Volume 7

Reflections on Past, Present and Future Commitments:Fall is a great time to reflect and I was thinking recently about our eighteen years working with clients and candidates in the private club search business. I recently discovered the original mission statement in one of our early files and I am happy to report that I think it has stood the test of time without any changes.Our Kopplin and Kuebler Mission Statement has three elements:

  1. Improve the wellbeing of our client clubs
  2. Advance the careers of our candidates
  3. Have fun every day

Because of all of the support we have received from our clients and candidates I truly believe we have an opportunity for at least the next eighteen years to stay true to our mission statement. I can tell you, our entire KOPPLIN & KUEBLER team is committed to that goal.

Volume 7 of the Kopplin and Kuebler Report newsletter (below).

Dick Kopplin 

Richard M. Kopplin, is a Partner of Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement.



Trusted News You Can Use

What Search Committees Are Looking For

I sometimes wonder if I’m not stating the most obvious when I consistently talk to candidates about what boards and search committees are looking for in today’s managers. Then, I walk into another boardroom and have it hit me yet again – this board is looking for skill sets that should be “101” competencies in most candidates! Where is the professional development and personal awareness to do a consistently better job in addressing these real or perceived needs at most clubs?

While most of us are products of the environment we grew up in or environments that we are exposed to on a consistent basis, there are certainly many managers who have looked in the ‘mirror of self-awareness’ and recognized areas within their skill sets that truly need to be sharpened, even though they are areas some of us simply don’t have interest in or feel comfortable doing so.

So, from the perspective of a person who has sat with countless boards and search committees, in hours and hours of candidate reviews and interviews, and have many observations of what areas those groups are really focused on and interested in from most candidates; here are the characteristics that stick out most in my mind:

Personality and professional presence! I’ve sat through too many interviews where I’ve seen hugely qualified managers (lots of success and competency) not connect because they had (or didn’t show) either of these qualities! Comments like “Kurt, I didn’t think you were ever going to ‘wake him up’ in this interview,” or “do you think he got that tie from Goodwill,” or “she may be the most competent, but least interesting candidate I’ve ever talked to” have emanated after interview sessions.

Clearly, you don’t want to be someone who you are not, but you also don’t want to ‘not show who you really are!’ Further, in today’s club world, there are very few ‘office administrator’ managers; those who don’t need to be engaged and interactive with both members and staff. So, if that isn’t a part of your personality consider getting into a business that embraces that style or change it! You must have enough personality, passion and enthusiasm to be sincerely and actively engaged in most every aspect of the club, or it likely won’t work, at least not over the long run.

Finally, pay attention to your ‘personal presence.’ That can be from how you dress to how you present yourself in interactions – looking others in the eye, a firm and focused handshake, a confident (without ego) direct answer to a question, or simply your presentation in the attire you select. They are ALL part of the multiple evaluations that people have of you every time you meet. And, if they don’t pass first muster, it’s pretty hard to get a ‘mulligan.’

Financial acumen and the ability to convey it! Lots of people want the title and all that comes with it, but from our vantage point, you’ve also got to be able to live up to the expectations that come with it. As an example, many of the most successful managers we see give the financial report in their board and finance committee meetings. If you want to be in charge, you need to be able to convey how the business is functioning and share the trends that it is following. The problem for many is that they’ve been conditioned to think that that isn’t their role, or they simply don’t have the confidence to do so! So if this is an area that you know you need to develop further, getting more knowledgeable and articulate is increasingly more important in order to establish and maintain credibility in the boardroom.

Team Development and Mentoring! The ability to get the ENTIRE team (all operating departments) focused on consistent and COLLABORATIVE goals and objectives, and understanding why, is a critical success factor of most high performing club managers today. Having a strong focus on all of the major areas of this competency – effective hiring, using new and/or proven tools for evaluation like DiSC Assessments or Myers-Briggs evaluations, robust orientations, on-going training and development programs (in ALL departments, not just F & B!), and such are becoming “101” basics in high performing clubs, led by a focused manager.

