Organizational Development

Section Index

  1. Change Your Vocabulary
  2. On Altitude: Framework
  3. On Altitude: Perspective
  4. On Altitude: For Boards
  5. On Altitude: Entrepreneurial Application
  6. On Altitude: Engagement Tools
  7. On Altitude: Visits/Presentations
  8. Introduction
  9. Quotes to Help You With Change
  10. Quotes to Help You With the Rules
  11. Stories
  12. Quotes to Help You Change the Way You Think
  13. The Strangest Secret
  14. Think Outside the Box
  15. 9:1 Change or Die
  16. Change to Live
  17. Radical Change
  18. Re-imagine
  19. Begging for Change
  20. How to Change the World
  21. The Challenge
  22. The Power of Story
  23. Great Reads on Storytelling
  24. Tell Me Your Story
  25. Selling Is Not Telling … Unless It’s A Story!
  26. Is Your Story Awesome?
  27. Discover Your Best Story
  28. Sharing the Story
  29. Storytelling & the Power of Story
  30. Empower Volunteers. Engage Investors.
  31. Re-Write Your Destiny in Business and in Life
  32. Example from the Land of Storytelling
  33. Shaping the Message. Telling the Story.
  34. Think Visual: Imagineering
  35. Storyboarding
  36. Secrets of the World’s Best Storytellers
  37. Tell Your Story Enough and You Will Change the World
  38. “If you don’t like how things are going, tell a different story.”
  39. ‘The Little Engine that Could’ Syndrome
  40. The World’s First Elevator Pitch
  41. Simplify Your Message
  42. What’s in a Message?
  43. No More Mission Statements
  44. Nick’s Note: Strategic Planning v. Strategic Clarity
  45. Make Your Vision a Reality
  46. ‘FRAMING’ … It’s a BIG DEAL!
  47. Altitude Awareness
  48. The Three Big (Business) Questions
  49. Drucker: 5 Most Important Questions
  50. Get Those Who Get Your CAUSE, Then Sell Your CASE.
  51. Nick’s Note: Stop Cultivating and Start Communicating
  52. You Need Funds “For What?”
  53. Nick’s Note: If Effective, Then Plenty of Money Available
  54. 6-Word Message
  55. Just 3 Sentences

Change Your Vocabulary

“WORDS ARE IMPORTANT”
– Tom Peters

 

“… We need a NEW LANGUAGE. The critical distinction is not between business and social, but between GREAT and GOOD. (We need to) jointly embrace a LANGUAGE OF GREATNESS”
– Jim Collins

Malcolm Gladwell of The Tipping Point fame, Marcus Buckingham, One Thing You Need To Know, Tommy Hopkins, sales trainer of all sales trainers, Tom Peters and Jim Collins, modern day leadership/management gurus … ALL reinforce what past giants of the motivation and personal development industry like Nightingale, Stone, Mandino, Peale, et al. have said forever:

CHANGE the way you TALK…
and you can CHANGE the way you ACT!

There’s a compelling science around the psychology of CHANGE that includes tremendous work on this whole idea of NEUROLINGUISTICS and how we FRAME things.

*Pioneering researchers on cognitive science and linguistics have pointed to the paramount importance of something called ‘FRAMING’.

George Lakoff, Professor at University of California Berkeley, defines ‘FRAMES’ as the mental structures that shape the way we see the world. He says that ‘FRAMES’ are part of our “cognitive unconscious;” but the way that we know our current frames or new frames springs from LANGUAGE.

I want to strongly encourage you to
CHANGE YOUR VOCABULARY.

I guarantee that by CHANGING the way we TALK … we will dramatically CHANGE the way we ACT. In effect, your ‘self talk’ impacts the way you ACT! (It’s much like an actor using ‘dialogue’ and ‘dialect’ to get into a ‘character.’)

My hope is that the following OLD WORDS/NEW WORDS will help you ‘TALK THE WALK’… to make it easier to ‘WALK THE TALK!

A simple suggestion: Like any new ‘language’, the fastest way to make progress is ‘total immersion!’ Try as hard as you can to STOP talking about non profits, charity, survival, competing, donors, donations, etc. Use your new VOCABULARY with your Board and your team and it will become the lingua franca, which is a “hybrid language serving as a COMMON LANGUAGE between different people”. I strongly believe you can create a COMMON LANGUAGE for your entire ‘team’ including staff, volunteers and investors.

Special, Special Note: This is NOT some kind of ‘SEMANTIC GYMNASTICS’. It means to literally immerse yourself in a new LANGUAGE, a new LEXICON, a new LINGO

P.S. Part of this is trying to get you to stop using all the typical ‘industry jargon’ and start using SALES TERMS. BUSINESS TERMS. COMMON SENSE TERMS. IMPACT TERMS.

Enjoy the following ‘word games’!
 

 

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On Altitude: Framework

 
The For Impact ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK is one of our most referenced and utilized tools by our team, our coaches and our clients… TO RAISE THE LEVEL OF THEIR GAME!

 

The Altitude Framework works great for Presentations, Engagement Tools, Agendas/Meetings, Speaking, Strategic Plans and Action Plans.

It’s also a great Framework to respond to questions. (“At what altitude/level is the best or most appropriate response?”)

And, it’s a powerful coaching model. (“Let’s talk about this issue/topic at this particular altitude/level”)

At For Impact, we use this for everything from keynote speeches to our website. It’s a part of our mind mapping as we lay out our content, our guides and our books. We have color-coded it as Blue… Red… Green. And, it allows us to talk ‘shorthand’ and reach decisions ten times faster than a normal process.

One of the reasons that this framing device has been so popular is its obvious simplicity. Everyone can understand the hierarchy of WHY, WHAT and HOW… and they intuitively get the connection between VISION, STRATEGY and EXECUTION.

Following are some ways to help you understand and apply… ALTITUDE.

30,000′ View From Airplane A Green Blur Telescope
14,000′ Top of Mountain A Forest Binoculars
3′ Nap of the Earth A Tree Glasses
“He who knows the ‘WHY’ of his existence… can bear almost any ‘HOW’.”
– Viktor Frankl

 

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On Altitude: Perspective

At 30,000’:

An airplane’s cruising altitude, plenty of blue sky, a great view, etc. At 30,000’, our brain even seems to work better!

At this altitude/level, it’s all about your vision, your aspirations, your raison d’etre. It’s a place to think and talk about your mission, your meaning, your values. It’s a place for Guiding Principles, Big Hairy Audacious Goals And Definite Chief Aims (as Napoleon Hill calls them).

My good friend Christopher Celeste pointed out that leaders and visionaries have the ability to see the horizon. Obviously, you can’t do that from 3’. There’s a good view at 14,000’… but an absolute gorgeous view at 30,000’. You can see the curve of the earth, the rising and setting of the sun. The perspective at 30,000’ is unmatched. This is where you can think about making Steve Jobs’ “dent in the universe”… and dream about CHANGING THE WORLD!

At 14,000’:

It’s the view and perspective from the ‘top of the mountain’. (In the Rockies, they’re called ‘fourteeners’). The air is thinner, raptors soar. If 30,000’ is about vision… then 14,000’ is about focus. A place to talk about Strategic Plans and Business Models and Funding Models, and finding clarity around Priorities.

At 14,000’, Everything’s A Project (EAP)! Every project has goals, time lines, a team leader, a team, a budget, constraints, etc.

At 3’:

Literally, it’s ‘boots on the ground’, ‘feet on the street’. It’s tactical. It’s execution. It’s ACTION!

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On Altitude: For Boards

 
Here’s how you can use this Framework to create dialogue with your Board around their relationship with your organization.

  • Your COLLECTIVE BOARD should be engaged at the 30,000’ level (WHY… we exist) around VISION and PURPOSE and MISSION.
  • INDIVIDUAL Board Members (CHAMPIONS) can be engaged with you at the 14,000’ level around STRATEGY (WHAT…needs to be done.) They should be specifically asked to help within their own areas of expertise and experience.
  • No Board/Board Member should be engaged with you or your organization at 3’!!! (the HOW).
“Our Board is AFRAID OF HEIGHTS!!!”
– Irish Social Entrepreneur

We can’t tell you how many times organizational leaders and staff have come up and said, “My Board is at 3” (inches)! They even tell us what kind of soda should go in the machine!”

*While we primarily use this for Boards, there’s a case to be made that no one should be dealing with issues at 3’… Micro-micro-managing… sweating the really, really small stuff, etc.

Action: Review this ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK with your Board. Encourage them to get and stay ‘HIGH’.

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On Altitude: Entrepreneurial Application

ALTITUDE is a great way for an entrepreneur to answer these 3 critical questions:

  • WHY… are you in business?
  • WHAT… business are you in?
  • HOW… do you make money?

Social Entrepreneurs can use this Framework to talk with angel investors, recruit talent and even organize the Business Model and Plan.

Note: Latitude. A small shift in the first two letters of ‘ALTITUDE’ opens up an entirely different way of looking at this: LATITUDE. Many of our Frameworks are laid out horizontally, still using our blue, red, green color code.

 

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On Altitude: Engagement Tools

 
While there have been many different uses and permutations of this ‘thinking’ at altitude… one of our favorites is for a visit and presentation.

All of our Engagement Tools are designed at altitude.

30,000′ Why Purpose Blue
14,000′ What Priorities Red
3′ How Plan Green

We have used this with hundreds of organizations on thousands of visits, as an integral, critical part of our Presentation FLOW. IT WORKS.

The Why (Purpose) Start here. Once they are ON BOARD…move to…
The What (Priorities) Once they understand…it’s on to…
The How (Plan) How you are going to execute. HOW you will Scale and Grow. HOW you will FUND.

