Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Moment for Clarity

It took a moment of vulnerability for me to clarify my personal philosophy -- which guides me in business and in life.

Among a group of peers, all seeking to demonstrate professional success, we were given a blank sheet of people and 30 minutes to map our values and start drafting our personal vision. Put our name in the middle of the sheet. Draw a spoke for an essential value. Create one-word branches clarifying the value, identifying links between spokes as they arose. Then, assess all the information and craft a vision. For example, one of my spokes: openness. The branches captured openness in relationships, in ideas and for new experiences. New experiences resulted in knowledge and growth. Growth linked to the branch of another spoke: well-being.

The exercise itself was both an affirmation and a discovery process for me, but the forthcoming moment of vulnerability was key. I was required to talk through my map with another person from the session. The listener was supposed to determine, based on my inflection, pace and nonverbal cues, which elements were most influential in defining my personal value structure.

We paired off. My partner went first, and I provided my perspective on her presentation. Then, I launched into explaining my map. But, when I was done, my listener apologized to the effect of: “I’m not sure I can help you because you talk passionately about each item. You seem to embrace everything as an opportunity to apply your skills and grow.”

Her apology was my insight. In that moment, I discovered two things – a vision and a philosophy. The four-word vision that resulted from that exchange still guides my actions still today. I seek to embody passion and growth. And, I do it knowing that collaboration is key. I don’t believe we can achieve improved results by staying within our own minds and experiences. We need the pushing and pulling that comes from talking with people of different backgrounds, opinions and values.
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Workshop Announced: Engaging Your Board

Engaging Your Board will be held Thursday, October 15. I'll be leading the workshop from 9-11AM at Goodman Community Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

A non-profit Board can be among its most powerful assets -- when used correctly. Too often, Boards end up listening to committee reports and focusing on typos in the minutes, rather than providing the oversight and insight needed for the organization to remain viable amidst changing conditions. To address this problem, your board members need to know and understand the importance of their responsibilities, and you can help with concrete tools and techniques to convert even things like fundraising into rewarding tasks.

Topics will include:
* Why Board members engage and why Board members fade
* Intentions versus actions: understanding the value of alignment
* Re-focusing related to fundraising
* Steps for energizing your board

Cost: $40. You can pay at the door or via invoice. Substitutions are allowed; no-shows will be billed. Download a flyer or register via e-mail.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Communiversity on Collaboration

Excited to be facilitating a Constructive Conversation on collaboration to kick off the University of Wisconsin Center for Nonprofits 2009-2010 Communiversity series.

We're taking a fresh approach to the typical lecture style and facilitating an interactive session intended to engage attendees to share their insights and input on concerns, opportunities and requirements for successful collaboration in our community.

Setting the stage will be insights gathered from registrants and others through a short survey:

If you're in the neighborhood of The Pyle Center on September 22 from 4-6PM and have a few hours to dedicate to connecting with colleagues and community members, join us. Registration information was at
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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Missions Don't Talk, People Do

Missions don't talk, people do. So, how your people articulate the mission and represent the organization's intentions can be the difference between feast and famine. It can make or break that impression you seek to leave with stakeholders. Step back and consider what tools you have in place or what conversations you've had with people about that key message you want to share with people in order to spark some needed action or what traits you want to emphasize through your actions in order to reinforce the organization's value and position. Become intentional in building a brand and become clearer in your intentions. Then, watch your organization move forward and advance its mission.
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