April 16, 2014

From Lyn Turknett, President, Turknett Leadership Group

What’s the biggest problem you’ve ever had managing volunteers? If you’ve ever been a volunteer, and have let a volunteer commitment slip to meet a “real work” deadline, you likely know what most people answer: holding people accountable when you have no authority over them.

Interestingly, though, that problem is one of the reasons that management guru Peter Drucker insisted that volunteering for a nonprofit or association was the best management training available. And if that was true decades ago for Drucker, it’s even more true today, as our work becomes less about managing tasks and more about leading knowledge workers who have a lot of choice about where they work.  We can rarely use our position of power to make things happen, even in our day jobs.

To manage volunteers, you have to do the same three things any leader must do – you have to create a shared vision, build strong relationships, and then execute, finding ways to manage accountability and assure follow through.  Creating a shared vision is the first step. Dan Pink, in his book Drive, argues that people are motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose. In a volunteer situation it’s important to build on the sense of mission and purpose that people often feel when committing volunteer time. Tell your team why you are committed to the cause, and, if possible, ask each person to share their commitment so that others can hear.  Work to build a vision for each project you work on as well. Why are we doing this? What will it look like when we finish? What will make us proud?

In leadership, it’s important to be aware of two things at all times – one’s own personality and propensities, and the exact situation at hand.  That awareness is especially important as you build a team and manage execution.  Most of us find one of those areas of leadership more difficult than the other – either it’s easier for us to build relationships and a strong team, or it’s easier to hold ourselves and others accountable and manage follow through. I have found two models especially useful as leaders build the skills they need – the Leadership Character Model ™ and situational leadership.

Leadership Character

Leadership is grounded in character – people willingly follow only leaders they trust and respect. In a business setting, people may stay on the team of a scoundrel for a paycheck only, but you can rest assured that in a volunteer situation they will quickly jump ship. The Leadership Character Model™ is a representation of the kind of character anyone needs to lead, whether they are running a Fortune 50 company or a volunteer fundraiser. Leadership Character is visually represented as a scale, with Integrity as the strong, solid base and Respect and Responsibility balanced on either side. On the Respect side leaders must develop Empathy, Humility, Emotional Mastery, and Lack of Blame. On the Responsibility side of the scale they must develop and demonstrate Accountability, Self-confidence, Courage, and Focus on the Whole. Most of us find one of those areas of leadership more difficult than the others.  Balancing the two sides is key – if someone on your team isn’t pulling her weight you need a pitch-perfect balance of empathy and accountability to address the issue.

leadership character model
The Leadership Character Model ™

Situational Leadership

Situational leadership theory was first developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard when collaborating on the first edition of Management of Organizational Behavior in 1969 – and it is just as useful today as it was then. The idea is that leadership style needs to vary according to the situation and according to the maturity/developmental level of the person they are managing. Leadership styles are basically combinations of Direction and Support. If you are strong and balanced on the two sides of the Leadership Character scale, you will find both Direction and Support relatively easy. If you are high on Responsibility and low on Respect, though, you may find Support difficult. If you low on Responsibility and high on Respect, Support may come easily but you may struggle getting people to follow through, especially when you are leading only by influence.

Developmental level varies not simply by person but by task. For example, if you have a seasoned accountant on your volunteer team, that person may be at a top development level for most tasks within his or her company, but will may be new to the volunteer organization and in need of information and close management.

Ken Blanchard’s describes Development Level is a combination of competence and commitment.  He says that when people start a job – or join a committee – they are highly motivated and committed, but their competence is low. At Developmental Level 1 volunteers need lots of Direction. They are eager at that time for tons of information, but too often no one takes advantage of that motivation and hunger for information. Remember that when you are leading volunteers.  When a new person joins as a volunteer, you will strengthen motivation if you provide great orientation. Include things like:

  • A history of the organization and a description of all programs
  • Names and a bit of history on current leaders — too often names get thrown around and the new volunteer feels like an outsider.
  • An explanation of the most common acronyms of the organization and a sheet that describes the rest.

