What Did You Get? Practicing Gratitude.

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In our Extraordinary Leader Program at the end of a lesson, at the end of a coaching gym or at the end of a Master Call we ask this simple question, “What did you get?”

When I first started attending CMAA conferences as a much younger man, I would sit in the front row take pages of notes, have a list of the actions that I planned to take and have a summary of information that I would report to my board so I could educate them and help them to see the value of sending me to conferences.

Then I would walk out into the hall and hear many of my colleagues saying that they got nothing from the past hour and a half. I would learn that the presenter was terrible, the content was poor and they already knew everything that was presented.

I learned many things when I was in the class and I learned some profound lessons when I left the class. At first I thought it was a matter of who was right and who was wrong. I suppose I jumped into the judgement that I was hearing from my colleagues. I wondered how they could get nothing when I got so much. Were we in the same class? I think I went through these thoughts of judgement for a few years and then I got the fact that individuals have the privilege of not getting something as much as others have the privilege of getting something.

It is easy to not get anything! There is very little effort required. You really don’t have to take notes if you are pretty sure you are not going to get anything. You certainly don’t have to put anything you learned in to action. You might have to spend a bit of time playing the critic so you can justify your lack of effort, but it is a small price to pay.

In our program we teach that it starts with an intention. Whether we are conscious of the intention or not, the intention we take to something is powerful. Some people go to a class with the intention to get one gem that will make them better. Some people go to the class with the intention of learning something that they can teach. Some people go to the class to decide why the information being delivered in not correct or relevant. Some people go to class because someone said they had to.

What is your intention?

When you enter a conversation? When you listen to a song? When you watch a movie? When you marry someone? When you wake up in the morning? When you connect with another person? When you receive a gift? When you give a gift? When you talk to your children? When you go to a class?

Your intention will have a big impact on what you get!

When people attend one of our Extraordinary Leader Coaching Gyms, they declare at the beginning of the call what they would like to get from the call. At the end of the call they are asked to say what they got. When you know that you are going to be asked what you got at the end of the call you are prepared to tell people what you got. The other great gift is when you hear what others got. You may relearn it, or hear it for the first time or realize that it sounds different from someone else’s perspective.

For me this is day 2,071 in my habit of writing down 10 things a day that I am grateful for. In essence each day I recap what I got. I record the gifts I was given, the things I learned, the experiences I had, the people I met, the discoveries I made the things I got.

What Did You Give?

Of course the other side of “What did you get?” is “What did you give?”

If you would like to receive in a big way, then give in a big way!

We often tell people that you can’t give without receiving and you can’t receive without giving. Of course some people will hear that and spend their time trying to find some proof of times when this is not true. Instead I would suggest that you give and receive generously and graciously.

I live near the ocean. The waves come in and the waves go out. The tide comes in and the tide goes out.

There is a correlation between what you give and what you receive. If you are not getting what you want you might consider giving more. Give more effort, give more appreciation, give more intention, give more of your time, give more money, give more gifts, give more of yourself, give more laughter, give more joy.

Our job as coaches is to bring out the best in people to support them in being Extraordinary Leaders and to support them in living Extraordinary Lives. Life is short, and precious. We hope you get it and make the most of it.

By the way on day 2,062 of my gratitude habit Rose and I got a new daughter in law and a happily married son. On day 2,071 of my gratitude habit Rose and I got our first grandchild. Our baby girl and her husband had a baby girl.

Now after reading this, what did you get? What will you give? What intentions will you take to each thing you do today?


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. 15 – All About Membership

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It’s hard to separate effective communication from successful membership experiences. That truth is explored in both of our interviews this month – albeit in very different ways. First, we are joined by Amber Read, Assistant General Manager at the University Club of Chicago. Amber shares with us a pet project of hers: collecting pictures of interesting (and funny) signs in clubs. We explore what these signs mean from a communications perspective and laugh about some of the more ridiculous ones she’s seen. (A couple are below!)

sign 1

sign 2

sign 3  

sign 4

Then, we chatted with Kimberly Clark Warren, CCM, General Manager and Melissa Chuhran, Membership Director at Saucon Valley Country Club. Kimberly and Melissa detail Saucon Valley’s winning Idea Fair entry: New Member Follow-Up – a year-long process that creates multiple connection points between club staff and new members. And finally, don’t miss the important news and announcements from your CMAA team!

