the motions. Perhaps you have seen them. It is possible that you know some. Maybe you are one. Perhaps you are a leader who is leading some.

Going through the motions is complacency. Going through the motions is lethargy. Going through the motions is uninspiring. Going through the motions impacts a reputation. Going through the motions affects credibility. Going through the motions can result in loss. Going through the motions can suck the life out of you. 

If you are going through the motions, or if you are leading, coaching or mentoring someone who is going through the motions, you owe it to yourself and everyone to find or help others find passion. 

So let’s talk about passion for a minute. If you are a passionate person, you might wonder why would someone not have things they are passionate about in their lives? Why would someone do a job they don’t like? Why would you live a life without passion?

In coaching people, I have heard many reasons. Some people don’t know that it is possible. Some people don’t think they have permission. Some people have a belief that work is not something that you are supposed to enjoy. Some people have not had models of passionate people in their lives. Some people don’t know what it is. Some people think they can’t afford to give up what they don’t enjoy to explore a passion. Some people will be criticized by other passionless people if they get engaged and passionate. This could be describing some people you lead, but let’s consider for a moment that it might describe you. It doesn’t have to mean that you are without passion, but maybe there are some areas of your life where a lack of passion, a blind spot or some level of complacency is getting in your way. Maybe you have been going through the motions. Maybe it is time to engage. 

You can decide to get passionate about something. When you do, you focus on it, you spent time with it, you have fun with it, you change the way you think about it, feel about it and act upon it. You begin to feel proud of it. You can also decide to not be passionate about it. You could delegate it to someone else. Home repairs and doing your taxes might fall into this category. There are people who are passionate about doing those things. 

In some cases you may consider letting go of the thing you are not passionate about. Some people find it hard to let go of a job they are not passionate about because of the money, the geography or not knowing what else they could get. The truth is that many people who are just going through the motions will find the decision to leave their job will not be theirs. 

An interesting phenomenon about coaching is that the people who want to be coached tend to be passionate people. It is so much fun working with people with passion. Imagine what it would be like if you had a whole team of people who were like that. Passionate people can’t wait to start another day. They bring their passion wherever they go and you can feel it. Many of them are at the top of their game and it is fun to watch. They have spent thousands of hours working, playing and developing technique in their passion. They bring an energy that inspires others. What we find very inspiring are the people who seem to bring passion to all parts of their lives. They are passionate about their work, they love the person they are sharing their life with, they are passionate parents and sometimes grandparents, they are passionate about health and food and pleasure and others. Perhaps I just described you!

Maybe there is one of the areas of your life that has not been receiving your passion lately. If so you have a chance to decide.

The point is, you and the world deserve a you, that is living a passionate life. If you are a leader, please help others do the same. If you or the people you lead need some support in doing this, please get some support. Maybe you should call your coach!

Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at or We believe you could have your best year yet!

Checklist for a New Manager - Revisited

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Checklist for a New Manager

“Checklist for a New Manager” first appeared in the March-April 1994 issue of Club Management Magazine. It was my first attempt at writing and I was fortunate to have it published. I had no expectation that it would be included in industry resources and that over twenty years later, managers would still be using it as a reference tool in tackling their new responsibilities. Like those one-hit wonders of the ‘70s and ‘80s, I probably should have just quit while I was ahead.

While much, if not all, of the original content is still relative, I have been asked over the years to update it for today’s challenges. The meaningful content of the original article is included herein, so if you still have a ragtag copy, you can comfortably dispose of it in favor of this one. Hopefully, this will be better than most sequels.

The first checklist was a product of reflection on the first 90 days in a new position. I have had more than my share of those first ninety days, but each one has been rewarding in and of itself. Even my last set was fraught with the wide range of emotions that go along with walking through those new doors for the first time. The excitement of starting the new position, the anxiety of the increased responsibilities and living up to the persona that you established during the search and interview process at times all seem to be in conflict with each other. Despite your training, learning and years of experience, it remains a bit disconcerting, whether it is your next posting as the seasoned chief paid executive or your transition from assistant manager to the role you aspired to have. Whatever the reason that prompted your move, it is human nature to question that decision. “Buyer’s remorse” will lead you to thoughts of why you left the security, familiarity, fit and your own personal standing in your last club, to hit the restart button in unfamiliar surroundings. Take stock of the fact that you were ready for a new challenge, or you wouldn’t have been looking in the first place.

So here are those personal strategies, developed over 35 years and seven clubs, that have helped ease the transition and ensure some measure of success. Updated for the new millennium and the Millennials that came with, they have been just as effective today in securing eight years of tenure at Birmingham Country Club as they were in 1994.

Club Culture
If there is one thing I have learned since the first rendition of this checklist, it is an appreciation for club culture and just how much that differs – and what it means – from club to club. It is the cornerstone of the foundation you will build in your new role. Understanding it, appreciating it, is vital to your success and longevity. 

