In a meeting this afternoon, the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors voted to cancel the National Money Show that was to be held in Phoenix, Arizona.
The vote was 7-2 with President Steve Ellsworth and Governor Mary Lynn Garrett voting against the measure.
The ANA has not made an official announcement pending discussions with the Phoenix Convention Center. The Board discussed the potential to schedule a future show in Phoenix.
This is breaking news. More to come…
The American Numismatic Association needs your help.
If the ANA needs your help, then the hobby needs your help.
The ANA, like everything else, has been hit hard by the pandemic. Aside from canceling the World’s Fair of Money, the headquarters in Colorado Springs had to close. And with the number of cases rising, especially in areas that were not hit hard in the first wave, the near future is uncertain. Remember, the 2021 National Money Show is scheduled to be held in Phoenix, and Arizona is reporting one of the worst rates of COVID-19 infections in the country!
Earlier today, ANA members received an email from Executive Director Kim Kiick asking members to donate to the association.
After the note arrived, I tried to write to Kim and the ANA to make a recommendation. I received an autoresponder note saying that Kim was on furlough!
I admit that my heart sank when I received that note. Here in the Washington, DC area, furloughs have a real negative feeling. When the government was closed, and everyone was furloughed, we contractors did not get paid. Being on furlough and knowing people on furlough is terrible, especially when you know and like them.
The ANA has not reported the furloughs’ extent, but I am sure that Kim is not the only one. But the furloughs may not be enough. While the ANA is trying to maintain a presence in the hobby, the ANA is not fully operational. For example, the library is closed. I need the library for a project I have to put on hold because they have a hard-to-find book I want.
The ANA is the voice of the hobby and must be viable to ensure numismatics has a future. For the ANA to be viable, the association has to pay the people working in the headquarters. They are the unsung heroes of the ANA. Kim and her staff have held the organization together during the pandemic. They need to be fairly compensated.
Go to info.money.org/fall-appeal to learn how to donate.
SMILE AND BUY
Did you know that you can raise money for the ANA just by shopping on Amazon? They have a program called AmazonSmile that will let you shop and support your favorite charitable organization. Just go to smile.amazon.com, find the ANA in the charitable organizations list, select it, and go shopping.
When you purchase an item marked as “Eligible for AmazonSmile Donation,” Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the ANA.
If you buy a $30 item from Amazon, they will donate 15-cents to the ANA. But if 20,000 members buy a $30 item from Amazon, the ANA will receive $3,000!
You might say that this is not a lot of money. But when an organization is hurting, everything counts. If you are shopping on Amazon regularly, just shop on AmazonSmile. If you are a Prime member, Amazon will recognize your membership for free shipping.
Amazon has a page that provides information about the AmazonSmile program. Just click here.
You are shopping on Amazon anyway. Use AmazonSmile and support the ANA. I use AmazonSmile for all of my purchases, including business purchases, and I am a Prime member.
This past weekend, the Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP) held an on-line symposium that was an extended Money Talks session via Zoom. Although using Zoom and the format took advantage of new technologies, it is something I have been trying to convince the American Numismatic Association to do for a long time.
On May 21, 2016, I wrote, “Now is the time for the ANA and any other organizations that provides educational sessions to consider adding online access to their shows.”
Since then, I have been trying to convince the Association that it could extend its reach beyond the Summer Seminar and the World’s Fair of Money by broadcasting the content on-line.
“There are technologies that can help support the bringing the lectures, courses, and other activities to an online community,” I wrote in 2016. “There are a number of web-based conferencing system that requires a minimal amount of technology to broadcast these activities to collectors everywhere.”
I wrote that before the creation of Zoom!
Unfortunately, the ANA President and Board of Governors ignored all previous work regarding online education, making the Association look like an also-ran. Although some of the Summer Seminar sessions appeared online, the NNP Symposium surpassed the reach of the Summer Seminar in both content and impact.
The NNP succeeded where the ANA has failed. The NNP took advantage of modern technology to deliver numismatic education while the ANA, whose mission is supposed to be education, has done very little.
Why has the ANA Board of Governors failed in its mission?