 

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On Altitude: Visits/Presentations

Here is a deeper explanation of the power of ‘ALTITUDE‘ on a visit/presentation:

  • Always go (back) up. Nick Fellers has a really great way to use ‘altitude’/level on the presentation. When training or coaching, Nick makes this very clear: When in doubt… when challenged… when questioned… ALWAYS GO BACK UP TO 30,000’! (The Vision, The Message, The Purpose.)
  • Get ‘buy-in’ at the highest level. As you make the Case for Support, the prospect/ potential investor needs to understand and acknowledge their acceptance of the ‘blue’ VISION and ‘red’ PRIORITIES. Sometimes this is “You had me at hello.” (Renee to Tom Cruise) Other times, it may take the entire first visit to get them to understand and agree that this is an important CAUSE and CASE. Regardless, it doesn’t make any sense to talk about PRIORITIES or the PLAN or ‘HOW THEY CAN HELP’ if they don’t ‘get it’ at the highest level!
  • Dissent on Descent. To put this another way, there should be no ‘dissent’ on the descent!
    Think of this as kind of the opposite of getting the ‘bends’. If a diver ascends too quickly, they get a case of the ‘bends’. It’s painful and many times life-threatening.
    During a presentation, the prospect can get the ‘reverse-bends’ if you descend too rapidly. “Hello. Thanks for seeing me. Here’s our campaign. Can you give $100,000?”
  • ‘Permission to Proceed’. We have actually incorporated this specific terminology into the presentation. (It’s the words used to complete a ‘transfer’ on a high ropes challenge course!) “It seems like you’re fully engaged with both our Mission and our Message. Would it be okay (permission to proceed) to go deeper and talk about our Strategic Priorities and our Plan to make all this happen???”
  • Altitude is not always top-down or hierarchical. You can ‘enter’ at any level. You can focus on any level. You can travel up and down… and even side to side, especially when you’re using an Engagement Tool.
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Introduction

As every parent or grandparent knows, the only person who really, really likes ‘CHANGE’ is a wet baby.

Here are three quotes to help you begin the PROCESS.

 

BE the CHANGE you want to see in the world.”
– Gandhi

 

Gandhi’s ubiquitous quote is on everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs to bumper stickers.

CHANGE is up to us.

Some people can actively CHANGE ‘THE’ WORLD. All of us can CHANGE ‘OUR’ WORLD (our impact, our income, our health, our relationships, our lives).

 

“Social Entrepreneurs CHANGE the PERFORMANCE CAPACITY of SOCIETY.”
– Peter Drucker

 

Mr. Drucker was THE management guru and acknowledged thought leader in the field of leadership and organizational development.

Here’s a perfect example of his clear and challenging thinking. Don’t just ‘CHANGE’ something, CHANGE something BIG!!! (e.g. “The PERFORMANCE CAPACITY of SOCIETY!!!”)

 

“Stop BEGGING for change. Start begging for CHANGE.
– Robert Egger

 

Bob Egger’s wonderful book title and even more wonderful content provides a catchy, pithy way to talk about radical transformation, creative destruction and Quantum Leap innovation.

Not quite there yet?

Read on.

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Quotes to Help You With Change

 

EVERY organization needs to ABANDON
almost EVERYTHING that it does.”

– Peter Drucker

 

EVERY organization is PERFECTLY DESIGNED
to get the RESULTS they are getting.”

– Tim Kight

 

“If you don’t like CHANGE,
you’re going to like IRRELEVANCE even less.”

– General Erik Shinseki

 

“I don’t trust anyone who isn’t trying to CHANGE the world.”
-Tom Peters

 

“We don’t need COINS. We need CHANGE.
– Sign in a Window

 

CHANGE is one thing. PROGRESS is another.”
– Bertrand Russell

 

“The cumulative weight of experience
makes it very hard to CHANGE.

– Dr. Michael Merzenich, UCSF Professor

 

“We have to be prepared for CHANGE.”
– Santiago in The Alchemist

 

CHANGE your THOUGHTS and you can CHANGE the world.”
– Norman Vincent Peale

 

CHANGE is inspired best by EMOTIONAL APPEALS,
rather than factual statements.”

– Edward Bernays

 

LEADERS can’t help but CHANGE the present,
because the present isn’t good enough.”

– Marcus Buckingham

 

“It’s often easier to KILL an organization
than CHANGE it in any significant way.”

– Kevin Kelly

 

“If people in organizations can’t CHANGE,
the organization will die.”

– John Byrne

 

“It’s easier to change PEOPLE than to CHANGE people.”
– Kets de Vries (via Tom Peters)

 

“People don’t CHANGE.
You’re either an eagle or a duck. It is what it is.”

-Tom Suddes
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Quotes to Help You With the Rules

 

“You can’t solve a PROBLEM
if you are playing by the RULES.”

– Paul Arden

 

THERE are NO RULES.”
– O.G.

 

SELLING has become more complicated, competitive and complex…
thus the need for DRAMATIC CHANGE!
We will not survive by just tinkering with the RULES of the OLD GAME.
We need to CHANGE the entire GAME.”

– Larry Wilson

 

“If it ain’t broke, break it.”
– Entrepreneurial Mavericks

 

“The Manifesto of a deal maker is simple. Reality is negotiable.
Outside of science, law (and ethics) … all RULES can be BENT or BROKEN!

– Tim Ferris, 4-Hour Work Week

 

“I get up every morning determined
to both CHANGE THE WORLD and to have one hell of a good time.
Sometimes, this makes planning the day difficult.”

– E.B. White

 

“What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger!”
– Nietzsche

 

“It’s the END OF THE WORLD as we know it…
and I feel fine.”

– R.E.M
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Stories

 
Some stories ON CHANGE to get you going …

GREAT BARRIER REEF

Have you ever visited the Great Barrier Reef in Australia?

On the inner (leeward) side of the reef, there are NO waves, NO turbulence, NO ‘CHANGE’ … and NO LIFE!

All of the colorful fish, the beautiful coral and the amazing plants are on the ocean (windward) side of the reef… where they are hammered every day with crashing waves, intense turbulence and ‘CHANGE.’

“IL SOLE NO MUOVE”

Forty years before Copernicus revolutionized the world view, Leonardo da Vinci said, “THE SUN DOES NOT MOVE.” Both these dudes were born on a flat, unmoving planet in the center of the universe, around which the ‘SUN CIRCLED’.

A century after their deaths, that same planet was a rotating sphere orbiting around the sun somewhere in a universe too vast to even have a center! The church tried to suppress this as heresy. The best ‘THINKERS’ of the times thought this concept absurd.

The planet/solar system did not ‘CHANGE’ but, the paradigm for understanding it had been turned inside out.

BABIES BORN IN CHAOS

Steven Pressfield states that the creative act is primitive.

“Babies are born in blood and chaos; stars and gravity come into being amid the release of massive primordial cataclysms.

The hospital room may be spotless and sterile, but the birth itself will always take place amid CHAOS, PAIN and BLOOD.”

ITALY & SWITZERLAND

In the 15th Century, Italy was immersed in chaos, war, bloodshed, terror… and ‘CHANGE.’

It produced da Vinci, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi… and the RENAISSANCE.

Around the same time, SWITZERLAND experienced hundreds of years of peace, consistency, sustainability and no, none, nada, nil ‘CHANGE.’

It produced the CUCKOO CLOCK.

MONKEY NUTS and BERRIES

My good friend, Jim Mahoney (Battelle for Kids), tells this wonderful story:

It’s pretty easy to catch monkeys in the jungle. You just carve out the inside of a coconut with a small hole in the top, fill the coconut with NUTS and BERRIES, and attach the coconut to a stake or a tree.

The monkey comes along, sticks its hand inside the coconut, and grabs a handful of nuts and berries. The monkey will be there when you get back. Guaranteed. WHY? Because it will NOT let go of the NUTS and BERRIES … and can’t get its’ FIST out of the coconut.

SACRED COWS

Here’s my own short final story on change:

I won a trip around the world (long story, long trip). While visiting India, I actually saw those famous ‘sacred cows,’ and learned that once they got too old or useless, they were shipped across a neighboring border and turned into HAMBURGER!

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Quotes to Help You Change the Way You Think

 

CHANGE your THOUGHTS
and you can CHANGE the world.”

– Norman Vincent Peale

 

“The world we have created
is a product of our THINKING.”

– Albert Einstein

“When you CHANGE your THINKING,
you CHANGE your BELIEFS.
When you CHANGE your BELIEFS,
you CHANGE your EXPECTATIONS.

When you CHANGE your EXPECTATIONS,
you CHANGE your ATTITUDE.

When you CHANGE your ATTITUDE,
you CHANGE your BEHAVIOR.

When you CHANGE your BEHAVIOR,
you CHANGE your PERFORMANCE.

When you CHANGE your PERFORMANCE,
YOU CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

– John Maxwell

 

“Through his thoughts, man holds the key to every situation.”
– James Allen, As A Man Thinketh

 

“Great men are those who see
that THOUGHTS rule the world.”

– Emerson

 

“There is nothing either good or bad
except that THINKING makes it so.”

– Shakespeare

 

“I THINK… Therefore I am.” (Cogito Ergo Sum.)
– René Descartes

 

“Well, I come down in the morning
and I take up a pencil and I try to THINK.

– Hans Bethe

 

THINKING is hard work. It’s why so few people do it.”
– Henry Ford

 

“As one thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
– The Prophet David

 

“All the resources we need are in the MIND.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

 

“Men simply don’t THINK.
– Albert Schweitzer

 

“First with the HEAD… then with the HEART.
– Hoppie to Peekay, The Power of One

 

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The Strangest Secret

 

“You BECOME What You THINK About.”
– Earl Nightingale

 

This is one of the most profound ‘THOUGHTS’ (pun intended) ever recorded.

Earl Nightingale is the father of personal development. Written in 1956, his book, The Strangest Secret, was the seed from which the personal development industry grew.

When Earl was 35 years old, he recorded this short message for a small group of salesmen one Saturday morning. The message had such a positive IMPACT that everyone wanted copies to share with their friends and family. Earl arranged with Columbia Records to duplicate this record and ultimately received a Gold Record for sale of a million copies. (This is in the 1950’s!)

Here is the Strangest Secret:

 

“YOU BECOME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT.”

 

This book/message is only 19 small pages and takes less than 30 minutes to read or to listen to the audio. Just order your own copy.

SPECIAL NOTE: Earl also says IMPACT = INCOME!! He calls it the ‘Law of Mutual Exchange’

As a FOR IMPACT Leader and Social Entrepreneur…

WHAT IF… All you THINK about is

  • Survival?
  • Woe Is Us?
  • Meetings To Set Up The Next Meeting?
  • Cuts in Staffing?
  • Can’t Make Payroll?
  • People Won’t Pay For The Staff’s Salaries?
  • A 5% Increase In The Budget? (Which, of course, will have absolutely NO impact
    on your IMPACT!)

