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Association Bisnow
June 12, 2008


Big shout-out to great new sponsor DC United! Don't miss the soccer event of the summer: United v. the LA Galaxy and David Beckham. Sunday, June 29. Tickets on sale now! 


Can you imagine rejecting memberships requests that would increase your association's numbers by 15% each year? Might sound a little nuts, but that's what Business Roundtable President John Castellani does. Of course, he's smarter than us, and has a reason. His 160-member pro-business group is open only to CEOs, most coming from Fortune 200 members like Citigroup and IBM. He gets about two dozen calls a year from CEOs who want to join, but like a popular girl before the prom, turns 'em down. Yet the Roundtable boasts a $25M budget, and the calls keep on coming.            


When we sat down with John at his own roundtable (well, okay, it has edges), he told us the Business Roundtable's policy isn't exclusive for the sake of it. True, they look for candidates among the well-known leaders of the Fortune 500. But John says what he really looks for are CEOs with a true interest in public policy who'll make active members. To find them, the Roundtable has a five-member nominating committee, which meets quarterly. The review process doesn't require any applications or interviews because the CEOs they'd want are already familiar to the group. (This is the association equivalent of, if you have to ask the price it's probably too much for you.) The committee invites 20-30 new members yearly. 


His group of potential members is changing quicker than ever these days. Johns tells us the average tenure of a CEO is now only four years thanks to increased shareholder pressure; 15 years ago it was almost double that. Often membership is transferred from one CEO to the next, but occasionally the nominating committee doesn't think a new CEO is a good fit and drops the company from its membership. But don't think Business Roundtable gets whatever it wants: John says a few CEOs decline membership, usually because they're too busy.        


John just got clearance from his doc to go back to tennis after he broke his shoulder nine months ago in a boating mishap. Since his game is rusty his friends thought he might need a bigger racquet to beat them. But at the Business Roundtable, size doesn't matter

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