Surviving Vacation

Adapted from the Muse and Steve Errey

Coming back to the office after the winter holidays can seem like a nightmare. Here are some tips to keep your sanity:

  1. Clean Before You Go

Piles of folders, mail spilling out of your inbox, last week’s four used coffee cups, and who knows what in that bowl you forgot to wash. People think better in a clean space, so coming home to organization rather than chaos helps my thinking right from the off. Giving your workspace a once-over before you leave makes sure you can ease into a pleasant environment when you return.

  1. Remember Resistance is Futile

The worst thing you can do is to resist your circumstances when you return home. The only cage is the one you perceive in your head, and resisting, struggling, and fighting against where you are is only going to make you feel worse and make that feel more real. In fact, it’s only by engaging with your environment that you get to enjoy it. So when you find yourself resisting work, meetings, or even heading to the office in the morning, make a conscious choice to throw yourself back in the game.

  1. Find the Fun

Work, bills, squabbles, pressure, and routine. None of that sounds like a heap of fun, does it? There’s sometimes the sense that when you get home from vacation that the fun ends and you have to buckle back down to life and work. But to hell with that. Take a new class, get involved in a new project , make a new friend, head to a new spot on the weekend, laugh with your colleagues. Go where the fun is. It might even be better than your vacation.

  1. Keep in Touch

When you visit friends on vacation, everyone says that they’ll have to keep in touch and that they have to do it more often, but then life gets in the way and that intention fizzles out. But if you’ve been visiting with friends and had a ball, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to stay in touch. Before you leave, get a Skype call on the calendar for every couple of months to catch up, laugh, and swap stories. It’ll keep that sense of energy going.

  1. Change Things Up

Routine is familiar, safe, and comforting, but it’s also dull as dishwater sometimes. There might once have been good reason why you do things a certain way (the route you take to work, where you get lunch, who you talk with in the office, even how you get ready in the mornings), but that’s no reason why they have to stay that way. Take a new route to work, listen to an audiobook instead of the radio, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier to stretch or meditate, go talk with a colleague instead of emailing, or look for a new way to manage your to-do list. Changing things up is how you keep things fresh.

  1. Chuck it Out

I’ve emptied two chests of drawers, cleared out my desk, and binned most of the contents of my spare room since I got back home. All that stuff that’s accumulated over the last 15 years that I thought might come in handy one day? Gone.

There’s something liberating about chucking out old stuff that you’ll never need (and feel free to donate the good stuff or make a few extra bucks from eBay). It not only clears physical space that makes it easier to move and breathe, but getting rid of old baggage can free you up emotionally, too.

  1. Remember How You Were

You felt pretty good on vacation, right? At ease. Free. Like you could just be you. Perhaps you felt like things were flowing, like you were slap-bang in the middle of a moment, and that was all you needed. Maybe you felt like the person you’d love to be more often—peaceful, buzzing, or alive.

How you are on vacation is typically how you are when you’re at your best. You let go of all the stuff that doesn’t matter and just are. The good news is, you can do that whenever and wherever—it just takes a little letting go.

Share your tips to surviving life after vacation below.

Get the Answer You Want

A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful than an Email

By Vanessa K. Bohns

Imagine you need people to donate to a cause you care about. How do you get as many people as possible to donate? You could send an email to 200 of your friends, family members, and acquaintances.  Or you could ask a few of the people you encounter in a typical day—face-to-face—to donate. Which method would mobilize more people for your cause?

Despite the reach of email, asking in person is the significantly more effective approach; you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast. Still, most people tend to think the email ask will be more effective.

In research Mahdi Roghanizad of Western University and I conducted, recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, we have found that people tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication, and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication.

In one study, we had 45 participants ask 450 strangers (10 strangers each) to complete a brief survey. All participants made the exact same request following the exact same script; however, half of the participants made their requests over email, while the other half asked face-to-face.

We found that people were much more likely to agree to complete a survey when they were asked in-person as opposed to over email. These findings are consistent with previous research showing that people are more likely to comply with requests in person than over email.

However, prior to making their requests, we asked participants in each condition to predict how many of the 10 strangers they asked would agree to fill out the survey. Participants in the face-to-face condition guessed that on average 5 out of 10 people would agree.  Participants in the email condition guessed that on average 5.5 out of 10 people would agree.  This difference was not statistically significant; participants who made requests over email felt essentially just as confident about the effectiveness of their requests as those who made their requests face-to-face, even though face-to-face requests were 34 times more effective than emailed ones.

