January 2017: Wishing You a Gritty New Year!

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1.17.17 - memo boardHappy New Year! Inspiration for this month’s message comes from CMAA’s elevator. The CMAA HQ building has three floors with roughly seven to twelve people on each. With a National staff team of 28 people on multiple floors, it requires some movement if you are going to run into everyone each day. This gets me to this month’s focus. One way CMAA’s staff stays connected, besides the elevator and two stairwells, is a white board in the elevator. This white board starts out clean each day and whoever has an inspiration, writes it on the board for all to see.

Some days it’s a question, like “What book are you currently reading?” or “Today is National Bologna Day” (October 24, if you must know!) or sometimes it is trash talking about our favorite sports teams. From this board, we learn about each other and informally stay connected without attribution of comments to any one individual member – although I must admit that when I learned one long-time staffer was a member of a rock band, I did have to go check out her YouTube videos. Very impressive! So during the holidays, someone asked about New Year’s resolutions.

Honestly, I was pleased to see a list of personal and professional goals and that no one put down the perennial favorite goal of “losing weight.” Goals like being more compassionate, getting more sleep and smiling more were added as personal ones. While professional ones included raising more money for The Club Foundation and doing more for CMAA members. So as we individually set our own goals for 2017, how do we make them last? A one word response sums it up: grit!

Grit is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as: mental toughness and courage. While another online dictionary defines grit as: courage, resolve and strength of character. I think you may agree it would be wonderful if we all had more grit? Those New Year’s resolutions would certainly become reality! It just so happens I recently finished a book called Grit by Angela Duckworth. The author states effort is much more valuable than the talent within each of us. Effort leads to skill in whatever we are focused on, with results and ultimately achievement coming over time. 

Reaching our goals in 2017 requires that core element of grit encompassing hard work, courage, self-motivation, resolve and staying focused on achievement. Leveraging our personal grit will allow us to move forward even during the most challenging times as well as toward success at our clubs. So as we begin 2017, my hope for you is that you will add some grit to your life, and that it will carry you far into this year toward personal and professional success!

CMAA has its own year of grit ahead as we are by your side partnering to help you succeed professionally. Best wishes for a great 2017!

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan

December Blog: CEO’s Perspective - Preparing for a Successful Future

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12.13.16 Staff Around the Christmas Tree 

Happy holidays! I hope your club had a successful year, and you experienced personal and professional prosperity this past year too! CMAA’s goal is to be your partner on your professional journey. With that in mind, your CMAA team is busy preparing for our 90th World Conference on Club Management and Club Business Expo. We recognize that a positive professional experience is linked to a happy and healthy personal life.

As we come to the end of the year, many of us conduct an inventory of our personal assets and set goals for the coming year. I do this every year because it helps me to focus on my happiness, health and fulfillment as well as ensures that I am providing the same for the others around me. Since the age of 25, I have included retirement planning in this annual inventory.

Two of my prior professional association positions were connected with Wall Street, and included work with retirement planning. When I came onboard here, I was very impressed by the CMAA-sponsored club benefit, which provides an opportunity for your club to better assist their employees with saving for retirement. The CMAA 401(k) Retirement Plan will be entering its fifth year of operation and should exceed $100 million in assets this coming year. That is impressive! Even more impressive is that many of our CMAA clubs have been able to mitigate their compliance and fiduciary responsibilities, and in many cases, reduce operational costs by using the CMAA plan. It is a program that I did an in-depth review of when I joined CMAA to ensure it was well structured for our members, and found our CMAA program to be excellent. The CMAA team and I have our own CMAA retirement savings with this plan. As a participant, it is something I monitor closely.

With the enactment of the recent Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule and the ever increasing operational and compliance concerns of providing a retirement benefit, the CMAA 401(k) plan provides an alternative to the traditional single employer plan. It allows clubs to come together as a community into a multiple-employer plan (MEP) to take advantage of larger numbers and reduced operational responsibilities. Our CMAA clubs are able to retain their individual club culture though flexible plan design by choosing to keep or enhance certain plan features such as discretionary or safe harbor match design, Roth contributions, loans, hardships, in-service distributions and vesting schedules. One of the design features of the CMAA 401(k) Retirement Plan is the ability to utilize a local or your current advisor, who is already providing an advisory service to your club. Educational programs and local client management relationships are available through our record-keeper, Empower Financial, the second-largest (based on total participants) US service provider!

