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Blog Feature

By: Angie Karpouzis

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May 11, 2017

ACESYD17 Day 1 Round-Up: Using Failure to Drive Success

ACESYD17

Welcome to the first day round-up of the AusAE Conference and Exhibition 2017 (ACESYD17). My job at the ACESYD17 conference (aside from hosting Stream B and the ACE Learning Zone) will be to give you a round-up of the day’s activities so you never miss a beat of the packed ACESYD17 program.

So, let’ start at the beginning.

We started the day with a bang – the bang of drums that is. What better way to kick-off the opening plenary than with a drum crew? Junkyard Beats woke us all up with a high-energy performance and then led the crowd into a (fairly) synchronised audience clap-off. Hats off to the AusAE crew for starting the conference in such a unique way.

From here, most sessions touched on a similar theme: appreciate and accept failure.

Theme of the Day: Accept Failure as Part of the Journey

We have all tasted the bitter fruit of a failed experiment, but this experience is what makes us better executives, marketers, and membership executives in the long run.

Craig Davis (shout-out to everyone who accidentally mentioned R&B singer Craig David on Twitter today) started the morning with his presentation "The Future Looks Human." Craig gave us three steps to success, including learning to appreciate failure:

  1. Train Your Attention
  2. Learn to Appreciate Failure
  3. Go on a Journey from Ego to Empathy to Compassion 

Craig highlighted the times that he has failed in his career as the great steps to finding success in other ventures. He cited his business Tushare as the accidental catalyst for his newest enterprise Sendle and lamented the common association's tendancy to play it safe.

Craig also shared that he felt these experiences were richer when they were less about his ego and more about conscious capitalism and getting ahead together. He mentioned his support team is called The Customer Happiness Team and how his organisations always put people ahead of profit.

Next on the “failure is pivotal” agenda, Bill Moore from Fitness Australia. You’ll forgive me for being biased toward this great session as I am a former member of the Membership Team there.

Bill took us through the journey of being the new CEO at Fitness Australia and finding that your association has lost touch with its members. On a mission to realign with members and change industry attitudes, Bill shared his strategic tool set and the resources he used to set Fitness Australia back on track.

Bill gave credit for his transformative work to Dr. Jason Fox, his former wife Michelle Bridges, and many others, citing the need to look outside yourself for change management strategies. Again, failing was front of mind for Bill as he mentioned the strategies that sometimes go wrong when attempting to make great change.

Next up was Sara Gonzalez from Redback Conferencing, and yours truly, discussing the new Redback Report. In its fifth year, the revealing report shines a spotlight on how we all interact and engage with Digital Events.

Sara took the audience through the most important statistics of this report, most notably being that we all still get it wrong every once and a while. Respondents from the report disclosed that engagement is key and that longer content does not equal better content.

Associations should not be afraid to experiment with different types of formats and content as the report showed that members are eager for the association space to take their digital live events to the next level.

Finally, the day ended with Kitty Chiller. Kitty is the first ever female Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team and led our Australian athletes in Rio 2016.

Kitty's session was not so much about failure, but what to do when faced with adversity. The 2016 Rio Olympics is famous for its unfinished athletes village, stadiums, and generally poor organisation, and Kitty was right in the midst of all the drama.

She spoke to the AusAE crowd with advice for leaders under pressure. Her motto "best planned, best prepared, best performed" got herself and the entire Olympic team through the toughest Olympics on record in modern games history.

Kitty highlighted that sometimes being the leader means taking a hit (like she did in the media for bringing attention to the poor quality of the athlete accommodation) but staying true to your vision while advancing it for others makes everything worthwhile.

Kitty's session closed out the sessions for today. I'm heading off to the conference dinner, but I'll be back tomorrow with Day two's round-up.


There's so much to learn at the conference about treating your members right and engaging with them. For extra ideas on interacting with your members (and, really, making your job more fun), check out our new eBook 50 Ways to Boost Association Membership.

50 Ways to Boost Association Membership

About Angie Karpouzis

Angie Karpouzis is the Product Marketing Manager located in Aptify Australia's Sydney office. When Angie is not busy making people uncomfortable by tearing apart their favourite artist/film/tv show she is indulging in Sydney's live music scene or nerding out over popular culture. Engage with Angie on Twitter to discuss member engagement, how to build a community or email marketing.

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