360 Live Media
360 Live Media is an award-winning marketing, strategy and experience agency that solves business challenges for the most progressive industry associations and the world’s best brands.

The 3 A’s of Association Success

Working every day with executives of trade and industry associations and leaders of professional societies, I’ve identified three top traits of the most successful leaders. I’m calling these traits the 3 A’s: Ambition, Audience, and Activation.


The ambition I see isn’t selfish or egocentric—it’s bold, aspirational, and inspiring. These leaders embody a vision for the industries and members they serve, and it’s contagious, energizing, and attractive. It attracts people to emulate the ambition and encourages them to work hard to achieve it.


Another key trait is an intense focus on people—the audience. These leaders view their internal team as an audience in the same way they view their members and industry partners that provide so much financial support and thought leadership. These ambitious leaders are audience-centric. They make decisions, invest resources, and filter every action through the lens of their audiences. This is easier said than done and is only possible when the work has been done to truly know and understand the key audiences. The ONLY way to do this is research. No more guessing, relying on past experience, or inferring based on limited data. Great leaders know their audiences the way Amazon and your favorite waiter know you.


Ambition and meaningful insight about your audiences are only useful if you activate them into results. We must activate our credit cards and our phones before they work. To activate is to make something operable. Become an activist and make your ambition operable.


Today is a great day to begin a new journey. Start by getting to know your audiences better than you ever have and hit the “go button” that activates a plan in pursuit of your ambition.