CMAA’s focus on this plan is to serve your club needs. Due to federal regulations, all those involved are limited on what they can earn from the plan as intermediaries. Fees are disclosed and can be compared to your current plan. The benefit of CMAA’s plan is that by joining together as a CMAA community, your club may be able to save money in the administration of the plan and receive better retirement options. In addition, when providing your staff with a retirement plan benefit, we are required to continually offer educational opportunities. Those opportunities are provided by our ERISA 3(38) Investment Manager. They include: complimentary fiduciary reviews of your current plan as well as availability to answer your compliance, plan design and industry trend questions. Another important part of our CMAA plan is keeping you informed via white papers, webinars and in-person education. An upcoming World Conference session has been scheduled to discuss current retirement industry trends titled “The Effect that Behavioral Finance has on Participant Retirement Readiness.”

If retirement planning fits into your upcoming 2017 plans, the Club Resources section of CMAA’s website has general information to learn more about the CMAA plan, and contact information to speak to someone about your current club retirement situation.

Last month I asked you to consider a gift to The Club Foundation (CF) on the international day of giving at the beginning of the holiday season, Giving Tuesday. I would like to recognize the Metropolitan Chapter Foundation for answering that call and making a leadership donation in the amount of $50,000 for FY2017. Including this generous gift, twelve CMAA Chapters have supported CF with a combined total of $111,500 over the past two years. Thank you to the Carolinas, Evergreen, Florida, Greater Baltimore, Mid-America, New England, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Vicinity, St. Louis District, Texas Lone Star and Wisconsin Badger Chapters for their contributions to CF, allowing us to further our mission through scholarships, grants and research.

As I close for this month, I hope you will spend time reflecting on your 2016 journey and your 2017 personal and professional plans, and especially those around you who help contribute to your successes. CMAA is here to help. As we enter our 90th year, there are many things CMAA does to help you professionally, but also enrich your life personally. Please let us help you. I hope you and your family have a happy and healthy holiday season!

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan


November Blog: Millennial Outlook on Club Membership

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The 2017 US Presidential election is behind us and I am sure the vast majority of us are relieved. More than others in recent memory, this election very sharply pointed out the diversity that we have in the United States. Americans have different interests, different views and see different pathways for happiness and prosperity. Baby Boomers are at a different life stage than Millennials and therefore may have a different view of how the US should evolve. Ultimately these varying views when researched, shared, discussed and considered by our elected officials allow a path to be charted that serves the best interests of America. At least it is supposed to work this way – but you may be thinking: how does this relate to clubs?

Millennial Research Infographic - 200This month, CMAA and The Club Foundation (CF) will release new generational research that will start conversations about how clubs might need to evolve to serve the diverse needs of club members at different life stages and from different generations. Does your club need to evolve to thrive? Have you been evolving on the right path? Are there other areas of club evolution you should be considering? Millennials will have a dramatic effect on the future look, feel and services clubs offer, in the same way Baby Boomers did back in the 1990s. 

So CMAA/CF hired a consumer research company that would give us insight on how different generations perceive clubs and their value proposition, as well as give us clues on how clubs might consider evolving. We hired the Center for Generational Kinetics to do this work. For those who attended the 2016 World Conference, the Center’s CEO, Jason Dorsey, was our featured generational speaker. I am very excited about the resources that will be available to CMAA members beginning this month:

  • November 15: Full release of a white paper and infographic on the millennial research
  • November 16: Member Webinar with Jason Dorsey to review the research findings. If you missed this live, you can watch the replay on CMAA University. After you view it, it may be appropriate to share information from it with your Board or Strategic Planning Committee.
  • Until Mid-December: Jason Dorsey and the team from the Center of Generational Kinetics will be our media spokesperson on the research and help to create some media buzz on club evolution in the public media.