It is easy to lead when times are good. An extended period of good times allows organizations to sit on its laurels. They can point to incremental changes as progress.
Leadership means being able to lead during good times and know how to respond when a crisis occurs.
“What leaders have to realize is that when a crisis hits, you can’t just rest on your laurels and think that everything will move along normally,” says Ronald Riggio, Ph.D., a professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College in California. “You need to train, prepare and execute.”
The ANA did not plan. The ANA was not prepared. There was nothing for the ANA to execute. The ANA FAILED in its mission.
The Board was told that it needed to expand to online education. When I was asked, “Can’t the ANA use something like Zoom to create classes?” Not only did I say it was possible, but I also noted other services the ANA could have used.
When I learned that Robert Oberth was appointed the Chair of the Information Technology Committee, I had a conversation with him on Facebook as part of comments to a post on the ANA Facebook page. I used Facebook to keep the conversation open and allow any member interested in why the ANA has failed to meet its members’ obligations.
As part of the conversations, I provided the lines to my writing on the subject. Unfortunately, the conversation has little impact. The ANA is lagging behind everyone in providing online education.
Even though I am not on the IT Committee, it does have institutional knowledge. According to the committee membership list published on the ANA website, Governor Greg Lyon is also a committee member. In his sixth and final term as ANA Governor, Lyon has been involved with the committee since the beginning. Lyon was the original Board liaison to the committee.
Lyon has not said much about the committee and its work either to me or in public. Now, when the ANA could use guidance, where is he? There is an English proverb that says, “cometh the hour, cometh the man.” A term that is associated with Winston Churchill, who stepped up when his country needed him.
Hey Greg, the ANA needs leadership. Where are you?
It has been six months since the crisis began. Where is the Board of Governors? What are you getting accomplished in those “excruciating” Board meetings (your word, Steve)?
The ANA Board of Governors has failed the Association and its members. These are the people who need to resign TODAY and allow new leadership to be selected by ANA members:
- President Steve Ellsworth
- Vice President Ralph Ross
- Mike Ellis
- Muriel Eymery
- Mary Lynn Garrett
- Greg Lyon
- Cliff Mishler
- Rob Oberth
- Shanna Schmidt
Are there six people who will run for the Board of Governors? If there are, I will join you to make a slate of seven people whose only purpose is to lift the ANA from the morass created by the current Board.
According to a source, the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors voted to hold the 2023 World’s Fair of Money in Pittsburgh. As part of the selection, the “ANA will be seeking a better deal from the venue than they got in 2020.” If they do not get a better deal, the source interpreted the discussion that the ANA will look elsewhere.
The vote was 7-2 in favor of the decision. President Steve Ellsworth and Governor Mary Lynn Garrett voted against the measure. Both believe that the show should exclusively be in Rosemont.
I have come out against holding the ANA premiere show in one location. Moving it around the country will help reach more people and include its educational agenda in more places. While I love Chicago and have friends in the Chicagoland area, moving the show is in the best interest of the ANA.
For a hobby that is not seeing growth and is having difficulties with diversity amongst its membership, having a traveling show should be an invitation to potential members.
I am still holding out hope for holding the World’s Fair of Money in Washington, D.C. While there have been roadblocks in the past, the environment for making the District more welcoming to the ANA a possibility. I have a few ideas to welcome minority communities to introduce them to numismatics. It would work well in the Washington community.
With all due respect to Ellsworth and Garrett, you miss out on an opportunity to reach out to potential new members. You have to look beyond your self-interests and work for the good of the association!
The ANA announced today that the 2020 World’s Fair of Money scheduled for August in Pittsburgh has been “Suspended.” The announcement recognized that the “Current State of Pennsylvania guidelines restrict indoor gatherings to a maximum of 250 people at any one time.”
Of course, I noted that almost three weeks ago, but who listens to me.
By suspension, this means that the ANA will scurry around and try to do something. Like the “something” that is planned for the virtual Summar Seminar, it is so much less than what it could be.
For years, I have been pushing for the broadcasting of the events from the show. I have been saying that the use of video can be a great recruiting tool. A few have even suggested doing a virtual bourse. Although I have not advocated one, I think I have an idea as to how to implement this.
