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Pop Tarts and PhilanthropyOne of the most emailed and commented on articles recently in The Chronicle of Philanthropy is the one titled Half Of  Fundraisers In The Top Job Would Like To Quit. Wow. It’s shocking that 50% of people in the top fundraising job want out. What other profession can boast such a number? Not even law because apparently only 20% of lawyers want to quit.

So what do Pop Tarts have to do with fundraising? It’s all about culture, and in particular, the culture of philanthropy.

In 2001 at the start of the war in Afghanistan,the U.S. dropped 2.4 million blueberry Pop Tarts in the countryside. The Afghan people were hungry since the Taliban had taken over. Some smarty-pants at the Pentagon wearing lots of medals and ribbons thought Pop Tarts would win over the hearts, minds and stomachs of the Afghan people. What he didn’t consider was the Afghan culture. The Afghan people had never seen Pop Tarts. What they really needed were flour, sugar, beans and oil.

Whether it’s the culture of geography or the culture of philanthropy, if we don’t pay attention to the beliefs, attitudes and customs of our people and organizations, then we will continue to see numbers like 50%. The study  UnderDeveloped: Challenges Facing Nonprofit Organizations by Compass Point and Evelyn and Walter Haas Fund showed

Many nonprofit organizations are stuck in a vicious cycle that threaten the ability to raise the (precious) resources they need to succeed.

It is a crisis.

While the study offered a 10-point call to action, here is the one targeted to Development Directors:

While it is often impossible for one person to change an organization, the development director is in a key position to identify the organizational changes needed and then lead a process to realize them. This should include a plan for building the necessary fund development capacity within the organization. It will also require that the development director enthusiastically educates staff and board about what a culture of philanthropy entails, and just as importantly, what it promises for organizations and communities. It also includes taking responsibility for their own professional development by seeking out leadership development opportunities and identifying management skills-building needs.

As the study clearly shows, it’s not about one person. But the Development Director can take steps toward a solution. As a Development Director, what would happen if you took UnderDeveloped to your ED and Board and talked about building the solutions? Would they offer you a Pop Tart or could you have an honest talk about building your culture of philanthropy?


Or, do you just like to hear yourself talk?

Strategic. It’s become one of the most overused words today.  You’ll hear people talk about thinking strategically, and while it sounds good, is that what they really mean?  Or, do they just like to sound smart?

Being strategic in terms of your nonprofit organization is taking a critical look at where you are and where you want to be in the future.

Thinking strategically about your nonprofit compels you to think about the future and where your organization fits in it. It forces you to look at the big picture — step back and take the 30,000 foot view.

It’s like walking backwards. Start from where you want to be and figure out how to get there.

You can bring the strategic thinking from the 30k foot view down to figuring out how to implement a new policy within your nonprofit.  Thinking strategically forces you to look at a problem from all sides to figure out the best solution.

The next time you use the word strategic, make sure you mean it.

Stay Tuned For: The revolution in strategic planning.


My grocery store sells dried up, rotten corn. Not a creative way to keep customers!

A war is coming to my town. A grocery war that is. It makes me ecstatic, not about the war, but the fact that a decent store is opening up within 20 miles of my house. I come from the birthplace of Whole Foods, Austin, Texas, where almost any grocery store is a great one. Why? Because customers expect it.

The upcoming war here got me thinking about some of the current stores. In the last 6 months, in anticipation of Wegmans moving in, other stores are making improvements. Getting better produce, keeping the store clean, upgrading inventory. All because Wegmans is moving into their territory! What this tells me is: you don’t care about me, the customer, you just care about the competition.

My question to these current businesses is:

Why didn’t you upgrade your business a year ago? Or 2 years ago?

The reason is simple. These businesses didn’t focus on the customer. They were not creative and didn’t give the customer what they wanted.

They were reactive. And defensive. All they think about is the competition.

Forget the competition! It doesn’t matter. Most of these stores will never have the cache of a Wegmans or  Whole Foods. But, if they paid attention to their customer, instead of focusing on being competitive, they would keep more of their customers. What matters is your customer. Period.

Are you creative or competitive in your business?

How much time do you spend worrying about what your so-called competitors are doing? It’s wasted time and emotion.