Why do people think of email as being equally effective when it is so clearly not? In our studies, participants were highly attuned to their own trustworthiness and the legitimacy of the action they were asking others to take when they sent their emails. Anchored on this information, they failed to anticipate what the recipients of their emails were likely to see: an untrustworthy email asking them to click on a suspicious link.

Indeed, when we replicated our results in a second study we found the nonverbal cues requesters conveyed during a face-to-face interaction made all the difference in how people viewed the legitimacy of their requests, but requesters were oblivious to this fact.

If your office runs on email and text-based communication, it’s worth considering whether you could be a more effective communicator by having conversations in person. It is often more convenient and comfortable to use text-based communication than to approach someone in-person, but if you overestimate the effectiveness of such media, you may regularly—and unknowingly—choose inferior means of influence.


Tips for Working from Home

By Jeff Haden – @jeff_haden

Tell people your schedule—and then “enforce” your schedule.

Interruptions are productivity killers, and when you work from home, your family and friends can be the most frequent sources of interruption. So be proactive. Share your schedule. Provide visual cues like shutting your door to let people know that you shouldn’t be interrupted.

Buy a great chair.

Working from home implicitly means you’re a knowledge worker. That means you spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer. So no matter what else you do, invest in the most comfortable and ergonomically-correct chair you can find. If you aren’t comfortable, you can’t stay focused and you can’t stay productive.

Ruthlessly set limits.

Generally speaking, we can focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes. After that, we need a break so we can recharge. Split your day into 90-minute windows. That way, you’ll be able to work much more efficiently.

Include breaks in your schedule.

Your calendar should include scheduled break periods. Otherwise, your day will get away from you, and so will your opportunities to recharge. Never forget that the best recovery is active recovery.

Turn off your notifications.

Turning off alerts on your computer and phone will greatly improve your ability to focus on projects. When you need to get something done, turn off anything that might interrupt you, and then when you’re done, pop your head back up and see what you might have missed.

Adopt a productivity system.

Maybe one of the things you like best about working from home is the lack of enforced structure. That’s great, but unless you create your own structure, you’ll fritter away much of your day bouncing from task to task and mistaking things that seem urgent for things that truly important. Create a system that will work for you.


De-clutter at least once a week.

Purge, purge, and purge some more. Your workspace needs to look productive in order to be productive.

Create a nighttime routine.

Make a list. Make a few notes. Review information. Prime yourself to hit the ground running the next day. Knocking out an important task first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Create a morning routine.

Don’t dawdle, don’t ease your way into your morning, and don’t make sure you get some “me” time. Get up, clean up, fuel up, and start rolling.

Create a happy shelf.

When you surround yourself with things that make you happy, you will do better work.

Make your home office your home court advantage.

See your ability to conveniently do what you need to do when you need to do it as your home court advantage: if you want, you can leverage the efficiency to be more responsible and flexible than anyone else, and that can be a significant competitive advantage.

Join the Conversation

Are you part of our LinkedIn group?  Then, where do you get intel on renewals, CE and CMCA exam?

To join the CMCA group on LinkedIn, you must first log in to your LinkedIn account. Then visit the group’s page at and click the “Ask to Join” button. Your request will be reviewed within 24 hours and you will then receive a notification regarding the status of your request.

Join the conversation!

LinkedIn facts

Embrace The “Right Kind of Crazy”

Tim EberExcerpts from #TECH17: Embrace Curiosity-Based Decision Making from Associations Now, a publication of the American Society for Association Executives. Read full article.

ASAE’s Technology Conference & Expo kicked off on Tuesday with NASA’s Adam Steltzner, who says you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to dream big and unlock what seems impossible.

Steltzner worked with a team of more than 3,100 NASA astronauts, scientists, and engineers to spearhead a Mars rover landing in 2012, and soon he’ll lead on another mission—the Mars 2020 Rover—to gather rocks from a planet more than 300 million miles away.

As a leader, you need to check your ego. Because being right is not nearly as important as finding right.

His first space mission was long in coming: It took almost a decade of trial and error to successfully land a rover named Curiosity on the surface of the Red Planet. It was a shared experience that led to plenty of cheers and tears in Houston.

“Personally, I learned a lesson about brainstorming, collaboration, and teamwork,” Steltzner told attendees in a keynote session opening the 2017 ASAE Technology Conference & Expo in National Harbor, Maryland, Tuesday morning. “At the [NASA] Jet Propulsion Laboratory [JPL], within our corporate culture, we do a very good job with a very simple thing that is tremendously powerful. It is, quite simply, separating ideas from the people that hold them.”