Skillful in Non-Profit Governance ‘Dynamics!’ The ability to navigate the often and increasingly choppy waters of well-intended volunteerism and its impact on the basics of ‘running the business.’ Clearly, getting anything done, and then getting it done consistently, is an area that needs laser focus on a constant basis, but is an area many managers spend very little to time understanding or trying to improve upon. It is, however, the ultimate cornerstone to success in many club organizations and is something that many boards now recognize is a critical success factor (the ability to lead/manage in this area) of their manager.

Organizational Health Awareness! While it encompasses most of the above, a passion for working through organizational health issues – whether it be politics (both with members AND within the staff ranks), ensuring clarity of mission, and oftentimes simply dealing with those nagging, but real issues that just need to be resolved. Too many managers get themselves into hot water because they just don’t deal with the painfully obvious issues that they know have to be dealt with!

So, for fear of again stating the obvious (all of it being ‘common sense’ but not ‘common practice’), these basic but not so easy to master skill sets are critical in today’s business/club world. A real focus and self-awareness of how one stacks up and ‘rates’ in each of these categories is a really good exercise for all of us to do on a regular basis!



Kurt D. Kuebler 
Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM, is a Partner of Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement.

Take Control of Your Career (and Life) with a Personal Strategic Plan

In order to remain relevant and continue to thrive in the future, smart clubs focus on the strategic planning process to pave the way for their members’ futures and their future members. It isn’t surprising then that boards are looking for GM/COOs who have strategic planning experience.

Do you have experience creating a strategic plan for your club? If so, great! If not, take some time to create a personal strategic plan – it’s a great way to become familiar with the process and you may even accomplish some personal goals that move you ahead strategically in your career and your life! Finally, organizations create strategic plans for a greater ROI; your personal strategic plan will provide greater ROE (Return On Energy).

To create your own personal strategic plan follow the same steps as a club follows:

  • Develop a personal mission statement
  • Perform a personal SWOT analysis
  • Create a personal strategic plan

1. Develop a personal mission statement.
The central core and guiding force of a club’s strategic plan is the mission statement. A mission statement is “a statement of the purpose of a company, organization or person, its reason for existing.” In a club, a mission statement should “guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making.” If a potential decision is in alignment with the mission statement, it makes good sense to consider it further and possibly adopt it. If the board is considering a potential action that counters the mission statement the action should be scrapped.

Do you have a personal mission statement? Is it written down? Do you see it every day? Yogi Berra stated “You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.”

Your personal mission statement is a written description of the person you intend to be. It is an official statement that guides you in identifying goals and providing a path. It also makes decision making easier. This written statement should be placed in a location that you will see every day – just as clubs place mission statements in the board room. If you are looking for your next career move, a great location for your mission statement is at the top of your resume (instead of an objective).

Your personal mission statement should describe where you want to go, is achievable, and should last a decade to allow time for success. The mission statement should be written in first person, present tense. For example, my personal mission statement is “I use my technical skills, facilitation experience, and interpersonal relationships to promote quality of business and quality of life.” Notice that “I” is first person, and “use” and“promote” are present tense.

This is also a good time to review your club’s mission statement to ensure that your personal mission statement and the club’s mission statement are in alignment. If they aren’t, you might want to start looking for another club “home.” My personal mission statement is in alignment with Kopplin & Kuebler’s mission statement which is “We are committed to the success of our client clubs, the professionals that we place and the industry as a whole.” My personal mission statement further supports Kopplin & Kuebler’s supporting goals which were mentioned in Dick Kopplin’s article but I will restate here:

  • We will advance the careers of our candidates
  • We will improve the well-being of our client clubs
  • We will have fun every day

There are several online references and books available to provide more information about developing your personal mission statement. I’ve listed a few book recommendations at the end of this article.

2. Perform a personal SWOT analysis.

Once you have developed your personal mission statement, the next step is to perform a personal SWOT analysis – another process that is gaining popularity in club boardrooms. Use the SWOT analysis process to identify your Strengths and Weaknesses (which are internal); and Opportunities and Threats (which are external).

There are a number of great books available and information online to help you identify your strengths including Now, Discover Your Strengths by Buckingham and Clifton. Focusing on your strengths is truly where your greatest growth potential comes from – enhancing what you already do well. It is important to know your weaknesses and address them by improving or finding others within the organization that have strengths to compensation your weaknesses, but your strengths are what set you apart.

