Category Archives: Certified Association Executive

Excerpt from Diversity & Inclusion: The Big Six Formula For Success

Recently, a Latino media executive was driving down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. He noticed an enormous new billboard for a Fortune 500 company that advertised children’s clothing. The artwork featured two adorable white babies dressed in white outfits lolling on a white blanket, with white letters above them shaped like white clouds. It was a beautiful billboard. But it struck him as odd, given the demographics of the town over which it towered.

The executive immediately put in a call to Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, a renowned expert on Los Angeles’ population as the Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA’s School of Medicine. Dr. Hayes-Bautista confirmed what the executive suspected: the percentage of babies born in L.A. in 2012—the billboard’s target “customer”—was 17% white, 62% Latino, and 21% Asian or African-African.

Yes: 83% of L.A.’s babies were not white. So why was this big, pretty ad on Sunset Boulevard so…white!!? Did only white people drive down this strip of roadway, perhaps? The executive set out to do a personal test the next day, amusing himself by returning to the billboard location by taking side streets that had only Spanish surnames – La Jolla, San Vicente, Santa Monica – which is to say, most any street in L.A. He sat with pen and paper in hand for 20 minutes, and marked the demographics of each car that passed beneath the billboard.

Out of the 1,000 cars that he polled, 750 of the drivers were not white. This inspired the executive to dig down a bit deeper into the billboard’s Fortune 500 firm with such a diversity-oblivious ad. A Google search for the corporate name and “images” also brought up a field of white babies, each beautiful, each wearing the company’s adorable clothes, and almost each one of the models being white. He did find a few Asian and African American babies mixed in, but, 13 actually, not a single cute little Latino baby in the bunch.

Como es posible? he wondered. (Or, translated for the language impaired: “How is this possible?”) It is easy to find cute Latino babies in Los Angeles. And the language couldn’t be a barrier to putting them in this ad. So why did a big company decide to target only 17% of the population with its key images and marketing spend? How could they expect to remain an important brand to America’s children, either now or when those kids became parents??

Hadn’t this company noticed the very recent success of the Walt Disney Company, the biggest brand in entertainment, when it recently aired its first-ever movie with a Latina princess, Sofia the First, and watched it become the highest rated cable television program for children age 2-5 in the history of cable television?!

After his experiment and analysis, this executive went on to dream about putting up a new, competing billboard on Sunset Strip. One that was populated with babies of all races and ethnicities, along with the slogan, “Love ALL Your Customers At First Sight.”

Read more in the book Diversity & Inclusion: Big Six Formula for Success! Available at

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February 7, 2014 · 2:49 AM

CAE Exam: Strategies for Study & Success (Coming Soon)

There are over 90,000 trade, membership, and professional associations in the United States, and more than 1 million charitable or philanthropic organizations, each managed by association executives and professionals that are dedicated to the mission, services, and social good provided by each institution. Perhaps you are one of these executives, or are considering a career in this important field. You may be surprised to learn that there are, in fact, only 3,000 Certified Association Executives, a mere 2% of all professionals managing associations and non-profit organizations. The CAE certificate is one of the most selective and unique credentials in business today.

I had been an executive with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for 18 years when I undertook my preparation for the CAE certification. My ambition was not just the prestige and distinction of the credential. Nor the fact this it would support my transition to head of diversity and inclusion at the USTA. Primarily, I sought the recognition of my skills, experience, and capabilities as a senior association executive, and a confirmation of my understanding of the best practices for managing an organization at a top level.

My process of preparing for the CAE examination and for meeting the application requirements was somewhat self-taught. I did participate in one of the American Society for Association Executives’ immersion study courses that are held twice each year in Washington, D.C., and found it to be helpful. But, I recognized that a great deal of additional information could serve the community of executives that aspire to take this exam every year. And that not all qualified applicants could travel and stay in Washington, D.C. for three days in order to prepare in that fashion.

My new book is designed to do three things. First, it seeks to explain the CAE certification and its many benefits, in the hopes that you will join me in preparing for and attaining this credential. Second, it will provide a step-by-step process for preparing for the CAE examination, strategically and comprehensively. Third, it sets out to explain how to ready yourself for the test itself, and to offer specific recommendations and solid tactics for approaching it, so that you achieve your objective and complete it, successfully and with ease.

In the coming days, the book will be available via the following eBook Retailers: Apple iBookstore (for iPad), Amazon (for Kindle), Barnes & Noble (for NOOK), Reader Store (for Sony Reader), Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, eBookPie, eSentral, and Scribd, etc.

