The Beauty of Istanbul

I had the wonderful experience of taking a post-IMEX 2012 tour to Istanbul, Turkey organized by Susan Sarfati and Liz Jackson.  The trip was generously sponsored by Turkish Airlines, The Hilton Hotel Istanbul and hosted by Esra Toğrul Gücüyener and Ünal Bilgin of Teamcon, a congress service company.

Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

With its 27 meeting rooms and breathtaking views of the Bosphorus, the Hilton was a great location to meet up with colleagues, take a stroll to Taksim Square or just lounge by the pool situated in the expansive gardens of this 5-star property.  This was Hilton’s first hotel built outside of the USA and opened in 1955. You can tell that the management and staff continue to celebrate the history of the hotel by keeping the shine on.

Decked out in a fez and Ottoman garb, a “Sultan Boat” attendant serves Turkish Delight.

Whether you are boating on the Golden Horn while being plied with Turkish Delight or you are attending a congress in one of Istanbul’s many modern meeting venues, you’ll be embraced by the warm Turkish hospitality and immersed in a culture shaped by three historical empires.  I learned first hand why Turkish cuisine is ranked among the top in the world and can be equally compared to that of France or Italy.  A taste of the famous kaymak (Turkish clotted cream) with a dollop of honey right from the honeycomb on crusty bread for breakfast followed by a sip of Turkish coffee is a true delight for the palate.

The Turkish flag filters the setting sun on the Bosphorus 


Armed with an iPhone and the Instagram App, and ready for adventure, each day offered a new and exciting pictorial essay as Esra and Ünal took us through many of Istanbul’s historical highlights and showed off the charm of the city’s hotels and meeting venues.  One of the most magical times was a short cruise on the Bosphorus at sunset as we traveled to the “Asian side” for a dinner with our traveling colleagues and hosts.  Caught between the European and Asian continents with breathtaking views, the Bosphorus offers a unique experience for business travelers and tourists alike.

As you might guess, it wasn’t hard to fall in love with Istanbul.  As a meeting planner, I would not hesitate to take a group to this great city with all that it offers.  In fact I was able to find a spa attendant at the Marmara Hotel in Taksim Square who was willing to hold my iPhone for a short video interview with Esra so that you can see for yourself what capable hands we were in!

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Social Media Panel: The How & Why for Your Association

Featuring Old Clayburn’s CEO, Willis Turner, CAE

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IRS Signals Potential Changes to Group Tax Exemptions

According to the ASAE website, the IRS has signaled that it might soon alter reporting requirements and filing procedures for group tax exemptions or even discontinue them altogether. “Associations with chapters and other subordinate organizations that qualify for group tax exemptions should closely monitor the developments and potential new regulations,” warns ASAE.

This direction aligns with IRS strategy to ensure open and transparent operation of exempt organizations.  Organizations holding a group exemption letter should expect to see  a questionnaire from the IRS about the group ruling in the near future.

In June 2011 an IRS Advisory Committee recommended that the tax agency eliminate the option of filing group tax returns. Up to 700 organizations currently file a group tax return, which means that any change to the group exemption ruling will have a huge impact in the non-profit world.

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Welcome to the new home of our blog!

Welcome to new home of our blog.  Formerly published at, we are broadening our scope beyond just all things techie for associations to include more association management topics.  This move will help us to respond to new trends and thinking in the association management world and hopefully to better serve our clients and the professional space of association management.  Enjoy!

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New IRS Reporting Requirements for Debit/Credit Transactions

The IRS has implemented new compliance requirements through Internal Revenue Code Section 6050W that will affect all merchants (including government and non-profit entities). Beginning in calendar year 2011, all merchants will be required to report gross payments received through debit or credit card transactions to the IRS on an annual basis. To verify this reporting, banks and merchant service providers will be required to provide both merchants and the IRS with Form 1099-K by January of 2012.

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7 Tips for Protecting your Online Identity

On July 2nd, 2011 I encountered my first (known) online identity theft.  Someone successfully hacked into my Facebook account using a Mountainview, CA IP address and proceeded to impersonate me using my Facebook messaging and posting to Facebook friend's walls.  They also setup a fake Yahoo email account using my name in the email address and solicited Facebook friends whose email addresses were available from their Facebook profile.