It may not be rocket science, but leaders can learn from NASA about how to use teamwork and curiosity-based decision making to spark innovation.

Embrace the “Right Kind of Crazy”conference-800x480

“There’s no such thing as a bad idea,” Steltzner said. That style of thinking also serves as the basis for his book, The Right Kind of Crazy, which shares stories of teamwork and leadership that delivered high-stakes innovation.

A truly innovative organization, Steltzner said, embraces big or crazy ideas, so long as they’ve been put to the test. Steltzner starts by convening his entire team for an open and judgment-free brainstorming session. Everyone’s thinking—good or bad—is captured by a neutral facilitator.

From there, team leaders develop a taxonomy structure that organizes and maps ideas based on their connections. This process may reveal that several ideas are related or that one is an outlier. Only then can a question-and-answer discovery phase sort out good ideas from bad ones.

“You play the strengths and weaknesses of those answers against each other until you reach a decision point,” Steltzner said. “As a leader, you need to check your ego. Because being right is not nearly as important as finding right.”

Take a Team Approach

Curiosity-based decision making is grounded in mutual respect, and teamwork goes a long way toward establishing it, Steltzner said. He recommends that colleagues take time for “fellowship moments” because they enhance workplace culture.

“I look for something to love in my colleagues, and frankly I want to have a good time at work,” he says. “We accomplished one of the greatest challenges in aerospace engineering in the last 40 years, and we did it having a blast.”

Something as simple as a regular team lunch can encourage collaboration and give staff a chance to socialize about something other than the project at hand.

But there’s a role for introspection as well. Leaders need to get to know themselves better and learn to love their vulnerabilities, Steltzer said. Often, the biggest inhibitor to curiosity is not someone else, but your own fears.

“When I allowed myself to follow my curiosity, it changed the course of my life,” he said. “If I can stay in touch with my own curiosity and encourage teammates and colleagues, the solutions that we get are more profound and capable and may change the course of history.”

Written by Tim Eber, senior editor, Associations Now.

CAMICB Updates CMCA Exam Blueprint

Sara Duginske, M.S., Director, Credentialing Services, Community Association Mangers International Certification Board (CAMICB).

The field of community association management is growing and evolving. The knowledge and skills needed by successful managers today reflect changes in technology, regulatory and governance issues, and principles of effective management.

CAMICB conducted a job analysis study in 2016/2017 to examine the current state of community association management and update the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) exam. The job analysis was conducted with the help of CAMICB’s Exam Development Committee and more than 1,600 practitioners across the globe. This type of study is carried out at regular intervals, roughly every three to five years, to ensure the CMCA exam continues to evaluate the knowledge necessary for competent performance as a community association manager.
Job analysis is the cornerstone of a strong exam development process. The core component of this study is a survey distributed to practitioners in the field working in a wide range of professional situations. Survey respondents provide their professional expertise to identify job tasks and knowledge that are critical for successfully executing the responsibilities of a professional community association manager.  Survey data are used to inform changes to the exam content blueprint which specifies the portion of the exam that is allocated for each primary topic area. In this manner, the job analysis study ensures the exam measures topics and concepts that are relevant to the profession as it exists today.
A new CMCA examination blueprint has been developed based on the results of the 2016/2017 job analysis study, and new forms of the CMCA exam, built against the new blueprint, will be launched on January 1, 2018.
We want to emphasize that the changes made to the examination blueprint are limited and the core knowledge areas remain the same. A candidate preparing for the current CMCA is not likely to feel unprepared sitting for the new exam. However, the CMCA Candidate Handbook and the CMCA Study Guide have been updated to reflect the revised CMCA examination blueprint. The current Handbook and Study Guide – valid through December 31, 2017 – will remain on the website through the end of December. The updated Study Guide and Candidate Handbook are also now available with a January 1 effective date. After December 31, only the updated Study Guide and Candidate Handbook will be available.
If you are planning on testing before December 31, 2017, please refer only to the current 2017 Candidate Handbook and 2017 Study Guide. If you plan to test after December 31, 2017, please utilize only the updated publications: 2018 Candidate Handbook and 2018 Study Guide. Questions regarding the launch of updated forms of the CMCA examination may be forwarded to  

Why Hiring the Wrong Employee Is One Expensive Mistake

From Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Professionals, written by Ernie Smith.