Your focus needs to be on improving the experience for your customer. What does your customer want? What do they need? Give it all to them.

Make it all about the experience.

A few years ago a small local business, Treaty Oak Bank, opened up in my neighborhood. Of course, there were already branches of big banks on almost every corner. How did this small bank not only succeed, but thrive? They were creative and provided the customer with the very best service.

When I walked into the bank for the first time, something weird happened: everyone looked up from their desk and said, hi!” I looked around for a bank of tellers, but there were no tellers! I was invited to have a seat at a banker’s desk, and she took care of my deposit. It was hot outside (Texas!), and she directed me to the chilled bottled water. And next to the water were big chocolate chip cookies! Everyone was nice and helpful. I left the bank without having to stand in line, everyone was friendly, I stayed hydrated and got a cookie! It was a great experience!

It didn’t cost them a lot of money. The bank was creative in their approach to customers. Everything was customer-centric. Not what you find at the big banks, which is why this bank has been so successful.

You can emulate this approach in your business.

6 Ways To Get Creative in Your Business

  1. Ask your customers what they like and don’t like about their experience with you.
  2. Ask your prospective customers what they want.
  3. Have brainstorming sessions with everyone in your company.
  4. Use the mind mapping process to get out ideas.
  5. Change your mindset to accept all ideas — doesn’t mean you have to implement them, just accept them.
  6. Focus on giving your customer the very best experience.

How do you get creative in your approach to customers? Please share!

By the way, a good coach can help you put creativity in your business!


Did the train leave the station without you?

Recently I attended the Baltimore Business Journal’s 2011 Enterprising Women event. Four successful Baltimore area business women shared their stories about  about how they got where they are, their struggles and what worked for them.

I was struck that two of the women said:

I should have started my business earlier.

They took the risk and overcame their fears and found success. Only wished they had done it sooner.

What’s holding you back from starting your business?

  • Fear. Fear is good — if you use it to keep you from doing something stupid.
  • It’s not the right time. There’s never a perfect time — just like there’s never a perfect time to have a baby.
  • Money. A Gates Foundation study found that more wealth doesn’t necessarily make you happier. Enjoy the struggle!
  • It’s too late. Ask this grandmother of 13 if she thought it was too late to start her motorcycle shop Roar Motorcycles!

Don’t let the train leave the station without you. What’s holding you back?

Please share — I’d love to hear from you.


Why Are You Running Scared

Does it scare you that we’re more than halfway through the year?

You’re not where you wanted to be in your business or your personal life.

You thought you’d have a better cash flow by now. And more clients. Lots of referrals. It hasn’t happened. Yet.

You thought you’d have solidified that business idea and taken it from plan to process to action. It’s still in idea state.

You thought you would have lost 20 pounds by now. By going to the gym 4x a week. It hasn’t happened. Yet.

You thought you’d have more ‘free time.’ Time to spend with your family. Or friends. Or golf clubs. Or boat. It hasn’t happened. Yet.

What are you afraid of?

Have you figured out you’re doing the same things you did last year, and probably the year before, and it’s gotten you to this place? The same place you’ve been for years.  At least it’s familiar and comfortable in a weird sort of way.

5 Fears That Keep You Stuck

  1. Fear of failure. What if it doesn’t work? What if I change the way I do things, and it all falls apart? Do you really enjoy mediocrity? So what if it doesn’t work? You may need to make multiple changes to your business plan or your sales strategy or your exercise regimen to get better results. Are you really going to let your fear of failure hold you back?
  2. Fear of what others think. Because other people really know what’s best for me. They might think I’m a bit crazy and setting my sights too high. What’s more likely true is that other people might  be envious that you are taking control of your future.
  3. Fear of knowledge. I don’t know enough. I need to get more training. Take more classes. The fact is you probably know exactly what you need to know to move ahead and make the changes that will change your life in a meaningful way. You’ll always be learning more as you put your plan into action.
  4. Fear of losing money. What if I lose money? If you lose money, you figure out a way to make it back. Money flows in and out. Don’t give it any more power than that. The fact is you are probably losing money by not making a change, by not implementing your business plan or by sitting on the couch gaining more weight.
  5. Fear of imperfection. Once it’s perfect, then I’ll do it. It’s never perfect. Your plan, your process, your system is full of imperfections. And that’s OK. What’s not OK is stagnation. Make an imperfect move.

