PureReinvention Podcast Episode 028

Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, talks to Mike Bills about how the City of Detroit is creating a new, better reality and how organizations can do the same.


Episode 28 - Dan Gilmartin Promo


“When it comes to innovation...we have a tendency to innovate when we’re in crisis, and we innovate at the edges of our own competencies.” (2:25)

“Detroit is beginning to embrace its grittiness, and embrace the fact that it is kind of the ultimate DIY city right now.” (10:25)

“Not everyone has to get into a Detroit situation before they change.” (11:43)




At 11:10 Mike asks Dan how association leaders can give people permission to innovate and he offers some really good advice.

Listen in at 17:20 as Dan tells people visiting Detroit to “find the energy” and highlights some of the compelling grassroots movements that are happening in the city.



1 - Detroit is more of a organic bottom up example of reinvention, not process and top down approach.  This process is wholly transferable to other communities.

2  - Detroit’s struggle with changing times may be more public than others, but it is not unique. Many individuals and organizations are in the same spot and need to rally together to embrace the new.

3 - A crisis isn’t the only time to be seeking change. It’s okay to create a little chaos in the face of stability.

4 - Employees have to share the vision and own their part of it if in order to be successful.
5 - When you move out of your comfort zone and into different spaces, you think differently and bring something new to the table.

Direct download: Dan_Gilmartin_-_51815_8.56_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Spencer Johnson, President of Michigan Health and Hospital Association, shares his thoughts and wisdom with Mike Bills about continuous learning and keeping his finger on the pulse of the industry he serves. 



“There’s nothing that works as well as being out in the field and talking to your members.” (4:25)


“You have to be on your feet, you have to be alert. Change is constant.” (10:38)


“All of us are smarter than just one of us.”(24:35)



Jump to 8:15 to hear Spencer elaborate on a quote about continuous improvement that guides him and his decision-making process.


At 16:00 Spencer breaks down what he believes are the three key groups in associations and why they are important.




1 - Associations have a great deal of influence over public policy and advocate for their members and the industry they serve at state and federal levels.


2 - Associations have many ways to connect with members, but it’s worth going the extra mile to make face-to-face connections with them on their own turf.


3 - Earning the respect of those you lead as well as other leaders will help you build a positive reputation that you can leverage to make change.


4 - Foster a team attitude. Sometimes the assists are just important as the big plays.



5 - Dont be distracted by endless process.  Have a bias toward action.

Direct download: Spence_Johnson_-_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:03pm EDT




PureReinvention Podcast Episode 026


Andi Osters, Social Media and Brand Coordinator at the Michigan High School Athletic Association, talks to Mike Bills and Misty Elliott about her decade of experience growing up in the association industry.



“You’ve got to learn how to monitor first. You need to understand the history before you can make a change.” (6:52)


“I’m not sure association management is as clear of a profession as we need it to be to sustain what [associations] have right now.” (16:00)



Around 13:00 Andi explains how being nimble and examining old processes frees up leaders and associations to find success.


Make sure you listen to Andi’s insight around 20:30, where she makes a thoughtful assessment of how residents in Detroit are taking risks to reinvent the city.



1 - Impactful leaders will help individuals grow by giving good direction and setting achievable goals that allow staff to take ownership.


2 -  Eagerness to take on new projects and reinvent old processes is a good thing, but it’s wise to temper that ambition with careful assessment and monitoring before forging ahead.


3 - Stay nimble and aware of the current climate so you can adapt to serve the changing needs of your customers.


4 - Associations can learn from Detroit business owners and stakeholders that are taking risks because they believe in the city’s and the people’s ability to change.


5 - Be curious, even if it feels a little dangerous. It will help you discover unexpected things and, in Andi’s case, a delicious restaurant.


Direct download: Andi_Osters_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Amy Frankmann, Michigan Nursery & Landscape Association


This is the most honest, personal and captivating episode we have to date. Amy Frankmann, Executive Director of the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association talks to Mike Bills about her journey from questioning whether she was in the right line of work to becoming a leader her colleagues seek out for insight and problem solving.


“[Creating space] is not about time, as I learned. It’s actually looking at everything in a different way. Like stepping outside the association’s front door and looking in.” (7:20)

“It’s about finding the opportunity, instead of going in and doing your job and not allowing the interaction with others [to happen].” (11:00)

“Every meeting I went to, even if it was for 5 minutes after the meeting with a leader I had identified...I would find somebody and talk to them. And I would come out of it with one great thing.” (12:10)


At 9:10 Mike asks Amy how she was able to transition from being heavily involved in the day to day processes to stepping back and using her time differently. Her answer is the best advice any executive could have for how to create more connections.

Mike and Amy have an ‘aha’ moment around 17:00 about how the process sometimes inhibits the product. Keep listening as they talk about how barriers to growth and success are not in the marketplace.


1 - It doesn’t have to be lonely at the top! When you find the courage to share your difficulties and experiences with your peers, they are often empowered to admit similar things.

2 - Being exposed as not knowing it all is the number one fear executives talk about time and time again. But once you put it out there, you attract a network of people that want to connect, share ideas and work together to figure out the challenges you’re up against.

3 - Intentionally step outside of your day-to-day grind to get a different perspective on how you, your staff, and the organization are doing things. Where can you move pieces around to get a better outcome?

4 - Asking questions everywhere - in committee meetings, with staff, at lunch with a colleague - can move you from being overwhelmed and paralyzed to finding new and different approaches to the same challenges.

5 - Creating space for new opportunity does not have to be a significant time commitment. Assess how you are using the time you have and put yourself in the position to get fresh insight.

6 - As a leader, don’t be afraid of giving up a little control over staff output. Let them shine and excel and your products and services will shine and excel.

Direct download: Amy_Frankmann_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am EDT






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