The tool that is most commonly used for this process is the SWOT matrix shown below. Simply list the strengths that you intend to enhance, weaknesses that you plan to manage, opportunities that you should seize, and threats that you will manage or avoid.

Strengths (Internal): Personal realities that will help you achieve your goals. Weaknesses (Internal): Personal realities that will make it more difficult to achieve your goals.
Opportunities (External): Outside events, conditions, or plans that might create opportunities for your goals. Threats (External): Outside events, conditions, or plans that might threaten your goals.

After brainstorming and recruiting others who you trust to assist in this process you should have enough information about yourself and your environment to start writing a strategic plan.

3. Create a personal strategic plan. 
A personal strategic plan is an evolving document on which you list your primary goals and objectives within a specified amount of time. Think of it as your action plan. Review the SWOT analysis and focus on your most important strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; and then create your plan. A typical format and example is shown below.

Goal Objective Action Items Time Frame
Earn CCM Pass CCM exam
    • Study


  • Take certification review course
  • Take exam


  • Now until 1/12/2014
  • 1/12-16/2014
  • 1/17/2014


Your personal strategic plan is dynamic and should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. If you are interested in using a strategic plan worksheet, just email a request to lisa@kkandw.com.

Earlier this year while I was conducting a GM search, I submitted a couple of AGM candidates who were interested in interviewing for their first GM position. One of the AGM candidates shared his personal strategic plan with the search committee as part of his professional portfolio and you can imagine how that documentation impressed the search committee – although he didn’t have experience at the club spearheading a strategic plan, he had created (and updated) a personal strategic plan that included both professional (career and departmental goals) and personal goals. It demonstrated that this candidate understood the importance of the strategic planning process, had some strategic planning experience, and also had a proactive nature.

Yes, the exercise of creating a personal mission statement, performing a SWOT analysis, and developing a strategic plan will be an investment of your time, but it will pay off in a return on that investment – you will have gained experience in the process and you will take charge of your career and personal growth. Consider this Will Rogers quote: “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Recommended Reading (Leaders are Readers)

  • Now, Discover Your Strengths (Buckingham & Clifton)
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey)
  • How to Find Your Mission in Life (Bolles)

Lisa Carroll
Lisa Carroll is a Search Executive at Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement(www.kkandw.com) and a faculty member of CMAA’s Business Management Institute I (BMI I) at Georgia State University.

Ask Nan: Details of Our New Application Process

If you have applied for one of our openings lately you may have noticed two ways to apply for most of the positions we list. You can send an email to me a with a resume and detailed cover letter attached or (and here is the new method) upload your resume directly to the job posting. Some of our newest listings even request that you upload your resume and cover letter directly as the only option.

Why? With the expansion of our search team, our locations, and our number of searches; it has become necessary to streamline the application process and store those applications in a central location. It has already cut down on the number of emails back and forth (and who doesn’t benefit from that!) and will hopefully continue to improve our productivity and response time.

How does it work? Click the link at the end of the candidate position profile for that particular position and club you are interested in, and then complete the online form. The application process takes just a few short minutes if you have a resume and cover letter ready to upload.

1. Type your email address, name, phone number, street address, city, state, zip code, tell us how you heard about the position; and then click the Continue button.

2. Upload your resume by clicking the Choose File button then navigate to the appropriate file, click your resume file (Word or PDF format) in the list of files, click the Open button in the Open dialog box; and then click Continue.

3. Upload your cover letter (addressed to the Search Committee of the Club and formatted like a proper cover letter) by clicking the Choose Filebutton and following the same directions as step 2 above; and then click Continue.

4. The last page that displays in the process will inform you that your application was submitted successfully. You will then receive an email confirming your application and we will be notified that your application was submitted successfully.

It is a simple and quick process and eliminates the need for you to send us a detailed email along with your resume and cover letter. We hope you find the process helpful and we welcome your feedback.

It is important to note that the rest of our process remains the same and is why we are so successful in finding the right candidates for our client clubs. Our new application process just makes it easier for you to apply and for us to manage the applications.