A recent survey from CareerBuilder suggests that it can cost employers thousands of dollars to make up for an employee who isn’t a good fit. Observers suggest that the problem might be with the person doing the hiring as much as the employee.

We all want to make sure we hire the right person, but sometimes that doesn’t happen—the person isn’t a fit for the role or doesn’t grasp the organization’s needs.

And when an organization gets that wrong, it can get costly—very costly. One recent survey from CareerBuilder put the cost of making a single wrong hire at $14,900 in the past year, a situation that roughly three-in-four employers have dealt with in the past.

The survey, conducted online by the pollsters at Harris, noted that many respondents felt that bad hires had affected productivity (37 percent), cost the employer precious time (32 percent), and hurt the quality of the organization’s work (31 percent).

The report noted that the most likely factors behind the failure of an employee included poor work quality (54 percent), poor attitude (53 percent), work conflicts (50 percent), and attendance problems (46 percent).

Most interestingly, skills deficiencies were a major factor in many cases: In cases when a company made a bad hire, the employee didn’t have the necessary skills (35 percent), or lied about their qualifications (33 percent). And when a worker’s skill didn’t match their claimed abilities, as was the case 45 percent of the time, it often was seen as a sign of a poor hire.

So what’s the reason for bringing on a bad hire? Often, it may lie not with the employee, but the manager, who may not have the right skills for interviewing a potential hire. Arte Nathan, a human resources advisor and founder of The Arte of Motivation, recently told the Society for Human Resource Management that it’s important to consider a person’s interviewing and hiring skills.

“Instead of blaming the person who was hired, we need to blame those who are doing the hiring,” he told SHRM. “There is an assumption that because someone is a manager, they know how to interview and hire the right person for the job. Hiring managers need to know what they are looking for [and] how to ask the right questions, discern candidate responses, and get the right person for the job.”

The recruiting firm Robert Half likewise made the case that it’s easier to hire correctly the first time around, rather than trying to fix an on-staff problem. The firm estimates that it takes 17 weeks to resolve a bad hiring decision, including nearly nine weeks to let the person go.

“The wisest hiring managers put in the time and effort on the front end to make sure they have the best available pool of applicants for every job opening,” the company explained in a blog post earlier this year. “And determine whether they have good procedures in place for evaluating candidates.”

Of course, things could always be worse: You could be replacing someone who you actually want to keep. That, according to the CareerBuilder survey, comes at a cost of $29,600 per employee this year.


“‘Enlightened’ dictators have a funny way of becoming unenlightened.”

Excerpts from Does a Great Leader Have to Be an Authoritarian?, written by Mark Athitakis for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

The best leaders are compassionate and accommodating, research shows: According to a recent survey by the consulting firm Optimum Advisors, employees value supportive leaders who invest in their development and give them autonomy.

But wait, hold on. The best leaders are actually also no-nonsense hard-liners, research shows: According to a recent survey spearheaded by leadership consultant Rajeev Peshawaria, the “overwhelming majority” of leaders around the world say that firm top-down leadership is essential for an organization’s success.

How to square this circle? I could point out, for starters, that the first study comes at the matter from the employee’s perspective and that the second study focuses on the executive’s. But that doesn’t negate the concern that there’s a gap between what leaders and employees want out of workers. I might also try to swirl the two trend lines together and suggest that what works best is a kind of compassionate dictatorship. That’s something Duke University business scholar Vivek Wadhwa argued in Quartz last year, citing the familiar examples of Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, and so on.

It may help, by way of proposing a partial solution to this conundrum, to get away from the word “dictator.” Or, at least, look at more virtuous terms associated with it—certitude, confidence, strength.

Strength, then, means having a clear sense of what it is you want to get out of your employees, and the capacity to convey it to them. Because employees have a good sense of what they want for themselves … and compensation is not the only thing that’s going to motivate potential hires.

According to the Optimum Advisors study, 37 percent of respondents said “their best bosses actively helped them develop in their careers, encouraged them to take on new challenges, mentored them, and taught them new skills.” And it’s easier to do that when those employees are the ones you know are receptive to being challenged.

Which is to say that while you can be a hard-liner about the goals and directions of an organization, being a human leader means allowing others to interpret those values.

In other words, authority is welcome. But you don’t have to be an authoritarian about it.

You Managing a Senior Community?

Great information for CMCAs managing an age-restricted community to share with your homeowners. Disaster Preparation For Seniors By Seniors is produced by American Red Cross.

