The Learning is Everywhere!

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If you are a passionate student, you can find learning everywhere. You can learn from anyone and learn from anything. I have learned from a lot of people this month. It would be hard not to when you coach Extraordinary people at the top of their game. But this month I would like to focus on what I learned from Garry, Nir, and Ted.

Gary is Garry Ridge, author and CEO of the WD40 Company.

Nir is Nir Eyal is a lecturer and author of books that include “Hooked” and “Indistractable”.

Ted Lasso is a fictional character played by Jason Sudeikis.

The big inspiration I got from Garry Ridge was the difference between a “Soul Sucking Leader “and a “Servant Leader

Nir Eyal hit me with the idea that so many people are dealing with stress in their careers, and it is not that they have stressful jobs as much as they are in a stressful work environment. He said the biggest cause of stress is a combination of High Expectations and Low Control.

After I go into more depth with these two concepts, I will explain what I learned from Ted.

Here are Garry’s Characteristics of a Soul Sucking Leader

  1. They are masters of control—know all the answers
  2. They feel like corporate royalty—The King, The Queen, they “deserve”
  3. They believe learning is for losers
  4. They believe that ego eats empathy— “Me” and “I” centered
  5. They have all the answers
  6. They must always be right—take credit, give blame
  7. They create a fear-based culture
  8. They believe micromanaging is essential
  9. They do not follow through on commitments
  10. They hate feedback

The Servant Leader

They involve and love their people—three most important words are “I don’t know”

  1. They are always in servant leadership mode
  2. They are expected to be competent
  3. They are connected—emotional intelligence
  4. They love “learning moments
  5. They have a heart of gold and a backbone of steel
  6. They are champions of hope
  7. They know micromanagement is not scalable
  8. They do what they say they are going to do
  9. They treasure the gift of feedback

Imagine a place where you go to work every day, you make a contribution to something bigger than yourself, you learn something new, you feel safe and are protected by a compelling set of values and you go home happy. Happy people create happy families, happy families create happy communities.

As you read all of that you may be thinking about how you are as a leader, or you may be thinking about the leaders you have or have had in the past.

Whether you are thinking about you or the people you lead I would ask that you consider the cost of have souls sucked. What does it do to our health? What does it do to our effectiveness? What does it do to our passion? What does it do to our organizations? What does it do to our families? What does it do to our industry?

Now to Ted Lasso!

If you are not familiar with the series it is a story that begins with the premise that a soul sucking owner of Premier League Football (Soccer) team continually humiliates his wife with his infidelity, his words, and his actions and eventually loses his marriage. In the divorce he also loses his Premier League Football team to his wife whose soul he has successfully sucked. Now that she is an owner with a sucked soul her great ambition is to ruin her ex-husband’s pride and joy.

The first step in the plan is to find a new manager for the team that will certainly fail. She appoints Ted Lasso, a Division II (American) college football coach to lead her team to ruin. In addition to hiring someone with very low competence in the world he is being dropped into, she does several things to undermine him, so he is sure to fail.

You can learn from what people teach with their words and you can learn from watching what people do. Their behaviors and the way they are in the world teach more than their thoughts on how you should be. I realize that Ted Lasso is a fictional character, but I also know I have coached a few Ted Lasso-like characters in my career.

I watched the first season of this show in one night. I can tell you that after doing so I was a little more excited about life. I was so grateful that over the past 21 years I have had the privilege to play the Ted Lasso role with so many people. Perhaps every large organization has someone or a few who feel they need to play the role of soul sucker. I truly hope they have an organization where a Ted Lasso-like person can counteract them.

I could go through each of the characteristics of the servant leader and refer you to a scene that exemplifies Ted illustrating that characteristic. The one characteristic that might be in question on first glance is the servant leader is expected to be competent. It is easy to see Ted as incompetent when it comes to his knowledge of the technical side of his new game, but he is clearly competent in his role as a coach.

