The unique ways in which associations can bring people together and help them practice and develop interpersonal skills
How education is changing to better suit the needs of multi-generational learners
Where competition is coming from and how associations can both learn from competitors and set themselves apart
How prepared associations are (or aren’t) to embrace change
The importance of listening to and learning from all members, including younger ones
Why we need to move away from one-size-fits-all approaches to education
How and why associations are reimagining the work they do and evolving what learning looks like
Mark Jones, CAE (00:00):
Welcome to Learning by Association, a podcast that’s all about helping associations stay a step ahead with learning, brought to you by D2L. Every two weeks, me and our guests will dive into the role that learning plays in driving associations forward, and how it impacts every part of the organization—from recruitment, engagement and retention to membership models, business strategy and more. Get ready to learn together because this is Learning by Association.
Mark Jones, CAE (00:28):
Welcome to Learning by Association, our podcast. I’m Mark Jones, your host, and I lead our association strategy at D2L. Our guest today is Artesha Moore, the CEO of Association Forum. Artesha, I’m so glad to have you here today. Excited about the opportunities to talk about our membership, our associations, and how we’re going to advance the profession of learning in our association profession.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (00:56):
I’m really excited to be here as well, especially for this conversation, and to share what I’ve been doing for 25 years in associations, but also learn from you and your customer base.
Mark Jones, CAE (01:07):
There are so many things I think about when we talk about associations and really trying to prepare our members for learning of the future. Everything that we look at today, there’s a lot of opportunities and a lot of challenges that we face. And so as we go through, really I want to get your ideas and insights on where we are in advancing education and learning for our members.
As I look at it, I think of many things, as I’ve been in the association world—CAE as you are—for over 20 years. I think about where are we trying to go with education? We’ve been very heavy into delivery by our conferences, our events, and over the last number of years, webinars. And we start looking at education and where we’re taking it—looking at mastery, competency, outcome based. How do we use education as a catalyst for growing our membership, recruitment and retention? How do we elevate education in a blended model? These are the things we want to talk about today, so looking for your insights. Give me an idea where we’re going, where we are.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (02:22):
I think we’re in this beautiful part of the twilight zone—a little bit of thinking about both new age and old school at the same time. What associations do beautifully is bring people together, and something that I’ve coined is relationship learning. Education brings awareness through structured, cognitive designed learning. Associations fit in this beautiful place of experiential. When you think of things like interpersonal skills that you need, and really those future-of-work skills, when you think about that, where do you actually practice that? Because in some aspects, you don’t practice it at work. And you learn about it in university, but when you go into associations, you have an opportunity through volunteerism to be able to practice interpersonal skills, practice cognitive thinking skills, in a way that helps enhance that learning.
I think for us in associations, though, we really need to step back and start to think about things that we don’t do very well from the standpoint of designing content. Being able to really figure out how to design it in a way that takes all of the things that education is doing and re-imagining it to enhance what we’re doing. I think that there’s a lot of opportunity for us. This is my second group that I’m with that’s over a hundred years old. And when I think about how many structures that need to be unlearned, relearned and re-imagined, it’s infinite almost. We’re in this beautiful part, and that’s why I said the twilight zone, it’s one of my favorite shows. We’re in this beautiful part right now where we can rethink and reimagine. It’s scary because of the economy. It’s scary because of that sense of urgency, but there’s lots of opportunity.
Mark Jones, CAE (04:12):
When we think about education traditionally, again being back in that face-to-face, that conference. We have a different mentality. Younger generations are coming in, and the associations were struggling to sometimes find relevance, find a way to engage them, to make it experiential, to make an impact. Guide us down that road. What are you seeing through all the associations that you represent at Association Forum, and your time in the industry, tell us some stories about that.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (04:42):
Yeah, it’s interesting because we have five generations in the workforce right now, and trying to serve the needs of five generations in the workforce is really difficult. Especially when you think of motivations, how they learn, what they value. And bringing together an event, a conference, a learning path for one size fits all, that’s what we’re used to. Here’s our conference. We’re going to use this model, call for abstracts, we use the same thing. Right now, we’re dealing with—and beautifully—a lot of different learning modalities coming into our space. Associations had a lock on professional development for many decades, and then it wasn’t a slow, gradual, it was like a boom when LinkedIn started about 20 plus years ago, and then 10 years ago when they bought Linda.com. Now, they do professional development at a way discounted rate.
