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Jim Collins to Speak at the Alliance’s 2012 Annual Meeting

I spent 15 minutes trying to come up with a catchy headline for this posting, but in the end I decided that “simple and straightforward” works best in this situation.

Jim Collins – one of the world’s most recognizable business gurus and perhaps the most sought-after business speaker on the planet – will deliver the keynote address at the American Fraternal Alliance’s Annual Meeting on Friday, September 7. If that’s not enough to get you to “save the date” for this year’s meeting – and re-schedule any other event you were even thinking about attending – I don’t know what will.

Add Collins’ participation to Saturday’s keynoters – James Carville and Mary Matalin (and really, who else would you rather discuss the November elections with than these two) – and you’ve got a one-of-a-kind program that any business leader would want to attend. And don’t forget the top flight series of workshops that will be included in your registration fee and the location itself – the Ritz-Carlton Hotel (at an unheard of room rate of $149 ) in New Orleans, Louisiana (home of lagniappe and laissez les bons temps rouler).

Collins is no ordinary speaker. He’s the best-selling author of Built to Last, Good to Great, and, most recently, Great By Choice. A Jim Collins’ presentation (and yes, you are encouraged to ask questions) is like an MBA course and business philosophy lesson rolled into one. Incredibly, hundreds of organizations invite Collins to speak to their groups each year, and yet he accepts only a handful of these engagements – and only the groups and companies that really fascinate him. That means you won’t hear a canned speech based on one of his books, but rather a personalized presentation focused on the characteristics of the fraternal system that can separate us from the financial service herd and distinguish your society as a “great” organization.

Annual Meeting registration will be available online in April, but mark the dates of the meeting – September 6-8, 2012 – today. And plan to bring key members of your staff and board to this year’s meeting. In the meantime, don’t forget to register for the Alliance’s upcoming educational programs. Each of these programs is a tremendous value and focuses on the topics and issues fraternal executives and board members are faced with every day.

Here are a few of my favorite Jim Collins quotes to whet your appetite:

“I’ve never found an important decision made by a great organization that was made at a point of unanimity. Significant decisions carry risks and inevitably some will oppose it. In these settings, the great legislative leader must be artful in handling uncomfortable decisions, and this requires rigor.”

“The best CEOs in our research display tremendous ambition for their company combined with the stoic will to do whatever it takes, no matter how brutal (within the bounds of the company’s core values), to make the company great. Yet at the same time, they display a remarkable humility about themselves, ascribing much of their own success to luck, discipline and preparation rather than personal genius.”

“If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could. I’d put off everything else to fill my bus. Because things are going to come back. My flywheel is going to start to turn. And the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of organizations never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good – and that is the main problem.”

“Those who built the good-to-great companies, however, made as much use of ‘stop-doing’ lists as ‘to-do’ lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sorts of extraneous junk.”

“A visionary company doesn’t seek balance between short-term and long-term, for example. It seeks to do well in the short-term and in the long-term. A visionary company doesn’t simply balance between idealism and profitability: it seeks to be highly idealistic and highly profitable. A visionary company doesn’t simply balance between preserving a tightly held core ideology and stimulating vigorous change and movement; it does both to an extreme. In short, a visionary company doesn’t want to blend yin and yang into a grey, indistinguishable circle that is neither highly yin nor highly yang; it aims to be distinctly yin and distinctly yang – both at the same time, all the time.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Jim Collins in person.  Be sure to save the date and join us in New Orleans in September.  In the meantime, pick up one of Collins’ books and think about ways your society can go from just “good” to “great”…

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