As printed in ASAE's Component Relations, December 2010
In 1986, I discovered what a virgin was. Madonna was everywhere on the radio, and I was spending the summer of 1986 at a camp in Arkansas with a new friend of mine, Raven, who hailed from New York.
Raven was the most cultured nine-year-old I'd ever met, and I wanted to be less goofy and more … poised … like she was. We went everywhere together, me in my multicolored faded swimsuit, and her in her sleek, shiny purple one that never seemed to dull.
It was on another typical day of hanging out in the camp pool when the discussion turned to music.
"Who's your favorite singer?" Raven asked.
"I dunno. It's probably between Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and Madonna." Dance music was a favorite for us, although I preferred to roller-skate to it. "Ooh, that reminds me! I just asked my dad to buy me the "Like a Virgin" tape at Wal-Mart, and I have it if you want to listen to it," I said.
Raven was laughing, incredulous, eyes flashing and eyebrow raised. An older camp guy we called "Turtle" was swimming nearby and snort-laughing.
"What? What is it?" I asked, confused.
"You asked your dad to buy you the tape? Did he actually buy it? Do you know what a virgin is?" Raven asked.
Looking between Raven and Turtle I felt queasy, panicky, and dumb. It was not fun being the last to know, and my side of the pool suddenly felt cold and alone.
CRP's Role as Educator and Student
After this initiation into the negative ramifications of being "the last to know," I took it upon myself to strive to be "ahead of the curve" in the future—to be more like Madonna herself. This holds especially true in my role as a CRP.
The component relations professional is a unique role that requires ongoing education. CRPs are often looked to as a resource in almost every facet of community building and micro-association management. What that means to the CRP is that we must always be educating ourselves while we are educating others.
Having been a CRP for three different associations before landing at my present position, I can tell you I couldn't afford to be out of the loop for too long. As soon as I thought I had seen it all, a new challenge would unfold before me, and a new quest for knowledge would begin.
CRPs and Madonna
The savvy (or even just competent) CRP learns how to be Madonna. Madonna is known for her reinvention of image playing into her underlying brand as an artist, entertainer, and icon. CRPs must adapt and evolve their approach to relationship building, education, and resources in the same manner to play into a CRP's underlying brand as a diplomat, educator, and motivational coach.
CRPs can build on knowledge and expertise in a number of ways, including the following:
- Attending monthly CRP Virtual Lunches;
- Reading the ASAE listserv and Acronym blog on a regular basis;
- Reading books and studies on team building, psychology of crowds, public speaking, how the brain works, association law, social media, and more; and
- Attending the weekly Association Chat (#assnchat) on Twitter every Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.
If you're interested in learning more about the resources listed here or need help locating your vintage copy of "Like a Virgin," please contact me at email@example.com, or contact our staff liaison, Wanda Little-Coffey at firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information. We'd be happy to talk with you about how you can get involved.
KiKi L'Italien is senior consultant, technology management, for DelCor Technology Management in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is chair of ASAE's Component Relations Section Council. Email: email@example.com