WHAT IF… You ACTUALLY THINK About

  • Your VISION
  • Your MISSION
  • Your MESSAGE
  • Your MEANING

Any difference?

Same way with LIFE. If all we think about is the ‘bad stuff’… there’s no room left to focus on the ‘good stuff.

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9:1 Change or Die

Given real choices in matters of LIFE or DEATH, scientifically studied odds are 9 to 1 AGAINST CHANGE!

Alan Deutschman expanded a provocative Fast Company cover story (May 2005) into a full-length book called, Change Or Die.

Deutschman’s conclusion from his two-year project:

90% of patients with severe heart disease fail to CHANGE their own lifestyles … even after their doctor tells them that they’re in a ‘CHANGE or DIE’ situation!”

600,000 people have bypasses every year and 1.3 million heart patients have angioplasties, all at a total cost of around $30 Billion. These procedures are temporary and rarely prevent future attacks or prolong life. However, the patient could avoid the return of pain and the need to repeat the surgery by switching to a healthier lifestyle.

However, after two years, 90% of these patients have not changed their lifestyle!

The Health Care industry consumes over $3 Trillion a year in the U.S. alone. (20% of our Gross Domestic Product.) 80% of our health care budget is consumed by five behavioral issues … too much smoking, drinking, eating and stress, and not enough exercise.

This is not about the debates, discourse, disagreement on a Health Care Plan. The fact is that…


We know the cause of these health problems.
We know the solutions.
Yet, people won’t, don’t CHANGE.

* THIS CHANGE is not always about ‘life or death’. Studies have found that six weeks into the New Year, 80% of people had already broken their New Year resolutions (or can’t even remember them anymore)!

A National Institute for Health study found that 97% of people who lose weight end up gaining it all back within five years!

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Change to Live

 
There is an alternative: CHANGE TO LIVE.

Dr. Dean Ornish, a Professor of Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco and founder of Preventative Medicine Research Institute, has actually figured out a way for heart patients to CHANGE. He says,

“Providing health information is important but not sufficient.
We need to bring in the psychological, emotional and
spiritual dimensions that are so often ignored.”

Ornish’s holistic program actually reverses heart disease without surgery or drugs.

*For what it’s worth, I believe STORIES and NARRATIVES are the best ways to make these emotional appeals. FACTS are just FACTS. STORIES change our THINKING and our FRAMEWORK.

A three-year Mutual of Omaha Study found that 77% of Ornish’s patients have stuck with their lifestyle CHANGES and avoided bypass or angioplasties surgery, saving Mutual of Omaha $30,000 per patient (a little over $7M) as well!

Ornish basically re-casts the reasons for CHANGE:

 

“JOY OF LIVING BEATS THE FEAR OF DEATH.”

 

Ornish helps convince people that they can feel better … not just live longer … and enjoy things that make daily life pleasurable.

Stop for a moment and realize how much this applies to everything we do.

It’s about the POSITIVE vs. the NEGATIVE.
It’s about EMOTION, INSPIRATION, VISION.
And, it’s about our ATTITUDE.

Conventional wisdom says that ‘CRISIS’ is a powerful motivator for CHANGE. Obviously, since severe heart disease or health-related matters are the most serious of personal crises, that doesn’t seem to motivate. John Cotter, Harvard Business School Professor, adds this insight:

“Behavior CHANGE happens mostly by speaking to people’s FEELINGS.
In highly successfully CHANGE efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in a way that influence EMOTIONS, not just thought.”

That is sound advice regardless of the area of ‘CHANGE’

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Radical Change

 
One of the most powerful lessons from Ornish’s work is that RADICAL SWEEPING CHANGES are easier and faster to make… and sustain.

For example, people who make moderate changes in their diet get the worst of both worlds. Deprived and hungry because they aren’t eating what they want, they also aren’t making enough changes to quickly improve how they feel.

Ornish’s tough, radical program sees quick and dramatic results, including actually reporting a 91% decrease in frequency of chest pains in the first month!

This radical CHANGE/transformation thing works with organizations as well. Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, studied 21 companies’ corporate transformations where the means were drastic and the results were almost always quick and tangible … including a 250% on average stock price increase!

My own experience has proven that talking with investors and philanthropists about RADICAL TRANSFORMATION (VISION) is significantly easier, more compelling and generates way more results than talking about ‘survival,’ ‘budget cuts,’ ‘incremental tweaks’ and ‘kaizen.’

 

“COMPELLING POSITIVE VISIONS
of the FUTURE … are the
INSTRUMENTS for CHANGE.

 

* ‘Survival pitches’ only work for tsunamis and hurricanes (and even that story line is built around people’s future)!

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Re-imagine

“It is the foremost task – and responsibility –
of our generation to ‘RE-IMAGINE’ our enterprises and
institutions, both public and private.”

– Tom Peters
IMAGINATION is more important than knowledge.”
– Albert Einstein
IMAGINATION rules the world.”
– Napoleon

RE-IMAGINE:

  • A WORLD without … HATE
  • A WORLD without … CANCER
  • A WORLD without … HOMELESSNESS
  • A WORLD without … DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  • A WORLD without … POVERTY
  • A WORLD without … ILLITERACY
  • A WORLD without … DEPENDENCY
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Begging for Change

 
There is no way for me to pull together some radical, transformational ideas around CHANGE without talking about Robert Egger’s wonderful book, Begging For Change (Harper, 2004).

Egger is a living, fire-breathing Social Entrepreneur who ran the D.C. Central Kitchen. Twenty years ago, he asked a simple question:

Why aren’t there more RESULTS from 84 million people contributing $200 billion to good causes?” (Figures, 1988)

Today that question has grown to 100 million people and $385 billion. Egger’s answer reinforces the IMPACT drives INCOME insights, epiphany and point of view.

 

“Non profits must STOP CHASING MONEY… and START focusing on the TRUE WORK AT HAND … CHANGES that could RADICALLY TRANSFORM COMMUNITIES!!!

 

He goes on to say that “most non profits have veered away from their original missions and are now caught up in the maddening cycle of chasing after (begging) for money … “

I’ve shared the podium with Robert, and heard how he challenged audiences to call a “National Time Out”… so that everyone around the country could ask themselves what the hell they’ve been doing and why.

Following are some ‘nuggets’ from this powerful thought leader that seem particularly appropriate around this whole idea of CHANGE (The) RULES (as well as my sometimes feeble attempt to help you CHANGE the way you THINK, TALK and ACT.)

“We need to … demand more and expect more from our nonprofits. We need to seek out and reward organizations that exemplify leadership, unity, responsibility and accountability.” (AND CHANGE!)

“In the last decade of the 20th century, nonprofits began to use a language and display an attitude that almost excused their performance. (‘What do you expect, we’re just nonprofits?’)

– Rather than winning the war on poverty, we focused on containing the enemy.

– Rather than looking for a solution, we found it easier to blame either a cause, political party or an economic system.

– As competition among non profits got ferocious, we tapped into advertising and public service announcements to raise money.”

”We managed to convince our donors to focus on measurements like ‘FUNDRAISING EFFICIENCY’ and charitable commitment because these were easy numbers to present. Yet we knew they didn’t reflect the true IMPACT, EFFICIENCY or EFFECTIVENESS …”

(Here’s one of my favorite nuggets, albeit painful for many organizations and bureaucracies.)
“Over the past 50 years the structure of non profits has evolved for optimum SURVIVAL not optimum RESULTS.” (Adapt or Die? Change to Live?)

If you’re not already on overload, think about this:
“Leaders and researchers in the nonprofit sector want the public to believe that our lack of progress in the sector is caused by INSUFFICIENT MONEY and RESOURCES, and that we could do more if we could build bigger entities and more non profits. THEY’RE TOTALLY WRONG.”

“We don’t have a shortage of funding or volunteers. We’re the most generous and caring people in the world.”

“It’s not that we have to say ‘yes’ more often or reach deeper into our pockets. We have to do the opposite. We have to learn to say no. We have to ask tough questions of organizations who are asking for a grant or a contribution.”

”It’s no longer about dollars raised, or percentage of money that goes to the cause. It’s about effectiveness and results … but it’s also about fewer programs getting more of the money.” (!!!)

If these ‘words’ don’t help you CHANGE your THINKING on IMPACT and INCOME…

RE-READ!
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How to Change the World

 
I had dinner a couple of years ago with David Bornstein, a terrific writer and evangelist for Social Entrepreneurs. Bornstein wrote a fantastic book called, How To Change The World. Over a five-year period, he visited with 60 Social Entrepreneurs and interviewed another 40. The book concentrates on 9 powerful, uplifting and inspirational stories.

Here is Bornstein’s summarized message:

“Social Entrepreneurs are transformative forces … people with new ideas to address major problems … who are relentless in pursuit of their visions … who simply will not take ‘no’ for an answer … who will not give up until they have spread their ideas as far as they possibly can.”

I love this definition! Both of us also love and use Peter Drucker’s ‘THINK BIG’ mantra:

 

“The SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR CHANGES the PERFORMANCE CAPACITY of SOCIETY.”

 

Bornstein also reinforces one of my favorite books and mantras: The Power Of One.

In his own words,

“(The book) shows that important SOCIAL CHANGE frequently begins with a single entrepreneurial authorONE obsessive individual who sees a problem and envisions a new solution …ONE that takes the initiative to act on that vision … ONE who gathers resources and builds organizations to protect and market that vision … ONE who provides the energy and sustained focus overcoming the inevitable resistance … and, ONE who, decade after decade, keeps improving, strengthening that vision until what was once a marginal idea has become a new norm.”

 

WOW!
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The Challenge

 
In How To Change The World, David is very clear about one thing:

“The most universal CHALLENGE is LONG-TERM FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY.

He talks about the huge chunks of time that are spent thinking about FINANCING/FUNDING/INCOME (vs. time focused on IMPACT.)

Covey’s succinct and powerful thought is still right on:

No Money. No Mission.

However, the corollary is even more important to me.

No Mission. No Money.

Most of you have seen what I consider to be our most powerful INSIGHT:

IMPACT DRIVES INCOME
NOT the other way around!

