Development

The Attitude of Gratitude

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 | 0 comments

Attitude-of-Gratitude_1024x1024Life doesn’t always make us want to say “thank you.” We have ups and downs, successes and failures. And sometimes things happen that simply don’t make any sense at all. I’ve just experienced something like this. And after a week or so of shaking my head and wondering, as the transition plan from one assignment to another is in the works, as I’ve spent way too many hours contemplating how this change will effect me and others, I’ve finally taken a deep breath, regrouped, asked myself some serious questions, and now I have only one main thought:

THANK YOU!

  • Thank you for forcing me to shift gears.
  • Thank you for being the catalyst that made me reevaluate my priorities.
  • Thank you for returning me to my family.
  • Thank you for reminding me that every ending is a new beginning.
  • Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with amazing people on amazing programs.
  • Thank you for widening my eyes while broadening my experience.
  • Thank you for sharing your passion with me.
  • Thank you for all I’ve learned.
  • Thank you for this new start.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Sometimes our initial reaction to change is knee-jerk, simply because it’s new, it’s foreign, it’s life-changing. Or sometimes, our initial reaction is because we aren’t prepared, we haven’t been paying attention.

Ask yourself, am I paying attention? If your career seems to be sliding into autopilot, if you’ve become satisfied with the status quo, I would suggest an attitude of gratitude is needed. Sit up straighter, write bolder, think broader, and be more grateful!

The right attitude can change your life in ways you never could have expected.

Ask yourself, what is my attitude saying to others and doing to me?

Today, my attitude is one of gratitude. I hope yours is too.

Now, ask yourself, what am I grateful for today?

Start writing!

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7 Lessons Learned (Because I Failed)

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 | 0 comments

Recently I’ve been on a speaking binge. I’m not sure why the flurry of activity, but within the past few months I’ve received invitations to speak at several national, state and local conferences and to a variety of nonprofit organizations.  I’ve enjoyed each opportunity to share my thoughts and meet new friends. I’ve been especially grateful for the excellent references and reviews I’ve consistently received from the groups I’ve been speaking to. It’s been a confidence-inspiring whirlwind of activity.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I failed.  It was a comedy of errors from beginning to end, but it wasn’t really funny.

My presentation fell flat. It was disjointed and probably confusing to the audience. It’s a wonder they didn’t ask me what I was talking about.  Following the presentation, I couldn’t remember anything I said.

This experience has taught me seven important lessons to remember if you find yourself speaking to a group:

  1. Arrive 30 minutes early.
  2. Preparation cannot be underestimated.
  3. Know your venue.
  4. Never assume.
  5. Anticipate what might go wrong.
  6. Punting is OK.
  7. Say “No” When Your Gut Tells You To
  8. Sleep the night before, no matter what.
I learned these seven important lessons the hard way. I failed on every one of them. Considering my speaking experience, there was and is no excuse for the comedy of errors, and more importantly, that I didn’t rebound well once they happened.
I learned these seven important lessons because I made these seven critical mistakes (and I knew better!):
  1. I arrived early, but not as early as I should have. A few extra minutes would have given me time to gather my thoughts, reorganize my notes and give a logical presentation.
  2. My preparation time was cut short. I managed a lot of non-essential tasks during the week prior to yesterday’s event: I should have spent that “free time” fine tuning my presentation and visiting the venue.
  3. I had not visited the venue prior to speaking: knowing the room set up helps prepare you to stand in front of your audience.
  4. I assumed there would be a podium – there was not. This was a first, but it’s now a question I will always ask: “Is there a podium?”
  5. And although I had asked for a projector and screen, I had not anticipated a lack of connection chords, the inability to connect to my MacBookPro, and I most certainly did not anticipate the sudden SNAP of the screen as it tore from the frame and flopped to the floor just before my presentation. I mean, who would EVER anticipate that? (The organizers actually tried to flop the screen over the top of the screen’s frame and for a few minutes my PowerPoint was beamed onto the flopping, buckled screen until my OCD took over and I asked them to turn it off).
  6. My presentation was tightly linked to the PowerPoint slides, and I attempted to give the same presentation without the slides…not smart. What I should have done was reorganized in my mind and hit the high points unscripted and without the crutch of slides. I probably could have done that if I had been better prepared.
  7. This was a very short notice request by someone I know and respect. I said “yes” when my gut was telling me to say “no”. I knew my time was tight and preparation would be tough.
  8. I only had 3 hours sleep the night before the presentation. I was exhausted, which undoubtedly added to my inability to rebound as I normally can.
Failure isn’t fun under any circumstances, but if we can learn from our mistakes, failure can become a springboard to greater success in the future. Remember the saying: When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I resembled that remark yesterday.
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I like bacon with my bacon, please.