As always, you can find us on iTunes - please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!


Family – The Key to a Strong Foundation

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One of the concepts that I have shared several times over the years is the importance of building a strong personal foundation. Not unlike the architecture of a building, the architecture of a wonderful life and a wonderful career needs a strong and solid foundation. One of the ten elements of building a strong foundation is strengthening the family. In the challenging parts of life, it is so important to have a safety net in place to support you when or if you fall. Having a strong family behind you is one of the greatest safety nets of all.

We have coached many people who are in transition between jobs or are dealing with a personal tragedy. That is when they truly find out about the power of the family. In an industry where people can fall into the trap of giving their all at work instead of their best, it is easy to hold family as one of your key values and then find you don’t find the time or the effort to focus on your family relationships.

I am writing this early in the morning on Father’s Day. Maybe that is why I am inspired to write about this topic this month. It might also be because I have been asked to speak in early July. I am so grateful to get lots of requests to speak, but this one is special. In fact the month of July is special! On July 6, I get to speak at my son Nathan’s wedding. Just thinking about what I will get to say about this Extraordinary man and his soon-to-be wife Golya, inspires me. Rose and I recently celebrated 13,513 days of marriage and our 37th year of marriage on the same day. We have been blessed with three children who are each Extraordinary in their own unique and authentic ways.

On July 20, I am flying to Hanoi, Vietnam to visit Jenny and Jonathan and meet our first grandchild. We are officially getting two new members in our family next month.

No matter what happens in our careers and in our lives if we are lucky we have our families firmly with us and behind us.

I used the word families (plural) very intentionally.

If we are lucky, we have a strong wonderful family, if we are very lucky, we have strong wonderful families.

We have the family we were born into. Many have a family they have created through a marriage or a relationship. Some move away geographically and create a family of friends that they get to spend holidays and special days with. For many, the people they work with become like a family. I am in two Mastermind Groups that feel like chosen families.

How we define our families is not nearly as important as how we are in them.

Families can be complex. Families can be messy. Families can be imperfect. Families can be nurturing. Families can be the greatest gift you will ever receive. Families can be easy. Families can be hard. Families can and will be impacted by you.

When we take time to reflect on the families that we belong here are some questions we might ask ourselves.

What role do I play in my various families?

How am I doing in my role?

What do I need from my family?

What do members of my family need from me?

Who needs my time right now?

How do I honor my family?

How do I make my family seem unimportant?

What are my most cherished family memories?

What am I doing to create special moments?

The word create is an important one. We create families. We create the moments. We create the joy and the sorrow. We create the sharing of love! We create the magic or the poison.

Sometimes what we create is not truly intentional.

This is our great opportunity. We get to decide our intention for our families and for ourselves.

Our wish for you is that you create strong, powerful, happy families that augment your Extraordinary Life!


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. 14 – Building a Winning Team

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This month, we're talking about the many different elements necessary to build an effective, cohesive, winning club management team. We sat down with Joe Basso, MCM, CCE, CMAA Fellow, to discuss his Master Club Manager Monograph: Building Bridges: Working with the Golf Management Team - but the conversation transcended the golf team and we found some tenets that are applicable to the management team as a whole.

Then, we chatted with John Embree, CEO of the USPTA and learned a bit about the exciting changes happening with USPTA's certification process - and what the expanded education requirements will mean for clubs. Finally, we chatted with Paul Bovenzi of Myers Park Country Club about their Business Unit Review, a winning Idea Fair entry. It's a jam-packed episode you don't want to miss!

As always, 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. 13 – It’s Our Podcastaversary!

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We can't believe it's been one year of podcasting - thank you, listeners, for going on this journey with us! We’re looking forward to sharing more with you in the months to come.  

This month, we talk to CMAA National Director Mitchell Platt, MCM, CCE about his Master Club Manager Monograph: Executive Tenure: Developing A Model for Effective Leadership – a great conversation that touches on some of the important questions club management professionals should be asking themselves throughout their careers.  We also visited with Michael Nyerges of Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club to chat about his winning Idea Fair entry: Sign the Barrel, Roll the Dice, a unique and fun idea that brought life to the club’s cocktail menu.

As always, you can find us on iTunes - please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!



I Have a Dream!