Three Steps to Preparedness

  1. Get a Kit

Disasters can happen at any moment. By planning ahead you can avoid waiting in long lines for critical supplies, such as food, water and medicine and you will also have essential items if you need to evacuate.

  • For your safety and comfort, have a disaster supplies kit packed and ready in one place before a disaster hits.
  • Assemble enough supplies to last for at least three days.
  • Store your supplies in one or more easy-to-carry containers, such as a backpack or duffel bag.
  • You may want to consider storing supplies in a container that has wheels.
  • Be sure your bag has an ID tag.
  • Label any equipment, such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers, that you would need with your name, address and phone numbers.
  • Keeping your kit up-to-date is also important. Review the contents at least every six months or as your needs change. Check expiration dates and shift your stored supplies into everyday use before they expire. Replace food, water and batteries, and refresh medications and other perishable items with “first in, first out” practices.

2. Make a Plan

The next time a disaster strikes, you may not have much time to act. Planning ahead reduces anxiety. Prepare now for a sudden emergency and remember to review your plan regularly. Meet With Your Family and Friends Explain your concerns to your family and others in your support network and work with them as a team to prepare. Arrange for someone to check on you at the time of a disaster. Be sure to include any caregivers in your meeting and planning efforts. Assess yourself and your household. What personal abilities and limitations may affect your response to a disaster? Think about how you can resolve these or other questions and discuss them with your family and friends. Details are important to ensure your plan fits your needs. Then, practice the planned actions to make sure everything “works.”

3. Be Informed

Community Hazard Assessment What hazards threaten your community and neighborhood? Make a list of how they might affect you. Think about both natural (e.g., hurricanes, flooding, winter storms and earthquakes) and human-caused (e.g., hazardous materials and transportation accidents) and about your risk from those hazards.

Preparing for a hazard that is most likely to happen in your area will help you be prepared for any disaster. Remember, disasters can happen at any time.

The Greater Rochester Chapter of the American Red Cross developed this information.

Transparency Trend Reaches HOAs

A Must-Have for HOA Homeowners and Managers: A Fair, Unbiased Records Disclosure Policy.

Written by Marianne Schaefer for Read full article here.

Nov. 16, 2017

The trend toward greater transparency in cooperatives, condominiums and Homeowner Associations (HOA) continues its relentless march. On October 23, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new law amending the state’s Not-For-Profit Corporation Law. This new amendment expands the rights of homeowners in HOAs to inspect the association’s invoices, ledgers, bank accounts, reconciliations, contracts, and any documents related to the expenditure of HOA dues.

“Generally speaking I see a trend to more and more transparency and a full disclosure of just about all documents,” says attorney Marc Schneider, a managing partner at Schneider Buchel. “I was very surprised that the legislature did not simultaneously amend the Business Corporation Law, which covers co-ops. But I think that, too, will come.”

[R]ecent court decisions have granted co-op shareholders and condo unit-owners greater access to documents. And the new law on HOA documents follows a recently enacted law requiring co-op and condo boards to prepare annual reports on all awarded contracts, plus any financial stake a director had in those contracts. Even if there was no conflict of interest, boards must prepare and distribute an annual report of all contracts.

“I think this is all going a bit too far,” Schneider says of the new HOA law. “It opens up the door for unnecessary scrutiny. The people who want access to these documents might have good intentions and want to help. But anybody who is looking at these documents will come up with their own interpretations….”

Cynthia Lovecchio, board president at The Legend Yacht & Beach Club (LYBC), a 47-unit HOA in Glen Cove, Long Island, is not worried about the current trend in laws and court decisions. “Even though I haven’t read the legislation, I’m a big advocate for transparency,” Lovecchio says.

Alvin Wasserman, director of asset management at Fairfield Properties, which manages LYBC, says, “I think increased transparency will take some of the mystery out of how boards conduct business.”

Schneider emphasizes that “review” does not mean a homeowner has the right to copy documents or take them out of the office. “The law says ‘review,’ which by definition means examine and not copy,” he says. “At best, the homeowner is allowed to take handwritten notes. This will protect boards somewhat from the improper dissemination of the information.”  He advises having someone present during document inspections to make sure no electronic devices are used.  Non-disclosure agreements are not required under the new law. The law does require that the requesting member must have been a homeowner of record for at least six months immediately preceding the inspection request.

Will the new law be a burden to boards and their management companies? Wasserman doesn’t think so. “As for extra work,” he says, “all boards have to do is post their monthly financial reports on the password-protected HOA website.”