I recently had the privilege of speaking at a meeting of the Toronto Area SAS Society. It was a great meeting, and, honestly, I’m not saying this just because I was one of the speakers. TASS is the best run local user group I have seen. They have found the right balance of SAS Institute and user involvement so that they can all pull together without getting in each other’s way. I was impressed by the high level of enthusiasm and professionalism displayed, especially by Art Tabachneck and Matt Malczewski.
Attending TASS brought back memories for me, memories of the eight years that I led the Sacramento Valley SAS Users Group. I’m proud of my record. My goal was to have three meetings a year, and, with the help of many local SAS users, I met that goal. We had a perfect record, in fact. Under my leadership we held 25 successful meetings in a row.
It was fun, I worked with some great people, and, of course, I learned some things. However, some of the things I learned surprised me. So for all LUG leaders and for everyone who is thinking about becoming a LUG leader, I present
Three Things I Learned As a SAS Local User Group Leader
1) There is a vacuum of leadership in the world.
Lots of people want to be followers; few want to lead. If you have any interest in being a leader, you will find abundant opportunities. And you don’t have to start a group (although that is not a bad idea). There are lots of organizations (PTAs, clubs, RUGs, LUGs) just waiting for you to step into a leadership role. Don’t make them beg. Go ahead, volunteer!
2) You should never start anything without having an exit plan.
I hope this doesn’t sound negative because, honestly, it’s not. It’s just a fact. The default exit plan is “I will do this for the rest of my life.” That’s not a bad exit plan. In fact, it’s an excellent exit plan if the thing you are starting is a marriage or, say, parenthood. However, most people don’t want to be a LUG leader for the rest of their life. Therefore, it behooves you to have a plan in place for passing the reins to the next leader of your LUG before you take charge.
3) You need to give yourself credit because other people might not.
For some people this comes naturally; for others it doesn’t. If you are a modest person, then it’s time to learn how to toot your own horn. You’re working hard. Let everyone know it! I understand now why the governor has his picture splashed all over the state website. He’s good at giving himself credit. You can be too.
SAS has an amazing network of users groups–international, regional, local and in-house–all of which provide great opportunities for networking and learning. SAS Global Forum is, of course, the ultimate SAS users group, but if you can’t attend SGF, there are lots of others. The SAS Support site lists many groups. Why not get involved?