December 23, 2011

"Here's to the Happiest of Holiday Seasons"

To all of my dear friends and fellow building industry peers;
As we end our 2011 and look towards celebrating the birth of a new beginning, I hope all of you will experience a Very Merry Christmas, a Fantastic Holiday Season & a Very Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year! 

Warm Wishes & Best Regards,

Association Maximization will be back on January 8th, 2012.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

December 18, 2011

"The Social Media Explosion"

In our blog post dated December 4, 2011 70 Years of HBA Communication: "Can You Hear Me Now?" we talked about where NAHB began with communications and what we have available to us today. Conversations about the many social media vehicles are abundant with opinions to match. The 21st century has delivered to humankind 24/7 contact (and I'm not even bringing Blackberries, DROIDS or iPhones/iPads into the mix). Our home builder associations (HBA) have a critical need to reach out to membership and keep them "informed" and more to the point, effectively informed. The major vehicles for social media each have a place in communication and, if each are utilized correctly, will bring a unique type of communication to our members and for our members.

Ray Tomlinson gave society one of the greatest communication tools in history. He invented email back in 1971, eventually transforming global business communication. It wasn't until the 1990's that email became "the new best thing in communication." Emails replaced hand written letters and the "voice-to-voice" communications that gave every conversation a personal touch. It also became easy to send everything and anything (insert your most hated spam here) which created email over-saturation. One of the most effective means of mass communication at a moment's notice became an easy target for the delete button. 
Because of over-saturation, and the ease of deleting, important messages were not being read meaning that the grass roots effectiveness of the HBA was slowly becoming neutralized. Because of this, social media is rapidly becoming a critical aspect of our industry's communication efforts. In a perfect social media world, the message bearers will be able to effectively post messages that are relevant to and through each social media vehicle. Right now a small percentage of members are involved in the first four (listed below) vehicles. So redundancy will be an issue for the time being. If you are a social media junkie you will most likely be on multiple pages and groups as well as emails and other feeds. You will be bombarded with the same messages time and time again unless you take a few seconds and adjust your setting so you decide which messages and from which sources you receive information. This is on you to handle, no one else.

Let's look at the major players of the social media tool belt and it's uses for the HBA (as a note, NAHB has a page or group on the following social media sites);

1. Facebook ~ One word; pages. Facebook is designed for letting people know more about you. When we discuss the business aspect of Facebook we find ourselves talking about pages. Pages are designed to highlight your purpose. Is it a business? A cause? A particular political party? You will find a page for just about anything. While these pages are great for "strutting your stuff" they are not conducive to two way or multiple business conversation due to one particular hindrance; most companies do not allow their employees on Facebook during business hours. So for most people, Facebook is an evening or weekend "catch up." Facebook has its place but for HBA effectiveness I would go with LinkedIn. A few great aspect of Facebook is the availability of posting pictures of your HBA events directly on the page or creating an event posting that gives you an idea of who might be attending.

2. LinkedIn ~ One word; groups. The business person's Facebook. If you have a LinkedIn account you have no doubt created an exceptional profile page that gives the viewers a great sense of who you are and what you represent. That is critical because if you post in any groups that you join others will want to know your background based on the content of your post.
Another plus for the HBA is that if you have your own local or state group you can post information on a daily basis, even hourly basis. Once a member to your group is admitted they can adjust the settings to have a daily digest or weekly digest of information. Or they can opt out of any messaging and visit the group when they want to visit the group. Now the emails you send can be for "calls to action" or other time sensitive alerts.

An example: The NAHB Associates LinkedIn Group has building industry professionals from all over the country. There are topics for conversation that will bring you information, help you with association questions, develop deep conversation about an industry topic and much more. Your "circle of influence" grows considerably and you have taken the restraints of physical travel out of the equation. NAHB Associates group has sub groups designed to be an extension of The NAHB Associate Members Committee's sub committees. These areas are a work in progress but it helps deliver continued committee work outside the three times a year the committee meets in person. It also allows members of NAHB to participate on national projects when they can't attend in person. Exposure and awareness of national volunteerism has never been easier or more efficient.

3. Twitter ~ Quick hitting alerts and updates are the primary focus of having an HBA Twitter account. For the HBA, a call to action or a change in particulars of an event are just two purposes but keep in mind the message goes out to an unlimited amount of people. The one efficient use? Broad exposure of a message for a grass roots ever in an extremely timely fashion  Facebook and LinkedIn have the same uses as Twitter. Twitter is really mass communication going in one direction but doesn't go through your spam filter. You will reach 100% of the members that have signed up for the HBA alerts. 

