Lunchtime Links: An Early Adopter’s Path to Leadership

How CTIA's chief executive went from sponsoring an early cellphone company to leading one of the most important voices in the telecommunications industry. Also: Why quality trumps quantity in your professional circle of friends.

Here’s a trivia question: What former quarterback is now the CEO of a telecommunications association?

From calling the plays for the Seattle Seahawks to serving as a Republican congressman from Oklahoma, Steve Largent, now CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association, has an interesting history with cellphones.

The gist of Largent’s plans for the telecommunications industry, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links:

An industry always on speed-dial: Although Steve Largent told Seattle’s Morning News radio program that he was “never a techie,” his history with mobile devices goes back three full decades. Back in 1984, the former Seahawk was approached by the Seattle-based Cellular One about an endorsement deal, and the company gave him an early cellphone. While noting the device didn’t always work as advertised, Largent was hooked. When he went to Congress after his playing days were over, he helped craft laws governing the industry as a member of a telecommunications subcommittee. Now, as CEO of CTIA, which he’s led for the past decade, Largent continues to be an advocate for the telecommunications industry. So what’s on the agenda these days? “Fewer regulations, less taxes on our consumers and how that will help roll out these services to Washington state in particular even faster,” he told the radio show in an interview.

(Speaking of the early days of cellphones, be sure to check out our roundup of the key moments in mobile history.)

A room filled with great connections: According to Sonia Simone, cofounder and CMO of Copyblogger Media, building a network of influential people can change your social and professional life. But focus on quality, not quantity. “Being social is great, but you don’t need the world’s most massive network. You need a few strong connections with people you feel a real resonance with. Sometimes you get really lucky, and those people have audiences that are on your wavelength as well,” Simone says. “A handful of good connections can open out to thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of new connections — and one chance encounter could do unbelievable things for you.”

Those were the days: It seems like we’ve been trying to figure out how to track member engagement forever, doesn’t it? Wes Trochlil remembers what it was like back in the day: “Since the dawn of associations, membership professionals have been trying to measure engagement in order to ensure that members who are members remain members, and nonmembers who are actively engaged become members. Technology is now allowing us to do this in ways I could have only dreamed of two decades ago,” he writes. What tools do you use to track membership engagement these days? (And if you’re an old-timer, what worked best back in the ’90s?)

What’s on your reading list today? Let us know in your comments below.

(CTIA courtesy photo)

Anita Ferrer

By Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!