Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Quotes

It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.
— George Eliot

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What's on Your Nightstand This Summer?

My frolleagues (friends and former colleagues) at Care2 compiled this great list of nonprofit reads for the summer.  I thought I'd share my contribution with you.

I'm reading The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers Into True Believers by Douglas Atkin.

In this age where we are so focused on personalization, segmentation and one-to-one marketing, I'm eager to be reminded about the power of COMMUNITY and how much we need and crave the meaning and belonging communities provide.  Douglas Atkins studied cults to try to understand how they work and can apply to brands and I would say nonprofits and causes.

We talk about this so much in the nonprofit community but most of us don't do it well.

How do we create a sense of COMMUNITY around our causes?

How do we help our donors, members, advocates, volunteers, board members, clients, etc. feel a PASSIONATE sense of belonging and meaning through their affiliation with our work?

If you can create community, you can create intense loyalty, participation and MOVEMENT for your cause.

To learn more about the book and see Douglas Atkins in action, check him out above.

What are you reading this summer to help improve your fundraising and marketing mojo?


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FREE Webinar for You Today at 1:00ET - Register Now to Learn How to Tell Your Nonprofit's Story

Join 1,000 of your nonprofit colleagues and make the best use of your lunch break today by registering now for Winning the Story Wars: Why those who tell - and live - the best stories will rule the future at 1:00pm (ET).

You need to register now if:
  • You are looking for a better way to tell your organization's story.
  • You are tired of watching your cause DROWN in the flood of marketing messages that surround us.
  • You're ready to get people to LISTEN to what you have to say and - even better - become evangelists for your cause!
This webinar will be presented by Jonah Sachs, CEO of Free Range Studios and a master storyteller and Katya Andresen, COO/CSO of Network for Good.
We hope you can make it!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why Are You In It?

Check out this thought-provoking video featuring Jim Collins, author of Great by Choice - the sequel to Good to Great. He makes a persuasive case that people don't follow leaders who are in it for themselves.

Why are you in it?


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Don't Spend Too Much Time on Small Problems

My friend, Margot and I were chatting this weekend.

Like most women, we covered relationships and parenting in a few minutes.  Then the conversation turned to work.

As I listened to Margot recount a political episode with her boss in Denver, something caught my ear.
"You know.  I'm tired of spending so much time on small problems."  
Listening to NPR tonight, I was moved by stories of single mothers in Redding, PA.  (Stay with me here.  This post will make sense.)  Apparently, the poverty rate in Redding is 40 percent!

I'm not usually one for statistics as a storytelling device.  (It's hard to wrap your head around numbers.)  But even I can tell that living in a community where 4 out of every 10 people are out of work or underemployed is NOT good!

The mothers that they profiled REALLY are struggling.  Poverty on that scale, which equals not being able to put food on the table, is a BIG problem.

The same thing CANNOT be said of most of our mundane, middle class, messes.

To be clear, I'm not channeling your mother. ("There are children starving in China!  Eat your peas and stop crying!")

However, I AM saying that while we ALL struggle it's important to remember that some people have it MUCH worse.

In other words, as another dear friend said recently,
"Yes, I can believe that you have 348 emails in your inbox.  But isn't it wonderful to be employed!"
She's right.

Suffer.  Go ahead.  Feel the weight and burden of your life.  (Really.)  It will make you more humble and compassionate.

At the same time, recognize that - in context - most problems are smaller than they feel.  And you can let go. 



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How Do You Define Success?

How do you define success?  Is it
  • Buying your dream home
  • Getting your dream job
  • Losing 10 pounds
  • Raising a happy, healthy child
  • Getting dinner on the table
  • Leading a team
  • Staying sober 
It matters how you walk your path and measure your days  The yardsticks we choose define us.

Our secular culture provides interesting benchmarks for success.  Have you watched an episode of Keeping up With the Kardashians lately?  Ugh!

All the great religions also provide road maps.
  • Treat others as you would have them treat you.
  • Be compassionate.
  • Put others first.
One of my favorite definitions of success comes from Richard Rohr.
"Show up.  Pay attention.  Do the best you can."
Great advice!

I also like.  "BREATHE."

How do you measure success?  How will you know when you've arrived?


Monday, July 9, 2012

Can You Capture Your Mission in a Poem?

My new friend and the Executive Director of Shepherd's Table, a feeding ministry here in Silver Spring, Maryland, sent this beautiful poem to me and I thought I'd share it with you.

Can you capture the spirit of your mission in poem?  What a wonderful way to tell your story.


Somewhere in your life
hope you might see
one starved person,
the look on her face
when the bread finally arrives.

Hope you might have
baked it
or bought it
or even needed it yourself.

For that look on her face,
for your hands meeting hers
across a piece of bread,

You might be willing
to lose a lot,
or suffer a lot,
or even die a little.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I'm Not in Control (and Neither are You!)

When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves. - Viktor E. Frankl
There are some things I can't control.  (Don't tell my husband that I admitted this to you!)
  • I can't control the derecho that we - and one million other people - experienced last week.
  • I can't control my daughter's nightmares.
  • I can't control that my husband's dear friend just died from lung cancer at the tender age of 54.
Life is not of our making.  While we may live with the ILLUSION of power and control, the reality is that we are pawns in this game of chess.

I just finished the first chapter of Wrecked, an upcoming book by Jeff Goins and was reminded of the importance of humility - acknowledging our limitations and putting others first.

The good news is that while you (and I) CANNOT control what happens in the world,  WE CAN control how we respond to the poison arrows.  

I am testing my compassion muscle.  I aspire to be the calm in the storm and shelter others.  It is not easy.  It is painful and unnatural to turn the other cheek.  And, I'm convinced, it is the only way to live.



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Are You Trying to Be Good or Are You Trying to Get Better?

My daughter stinks at miniature golf.  She can't hit the golf ball in a straight line to save her life.  And forget about all of those obstacles.  When we played last summer, she was 30 strokes OVER par.  And she didn't like it!

Here's the thing.  She's only 9!  Of course, she's bad at miniature golf.  She's bad at lots of stuff because she hasn't had any time to practice.
"Honey, you've only played miniature golf twice in your life,"  I remind her.  "Don't be so hard on yourself.  It take time to master a new skill."
When it comes to kids, it's easy for most of us to remember that practice makes perfect and that there are very few tasks that we can nail out-of-the-gate.   

Why is it so hard to apply the same logic to ourselves as adults?

I'm amazed at how hard we are on ourselves.  For some reason we expect to be good at everything we try - right away!  No matter that we've never taken a single class in fundraising, marketing, financial accounting, product management, sales, or social media.  For some reason, we expect all new skills to come quickly and easily.  It's a shame.

According to 9 Things Successful People Do Differently by Heidi Grant Halvorson, 
"When many of us take on a new project or goal, we expect to be able to somehow do the work flawlessly, no matter how challenging it might be.  Our focus is on being good, and the (very real) prospect of failing to meet expectations becomes terrifying.  The irony is that the pressure to be-good results in many more mistakes, and far inferior performance, than would a focus on getting-better."
This focus on being good vs. getting better has another adverse result.  It makes us reluctant to TRY new activities and take risks.  In other words, if we have to do everything well, we won't innovate.  This lack of out-of-the-box thinking is bad for us personally and professionally.

Join me in taking Halvorson's advice to heart and applying it to your work and play.  Instead of focusing on being good, focus on improving your skills over time.

By applying this wisdom, you're likely to get better.  You're also more likely to enjoy the ride!