Glass Canada

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Editorial: June 2011

Why associations?


June 10, 2011
By Patrick Flannery

Look at the photo from OGMA’s Race Nite on page 7. People are enjoying
themselves. Whatever else was accomplished that night, it made people
smile.

Look at the photo from OGMA’s Race Nite on page 7. People are enjoying themselves. Whatever else was accomplished that night, it made people smile.

People are fascinated with people. When I was starting out in magazines, my editor gave me a simple tip for taking a photo: always have a person in it. He illustrated his point by asking me to imagine a beautiful landscape shot of a mountain. Lovely, certainly, and worthy of a look. Then he asked me to imagine there is a tiny person way down in one corner of the picture. Instantly, the viewer’s attention is riveted to the solitary person, despite him being only a minor detail in a huge shot full of detail. Who is he? What is he doing there? Is he climbing the mountain? Is he lost? In my subsequent career I have found this principle to be correct over and over again. People just naturally focus on other people.

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And why not? We are social creatures. People in groups are relatively happy and productive. People alone tend to be miserable and desperate. Our brains have parts dedicated only to recognizing faces. All this suggests we not only prefer to associate with others, but we actually need to.

I think this bigger point has a more specific application in the case of trade associations. There are a lot of good, practical business reasons for supporting industry associations and remaining active in them. Frank Fulton hits on one in his regular column on page 26, and delivers a sharp kick in the glass to apathetic glaziers at the same time. So I want to talk about the less-discussed reason for participating in an industry association: the fun and satisfaction of interacting with your peers.

You probably don’t need an association event to get together and have some laughs with friends, but then again maybe you do. It can be lonely at the top of a company when you are The Boss to everyone around you. Few of us have much spare time for social activity after hours. Association events are a chance to meet and interact with other people who are in exactly the same circumstances as you, with all the same joys and frustrations. Sometimes it just does the heart good to shoot the breeze with someone who gets it. Is there ever such a thing as having too many friends?

There are the reasons for doing things that people talk about, then there are the real reasons they do them, and sometimes the two are not the same. My experience has been that, apart from all the good, logical reasons for supporting an association, people do it because they like it, and because they meet their friends there.


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