Millennial Research White Paper - 200I am very excited about the conversations this information might generate among your club staff, club committees and club Board. This type of unique research by CMAA and CF increases the value of your membership. I want to recognize our Corporate Alliance Partners for supporting this project, and I hope you thank them too.

If you find this type of research to be helpful and would like to see more, please consider giving to The Club Foundation. Tuesday, November 29th is "Giving Tuesday" – the day after the shopping frenzy of “Cyber Monday.” It is a day that kicks off charitable giving as we head toward the end of the year.

When you count your blessings this month, please remember to make a contribution to The Club Foundation so that we can further our mission to support growth in the club industry through scholarships, education and research. My hope would be that each of you makes a donation to The Club Foundation by year end. No donation is too small. The message you send by personal and/or club contributions to CF helps us to know that projects like generational research on clubs are important. To donate online, please visit https://www.cmaa.org/conf/register/onlinegiving/

Thanks for your consideration and I hope you have some healthy generational-based conversations at your club

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan

October 2016: Next Generation Club Industry Research

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10.7.16 Data Collection


It is the last month in CMAA's fiscal year and we begin to turn our focus on the year ahead. As part of this process of closing out one year and beginning another fiscal year, we have gone through a staff performance review process. I have been reading articles over the past few years about how some organizations are phasing out annual staff performance reviews for a more continuous review process. While I agree continuous feedback is necessary, I also like the annual review process as it gives an organization, like CMAA, a chance to align people, resources and expectations annually with our strategic plan. I can tell you I am excited about some of our plans for the coming year.

However, change at CMAA doesn't have to wait until next year and I want to share the news about a recent CMAA business decision to better serve you. Hopefully you’ve read about or heard that CMAA has added a research component to our staff team. I believe research and quality information are key to outstanding decision making. I also believe your Association should be a critical source and keeper of that research, as we wear a white hat. Wearing a white hat means we have one purpose and that purpose is to serve you. I believe that when an association focuses on research as one of its competencies, the organization is likely to have a better pulse on trends within the membership. Further, the association can highlight these trends in professional development and other communications for the betterment of the entire membership. 

With this in mind, CMAA is headed in a new direction with our annual club survey and club analytical reports starting in 2017. CMAA has contracted with a new provider to help us deliver richer data to you and work at the sole direction of CMAA without commercial conflicts. CMAA will be the sole owner of the data – confidentiality was a huge focus when selecting and ultimately hiring a new provider. We will begin releasing the Finance and Operations Report annually in the spring of 2017. The Compensation and Benefits Report will move to a biannual process with the next report to be released in the fall of 2018. CMAA members who participate in the survey will continue to receive a complimentary copy of the report, as well as a Club Performance Report which provides an easy means for clubs to compare their results to the overall findings. CMAA has gone through this process before and this is just the next step in upgrading our ability to serve you.

Club Resource Center (CRC) subscribers will continue to receive the 2016 CMAA Finance and Operations and 2016 CMAA Compensation and Benefits reports via the (CRC). Subscribers will continue to receive survey reports as part of their benefits. Additional CRC benefits will be announced in the coming months. We continue to build the center as a collection of dedicated resources for your club outside of your professional membership. The CRC, with one single fee per club, serves all your club staff without regards to CMAA membership.

Many members have shared their concerns regarding giving information to third-party commercial businesses and the cost to access industry data and urged us to develop the next generation solution. We have listened and hope you will join your peers to support this CMAA-owned initiative by participating in the data collection process and by considering a subscription to the Club Resource Center. 

Until next month,

 Jeff Morgan

September 2016 - Generational Insights Into Club Perceptions

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 09.20.16 LLC

What gets you most excited at your club?

  1. New members joining your club;
  2. A thank you from a member when they receive exceptional service; or 
  3. The addition of new services, facilities or activities for your member’s enjoyment.