As we start to look at who our competitors are, what we’re trying to do, how we’re doing it, I think that there’s a lot of opportunity to leverage what is already out there so that we don’t have to recreate the wheel. We spent many decades recreating the wheel. We’re going to do what D2L does in our association for us, and we’re going to build it. It took so long to get it out of committee to market, by the time it was out there it wasn’t relevant, didn’t have the things. Now we have to step back and say, what is our role in associations? How do we steward five different generations, as well as prepare them for the future, and partner so that we don’t drain our resources?
Mark Jones, CAE (06:30):
When you talk about competition, what do you see as our competition today? You talk about LinkedIn learning. We look at corporate America. We also look at higher education, and not necessarily from the undergraduate and postgraduate, but the leadership development, the corporate development that they’re working on in trying to move organizations, helping them in their learning process, where they’re using some of that skill. We have a lot of unbiased access to the best resources in the world in the association. When we start thinking about partnering maybe in higher ed and corporate, how do we navigate that?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (07:18):
Quickly, we’ve got to navigate it quickly. Because our competitors aren’t just institution, companies, they’re people. During the pandemic, there was this wonderful young lady, and I took a course from her. And it was interesting to me because she was the chief marketing officer from Netflix. That wasn’t what the course was about. It was about female empowerment. I was interested not about the empowerment, yes, about the mode of learning. It went out on Instagram. She had her own registration site, it was a hundred dollars each for seven courses. She did it from her backyard. She had 5,000 people.
Mark Jones, CAE (08:08):
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (08:09):
Wow. That’s a competitor that we didn’t see coming. And it was about female empowerment, leadership development, those particular things. That is what we’re dealing with right now. So when everyone thinks about the LinkedIn Learnings or the other kind of pieces, I’m thinking about Patreon, and being able to be a thought leader, and now putting up a storefront, and people signing up, and using my podcast to be able to drive more content. People are learning, having community and connecting.
When I say quickly, it’s because if we are going to have value, we have to play in this beautiful world of content-enriched people, where I can learn anything. I was just telling you all before we got on about how I learned how to do my hair during the pandemic. That was really an interesting thing because that cost hundreds of dollars. I’ve been doing it now for three years. I could even go into business for my own self. How do we now look at our industry where we were professional development, networking, community, membership, practice guidance and research, in a way that says they’re also doing it, sometimes they can do it better, but here’s what we do well? And all of us need to be at the table: academia, industry, the disruptors, associations.
Mark Jones, CAE (09:37):
I love the way that you’re thinking about the partnership there. Because when I look at just the association side of where we are in development from a staffing standpoint, we’re seeing staffing challenges, as everybody is, but definitely in the areas. And the question that I would throw out there is when we look at our CEOs and our other executives who will be listening in on this, do we have the right staffing today? Do we have the right mindset not only to partner, are our boards there to help support and be educated enough, and do we have the right staffing to take us into modern day learning? To make it experiential, to measure that outcome, to measure what’s happening with those members through the journey of their career and the journey of their learning?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (10:32):
Mark, that’s the question right there.
Mark Jones, CAE (10:36):
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (10:36):
That’s it right there. Okay, so I’m saying… that’s the mic drop. Yes and no. I’m going to be really, really honest. Yes and no. So the reason why I say yes and no, yes, but you need to re-skill them, retrain them. We also need to stop, I think, designing so many tasks, and really step back to understand why the work first. Not why we are working, why the work? A lot of associations continue to do the things of old. I told somebody recently that our structures were built during the Industrial Revolution. I am not that old, but I will say that I’ve been dealing with tech strategy for associations for 15 years. The thinking is that old. Because the boards come in and they will bring what they did that worked successfully in ‘95, to the boardroom right now. How can we evolve? Where do we go? What happens?