It is a topic of considerable debate. In one of those debates with a venerable long-tenured and well respected manager, his position was that it takes a manager roughly seven years to really fully accomplish both the understanding and appreciation. I would advocate that you have 18-24 months. If you haven’t wrapped your arms around it by then, you’ll be back referring to this checklist and not by your own choice.

The decisions you make will invariably affect that culture, so they should contemplate that effect as part of the vetting process. Your understanding and appreciation will grow with time, but you absolutely cannot make effective decisions and enhancements to the club without consideration of potential collateral damage to the club’s culture. You cannot be expected, nor should you expect it of yourself, to be able to fully grasp this concept upon arrival, or even in your first 90 days. Neither can you wait to gain this understanding before making decisions. You will eventually become the guardian of this culture, but you are not going to get your head around it for several months – even a year or two. Until then you are going to have to develop a support system for vetting your decisions, programs, and initiatives. Thus it is paramount that you find a trustworthy surrogate who can function almost as your conscience. This person can be anyone from the club’s president or search committee chair, to a senior level department head or two with decades of combined experience in the club. But you absolutely must be able to trust them implicitly. 

Having a solid communication strategy will be key in the transition. You are going to need to communicate to and with the many constituencies you will have – board directors, committee members, club members, employees, department heads – and the community outside the club as well. Each one is going to require its own structured approach. How often and in what form you communicate with them will in part be driven by both the club’s culture and your management style. Both should carry equal weight. After all, those that hired you no doubt contemplated how the latter would fit in the former. 

A well-organized all staff meeting should be high on your list of priorities. This is a critical first step in the introduction of the new manager to the staff. After all, none of the other constituencies noted above will be more critical to your success than this one. Define your leadership qualities in a controlled environment from the onset.

As painstaking as it might seem, meeting with each employee privately after a review of their work history can prove extremely beneficial. In those meetings, individual goals and objectives should be discussed and how they are (or are not) aligned with the organizational goals of the club. You should also seek each team member’s perspective on current challenges and suggested remedies. Some will be frivolous, but never underestimate their importance without contemplation. 

Initiate weekly, well-structured senior staff meetings at a regular time if they do not already exist. Distribute written agendas or previous meeting notes in advance so that everyone comes prepared. Use these meetings as a forum to convey your message and club information thoroughly and consistently. It will also be a valuable vehicle in gaining insight into the communication and organizational abilities of your management staff. 

Communicate with your board. A weekly written status report with both an “in review” and “look ahead” feature will keep them abreast of organizational activity and issues. Visit each board director in their office and get input and feedback. Establishing good lines of communication should be an early priority and will keep transition problems to a minimum. Don’t forget to meet with each committee early on as well. Some can often be as empowered as the board. Also find out if there are any “renegade” unofficial committees at the club. Difficult situations can be diffused early if you can identify the source of the discontent and are able to address it.

One of the most valuable sources of information about your new assignment carries the same weight today that it always has – circulating through the club. You will gain a unique perspective just by observing others in the club surroundings. Talk with each and every person you encounter – from the bridge ladies to the dishwashers. Get to know your members as quickly as possible. Work the floor every day and introduce yourself to the members you encounter (versus having one of your staff members introduce you). Like management by walking around, visibility isn’t old school – it’s THE school. No one expects you to be the maître d’, but they expect to see you in and around the club. How else are you going to ascertain what is taking place on your watch.

Organizational Structure
There are two components to your organizational structure – governance and operations. Obviously, you will have a more immediate impact on the operational side. Evaluate the operational structure and determine if it makes sense for what you are trying to achieve. This is where you get the right people in the right seats on the proverbial bus. Identify the club’s weaknesses. For example, if you have a facilities manager that is very strong logistically but enormously weak at housekeeping, unless there are other circumstances that would mandate a change, it may make sense to hire an executive housekeeper to shore up the weak area. More often this will require a reassignment of staff to maintain budget parameters for payroll dollars. Review staff organizational charts for each department and changes to those should be done in concert with your senior manager. They will be the ones that will have to execute your vision. Make certain they have the proper resources to do so. 

Establish Your Credibility 
And do it early. Outlast everyone on your staff for the first three months. Be the first one in and the last one to leave. In talking with successful managers they will tell you that this remains just as important today as it has ever been. It shows your staff that you care as much as they do. And yes, there is still that smug satisfaction that comes with having your sleeves rolled up and on your second cup of coffee as the staff begins to roll in for the day. Don’t forget to do a thorough inspection of the entire club daily, ensuring that it is ready for the extension of hospitality to your members and their guests.

Unless the situation is a drastic one, don’t rush to implement change. As the new manager, you will see things you want to change immediately, but go slowly at first. Changes made too quickly, or simply for the sake of change itself, can upset the routine and rhythm of the club. The circumstances of the management change that brought you to the club may dictate immediate action. But changes made on impulse will only have short term benefits; long term benefits are the result of careful thought and planning. 