I won’t belabor you here with this point of view, but, I would simply remind you, David and every other Social Entrepreneur and For Impact Leader in the world that there is so much money out there to help change the world. There are more financial resources available than anyone could possibly spend.

I’m not just talking about McKinsey’s $100 BILLION left on the table … UNASKED.

I’m talking about a TRANSFER OF WEALTH in the next 30 to 50 years of $100 TRILLION!!!

(Give or take a couple of bucks)

And, I’m talking about those people who have had their ‘Bill Gates Shower Moment’… people committed to move from SUCCESS to SIGNIFICANCE!

*These are the people you want to Visit with, Share the Story and Present the Opportunity.

Here are three quotes to help you begin the PROCESS.

 

BE the CHANGE you want to see in the world.”
– Gandhi

 

Gandhi’s ubiquitous quote is on everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs to bumper stickers.

CHANGE is up to us.

Some people can actively CHANGE ‘THE’ WORLD. All of us can CHANGE ‘OUR’ WORLD (our impact, our income, our health, our relationships, our lives).

 

“Social Entrepreneurs CHANGE the PERFORMANCE CAPACITY of SOCIETY.”
– Peter Drucker

 

Mr. Drucker was THE management guru and acknowledged thought leader in the field of leadership and organizational development.

Here’s a perfect example of his clear and challenging thinking. Don’t just ‘CHANGE’ something, CHANGE something BIG!!! (e.g. “The PERFORMANCE CAPACITY of SOCIETY!!!”)

 

“Stop BEGGING for change. Start begging for CHANGE.
– Robert Egger

 

Bob Egger’s wonderful book title and even more wonderful content provides a catchy, pithy way to talk about radical transformation, creative destruction and Quantum Leap innovation.

Not quite there yet?

Read on.

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The Power of Story

Everything you do should be built around a STORY!

As often happens, Nick and I came at this whole STORY thing independently during our ongoing work, coaching and training. It happened several years ago. We were at Eagle Creek kicking around some ideas for upcoming Board and Custom Training when we realized that we had both been putting increasing emphasis on the whole idea of STORY.

STORYLINES. STORYBOARDS. STORYTELLING. We agreed that the Power of Story transcended just about everything.

The POWER of STORYTELLING is a given. It goes back, literally, to the beginning of humankind! STORIES are, without question, the most meaningful way to communicate any (and I mean ANY) MESSAGE!

It’s so much easier for you and your Board and anyone connected with your For Impact organization to SHARE THE STORY and PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY … than it is to go and ‘ask for money!!!’

STORY helps with the Open, Dialogue, Conversation, and much more. Building, telling, sharing your STORY is ALL you need to do. And I mean that pretty literally.

In our For Impact world, ‘SHARE THE STORY’ is about:

    • AUTHENTICITY
    • DIALOGUE
    • STORIES … here’s the ‘short list:’
The ORGANIZATION STORY.
(Founding. Problem/Solution.)
The IMPERATIVE STORY
(Change/Save/Impact Lives. Solve Problem. The Movement)
The VISION STORY.
(Cast a Vision. Purpose. 30,000’. “Where do we want to be in 1,000 days?”)
Your PERSONAL STORY.
(Part of Flow/Open. 3 Bullets.)
The LEGACY/HISTORY STORY.
(100 Years Old. Founded before the Country. 1st _______.)
The MATH/NUMBER STORY.
(The Gap. Income & Expenses. Revenue Streams. Transformational.)
The CAUSE & CASE STORY.
(Again: Problem/Solution. Impact.)
The MODEL STORY.
(Business Model. Funding Model.)
The PLAN STORY.
(The HOW we will get there. The ‘Blue’ Plan and the ‘Green’ Plan.)
The FUNDRAISING/DEVELOPMENT STORY.
(Authentic. Haven’t been out asking, etc.)
The BOARD STORY.
The TALENT STORY.
The PROSPECT STORY.

What are YOUR stories?

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Great Reads on Storytelling

Some powerful RESOURCES to help you around the concept of STORYTELLING:

  • The Power of Story by Jim Loehr.
    Already mentioned a few times. A must read. Loehr has always been one of my favorite thinkers/writers. This has become one of my ‘favorite’ books! His other book, The Power of Full Engagement, is required reading for our team.
  • “The Four Truths of the Storyteller”
    An article in Harvard Business Review by Peter Guber, leader in the entertainment/experience world. (December 2007) This line alone ought to get you to read this article. “Although the MIND may be part of your target, the HEART is the bull’s-eye.”Also by Gruber …
  • Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, AND Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story.
    Good stuff. Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment. Guber talks about ‘STORYTELLING’ as a “Professional Discipline.” Oh yeah. Quick quotes: 

    • “Stories are tools.”
    • “Stories need to be interactive.”
    • “Stories need a purpose.”

    (Thus, “Purposeful Storytelling.”)

For even more from Gruber …

  • You can read a powerful Q & A with Guber by Mike Hoffman in INC. magazine on the “Power of Effective Communicators.” (March 1, 2011)
  • Around the Corporate Campfire by Evelyn Clark.
    Subtitle says it all: How Great Leaders Use Stories to Inspire Success.
  • “Using Great Storytelling To Grow Your Business”
    A great article by Kaihan Krippendorff. (FAST COMPANY, March 5, 2012) Here’s the shorthand:

    • Use lots of LOTS… Language of the Senses. When you tell a story, share the see, smell, feel, taste and hear.
    • Build on your Story Spine. This comes from the Actors Institute, which suggests using a five-step structure called the Story Spine: Reality is introduced, conflict arrives, there’s a struggle, the conflict is resolved, new reality exists.
  • Storytelling by Fog, Budtz and Yakaboylu.
    This is more about storytelling as it relates to BRANDING … but there is still some great stuff! For example, the four elements of storytelling:

    • THE MESSAGE!!!
    • CONFLICT (Problem/Solution in Our World)
    • CHARACTERS (Who is involved? Share your own story on the visit, etc.)
    • PLOT
  • The Way of the Storyteller by Ruth Sawyer.
    Just one of those classics about STORYTELLING. Originally published in 1942. (Believe it or not, before I was born!) Just another way to look at STORIES.
  • Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler.
    Not the most ‘exciting’ book I’ve read but still has some good nuggets in it around the subtitle: TOOLS for Talking When Stakes Are High. It’s about trying to discover how to communicate best when it matters the most. Foreword by Stephen Covey.
  • A Whole New Mind (Storytelling) by Daniel Pink
    A brilliant thinker and author who clarifies and simplifies big concepts.
  • Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee.
  • The Dream Society by Rolf Jensen.

Finally, if you just want to have some fun, pick up

  • Story People by Brian Andreas.
    He is an ARTIST who just makes me laugh and think. I love his work.Here’s one of my favorite lines:“I like geography best,” he said, “because your mountains and rivers know the secret.”And I love: “Pay no attention to boundaries.”
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Tell Me Your Story

Here’s a great example straight out of a For Impact training session.

During breaks, at lunch and after the training, I stood in the front with a flipchart and tried to help people with the MESSAGE part of our For Impact sales process.

As always, their message was too much, too complicated, too many words. However, when I asked each to simply TELL ME THEIR STORY … the ‘WORDS’ JUMPED OUT!

HUGE lesson for all of us: Design the STORY! Tell the STORY! SHARE THE STORY!

Stories are magic!

If I say, “Tell me about your organization,” I typically hear a bunch of blah, blah, blah about services, methodology, numbers, plans. (Yawn.) It’s not ‘engaging!’

But if I say, “TELL ME YOUR STORY,” the reply is completely different. It’s heartfelt … and ENGAGES me!!

Stories are about AUTHENTICITY … PASSION … EMOTION and ENTHUSIASM! Stories also involve VISUALIZATION … IMAGINATION. They engage the listener!

As we continued through the training, there was a lot of ‘talk’ about the whole idea of ORAL storytelling. (Campfires, passed along from generation to generation, songs, etc.)

That led to some discussion about the story as the WRITTEN WORD. Playwrights, authors, poets, etc.

I would add one more way to tell a story: VISUALLY.

ORAL STORIES. WRITTEN STORIES. VISUAL STORIES. POWERFUL stuff!

Don’t ‘tell me about your organization’ … TELL ME YOUR STORY!

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Selling Is Not Telling … Unless It’s A Story!

If you’re a follower of For Impact, you’ve heard me say (probably a hundred times),
“You’re in SALES … get over it!”

The concept of ‘story’ is a huge element of the SALES process.

Selling is not about a PITCH (on an elevator)! It’s not a spiel. It’s not memorized.

It’s about a dialogue.

We ASK QUESTIONS. We LISTEN TO THE RESPONSE. We then RESPOND with a STORY or STORYLINE!

We used to call this IMPACT POINTS and TALKING POINTS. It was the idea of “reaching into your quiver of arrows” and selecting the right response. You could also think of it as reaching into your collection of STORIES.

Just ASK. LISTEN. RESPOND … with a STORY.

One of my favorite axioms around selling is that:
SELLING IS NOT TELLING!

Spewing, vomiting or unleashing a bunch of ‘words’ is not how you SELL!

Now … however, I always add this line … ‘UNLESS it’s a STORY!’

‘Telling’ a story is, without question, the most meaningful way to communicate any MESSAGE!

Stories inspire … empower … bring people together.

SELLING IS NOT TELLING! (Unless it’s a STORY!)

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Is Your Story Awesome?

The story you use to maximize funding …

The story that brings rock star talent to your doorstep and fully engages your team …

The story that you tell yourself every day to stay focused and fulfilled …

Is it AWESOME?

Story adds passion, purpose and urgency to your message, plan and everyday actions.

  • Is your story about needing more money? Or changing lives?
  • Do you have a good story that helps get to the ask?
  • Do you have a story that engages your board as passionate champions and advocates?

 

“We fail to realize that everything we say is a story — nothing more, nothing less.”

“Stories impose meaning on the chaos; they organize and give context to our experiences … Facts are meaningless until you create a story around them.”

“Your life is your story. Your story is your life.”

– From The Power of Story, by Jim Loehr

 

You have control over the story. That’s the WOW!

