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 goodnews@cmaa.org.

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!

What Moves Us?

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I was watching a documentary a few weeks ago. A famous Hollywood director was saying his friend John Hughes told him he had written two screenplays on subsequent weekends. One of them was called “Home Alone” and since he was busy directing, he thought his friend Chris should consider making it into a movie.

When I heard this my first thought was “What am I doing this weekend?”

Tom Schellenberg is a participant of our Extraordinary Leaders Program. Shelley and I interviewed Tom as part of a call we call Conversations with the Masters. He is a General Manager of a Private Golf Club in Vancouver. He is an athlete. He is and Extraordinary Leader. He is passionate about doing something to support people with mental health issues in the world. As many of you know, being a GM of a Club can be very time consuming and leave little time for other things. Tom and his brother Kyle found time to set up a charity called “The Weight We Carry”, to connect with an organization in Kathmandu, Nepal, to organize an expedition where they would carry canoes to the base camp of Mount Everest, make a documentary called “One step at a time” and raise enough money to build a transit house in Kathmandu to house women with mental health issues.

Whenever I think of Tom and Kyle, I want to do something to make the world a better place.

Alexandra Clark was a student at Michigan State when we first met her. As a teenager, she knew that one day she would own a Chocolate Company. She studied and experienced everything she could that would move her toward her dream. She created a chocolate company in Hamtramck, MI, called Bon Bon Bon. Her passion to make people’s lives better with chocolate has never wavered. Her passion is inspiring and infectious.

Alex always moves me to consider how I am honoring my passions.

When we ask the question “What moves us?” the answers would be different for different people. Another question might be “Are we movable?” and if so “When?”

Simply put, our job as coaches is to support movement. People don’t ask for our support because they want nothing to change.

It is not uncommon for humans to create lives for themselves of comfort. We know that today we are going to do a lot of the same things we did yesterday. We are going to think a lot of the same thoughts we thought yesterday. We are going to use a lot of the same words we used yesterday. We will likely interact with a lot of the same people we did yesterday.

Comfort has a lot of benefits. Comfort is to be celebrated. Comfort can be peaceful and reassuring.

Comfort can also keep us small and limit the experiences and learning that comes with going beyond comfort.

Coaches and leaders want to know what moves people. Our role is to help people grow and develop. Our role is to encourage and challenge and celebrate. If we can find out what truly moves someone, we can do our part to make a difference in the lives of others.

Some people are moved by words. It could be words in a song, in poetry or literature or from a movie. It could be words of encouragement, words recognizing a talent or a contribution or perhaps words of instruction that support growth. The words of an Extraordinary Conversation can move mountains.

Some people are moved by success. Some are moved by failure.

Some people are moved by compassion and others are moved by injustice.

For fans of biography, they might be moved by the example of what others have done or been.

Some people are moved by their own design. Some people are moved by the design of others. Some people are moved by loss or tragedy and others are moved by moments of great joy and celebration.

Some people are simply moved my moving companies.

The important questions are:

What moves you? What moves you from your head to your heart to your hands? What moves you into action? What makes you decide? When will you decide? If not now… when? What environments do you have that move you? What differences will being moved have on your life, your relationships, your family, your organization, and the world?

The inspiration to do something can come from anywhere. It can be a thought that feels good and that is wonderful. It can also be something that leads to a decision. As coaches we are thrilled when we get to be part of or a result of that decision.

The simple act of deciding can lead to a screen play, moving or at least climbing mountains or building a chocolate company.

You might be moved to do something that could take one minute, one weekend, one year or one lifetime.

The time it takes to do what you have been moved to do is not nearly as important as the difference it makes.

What moves you?


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.

City Club Focus – Hope and Optimism

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City Clubs have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic as our facilities are in most cases tied into the urban centers in which we serve. We do not typically have outdoor facilities or outdoor recreational facilities that have been the saving grace for many of our private club counterparts. Our members who frequent our clubs based on their downtown workspace have found that working from home has replaced the need of the dreaded commute. With that said, most city clubs have been able to provide their members with enough take-out food and beverage offerings, provide online programmatic opportunities and find other ways for their members to stay emotionally connected. This article is not intended to relive what has occurred but look ahead to what will again be a crucial rebuild.

I have been thinking a lot about the phrase the light at the end of the tunnel. An internet search on wordorigins.com revealed that the phrase is a metaphor used to refer to signs that a long period of adversity is coming to an end. The metaphor, if not exact phrasing, dates to at least 1879 when it appears in a letter by writer George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) about a recent bout with an illness. The writer used a pen name because she wanted to escape the stereotype of women’s writing being limited to lighthearted romances. As it turns out, she was an English novelist and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era.

Cosmos Club, a men’s only club at the time, was formed one year before that phrase was written. I am not sure anyone at the time would have predicted two life altering pandemics (Spanish Flu and COVID-19), two world wars, many other conflicts, and catastrophic events. Like Cosmos Club and many other city clubs who have been around for more than a century, the phrase has stood the test of time and now more than ever, there is reason for hope and optimism.

Over the summer months and into the fall, many of the normal in-person club activities and events will return. I am not sure Cosmos Club’s John Wesley Powell and his cofounders would have anticipated a Club that now boasts more than 2,700 members and that women make up a significant part of its fabric. Those founders would be thrilled to know that the social component for which this Club was founded on remains strong.

On May 1, our traditional annual meeting was held virtually as we come towards the waning days of restricted club access. The incoming Club President at Cosmos Club, Paul Taskier, summed up our path forward in this excerpt from his inaugural address:

I have no grand scheme for my short year as President of the Club, no ambitious proposals. This will be a year when we climb back from the abyss of the pandemic and begin the slow return to normal. I do want to ensure that we come back strong, with a renewed sense of connection, a greater appreciation for the social and intellectual life of the Club, and more enjoyment and participation in all that the Club offers us.

The lines between home and work have become blurred this year, and it is far from clear that we will return to the formerly strict division between leisure at home and work at the office. I think that sea change makes the opportunities afforded by the Club even more central, even more important, and even more compelling.

Many of us are simply tired of being at home this whole past year. We can, and we should, ensure that the Club becomes a “third place,” where we can work if we want, relax, read, socialize, have a coffee and a pastry, be entertained and engaged by programs, and where we can entertain others with first-in-class cuisine and service. A unique destination that combines a Viennese coffeehouse, lecture hall, museum, library, garden, meeting space and restaurant. All with friends we have already made and friends we have yet to make.

It has been observed that civilization developed with the advent of cities, where there is a dense network of relationships and interactions that are necessarily constrained by norms and mores which are oil to the engine of society. City clubs mirror those societal interactions in a more intimate way. A club - which carefully admits people of similar interests and inclinations, who are deemed likely to get along with each other - provides us with the chance to make social and emotional connections that enrich our lives in the most elemental way. Our Club is a resource, not merely for the vibrant intellectual programs that stimulate us, but for our most human need, the need to connect with others. It is my hope that in the coming year we can all be revitalized, and our spirits uplifted by our return to the Club and all that it has to offer.

My best wishes to my city club peers, and the entire club community, for a successful renewal and rebuild. There is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.

Mitchell Platt, MCM, CCE
General Manager, Cosmos Club and Vice Chairman, CMAA

Mitchell Platt

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.