4. YouTube ~ I love this form of social media; video messaging. Whatever the message is, it won't be in words on an email or post on a page. You will see the person, hear the passion of conversation, place a name with face and voice. I suspect that one day this will be the preferred message delivery system. Skype has taken off and more and more associations are turning to video conferencing. People love to hear AND see what's going on. YouTube is a perfect vehicle to discuss political fundraising or member to member requests. It's a fantastic vehicle for membership recruitment as prospective members can see actual members discussing their reasons for being a member.

5. Google + ~ Newest rival to Facebook, still in its beginning stages, but growing fast. Google + may be the best of all worlds, one day.

My advise; don't jump on everything all at once. Find a vehicle that suits your style and really take the time to adjust your frequency of information feeds. Social media is here and members of the HBA should be working towards embracing the future. If you can type and read you can participate and you will probably enjoy the new world.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

December 11, 2011

IBS 2012: "It's Showtime!"

Over the course of the next several months, Association Maximization will be featuring guest contributors and we start by bringing on our first guest, Mark Pursell. Mark is Senior Vice President, Exhibitions, Marketing & Sales at the National Association of Home Builders.  
Let's kick off our Federation's 70th year and come and enjoy the ultimate building industry event; The International Builders Show 2012.
(Note: We will continue our discussion on social media next week!)

Special IBS 2012 Update!

"What’s new at the 2012 International Builders’ Show in Orlando? A lot, and some will begin soon.  
Registered attendees will, starting on December 15, have access to an online matchmaking system enabling the scheduling of meetings directly with exhibitors.  We’re excited as the technology is easy and is integrated with the current online show planner tools.  We expect crowded aisles as our pre-registration is currently running 15% ahead of last year.  So having a tool to lock in a meeting will be useful.  We’ll also soon be launching a mobile IBS site so you can access show information right from your smart phone.  Find exhibitors, see your meetings and locate special events on the fly!  IBS is really about connections with people.  So your Conventions Committee has added some great networking opportunities to the 2012 Show.  On the Show floor will be “IBS Live”, a dedicated space for informal meetings, special presentations and our Finance Pavilion.  Again, another first for IBS.  Building on the success of our “Central’s” concept, we’re adding a Sales Central in Orlando.  These Centrals are dedicated areas for segment specific networking and education.  The Sales Central will join Multifamily, 50+, Remodeling, Design and Custom.  We’ve also added another after hours event, the “IBS House Party” which is a ticketed function taking place on the first night of the Show, Wednesday, February 8.  Of course the focus of IBS will be the seven hundred exhibitors with new products and services.  The Show floor is where the action is!"

Learn more at 

Submitted by:

Mark Pursell
Senior Vice President
Exhibitions, Marketing & Sales
National Association of Home Builders
1201 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
D 202.266.8477

December 4, 2011

70 Years of HBA Communication: "Can You Hear Me Now?"

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) opened its doors back in 1942 and 70 years later NAHB is still, despite the everlasting housing depression, going strong. NAHB is a trade association that helps promote the policies that make housing a national priority and communicating to the general membership has always been a vital part of grassroots efforts. Back in the '40s we had regular mail and telephones for a message delivery system. In 1945, however, only 46% of households had a phone so back then the U.S. Postal Service was our method of communicating on a regular basis and really was this way through the 1970's. Since that time we have witnessed

  1. pagers
  2. fax machines
  3. email
  4. cell phones
  5. and the good ol' standby, regular mail
as the methods of communications. Believe it or not we still can not keep in communication with 100% of NAHB membership and it is not for lack of trying. However, over the past several years a more explosive way to communicate has emerged and risen to the top of our communications tool box:

SOCIAL MEDIA (just to name a few)
The age of instant contact came upon us fast, maybe too fast and we may not have been ready. It seemed at first to be for the "young whipper snappers" of the world. But a few daring adults dove in and found out that this new world really isn't that scary and others joined in. And then others.

Here is a chart that breaks down percentages based on age groups:

 Given the fact that the average age of an NAHB member is 51 it would seem that those above the average are more comfortable with the traditional ways of communicating while the next generation of members are dominating the chart (25-44 age group) at almost 45%. NAHB has already begun (a few years now in fact) the task of bringing the Federation into the 21st Century's means for efficient communication. Speaking with some of the past NAHB leadership of the mid to late 90s they are amazed at what can be accomplished today compared to what they had to utilize for member outreach. NAHB has the all the communications tools necessary to reach all members (for those who have joined us here in the future) with "speed of light" quickness and in many forms. The problem. right now, is educating the general member on the value and the ease of social media. The PROs far outweigh the CONs and, in the upcoming blog posts, we will discuss the various methods of communicating through social media, the benefits of utilization and the right & wrong ways of participating.

