Impress me, surprise me, do something memorable

Edward P. Salek, CAE, Executive Director | TLT Headquarters Report January 2018

STLE is 74, but that doesn’t mean we’re boring. Here are four member services that will make an impact in 2018.

More than 300 tribology researchers will share their latest work at STLE’s Tribology Frontiers Conference this October in Chicago.

THE INSPIRATION FOR THIS COLUMN DATES BACK to October of last year when our colleagues at the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association (ILMA) featured an energizing keynote presentation by William C. Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company magazine.

Fast Company is an American business magazine that focuses on innovation in technology, business and design. Taylor based the ILMA talk on his 2016 book called Simply Brilliant, which examines ways that ordinary companies and individuals can do extraordinary things.

Taylor’s book begins with the observation, “These days, in the popular imagination, the quest for success has become synonymous with the spread of disruptive technologies and viral apps, with the rise of radical business models and newfangled work arrangements.” But the essence of his book debunks this assumption by citing examples that prove it doesn’t have to be that way, even in organizations like STLE that have been around for a long time.

Taylor argues that the problem with most organizations is not that they are broken—it’s that they are boring. And boring organizations don’t lend themselves to runaway success. “Customers no longer accept an okay job. Impress me, surprise me, do something I will remember—that’s what customers want. That’s why organizations have to deliver,” Taylor writes.

So in the Simply Brilliant spirit, here are four ways STLE hopes to impress, surprise and do something memorable for our customers in 2018.

Topping the list is Learning Pathways, an online resource library that helps technical professionals align and target their education and career development needs. The Learning Pathways include content resources from TLT articles, in-person courses, Webinars, short courses and books. They are organized into two subject areas: lubrication specialist and oil analyst. Access is free with an STLE membership.

Second is the Tribology Frontiers Conference (TFC), which returns after a hiatus in 2017 due to the World Tribology Congress. The TFC, co-sponsored by the Tribology Division of ASME, is where tribology researchers share their latest work and explore the science’s role in solving tomorrow’s key technical issues. More than 300 tribology researchers are expected to attend on Oct. 28-31 at the legendary Drake Hotel in Chicago.

STLE’s 2017 Report on Emerging Issues and Trends in Tribology and Lubrication Engineering, which builds on industry research first conducted in 2014, is example three. Survey data from 900 respondents was analyzed by 30 industry experts to provide context and narrative to the quantitative findings. Based on this analysis, the report provides the top short-term and long-term trends in six key areas: transportation, medical/health, energy, manufacturing, communications and data management, atomistic processes and safety and the environment. Members can download the report for free at

Finally, STLE is unveiling a new STLE 365 app that will make membership benefits and communication more accessible to mobile technology users. Built on the same platform as the popular app that’s been used at STLE conferences in recent years, the 365 app will offer 19 different functions, including a membership directory, calendar information and many exclusive member benefits.

Taylor’s book offers one other notable insight which explains where an organization like STLE finds the creative energy to launch these and other valuable projects. He reaches back into history to cite the words of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who in a famous speech offered a timeless definition of success. “Far and away the best prize that life offers,” Roosevelt said, “is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

According to Taylor, “In these times, ‘work worth doing’ means work that elevates our sense of impact and enriches our sense of achievement—work that rewrites the story of success for a new era of business and leadership.”

STLE’s purpose is all about work that’s worth doing. As we begin 2018, our senior leadership, staff and volunteers look forward to continuing to do work that benefits our individual and corporate members as well as the tribology and lubricants industry.

You can reach Certified Association Executive Ed Salek at