All that is needed is the hardware and services to do this.
All that the ANA needed is for the current president to continue the efforts of the past. But that would require a president with an open mind who thought better of the ANA and its members.
The actions taken by the ANA president and Board of Governors show that they are not leaders. Leaders are proactive in the organization’s best interest. If you are reactive, then you are not a leader. Or as it was once said, you are leading from behind.
I wish the ANA was more proactive with the modern needs of a collecting public. As it is said, elections have their consequences. Rather than having the leadership the ANA needs (with all due respect to Joseph de Maistre), the association has the leadership it deserves.
After I wrote yesterday’s post criticizing the ANA President and Board of Governors for inaction during the pandemic, I received an email asking for a comment about the President’s column in June’s The Numismatist.
ANA President Steve Ellsworth (Image courtesy of the ANA.)
Admittedly, I had not downloaded the June issue as I am still reading stories from May. After downloading the issue, I turned to page 9 to read the message. To my surprise, I found this passage:
First, ANA Governor Rob Oberth promises to transform our IT and social-outreach programs in a significant way. Our previous progress has been too slow for far too many years. This is not the time for armchair quarterbacks. The days of those who think their role is to sit on the sidelines and give opinions and “sharp shoot” others is over. Rob pledges to engage those naysayers to lead, follow or get out of the way. He is uniquely qualified to gather the necessary support to push the programs through and expedite their success.
OPEN MESSAGE TO ROB OBERTH: Been there. Done that. Got the award to prove it.
I was once an armchair quarterback. Then I was invited to be part of the solution. After six years, I learned more about the ANA’s intricacies than someone with one-year on the Board of Governors could fathom. I know the history, which is very important because it looks like we are going backward. Remember, George Santayana once opined that if you do not learn from history, then you are destined to repeat it.
It is no secret that I am not a fan of Steve Ellsworth. Aside from his previous actions with me, other things bother me about Steve.
- If you go back to Steve’s first run for the Board of Governors about eight years ago, his candidate statements mention his interest in certain aspects of history and the “War of Northern Aggression.” Sorry folks. I have a difficult time embracing this type of attitude about the side the LOST a war only to glorify in later years. And the last I looked, it was the Confederacy that started the shooting at Fort Sumter. Time to get over it and move on.
- In Steve’s current tome, he says, “Not since our Civil War 160 years ago have we dealt with such adversity.” A statement like this is from someone who is stuck in a historical time warp. All we have to do is look at the effects on numismatics to debunk that view of history. The desire to create the Peace Dollar, the ending of gold coinage in 1933, the necessity to produce steel cents, and remove copper from nickels are just a few examples of adapting to more difficult times.
I am not trying to minimize the worldwide effect of this pandemic. My business is closed as being “nonessential,” according to the government. My livelihood is on the line. As someone very close to being of Medicare age, this is not the time to start over. However, the U.S. Mint continues to strike coins. It was considered a market catastrophe when the West Point Mint closed for a short period.
Compassion and understanding is one thing. Leadership and being levelheaded is another. Skipping over World War I, Great Depression, World War II, and 9/11 dismisses other lessons from history. Remember the warning from George Santayana.
Although Steve has not said it in so many words, his actions prove that I will not be on his Christmas card list.
But that is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that after six years of helping with the ANA’s technology, bringing it up from the virtual stone age, and working to prevent the ANA from making a multi-million dollar mistake, Steve will not ask me to help on behalf of the ANA.
I came out against him in the election. Big deal! This type of thing happens all of the time, and Steve should know better. He once lived in the shadows of Washington, DC. Opponents work with each other after the elections are over.
I did not respond in his timeframe for input to his strategic plan. Well, Steve forgot that exercise, too. I have not seen anything about this “strategic plan,” nor has anyone else I asked.
If Steve is such a student of history with a fixation on the Civil War, he would recognize how President Abraham Lincoln included those who were opposed to his presidency in his cabinet. It was a move that was uncommon in the 19th century as it is today. I recommend reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin if you want to learn more about a real profile in courage. I can lend my copy!
