3 Lessons: Wind at His Back

Wind at his Back Associations Now July/August 2019 Issue

As a sailboat racer, Marc Bernstein, CAE, knows how to get a team across the finish line. He explains what the sport has taught him and how it helps him succeed in association management.

Marc Bernstein, CAE
Director of Information Technology
American Society of Anesthesiologists
Schaumburg, Illinois

Meet the mark.

In sailboat racing, a “mark rounding” is where my team performs complex, high-stress, and high-stakes maneuvers. As my association approaches a project, milestone, or mark, we always talk through who does what and in what order. We also discuss contingency plans. Whether doing a system “go-live” or executing an in-person event, be sure to talk through details and anticipate any challenges to the plan.

Avoid shortcuts.

“Banging a corner” is when your boat heads to the far corner of a course hoping for a wind shift that puts you in the lead. While it can sometimes work, more often than not you’ll come in last. Instead, I try to stay focused on performance. Do little things well and manage risks effectively. You may not come in first, but you’ll do the job right and be widely respected by your peers.

Give it your all.

Adversity and change will be ever-present headwinds to a job. When a sailing team hits an unexpected wind gust, we take an all-hands-on-deck approach. The same should be true for associations. Even though it may not be your responsibility or duty, be willing to pitch in and help out. That’s what will get your team across the finish line.