He cares about people. He believes in them until they can believe in themselves. He gives them control and helps them to embrace accountability. He is vulnerable enough to show them who he is. He stands up for people. He gives them tough feedback in a way they know he has their best interest in mind. He inspires. He is light, fun and funny. He gives credit and shoulders the blame. He sees his people below their surface. He is forgiving. He is generous. He is imperfect and he knows it. He follows through on his commitments. He is wise and generous with his down home wisdom. He also bakes.

Perhaps the thing I admire the most about Ted Lasso is his unwillingness to allow others to suck his soul. We can all feel the weight of our critics at times but whether Ted is being attacked by the media, being ridiculed in the streets, getting negative feedback from his players or being called names by a full stadium of people, he doesn’t let it bother him.

When someone attempts to suck the soul from one of his people, he stands up!

If you would like to discuss your learning from this month, please contact Shelley or me. We are always ready to learn.


Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. To arrange a coaching session please call toll free 1-866-822-3481 or or

Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 64: OSHA Updates and More

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2021 is flying by and we're busier than ever at CMAA HQ. We're popping in this month to give listeners a short, but important, legislative update. Congress has been busy, too! We cover OSHA's recent COVID-19 Vaccine Rules, the end of the Employee Retention Tax Credit, and other news that will be important to keep top of mind as we move into 2022.

We're then joined by Interlachen Country Club's GM Joel Livingood, CCM, and Superintendent Brian Boll as they discuss how they are working together to overcome challenges and create something spectacular for their club.

Special thanks to Toro, a CMAA Business Partner, for sponsoring this segment!

As always, please remember, you can find us on iTunes and Spotify! Please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!

Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 63 – The Art of Human Connection

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We were so thrilled to sit down with Three Carpenter, CCM and Jackie Carpenter, CCM to discuss their new book People First: The 5 Steps to Pure Human Connection and a Thriving Organization. In this conversation, Three and Jackie talk to us about the key takeaways from their book and why putting people first and leading with care can help you create a positive, effective, and enjoyable work culture. You can find People First anywhere books are sold!

Remember, you can find us on iTunes! Please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!

How Do You Know When It Is Time to Connect with Your Coach?

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You might be thinking “Why would I need to connect with a coach?” and secondly” I don’t even have one.”

Let me start with the second point first. If you are a member of CMAA you have a coach. In fact, you have two. My name is Kevin MacDonald and my business partner is Shelley MacDougall. We are your coaches whether you call on us or not and it is possible that many members are not aware of that.

In 2003, I was asked to set up a program that would allow every member of CMAA to have access to coaching as a benefit of their membership. I think that might have been groundbreaking for an association back then, but I am not aware of many associations that provide that to their members now.

If you are new to CMAA and didn’t know you had this benefit, now you know. Although we communicate it often and in many ways, we are sure that there are many members who have been in CMAA for years and either are not aware of it or if they are aware they are not sure how it applies to them.

Now that we have established the fact that you have access to a coach, how do you know when it is time to connect with your coach?

When You Are in a Time of Transition

When the coaching program started those many years ago it was in large part to provide a service to leaders who had lost their job. It was my privilege at that time to be with someone as they were in that transition and support them in finding not just another opportunity but the one that fit them.

The loss of a job is a transition. Graduating from college and getting your first job is a transition. Retiring from your career is a transition. Moving from one job to another or one position to another is a transition. Moving from single to married or married to single is a transition. Moving from one career to another is a transition. I could list more but the point is that our lives are full of transitions. Our ability to handle life’s transitions will have a direct correlation to the happiness and fulfillment in our lives. There is no question that people can handle these transitions on their own and in their own way but if you can have someone who can support you in navigating the transition more effortlessly, why wouldn’t you?

When You Want a Creative Place to Think Out Loud

In our industry we have so many creative people who sometime just need someone other than the people they normally think with to think out loud and create. Their coach can ask questions that no one else is asking. They can speak, and think in a confidential, creative space. They can use it as a place to think differently than they have thought before.