As a numismatic historical reference, Lincoln appointed primary rival Salmon P. Chase as the Secretary of the Treasury. Chase was considered more radical than Lincoln. The former Whigs did not trust the one-time Democrat after he joined the new Republican Party. As Treasury Secretary, Chase created the paper currency system, which led to his portrait appearing on the first $1 Demand Notes. Later, his portrait would appear on the $10,000 gold certificate.
I do not know Ron Oberth. However, I am sure the reason he has not contacted his immediate predecessor is that Steve said something. I know Steve will respond along the lines of, “I did not tell Ron not to talk to you.” I know, Steve. But you are the type that I would have to check for the knife if you pat me on the back. I am willing to bet that Steve said something like, “I don’t think he would have anything to offer.”
I do not expect to be contacted by the Ellsworth, Oberth, or anyone with the Board of Governors. Too bad, because I would have agreed to work with the ANA regardless of these opinions. I would do it for the benefit of the Association.
I expect to hear from Steve’s fans!
His fans are a fiery bunch. Anytime I criticize Steve, my inbox gets scorched with the same type of vitriol that makes the evening news after a presidential rally. However, the difference is that I can work for the benefit of the whole while I can disagree with someone.
Yes, Steve, I am going to be an armchair quarterback because you took me out of the game and cut me from the team. I know what the ANA needs and why it has not made progress. I will use that knowledge to make sure that membership dues benefit the members.
Sun Tzu did not write, “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” That was from The Godfather Part II. But it was Machiavelli who wrote, “It is easier for the prince to make friends of those men who were contented under the former government, and are therefore his enemies, than of those who, being discontented with it, were favourable to him and encouraged him to seize it.”
Gotta love Santayana’s wisdom!
Double extra brownie points to anyone who can guess from which song the title of this post was adapted from!
Earlier today, the American Numismatic Association published a press release announcing that planning is continuing for the World’s Fair of Money this August in Pittsburgh.
Whatever happens, will depend on the state of the pandemic and the restrictions set by Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh. It will also depend on how the David L. Lawrence Convention Center can help stage the show to keep all participants safe.
I have confidence that the ANA staff will do the best job they can so that the show can go on.
The leadership is challenging my confidence in the ANA.
It has been more than two months since the ANA Headquarters had to close because of the pandemic, but we have not heard from the ANA president.
On April 8, 2020, the ANA canceled Summer Seminar, but we have not heard from the ANA president.
On April 10, 2020, I explained that the ANA did not have online education because the ANA president killed the process.
On April 16, 2020, I provided several ideas as to how the ANA could provide stop-gap processes to expand online education in the short term.
But we have not heard from the ANA president.
As the country begins to reopen, the ANA has missed a golden opportunity to put itself online to attract an audience. Using a professional staff who could probably use a break from the mundane, the ANA could have created great content to attract people surfing the web looking for something different.
The ANA has many brilliant members with knowledge they can share with the public under the ANA’s banner. Others can generate content for the more serious collectors.
Since the ANA staff is already on the payroll, the costs would be whatever cost production and communications. All it would take is a commitment from the ANA to do this.
Where was the ANA’s commitment?
Where was the Board of Governors to push this?
Where was ANA President Steve Ellsworth?
Now is the time for all collectors to join the ANA!
Yes, you read that right. FREE!
During National Coin Week, the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation (NGC), is paying for GOLD MEMBERSHIP to new ANA Members. That’s a $28 value.
What do you get for FREE?
- Digital subscription to The Numismatist Magazine with content that is not available anywhere else. You will also have access to the electronic archive of every issue of The Numismatist published from its founding in 1888.
- Access to the ANA Education Programs including all of the education content on money.org. You will also get free access to the National Money Show and the World’s Fair of Money to take advantage of those education opportunities, including the Money Talks session and exclusive content on money.org.
- Access to the World’s Largest Numismatic Library! They have more than books. The collection includes auction catalogs, videos, DVDs and slide sets. And you don’t have to go to Colorado Springs (but you might want to go see the Museum). Items can be mailed to you for the cost of postage. The staff is also very helpful and can provide research services (for an extra fee).