I hope that you consider supporting the effort.


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Filed under Association Management, Business, Certified Association Executive, Education, Leadership, Life-long Learning, Management, Success Tips

New Book – Coming Soon…


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Filed under Association Management, Business, Certified Association Executive, Education, Leadership, Management, Success Tips

Why Volunteer?

Volunteering your time to a cause can be very impactful. It is often said that volunteering your time is more powerful than money. Why? Because, you can always make more money, but you can never get your time back.

People volunteer for many reasons. Examples for donating your time are as follows:

1. You believe in the organization‘s mission and cause;
2. You want to make a difference;
3. You want to gain experience and learn new skills;
4. You want to make new contacts and expand your network;
5. You want to get a job within the organization.
6. You want to gain the organization as a client for your product or service.

In my view, reasons for volunteering #1 and #2 must be primary. In the past, I have volunteered for reasons #1 – #4. I have never volunteered for reasons #5 and/or #6. However, if you volunteer for the right reasons (#1 and #2), and you are presented with opportunity to work with/for the organization (#5 and/or #6), then I believe that it is fine to take advantage of the opportunity.

Happy volunteering!

D.A. Abrams, CAE

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Filed under Business, Certified Association Executive, Education, Leadership, Life-long Learning, Management, Volunteering

Begin With the End in Mind

Beginning with the end in mind seems obvious, but is not always a strategy or tactic that is employed.

This is something that I highly recommend for those wishing to reach their destination utilizing the most direct route and arriving in the least amount of time.

Therefore, simply determine where you want to go (i.e., your desired outcome) before you begin working on your next project. Implementing this strategy is a very productive way to make things happen for yourself.

All the best,

D.A. Abrams, CAE

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In Pursuit of Excellence…

As indicated in my introduction blog, I have a deep passion for the field of Association Management. I have worked in the non profit arena for more than 16 years, but as a life long learner, I believe that there is still so much more knowledge to be gained. Specifically, I want to learn as much about my field of choice, as possible.

As a result, last year I set out to become a Certified Association Executive (CAE). The CAE is the highest professional credential in the association industry. The ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership states that less than five (5%) of all association professionals have earned the CAE. Hence, this is a big deal.

To be designated as a CAE, an applicant must have a minimum of 100 hours of specialized professional development, pass a stringent exam in association management, and pledge to uphold a code of ethics. More than 3,600 association professionals currently hold the CAE credential. 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the CAE program.

Outlined below are select resources that I utilized to prepare for the CAE Exam:

1. Categories
a. Associations to Join
b. Core Competencies
c. Conferences & Workshops
d. Books Read
2. Associations to Join
a. ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership –
3. Core Competencies – Domains Studied
a. Strategic Management
b. Planning and Research
c. Leadership
d. Administration
e. Knowledge Management
f. Governance and Structure
g. Public Policy and Government & External Relations
h. Membership
i. Programs, Products and Services
j. Public Relations and External Communications
4. Conferences & Workshops
a. ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership – 2010 Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, August 21-24
b. Many Non Profit related Workshops offered by the United Way of Westchester and Putnam – White Plains, NY
c. Non Profit Leadership Summit – Tarrytown, NY
5. Books Read
a. Cox, John B., ed. Professional Practices in Association. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Society of Association Executives, 2007.
b. Emstthal, Henry L. Principles of Association Management. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Society of Association Executives, 2001.
c. Tecker, Glenn H., Kermit M. Eide, and Jean S. Frankel. Building a Knowledge-Based Culture. Washington, DC: American Society of Association Executives, 1997.

If you are considering a career in association management, or simply in further developing your personal pathway to professionalism, preparing for the CAE Exam is an excellent tactic. There are many valuable benefits from joining the 3,600+ CAE’s, such as:

• More knowledge and professional opportunities: 70% of CAE test takers report enhanced knowledge, and improved advancement opportunities.
• Widespread value and recognition: particularity among your board members, committee chairs, partners, supporters, members, and those involved in hiring nonprofit professionals.
• Opened doors and new connections: through a wide range of CAE-only events and increased volunteer leadership opportunities through ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership and local, state, and regional association professional societies.

I hope that this post has sparked your interest in becoming a CAE, or a least provided you with an explanation as to why I am so proud to have achieved the designation.


Filed under Association Management, Certified Association Executive, Leadership, Management