Nan Fisher
Nan has worked with Dick Kopplin for over 10 years. She is the Administrative Manager at Kopplin & Kuebler. E-mail your “Ask Nan” questions to:nan@kkandw.com

The Advantage in Club Management

Many parallels have been drawn recently between books written about the world of business and the private club industry; Hit the Ground Running, Cowboy Ethics, Raving Fans, The New Gold Standard, just to name a few. Also, clubs of all sizes and types are applying the principles found in Phil Newman and Bob Salmore’s (McGladrey) article, Private Clubs: To Be or Not To Be – A Business?.

The latest title added to the list is The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni, author of Death by Meeting and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The main premise presented by Lencioni is “Why organizational health trumps everything else in business.”
At Kopplin & Kuebler, our team gets to visit over 400 private clubs of all types annually. In doing so, we see both ends of the spectrum – from the top performing model clubs who are having great success, to the highly dysfunctional clubs that are really struggling.

Lencioni believes that businesses (and we believe private clubs) have two basic requirements for success: organizational intelligence and organizational health. Organizational intelligence is often the prime focus of a college curriculum and includes strategy, marketing, finance and technology.

Organizational health complements organizational intelligence and is often the differentiator found at highly successful organizations includes minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity and low turnover. Many of these characteristics are the same ones identified by Tom Peters nearly thirty years ago in his best seller In Search of Excellence. 
In the private club industry the basics found in the hospitality school curriculum include accounting, finance, facilities, technology, service and human resources. However, those highly successful model clubs also focus on governance, communications, community involvement, relevance, engagement and high member and employee satisfaction. It goes without saying that the factors contained in organizational intelligence at a private club such as a good strategic and business planning, a modern information and accounting system, well maintained facilities and a good staff, should be a given.
Lencioni believes that the four disciplines needed to achieve organizational health are:

  • Build a cohesive leadership team
  • Create clarity
  • Over-communicate clarity
  • Reinforce clarity

Leaders of a club team, should certainly understand the importance of having a cohesive team, and I am certain that we have all been asked many times – “Why didn’t’ you tell me about that.” Thus, emphasizing the need for clarity and over-communication.

As a consultant in the area of strategic planning, I have often seen clubs that used the organizational intelligence tool of developing a strategic plan, only to have it sit on a shelf and not be used effectively due to lack of communication of the plan to all of the constituents.

It made me smile recently while at a club management conference at a highly performing model club, when the speaker, Bill Adams from the Center for Creative Leadership, asked a staff member about the core values and basic components of the club’s strategic plan. Her response indicated that she was very informed and engaged about her club’s plan and its roadmap for the future. It was obvious that she was a skilled team member that had a clear vision of what her role was and how her club intended to continue to enjoy success.

I could go on and on about how the content in The Advantage relates to the private club industry, but I would rather encourage you to purchase the book and be that leader who will help ensure your club’s success!

John R. “Jack” Sullivan, CCM
Jack provides consulting services to private clubs. He specializes in strategic planning and other private club operational issues.

Embedded Leadership

“Embedded Leadership” while perhaps a new term, is certainly not a new concept. The question is how many managers are truly embracing the concept and “embedding” themselves in their club’s culture and operations.

I think it was the war with Iraq when American reporters first coined the term “embedded journalist.” While journalists have been “embedded” for decades, this was the first time I had heard the phrase. While there is nothing glamorous about a war, the concept of someone immersing themselves in a situation so they can understand it at its foundational level fascinates me. In “clubdom” we often say we are immersed, but I often wonder to what degree and with what level of efficacy.

In a recent presentation to club marketing professionals I asked the group to see who had truly immersed themselves in their clubs and found that while many had done some, none had done it all. The suggestion is that you have to walk in another’s shoes to fully understand their world. The best way to lead is to do so from a position of empathy and knowledge and the best way to do that is to immerse or “embed” yourself in the many components of your operation. I know many of you might feel this is beneath you or not worth your time, but I suggest the contrary. There is nothing more important than knowing the people who serve with you and intimately understanding the environment, challenges and protocols they engage in to do so.

Challenge yourself to schedule time (real time, not a fifteen minute conversation with the grounds crew) to embed yourself with all of your functional departments. Work with a section leader on your grounds crew for a morning, help set up the ballroom with your service staff before a large event, or work a shift in outside services as just a few examples. You might be surprised at what you learn about the people and processes that make your club unique.


Greg DeRosa
Greg DeRosa is a Search Executive at Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement(www.kkandw.com).