When You Are Dreaming and Planning

Some people do not see themselves as creative. They haven’t had a lot of practice or experience with dreaming or planning. Many have had a lot of experience in being told what to do and working with a coach is a great place to develop those skills. We find that the people who are very skilled in dreaming and planning are often the ones who want to work with us to take that to another level. We often say that success is knowing what you want and knowing how to ask for it. We find that can support people on getting crystal clear on what they want and then getting clear on how to get there. 

When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed

People often find the time to call their coach is when they are overwhelmed. Lately we have been hearing the sentiment that people don’t know if they want to continue working more, sacrificing more for a diminishing amount of appreciation. When you are feeling overwhelmed you can begin to feel that you are losing yourself. That is one thing you cannot afford to do. If you have one nostril above the surface it is no time to be too proud to ask for help.

When You Want to Bring Out Your Best

Most people that work with us are doing so because they want to operate at their best. The people who truly want to do their best don’t just want that for their job or their career. They want that for their partner, their children, their friends, their health, and their passions. They want to be their best in all parts of their lives. Years ago, we introduced the concept of giving your best vs. your all. There is a trap in this industry that to succeed and make people happy you can give more and more and more of yourself. The reality is that you can give so much that you are not giving your best but rather something much less than your best. Perhaps you can work with your coach to identify what your best is and how to deliver that.

When You Want to Get to Wherever You Are Going Quicker

Your coach can help you identify your gifts that differentiate you and accelerate you. Your coach can help you see some of your blind spots and obstacles that are slowing you down. We sometimes find that people think the journey has more value if it has been difficult. It is ok to make things less difficult.


Anytime is a good time to have someone else who is there to support you. Anytime is a good time to decide to experience a coaching session. Anytime is a good time to raise your game.

Now that you know you have access to coaching, it might be time to connect with your coach!


Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. To reach the for a complimentary coaching session call 1-866-822-3481 toll free.

Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 62 – Insights from LLC

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We're wrapping up the month of September (a little late) with a review of our Leadership/Legislative Conference (LLC)! We're joined by CMAA President and CEO Jeff Morgan, FASAE, CAE as he shares some highlights from his State of the Association address, as well as Chris Clews - '80s Pop Culture aficionado and the featured leadership speaker from LLC.

Listen to find out our favorite '80s movies (we can't pick just one) and enter the content to win a copy of Chris's latest book. Send us your favorite '80s movie quote, tell us how it can be applied to club management, and you could win! Send your submissions to us at

Remember, you can find us on iTunes! Please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!

It Takes Courage

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My brother Dave wrote a book. It is a book that most people won’t read. He was fully aware of that as he was writing it and he was also very comfortable with that. He was writing it so his grandchildren and their children and grandchildren would have an understanding of him and the world he saw through his eyes. Our maternal Grandfather did the same thing and to now be able go back and learn about a family member’s life that went from 1886 to 1971 is such a gift.

I reported to my brother that my adult children and their cousins have been reading his book and are delighted to find out so many things about our family that they didn’t know. I told him that they were learning about cousins that they didn’t know. He said, “I am so glad you said that because I felt guilty that I really didn’t know you or Heather.” My mom and Dad had three children and then when they were 17, 15, and 13 I was born followed three years later by my younger sister.

If you went to a movie theater with one of your parents and the two of you watched a story of their life there is a good chance that even though you were one of the characters in the movie you wouldn’t recognize a lot of things or you might have a totally different memory of a moment that is being depicted.

My brother would tell me a story and then I would tell him my story. They were often very different stories. He talked about living in England hearing the news that my Dad had a heart attack. I told the same story but from the perspective of a 12 year old who was in the same room when it happened. Both stories were valid. Both were real to the person who told them and both probably had some inaccuracies in them due to how many years ago it happened.

