Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 51: A Showstopper for Sure

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After a podcast-filled March, we’re back with the April edition! This month, we’re joined by Ashly Ryan, CCM, of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club and Missi Johnson of Philadelphia Country Club to talk about their Idea Fair entry – and the winner of the Showstopper Award – from the 2021 Idea Fair. Ashly and Missi dive in to the details of how Philadelphia Country Club’s Independence Day Extravaganza came together in 2020 and how the Club pulled off five unique and separate events in one night! (It’s pretty impressive.)

You can find all of the entries from the 2021 Idea Fair online in the CMAA Connect Community: connect.cmaa.org/browse/ideafair. Please take some time to browse the incredible entries from a year that required true creativity and ingenuity.

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



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Each year for the past four years the members of my Mastermind Group and I have chosen one word as a theme for the year. In my first three years my words were Contribute, Connect, and Create. This year my word is Experience.

In 2020 a lot of the experiences that make life exciting and that we usually take for granted were not possible. I decided that in 2021 I needed to create experiences that make this year exciting and meaningful. More than anything I wanted to pay attention to the experiences I was having and truly appreciate them.

On Wednesday, March 3 I had an experience that most people will never have. It was on this day that in the early hours of the day I read my obituary.

A few years ago I watched a documentary by Carl Reiner called “If you are not in the Obituary, eat breakfast.” It was a study of people in their 90s who were thriving.

Many of you have read “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom. Morrie had a living funeral so he could hear the things that people would say about him before he was gone.

In 1998 Rose asked me what I would like for Christmas. I said “Instead of receiving a thing, I would like to receive an experience.” The experience we shared was an Irish one. We had an afternoon and evening with an Irish friend and his wife. We went to see the movie “Waking Ned Devine” and went for what we called an Irish dinner with perhaps a glass of Guinness involved. In the movie a character named Michael got to hear his best friend give his eulogy.

Now, spoiler alert, as I write this I am very much alive, maybe more alive than I was before I read what was written about me.

More than 50 years ago, I met a friend when my family moved to a new town where I entered high school. Unlike many high school friendships this one has stood the test of time. We have been part of most of each other’s landmark moments in life. Our careers have dovetailed. I got into hospitality because of him. He worked in hotels, I worked in restaurants. He moved to restaurants I moved to hotels, but within a month of each other we became Club Managers. We have always been huge fans and supporters of the other. He focuses on my gifts and I focus on his.

I have always marvelled at his creativity. Whether he is putting on an event or expressing a sentence, it is creative. He is a writer, he is an artist, he is a poet and he is a great gift that I have been given in life.

Three years ago, after a family tragedy he and his Extraordinary wife had to write an obituary. It was beautiful. It brilliantly let people know who their son was. He used his gift as a wordsmith to honor his son. As part of his journey since, he has been asked to write obituaries for people who want to honor someone important to them. He calls them celobituaries.

As part of my year focused on “Experience” I asked him if he would write one for me. I asked him not only because of his gift with words but the length of time he has known me and how well he knows me, sets him apart.

Even though I asked him to do it, even though I knew it would arrive in my inbox and even though I knew roughly when it would arrive, it was still a bit of a jolt to read about me in the past tense.

It sounded a bit like an alarm clock. I read what I read. What I heard was “wake up!”

We all have a limited number of days. John Jordan used to tell me that we all have a predetermined number of ticks in our heart and he felt that more you exercised the more ticks you used. That is why he avoided exercise. He makes me laugh. We will be talking later today.

When you have a whole bunch of something you can take those things for granted. If we think we have tens of thousands of days left it may not be a problem wasting a few. I think reading my obituary helped me to consider the value of each day.

It was fascinating that in the beautiful piece that was written about me it didn’t list the things I did. It didn’t refer to schools or teams or jobs or careers or even hobbies. It talked about who I was (am).

It listed the many familial relationships in my life. It referred to me as Grandfather and a Great Grandfather. This was particularly pleasing because I am writing this on the due date of our second grandchild (our first grandson). Since my granddaughter will be 20 months old tomorrow, if I have left Great Grandchildren, it means I have quite a bit of time.

Let me tell you what this “experience” has given me.

I realize that if my days on the planet were to end today, I have lived an Extraordinary and blessed life.

I am so grateful for the gifts I have received. I am so grateful for the experiences I have had. I am so grateful for the family I have. I am so grateful for the business partner and collaborator I have. I am so grateful for the relationships I have. I have had the habit for the past 2,734 days of writing down 10 things that I am grateful for every day. I am grateful that it is so easy to do that.

I feel energized. I am very intent on being the person that my premature obituary says I am.

I wake up with intent.

Life is to be lived. Life is series of experiences. It is canvas for creativity. It is a stage for contribution. It is an actual place for non-virtual connection. Life is a place to write a script.

Life is a place where I can celebrate my friend Jon Fisher, and we have had some Extraordinary Experiences!


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

Catch Up on The Daily Grind

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During CMAA’s Virtual World Conference and Club Business Expo, the Let’s Talk Club Management Podcast transformed into a daily news show. The Daily Grind, presented in partnership with Royal Cup Coffee, brought #CMAAVirtual attendees Conference tips, Association Good News, and a Fast Five segment with different CMAA Partners throughout the week.

Daily Grind Podcast

You can listen to or watch each installment below: 

Monday, March 8: Listen | Watch

Tuesday, March 9: Listen | Watch

Wednesday, March 10: Listen | Watch

Thursday, March 11: Listen | Watch

Friday, March 12: Listen | Watch 

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

Why the “Best in Class” Seek Coaching!