The solicitation emails claimed that I was injured in a car accident while attending a conference on climate change in London, my cell phone was lost in the accident and I needed money for hospital bills and airfare to return home. 

Fortunately no one that I know of fell for the scam, however one person did engage in a conversation using Facebook messaging in an approach towards responding out of concern for me.  Some Facebook friends saw it immediately for what it was and responded very firmly telling the hacker to get lost, knowing that I would never send an email solicitation like that.

Facebook security locked my account within 1 hour of the occurrence and required that I use their security system to verify my ownership of the account before I could get control back.

Here are 7 lessons I learned that you might find helpful:

  1. If this ever happens to you, immediately change the password to any email account that you have associated with your Facebook account.  Hackers usually gain access to your email first and then move on to your Facebook account. 
  2. Verify that your forwarding rules have not been changed in your email account.  Hackers who gain control often change the forwarding rules so that they can access your incoming emails.
  3. Setup and adhere to a regular schedule for changing your on-line passwords.
  4. Use alphanumeric passwords whenever possible.
  5. Use different passwords for email accounts and social networking sites.
  6. Be wary of 3rd party applications that connect to your Facebook or other social networking accounts in order to share information on your wall.  Some of these applications may in fact disclose your password to cyber criminals.
  7. Hide your email address(es) on your Facebook information tab.  Hackers who gain entry to your Facebook Friend's accounts will be able to harvest your email address to use in their cyber criminal efforts.
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Tips to Avoid the Risk of Losing Your Social Media Profile(s)

I have personally heard from more than one person who lost the access to some of their social media accounts and profiles because they only associated a company email address with their account.  Not a great idea if you lose your job or leave the company.  Your employer owns your email account and usually deletes it when you leave.

For example, if your company email address is the primary and only email address associated with your LinkedIn profile, you stand to lose your profile access and all of your network contacts.  Here is a tip right from the LinkedIn site:

You can change, add or remove email addresses on your LinkedIn account from the Settings page. We strongly recommend that you have more than one email address on your account. This will allow you to sign in to your account if you lose access to your primary email address. Your primary email address is where you want LinkedIn communications to be sent.


To see your current email settings:
  1. Move your cursor over your name in the top right of your home page and then click Settings.
  2. Go to the Personal Information section and click Email Addresses.
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Is Social Media Fomenting a Revolution Against Your Organization?

It is clear that the recent revolutionary activity in the Middle East can be attributed in part to the role that social media has played in creating communication channels for citizens to express their malcontent and to rally others around a cause.  Some are even calling it a digital revolution, while in China, the term "Jasmine Revolution" has been blocked on the country's Internet and even the seemingly business minded LinkedIn has been banned because the group function can be used to spread information about a cause.

There is one key ingredient that takes a revolution to the streets, and that is passion for the cause.  If people believe strongly in the cause, they will even take risks to their own life in order to see the fruit of their passion.  So, thanks in part to social media, dictators have been put on notice.

So, let's examine the parallel between the dictator powered regimes and the association world.  Organizations who do not operate transparently are in danger of being overruled by individuals who care deeply about the organization's cause.  Even a hint or perception of a tight network of "cronies" running an organization behind a veil of secrecy is cause for a revolution.

While social media has the potential of doing great things, perhaps one of the greatest benefits is the pressure that it puts on organizations to operate transparently.  Your organization and its leaders may not have any intention of wrong doing, but may be overcome by just the perception.  Now is not the time to "block out" the network.  Rather it is time to listen in and hear what your caring community is talking about.

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Social Media Revolution Vs 2

Erik Qualman, the creator of the original viral video, "Social Media Revolution", has done it again with his latest video, "Social Media Revolution 2".

The need for the video to be revised just 10 months after its original debut is an example of the speed at which social media is developing, growing, and improving constantly.

So how are YOU using this explosive tool to reach your association market?


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Fun with my favorite PICO Projector

Tired of paying those exorbitant rental fees for an LCD projector?  Well, now for less than the rental cost, you can have your own pocket sized projector for small meetings and board rooms.  I've been using my Cinemin Swivel with great success.

It comes with all of the connectivity you need for your iPhone, iPod or iPad and you can get an optional cable to attach to your PC, too.  I use my Cinemin Swivel with an iPad and the Keynotes App.  Works great, and it fits easily into my computer bag. 

I bought mine at Brookstone ($279.95).

Here is a video with more information.

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