The other thing is it costs money to re-skill. It does, but that investment pays off. They’re not going to stay with us. We’re a transient industry. They come in, they leave, they come out, come back to work at associations, they go out to do industry, so we need to be comfortable with that. Boards don’t want to do that. Both internally for our industry associations, other industries, well, if we invest in them and they leave, then we’ve lost this. No. Because we make it attractive for somebody else to want to come. You know what I got working at an association? These skills at such and such.
Mark Jones, CAE (12:25):
And you’ve advanced the profession, right?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (12:26):
There it is. There it is. I do think we do have some. There are some folks, and I came from Washington DC, and so we used to laugh and say that this isn’t the federal government. Meaning the old school, you can get a good government job and work there for 35 years, and just keep pushing it on. There’s a lot of associations that also have that. If they can’t be re-skilled, then it may be time to sunset those roles, so that they can open up some time and space to do something that does help their profession. That’s why I say the work, because we are not going to be able to bring everybody in.
Mark Jones, CAE (13:07):
Right, right. And a lot of board governance to think about around that area. When we think about upskilling, re-skilling, bringing a new generation into the workforce, what is that going to look like? What are you seeing… you mentioned something in one of our other conversations, about somebody like myself or you finding a mentor that’s 25 years younger than you are, or younger in some form or fashion, that’s in that youngest generation that’s coming out. What does that look like today? How will that help us maybe bridge the gap, to think about how we can offer the most experiential learning, education, social learning, ability to really collaborate together? Where they find value, this younger generation finds value in what we do, in addition to the networking and other areas that we focused on for so many years.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (14:10):
It’s interesting, because when I went in to start, I have two younger mentors. And in my relationships with them, in the beginning I was trying to tap into what do I need to know about you so that I can build this thing? Whatever it was. What I quickly found out is that I don’t know anything. I don’t know anything. I don’t have children, number one. And that’s important, because I’m not around young people very often, unless I have to be intentionally, my nieces and nephews, they tell me some things. “Yes, Auntie, that’s not cool,” this and that.
Having someone younger than you mentor you, that isn’t on your staff, let me just say that to the other CEOs like myself, that is not on your team, they are going to tell you things because they need to pay their rent. That’s the reality. These other people, they don’t need anything from me. Anything. They do ask for some advice, but sometimes I find myself trying to groom them in the way that I was groomed. This is how you do this. This is how you do that. So I stopped with trying to ask how to build something for you. Instead, I ask, what don’t I know? And they tell me a lot of things. What do you like? One thing I found out is that every generation of young people, we were the same, loves new stuff and retro. All of us. They also like retro, it’s just different than what we thought. Because they came up in a world that’s digitally native. They came up in a Netflix world.
Mark Jones, CAE (15:45):
Yeah. Access to information anywhere, anytime, and see anybody anytime, and talk to anybody at anytime and anywhere.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (15:52):
Exactly. But they’re hungry for things that are nostalgic, that are real, authentically valuable. They really are aligned with things that when I went to business school, we were not. “I need to win big, make a lot of money, be a capitalist, be an American,” that bravado. They don’t give a dag gone about none of that. None of that.
Mark Jones, CAE (16:14):
What does that look like today?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (16:15):
What does that look like to the world? Not to them, to the world? What does that look to inclusion? What does that look like to empowerment to all? Those are things that I did not talk about at 27. I didn’t know about empowerment to all. What is that? So now I’m listening, and I’m thinking, huh. We just recently had Association Forum last year. My board changed who they went after for the board service. And I asked a question before we went into the process, how would they compete with me? Because we need to be clear, if we get them to apply, that we’re not going to use criterion that then would… I’m a fellow, I’ve been doing this for 25 years, whatever a thought leader is. My CV is stacked. How does a manager, a membership manager who loves our profession, who’s out here doing some innovative things and wants to serve on our board, that we want them to, will they make it? And if not, we need to go back and change the system so that they do. And they did.