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“I have a dream! It is not a big dream. It is just a little dream. My dream, and I hope you don’t think this is crazy, is that if there was a fire, the people of this town would actually call the fire department. The last thing you want is people of the town saying, ‘If you ever have a fire whatever you do, don’t call the fire department.’ That would be bad!

Now get this cleaned up and don’t make me have to explain it!”

These words are spoken by C.D. Bales, a fire chief played by Steve Martin in the comedy Roxanne. It begins with the power and inspiration of a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King. It is being delivered to what was at that moment a group of incompetent volunteer firefighters in the fire house where a fire was burning in a trash can inside the station.

This inspiring speech painted a picture which in the end culminated in the team actually putting out a fire in the town.

As coaches, Shelley MacDougall and I have the job of inspiring people to live their highest vision.

It is quite extraordinary to work with someone who has dared to dream, they have painted a clear, compelling picture of where they want to go, who they want to be, what they want to have or what they want to do. The clarity of the vision inspires, excites, and fuels them and they simply don’t possess any doubts about whether their dream will become a reality. It truly feels like there is as much joy for them in moving toward the goal as there is in achieving it. When they achieve it, there are either other dreams waiting to be realized or the time to dream some up. There is joy in the dreaming. There is joy in the journey. There is joy in the achievement. There is joy in waking up in the morning to receive the gift of living another day.

If you recognize yourself in this description, then please contact me. Let us help you live your highest vision.

After interviewing John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, about his vision for the 2010 Winter Olympics, we asked him if he thought if being visionary was something we were born with or something that we must develop. He thought about it for a moment and said that he believed that we are probably all born visionaries, but many are taught to let go of their gift.

Maybe they were taught by parents who told them to take their heads out of the clouds and quit dreaming. Maybe they were taught by teachers or an education system that gave them evidence that they didn’t measure up or were not worthy of lofty goals. Maybe they were told stories about people who had dreamed and failed. Maybe they were taught to fill their days with what everyone else told them they should do, that they had no time to dream about what they would like to do. Maybe they just never had anyone to encourage their ability to dream and develop their confidence with it.

Maybe it Happened to You!

Maybe it is time to reacquaint yourself with a gift that has been dormant for a while.

Take Some Time to Dream!

Think of all the things you schedule into your day, your week, your month, or your year. How much time do you schedule for dreaming? For many the quick answer is zero time. I am way too busy for that. If we are way too busy to think about what we want in our lives, design our lives the way we want to live it, create the things that inspire and excite us, then what are we too busy doing? If you don’t take time to dream, you will fall into the trap of living someone else’s dream. How much time would you like to devote to dreaming? How about 15 minutes? How about an hour? How about one day of dreaming? How about a dreaming weekend? How about a dream week? How about a block of time every month, week or day?

Where Will You Dream?

Get out! In the movie, Roxanne is upset with C.D. when she finds out that he has not been honest with her. They are on the veranda of her home and she tells him to “get out”. He says, “I am not getting out”. She says, “get out”! He says “I am already out, you get in.” My point is: get out. Don’t dream where you work, don’t dream in your normal environment, get out. When we take people out to dream, we do it by the beach, or on a mountain top, or on water, or by a waterfall or in an airplane or in a beautiful luxurious setting. The point is that changing your environment can change your dreaming.

Who Will You Dream With?

Of course, you can dream alone, but when you dream with others it can enhance and expand your dreaming, depending on who you choose to dream with. Try dreaming with your partner, or your coach, or your mastermind or people who share your passion. Don’t dream with people who want to limit your thinking or prove why whatever you are dreaming is wrong.

Understand the Power of your Dream!

Some people are oblivious to the fact they are even dreaming. It is possible to focus on the wrong things and be very successful on bringing them into reality. Some people spend their time dreaming about their fears and their failures and this focus supports them on getting more of the same. Maybe they schedule hours per day to focus on their negative dream and have no idea how successful they have been.

I Have a Dream!

I have a dream that you will dream! I have a dream that you will encourage your kids to dream! I have a dream that you will dream with your team! I have a dream that you will give your limiting beliefs some time off. I have a dream that you will contact us and let us dream with you!


