C-Says / D-Says – Jan 23, 2018

Ask me no questions; I’ll tell you no lies


After more than seven months, I’m still the ‘new guy’ around the offices of Essentient Association Management. So it should come as no surprise that when I get asked a difficult question, I sometimes have to go to a higher authority for the answer.

I consider myself to be a pretty smart guy, so I do my best to figure as much out on my own as I can. Or, depending on how I’m feeling, I just go on instinct, hold my breath, and hope nothing awful happens.

Since taking the position of ‘new guy’, I’ve been asked a couple specific questions dozens of times and no matter how many times I hear them, they always manage to cause me some consternation.

What is an AMC and what the Hell does Essentient mean?

It doesn’t help that these are questions are most often by friends and family. Try as I might, it’s hard to pull the wool over the eyes of those who know me best.

But for those who don’t have the pleasure (or misfortune) of knowing me well, I’ve come up with a pretty awesome B.S. answer for the former. I simply tell them I’m the VP of Business Development for AMC. “You know, the television network responsible for The Walking Dead? Yep, that’s me!” And then I run away before they have a chance to ask any incriminating follow-up questions like whether or not I’ve had lunch with Norman Reedus.

I’m not saying it works often. Actually, it’s never worked. Not once. Ever. But it’s a heck of a lot less painful than trying to explain what an Association Management Company is because that almost always involves having to explain what an association is. When it gets to that point, that’s when I wish I had of chosen to become a teacher, or a lobster fisherman, or an organ grinder. At least when you tell people you’re one of those things, they don’t stare at you blankly for the next five minutes.

As for that other question, let’s just say I haven’t figured out my go-to answer yet. Come to think of it, I don’t even know what the actual answer to that question is.

Gonna have to see what Constance says about that one …



Way to put me on the spot ‘new guy!’ But I wholeheartedly agree with you, it’s not easy trying to explain what we do for a living to folks who may not even know understand the association sector.

But allow me first to explain the origins of Essentient, a word that will not be found in any dictionary or book of baby names.

Essentient is an amalgam of two words – essential and sentient.

Essential is an adjective denoting something that is absolutely necessary or extremely important. It defines the nature of what we know and are capable of doing. Our staff perform the necessary and important tasks, projects, events, etc. that help our association clients thrive and grow. I also like to think that we are essential to the volunteer/staff team.

Sentient is an adjective that means able “able to perceive or feel things.” Because of our deep commitment to our clients, their members and stakeholder and because we are also volunteers during our off hours, we feel what associations experience as stewards of their community or sector.

So schmoosh those two words together and you’ve got ESSENTIENT, the name of the company that I founded in 2005.

Now as to that “What is an AMC?” question, I often find myself explaining my life’s work to glassy-eyed inquirers who were only being polite in the asking.

We are a full-service, associations-first AMC and a founding member of the AMC Institute Canadian Chapter. Therefore, it makes sense that I quote the AMC Institute’s definition rather than make up one of my own.

According to them “Association management companies, or AMCs, are for-profit businesses that manage associations to help them grow and prosper. They offer the expertise, staffing and resources that allow professional societies, trade groups, not-for-profits and philanthropic organizations to effectively manage day-to-day operations and advance their long-term goals. AMCs deliver high levels of expertise and accountability so that associations can continue to increase their value and relevance to members.”

Essentient is that and so much more!

But perhaps that is another C-Says/D-Says topic for another day.


C-Says/D-Says is a regular blog column created and written by Constance Wrigley-Thomas and Doug Duke of Essentient Association Management, Burlington, ON.