Year in Review

The past 12 months have flown right on by!  My term as the President of MPI Northeastern New York is quickly coming to a close (only 9 days left, but who’s counting?).   And being that I haven’t written a single thing here for almost a year as well, I thought I should at least wrap it up and say something!

I recently gave my Year in Review speech at our annual awards celebration, and I think it’s worth sharing an excerpt with the masses!  I am so very proud of the MPI NENY Members, it’s volunteers and it’s board of directors.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great leaders and volunteers this year.  Although, we’ve faced many challenges, in the end we definitely came out on top. It’s something worth sharing, because even the smallest of chapters can be mighty!


As a Chapter leader, volunteer and member, YOU control the direction we [the MPI NENY Chapter] take YOUR education and professional development. A recent survey of MPI Members showed that 90% of members agree that MPI aids in their professional development.

One of the best things about being a member of MPI is that YOUR membership belongs to YOU and you alone. And this means, that no matter where you go – YOUR membership goes with you.  Membership in MPI connects you to a regional, national and international community unlike any other.

I encourage you to explore the site, attend an international event (like the World Education Congress), share ideas with those outside our Chapter, or join an online discussion group (think LinkedIn or Twitter).

This evening is not only about celebrating our volunteers & members, but a time to reflect on the past 12 months.  So what has the past year been like? We have definitely had our share of challenges.

  • A new rebate system was established by MPI Headquarters that affects how much of your membership dues comes back to the chapter.
  • The MPI Foundation put a hold on approving grants and grants that had been approved were not fully funded this year.
  • An unexpected membership dues increase for suppliers during an economic downturn – to which we have not fully seen the effects.

But how has this affected you?  Even with all the operational noise coming down from headquarters, you may not have noticed!

Why? Because the MPI NENY board of directors is here to ensure that your membership experience is seamless and consistent. That you are not personally affected by all the nuances trickling down from headquarters.  What’s important to you, is that this chapter is providing you with the educational content and connections you need as a member.

No matter what challenges we as a board have seen or may see come down the pike, what really matters is what we continually do for YOU.

We have much to be proud of as well!  There are many successes to celebrate. Each year we are asked by headquarters to set and track certain goals. We are currently on the path to meet, if not exceed, each of these goals this year.

When it comes to membership – we may be small, but we are mighty!  At 129 strong, our numbers may not have increased, but we have not seen a decrease in membership numbers either. Our membership continues to be actively engaged; with 36% of our members volunteering in some capacity!

If that wasn’t enough to impress you – here’s something else to be proud of! In March you were asked to complete an International Membership Satisfaction Survey. We now have the results of that survey.

Our overall Chapter satisfaction score placed us Number 2 both regionally (out of 47 chapters) & globally (out of 71 chapters).  We scored an 8.93 out of 10 for overall satisfaction.  To put that in perspective – the average chapter satisfaction score for all of the US Chapters was 7.8; a 7.6 in Canada; and a 6.6 in Europe.  Our Chapter received an educational content satisfaction score of 9 out of 10; ranking us Number 1 both regionally and globally.

Clearly, our mission to help our members be their best by building human connections to knowledge, ideas, relationships, and marketplace opportunities is happening on a daily basis – it’s happening right now! And it is because of all of you!


It has been an absolute pleasure being President of such a great organization and I look forward to my year as Outgoing President!  Best wishes to all and best of luck to our 2012-2013 Board of Directors!


Vision, Mission, Value

Vision, Mission & Value: Do you know the difference?  I thought I knew, but many of us are guilty of blurring the three into one and using them interchangeably. During the 2010 MPI Chapter Business Summit, which was held in Dallas, TX in September for the MPI Chapter Leaders, we discussed the differences.  Who knew how drastically different they could really be!

Here’s the run down:

  • Vision: What will we look like in the future?
  • Mission: Why are we here?
  • Value: What solutions are you providing; who do you solve it for; and why is this solution different (or better) than the alternative?  This can become the foundation for your brand!  Why are we the better choice than the competition, what makes us stand out?  What is distinctive about us?

    By Nina Matthews Photography

To bring a little clarity into the room, know that everyone wants to matter.  A value statement can provide meaning to a volunteer (and a member). Belief in a purpose gives volunteers a reason to stick with it, and in turn helps to prevent volunteer burnout!

  • Understand your assets and relevance (strengths)
  • Matter on what matters

It’s Time to Create Your Value Statement!

We are all chock-full of good ideas.  It’s fun to come up with new ideas for our chapter and members.  The problem becomes instituting those ideas, committing to them, and following through.  All the new ideas become moot, if they are not taken seriously, or if there are too many ideas on the table and not enough manpower (or need) to really make those ideas come to life.

What’s next? So you have a list of good ideas and you want to implement them, but are they all necessary and something desired by your membership. Take a moment to think about two things that can improve the direction you take and refocus on membership needs.

  • What do we do first? (What will you start)  Okay, you have a list – but you need to prioritize and choose that one thing that you believe in, that you really want to focus on.  Pick something that matters to your members.
  • What do we stop now? We all love to buy new things, that “ooh shiny” feeling.  It makes you feel good right?  Well, a little retail therapy always helps me, but then I find I have a pile of things and I haven’t replaced the old with the new.  When I buy something new, I need to get rid of something old.  Try to keep things in perspective; the same can be applied to your Chapter/Association.  If you’re going to start something, and really focus on it, you should also pick something to throw out.  What’s NOT working or just isn’t in your power to maintain effectively?

You might be wondering now what have I done, or what has my Chapter has done, with all this information?  Well, we created a value statement! MPI Northeastern New York is the bridge to innovative knowledge and connections.

With that value statement in mind we decided that we need to focus on which forms of communication (social media) work best for us and which of those applications our members are actually using. My chapter is lucky to have so many board members who are tech-savvy and comfortable with the ever-changing online communities that are available.  It has made keeping up with the “Online Jones” pretty easy.  This won’t last forever!  Sooner or later our savvy board members will move on, and while we hope the next generation will be as techie, it is not a guarantee.   The same goes for our members, not everyone is a “techie” or social media guru.

Our plan is to narrow the playing field to the top five social media tools that work best for our members, (MPI NENY Website, Virtual World, Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn) with emphasis on the website!  While it’s possible to sign up for every social media outlet available, this does not mean each tool will be used effectively.  Consider your audience! Is your audience listening and engaged; which tools are they using?

Okay, you’re thinking – so you stopped something, reduced the number of social media tools.  But what will you focus on – what will we “start”?   I’m going to quote directly from our President, Doug McPhee, CMP, CMM:

Leadership is about commitment and competence. We are leaders not just volunteers. All the chapters are looking at member growth, engagement and strong educational programs, especially for planners. Succession planning is obviously important for all chapters. How do we engage our members?  ASK them to participate. We know that people become involved and attend things because they are asked. When recruiting for committee positions consider strengths that will enhance the committee.

As the new year approaches and the nominations process begins, we will add Director positions to our Board so that we can divide up responsibilities and take the pressure off the Vice Presidents!   We are a small Board – currently there are only eight of us.  Did you know that 89% of members access MPI through their chapters? (Bruce MacMillan, MPI President & CEO) By adding Directors to the Board, we will more effectively engage our members, provide leadership roles for volunteers, and gain new insight as to what our members need and want from us as a Chapter.

Now I ask you:

  • What what will you start and stop this year?
  • Do you have a value statement?