At Developmental Level 2 people still need a good bit of Direction, but now they’ve likely lost some of that beginning enthusiasm – and perhaps they’ve encountered some roadblocks. Now they need both Direction and Support – information, project plans, and deadlines along with appreciation and supportive conversation.

A few ideas for support might be:

  • Send frequent notes of appreciation, and encourage the group to do the same for each other. You can bet that every volunteer frequently thinks, “I don’t have to do this; this is not my real job.”  The next thought is, “And someone should thank me.”
  • Keep mission front and center. You want everyone thinking first about why they are doing this – the mission of the organization and the cause they are trying to advance.
  • Let volunteers participate in idea generation and brainstorming. The more excited volunteers are about the mission of the organization the more they want to add their voice. If you are in the meeting, hear all the voices and acknowledge, but keep the meeting moving toward closure.
  • Make meetings fun when you can. You may want to set meeting ground rules that all agree on early on. I find the ground rule of balanced participation extremely helpful in any meeting. One option for expressing this is: “We need all voices. Speak up if you tend to be reticent, and limit your air time if you tend to be very vocal.”
  • Connect people who would benefit from knowing one other – that can help the volunteer experience be even more helpful for a career, and certainly builds loyalty.

Many of us, no matter what our natural propensity, struggle with holding others accountable when we are not in charge. There are some great ideas in Stanley Portny’s Project Management for Dummies. A few that may be helpful when managing volunteers are:

  • Be specific regarding end results, time frames, and expected levels of effort
  • Get a specific commitment!
  • Put it in writing
  • Emphasize the urgency and importance of the assignment
  • Tell others about the person’s commitment
  • Agree on a plan for monitoring the person’s work (in a volunteer setting this will mean setting deadlines that all are aware of)
  • Always acknowledge good performance – never forget the support!

At Developmental Level 3, according to Blanchard, people are knowledgeable about the task, and don’t need much direction, but may still lack confidence, and often need support, encouragement, and a willing ear. At the volunteer may be more confident and competent about that project than you are. I remember a year when I served as the leader of all the major events for an Association. One person on my team had managed the major fundraiser for several years, and had the project down cold. She did a phenomenal job, and any meddling from me would have added nothing. That’s the kind of volunteer we are all hoping to grow – and become!

SUMMARY: It’s been said that if you can manage volunteers you can manage anyone. Why? Because in a volunteer setting you are leading by influence only – you have no real authority over those you lead. The same leadership principles apply – just more so. Begin by establishing a shared vision that all feel excited about, and build strong relationships with everyone on your team. As you lead, think constantly about balancing empathy and respect with accountability and follow through. Provide lots of information and direction in the beginning, especially for new volunteers, set up systems for monitoring, and be ready with support and appreciation as the volunteer gains experience in his or her role.

April 7, 2014

Did you know that April 6-12 is National Volunteer Week? President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974 as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. AMA Atlanta would like to acknowledge and thank all of our fantastic volunteers! We couldn’t do what we do without you!

A special shout out to our AMAzing AMY Awards volunteer team. The event was a huge success and would not have been the same without all of your hard work!

JessicaByrdJessica Byrd: Jessica is a visual communications specialist who advises businesses and organizations on how to effectively leverage print and digital communications in their daily marketing efforts. A graduate of Clemson University’s Graphic Communications Program, Jessica moved to Atlanta in June of 2013 and is actively involved in both the AMY’s and DECA AMA committees.

“I love AMA for all the wonderful resources, engaging events and great people!”




Dawn Hill: Dawn is a Media Director, Planning & Buying at Media Brokers International.  She has experience planning and executing both national and local campaigns in all media verticals.

“I love AMA because of the people I meets at events and through volunteering.”




Hayley Johns: HayleyJohnsHayley is a public relations professional at Jackson Spalding, one of the largest independent communications firms in the Southeast with offices in Atlanta, Dallas and Athens, Ga. Since joining Jackson Spalding in 2008, Hayley has worked on a broad cross-section of accounts including media outreach and events for large real estate clients, marketing collateral for a regional transportation initiative, social media for a not-for-profit campaign and communications support for one of the world’s most recognizable brands.

“I love being a part of the AMA Atlanta chapter because of the unique opportunity to collaborate with marketing professionals from agencies and companies across Atlanta.”

KariLyonsKeri Lyons: Keri is a graduate from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and works for Brandmovers Inc., a global leader in digital engagement, as an Account Manager. She is an avid dog lover, has a huge passion for her Georgia Bulldogs, and most recently developed an obsession with watching Angel and Buffy on Netflix.

“I began volunteering for the AMYs Awards in 2011 during my internship at Engauge. I love planning events, so being a volunteer for one of Atlanta’s biggest events was very exciting for me. It was also a great way for me to meet professionals in the Atlanta community who have definitely helped shape my career to what it is today. Since then, I have joined AMA and have continued to assist with the AMY Awards and enjoy every minute. Can’t wait to start helping with next year’s awards!”

JimReynoldsJim Reynolds: Originally from Boston, Jim has over 15 years of digital marketing, communications and brand management experience.  With a background in analytics, Jim helps companies to develop brand building communications programs across a wide range of social, digital and traditional marketing platforms.

“Joining the AMA was one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve had the opportunity to meet, work with and learn from some of the best in the industry. It’s been a great experience far exceeding my expectations.”



Andrea Sadtler:Andrea Sadtler Andrea is part of the Corporate Partnerships team for the Atlanta & Gwinnett Braves and can be your go-to girl for sponsorship opportunities with the teams. She moved to Atlanta from Chicago after getting married on May 26th and resides in Buckhead with her husband, Andrew.

“The AMY’s was my first experience with AMA and I have loved the opportunities it has provided me with getting to know some of the most influential people who live and work in my new home!”

To view a slideshow of AMA’s volunteers in action, click here. For more information on how you can get involved email our Volunteers Chair – Lisa Maclellon.

March 25, 2014

Congratulations to the 2014 DECA Scholarship winners – Sarah Green and Sage Fuller. Thank you to AMA board member Brandon Pelissero, Roshonda Coleman and AMA President Renee Spurlin for judging.

DECA Scholarship Winner

Sage Fuller from Alcovy High School – $500 winner

DECA Scholarship Winner

Sarah Green from South Forsyth High School – $1,000 winner

December 9, 2013

ARMHC image

It’s December and the influx of holiday parties have begun! Perhaps you have a large number of invitations sitting in your inbox, but the AMA Holiday Mixer this week is one you don’t want to pass up. We will be hosting this annual event favorite on December 12th from 6:00 – 8:00pm at Tongue & Groove.

Similar to last year, we’ve partnered with our friends at the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charity to give back to those in need this holiday season. Help us help others by bringing an unwrapped gift to the event. (Suggested items can be found at the end of this post.) The Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a home away from home for families of ill and injured children who must travel to receive treatment at Atlanta area hospitals. With your help we can make their holiday a little brighter.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Ronald McDonald House Charities Gift Suggestions:

Bibs, pacifiers, soft books, bottles, art kits, iTunes gift cards, video games, stuffed animals, Legos

Guest post by Jennifer Groese (@JGroese), YP SIG member.

November 12, 2013

Image via Papermag.com

This year the AMY Awards, AMA’s annual recognition for outstanding marketing efforts, has a new category:  Best Use of Pumpkin Spice in a Marketing Program.

Ok, it hasn’t cleared the AMA board yet, but with the onslaught of pumpkin in everything from coffee to catnip every year at this time, it deserves consideration.  Here are some nominees for brilliant marketing in this category:

1.  Starbucks

Could be credited with starting it all. Starbucks has successfully branded its Pumpkin Spice Latte known by devotees as “PSL,” and rules in Twitter and Facebook mentions.  This is the 10th Anniversary of the PSL, sold only during a limited time, and its highly anticipated seasonal debut creates a frenzy each year. Results:  per season, 20 million PSL’s sold, generating $80 million, not counting the bottled Pumpkin Spice sauce, sold separately (Forbes). Can’t argue with that.


Image via DunkinDonuts.com

2.  Dunkin’ Donuts

A market leader in both coffee and donuts, Dunkin’ has an edge in promoting a double whammy of pumpkin treats and pumpkin beverages. They arguably own the fast-food pumpkin space with Pumpkin Pie donuts, Pumpkin Coffee Coolatas, and now Pumpkin K-Cups, all branded through solid advertising and savvy social media.  Results:  Dunkin’ took it to the next level, capitalizing on its assets.


Image via TraderJoes.com

3.  Trader Joe’s

Among the culinary adventurous, Trader Joe’s successfully positions itself as the one-stop for all things pumpkin.  The fall campaign includes a direct mail of their newsletter, featuring 35 pumpkin-infused products – pumpkin waffles, pumpkin body butter, pumpkin dog treats…along with recipes and clever anecdotes.  Results: with revenue of $10.5 billion in 2012 (Supermarket News), we’re guessing that pumpkin marketing sweetens both the brand and the bottom line.

4.  Yankee Candle

Pumpkin spice is not only a flavor, it’s a yummy aroma. Yankee Candle creates the ultimate customer experience in this category, providing sensory satisfaction with nearly a dozen pumpkin fragrances including Pumpkin Spice, Pumpkin Brulee and Pumpkin Buttercream.  The heady in-store aroma literally draws customers in.  Results:  the pumpkin fragrance lines are top sales contributors during fourth quarter.

5.  Grandma

Definitely could be credited with starting it all.  Most of us would not even know what pumpkin spice is without Grammy’s famous pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving.  In terms of brand recognition and longevity, she takes the cake (or pie). She only gets fifth place because of low resulting revenue, unless you want to count hugs and a heart-warming user experience.

Is this why consumers are so crazy for pumpkin spice at this time of year: the cozy, comforting association with home?  A nostalgic reminder of simpler times and autumn family rituals?  Or is it brilliant marketing with a limited time availability and addictive sweet-spicy taste?

What local businesses have capitalized on the demand for pumpkin during fall?


Guest blog by AMA Member Ann Morgan Kaser

Ann Morgan Kaser writes about retail trends from a marketing perspective.  Her background is 15+ years in retail real estate marketing.

November 8, 2013

Atlanta Tech VillageAll I can say is “wow.” After our October 24th speaker event featuring David Cummings, I’m struggling with how to fit his amazing story into a blog post. If you have a passion for veering off the beaten path, I highly recommend hearing David’s success story in person. I should warn you though, don’t be surprised if you walk away feeling really under accomplished (unintentional of course).

As with most entrepreneurs, David’s drive started at a young age. In middle school he decided to transform his back yard into a putt-putt course, making his first profits off of friends who wanted to come over and play. Then, a few years later while most of us were attending keg parties, David was busy building software and starting companies (note how I said companies- plural, not company- singular).

At an early stage in his career, he quickly realized that even if you build something spectacular, you still need to figure out how to sell it. This was the turning point in which David realized that if he wanted to become successful, he was going to have to learn a thing or two about sales and marketing – and that he did! Once he started segmenting his target audience, he was able to enhance his products to better meet their needs – ultimately building a stronger company.

It wasn’t until 2006 when he had his first idea for Pardot. (Trick question: do you know what pardot means in Latvian?) After paying $8 to register the domain, he was off to build another company from the ground up. Many people might not know this, but Pardot actually started as a PPC lead generation service. After its launch, David soon realized that the platform he built was actually more appealing to consumers than the business model of delivering leads. Recognizing this early on, he quickly adjusted Pardot’s path into a marketing automation platform instead.

As Pardot became extremely successful, he also pointed out another lesson – the startup with the most venture capital doesn’t always win. His company was going head-to-head with competitors who had deep pockets, and beating them each time. It was interesting to learn that from Pardot’s beginning, until its recent acquisition, the company remained lean and never accepted VC.

One of the neat things we’ve all heard about this company is how unique their culture is. The AJC even named Pardot as the #1 place to work in 2012. No wonder! They had their own masseuse on payroll, and they provided up to 4 hours of monthly housekeeping for all employees.

When David finally decided to sell Pardot later that year to ExactTarget (for $100 million in cash!), he didn’t kick his feet up for long. Instead, he got permission from his wife (smart idea) to buy the biggest building he could get his hands on, and start a community where he could support the growth of tech start-ups. Once he closed on the building, he sent out a tweet saying, “We’re open,” and within 24 hours the space at the Atlanta Tech Village was completely sold out! And who said you couldn’t show a ROI for social media?

To date, the ATV houses over 110 companies and is committed to growing the economy by fueling innovation. It’s simple – the more start-ups that graduate from the ATV, the more jobs that are created and the better our economy becomes.

A big thanks to David for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his story with us.

Stay tuned—the YP’s have more events to come!

PS – The Latvian word pardot translated means “to sell.”

Guest post by Jennifer Groese (@JGroese), YP SIG member.

October 28, 2013

Jennifer GroeseMeet our Volunteer of the month - Jennifer Groese and follow her @JGroese

Jennifer Groese is a strategic, can-do marketer with over 6 years of B2B and B2C experience, offering an extensive track record in corporate event management, marketing automation, social media and client relationship management. Her success in effectively managing multiple high profile projects to increase profitability and overall company growth recently led her to her current Marketing Manager position at The List, the leading online business intelligence for marketing services and media companies.

With a passion for standing out, Jennifer enjoys keeping a pulse on emerging trends and finding innovative ways for her company to stay ahead of the pack. Her addictions include checking Mashable.com multiple times a day and constantly downloading Hubspot’s thought leadership.

As an active member in the marketing community, Jennifer has been a part of the American Marketing Association Atlanta chapter for the past two years and currently blogs for the Young Professionals SIG.

Jennifer holds a BBA in Marketing from Kennesaw State University and is planning to start her MBA in the next year.

October 25, 2013

ReneeLast week, we learned that AMA Atlanta won first runner up in the national Chapter Excellence Awards from more than 75 chapters nationwide. As we aim to help you grow throughout your career as a marketer – through premier programming, an ever-growing network and helpful resources, we’re thrilled that our hard work is paying off and earning national recognition. Congratulations to Ashley Schoenith and our amazing team that put all of our achievements last year into this award submission.

And if joining an award-winning chapter isn’t enough of a reason to become a member of AMA Atlanta, here’s another: it’s our annual membership drive! Click here for more information.

I look forward to seeing you at our next event!

Renee Spurlin
AMA Atlanta

October 9, 2013

AMA_102413Here’s a treat for our entrepreneurial minded members – a glimpse into what makes David Cummings tick. As the founder of Pardot and the Atlanta Tech Village, the Young Professional SIG is thrilled to have David hosting our first speaker event of the year. Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 24, 2013 as we learn more about his initial vision behind Pardot and his later decision to sell it, eventually leading him into a different project—the Atlanta Tech Village.

Learn what it takes to build a successful start-up company, and how marketing is tied to it’s prevail. To make the event complete, we’re even hosting it at Atlanta Tech Village – the breeding ground for start-ups. So gather your friends and bring your questions as we all learn a thing or two about building a one-of-a-kind company.

To register, click here.

Guest post by Jennifer Groese (@JGroese), YP SIG member.

September 20, 2013

allisonMeet our September Volunteer of the month – Allison Mulling

Allison Mulling is Director of Marketing at Mulling Corporation, a 26 year old Human Capital firm that was named the #1 Best Place to Work by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.  As Director of Marketing, Allison is responsible for all areas of marketing to include public relations, internet, social media and corporate communications.  Prior to joining Mulling Corporation, Allison worked with the Ritz Carlton in Barcelona, Spain where she was involved in public and community relations as well as corporate marketing initiatives.  Allison is a native of Atlanta where she attended Pace Academy, graduated from Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Virginia and received a BBA with a concentration in Marketing from Oglethorpe University. In her free time, Allison enjoys gardening, travelling, spending time with her two basset hounds and she has been busy planning her September wedding.

“AMA Atlanta has been an important part of my professional career for several years now.  With so many fun events to attend, I am always excited expand my network of respected industry leaders, and the topics for the numerous events have provided me with great ideas and information to take back to work with me. The volunteer opportunities are endless and it is a pleasure to volunteer with and learn from the dedicated professionals at AMA!”

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