At CMAA, we get excited about building an association that serves your professional needs, so you can do your job with passion and fulfillment. It is why CMAA’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan has lots of new initiatives to enhance our value to you. One of these is the development of CMAA’s research functionality. This month, I am pleased to begin sharing new generational research that I believe you and your club Boards will find very interesting. 

A few months ago, CMAA and The Club Foundation joined forces to hire an external research firm to conduct research on how various generations perceive clubs. In my opinion, this study is groundbreaking and will hopefully spur many conversations in our CMAA community, as well as within your club. My personal thanks to those of you who have contributed to The Club Foundation over this past year, including our Corporate Alliance Partners (CAP); without these contributions we would not have been able to fund this study. This study also marks a turning point for the Club Foundation as they begin to chart a new path to provide value to club professionals in ways that go beyond scholarships for CMAA programs.

The generational study, conducted by the Center for Generational Kinetics and its CEO Jason Dorsey, will provide months of information flowing to the CMAA membership. First, will be a report on “Uncovering Generational Attitudes About Club Memberships.” This report will be made widely available to the CMAA membership along with a member webinar on these insights. Three other white papers areas will be developed from the generation research will include focusing on a multi-generational approach to attracting new members, communications across generations and generational expectations for new member orientations.

Now let me give a couple of teasers from the research:

  1. Millennials are much more likely than Baby Boomers to be looking for specific club membership benefits.
  2. Across generations, the vast majority of respondents say that spreading out the initiation fee would make them more likely to join a club.
  3. Regardless of life stage, women tend to place more emphasis on specific club features than men.

I hope these teasers make you curious to read the white papers as they become available. As we launch our research area at CMAA, we will be utilizing the Club Resource Center as a vehicle for distribution of the full set of research information.

In addition, we will be utilizing the Club Resource Center to release the new edition of the Club Operations and Performance Review. The goal of the Club Resource Center is to benefit your entire club operation. I hope you will consider subscribing and more information can be found online or CMAA team members are prepared to discuss the benefits of the Club Resource Center with you at (703) 739-9500.

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan

August 2016: Dues - To Increase or Not to Increase? That is the Question.

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 08.23.16 - BODs in Nashville

Words sometimes evoke emotional responses. From what I have experienced and heard from many of you, managing members’ emotions is a big part of your job. So as a CMAA stakeholder, I’ve inferred that you could get emotional about things that affect your own Association membership too... Am I right?

Let's try a little word game – when you hear the word “membership,” what comes to mind? Hopefully a sense of belonging and community – a home away from home.

How about the term “dues?”  Hopefully you think about the requisite fee required to be a part of that special and exclusive member-only place. What comes to mind when you hear the term “dues increase?” Oh boy, I bet for some of you a sigh emanated from your lips (or at least in your head), or maybe your blood pressure climbed up a bit as you have been through this same anxiety at your club many times before. Since I am writing about CMAA, let’s be more specific.

CMAA’s Board of Directors met in July and approved the annual budget for CMAA’s 2017 fiscal year beginning November 1, 2016. The discussion focused on financial stewardship, moving forward on CMAA’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan and ensuring that member needs are met in the best ways possible. There are some great things planned for next year including an upgrade to our publications, the replacement of our association management/relations software, additional funds for speakers at the World Conference, and funds for another major research project. (I digress, but CAN’T wait to share the generational/millennial survey results starting in September!). All of these things sound great, but they cost money right? Are they worth a CMAA membership dues increase?

Well that was the same discussion the National Board had at their meeting. Remember, CMAA has just come out of its financial funk this past year with the first healthy and positive bottom line in more than a decade, so a dues increase would be helpful to erase some of our former deficits. On the other hand, clubs continue to have their own financial challenges, so a dues increase for Professional classification members could force a decision to eliminate that second or third member from the same club. If you look back to CMAA’s last dues increase in 2012, inflation increases over the last five years would indicate a $42 increase to keep us at the same level today.