Instead of running scared, step back and assess where you are in your life. Write down the things that scare you. Those things that immobilize you. Then write down the counter argument — why you can overcome those fears.

Finish the second half of the year running happily toward your goals.

I’d love to hear from you. Please share!

Photo Credit: Overlandscape


Santa at the beach it's time for a mid year review

Santa is looking for you!

OK it’s not December and Santa isn’t bringing you gifts, but this is the best time of year to pay attention to you.

Give yourself a gift – focus on you.

Instead of running in place or running away, stop and make you the focus. Because all that running or busyness isn’t serving you and isn’t bringing you any closer to the goals you set up at the beginning of the year.

Sometimes it feels good to run and play busy. That way, if someone asks you how your business is doing, you can say:

I’m so busy!

I bet you are busy! But busy doing what?

5 Ways To Play Busy:

  1. Staying on top of your email at every moment.
  2. Always being available for every phone call, email (see #1) and meeting.
  3. Doing the exact same things you did last year.
  4. Going to networking functions without a purposeful outcome — in other words, you don’t know why you’re really there.
  5. Reacting to what your competitors are doing.

I bet you’ve got 15 more ways you play at being busy. It’s just not doing you any good.

Remember at the beginning of the year the goals and resolutions you created? Or, if you were really ambitious you created them at the end of the year. Around Christmastime. Do you know where they are? Do you even remember? Things like:

  • Increase sales by 15%
  • Add new product or service
  • Spend 20% of each week on marketing
  • Go to the gym 3x a week

How’s that working for you?

If you’re on track — congratulations! If you know where you are in relation to your goals — great going!

But the sad fact is that most people aren’t on track or don’t know where they are. Why? Most people set up overly ambitious goals at the beginning of the year. Then when they start to fail, they just shove the whole thing in a drawer and go back to what seemingly worked in the past — playing busy.

Today pledge to think differently — even if just for today — and make a list of 5 ways you play busy. It’s a tough thing to look at sometimes — but we all play busy at some point. If you can identify it, then you can catch yourself the next time and get back on track. It’s a great gift you can give yourself.

Next time I’ll focus on conducting a mid-year review. There still is time to get where you want to go before the end of the year — without running in place or playing busy.

How do you play busy? Please share!

Photo Credit: jurvetson



Happy Independence Day

Do you feel tethered to your business? Is the last thing you feel is ‘independent’? Is your business so dependent on you that you’re unable to fully enjoy your holiday?


In honor of bringing you some independence to your life, here are 10 Common Questions and Answers about coaching:

  1. Won’t coaching just take up more of my time? I don’t have time. That’s precisely why you need me to coach you. But, if you really believe you don’t have time then you don’t. And I can’t help you.
  2. Can’t I just figure this out on my own? How’s it going for you so far? Your kid has a baseball coach, why shouldn’t you have a business coach! It’s one of the most important investments you’ll ever make.
  3. Why do I need a coach? A coach helps you dig deep. Helps you figure out what’s holding you back. Brings accountability into your life. Makes you look at the tough stuff. A coach isn’t afraid to ask you uncomfortable questions. A coach helps you get the results you’ve been craving.
  4. How does coaching over the phone work? Most coaches work with their clients over the phone. It’s more efficient — takes less time out of your day. It’s also extremely focused on the process. I can work with clients all over the world — all because we work over the phone. Geography isn’t an issue.
  5. Give me an example of how it works? I start with the results you want and work backwards. I’ve got proprietary tools I developed — both for assessment and ongoing exercises. You first want to make sure the results you initially identified are really what you want. For example, an attorney might say ‘I want to increase my billable hours by 20%.’ But after working with the tools at the beginning, he determines that he wants to figure out a way to extricate himself from working as a lawyer — the opposite of billable hours!
  6. Is coaching like counseling or therapy? No. I’m not a counselor or therapist. I’m also not a financial advisor. I’m a coach who helps you identify what’s holding you back from getting what you want in your business or personal life. Maybe your fear of public speaking that’s screwing up your sales calls. Or, maybe you don’t even have basic selling skills. I help you identify the blocks, then give you exercises and processes to erase them from your life — all the while focused on results.
  7. As a coach will you tell me what I need to do? No, but I’ll help you uncover the answers and provide you with processes to change your behavior. For example, someone can tell you to work out an hour a day, but if you don’t have the process to implement that huge behavior change, you’re not going to do it. And, if you don’t have the accountability of a coach, you might stick with it for a week. Or less.
  8. I hear people talk about the importance of having a reason. What does this mean? Everything! Your real reason for having your business or wanting to lose weight or spending more time with your family is the foundation of change. You might think the reason for your business is to make money, but it’s much more than that. Once you identify your reason for doing things, you create a stronger bond with getting to results.
  9. What will I need to do to make sure I get the results I want? You need to show up ready to work and focus. You need to be honest and forthright about what you think and what you’re doing. You are an important piece to the success. I can’t make it happen without your committed participation.
  10. How long does it take? That depends. Most people sign up for a 6-month commitment, and that’s it. But, many more people integrate their coaching into their business and life. They use their coach for ongoing changes and goals. The impact of an accountability partner and someone who knows your mindset can be invaluable to living a better life.