Submitted by:
Michael Kurpiel CGA, CGP
NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

November 27, 2011

"Call Me a Traditionalist"

"Tradition is the illusion of permanence." ~ Woody Allen

'Tis the season and with it is comes times of reflection of the past year and optimism for the next. Christmas time, for me, has always been a very special time and whichever holiday others celebrate is equally as special to them. It's about family, friends, loved ones who are gone but remembered and new additions to welcome into the fold.

'Tis the season as well for home builders associations around the Federation to install their incoming leadership team for the upcoming year. 
My first time attending an installation dinner occurred many years ago. I looked forward to attending as it was going to be my first black tie event. In the building industry, the opportunity to wear a tuxedo comes rarely, if it all. As a matter of fact, it was the first time I wore a tuxedo since my wedding day. I rented a tuxedo for the installation but learned quickly that it would be less expensive in the long term to buy. 

The installation of officers, and the board of directors, was also a time when you had a Christmas Tree at the event (before political correctness ran amuck), with women in gowns, adding to almost all the men in tuxedos; something special was taking place, you could feel it. 
The installation banquet era, for the most part, is gone. It was a simpler time that called for an extravagant celebration of leadership to end one year with the promise of the next. Business casual has replaced the tuxedo & gown and the reverence of the installation has been replaced by a quick swearing in of the officers and board. Once in awhile some of the actual members being installed, both officer and board, don't even make the event! 
Call me a traditionalist but for me it's very sad to watch and experience the "new" ways of an old, but eloquent tradition. Blame it on the economy if you want but the volunteer leadership installation needs to return to the days of past. I know what you're going to say; "learn from the past, experience the present and prepare for the future." Some traditions have a place that doesn't need to be improved upon and in my opinion this is absolutely one of them. The installation banquet is a time where you leave the real world outside and, for a few hours, we celebrate our industry. 'Tis the season to visit with old friends and meet new ones, enjoy the evening with your (again, political correctness) significant other and at the end give a standing ovation to the newly installed volunteer leadership.

In an ever changing industry, with the highest of peaks and deepest of valleys, one thing can be a constant. The traditional installation banquet.
Maybe tradition is "an illusion of permanence," and tuxedos won't make a comeback, but could you please put on a tie?  

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

November 20, 2011

Leadership: "Risks v. Benefits"

Choosing to make the decision to move forward in becoming an HBA leader places you in a unique role. You have made the choice to invest your time and with investment there comes the inevitable "risk/reward" moments of reckoning. Are there risks? A few but the rewards, or better stated, the benefits, outweigh the risks. In this final installment of the leadership series will highlight the risks and uncover the benefits of choosing to become an HBA leader. The leadership power point training for this series of articles will be located on by The International Builders Show, 2012. By utilizing the power point training and the discussions from these leadership articles you can craft or add to your current HBA leadership training.

Risks v. Benefits
The Risks;
When we discuss risks we are talking about only a few elements and they are completely under your control; IF you recognize them.

  1. Time commitment - In past articles about your choice in becoming a leader I wrote about understanding "association first, your business second." This is not a motto but a direction. However a few people wrote me and said "Mike, members can not place the association over there business, particularly in these times." I agree with them, wholeheartedly. I never said or wrote "place the association over your business." I wrote that when you are working on association matters your business can't influence your contribution(s) to the conversation, the initiative and/or future of the HBA. The risk I'm referring for this discussion is giving your all to the association and neglecting your business. There are some who have not recognized this and their business suffered. Be careful and understand the balance. It's always your decision, your choice. 
  2. It's not about you - Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones, sung "you can't always get what you want." You may think you have the only solutions but their are others that have similar or different points of view. The risk here is sometimes your thoughts will be the direction, sometimes they won't. How you respond is under your control. Remember, Mick finished the lyrics by singing "but if you try sometimes, you may find, you get what you need." 
  3. The "Paper Towel" experience - A long time ago, someone said to me that we use our volunteer members like paper towels; keeping pulling off sheets of  contributions until you are left with a card board roll, then discard. This risk is all in how you view that statement. If you feel like you are being used, you'll sour on the HBA. What you have to place above that feeling is that during your time you gave to the best of your abilities and assisted in helping the HBA and, in turn, the building industry. You can't hold on to position and you need to recognize that others will be choosing to help, with you and after you. 
That's it; we covered time, input and ego. I can't think of any other risks but I'm sure there may be others. Again, if you identify these risks from the start, you will neutralize them, make them a non issue. Your choice.