Mark Jones, CAE (17:28):
Because if experience is a barrier to be on, serve in that leadership role-
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (17:34):
Yeah. They say, well, they’ve never served.
Mark Jones, CAE (17:36):
We’ve just gotten rid of everybody that we want to have a seat at the table.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (17:39):
Mark Jones, CAE (17:42):
What’s our next steps for educating and making it experiential, where they find value in it? Why not find value in LinkedIn, or TikTok or other areas? How do we continue to add that value? Is it the partnering, or is it delivering something that’s maybe more experiential? I think of the games that every young generation was always in, games, whatever it is. Whether you’re playing ball outside, or you’re on the video games or the digital things today.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (18:18):
Animal crossing. Yeah, let’s get it. Let’s get it.
Mark Jones, CAE (18:21):
It’s all there. But in the new world, as I watch my son play on those, and communicate, and the socialization that happens in that digital world, how do we give them that same experience where they feel that our associations are providing the best content, the best education that they can have to help them not only with their skills, but also their professional development? The resiliency, the diversity, the other soft skills that we need in the industry as well?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (18:59):
I think there’s a beautiful way that we could think about. There are some associations in, and I’m a secondary, so I support association management professionals. But when I think about when I worked in the outwardly facing, so the physical sciences, or healthcare or engineering, there’s a lot of things that those folks can do.
For instance, when you were talking, I thought back during the 2020, during the pandemic. All of us were doing all kinds of things at home, that maybe helped give us content. I got a video game console, and I started playing Animal Crossing like most of the people. I couldn’t get a Switch, I was trying to get it. Then I got all my girlfriends, we are all of a certain 40 plus age, 50 plus age, and we were all on there. And so, then we figured out how to go to each other’s islands. And I said, “What if an association was here in Animal Crossing?” So they were like, “Artesha, well, who would do that? And our members wouldn’t do that,” and such and such. And then Joe Biden did it. He did it. He had an island during his campaign in Animal Crossing.
That’s just one example. Fortnite, there was a hip hop artist and he had a concert. And I said, well, how is that going to work? I didn’t even know what Fortnite was. I knew the dance, stupid things, okay, whatever. But I was like, how does that work? It was an in-app purchase, but it was a live concert in the middle of Fortnite. I say that to say, my Grandmama wasn’t going to be there. I don’t even know who that person is, I’m not going to be there. But the kids were there. We need to move away from one size fits all. That is done. Five generations in the workforce. If I hit the middle here, I remember having a dial TV in my room, sneaking to watch Dynasty. I wasn’t supposed to be watching it, I was watching it. My nephew doesn’t even know what rabbit ears are, let alone the dial. Because the dial was really old.
Mark Jones, CAE (21:19):
Or what a dial tone is.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (21:20):
Come on. When AOL came, I still remember the…
Mark Jones, CAE (21:25):
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (21:25):
That was the coolest thing in the world.
Mark Jones, CAE (21:29):
Of the modem, right?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (21:30):
In the world. They don’t care about that. Stop with the one size fits all. Think differently. One of the things that I love about where Meta is going, or trying to go, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s blended. Pokemon Go gave us a way to look at augmentation that could be overlaid to what we’re doing. Meta is trying to take it there. It’s going to be janky at first. It’s new, it’s janky. But if we think five years from now, I’ve been watching Oculus since the beginning. When we think five years from now, how could a D2L with an association, be together in a platform that makes it accessible to others to learn, but then also have a conference where we old heads could come together, and then sit around and talk to each other, and then somebody could dial in and be right with us?
Mark Jones, CAE (22:21):
And be in the middle of that.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (22:21):
Come on, that’s where we’re going.