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 | 0 comments

What was it Benjamin Franklin said? Oh yeah, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.”

I would like to echo that sentiment. Life keeps marching on, but to its own drummer. I may have a certain cadence in my mind, but somehow “life” always overpowers with a heavy drum beat that isn’t at all what I had in mind.

Peaceful tranquility? What’s that? Blissful retirement? Not on your life. Gentle breezes flowing through flowing golden locks…are you kidding me? First of all, I’m a redhead, so from the get go, my vision of how life should be was never going to happen.

Life, and my vision of life, keeps changing. And I’ve been known to remind people that change is good. But the reality is, change is…well, change is change. There’s just no getting around it.

And in fundraising, change is constant when it comes to methods, practices, and creativity, but when it comes to mission, it will remain the same. Fundraisers are taxed with the job of bringing in the bacon – so to speak – and that isn’t going to change.

Recently I had the opportunity to take some time to reflect on my mission, not only the mission of my consulting company, but my own personal mission. I realized that my goal was to change lives, and that I am at my very best when working with people directly.  As I pondered these thoughts, I realized that my current role with several of my amazing clients and past employers didn’t provide opportunities for me to accomplish either my personal or my corporate goals, and a new ah ha! moment was birthed: I haven’t been doing what I’m really good at.

With several past employers and clients, I was hired to meet with donors, but it never happened. I was hired to help with re-organization, but it never happened. I was hired because of my public speaking skills, but it never happened.

We get so caught up in the day-to-day policies, processes, and procedures, that we sometimes lose sight of our original goals and plans. In my case,  I was hired because I am the very best when working with people; not behind a computer, not word-smithing, not managing a database, not strategizing fundraising goals – although all of these things are critical to a successful fundraisers efforts and I can manage each one effectively.  So, yes, I am adept at all of these things, but I am best, I help an organization the most, I have the most success, I am the most effective, when I am working directly with people – one on one, or in large groups, or small groups. Me and them. Eye to eye. Knee to knee if need be.

This recent ah-ha! moment has caused me to reevaluate and instigate personal and professional change in my life.  My focus will continue to be with nonprofit organizations. And my expertise has not changed, but my focus has narrowed. I know what I’m good at, and I plan to work with folks to want to take advantage of that. because that is how I will be able to help them the most.

Thankfully, the nonprofit fundraising gods were listening during my ah ha! moment, and they are helping out. Since that memorable ah ha! day:

  • I have been invited to speak on moves management at a 2013 national conference in Florida. This is one of my strengths, I am one of those strange humans that loves public speaking. And moves management is a fundraising passion of mine.
  • I have recently had two personal visits with two potential donors to two different organizations, and successfully brought home the bacon (so to speak). Lots of bacon.  More bacon than I expected. Bacon, as in, I like bacon with my bacon (most fundraisers do).
  • I have the ability to read an organization’s culture after spending only a few days in their midst, and I can fairly quickly identify its strengths and weaknesses. This allows me to provide support to the organization by suggesting problem-solving practices that will help the organization become more effective, more synergistic, and more successful. I’m working with an organization in California right now on this very thing.
Obviously, I’m thrilled about all of this change in my life. It’s exhilarating to feel like you’re making a difference. The exact opposite of feeling that you’re not contributing. I thrive on success, and action, and positive movement, don’t most of us?

