Thursday, August 7, 2008

Connecting with your constituents

Most students don't care about Student Government, even if the SG is a powerhouse and is influential. Most students don't think SG does anything for them personally.

We have to show students that we're involved in their lives and that we matter throughout the year. SGs can't just be visible during election season (when they bombard everyone with fliers and buttons and freebies and accost passersby to vote).

One of ASGA's goals this year is to make sure we communicate with our members throughout the year in many ways. We developed a plan yesterday to call each member institution four times a year, to try to answer questions and remind them of what we offer and the resources we have. We also will e-mail them monthly with the ASGA newsletter, fax periodically, and mail them with updates. It's our hope that we teach our members how ASGA can serve them.

Your SG can do the same. You should develop a strategic plan of how to interact with your constituents regularly, to solicit feedback, share news, get ideas, and show you care.

Connecting with our constituents makes us relevant in their lives and then we become indispensible to them.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Time for what's important

As ASGA grows, the demands on my time as executive director are formidable. I could literally work 24 hours a day.

But I don't. My wife, children, and I have dinner together every night. Not only do we eat together, but we also read and discuss issues, laugh, and hear about the day's event and activities. I listen to what each of them has to say and what concerns or problems they may be having. Sometimes dinner lasts two hours.

It is an example of my focus on what is really important to me. I MAKE time to spend with my wife and children and it's not just scheduled to get it over with. It's a real time that matters to all of us.

Lately, with the price of gas, I have limited my trips into the office (I have a 40-minute commute), and instead am working two or three days from my home. This lets me play with the children, read to them, work around the house, and even go with them to events, like the local library talent show in which they performed last week.

All of this is intended to show that I'm trying to make time for what's important in my life. Student Government certainly isn't the reason I exist. Professionally, it is very important to me, and I see how our work can have lasting impact long-term.

But we should be more than our professions. We should do more than just our jobs. We must make time for what's truly important.