Mark Jones, CAE (22:23):
Augmented reality, mixed reality.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (22:24):
Yes, it’s happening. And it’s getting to the point where we can afford it. Not yet, unless Elon going to give us some money. Not yet, but soon. And I think that partnering helps us, right?
Mark Jones, CAE (22:39):
Yeah. Because I imagine we’re not going to be able to afford, as associations struggle with the balance of budget, and the balance of where you spend. How are we going to build educational programs that meet five generations that are there? How are we going to meet other opportunities that exist out there, other challenges that exist, in the way we manage the association today? And the way we try to do it ourselves, and do we do it the best by ourselves, or do we just deliver content?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (23:14):
No. Or do we not deliver content? That’s what I’m saying. I’m on the opposite side. If we get to a point from an association, is content delivery the only value? There’s advocacy, there’s voice management, there’s mentorship and support. There’s ways to do… governance gives so many skills development, that we do need to have some content. There’s specialized things, like for instance, when I worked in infection control. There’s only so much Microsoft can do to help you understand how to not spread hospital-acquired infections, period. There is the learning that happens.
But here’s the thing: there’s five associations doing that. Now I need to pay for all of them? How do we get together? Maybe one of them is the big advocacy arm, and we all are part of them. Maybe the other one is the localized network. Because they have chapters and chapters, are where I feel real value. Maybe the other one is able to bring together this global collective of holograms. So now the individual is benefiting, because the science is impacted, we have the mentorship, we have this. Maybe all the associations won’t be the powerhouses that they were, but if they figure out how to own their part, they will exist.
Mark Jones, CAE (24:36):
I like that. That’s very interesting and insightful.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (24:40):
Yeah. Now we’ll see if they do that, right? Because they didn’t not hire me for their board.
Mark Jones, CAE (24:46):
But as we continue to look at where education is in our associations, and maybe I’ll generalize it a little bit, because sometimes, probably people will say, “Well, we do it great, and we’re moving forward.”
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (25:00):
“Ours is great.”
Mark Jones, CAE (25:01):
But I still feel like a lot of education is a rear in the seat.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (25:08):
Mark Jones, CAE (25:10):
We sit there, we absorb information from somebody talking to us, or watching a video, or watching a PowerPoint presentation that’s not engaging, or things of that nature. And part of that’s the methodology that we’ve moved in, because of the value of those conferences, and the networking and the things that really transpire there. But as education, do we get a chance to master? Do we get a chance in those moments, to change the way that we think about education? Does it take us further in our profession? Does it take that individual that’s in that accounting role, and they can move up to a controller, to the CFO one day, does it take them down that? Does it help us mitigate risk and outcomes for our trades, and our corporations that are there, to help them drive more revenue from that standpoint?
And when I think about the education, what’s going to take us to that next level of outcomes, competency? Is that what not only our younger generation is needing, but is that what we really need in associations, to really understand what our members’ true needs are, and that we’re helping them measure those needs? Do we use learning as a catalyst to get there, to really advance the profession?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (26:31):
Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s a lot when I think back to those ones, especially in STEM, when I worked in those areas, the association has a role to play there. But it isn’t going to be the same like when I took my first course at ASAE 20 plus years ago. I was the first online learning. They used to have this membership bootcamp that was one week long, and you go offsite, and you would bond in this. And they, for whatever reason, went digital. And I was in the first class of that. There was a lot of the old guard that said, “Well, you all won’t have the networking experiences and relationships that we did,” and such and such. Fast forward 25… that course made me drink the Kool-Aid and said that I was an association professional.
And it was online, and it was beyond janky. I don’t even know what it was. We had to dial up something. I don’t know. But I felt like I got content that was delivered to me in a way that my company could afford, because it was 10 of us, and I never would’ve gotten to do that. And because of that online experience, I met some people in the little chat, because I was comfortable doing that. Because I had AOL when it first came out, I knew how to chat, so I knew how to chat with the people. That made me to where I am today. But the old guard said that it wouldn’t work. And that was the beginning. Now they have a whole university, they have a whole thing that’s built out.
