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3 Lessons: Continuing Education

For William D. Pawlucy, MPA, IOM, CAE, the Chairman and CEO of Association Options in St. Paul, Minnesota, leadership means constant learning. –

Learning never ends.

In a five-year period, I was elected president of a state society, earned my master’s degree, and earned my CAE. But I knew I wasn’t done. Today, I’m in my second year as an examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and I’ve gained a tremendous amount of education and experience in this position. I’ve kept digging and learning to ensure that I provide value while maximizing my portability in my career.

You’ll have to fight stereotypes.

In my first executive director position at an association, I worked with older and “wiser” professionals who attacked my credibility because of my age. They didn’t know I had significant business experience in Asia and Europe. You cannot fight or argue the fact that you are a younger professional, but you can arm yourself with education.

Leadership builds on itself.

Leadership has brought me to where I am today as a successful owner of a company dedicated to addressing nonprofit issues. That work has led me to increasingly complex projects with complex demands. I have gone beyond the corner office to a global office. But my goal has remained the same: Lead with humility and follow with urgency.

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