Take time to think about:

  • The flawed stories we tell ourselves. “She can’t make a gift of that size because she just made a big gift to the museum.” Stop making decisions for prospects.
  • Our funding stories. Do you need money for your annual fund? (Yawn. Who cares?) Or are you tying your story to your IMPACT?
  • Our organizational story. The story of “Braveheart” trumps the “Little Engine that Could.”
  • The Story of the SECTOR! The Story of our Raison d’être! Are we ‘not for profit’ or FOR IMPACT?

Story … if you ‘get it’ … is a BIG deal. DISCOVER your story and make it AWESOME.

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Discover Your Best Story

I was with an organization (to remain nameless) that had a super simple message but a really bad story. In talking with the group it was instantly apparent that their great message was trumped by a really bad story.

While the organization had a powerful, simple message on paper, the story I heard from several staff and board members was one about a long history of:

  • ‘not fundraising’
  • ‘yeah buts’
  • program stigmas
“We are still very much a little charity that deals with something most people are uncomfortable talking about. Donors aren’t used to giving to us and they think we have all the money we need.”

I heard this again and again.

Many organizations run into this problem. When I say someone has a really bad story, I mean their 30,000’ (high altitude) NARRATIVE is not representing their transcendent PURPOSE, their VISION, ‘BHAGs,’ their audacity. (To be very clear: I speak of the gravitas that you already possess. I’m not encouraging you to make something up for messaging purposes.)

So …

Let me tell you a different story about the same organization … all true.

  • This ‘little charity’ generates $15M/year through several funding streams – including fundraising.
  • It impacts over 8,000 families each year and completely changes … even SAVES the lives of scores of children who have been subjected to some of the worst atrocities imaginable.
  • People come from all over the world to work with this team of inspired and innovative leaders, counselors and program managers.

This organization needed to embrace the power of story … of their GREAT story. Your story is what you are. YOU tell your story. It can be ‘Eeyyore-ish’ or awesome.

Here’s a GREAT TOOL for DISCOVERING your BEST STORY:
Write down, in bullet-point-form, the things that get you REALLY FIRED UP about your organization. Connect the dots (literally) and you have the start of a pretty good story.

We did this exercise with the organization mentioned above. THEY were the ones to generate the compelling storylines above!

The process illustrates how they already owned both stories. We didn’t come in from the outside, for instance, and try to write a new story. To be the best STORYTELLER, you obviously need to be AUTHENTIC! You need to ‘own’ your story.

This is huge.

Story creates reality.

“We become what we think about.”
-Earl Nightingale

 

Sit down with your team to DISCOVER your BEST stories. Let us know if you need more help. In our teleseminars and training we:

  • Share examples of stories used at organizations that ENGAGE people and help GET TO THE ASK.
  • Address common challenges to funding, action and engagement – your STORY makes a big difference.
  • Give you several actionable tools use can use to DISCOVER your story and make it AWESOME.
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Sharing the Story

I got a note from one of the most wonderful women in the world … who, with her team, is running one of the most incredible women’s “shelters” in the United States.

United Way had asked her to speak at different corporations. Here’s her quote:

“I can bring them to tears in less than five minutes. I’m like a Hallmark card, only thing is my stories are all true and happened in their hometown.”

SHARE THE STORY PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY

Five minutes. True. Happened in their hometown.

THINK ABOUT IT. TELL YOUR STORY

“I never give presentations.”

“I do tell stories.”

“STORY after STORY after (linked) to STORY.”

I’m definitely a Tom Peters ‘groupie’. I picked up his book, The Little BIG Things, in the Tampa airport.

As always, his 163 nuggets are thoughtful and provocative.

I opened the book up to #25 You Are Your Story!

“He/she who has the best/most compelling/most resonate STORY wins: In life! In business! In front of the jury! In front of the congregation!”

I would simply add: IN FRONT OF THE PROSPECT!

SHARE THE STORY -> PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY.

As Tom Peters says: “HE/SHE WHO HAS THE BEST STORY WINS!”

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Storytelling & the Power of Story

I was in Ireland, doing some FOR IMPACT TRAINING. Wonderful, incredible people.

A country and economy that is growing, booming. And, For Impact Organizations that have powerful ‘Causes’ and ‘Cases!’

During breaks, at lunch and after the training, I stood in the front with a flipchart and tried to help people with the MESSAGE part of our For Impact sales process. As always, their message was too much, too complicated, too many words. However, when I asked each to simply TELL ME THEIR STORY … the ‘WORDS’ jumped out!

HUGE lesson for all of us:

DESIGN THE STORY! TELL THE STORY! SHARE THE STORY!

3 Big Ideas:

  • STORYBOARDING. It’s a Walt Disney animation term… but it works perfectly for us. Actually laying out the ‘STORY’ is a way to Prepare and Practice your Presentation!
    • HOW do you begin?
    • HOW do you talk about the WHAT, the WHY and the HOW?
    • WHO do you talk about? (Their Story)

    P.S. The story doesn’t always start with “In 1842, Father Sorin and six brothers came to a snowy lake which was actually two lakes…” (Notre Dame).

  • STORYTELLING!!!! Here I was, in Ireland, the land of incredible “storytellers” … what a great place to think about the POWER of STORYTELLING. It’s about AUTHENTICITY. It’s about VISUALIZATION and IMAGINATION. And it’s about PASSION, EMOTION and ENTHUSIASM. It’s POWERFUL stuff!
  • SHARING THE STORY. Nick and I have been using this idea for a long time. It’s so much easier for you and your Board and anyone connected with your For Impact Organization to SHARE THE STORY and PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY … than it is to go and ‘ask for money!!!’ THE POWER OF STORY helps with the Open, Dialogue, Conversation, and much more. Building, telling, sharing your STORY is ALL you need
    to do. And I mean that pretty literally.
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Empower Volunteers. Engage Investors.

Great stories empower your volunteers to connect with other prospective investors.

Here’s a simple test: Ask any of your Volunteer Leaders or Board Members (or even key staff) if they would rather:

ASK THEIR FRIENDS FOR MONEY
or…
SHARE THE STORY (AND) ——–> PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY!!!

No one wants to ‘ask the friends for money.’

But ‘share a story?’ Can’t tell you how many board members we’ve worked with who’ve said, “Oh, I can do that!”

On the flip side …

Prospective investors are LOOKING FOR a GREAT STORY.

I thought you would enjoy these THOUGHTS from a philanthropist about the IMPORTANCE of a GOOD STORY:

“I also know firsthand what a donor experiences when being approached.

The very first thing I want to hear is a GOOD STORY. Why are you the one cause or organization I should give my time and money towards?

I hear lots of moving stories. Essentially I’m being asked to take a leap of faith that you are the most capable to make the dream come true.”

Get out of your office and start sharing your story … your story that’s SO GREAT that it inspires listeners to “take a leap of faith!

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Re-Write Your Destiny in Business and in Life

Jim Loehr is one of my favorite authors. He began his career working with high-profile athletes in tennis and moved to other sports. He now runs the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, where he now focuses on executives and leaders.

His book, The Power of Full Engagement is required reading in our little organization. The entire message is on the cover: Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.

His more recent, groundbreaking book, The Power of Story, talks about the way we tell STORIES about ourselves, to ourselves – and how we can change those STORIES to transform our business and our personal lives.

“Your story is your life.” Jim Loehr makes this point early and often. While much of the book is geared towards our personal stories … every idea, nugget and point has amazing relevance to all of our organizations as well.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It can change the way you think, operate and even fund.

Three teasers:

  • The 3 RULES of STORYTELLING. (Page 137)
    • PURPOSE.
    • TRUTH.
    • ACTION.
  • IT’S NOT ABOUT TIME
    Great summary of The Power of Engagement, ENERGY, focus, etc. (Page 153)
  • FALSE ASSUMPTIONS turned into stories.Loehr says that much of the material of our life and organization stories are based on assumptions – many of which are not true. (Page 68)

This could be one of the most impactful books you can read for your own PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT, your ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOMENT and your INCOME DEVELOPMENT!

Order this book fast. Download it on your Kindle. Do whatever you’ve got to do to understand The Power of Story.

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Example from the Land of Storytelling

Here’s a summarized version of the STORY for The Abbey Theatre in Ireland.

They’re an amazing organization, with an incredibly rich history, a glitch five years ago that has been dramatically reversed, a terrific Senior Team and more.

I believe The Abby would tell you that one of the most important things we’ve done as their COACH has been to help them tell their story! Obviously, as a theatre/artistic/performance group … The Abbey and its leadership understand the whole idea of ‘STORY.’ The challenge was that the story they were telling (and not telling) wasn’t working.

Hope the following helps you better understand the whole idea of STORY and its power:

THE ABBEY’S STORYLINES:

  • The ORGANIZATION STORY.
    THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF IRELAND! For over 100 years have been staging and reflecting Irish life and culture. Deeply engaged in the Easter Rising in 1916 (founding of the country!) … and will be again on the 100th Anniversary in 2016. Major challenges in 2004, leadership, financial, etc. Big-time turnaround. Superstar Artistic Director. Super-smart CFO. ‘Brilliant’ new Senior Team. New financial controls. New Message and Marketing. Now in position to scale and grow the IMPACT of The Abbey in Dublin, Ireland, the United States and around the world.
  • The MESSAGE STORY.
    Again, THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF IRELAND! Staging and reflecting Irish life and culture. Connecting TALENT and AUDIENCES!
  • PERSONAL STORIES.
    Everyone on the Senior Team (and actually the Board as well) has their own personal story as it relates to Ireland, the Theatre and The Abbey. Each can now tell that in a powerful way.
  • The LEGACY/HISTORY STORY.
    FOUNDED before there was a country! Manifesto written in 1899. Yeats, with the help of two amazing women benefactors, founded The Abbey in 1904. Abbey central to the Easter Rising in 1916. Abbey full of legendary artists and writers including James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, George Bernard Shaw and now Tom Murphy, Bryan Freel and Mark O’Rowe. Now impacting almost 100,000 people from 62 countries enjoying shows at The Abbey; five world premieres; etc.
  • The MATH/NUMBERS STORY.
    The government plays a huge role in funding the Arts in Ireland. Part of the ‘Numbers’ Story is that this money goes to help sponsor and underwrite performances to allow the people of Ireland access to theatre and artistic work. The ‘Math’ Story also includes ‘tightening of the belt’ (redundancy), packaging up the actual ‘cost’ of performances and tours and much more. [E.g., the actual (average) ‘gap‘ for each performance is approximately
    €1,016.] (Cost – Ticket Sales = Gap)
  • The CAUSE & CASE STORY.
    The ‘Cause’ Story has now grown from simply being THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF IRELAND and doing what The Abbey has always done … and to becoming a leader and prime-time player in the resurgence of Ireland’s economy! Business and political leadership in Ireland have determined that Arts and Culture are two of the country’s greatest assets.The Abbey needs to be positioned as a vital part of the country’s message.The ‘Case’ Story centers around The Abbey’s responsibility to:

    • Develop Playwrights
    • Mark History
    • Create Dialogue
  • The MODEL STORY.
    The Abbey has an entirely new FUNDING MODEL built around TODAY. TOMORROW. FOREVER. It is a top-down model that relies heavily on shoulder-to-shoulder visits with The Abbey’s very best Qualified Prospects and Potential Investors. The model is designed to help The Abbey with Current Operations (Today), Priorities & Projects over the next six years (Tomorrow) and Legacy/Planned Gifts (Forever).
  • The PLAN STORY.
    There is a very specific ACTION PLAN around both IMPACT and INCOME. In the ‘blue’ IMPACT … that Plan includes encouraging and developing playwrights, particularly more women playwrights; expanding The Abbey’s reach and influence to the school children of Ireland; reaching out to the Irish Diaspora around the world, and much more.The ‘green’INCOME Plan/Story includes very specific fundraising goals for the Yeats Performance Fund (1,016 Euros, 100/300/400+ Members); 25/50 Members in the Annie Horniman Circle (10,300 Euros); 50-100 Members in Lennox Robinson Society (Legacy Gifts), etc. The FUNDING PLAN Story also includes a bold and aggressive outreach to the United States.
  • The FUNDRAISING/DEVELOPMENT STORY.
    Simple story. Yeats was the original fundraiser. The Theatre was built on fundraising … literally. It’s in The Abbey DNA. The performer IS also the business storyteller. First gift from Annie Horniman for 10,300 lbs sterling. Yeats then did three whistle stop funding tours in the U.S. where the Irish Americans BUILT the Theatre and brand known today.Yeats sat with people in New York just as The Abbey is doing today … continuing the tradition. Fiach is Yeats and the person The Abbey is sitting with is Annie.2nd Story. No real culture of philanthropy in Ireland until very recently. No real fundraising or development for The Abbey until very, very recently. Government has been and continues to be the #1 investor/benefactor. The Abbey has not gone out and ASKED. The Abbey is now out SHARING THE STORY … and PRESENTING THE OPPORTUNITY.
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Shaping the Message. Telling the Story.

In a blurb that came out from Notre Dame News, the president, Father John Jenkins, was talking about his vice president of university relations, Lou Nanni.

In a very complimentary way, Father Jenkins indicated that, in the time that he has served, Lou has been involved in “shaping Notre Dame’s messaging and helping tell our story to various constituencies.”

I’ve gotten a lot of comments over the years about how ‘easy’ it would be to raise money for Notre Dame … how you don’t have to worry about doing ‘this stuff’ at Notre Dame, etc.

Father Jenkins quote seems like a gentle reminder that, even at Notre Dame, it is very important to shape the message and tell the story.

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Think Visual: Imagineering

I once spent a day at Disney World with an amazing group of Junior Achievement CHAMPIONS (aka Board Members and Staff). It was a six-hour ‘RETREAT’ and my role was to facilitate/coach to help Junior Achievement Board Members become more ENGAGED and more PASSIONATE ADVOCATES for Youth Development, Economic Development and Workforce Development.

We (60 Board and Staff Members from Junior Achievement of Central Florida and West Coast) spent the day talking about IMPACT and INCOME and their ROLE. I was totally energized by the commitment of these CHAMPIONS … and of their serious desire to figure out how to help.

As part of my ‘prep,’ I re-read one of my favorite ‘books’ called Walt Disney Imagineering, by the Disney Imagineers. It’s full of all kinds of the SKETCHES (VISUALS) that were eventually turned into reality.

Following are some tweet-like quotes from Walt Disney Imagineering that reinforce the entire idea of STORIES and VISUALS.

“You know bankers don’t have any imagination, none at all.
You have to SHOW them what you’re going to do.”

– Walt Disney

 

“I could never convince the financiers that Disneyland was feasible
because dreams offer too little collateral.”

– Walt Disney

 

“Question: How many Imagineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Does it have to be a light bulb?”

 

“For Disneyland, the process of ‘learning and succeeding
by dreaming and doing’ was employed for the very first time.”

 

“The only rule during this time (of brainstorming Disneyland): There are no rules.”

 

“The Walt Disney Company is in the business of TELLING STORIES.”

 

“There are no days in life so memorable
as those which vibrate to some stroke of the IMAGINATION.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

“Storyboards are used a PRESENTATION TOOL… to SELL THE IDEA!”
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Storyboarding

Try this tool for building your story.

STORYBOARDING: It’s a Walt Disney animation term … but it works perfectly for us. Actually laying out the ‘STORY’ is a way to Prepare and Practice your Presentation!

  • HOW do you begin?
  • HOW do you talk about the WHAT, the WHY and the HOW?
  • WHO do you talk about? (Their Story)

Storyboarding works for helping you design your ORAL STORIES … WRITTEN STORIES … or VISUAL STORIES. Or any way you combine them.

P.S. The story doesn’t always start with “In 1842, Father Sorin and six brothers came to a snowy lake which was actually two lakes…” (Notre Dame).

Be creative.

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Secrets of the World’s Best Storytellers

“Let me tell you a story …”

The exact same story can be told very differently by different people … or in different ways.

The STORYTELLER as a lot to do with it. To most effectively ‘share the story’ of your For Impact organization, you want a storyteller who is authentic … filled with passion for your organization … and a great communicator.

To help you tell your story the very best way possible, here are the 7 SECRETS OF THE WORLD’S BEST STORYTELLERS*:

  • LESS IS MORE!
    • Make every word count.
    • Get it perfect … then cut even more
  • DRAMATIC PAUSE!
    • Use silence.
    • Use inflection.
    • Think like an actor.
  • PAINT VIVID WORD PICTURES!
    Listen to Zig Ziglar tell the story of how the “Redhead” got him to buy his first house!!
  • PAINT … WITH YOUR HAND, YOUR MIND AND YOUR HEART!
    • Really get into it.
    • EnthusIASM (IASM: “I Am Sold Myself.”)
    • Passion.
  • ACT THE STORY … DON’T REPORT IT!
    Storytelling is NOT a PowerPoint … Presentation … from the Podium! It’s about PERFORMANCE … whether it’s one-on-one or in front of a group.
  • KEEP IT SIMPLE! KEEP IT SMALL! KEEP IT SHORT!
  • CUSTOMIZE TO YOUR AUDIENCE!
    The absolute best stories and best storytellers make the story RELEVANT to the audience … to the topic … to the point.

At For Impact, we’re all about training, coaching … PRACTICING! PRACTICE your STORY! ‘Practice’ with everybody and anybody. The better the storyteller … the more powerful the story!

*I cannot remember (senility) where I found these 7 secrets. If you know the SOURCE, please let me know.

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Tell Your Story Enough and You Will Change the World

Let me tell you a story … about an amazing man and social entrepreneur named Bill Strickland. We had the opportunity to exchange ideas with him and his team at the Manchester Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh.

Bill’s credited as a terrific social entrepreneur and a visionary; he’s both. More importantly, his program to transform the lives of poor youth individuals and the community works. Harvard’s done four case studies exploring the success. (By the way, Apple is the only other ‘organization’ to be the subject of four Harvard Case Studies.)

What I really appreciate about Bill is his ‘persistent story telling.’ I’ll bet he’s shared his slide show 3000+ times. I know for a fact he’s shared his story in front of every audience that will have him … in hundreds of cities … around the world.

I share this with you for two reasons. First, Bill is a great storyteller and you need to hear his story. (Listen to his TED Talk, “Bill Strickland makes change with a slide show.”)

Second, the dude works hard and you can too! Sharing your story 3000 times is hard work. It requires persistence and conviction to your message. Sometimes you end up speaking to a room of five people and sometimes Jeff Skoll is in the audience. Bill’s stories frequently include something like, “And [insert famous/influential name] was in the audience; she came up to me and said, ‘I’d like to help!’

If you tell your story 3000 times I promise these things will happen to you as well. Here’s the thing … you don’t need to share your story 3000 times. You don’t even need to share your story 1000 times. It’s just the idea of committing to MASSIVE ACTION (as Tony Robbins calls it).

What if you told YOUR story 100 times? You WILL raise some funds and change some lives.

What if you told YOUR story 1000 times? You WILL change your sector or city.

What if you told YOUR story 3000 times? You WILL change the world.

In 2011, Bill was awarded the 2011 Goi Peace Award. This is Japan’s equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize.

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“If you don’t like how things are going, tell a different story.”

Here’s a really solid article from Rosabeth Moss Kanter at Harvard Business Review: If You Don’t Like Your Future, Re-Write Your Past. (June 11, 2012)

At For Impact and The Suddes Group, we talk an awful lot about the power of story.

This article reinforces the whole idea of changing the narrative … so that it creates a different view/perspective.

Every one of us can take this to heart. “If you don’t like how things are going, tell a different story.”

Here’s a For Impact example of how to ‘tell a different story.’ It’s an excerpt from our On Boards guidebook:

The best way to begin improving the dynamics of your Board relationship is to Change the Story.

OLD STORY: What is the current ‘STORY’ you’re telling yourself about your Board?

They want to micro-manage everything.

They won’t give us names.

They won’t ask their friends for money.

We can’t get new and better Board Members.

We are stuck with ‘Legacy’ Board Members.

We all dread Board Meetings.

This ‘story’ is familiar, but doesn’t have to be true moving forward.

NEW STORY:WHAT IF… you change that ‘STORY’ to one that sounded like this:

Our Collective Board is engaged with us at 30,000’ around our Vision.

Our Individual Board Members help us at 14,000’ around our Strategy.

Our Board truly understands their role when it comes to funding … and they love it.

Successful community leaders who believe in our Cause and our Case are fighting to get on our Board.