So as we evolve, as learning evolves, associations have to evolve. But there may be still value because a 65 -year-old and a 27-year-old who likes retro, I’m overly content sensitive. It’s too much. I want to go to the conference so I can meet Mark, and just talk to Mark at a table, and understand. There’s going to be that for all. We cannot go down one path only, spend all of our money on this, and then be like, oh no. We have to start to do, what I loved when I was working in tech, I hate to say it, but fail fast, forward quickly, go out, do it. We also need as associations… hear me, hear me well, podcast folks. Hear me, hear me well. We are businesses. Nonprofit is a tax status.
Mark Jones, CAE (29:03):
I take that in our business.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (29:04):
Mark Jones, CAE (29:05):
Take that 30%, right?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (29:06):
We are a business. We need to start thinking of research and development. Ask how many associations right now have R and D? Very few.
Mark Jones, CAE (29:18):
Or an innovative lab? Some of the exceptional CEOs are leading us in that direction. But you’re right, the majority of associations don’t.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (29:26):
They just don’t.
Mark Jones, CAE (29:27):
Where do we innovate?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (29:28):
And you can innovate small. Get a team of volunteers and members and give them 4% of your budget. That seems like, oh my God, I can’t do… 4% isn’t that much. I’m pretty sure that we have a gifts allowance on our budget that’s for the board, and this and that, and tchotchkes and whatever. Give that to that group and tell them they could burn it and do whatever. Burn it and do whatever. Do you know what they would build? Amazing things.
Mark Jones, CAE (29:59):
Maybe something to change the world.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (30:00):
Come on. So at the Association Forum, we have a tagline that they’ve had for about 20 years: one idea can change the world. That’s what we’re doing. But we need to stop, we need stop thinking that we need to build it all ourselves. We need to stop thinking that we need to build one size fits all. We need to also stop trying to back to the future this thing. We’re going forward. I said earlier, everybody’s talking about Earth. Nobody’s talking about Mars. Elon going to get there, baby, I’m not going. I can’t even fly across country. But I’m just saying. That opens up a world of possibilities. A world.
Mark Jones, CAE (30:41):
That we need to be thinking about. Maybe not for our generation, but the generations-
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (30:45):
I’m sorry. I don’t know about you, baby. I am going to figure out, I’m staying. I don’t know. I’m just going to be here in the future too because they going to figure out how to make us live to 200 at that point. I don’t know.
Mark Jones, CAE (30:55):
It’ll be holograms from that standpoint. How about that?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (30:58):
I could do that.
Mark Jones, CAE (30:59):
Perpetual, there forever. Well, this has been a fabulous conversation. There’s so much more that we can talk about, and I know we could talk for hours and hours about many different topics. But I think we’ve covered some great insights and some things to think about. I think if we look back, we have to look at evolving. We have to get to market faster. We have to think about our different generations, and how we’re going to allow them to lead us. We got to make it accessible for all.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (31:30):
Mark Jones, CAE (31:31):
What have I missed?
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (31:32):
That’s it. And have fun, have fun.
Mark Jones, CAE (31:36):
There you go.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (31:36):
There it is.
Mark Jones, CAE (31:38):
Artesha, thank you so much for your time today.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (31:40):
Thank you. This has been wonderful. Thank you.
Mark Jones, CAE (31:42):
Enjoyed having you.
Artesha Moore, FASAE, CAE (31:42):
Mark Jones, CAE (31:45):
You’ve been listening to Learning by Association, a podcast it’s all about helping associations stay a step ahead with learning. This episode was produced by D2L, a global learning innovation company, helping organizations reshape the future of education and work. To learn more about our solutions for associations and organizations, please visit us at www.d2l.com. Don’t forget to subscribe, so you can stay up to date with new episodes. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next time.