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MCL May/June 2014 - Practicing the Fundamentals
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Practicing the Fundamentals

by Gene Sullivan, President of New Concepts Management

I have had the privilege in the past of meeting a good number of the 1965 American League Champion Minnesota Twins who played against the Los Angeles Dodgers that year in the World Series. I have the further honor of being able to call one gentleman in particular on that team friend.

Frank Quilici was a solid utility player for the Twins. While it has been noted that he played all of the in-field positions at one time or another, I remember seeing those games with Frank as second baseman.

“Too valuable to let go”

After retiring as a player, Frank was too valuable to be let go by the Twins organization. He stepped into further roles as coach, manager, and finally radio color commentator. The reason for Frank’s value? I remember him telling me a number of years ago, “The superstars of the game (like a Ruth, Killebrew), they are fantastic to watch, but if you ask them ‘how do you do this or that?’ They don’t know. They just do it. They’re naturals. For the rest of us, we get there because we watch and ask, how did they do that? And then we practice again and again, and again….the fundamentals!”

Association management, like baseball, has several core fundamentals, that if practiced over and over again, will help us in becoming “too valuable” for any organization to let us go.

Let’s take a look at a few of the core fundamentals of baseball, and see how they apply to us as professional association managers. We will look at throwing, fielding, and batting.


To be successful in throwing the ball and getting it where it needs to be in a hurry, you most certainly need strength and balance, but most importantly you need accuracy. Similarly in association management, we need to practice our accuracy. Are we diligent to make sure that our communication to others is accurate so that we truly “say what we mean, and mean what we say?”

I have seen well-meaning association managers not take that second look before sending out a work order request, only to find that the contactor went to the wrong home. And now that the work has been done, who pays for it? I have seen in the noble effort to get things off the desk, letters sent out; instead of taking the time to have a second set of eyes proofread, to make sure issues were clarified, things became worse, and more people than before now take up more time asking further questions because they are concerned, not relieved.


The most important aspect in success at fielding a ball is in your anticipation of it. You need to get to that spot on the field quickly where the ball will be, and be prepared to receive it.

In association management, don’t we truly spend more of our time managing people and expectations than we do the physical plant of the property?

Are we similarly prepared or anticipating to “field” those questions we know will be asked at the next board meeting, or do we say the all-too-familiar, “I don’t know, I will have to get back to you.”

We need to remember that nature abhors a vacuum. Because of this, anytime we are not prepared for an answer, it is only human nature that people will start to fill in the blanks. When that happens, people worry, and when they worry, you can’t work fast enough to get the answer(s) to them. When you instead have anticipated a question that you know the board treasurer will ask again this month and have the answer right away, it builds the confidence that others have in you, and that translates into credibility.


When it comes to batting, we immediately think of the homerun. While they are always showy and certainly a lot of fun to watch, games aren’t won on homeruns as much as they are by RBIs (Runs Batted In). Not every time at bat can result in a homerun, but more often it can result in a single base hit. It’s when you can string one after another, after another, that your team’s score is really racking up. That is how games are won.

Similarly, in association management, think about those “smaller” base hits that we can make a connection with, like the return phone call, getting violation letters out quickly, getting a jump on the spring walk-through inspection punch list right away in May and not July. Believe me, it is our execution on the smaller things day in and day out, that make a difference that cause contracts to be renewed.

In the end, you truly become that invaluable member of the team when you practice your fundamentals regularly. The consistent execution of a fundamental that results in a good play. And the consistent execution of enough good plays results in a good inning. And finally, the consistent execution of enough good innings culminates in a game won.

Published by Community Associations Institute — Minnesota Chapter, copyright 2013. All articles and paid advertising represent the opinions of authors and advertisers and not necessarily the opinion of either Minnesota Community Living or CAI–Minnesota Chapter. The information contained within should not be construed as a recommendation for any course of action regarding financial, legal, accounting, or other professional services by the CAI–Minnesota Chapter, or by Minnesota Community Living, or its authors. Articles, letters to the editor, and advertising may be sent to Monte Abeler at, or at CAI–Minnesota Chapter, 1000 Westgate Dr., Suite 252, St. Paul, MN 55114.

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