Let’s Talk Club Management – Ep. 9 – Behind the Conference Curtain

 Permanent link

Happy 2019! We're kicking off the new year with an in-depth look at what's new for the 2019 World Conference. We sit down with members of the CMAA staff team to chat about their areas of expertise, and we hear some tips and recommendations for Conference first-timers from Jim Reisig, CCM. The countdown to Conference is officially on!

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes:


This Year Will Be Different!

 Permanent link

Maybe you took some time the last few days of last year or the first few days of this year to design what this year would be like. If you did, it is a good time to see how it is going and if you didn’t, we would encourage you to take the time to do so. Please contact us for some design tools and planning tools that we have created, along with a one-page dashboard to keep it all in front of you.

We observe in so many of our clients that success starts with knowing what you want and knowing how to ask for it. The truth is that a lot of people don’t know what they want. Some assume they should just want what everyone else wants and they set themselves up to go through the motions for another year.

“This year will be different?”

Take some time to dream! Take some time to think about what you would like to do! Think about what you would not like to do! Where would you like to go? Who would you like to meet? What would you like to accomplish? What would you like to get rid of? What will the highlights of your year be?

Whatever you have decided even if it has been something you have tried before let’s decide that this year will be different.

 Here is a formula you can apply to the things you are planning.

 T + F + A = R

 It stands for Thoughts + Feelings + Actions = Results!

As coaches we so often find that people go into their new year deciding on some goals and setting the actions that will get them there as if the formula is “A = R”. They also find that new actions don’t last very long or maybe the whole dream has been forgotten.

 “This year will be different!”

How do you need to think differently than you are currently thinking? What kind of thoughts might you have that are working in opposition to what you are determined to accomplish? How have others who have accomplished what you want to accomplish thought differently than you? We may have some programs running that have been there since childhood. Some people are convinced that they were never enough, that it’s “just the way I am”, I am big boned, money is evil, success is for other people, don’t get bigger than your britches. Old beliefs are just that, old beliefs. It is possible that who taught you about money, health, success, dreaming, or happiness when you were five years old were not experts in some of those fields. Now you have access to very different information so you can get a very different result. Remember, no matter what new and beneficial thinking you employ this year - you may need to uninstall the old program. If it continues to run alongside your new thinking it will either take you longer to get to your new goal or you may not get there at all. It is not just the actions that will get you the different result you are looking for, your thinking plays a big role in getting there.

If your thinking supports you and you employed the actions you have, you would have a better chance of reaching your new result. Now it is time to focus on your feelings. I know I have lost some of you by saying that. Many avoid thinking about or talking about feelings at all costs. You want to get your feelings working for you. You can have great belief in a plan and great actions to achieve it and still not get there because you just don’t care that much about it. This often happens when the result we are working toward is someone else’s and not ours, or maybe it is ours but we are doing it because we think that is what someone else wants.

Look at the result you are working toward. Do you really care about it? Are you passionate about getting there? How important is it to you? If you don’t have the drive, the passion, the discipline and the excitement about where you are going, it would be like having the vehicle to get there but not enough fuel in the tank. Don’t just set a goal because your boss or some coach thinks you should, decide on a goal that you are “all in” on and get used to being successful with the goals you set.

We observe that a lot of people use the same actions they use on previous attempts to achieve their desired result. Many of those actions may be great, some may not be as effective as they think and some might be working against them. Get some support with the actions you employ. Talk to experts, learn from people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish, find out how they thought, felt and acted on their way to the destination. It can also be helpful to anticipate some of the obstacles you might face or have faced before. What actions can you take to mitigate or eliminate those obstacles? What kind of actions can you set up that will support you in staying accountable?

If you set up some goals or results that are important to you and you truly spend some time setting up Thinking, Feelings and Actions that support you, then… this year will truly be different!


Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the Coaches for CMAA. To reach them and learn more please call 1-866-822-3481.

Let’s Talk Club Management – Ep. 8 – The Club Executive of the Year!

 Permanent link

We've made it to the end of the year! To celebrate the last episode of 2018, we invited the next Club Executive of the Year - Burt Ward, CCM, CCE - to chat with us. Burt shares his own club management testimonial and talks a bit about what he sees as the biggest challenges facing the club industry. We also chat with Tom Judson about his "Coffee and Questions" idea - a practice that encourages member engagement while providing transparency about club goings-on.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes:


One Word!

