Work/Life: Share a Mistake You’ve Made and How You Learned From It

Learn from these association professional’s mistakes! They share via video and q&a in this month’s Work/Life feature.

By About the Author

Work/Life Mistake

We all make mistakes. Whether you made a mistake when you first started your career, or you made one yesterday, it’s the lessons we learn that stick with us. Thank you to all the brave association professionals who shared their mistakes with us! We asked members to share at Forum Forward 2022 as well as in Association Forum’s online community. Stay tuned to the All Member Meet Up for future Work/Life questions!

Karen Williams

I think a lot of others could commiserate with me on this, but learning to protect your time! I’ve been added to meetings that ended up being a bad use of my time since I couldn’t add any value to the discussion, I’ve responded to emails outside of normal work hours, and I have a hard time saying ‘no’ when people ask me to get involved with a project.

Too many specific instances to probably count, but I’ve learned to be protective of my time – as well as my team’s time. Ask in advance why you are requested at a meeting and politely decline if you can’t add value to the discussion. Create clear expectations on when you are – and are not – available for work conversations. And above all else, take time to consistently review tasks/projects and prioritize as necessary to allow you time for those passion projects!

Karen Williams
Director, Governance
Society of Actuaries

Bruce Hammond

When starting a new Director of Marketing & Communications position several years ago, I came into a place with established leaders who had been in their positions for awhile, and I tried to initiate change quickly to enhance the work being done. Big mistake. It ruffled feathers and I got significant pushback from those other directors, which caused a rocky and very difficult start to my tenure there. I have learned that while there may be better ways of doing things, when starting in a new position, it’s incredibly important to take some time to build relationships and assess the organization’s willingness for change before pushing things forward.

Bruce Hammond, CAE
Account Executive, Association Management Center

About the Author

The mission of Association Forum is to advance the professional practice of association management. Founded in 1916, Association Forum serves 3,000 association professionals whose efforts serve more than 27 million members and generate $10 billion in global annual expenditures. Visit for more information.

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