Hot Topics with Laura Sperber: LIFE AT THE ANA
A MINDBLOWING CRAWL!
First I will say the experience so far has been far WORSE then anything I expected. Yeah, I know many people told me so, but I could not grasp the concept. The one thing I am impressed with, for as much as things are NOT happening, the current board is trying. Our President does have a very open mind and wants to push forward, but he is horribly bogged down not only by the past, but he can’t move mundane items out of anyones way to move forward.
All my life I have been an entreprenur who is used to having an idea and making happen. I came to the ANA to make change. Apparently at the ANA that does NOT happen. What a brick wall I have hit. There are people so entrenched and so many of people I call “cling ons” who use the place as a piggy bank, they will make sure status quo is kept even-for them to thrive.
I spent two full days out at ANA HQ in Oct and all we did was meet the staff, listen to really boring presentations for their pensions and debate the budget. What came out of that meeting-at least for me? A sense of frustration and nothing really being accomplished. This is after having 15-20 items on the agenda. We spent 4 hours listening to propsals on transferring the employees pendsion, then four more hours discussing the budget. Seems to me the pension pitches were not some thing the board should have spent its time on. In fact I’d guess 80% of the trip was wasted time hearing things that managers should be doing-not a board. There really was little room or any effort to make change happen.
Then back at home, I have dreaded reading my emails. Every day I get muliple wasteful emails. The other day I read 7-8 emails about the ANA snow day policy? REALLY? With the ANA in such decline is this really what I have to hear? Now they are yakking about the new logo. Besides having multiple opinions on it, I do not understand what geunis is saying “its for the membership” but did not ask the membership to pariticpate and send in designs. I would have made a contest. Now we will be saddled with 200 viewpoints and no direction.
I am also very frustrated at the development of the web site. I do not see much info about it, seems the head of the project is an “artist” you don’t dare question. I dunno, to me this is one of the single most important things the ANA needs to have done. The slow work on it and cost in my mind are absurd, but I have a deaf voice on it. The insiders in this place are amazing how they cling to their thrones. While I am not technolically savvy, I did direct the building of Legend Morphys web site in RECORD time. Our web site definately handles far more traffic then the ANA’s-and is a live ecommerce site. Still, thereis little to nothing I can do here. I’ll go nuts when this project ends up costing more down the road because critical things weren’t included or if the site just fails.
This past week I was traveling and got sick. So I could not participate in the budget conference call meeting. Prior to this I was involved in all the lengthy discussions about it. I was as horrified as anyone to read the budget was passed with some big spending chunks. At the last meeting I thought we were going to be presented plans on how there would be cust and improved revenue. Apparently that did NOT happen. If things came down the way I believe they did, I would have voted a meaningless NO. I agree with Gary Adkins, approve the budget, BUT give us plans how we will show fiscal responsiblity. Gary voted no because all the vote did was not offer any plans and just band aided all the problems. THIS IS NOT ACCEPABLE nor will it help the ANA down the road.
Last, I have been horrified at how the ANA Show has diminished itself as the #1 show. I have been banging the drum loud about an attendence rate thats fallen BELOW 10,000. The President heard me, but after that its all deaf ears. This the ANA’s show piece, one of its biggest revenue bases, and we can’t let it slide. There is some comittee out there, but I see and hear NOTHING from them about how to make a better show. I proposed a contest to spiffy up the tables as well as a new traffic flow. Those ideas have died already. I am highly annoyed that I get an email from the ANA atty about confidentiality of the auction contracts-when I have no clue about them and I have asked for them. Thats the ANA Shows #1 source of revenue. The decaying ANA Show is just one area that in my eyes needs immediate attention. Earning better revnues and partnering more with NON Numismatic companies is another priority. But that seems to get swept away.
The sad thing is, I believe the ANA will survive and maybe even grow financially because two board members are working on a world class project that should infuse the place with substancial funds. If this project does happen, then there will be no urgency for any change or improvment at all. I can see lots of money being thrown at bad causes and wasted issues.
I ran on the promise to make change. So I must appologize that so far all I have done-is NOTHING. I have not yet figured out how to get around the nonsense, stubborness, and dug in fifedoms that exist. Right now I am embarrased to acknowlge I am even a board member. The place BADLY needs a total house cleaning. While the board does indeed work hard, several members need fires lit and a new mindset. Unfortunately, I must support the untimely and probably unacceptable budget vote. This is not what I had planned. The way things are now, I’ll be long out of my term when my real goals and ideas would even be heard.
At the next major meeting, I am going to call for HUGE and painful changes. I am going to make sure my voice is heard. I still have a huge fight left in me! The ANA board is a little more transparent. However what you will never see are the closed doors sessions-where NOTHING happens! Minimal transparency can’t be the only real change this board is known for.
P.S. I also want to make it clear, I do NOT accept any perks what so ever from the ANA. I pay all my airfare, hotels, meals, and expenses when I travel. I never asked to be reimbursed for anything. I am not involved in this for ANY financial gain or publicity. I just have a burning desire to make the ANA better.
Please feel free to email me with your questions and firstname.lastname@example.org