We have had great conversations with our entire Board about the ‘BUS’… where it’s going and who needs to be on it. Those who are not in alignment with our direction have gracefully and gratefully accepted either Emeritus status or rotated off the Board.

Our Board Meetings are now Memorable Experiences … exciting opportunities to both see and talk about our Impact! We can’t wait for the next one.

You control the Board ‘Story!’ It can be a negative story or a positive story. Your choice.

Either way, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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‘The Little Engine that Could’ Syndrome

You all know the story of the ‘Little Engine that Could.’ Great little blue engine that pulled the big train chanting, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” It’s about the little guy overcoming odds with attitude and proving something for himself.

It’s great. But it’s not your organization’s best story.

The Little Engine story-syndrome for nonprofits looks something like this:

“We’re really tiny but we don’t give up. We make good use of everything. We’re struggling but we’re going to make it. We believe we can. We believe we’re doing good work! Can you support us?”

So?

Present a better story. The Little Engine That Could story is a narrative about confidence.

We want a narrative about PURPOSE!

No time for you to tell us you can give yourself a pep talk. With all due respect to the little engine, we’re not pulling a train full of toys; we’re SAVING lives, CHANGING lives and IMPACTING lives!

Channel Ghandi.

Inspire like MLK.

Heck, charge forward like Braveheart.

They were driven by a sense of PURPOSE, not self-discovery.

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The World’s First Elevator Pitch

We urge you to read Dan Pink’s book, TO SELL IS HUMAN!

Go immediately to Page 155 and read about Elisha Otis and the world’s first elevator pitch!

Teaser: It involved him climbing on top of one of the world’s first elevators and taking an axe and slashing the rope that is suspending it in mid-air!

We love Dan’s thinking as he goes into the 6 Successors to the Elevator Pitch:

  • The One-Word Pitch (IMPACT!)
  • The Question Pitch (JUST ASK!)
  • The Rhyming Pitch (LIVE TO GIVE. GIVE TO LIVE.)
  • The Subject Line Pitch (YOU JUST WON $1M FROM NIGERIAN LOTTERY.)
  • The Twitter Pitch (ESPECIALLY TWEETS THAT PROVIDE INFORMATION AND LINKS OF VALUE TO RECIPIENTS.)
  • The Pixar Pitch!!! (Page 170. THIS ALONE IS WORTH THE PRICE OF THE BOOK.)

Pink reinforces everything we’ve read about Pixar, John Lasseter and his team, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney Company, and more.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STORY!

Once upon a time there was _________. Every day _________.
One day ________ and _________. Because of that _________ .
Because of that __________. Until finally _________.

 

To every For Impact organization out there … fill in the blanks and you have your STORY! document

You know our FI | TSG line: You’re in Sales. Get over IT!

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Simplify Your Message

Please, please, please. Don’t blow off this ‘LESSON’!

The SIMPLER the MESSAGE … the STRONGER the CASE/RATIONALE FOR SUPPORT. You’ve heard this from me (ad nauseam):

“If you can’t SAY IT … ON A NAPKIN … you can’t SELL IT!”
(Suddes)

‘Elevator Pitches.’ ‘One-Minute Selling.’ A ‘Napkin.’ The ‘Blue Box.’ ‘3 Buckets.’ I don’t care what you call it. Just SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

FUNDING THE VISION is very different than ‘BUILDING CAMPAIGNS,’ ‘CAPITAL CAMPAIGNS’ and ‘CAMPAIGN CAMPAIGNS.’ It’s ALL about the VISION of the ORGANIZATION … and tied directly to the MISSION/MEANING/MESSAGE.

A quick ‘story’ from the field: Colorado College President Dick Celeste took less than a year to bring the entire campus together for their MAPPING PROCESS (AGENDA). Out of that came these THREE THEMES:

  • RIGOROUS INTELLECTUAL EXPERIENCE
  • DIVERSE & RESPECTFUL COMMUNITY
  • NEXT GENERATION CAMPUS

Those 3 THEMES became these 3 BUCKETS:

  • BEST FACULTY
  • BEST STUDENTS
  • BEST CAMPUS

…which required a $300 Million Investment...to FUND THIS VISION.

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What’s in a Message?

 
90% of the funding challenges organizations have are a function of

  • Not asking
  • Not being with the right prospects
  • Not having the right message (which usually makes number 1 much easier and makes number 2 much more apparent).

Message should be simple, fit on a napkin – clear, concise, compelling. That being said,not sure we have our own crystal clear napkin definition of MESSAGE. In fact, when someone says they need help with their message, we first ask them to define what they mean.

We’ve been referring to ‘message’ as:

That, and only that, which a prospect needs to UNDERSTAND in order to say, “I totally get it!”

*And, if a qualified prospect, to also say, “I’m IN!”

Think about it. UNDERSTAND. It’s not:

  • What you SAY
  • What you PRINT
  • What you put in a 10 page case statement.

If you can work with that definition, then 99.9999% of those reading this can resolve their message (ultimately) to one of the following:

  • CHANGE LIVES
  • SAVE LIVES
  • IMPACT LIVES

If I, as your potential investor, could understand that I can SAVE LIVES, then it’s game over. No longer about ‘fundraising,’ no longer about ‘cultivation,’ no longer about ‘asking for money.’

Common response from those too close to the issue: “It can’t be that simple.”

Yes it can.

Sometimes the ‘message derivative’ could be:

  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
  • TRANSFORMING EDUCATION
  • ENDING CANCER

Again … all SIMPLE. These are all applications of SAVE LIVES. CHANGE LIVES. IMPACTING LIVES.

I don’t want to lose a very important word in the definition – UNDERSTAND.

So how do you make me UNDERSTAND?

  • Be simple and don’t make me work to UNDERSTAND why your program is awesome.

    Don’t use big, complex words. Don’t be an academician. Concept everything up to its highest purpose. “Ultimately the reason we’re doing this is because it SAVES LIVES.”

    How many times do we read someone’s case statement only to SEARCH for the WHY.

    We’re not a fan of case statements – largely for this reason. However, if you HAVE to do one, don’t fall for pretty prose. Bold your message, then put a lot of white space around it to make it stand out from all the other stuff.

    Note: Google ‘Steve Jobs keynote’. The dude puts up slides with one word and or one visual – very good at making SIMPLE message points. While most of our thoughts address the 1:1 or small group setting, this shows how they can apply to a large group presentation.
  • Repetition.

    Just because the idea that you’re CHANGING THE WORLD didn’t sink in the first time you said it does not mean you should change your message.

    • Listen to any GOOD politician. She will repeat her message over and over.
    • Listen to any Zig Ziglar audio (random reference). Zig often says, “I’m going to repeat this three times to emphasize that it’s really important.”

    Key is that you don’t move OFF message just because you hit on it once.

  • Conviction

    I think repetition must be coupled with conviction.

  • Show – don’t tell.

    Sometimes it’s not about finding the WORDS to help me understand. Sometimes you just need to SHOW – either because there are no words or because you/I/we can’t find words to do any justice.

    This could be visual. Better than 50% of us are VISUAL. Use PRESENTATION TOOLS or VISUAL concepts to communicate concepts.

    For some, pictures and visuals may be just a start but an EXPERIENCE could be even better.

    We worked with a start-up school taking a very novel approach to learning. We probably visit 15 schools each year, and have never seen anything like this – kids in 7th and 8th grade would’ve outperformed most college kids. Everyone who walked the halls of the school felt/saw/understood the magic … We made it our strategy to get people to the school. We used words AFTER the visit to have a dialogue about the impact.

  • Start with ME – not you.

    This is about ME (the prospective investor) understanding. Not you. You know everything about the project and the organization and I know nothing. Of the 632 things you could say TO me, I probably only need the right THREE to help ME understand. This is why LISTENING is so important.

    At our trainings, we do an exercise where we pair up two people who have never met. They have five minutes in which person A is to communicate everything she needs to communicate to get the other person to say, “I get it. I understand what you do. I could share that with others.”

    In some groups, person A will talk – fast, nonstop for five minutes. In those cases person B looks worn out and lost after five minutes.

    In other groups person A will introduce a talking point then ask a question – allowing person B to give feedback … Person A listens and uses that feedback to share even more targeted and relevant message points … and on and on. After three minutes, person B usually says, “Got it! Really cool!”

    The point? Helping someone understand is not about talking at them.

After the SIMPLE definition there is room for deeper conversation/definition. A great message (APPLIED to FUNDING) must answer the three questions of EVERY investor:

  • WHY?
  • WHERE is the MONEY GOING?
  • HOW WILL YOU GET THERE?
    • What is the plan? AND/OR
    • What do you need from me? AND/OR
    • Why are you asking me for XYZ? (Rationale)
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No More Mission Statements

 

 
No one, and I mean literally no one, can recite their organization’s Mission Statement. This is not just true in the “Not-for-Profit” world but in the “For Profit/Business” world as well.

Mission Statements are WORDY, ALL INCLUSIVE, POLITICALLY CORRECT STATEMENTS WRITTEN WITH A THESAURUS BY A COMMITTEE.

If you don’t believe me, TEST IT! Ask three or more staff and volunteers to recite, in unison, your Mission Statement (without looking)!

 

 

*Compare this to Mother Theresa’s Mission Statement: “We must radiate God’s love.”

Your real goal is to have a MESSAGE that is CLEAR … COMPELLING … and CONCISE … and can be delivered in a CONSISTENT fashion! 

“The true Mission Statement expresses your raison d’etre, the purpose or reason for your existence. It should be the invisible life force that drives and unifies.”
Soar With Your Strengths,
Donald Clifton, Paula Nelson

It’s not just your organization that has trouble with Mission Statements. It’s a universal problem in the ‘real world’ of ‘for-profit’ business as well. (I’m wondering what ‘Mission Statements’ motivated Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers???)

My favorite example is from a great company … that is 100 years old … and has a following that we all would die for:

 

 

This is my favorite company because it’s my ‘vehicle of choice’. But, this could be the ugliest, least inspiring, can’t believe they wrote it … Mission Statement ever.

However, look at the message, tagline, battle cry that is engraved, inspired or tattooed(!) somewhere on their ‘iron horses’, ‘hogs’, or bodies:

LIVE TO RIDE. RIDE TO LIVE.

You get the point.

Special Note: The Harley-Davidson mantra can be paraphrased for all your investors:

LIVE TO GIVE. GIVE TO LIVE.