Have you got more questions about coaching? Please ask away!


Happy New Year Revolution

New Year’s Resolution Revolution.

Quite a tongue twister – try saying that 5 times in a row!

Why have a New Year’s Resolution Revolution?

It’s time to turn everything upside down. Inside out. You know why you didn’t stay true to last year’s resolutions — you forgot about them. You wrote them down or kept them in your head and promptly forgot about them.

And then sometime around the end of February when you dropped out of your exercise program, didn’t sign up for the French class you wanted to take, hadn’t written your marketing plan for the quarter, you remembered them and decided you’d get to those New Year’s Resolutions real soon. Only you didn’t.

And then June rolled around. You realized half the year was over and you still hadn’t made headway on your New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, you weighed 12 pounds more because you did learn Croissant real good and your sales were down because you never did get around to writing and implementing your marketing plan. Now it was guilt and shame that kept you from going back to see just exactly what your New Year’s Resolutions you had made for the year.

How to have a New Year’s Resolution Revolution:

Forget your 2010 New Year’s Resolutions.  Don’t start thinking about your intentions of a year ago and how you didn’t follow through. You probably already forgot them anyway.

Why start the New Year on a negative note? Let it go. In fact, if you have your 2010 Resolutions written down on a sheet of paper, burn it!

Focus on the 7 best moments of your life in 2010.

What did you do? Who did you meet? Where did you go? How did you feel? Little things. Big things. What were the 7 best moments of YOUR life in 2010? Write them down in your journal. Savor those moments. Feel good about your accomplishments.

Now focus on the 7 best moments you want to have in 2011.

It’s just 7 things. Little things. Big things. These are the moments YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE. Getting on the scale and weighing 15% less. Writing a marketing plan you can actually work and believe in. Increasing your sales by 10%. Cracking a new niche market. Visiting a museum you drive by daily, but have never taken the time to stop. Remembering to send your friends and family members birthday cards – on time.

Create your List Plan.

When do you want to experience these things? What steps must you take to have the experience? What do you need to do and when do you need to do it?

When you have a New Year’s Resolution Revolution your list becomes fun! It’s about having wonderful experiences. It’s not about work. You’ll look forward to the process which gets you to the experiences.

Five Things You Must Do for a New Year’s Resolution Revolution:

  1. Forget about 2010 Resolutions. Burn them.
  2. Write down the 7 best experiences of 2010. Savor them.
  3. Write down the 7 best moments you want to experience in 2011. Big things. Little things.
  4. Create your List Plan for each moment. When do you want to experience the moments? What steps must you take to get the experience?
  5. Review your 7 Best Moments of 2011 AND your List Plan each week. Yes,  each week. It’s called staying on track.

Come back and visit here. I’ll help keep you on track.

Your comments are not only encouraged, they are appreciated!

Photo by: Camera Slayer

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