Future-ready | Leadership | Management / Strategy

Podcast: What accountants can learn from associations

This week, we’re going to spend a little bit of time talking about my profession – the association world.

I work for the Maryland Association of CPAs, which means I don’t technically work in the accounting and finance profession. I work very closely with that profession, but my profession is the association world.

But really, when you come right down to it, it’s like splitting hairs. These two professions are remarkably similar — in how they operate, in their state of future-readiness, in their willingness to embrace change. Accountants and association folks are kindred spirits in a lot ways.

So I'm excited about this week’s guest, Reggie Henry, the chief information and engagement officer with the American Society of Association Executives. The ASAE is like the association for associations, which serves as proof that there really is an association for everything out there.

And there may not be a more future-ready individual alive today than Reggie Henry. Not only in what he does — which is to embrace all things new before almost everyone out there. But also in how he thinks. He is constantly on the lookout for new trends that will impact our businesses, our clients, and our lives, and that makes him the kind of person I want to talk to. I want to know … not what we need to be doing, but what we need to be thinking about. And that’s what Reggie’s all about. And he'll change the way you think about your world … I guarantee it.

In this conversation, we cover:

  • The challenges associations are facing today.
  • What the accounting and finance profession can learn from associations.
  • Why we need to change the foundations of how we plan.
  • What it means to be nimble.
  • The best examples of future-ready organizations.
  • What you can do today to help you and your organization become more future-ready.

Listen to my conversation with Reggie here.



You already own the future's most impactful technology Reggie says the technology that’s going to impact us the most going forward is one that all of us are already using: our mobile phones.

In the book The Industries of the Future, Alec Ross tells the story of Josh Nesbit, who is the CEO of Medic Mobile. Nesbit wants “to develop a tool that uses the light and camera on a mobile phone to diagnose malaria and tuberculosis, and for under $15.” This will be a huge advancement in health care in the developing world, if Nesbit can pull it off.

Ross also tells the story of a graduate student at MIT who started a company called EyeNetra, which helps to bring optometry to the more than 2 billion people in the developing world who cannot access eye tests.

Ross writes:

“EyeNetra has figured out how to mount a plastic lens, called a viewer, on a smartphone. The patient looks through the viewer, which connects to an app that can diagnose nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism and prescribe corrective lenses as needed. This saves a trip to the doctor and the use of a $45,000 autorefractor machine.

“Shortly after launching, EyeNetra successfully conducted more than 30,000 exams and raised $7 million in venture capital from legendary venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, allowing it to expand its reach even further.”

The phones we already hold in our hands allow us to save lives and improve the well-being of people throughout the world. It’s a technology we take for granted, but one whose potential to improve our lives has hardly even been tapped – especially when you consider the advent of 5G wireless, which will hit the mainstream within the next year or so.

And that’s Reggie Henry’s point: We already possess the most impactful technology we’ll ever hope to own – our smartphones, the things all of us are already carrying around in our pockets. And few of us have any idea what potential these gadgets hold or what opportunities these things provide for us, and for the folks we serve.

So, you want to know how to become future-ready? Spend some time figuring out how you can use the current and future power of these mobile devices to better serve your clients. There’s your competitive advantage.



William D. Sheridan