You are also going to have to do a lot of research, and that is what the rest of this article is about. Each bullet point represents an area or item worthy of your investigation and review; not only to build your working knowledge of the club’s history, but to assess existing internal controls, processes and the like. 

The checklist and this associated narrative are not meant to be an all-encompassing plan, nor an exhaustive resource for your transition. They are intended as a thought-provoking (both strategic and tactical) aid that should assist any manager facing the challenge of managing a new club. 

Basso HeadshotJoseph F. Basso, MCM, CCE
General Manager / Chief Operating Officer
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Who Cares?

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The question we are posing in this article is “Who Cares?” This might be a question that is actually more like a statement, when said by someone who is indifferent about something. Please understand that we are not indifferent about this. 

As coaches, who care very much about the success of the people we get to work with, we can clearly see the cost that is paid by people who have an attitude of indifference. What if a simple ingredient to your success and the success of the people you lead is the ability to care and to care deeply? If it is an important ingredient and you care about success, it might be a good idea to step outside of yourself to see if your actions show that you care. 

It is easier to spot when you are looking at others. When you see someone in the service industry who cares about service or someone who clearly doesn’t care about service, both examples stand out. It is obviously very possible to serve others without caring about others or caring about service. When you see someone who doesn’t care about the profession they are doing, don’t you just wish for them and the world that they would find something they could care about? Conversely when you see someone who clearly cares very much, it is as if they are not just doing something, they are being something. They have a servant’s heart! They are “in” service. When someone truly cares about service and truly cares about you, the person they are serving, the experience is very different. 

What do you care about? Would it be obvious to people who see you from the outside? 

We get to talk to club managers, club leaders and staff members from clubs. If you are a club manager we need to tell you this. If you don’t care about your staff, or your members, or service, or numbers or anything in particular and you think they don’t know, you are probably wrong. If this is the case, it is just a matter of time before your indifference becomes their indifference. 

Extraordinary Leaders have a great passion for what they do and deep level of caring for the people they serve and the people they are privileged to lead. Beyond having it, there is an importance to exhibiting the fact that you have it.

At a speaking engagement one time, a gentleman in the audience told us that one day his Grandmother asked him if he was happy. He was a little surprised by the question and responded “yes grandmother, I am happy.” She said “well you might want to notify your face.” Similarly we have met club managers that tell us that they care deeply about their people, yet their people aren’t aware of any evidence of the caring. 

Let’s start with you! What do you care about? Do you care about yourself? Do you care about your health? Do you care about your family? Do your care about your significant other? Do you care about your body? Do you care about your retirement? Do you care about education and continual improvement? Do you care about vacations? Do care about giving time to your passions outside of work? Do you care? 

You may care to some extent about all of these things. We would ask that you pick one or two of these things and check to see if it would be obvious that you care if you looked at it from outside of you. It is pretty easy in this industry to view family as the most important thing and then realize that you are not getting much time with them and when you do, it is when you are exhausted and can’t truly give the best of you. You can believe that you care about your health and your body and then you can look at your health and your body to check in. The point is that what you truly care about tends to get a lot of attention and tends to get the most results. The other way to look at it is to take note of what you are giving most of your attention to and where you are getting your results and you might find what you really care about.

Now we challenge you to do the same exercise at work? Do you care about your job? Do you care about your profession? Do you care about your members? Do you care about your board? Do you care about your staff? Do you care about CMAA and your chapter? Do you care about learning? Do you care about contributing to the learning of others? Do you care about meetings? Do you care about the numbers? Do you care about the facility? Do you care about the future? Do you care about relationships?  

There is no right or wrong answer to those questions. There are just answers. If you find yourself realizing that you don’t care about a number of those things, you might want to find something or someplace where you do care. If you don’t come to this realization, there is a high probability that someone else will help you make the change. 

Once you have figured out what you care about and are pretty confident that people outside of you can see evidence of it, here is your next challenge. 

Make sure there is evidence that your people care. If we can look at someone and it is not obvious that they care, we may have to play the role of our friend’s grandmother and ask the question. By asking it, you are not necessarily accusing them of not caring, but rather trying to point out that the evidence of their caring may be difficult to see. 

If you don’t care, there may be interest in finding a leader who does. If your people don’t care, there may be interest in finding a leader who doesn’t tolerate not caring. 

Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at or We believe you could have your best year yet!

This information is provided for informational purposes only. The contents are presented with no warranty, either expressed or implied by the Club Managers Association of America. No legal responsibility is assumed for the outcome of decisions, commitments or obligations made on the basis of this information. If your club is faced with a question concerning legal issues, you should contact the club’s legal counsel for the specific application of the law to your situation.