 Permanent link

At our recent Mastermind Retreat our colleague Steve Tyink gave each of us a book titled One Word That Will Change Your Life. The authors are Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page. It is a small, concise, powerful book that encourages people that make up organizations to choose one word that will be the theme for the year. The idea is that focusing on that one word can simplify your focus and make a life changing difference.

In our Extraordinary Leader Program, we have a one page document that we give to our participants at the beginning of the year to have their plan for the year in front of them and easy to access. At the top is the theme for the year that drives everything.

When Steve introduced this concept and challenged us to come up with our word I explained that I still had a few months left on my word for this year and that I would come up with my word for next year before the end of the year.

My word for this year has been “Connection”. It seemed to me at the beginning of the year that being connected to people was what my life and my business was all about. I decided to take a deeper look into this and take a focus on connection for a ride. As the year began I realized that I am a pretty connected person. I am not sure if others would think that from a social media perspective, although I do dabble in that, the kind of connection I focus on is different.

A few years ago, my focus was gratitude and for the past 1,855 days I have had the practice of writing 10 things in my journal each day that I am grateful for. At the beginning of this year I also started writing down 10 people each day that I connected with. As we approach the end of the year I will have a list in my journal of 3,650 connections and there are many more.

Here are some of the things I have experienced and learned from a year with this focus.

One of the first things I realized is how easy it is to be disconnected these days. Although technology has a way of connecting us, the busyness of trying to keep up with everything we have put into our lives has in a way disconnected us. A powerful part of being connected is being present!

I have noticed this year that when someone comes into my mind I would connect with them. I am not sure why they have shown up in my mind, but it would trigger a call, an email, a text, or a card.

As wonderful and powerful as it is to connect with people I had never met before it is quite extraordinary to reconnect with people from my past. I found a friend that I haven’t seen since my family moved away 50 years ago.

I took some connections I already had to a much deeper level this past year. I realized that the quality of my connections was more important than the quantity. I realized that my favorite connections are in person.

Although I had to disconnect with some people whose lives came to an end this year, the memory of our connection lives on.

I think I also learned the importance and impact the quality of my connections make in my life. I realized the importance being disconnected from people who I don’t see as a positive influence.

It has been an Extraordinary year of connection. The quality of my life and the number of people I am able to support has increased. Perhaps the biggest lesson has been the awareness that I need to be connected to me in a profound and powerful way.

As this year comes to an end I am pretty pleased that I chose the word “Connection” at the beginning of it.

A few days ago I was asked to commit to my word for the coming year.

I have decided that my word for the coming year will be “Create”.

If we think of our lives as a movie, there is a chance that we are observers of our movie and we are waiting to see what happens next. Maybe we are actors in our own movie and there is some creative aspect to how we decide to act in our movie. This year I have decided to put more emphasis on the Director and Screenwriter roles. Each of the last three roles have a creative aspect to them and I am planning to explore that.

I was inspired by two interviews I saw. One was with John Mellencamp and the other with Bernie Taupin. Both are incredibly creative people who simply create every day. Mellencamp said that if “I end a day where I haven’t created something it just doesn’t feel right.”

I am excited about what I will create in the coming year. I am excited about making the creative process my focus.

Here are some of the possibilities I am thinking about!

Dreams! Articles! Songs! Screenplays! Presentations! Power Points! Vacations! Connections! Works of Art! Experiences! Gifts! Environments! Jokes! Dates with Rose! Smiles! Laughter! A hole in one! Meals! Collaborating on a Creation! Awareness! You get the idea!

Now here is the big question:

What is your One Word going to be?


Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA and the co-founders of the Extraordinary Leader Program. If you would like to connect with them you can call 1-866-822-3481 toll free.

Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 7 – Live from the National Student Education Conference

 Permanent link

The end of the year is fast approaching and this month, Melissa and Kyle talk gratitude. Kyle also sat down with Judy Higgins, CCM, General Manager at Valley Lo Club to discuss the National Student Education Conference, hosted in part by her club and the Greater Chicago Chapter. Judy gives some great background on the conference and we dive further into the importance of having a well-rounded education for success in the club industry. Finally, we talk to Patrick Casey, CCM, General Manager at The Hamilton Club about his Black Friday Beer Crawl Idea Fair entry.

