Nonprofit and public executives who are CEO-aspirants are a key target audience for our Extraordinary CEO Blog. Our aim is not only to help them reach the top, but to survive and thrive as CEOs over the long run. So we’re pleased to publish this highly informative podcast by Brandon Robinson. Vice President of Professional Development & Communications at the Virginia Society of Association Executives since 2014, Brandon will become VSAE’s Executive Vice President (CEO) in January 2016.
Brandon begins by describing VSAE’s turning point “vertical growth” strategy, which is aimed at widening VSAE’s focus beyond CEOs to encompass managers and executives at all levels in Virginia associations. He then gets into real detail in telling us how he has been preparing to become VSAE’s next chief executive officer. Brandon has been nothing if not meticulous in his preparation, and this podcast is a veritable primer for soon-to-be CEOs.
For example, Brandon takes full advantage of being only a few steps down the hall from VSAE’s current Executive Vice President, Rick Eisenman, who has been generously sharing CEO “tricks of the trade” and perspectives on critical leadership issues with Brandon. His intelligence gathering has also included meeting one-on-one with VSAE Board members, tapping the wisdom of an unofficial advisory committee of past VSAE presidents, and making use of a professional coach and various mentors. And you’ll be interested in Brandon’s short list of books that have powerfully influenced his professional development over the years.
Listening to Brandon’s podcast, I’m struck by three traits that I’ve seen in many highly successful CEOs and that bode well for Brandon’s career as an association CEO: openness to advice and counsel from a wide variety of sources; a passion for learning in diverse ways; and a healthy view of failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Referring to a particular professional failure early in his association management career, Brandon makes a point that has been made before at this blog (check out http://extraordinaryceo.com/sensible-failure/). Licking wounds isn’t of much use. Failure is an essential part of professional as well as personal growth, and the challenge for CEO-aspirants is to understand and act on the lessons that failure can teach us on our professional journeys.