Change is hard…even this recent personal change didn’t come without some pain. But my mission hasn’t changed, I am simply using my talents and experience where they will be most effective in completing my mission, which is to support nonprofit organizations effectively. And I’m doing what I’m good at, using my talents to further a worthy cause by helping  to raise the needing funding for life-changing programs.

Maybe it’s true that death and taxes are the only things we can always count on, and maybe it’s true that life’s drumroll sometimes drowns out our chosen beat, but I still believe we can create our own destiny. It’s all about setting priorities, setting boundaries, and setting goals.

If you’re struggling, I suggest a time-out for your own ah-ha! moment. There’s room for a variety of talents in the nonprofit fundraising world. Are yours being used effectively?

Maybe the nonprofit gods will smile down on you too!

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Just Get It Done!

Posted by on Mar 28, 2014 | 0 comments

Reposting a blog post from the past…hope you enjoy it!

I’m moving. And working. And stressing over both.

I’ve packed for 7 straight days. I just want to get it done.

As I was packing, while responding to business emails on my iPhone and scrambling to find 20 consecutive minutes to draft copy for a client, I realized that my current craziness is actually pretty normal for a fundraiser, or a leader, or a mom.

Aren’t all of our days filled with the critical tasks that must get done, the tasks that are the actual backbone of our professional efforts, and in between we field calls, answer emails and draft copy?

Fundraising is a whirlwind of thought, activity and production. It’s the tossed salad on the nonprofit buffet table. It’s a kaleidoscope of actions.

And that’s what keeps us on our toes. The fact that we cannot stop, we cannot forget, we cannot miss one donor, one dollar, one touch, one outreach, one opportunity without possibly missing out on a great partnership.

And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? We never know. We never know who, or what, will lead us to that next great collaboration with a donor.

Right now, I am not sure which box has exactly what in it, let alone which action will introduce me to a new friend and lead me to a potential donor. But I know the process, and I follow it. I am watching and tracking and communicating. I am paying attention. I am listening.

And I will unpack every box and I will contact every prospect. Because that’s what I do. I dig to the bottom, I cross every “t” and dot every “i”, I cover every base, I send every thank you and make every call. I get the job done.

Because at the bottom of a box, in the copy of an email, at the end of a call, I will find what I’ve been looking for. And everything I have done will have been worth it.

That’s why I do what I do.

That’s why we all do what we do.

We dig to the bottom, we pay attention, and we get it done!

We are fundraisers. We are leaders. Hear us roar! 🙂

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Thomas Jefferson had it right.

Posted by on Feb 19, 2014 | 0 comments

One of my favorite excursions when visiting the East coast is a trip to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The house and gardens reflect the personality of this great American leader.

On the official Monticello website, there is a page dedicated to Thomas Jefferson’s canons of personal behavior. Today is a good day to revisit these canons and remind ourselves that how we conduct ourselves and how we treat others is a reflection, not only on ourselves, but on the organization we work with, the cause we believe in, and those who have tied their name to it.

Quoted directly from monticello.org:

Thomas Jefferson often took the opportunity to advise his children, grandchildren and others on matters of personal conduct. Over the years he developed a list of axioms for personal behavior. Some were his own invention; others derived from classical or English sources.

Jefferson’s most extensive list is the one he sent to Cornelia Jefferson Randolph, a young granddaughter, while she was visiting her older sister and new brother-in-law. It appears that, later in life, Jefferson pared his list down to ten canons. Here, in response to a request from the new father of a baby boy named Thomas Jefferson Smith, Jefferson listed a “decalogue of canons for observation in practical life.”

  1. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.
  2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
  3. Never spend your money before you have it.
  4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
  5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
  6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
  7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
  8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
  9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
  10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.[2]
What are your Top Ten Canons of Personal Behavior? If you don’t have a list, start with this one.  I’ve learned that having a list of standards against which I measure my actions and decisions helps me to stay focused, ethical and productive. Over time, (and it wasn’t always easy, for a long time I loved seeing gray instead of black and white) it has become habit,  it’s just the way I do things. Life is easier when you have a foundation of principles to work from. Go forth and be amazing!
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