Love Letters

 Permanent link

One of my favorite movies is “Roxanne”. In this movie, C.D. Bales, the town’s fire chief is played by Steve Martin. This comedy is based on the premise of Cyrano de Bergerac, and as such, the town’s fire chief has many extraordinary talents. He is athletic, educated, articulate, funny, and popular. Most importantly he has a keen sense of smell, which turns out to be a great attribute for a fire chief. Oh, and he has a big nose!

He is in love with Roxanne who is played by Daryl Hannah. He expresses his love for her by writing love letters that she believes are coming from one of C.D.’s fire fighters named Chris. While Chris is away, C.D. writes one or more love letters per day and Roxanne is falling in love with the person who can write such beautiful letters.

As I write this, Rose and I have been married for 13,288 days. I love her deeply and we tell and show each other often. We give each other cards and we write short notes but we haven’t done love letters.

A few years ago the husband of one of my dearest friends passed away suddenly. When he died, he left behind his wife and a five year old son. A group of my friends agreed that we would all write love letters to our children and hold each other accountable for having them done by a certain date. The idea was that we would have the letters prepared and if something happened to us, the letters would be presented to our children.

I told Rose that I was going to write love letters to my children. She said I am pretty sure our kids know how you feel about them. I told her that I didn’t want them to assume they knew how I felt. I want them to know for sure. I wrote the letters before the deadline and then decided that rather than wait until the end of my life for them to receive the letters, I sent them that day.

The response was wonderful and at times even overwhelming. The gratitude and love I received from my daughter and her two sons was more than I could have asked for. Then I started to get notes and letters from friends of my kids because they had been able to read their friend’s letter.

I told my kids what it was like when they came into the world. I told them of the joy and fears of their parents who hadn’t received a manual on how to raise them. I told some stories of special memories. I told them what I saw in them and what I wanted for them. I told them about my love for their mother.

Although I didn’t have much experience in writing love letters I am truly thankful that I wrote those three.

I realize that we don’t want to think about the fact that one day we may not be here to tell people how we feel about them. Perhaps the more unthinkable thought is maybe the important people in our lives might not be here for us to tell them how we feel. I encourage you to write some letters.

Earlier this year someone called me to say that he was telling someone about my love letters to my kids. He introduced me to Chip Franks who was just about to launch his book “Life Lessons from Dad” 101 Ways to Get More From life (From Someone Who Loves You). After experiencing a serious health scare Chip wrote a book for his children that would benefit anyone. We have interviewed Chip twice in the Extraordinary Leader Program and he is inspiring.

Let me suggest some other Love Letters you might write (whether you send them or not). 

Your Significant Other
Ken Blanchard once said that if you go to a restaurant and you see a young couple in love, they are on the edge of their seats looking into each other’s eyes. They are smiling, they are engaged, they are asking and answering questions and are enthralled with each other. He said you might see another couple who have been married for a long time. She might say “How is your meat?” He might say “Fine, how is yours?” It is as if they have nothing to say to each other. He says it is a reduced awareness and execution of “Catching each other doing things right.” In a letter you can be grateful for what they have done. You can be grateful for who they are. You can let them know how you feel.

Your Parents
If you are a parent, can you imagine what it would be like to receive a love letter from your children? Perhaps you have! Can you imagine how your parents would feel to receive one from you? My parents passed away 22 years ago and 12 years ago. I think I will write them anyway.

The People You Work With
It is possible that you spend more time with some of these people than you do with your own family. Some lifelong relationships have been formed. Let them know how you feel.

The People You Serve
You can serve people that you don’t love. You can even serve people that you don’t like. If you think you are brilliant at serving them when you feel that way you might be kidding yourself. Some of the people you serve might not be that lovable because they are not loved. You might be focused on what you don’t love about them. Try loving them and focus on what is lovable.

Your Dear Friends
These people make up the family you have chosen. Let them know how you feel.

Whether you write actual love letters, tell people over the phone or skype, the point is that you have the chance to ensure the words are not left unsaid!

 Love, Kevin


Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. You can reach them toll free at 1-866-822-3481.