- Exclusive Discounts beyond the FREE admission to the shows.
- While you are stuck at home and going through your collection, as an ANA member you can directly submit coins to NGC and currency to PNG for grading.
Want to learn more about the ANA benefits? Read the ANA’s member benefit brouchure → HERE!
You can’t beat that at twice the price!
Well? What are you waiting for! CLICK HERE and join for FREE!
The feedback from my post, “Why the ANA does not have online education,” was interesting. About 10-percent of the readers (based on collected statistics) commented to me via email. That is a lot of feedback for one post! The comments ranged from a virtual headshake to anger for being “disrespectful” to the ANA president.
Unfortunately, nobody will go on the record with their comments. Please remember that I welcome all comments and will allow you to post any criticism you want. I accept and post all feedback, especially if you disagree with me. All I ask is that you keep it clean.
I want to answer two questions publically:
1. You’re the head of the IT Committee, why don’t you do something about the situation?
I am not longer the chairman of the IT committee, and I am no longer a member of the committee.
In late November 2019, ANA President Steve Ellsworth removed me from the committee after seven years of service.
When Ellsworth called to tell me, he did not give the exact reason. His statements as to why he made the decision were vague and ambiguous. Later that same day, I had to send him an email for clarification.
I assume that he did not want me around. After all, I came out against his candidacy before the end of the last election. But Ellsworth had a problem. How could he remove a recipient of the Glenn Smedley Award from the position that was the reason for the honor?
Unfortunately, I gave Ellsworth a way out. After he took office, Ellsworth changed a few things, including wanting status reports and a strategic plan. When he told me about the strategic plan, Ellsworth said that the ANA did not have one in many years and should come up with one.
At the same time, my business picked up. I was working 18 hour days, instead of my usual 14 hours, and had to hire more people. While my business was good, it did not provide enough time to devote to the ANA. I was hoping to catch up in late October, but that did not happen.
With the ANA not being a priority and my inability to deliver whatever Ellsworth wanted, I gave him the excuse to get rid of me.
Ellsworth’s move was a bit punitive, but it pales in comparison to what he hass done to the Exhibition Committee. That is a story for another time.
2. Can’t the ANA use something like Zoom to create classes?
They can also use software like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, WebEx, and Skype. Any video conferencing software and presentation slides that can be shared can create an instant class environment.
Google Hangouts and Skype are suitable for small classes. Although both are known to have bandwidth issues, keeping the courses between 7-10 people make these an inexpensive option.
Zoom is the current darling of the industry since they have a free tier. While Zoom has some excellent features, its security issues have shown they are going through significant growing pains. It is like watching your teenage son grow six inches in two months while his voice is changing. Eventually, he will evolve, and so will Zoom.
WebEx and GoToMeeting are the old stalwarts of the industry. Both have the advantage of being mature and familiar to many in the business world. The significant difference between these services and Zoom is that Zoom makes it easier to connect to a meeting.
Another option is YouTube Live. Classes can be live streamed with any number of people tuning in. Interacting with a YouTube Live stream is via comments only, similar to Facebook Live, but it is something that the ANA can use.
Here is an idea: How about a YouTube Live class for Numismatics 101? After the live class, leave the video online with an email link to allow future viewers to send questions.
There are better ways to hold online classes. Blackboard and similar software have better options. But to start, do something!
On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, the ANA announced the cancellation of the Summer Seminar. The announcement came two days after Colorado College, the site of the Summer Seminar programs, announced limited access to the campus for summer activities because of the novel coronavirus.
As COVID-19 spreads across the United States, most states have a stay-at-home order in place, preventing people from venturing out. Schools, businesses, religious services, and minor medical appointments are meeting online. Services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams that were once the domain of a few companies have dramatically grown.
Colleges started to move to online courses almost 20 years ago. Lower grades followed with classroom software that enabled virtual lessons. Entrepreneurs found a willing market and started to create an online curriculum to help parents home school their students.
The question is that if this is available to colleges, schools, corporate training, and seminars were online, then why the ANA is not able to offer Summer Seminar online?