The Benefits;
  1. Education - learning about the industry, the threats, the trends, the future. You will not find this in any college but you will not only find it through leadership but flourish with the knowledge you gain as an HBA leader.
  2. Working knowledge of government - some may say that they are not interested in politics. However, having an interest in how politics affects your home building industry career brings you knowledge that, when explained, delivers insight to you that you may not receive as a general member.
  3. Career improvement - whether you are a builder or an associate you will be able to apply your new found knowledge to your business. It's one of the returns you receive by investing your time in the association.
  4. Strategic planning and business direction - understanding where the industry is at the moment is great. Knowing where it is heading is better. Whether you build homes or supply product/service to the construction, you have competition. Leadership gives you a distinct advantage that your competitors won't have. Some will say "Mike, you are going against what you wrote, 'don't use the association!'" I wrote "utilize the association, don't use." Huge difference and as a leader you understand the knowledge you gain is part of utilization. 
  5. "Education and application" (better known as volunteer leadership) - there are training organizations, like Dale Carnegie, that will teach you the philosophy of leadership. There are organizations like the HBA that will not only teach you but give you hands on experience, learning by trial and error. This type of education will help you lead within your own company. Think about; if you could lead volunteers to success in the HBA imagine what you could do if you lead paid employees. 
  6. Relationships that last a lifetime - your time in the association as a leader brings quite a few benefits but the relationships you make are priceless. You are part of an extended family. Like any family you will have your share of "Kodak moments" as well a family squabbles. Please understand, as part of leadership, you won't go through tough times alone or ever rejoice with good news by yourself. Some may say that this isn't a benefit. I truly believe it has been an enormous benefit for me.
The benefits, like the risks, are also your choice. Choosing to be an HBA leader is always your decision. Never let other members pressure you to become involved or more involved. When the time is right you will know when the time is right for you. There will be plenty of times when you reach  the proverbial fork in the road and how you choose to make the decisions will ultimately teach you lessons and, if lessons are learned, will help your future decision making within the association and within your profession.

I would like to thank the past, the present and the future leaders of our association. You are a rare breed in a "what's in it for me" world; you care. Almost all the presidents of our HBA smile when they are making the transition to "past president." They will say they are relieved that their time is over. I don't believe them for a minute. They are smiling because they know they gave it their all for the home building industry and that smile is one of satisfaction that they didn't sit back and watched, they led.

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

November 13, 2011

Leadership - "Associate Vice President"

Last week's article we discussed the functions and makeup of the HBA senior officers. Today's article will highlight associate leadership within the HBA and specifically focus on the associate vice president position. Some HBAs do not have this position but their bylaws allow for an associate to become an officer. This is also the case for some state associations and NAHB does not have any associates serving as a senior officer. The "reasons" for not having this position are plentiful and the reality of the concerns is quite the contrary. If you were to ask any executive officer what the associate members bring to the HBA they would say that associates are invaluable volunteers and investors in the association. They are also business people, like builders, who manage their businesses, strategically plan for their business' future, recruit new accounts (think members for the HBA) and can troubleshoot with the best of them. The associates, if they are educated in the HBA leadership process, are a fantastic resource for the senior officers in the strategic planning and marketing of the HBA. Associates understand the affects of a brutally sluggish economy, particularly in our industry, and the need to do their part in helping the builders start building again. Builders and associates are tied together in the home building and remodeling arena and both need each other to be a complete one.

The Associate Vice President (AVP)
If your HBA "allows" associates to serve as an officer but they do not have an AVP position understand that the associate officer has other responsibilities. If they are the treasurer their primary focus is on the financial health of the HBA  and if they are the secretary their responsibility is the  administrator for the board. 