Let’s Talk Club Management Episode 6: Celebrating 30 Years of The Club Foundation

 Permanent link

October marks the 30th anniversary of The Club Foundation, and this month, Kyle and Melissa are joined by Jack Sullivan, CCM, one of the founding members of The Foundation. Jack share some first-hand stories about how CF came about, and later, we are joined by Carrie Wosicki, Director of Development for The Club Foundation, who discusses what CF's next steps are. Finally, we look forward to the holiday season while talking with Colin Mack-Allen, CCM, CCE, about his club's winning Idea Fair entry: Let's Talk (Boneless) Turkey!

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes:

The Future of the #ClubIndustry is in the Recruitment of Young Families

 Permanent link

Establishing your club as family-friendly is vital to enticing younger generations and to boost the satisfaction of current Millennial and Generation X members. From a sales perspective, there stands an opportunity to bring in new members using the tools of kid-friendly, high-quality family programs and activities. When parents look online for fun lessons or activities for their children and your club offerings pop up, that will most likely ignite an overall interest in your property. What's more, members’ guests can see if they like your club when they accompany members to events like movie night, campout in the driving range, petting zoo, a pool party or holiday events; like gingerbread house decorating, an egg hunt, or fireworks. In turn, the guests might join your club, especially if their children are friends with yours.

Also, the more family-friendly activities you have, the more likely you are to have a higher rate of participation in club events. For example, couples are more likely to partake in adult events at the club, if they can bring their kids along with them for a family activity. Many clubs have also added the perk of childcare services as we did with the creation of our “Fun Fort Room”. Not only will you keep your activity list popular and competitive, your members’ children will want to go the club, which in turn increases their parents’ attendance. Special rooms with babysitting, kid friendly food, video games, movie screens, and other activities have become extremely popular.

Family Friendly Programs
Happy, memorable experiences for members and their families are key to the future of your club. Consistent, long-term family-friendly programming will make your club standout. The most popular kid’s programs in country clubs are sailing, tennis, swimming, and golf, but many clubs also offer a junior golf or family tennis socials— some even have a children’s center. You can also offer activities throughout the year like kids’ nights and holiday parties. Another popular program for children is Summer Camp, either managed in-house or outsourced.

Multigenerational Programs
Your club should organize family-oriented programs and events where kids are welcome. However, you must satisfy the needs of your current members. The diversity of a multi-generational membership base is a positive thing for a club and should be looked on in that manner. Clubs today must deliver multi‐generational programming, events, menu items, and experiences not only for children and families but also your older members. After all, there is a risk versus rewards factor if your club doesn’t offer the best of both worlds.

Older Folks and Kids
Which brings us to the dilemma of becoming kid-friendly when the more grown-up members don't like seeing children in the club. When members make statements to you that imply they don’t like kids in the club, politely remind them they most likely won’t be attending the same events the children will be participating in such as kid activities, and family events. For instance, many retired members come to the club on Friday nights, whereas families usually come on weekend afternoons. I recently sent an email to my members that we just added a “Family Room” that families with young children can use and it was received with a huge success.

With kids in the club, it is likely, almost certain, that general managers will sometimes have to deal with complaints of unruly children. If parents are just dropping kids off at the club, unsupervised, there will be tension between members. With the diversity of the membership and having club activities accommodating all types of members and guests, it is important that members realize they are fully responsible for their kids’ behavior.

It should be made clear to the parents when children should be accompanied by an adult. Clubs need to ensure that the rules list specific ages, for example,” children under the age of 12, must be accompanied and be supervised by a parent or responsible person at least 18 years of age whenever on club property”. And rules like these must be upheld in all areas: the clubhouse, golf, tennis, pool, and fitness. Members must comply and conduct behavior accordingly and families are included in that. Also, learning to follow rules is beneficial to children as it genuinely instills respect in them and they learn how to behave and interact with adults at an early age.

Frank H. Benzakour, CCM, CCE, has had a more than 25-year career within the club industry. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Adelphi University and a MBA from Cornell University-College of Business in Business Management. Frank has managed several country clubs in the tristate area and has a focus and passion for providing best in class customer service. Frank enjoys spending some quality time with his wife Christina and two sons Adam & Ryan.

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.