The 20-Minute Association Rock Star


I have never thought in my wildest dreams I will be a rock star! Recently, I had my “20-minutes of fame” as I was interviewed by Associations Rockstars, a US-based peer group created during the onset of the pandemic and now has over 600 members. It is one of the brands of Vista Cova, a boutique firm of expert facilitators headed by Lowell Aplebaum, which supports strategic planning, member engagement and governance design.

The main aim of Association Rockstars is to create stronger stakeholder connections and engagement for professionals in the association industry. The peer collaboration is meant to ask tough questions, provide a safe and fertile space for diverse views and share successes. It was Amy Hager, strategy advisor at Vista Cova, who interviewed me.

The conversation was light and delved into my journey into the association world. Excerpts below:

Amy: We believe that everyone has superpowers, especially rock stars. What is one skill you have that has helped you shine in your association journey? A fun bonus if you come up with a superhero name based on it.

Me: I can relate to Spiderman’s alter ego, Peter Parker. I don’t have his web-throwing prowess nor his self-healing power, but I somehow have his “Spidey’s sense”—the ability akin to ESP. My ESP though is not extra sensory perception but a special “energy to spot project ideas.” It always happens that before I can even process an idea in my head, it already manifests itself right in front of my eyes–like when I’m reading a magazine, doing my emails, or watching TV.

Amy: Was there a moment in your association journey when you realized that this wasn’t just a job for an organization but that you had found a really good fit or your professional home?

Me: Coming from a corporate setup, I was clueless at first how I will be able to manage an association and how I will be able to build a career in the association world. But that was 30 years ago and here I am still working with and for associations. The turning point of my journey was spearheading the founding of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (Pcaae) in 2013 as my way of giving back to a profession I was destined to have.

Amy: What do you see as the descriptors/indicators of the association rock stars of tomorrow?

Me: As you’ve noticed, I’m fond of using acronyms. This has helped me organize and recall my thoughts easily. I believe integrity is your passport to success so I’d say “BEST”: Be the best person you can be; Energize other people around you; Set a good example; and, be True to your word.

Amy: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

Me: Another acronym, “LEGACY”: Live; Enjoy; Give; and, Commit Yourself–to your life’s calling. Before this interview, my ESP was working again. I received an email from a long-time acquaintance, Vince Reyes, who wrote me a short verse and I quote, “This Bobby I know seeks no glory, just whole-hearted service to humanity and for this, he is recognized, unsurprisingly. What a joy and blessing to Pcaae and to society!”

Octavio Peralta is the founder and CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (Pcaae), the association of associations. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Pcaae and the BusinessMirror. Email: 

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