Why create an AVP position at your HBA? 
  1. The AVP's will help, with proper focus, the associate members who account for two-thirds of the membership (on average). What issues are affecting the associates need to be understood as much as builder issues. There are many reasons I could give you for saying that but the number one reason would be that associates are the massive majority of investments (sponsorships, membership dues) and attendees of HBA events. The health of the HBA is dependent upon this income and participation. The AVP will help in assisting the senior officers in communicating with the associate members and giving the "other" point of view of the industry.
  2. This position helps foster a better overall team approach for the HBA and destroys the old "Us' v. Them'ns" mentality. Unfortunately, this still exists within the Federation.
  3. The AVP, when visiting with his or her officers team, will highlight the complete building industry. I have personally visited with state legislators and federal legislators, always with builder leadership. The legislators revived a different point of view and had a better understanding of just how many people are affected by industry roadblocks and stoppages.
  4. If your HBA doesn't have any associates on its senior officer team it is time to rethink that bylaw and work to amend. Associates want to serve, they want to be a part of the solutions and actions to help the builders, the building industry.
What is the role of the AVP?
  1. Spokesperson for the associate membership.
  2. Motivator.
  3. Communicator.
  4. Liaison.
  5. Mentor.
  6. Should help to create an associates committee for the main purpose of industry education and working on business issues that affect associates.
  7. Identifies opportunities for increased builder-associate interaction and partnerships.
  8. Blends the associate members needs with the ultimate goals of the HBA.
  9. Identify the effects of board actions, legislation, regulation and economic climate on associate members.
  10. "If it affects builders it will affect associates" is the AVP's position in discussing HBA actions with the associate membership.
  11. Part of the "one voice" of HBA leadership.
Some have just read this and are asking "why do we need an associate to perform these actions?" We have talked about peer to peer in fundraising articles and the same approach is successful here. Builders will speak to associates about building industry issues as if the associate always understands. The AVP will ask the "meaning, cause and effect" questions in officer discussions and break the issues down into its simplest form and communicate the information to the associates. I am not saying associates are not bright; I'm saying they don't deal day to day with the same issues that builders do and therefore not accustomed to the verbiage. But we do understand the point made in # 10 above all to well.

Associates, if you do choose to continue on the leadership path and becoming an AVP is a leadership goal, remember, it's your choice to do so. The business of the association comes before your business. If you can't be an officer without leaving your personal business outside the meeting room door then you should not aspire to this level of leadership. You can't be an effective leader with a personal agenda and you will actually go backwards in how others will view you. 

Next week's blog will detail the benefits and risks of being a volunteer HBA leader.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader." ~ John Adams

Note: This series of blog posts are based on The NAHB Associates power point presentation titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Associate Leadership." A special thank you to the New Jersey Builders Association for donating the presentation to NAHB in hopes that our associate members across the Federation could help those members who would like to contribute their skills and talents in leadership.

November 6, 2011

Leadership - "The Senior Officers"

"Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm." ~ Publilius Syrus (100B.C.)
It has been said that all journeys come to an end so the road to leadership would seem to end with becoming an officer of the HBA. On the contrary, it really is only the beginning. We have spoken about volunteers, committee chairs and board of directors. Each level brings you closer to that feeling of ownership in the association. When you become an officer you develop a desire to truly be the protector. How deep that desire goes is up to each individual but you are protective of the HBA nonetheless and you know are a part of its fabric. Your days as an officer could be many years removed but most past officers, particularly presidents, still are engaged because the HBA never left them. This is a good thing. 

Senior officers are that beacon of light on a stormy night. They lead when some may choose to take cover. Their natural instincts are fight, not flight, and inspire others to stay the course. As I write this article, our industry is in the worst economic crisis it's ever experienced. Local, state and national officers, in today's world, are the reasons I believe we will make it through this time in our home building industry.

The Senior Officers:
HBA officers have the same requirements as board members. This level of leadership goes further as the officers work on the internal management of the HBA and have more of a time commitment that a board member. To become a leader in the HBA is a personal choice and a professional commitment.
The most important point to remember as an officer is this; "one thought, one voice" mentality. It is certainly fine to have disagreements as officers, in fact it makes for a healthy discussion. However, when the door to the officers' meeting room opens, an effective officer team comes out united in course and action.

PresidentThe president is THE voice of the association, to the association and on behalf of the association. Presidents are the ones who meet with legislators, support the association's policies internally & externally as well as govern & guide the flow of conversation of the board. 
Presidents also make committee chair appointments that help to establish leaders, create and set agendas for task forces and lead by example. Local HBA presidents generally represent their local on the state board level and should be involved with the state HBA on conveying the local's concerns and help craft guidance.

In the previous article on the board of directors I wrote that the chief elected officer (president), according to NAHB by-laws, is a builder member. The reasons are multiple but there are a few worth mentioning due to the fact that some HBAs allow an associate to be their president:
  1. This is a builders association that encompasses the entire home building industry. Suppliers, service providers and trades (AKA associates) are part of the association, should help lead within the association but should not be, in my opinion, the lead voice of the association.
  2. Builders are the members that have to work with planning boards, building inspectors, regulatory agencies, potential home owners, etc. The builders take the upfront risks to bring a project from the planning stages through the closing. Who better to lead than someone who has "skin in the game."
Roles of the builder ladder (vice presidents) ~ Next in leadership, depending on the individual HBA, you will have a first and possibly a second vice president (builder) to advance up the leadership ladder. In some very fortunate cases there may even be a third vice president.These positions are integral to the success of the HBA as it establishes a succession of builder leadership. Each vice president may have, depending on the individual HA, oversight of a particular aspect of the association through an assigned standing committee or a political action committee. 
  1. These positions help the builder officers become prepared to take over the reins of the HBA by becoming acclimated to the personalities of the HBA and educated of the issues of the HBA.
  2. These positions also gives multiple points of view, from other builders, to the president and help set up a continued association strategy for success.
Roles of the treasurer and secretary positions These positions, depending on the local's by-laws, can be either a builder or an associate (if not part of the builder ladder) and are extremely important in the overall management of the HBA.
  1. Treasurer ~ The treasurer's main responsibility is to take charge of the association's money. The treasurer works with the executive officer to establish a budget for the HBA, submitting the budget for board approval and helps to identify ways to increase "the rainy day funds" through investments and/or other means of keeping the HBA in the black. The treasurer should hopefully have a better than average financial sense.
  2. Secretary ~ this officer position should help to prepare the agenda for board meetings, should send regular and special board meeting notices to the directors, should record the minutes of the individual board meetings and should be, when votes are taken, the official vote tabulator. 
The Immediate Past President ~ After serving on the ladder for multiple years the builder who climbed the ladder and reached the presidency took over for somebody. That somebody was a man or woman who gave their time to, hopefully, making the HBA a little better, a little stronger. We shake their hand and give them a past presidents pin at the installation of the new president. That is not enough for most because they need to stay apart of the team as they make the transition from president to trusted advisor. The immediate past president, in some HBAs, is considered an officer. Some retain a vote within officers' discussions, some don't. Some give their opinion when needed others help to strengthen a new president who may still need some seasoning. Regardless of the purpose this is a person who brings stability and history to discussions. They are most likely your most valued counsel during meetings. The position, more importantly person, is your key to builder leadership recruitment as well. The immediate past president most likely serves as the HBA Nominating Committee Chairman.

The Associate Vice President ~ This position was saved for the end of this article for a reason. Most HBAs have at least one associate as an officer. I say most because there are still some, although extremely small percentage, of HBAs that won't allow associates to be on the HBA board, much less an officer. This is, in my opinion, an incredibly important position within the HBA and one that has a great understanding of the, on average, two-thirds membership of the association. 

I wont't spend time within this article describing this position because.......
next week's blog will define the associate vice president position, the need for the position and effective ways associates should lead from this position.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader." ~ John Adams

Note: This series of blog posts are based on The NAHB Associates power point presentation titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Associate Leadership." A special thank you to the New Jersey Builders Association for donating the presentation to NAHB in hopes that our associate members across the Federation could help those members who would like to contribute their skills and talents in leadership.

October 30, 2011

Leadership - "The Board of Directors"

Note: This particular article is direct and to the point. When it comes to the HBA board of directors I take a more aggressive tone because I deeply believe that at the local level board members are extremely vital to the health and well being of the local HBA.
This experience, if handled correctly, will help with the understanding of and better participation at the state HBA board and NAHB board of directors levels. 

The HBA board of directors gives a unique perspective of how the association and the industry are intertwined. If you choose to seek a board seat, and are selected by the nominating committee to serve, you will find that when you cross that threshold from general member to board member it will be like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz going from the world of no color to a fully aware world of technicolor.The primary responsibility of the board of directors is to protect the interests of the membership, generally, and the HBA, in particular. When you become a board member you do so by your choice, nobody else's. Resume builders are a dime a dozen but a true leader should clearly understand his or her role at this level. 
When I made "the crossover" I truly became aware of the purpose of the HBA and I made the choice to put the HBA above my personal interests because I knew the success of the association would give me the opportunity to succeed.

The following are the proper steps needed to become a board member of you local. It's a rewarding experience, if conducted properly, and priceless when it comes to the education of our industry and your growth as an industry leader and professional.

"The Board of Directors"
Note: The following is based upon local HBA board of directors. State HBAs may slightly differ but not dramatically. Some states have, based on builder membership totals, available board seats with the majority, in some cases vast majority, given to builder  members. Your local Executive officer can explain that process.

How to Become a Director
  • Financial commitment to the HBA ~ Those who invest in the HBA demonstrate a financial willingness to help in its success. These types of members "put their money where their mouth is" and that is a significant start. You may be in a situation where you absolutely can't participate financially. If this is the case ask yourself if you are doing all you can to influence others to invest in the HBA.
  • Excelled as a volunteer ~ If you were active as a volunteer, enthused and consistently followed through on your commitments, than you would be a welcome source of new blood on the board.
  • Have practiced "association first" ~ Members who have volunteered for the good of the association understand the value of a successful HBA. 
  • Announce your intentions ~ The HBA is a lot of things to a lot of members but being a mind reader is not one! If you have an interest in serving at this level speak with your executive officer, current president and\or past president. One of the three, if not all, will be happy to discuss options for you.
Make up of Board
  • Senior officers ~ The chief elected officer (president), according to NAHB by-laws, is a builder member. Next in leadership, depending on the individual HBA, you will have a first and possibly a second vice president (builder) to advance up the leadership ladder. Other positions that are common; treasurer, secretary and associate vice president. Associates could serve as treasurer or secretary. A strong leadership ladder at the HBA would be majority builder member. Most HBAs have at least one associate as an officer. 
  • Builder board members ~ builders should be the majority of your board.
  • Associate board members ~ the vast majority of HBAs have associates on their board. 
  • Alternate directors (non voting) ~ while this may be a non voting position you may be called upon to vote if you are filling in for a full director. It is advisable for you to attend as many board meetings as possible so if you are called upon you have working knowledge of current HBA issues. 
  • Life directors ~ This is achieved, in most local HBAs, after ten (10) years as an active board member with active meaning attending the minimum required board meetings per year. Each local is different in terms of total meetings per year and you can find the answer by asking the executive officer or reading your HBA by-laws. Some local HBAs include time served as an alternate towards the ten years. Again, you will find that out through your local. 
  • Past Presidents ~ Once a president serves his or her year as the chief elected officer, they become past, with the most recent called "immediate past." Depending on the local HBA there may or may not be required attendance in order for the past presidents to vote but just like the alternate, past presidents should be attending in order to vote on relevant and current HBA initiatives. 
  • Committee Chairs (non voting) ~ Some locals may have the multiple committee chairmen attend to give reports on their respective committees. Unless the chairman is already a board member, they can only advise, not vote.
  • State HBA Committee Representatives ~ Some local HBAs have their members, who serve at the state level on committees, give a report at the local board meeting. This way the local board can become better acquainted with state activities. Non voting unless already on the board.
Board Members Are Strongly Encouraged...
  • to attend board meetings ~ Life happens, work and family should always be at the top of your priority list, certainly higher than HBA involvement. No one will have any issue with you if "life happens" but if you know it will be ongoing please recommend someone else take your seat. The board, to operate properly, needs it's elected volunteers to attend meetings on a regular basis. 
  • to attend general membership meetings ~ board meetings are usually held before general membership meetings. You're there already so unless "life happens" you should stay, meet the new members and engage in conversation with existing members.
  • to demonstrate fiduciary responsibility ~ you need to understand this term as a board member. A member who has been nominated and then elected to his or her board has been entrusted with the well being of that HBA. 
  • to have a financial commitment ~ I have witnessed too many board members who have rust on the hinges of their wallets. We are not talking about breaking into your life savings or depleting your 401K but even a small financial investment is better than a non investment. How can we expect the general membership to invest in HBA initiatives if the board members do not?
  • to honor the Code of Conduct ~ most locals will have a code of conduct for their board members. Ask you executive officer for the language before you accept your board position. 
  • to understand, respect & follow Robert's Rules ~ parliamentary procedure that keeps the volunteers in an organized meeting. 
  • to be an active participant ~  Some boards are content with status quo, keeping non performing members as guardians of the local. The "you get out what you put in" theory is never more evident than on a local board. Some boards are actively engaged and passionate; those locals thrive in in today's economic climate. Other boards are apathetic; those locals are mostly distressed. Having a seat on the board doesn't mean to sit on your hands.
  • to recognize your choice to serve ~ all I am stating above is what is needed from you and your agreement to serve as a board member. This is your choice and how you choose to perform will give great insight to how you are as a professional. If you can no longer serve because "life happens" it is completely understandable, please just don't occupy a seat when there may be others who want a chance to help.

Next week's blog will explain the role of the senior officers.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader" ~ John Adams

Note: This series of upcoming blog posts are based on The NAHB Associates power point presentation titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Associate Leadership. Thank you to the New Jersey Builders Association for donating the presentation to NAHB so that our associate members across the Federation could help those who want to contribute their skills and talents in helping the HBAs

October 23, 2011

Leadership ~ Chairman "Your Chair Is Waiting for You"

Three blog articles ago we discussed volunteerism as the start towards HBA leadership. Two weeks we discussed what particular qualities are needed to be an effective leader. Last week we discussed leadership styles and which would be the best way to be effective.

The next, and natural, progression from the volunteer only level, with your identification of qualities and style, is to move into a chairman's role. Although the chairman step is not necessarily needed to become a board member or an officer, understanding the "volunteer manager" role will go along way in being a better, more developed leader.  
If you decide this is your next step the benefits will be enormous to you professionally and will showcase your leadership skills. It's not everybody who can take a group of volunteers and influence them to deliver your particular initiative into the realm of success for everyone involved. 
Your Chair Is Waiting for You

I hopefully will pique your interest now in stating that there are two major benefits to agreeing to become a chairman;

1. Helping the HBA with one aspect of being successful which in turn helps the industry. If it helps the industry you are helping yourself.
2. If you are successful in managing a group of volunteers, keeping them engaged and enthused, can you imagine how your skill level as a paid manager working with paid employees will grow? Absolute hands on training to become a manager or a better one. 

Leader, facilitator, team builder. That is the core of being a committee chairman. It is also the Chairman's role to demonstrate the "fruits of the initiative," lead by example and action as well clearing road blocks. 
  • Identify and understand priorities of the HBA - simply stated, you have to know the"whys" before you can take on the chairman's role.
  • Preparing budgets - in some cases, if it involves a fundraising event (when doesn't it??), you will have to either create a budget or adjust a current budget so you can determine if an event will be profitable. 
  • Setting effective agendas - nobody wants to attend a meeting that is meaningless. Setting an agenda that is informative and productive is key to keeping committee members engaged and returning.
  • Time management of meeting - each agenda item should be timed based on priority of each item. Set aside room for new discussions which are relevant to that particular committee and leave room to have a revisit to old discussions from that day or previous meetings. 
  • Beware of "time killers;" do not let members "beat a dead horse" or revisit an item that was already determined to go in a direction that all agreed upon previously. 
  • "Time saver:" consent agendas allows the board to approve all these items together without discussion or individual motions. Depending upon the organization, this can free up anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour for more substantial discussion.
  • Familiarization of Robert's Rules, follow if applicable - there may be times, more frequent than you know, when following parliamentary procedure is the most efficient way to run a meeting particularly with an all volunteer group.
  • Properly delegate - we spoke last week about being an autocratic leader. An effective chairman can not do "it" alone and will need to make sure others are a part of the initiative. Giving certain members particular tasks can also help identify future committee chairmen. You will need to understand a few things here; have your delegates give you a commitment. There is nothing wrong with asking the question "can you give your time and leadership to this imitative?" If the answer is "yes" they have chosen to move forward in the assigned role. If the answer is "no" then you move on to the next candidate. Some will choose to take the challenge others may not. 
  • "Be the fullback" - when you delegate you are given someone responsibility. You may have to occasionally clear the path of any obstacles for your volunteers so they can deliver their charge. 
  • Meeting deadlines - Every initiative (and\or parts of,) has a set time in the future. Others are relying on you, as chair, to meet that deadline. 
  • Engage entire committee - some committees will have members that are sitting on the sidelines. They are there in person, but not in spirit. An effective chairman will draw out participation from all members, either in the group or in private discussions. The chairman needs to be all inclusive
  • The "Buck Stops Here" - The successes of the committee are group successes. The lack of success falls directly on the chairman's shoulders. Spread the wealth and take responsibility when things don't go as planned. This will, believe it or not, help develop your leadership skills.
  • Working WITH staff - While this association is volunteer driven the importance in being in sync with HBA staff can not be understated. The flow of the work of the group is much much smoother. But remember, never expect staff to do your "agreed upon beforehand" work. You took on the charge and staff is there to assist, not lead. 
A good chairman inspires members to have confidence in the chairman. An effective chairman inspires members to have confidence in themselves.

Next week's article will explain the next level of leadership; the board of directors.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader" ~ John Adams

Note: This series of upcoming blog posts are based on The NAHB Associates power point presentation titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Associate Leadership. Thank you to the New Jersey Builders Association for donating the presentation to NAHB so that our associate members across the Federation could help those who want to contribute their skills and talents in helping the HBAs.