During my first year as your CEO, we went through our organizational cost structure and made significant changes that provided us with a healthy financial excess of $400,000 in 2015. In October, we will end our fiscal year in the black again. This includes a recently completed financial reorganization of The Club Foundation that resulted in CMAA absorbing more CF expenses.

After a healthy discussion, the National Board concluded that we have made so much progress over the last two years, that as we approach 2017, we can continue to meet our goals set forth in the Strategic Plan (including all the new projects mentioned above) without a national dues increase. A dues increase may be forthcoming, but it’s important that you know the CMAA Board, staff and I are all in agreement to wait at least another year or two!

We are committed to you – the CMAA members! We have a new attitude – it honors our CMAA history and tradition, while operating like a start-up with new ideas and new member-focused actions; we will act swiftly and embrace a lean financial mindset to get us to implementation. Speaking of which, please pay your 2017 membership dues notice immediately to save us the time and effort in sending second and third notices. We can use that savings toward other things that add to your member value. Thank you!

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan

July 2016: Announcing CMAA’s 2020 World Conference Site

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2020 Dallas

Recently I came across the management acronym – RACI. If you are not familiar with RACI, it refers to a model for responsibility involving many people in different roles. RACI stands for the person or persons:   

Responsible to do the work to achieve the task.

Accountable or those approving or answerable for the completion of the work.

Consulted or those whose opinions are sought in the effort.

Informed or those who are kept up-to-date on progress of the effort.

Use of this model over the last few months has really helped me to think and communicate better as I work with CMAA members, Board and staff on various efforts. It helps to ensure everyone understands their responsibility and involvement based on the project or effort. In a transparent leadership model, using this model helps to avoid a belief that everyone makes the decision. It also helps to create a healthy environment for leading transparently by segmenting responsibility.

Speaking of transparency, one of the commitments I made to you was to evaluate the timing of CMAA’s World Conference on Club Management and Club Business Expo and consider a change from winter. This decision is the responsibility of the CMAA Board. However, one of the best ways for the CMAA Board and me to examine this matter was to first consult you as members. We did this with a survey conducted a few months ago and many members participated from across the United States. The number of respondents and geographical representation of the members created a statistically valid representation of the full membership.

I want to thank those who participated and want to keep everyone informed on some key results:

  • 77.3 percent of members are very likely or likely to attend if conference timing stays the same. Only about 50 percent are very likely or likely to attend if conference occurs in spring or fall and many less are interested in a summer conference.
  • Of those members who responded that they were very likely or likely to attend the current winter season for conference, those members came from throughout the US with percentages average well above 80 percent in all regions except one. This region is not surprisingly as it encompasses the southern region of the US that includes: AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC and TN where only about 50 percent of the members were likely or very likely to attend in the winter due to club commitments.
  • Members indicated their preference for location continues to be in the southern half of the United States.
  • Members also indicated a strong preference to focus on the first two weeks of a month and avoid the last two weeks of the month, presumably because of club business (board meetings, etc.).
  • In regards to the conference, the current number of days and structure of conference was rated favorably.

CMAA Board members reviewed the survey and discussed the results at their recent July meeting. Based on the above data, the CMAA Board was provided excellent feedback from the membership leading to the CMAA Board decision to maintain the current timing for conference with a desire to avoid the later part of the month. This allows CMAA staff to begin planning for future conference locations. As such, I am pleased to announce that the 2020 conference will be held in the Dallas, TX, area on February 6-10, 2020, at the Gaylord Texan.

While the decision to keep World Conference schedule the same is best for the majority of CMAA members, it will still disappoint some CMAA members. Beginning in 2016, CMAA began a multi-year process to provide year round in-person educational opportunities for members beyond the World Conference and Business Management Institutes (BMI) at the national level to complement efforts at the chapter level. These opportunities currently include Leadership/Legislative Conference and Mid-Management Conference. In 2016, we added multiple day-long Governance/Leadership Summits around the US. Going forward, we have plans for other smaller events based on topic or CMAA member segment.

Our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan is just beginning to be implemented. However, as always, CMAA is committed to you and helping you to manage your club.

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan