Being on the forefront of transformative ideas can elevate your association from relevant to indispensable. But with so many ideas emerging in the association space and others yet to be uncovered, it can be challenging to know which ideas could be right for your organization. This month's Executive Take explores some of the top ideas associations should consider according to PAR's 2023 GOAT Award nominees in the areas of digital initiatives, education, partnerships, audience engagement and employee wellness. We asked six association executives and industry leaders:

What is one big idea for associations to consider this year?

"Sometimes, I think association executives have problems launching new initiatives whether they're digital or not because they think, ‘If we try this and it doesn't succeed then it's been a waste of time and effort.’ [Matchbox] would love to help people think instead about it as piloting an idea. It's an initiative, it's something new, we're going to measure it and we're going to see how it works. And if we can learn from it and change a few things for the next time, then this is something that we can really make succeed over the long term."

Michelle Brien

Michelle Brien

Matchbox Virtual Media | Vice President, Marketing
2023 GOAT Award Recipient | Digital Initiatives

"[Tagoras] is seeing an intersection of three key areas right now. One is employer and workforce needs. There's a lot of talk about that right now in terms of having people rescale, upscale and meet the needs for talent in different industries. The second is that there's this increasingly clear need for defined learning pathways that you can create for learners to be able to meet those employer and workforce needs. And then the third one is this need for new types of credentials - not just the degrees or the heavy certifications that are out there, but flexible, compact credentials that can validate those learning pathways that meet employer needs. If you can align with workforce and employer needs, create learning pathways that serve those needs and then validate those with credentials, you are going to be incredibly valuable. You're going to knock it out of the park and revenue isn't going to be an issue for you.

Jeff Cobb

Jeff Cobb

Tagoras | Managing Director
2023 PAR GOAT Award Nominee | Professional Development & Education

"When I think about the big idea that will transform the way we work, the way we sell and the way we generate revenue it comes down to the way we start to use and adopt generative AI in our sales world. I think there are two places where any association or any sales professional can begin. They can start using generative AI for lead generation and lead qualification. (How do I get to good prospects faster? How do I get to better quality prospects faster? How do I have a little more data that helps me be more informed when I do my initial outreach to a prospect?) The ability to be faster and better and more precise in that area gives people more time to actively sell, build, and cultivate those relationships. And I think the second place that any association and any salesperson can start to use generative AI is how they bring together personalized content, personalized images, personalized proposals that match that need and that solution piece."


Carrie Hartin

MCI USA | President of Sales, Solutions and Services
2023 PAR GOAT Award Nominee: Solution Provider Partnerships

We've all heard the sales adage that people do business with and refer business to people they know, like and trust. And, that is no different for an association. In some cases, it might even be that much more powerful for an association because people are coming to work with you. They've got to like the folks around them from administration down to the membership, and then they've got to trust that you are delivering for them to help them grow. I believe a "Know, Like, Trust" storytelling flywheel is how you become known for what you know and what your organization really stands for in the marketplace."


Park Howell

Business of Story | Founder
2023 PAR GOAT Award Nominee: Audience Engagement

A foundational element that I think leaders of associations and revenue generating teams need to realize is that when you come to work, you are borrowing your employees from their lives. Leaders need to ask themselves, ‘What can I do to make my team's time and effort more impactful?’ I think we need to create a culture of trust. I think the employees need to trust their leaders, but also leaders need to trust their teams. We need to dramatically reduce unnecessary meetings, and we need to provide flexibility in where we work, when we work, and how we work… and, we need to consider adopting a 4-day work week. If you wanted to increase your revenue of your association by 36%, decrease your resignations by 42%, lower employee burnout by 68% and make it 63% easier to attract new talent, would you consider taking action? That's what the data supports for a 4-day work week."


Dana Johnston

American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) | Director, Corporate Strategic Partnerships
2023 PAR GOAT Award Nominee: Employee Wellness

"The hardest problem I think to solve is the 'getting stuff done' and making incremental improvements consistently to get where you want to be. It's just like folks who take the CAE and want to be in study groups. If you're going to try and get on a weight loss program, you're better off doing it with friends, right? It's because of that accountability. The big idea is that folks need to find pockets of accountability with their peers who are going through similar things. Find a way to implement things in a structure that's going to help you stick to it and move forward."

Carrie McIntyre Headshot - Black for circle

Carrie McIntyre

Navigate CES | Principal
2023 PAR GOAT Award Nominee: Corporate Partnerships