Dave shared with me that he had a local writer that he hired to edit the book for him. The editor shared with him that it was harder than he thought it was going to be because as he put it “You are really not a very good writer.”

That stung my brother. I said “If you took up golf a month ago and you played with a PGA Touring Pro and he said you were really not a very good golfer, would that be shocking to you?” He said, “No.”  It wouldn’t be an insult; it would be a fact.

My brother asked the editor “If 5,000 people said they were going to write a book with a similar intent to mine, how many do you think would actually do it?” He said, “Maybe five!”

“So, you can focus on my lack of skill or the courage it takes to decide, and then do all of the work to make it happen.” “Where should we put our focus?”

We should focus on the courage!

Three and Jackie Carpenter are dear friends of ours. They are well known in our industry.

I have been in a Mastermind Group with Three for more than 15 years. Shelley and I were blessed that Jackie served as the Director of Extraordinary in our Extraordinary Leader Program for over five years. I was honored to speak at their wedding. Having them come into my life has been incredible on so many levels.

About five years ago they decided to write a book. They are passionate about people. They are passionate about teams. They have had years to develop a philosophy and a number of clubs where they could work at employing it, refining it and bring it to life. The deciding takes courage.

Beyond the courage to decide is the courage, the hardship, the resistance, the conflicting commitments, and the writer’s block it takes to make it happen.

This month we are celebrating their courage, their perseverance, and the build up to the release of the book in early October.

Shelley and I have had the chance to read it and we know that anyone who is a service leader would benefit from reading this book.

We are interviewing them on our Extraordinary Leader “Conversation with the Masters” call this month and we are so hopeful that all their efforts lead to Extraordinary Success!

When we see people from our program doing the Extraordinary it is the greatest gift. The book is called People First! The 5 Steps to Pure Human Connection and a Thriving Organization.

It Takes Courage!

It takes courage to write a book, but it takes courage to do many things.

It takes courage to make big life decisions. It takes courage to advance in your career. It takes courage to have that difficult conversation that you just don’t want to have. It takes courage to admit you are wrong. It takes courage to be vulnerable and show your weakness. It takes courage to go up and stand on that stage. It takes courage to make a decision that you know will be unpopular. It takes courage to do the right thing. It takes courage to be uniquely who you are and not who you think others think you should be. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone. It takes courage to not allow others to make you feel bad about you. It takes courage to ask for help. It takes courage to take something on without knowing exactly how you are going to do it.

As coaches for CMAA we get to work with the courageous.

We work with people who are passionate about improvement. We work with people who know they have not arrived. We work with people who want to be their best in all parts of their lives. We work with people who don’t want fear keeping them small. We work with people who rise to the top. We work with Extraordinary People!

What will you decide today, this week or this month that will call upon your courage?


Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. To reach the for a complimentary coaching session call 1-866-822-3481 toll free.

Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 61 – Meet Kate & Sonya

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Please join us in welcoming our newest CMAA team members, Kate McDevitt and Sonya Rome! Kate joined our team back in June as the Director of Web Content Administration. Sonya came on board in July as our new Manager of Certification. Both of our new team members chatted with us about their backgrounds and interests and what they are most looking forward to doing with CMAA.

  If you want to learn more about the CMAA Staff, you can find the July/August edition of Club Management magazine.

Remember, you can find us on iTunes! Please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!

Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 60: Back to School and Fall Education

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In this episode, we’re joined by Cam Schultz, Vice President of Marketing, Club Procure, and Julie Montross, CMAA’s Senior Vice President, Business Development as they give us a preview of CMAA’s newest event: The Chef Summit, designed specifically to meet the needs of club chefs. The Chef Summit will take place September 21-23 in Louisville, KY and is presented in partnership with Club Procure, a CMAA Education Partner, with additional support provided by Sysco, ChefWorks, and Smithfield.

Remember, you can find us on iTunes! Please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!

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.