ANA President Steve Ellsworth killed an attempt to create online education.
In 2017, then ANA President Gary Adkins initiated the proposal to bring online education to the ANA. Although the concept was good, the process was fraught with members of the Board of Governors thinking they knew better than the headquarters staff and the Technology Committee.
The membership does not give the ANA staff enough credit. The ANA is a complicated organization with a constituency from the novice collector to the largest auction houses. Very few organizations have a mission as broad as “numismatics.” Yet, with dwindling resources, the staff in Colorado Springs manage to keep the ANA running. When someone from the headquarters, including the executive director, says something that would make it easier on them, I will pay attention.
The question of, “What do you want?” became a nagging question. Nobody can tell us what they wanted? How can the Technology Committee write requirements for a system that we do not know what it is supposed to do? The direction was supposed to come from the Education Committee. Participation from the Education Committee ranged from non-existent to inconsistent. We tried to get better input, but they did not seem interested.
The Technology Committee came up with something that resembled requirements, questions about what online education systems can do remained. Executive Director Kim Kiick suggested that we send out a Request for Information (RFI) to potential vendors.
As part of the RFI, the ANA requested that the interested vendors come to the 2018 World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia to demonstrate their system. Three vendors answered the RFI, and three vendors came to Philadelphia to show their systems.
Two of the three demonstrations were informative. These were companies that provide online educational services to schools, training services for companies, and seminar services for many organizations. The third was a smaller company with a limited educational background but more knowledgable about numismatics.
The company with a limited educational background either was not able or chose not to provide a demonstration of their system. Since some members of the Board favored this company, they were given additional opportunities to answer how their system would meet ANA requirements.
For the next four months, there were significant discussions about what to do next. One member of the Board of Governors was pushing to use the company that could not provide satisfactory answers. It appeared as if this Governor had an agenda to have this company do the work rather than finding the right solution.
The cost was a significant concern. Creating any significant technical project has a very high upfront cost. Every aspect of the initial installation, configuration, integration, and initial operations has a higher price than continual maintenance and incremental updates.
Every indication that working with the company that could not provide satisfactory answers to our basic questions was a penny-wise solution. The company would be able to transition some existing software and make it work quickly. Where that decision would have been pound foolish would have come from the recent crisis because the questions that they could not answer would have been key to maintaining the system in this environment.
In other words, for a short-term win, the ANA would have been hit with a significant black eye when the COVID-19 pandemic drove everyone looking for online content. The proposed system may not have been able to scale, it was not mobile device friendly, and the authoring process is too restrictive to move quickly.
By December 2018, the Board agreed to open the process to competitive bidding. I worked with the headquarters staff to draft a Request for Proposal (RFP). The completed rough draft of the RFP was passed around for internal review.
Unfortunately, the process slowed down because of time restrictions for the understaffed headquarters and the volunteer Tech Committee. There was also a slowdown following the 2019 Board of Governors’ election. After the election, there was little guidance as to how the new president and Board wanted to proceed. The impression was that the new Board did not want to move forward.
The new Board of Governors took control at the 2019 World’s Fair of Money. Instantly everything stopped. Standing committees, whose members are appointed by the president, were left in limbo. There was little communication from President Steve Ellsworth, and nobody was sure what to do next.
It took over a month to hear from Ellsworth. Few people who were talking behind the scenes heard anything. It was known he wanted to make changes, but he was not communicating with anyone who would be impacted.
The silence was curious. The ANA announced the results in early July, and the World’s Fair of Money was four weeks later. Ellsworth was already a member of the Board and knew his way around. Why did he not have a transition? Instead, everything stopped for one month.
In early September, Ellsworth sent his guidelines for the Technology Committee. Missing from his objectives was online education. Regardless of the time and effort that occurred before the World’s Fair of Money, ANA President Steve Ellsworth eliminated the online education program.
According to his goals, it was to be replaced by an e-commerce system to sell goods from the ANA Shop in Colorado Springs.
Which is more important, the American Numismatic Association, a federally chartered organization to provide numismatic education, creating an educational initiative, or selling trinkets from the store? I will leave that as an exercise to the reader.