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In 2003, CMAA launched a coaching program as another way to support the development and professionalism of its members. It seemed like a cutting edge initiative in 2003 and now 19 years later I have not met any of my coaching colleagues who are doing a comparable initiative with other professional associations. In this association members can experience coaching and be educated on coaching concepts as a benefit of membership. One of the goals of the program was to help leaders in the industry develop coaching skills to enhance their leadership effectiveness. Mostly it was designed to support professionals in taking accountability for their success and helping them to teach their people to do the same.

I was asked if I could coach 7,000 people. After saying “yes” I worked on a plan to give time, education, concepts, tools, and awareness to everyone in the organization.

The truth is that 7,000 people don’t want to be coached. In any field of endeavor there are those who rise to the top. They rise to the top because they are always striving to be better. They rise to the top because they want to have a slight edge. They rise to the top because they know they don’t know it all. They rise to the top because they never act as though they have arrived at the top. They rise to the top because even if they are in a very individual game, they know they won’t get to where they want to go alone.

Over the past 19 years we have had the privilege of working with the Extraordinary of an Industry.

Whatever industry, sport or field of endeavor, here are some of the reasons that the Best in Class seek coaching.

No matter where we are on our journey in life or in leadership, we don’t know what we don’t know. The people who rise to the top seem to have a better understanding of this. The average or below average have all the awareness they need. The Best in Class strive to be aware but more importantly they strive to be self-aware. They want to understand how they operate, and they want to operate at their best. They know their coach can see from the outside what they can’t see from the inside and they want that information. They want to know how they think, how they feel, and how they act and they want to determine not if those things are right or wrong, good or bad, but how they are working for or against them. If they don’t know they have a problem they can’t fix the problem. If they don’t know they have an opportunity or a gift they may not be able to capitalize on them. They want to be aware. It takes courage and strength to be vulnerable and aware and the best seem to have both. Coaches have tools and techniques to help clients see how they might be getting in their own way or how they might unlock a competitive advantage. Often our biggest obstacles or threats come from within. Being unaware of these things can work against us and being unaware of the power of our gifts and uniqueness can also keep us from getting to where we want to go.

Action and Accountability
Knowing something leads to doing something. Many use coaches to support them in developing the plan which is an action but, they also understand that if they don’t take the first step in the journey they will not arrive at the destination. The Best in Class take action and they are often very good at holding themselves accountable to do what they need to do. The best also at times use their coach to hold them accountable if they need that support or reminder.

You can use a coach to support you in designing the future of your dreams. A coach helps people to dream, to decide and to plan. When you can truly benefit from knowing where you have been, where you are and where you want to go, then it is time to create the blue print on what you future looks like. You wouldn’t dream of building a new clubhouse without a blue print and yet most people have not developed the plan for their career and for their life. The Best in Class know that the clearer the plan the more likely it is to be successful.

For many people, the idea of reinventing themselves seems out of the question, scary or ridiculous. The Best in Class are constantly reinventing. Whether they are little “r” reinventing making tweaks or adjustments or big “R” Reinventing making changes in who they are or how they operate they have a constant desire to improve. Often reinvention is triggered by a time of transition. In life there are numerous times of transition. People experience moves from student to a career, single to married, couple to family, Illness, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, moving from married to single, moving from career to retirement or moving from life to death. The Best in Class understand that reinvention is not just desirable but essential. Coaches can support them in making reinvention quicker and more effective.

The people who strive to be their best will inevitably spend time with critics, opponents; people who can’t dream or think at the same level and it takes a lot of energy. It can take energy away from the things that truly lead to their success. Coaches help them to learn how to maximize their energy.

The Best in Class use their coaches to stay focused on the important. They may use them to identify the important. With all of the distractions that the people at the top will face this clarity on the important along with the resolve to focus on it is critical.

It can be lonely at the top. It is often true that because of the competitive nature of some careers that you have to be careful who to confide in. Coaches are often used as a place where you can have conversations or collaborate without fearing that it is not in confidence.

There are many reasons why the Best in Class gravitate toward coaching.

We feel so privileged that we get to partner with these Extraordinary individuals. Every time we do we are inspired, energized and a little bit better.


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

Let’s Talk Club Management Ep. 47: A Peek Behind the Virtual Conference Curtain

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It's the busiest time of year for us at CMAA HQ as we're putting all the finishing touches on our first Virtual World Conference and Club Business Expo. This month, we're taking a deep dive into next month's event, giving you an exclusive look at what the virtual space means for the biggest club management gathering of the year. Join us as we hear from a number of our team members at HQ as they share about their various areas of expertise and what's on deck for #CMAAVirtual.

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. 46 - F&O Insights Micro Pod: Personnel

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This week, we’re sharing the final episode in our series diving into the 2020 Finance and Operations Report. We want to give a huge thank you to our friends (GGA Partner’s Derek Johnston and RSM’s Phil Newman) for joining us over the past several weeks. Today, we’re wrapping this series up by taking a look at the Personnel section – tune in!

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. 45 - F&O Insights Micro Pod: Membership

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This week, we're sharing the fourth episode in our series diving into the 2020 Finance and Operations Report. We are so glad to have GGA Partner's Derek Johnston and RSM's Phil Newman back with us today. Today we are taking a look at the Membership section – tune in!

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. 44 - F&O Insights Micro Pod: Operations

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This week, we’re sharing the third episode in our series diving into the 2020 Finance and Operations Report. We are so glad to have GGA Partner’s Derek Johnston and RSM’s Phil Newman back with us today. Today we are taking a look at the Operations section – tune in!

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.