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. 12 – Springtime and Safety

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April is here and with spring weather comes thoughts of days spent outside, by the pool. Consequently, that also means that pool and aquatic safety is also top of mind for many club management professionals. This month, Kyle and Melissa are joined by C.W. Cook, MCM, CCE as he discusses his MCM Monograph: Aquatic Risk Management and Best Practices for Clubs.

Alan Achatz, CCM, CHE also joins the podcast this month to further the safety conversation with his expertise.

As always, you can find us on iTunes - please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!

Kindness: Give Magic and Get Magic in Return

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Sometimes in life you may notice things if you are a noticer! Often, messages are put in front of us many times before we take note of them. I guess the opportunity is there for all of us is to pay attention to the messages that are being sent.

Recently, I have been observing a lot of examples of human kindness. Perhaps they are always around in abundance but for me, they have truly been front and center during the past few weeks. I have observed big acts of kindness and little acts of kindness. I have received some and I have delivered some and with each observation I have observed an increase of energy, happiness and recognition.

At a recent conference, a young man named Mike was asked by Shelley MacDougall to come up and tell a story that started with his confession that often he has been guilty of not paying attention. He said that when you have your headphones on and the people around you don’t seem important to you, it is possible to miss a lot. After hearing some speakers at the conference, he decided to go out and pay attention.

He decided to go to a nice restaurant for dinner and as he approached the restaurant a homeless man asked him if he could spare a quarter. I might add that this was in a northern Canadian city where the temperatures had been colder that minus 30 for 5 straight weeks. Mike told the man that he was worth a lot more than 25 cents. He asked him if he would consider having dinner with him. The man accepted but was reluctant when the restaurant would not let him bring the shopping cart with his worldly possessions in with him. When they agreed that they would keep an eye on it for him he felt comfortable in joining Mike for a meal. Mike asked him what he would like for dinner and he said a piece of garlic toast. The restaurant didn’t have that on the menu but gave him a hamburger bun with some butter with garlic in it. Mike observed that he ate the bun with more butter on it than he had ever seen someone eat. Although the man who Mike came to know as Jimmy thought that was dinner, Mike convinced him to have more. He had a salad, a steak, and some fries. When asked if he would like anything else Jimmy asked if he could have a glass of milk.

Mike spent an hour and a half with a man that was more than twice his age. He learned that the man learned to live on the streets and fend for himself when he was 12 years old. He got married and had a family, but he lost everything and was now a 62-year-old man who had been on the streets for 19 years. He confided in Mike that the meal he was just given was the first one he had in three days.

After dinner when Jimmy had his cart again, he asked Mike if he would like to see his home. Mike reported that Jimmy took to a place between two industrial trash containers – Jimmy’s place in the world.

Mike (who is 29 years old) finished his story by asking the people in the audience to focus on gratitude, humanness, and embracing the moment. The audience who was there to see Shelley speak gave Mike a standing ovation.

Maybe it was because he had done something that few would have the courage to do. Maybe it was because they were truly inspired by this act of kindness. Maybe it was because he made them all feel so grateful, in touch with the human condition and his ability to be in the moment.

Because of telling this story, Mike has been the recipient of kindness. People have given him kind words of appreciation. People have donated to Mike’s favorite charity. People have shared his story. He has an increased desire to show kindness and pay attention to the kindness he receives.

Someone introduced me to a show on Netflix called “The Kindness Diaries”. I have watched 6 episodes and I am enjoying the kindness journey around the world.

If you have ever heard me make a presentation you will know that I often talk about the power of our words. I reference Don Miguel Ruiz and the Four Agreements which suggests that our words can be magic or poison.

If we give poison, we tend to get poison in return. If we give magic we tend to get magic in return. If this is true with our words it is also true with our actions.

I don’t believe that Mike did this act of kindness to get something in return, but I am sure he would tell you that what he got back was ten times what he gave.

What would it be like if our clubs, our marriages, our families, our communities, and our society simply had an increase of paying attention and kindness?

KevinA good way to find out is to start, continue or expand the level of kindness that you deliver. When will you be able to deliver some kindness? How many acts of kindness will you deliver today?

It doesn’t have to be big. It could be a smile, a greeting or a thank you!

May you be the recipient and deliverer of great kindness!

Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. To connect with them please call toll free 1-866-822-3481 or e-mail Kevin@thecoachingdept.com or Shelley@thecoachingdept.com

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.