It’s not about your MISSION STATEMENT … it’s about your MESSAGE.

The real goal is to have a MESSAGE that is CLEAR… CONCISE… COMPELLING… and can be delivered CONSISTENTLY.

Your MESSAGE should be able to be captured on a NAPKIN… and communicated in as few words as possible, ideally with a picture (visual).

Take a tip from the political world and STAY ON MESSAGE!

P.S. Don’t worry about trying to ‘change’ your Mission Statement. Leave it alone. It’s too painful a process. Just work on your MESSAGE!

“A customer can say ‘NO’ because the offer doesn’t apply to them; but NEVER because they didn’t UNDERSTAND IT!!!”
Jumpstart Your Brain,
Doug Hall

In our world, that means someone can say, “not now” or “not a priority” for legitimate reasons, but never because they didn’t UNDERSTAND the VISION/MISSION/ MESSAGE!!!

3 Big Keys:

SIMPLICITY BREVITY CLARITY

“WE CAN’T POSSIBLY DO WHAT YOU’RE SUGGESTING, TOM. WE ARE JUST ‘TOO BIG’, ‘TOO IMPORTANT, TOO COMPLEX’.”

It takes 3 pages just to ‘introduce’ your organization as a preface to a 30-page proposal or grant request!!! (for $10,000!!)

Think about these ‘taglines’ as a Message:

“We’ll put a man on the moon before THE end of decade.”
“I have a dream.”
“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
“He’s not heavy, he’s my brother.”
“1,000 Points of Light.”
“Just Do It.”
“Like a Rock.”
“Live to Ride. Ride to Live.”

Bottom line: WHAT’S your MESSAGE???

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Nick’s Note: Strategic Planning v. Strategic Clarity

 
I’m tired of reading lengthy strategic plans that don’t derive-from or result-in real strategic clarity.

  • In past year I have been with several foundations that have asked organizations for ‘strategic plans.’ Speaking to the foundations directly, I can say that what they’re really asking for is STRATEGIC CLARITY — not 40 pages of ‘stuff.’ It’s a vocab issue.
  • IMPACT drives INCOME. In order to get funding results we [The Suddes Group] always have to back our way into helping an organization get REAL strategic clarity so that we have a clean strategy, message and case for support for funders. Funding, at the point, then simply becomes about execution. We can coach and train people to execute.

Strategic Plan vs. Strategic Clarity

Think about the difference in these two terms.

Every organization needs strategic clarity and a 1000-day action plan. They need to have everyone on the same page about:

  • The purpose (the WHY) and the vision (the ultimate goal) (at 30,000’).

    This should fit on a napkin.

  • No more than THREE* simple strategic priorities (at 14,000’) that advance the organization toward the goal, aligning with purpose.

    These should fit on the back of that napkin.

    *Drucker was even simpler. He said every organization should have at most TWO priorities … WOW!

  • A 100-day (near term) plan of action tied to each priority and a 1000-day plan of action with benchmarks that run more fluid for quarterly review.

    This should fit on one sheet of paper (maybe two) if you stay at the strategic level.

Every day I talk with someone who needs or wants a ‘strategic plan.’ I can’t identify with that term anymore because it means so many different things. In each case though, they need clarity and simplicity. Only about half the time do they need to do a lot of consensus building (think: visits, dialogue and time) to bring everyone on the same page.

Over simplified? No.

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Make Your Vision a Reality

It all begins with VISION. Having a great VISION, a great idea that can impact the world, help people, save lives.

To make that vision a reality, you must be able to clearly articulate it. You need a CLEAR, SIMPLE MESSAGE.

Then you’ll build on that message … with the storylines, the math, and last of all, the presentation tools that put it all together to COMMUNICATE your VISION to prospective investors … volunteer leadership … your team … anyone who will help make your vision a reality.

You need to:

  • Have a clear, compelling VISION/PICTURE of the future … and your impact.
  • Be able to articulate that vision as a powerful MESSAGE … with 3 great STORYLINES.
  • Have the accompanying MATH and PLAN on how to get there.
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‘FRAMING’ … It’s a BIG DEAL!

FRAMING a message … FRAMING a story … FRAMING an issue.

FRAMING is about CHOOSING THE LANGUAGE to define the subject.

FRAMING is about FITTING priorities/issues INTO broader story lines.

This is huge. You need to THINK ABOUT the way you:

  • FRAME … Your MESSAGE (With a great story, Grand Metaphors, Visuals, etc.)
  • FRAME … Your priorities, projects and programs
  • FRAME … both your CAUSE and your CASE

WHY do I think this is IMPORTANT???

Because the bottom line is you’re FRAMING your IMPACT … the IMPACT which drives your INCOME!

SHARE THE STORY PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY

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Altitude Awareness

We use an Altitude Framework to order thinking, communications and storylines.

30,000′ The WHY VISION
14,000′ The WHAT STRATEGY
3′ The HOW EXECUTION

In sharing this with others, one goal is simply to make everyone aware of 30,000′ and what it means to share the message and story at 30,000’.

People respond to you at whatever level you communicate. So, if you’re at 3,′ talking about where the architects are placing bathrooms, this will frame the conversation. Instead, if you’re at 30,000,′ talking about changing and saving lives… the conversations will be different.

One example: We worked with a well-respected social entrepreneur and Ashoka fellow. A driven individual and true visionary, he gets up every morning trying to change the face of poverty. Whenever he went to make an ‘ask,’ however, the conversation always turned into a debate about the business model (at 14,000′). The Altitude Framework helped him to see why this was happening.

Being an award-winning social entrepreneur, his message had taken shape around ‘doing business in a different way’… about ‘earned income’… about ‘not relying on philanthropy’… about being ‘best in the world at being sustainable.’ Naturally, prospects were engaging him at this level (14,000′). The 30,000′ WHY wasn’t coming through in his message. His story needed to be about being best in the world at changing the face of poverty (30,000′) — first — and then incorporating a different business model (at 14,000′).

The Altitude Framework was a simple tool that made him aware of his 30,000′ message. We’re happy to report his funding conversations changed considerably based on this conscious framing exercise.

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The Three Big (Business) Questions

Here are three big questions to think about:

  • WHY ARE YOU IN BUSINESS?
  • WHAT BUSINESS ARE YOU IN?
  • HOW DOES YOUR BUSINESS WORK?

We have worked with a lot of wonderful organizations … especially helping them with their MESSAGE, PRIORITIES and FUNDING PLAN.

IF every one of us and our organizations could answer ‘THE THREE BIG QUESTIONS’… it would help:

  • COMMUNICATE OUR MESSAGE.
  • FOCUS ON OUR PRIORITIES.
  • MAKE BUSINESS DECISIONS/CHOICES.

These questions are driven by Peter Drucker, Jim Collins, Tom Peters, and others.

Our CHALLENGE for you:

ANSWER THESE THREE BUSINESS QUESTIONS (as best you can)!!!

  • WHY are you in business? … is all about your VISION and your IMPACT andyour RAISON D’ETRE.
  • WHAT business are you in? … should be answered at the HIGHEST LEVEL!!! (Drucker’s old line about being in the ‘RAILROAD’ business or in the ‘TRANSPORTATION’ business might help.)
  • HOW does your business work? … is all about your BUSINESS MODEL and your BUSINESS PLAN and your FUNDING/REVENUE STREAMS.

P.S. Collins uses three CIRCLES.

 

 

We think this also works.

Let me know if this helps CHANGE THE GAME!

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Drucker: 5 Most Important Questions

Peter Drucker was certainly the management guru of all gurus and master of simplicity. (Although his book MANAGEMENT is 568 pages!)

Drucker talks about THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS YOU WILL EVER ASK ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION. Jim Collins, Philip Kotler and Francis Hesselbein all contributed here.

Here are Drucker’s 5 self-assessment questions:

  • WHAT IS OUR MISSION?
  • WHO IS OUR CUSTOMER?
  • WHAT DOES THE CUSTOMER VALUE?
  • WHAT ARE OUR RESULTS?
  • WHAT IS OUR PLAN?

We love Peter Drucker’s thinking and his ‘stuff.’ Although he has positioned these 5 questions for any ‘ORGANIZATION,’ we think they could be slightly re-worded or re-positioned for all FOR IMPACT ORGANIZATIONS.

  • WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE?

    Vision. Impact. Mission. Reason for our Existence. Highest Level of Engagement.

  • WHO DO WE IMPACT?

    Directly. Indirectly. Ripple Effect. Individuals, Families, Community, Diaspora, the World.

  • WHAT ARE OUR PRIORITIES?

    Goals. 3 Circles. 3 Buckets. Focus.

  • WHAT IS OUR PLAN?

    Action Plan. Funding Plan. Math.

  • WHO SHOULD INVEST?

    Impact Drives Income. Ideal Profile. Master Prospect List.

We’re always amazed that some incredible organizations we’ve worked with have trouble with ANY of these 5 questions. The fact is, almost no organization we’ve ever worked with has simple answers (that are clear, concise, and compelling) to these questions.

Once you’ve thought about these ‘answers’… you can turn them into a wonderful PRESENTATON TOOL around PURPOSE, PRIORITIES and PLAN.

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Get Those Who Get Your CAUSE, Then Sell Your CASE.

Cause: Your reason for existence. The big problem you’re trying to solve or change.

Case: Your approach. Your model. The way in which you impact the CAUSE.

Think about the difference between CAUSE and CASE.

The goal is to be with people who already understand the CAUSE. Then you can spend time engaging them with the CASE.

Granted, some of you have a very niche cause … or a ‘not-pretty cause.’ There are people out there who get it. THESE are your prospects.

We watch a lot of organizations try to build case statements and the bulk of the message is about the CAUSE. If someone already gets the CAUSE, then you’re wasting your message. If someone doesn’t get the CAUSE, then you’re wasting your focus.

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Nick’s Note: Stop Cultivating and Start Communicating

“Why do we cultivate people?” As Tom always reminds me, “Cultivation is that thing you do with plants and manure.”

I really, truly don’t understand ‘cultivation.’ We are in the business of saving, changing, and impacting lives. If you can help people understand your impact then it’s really not about cultivation; it’s about asking whether or not they want to help you with your cause.

I use a simple story to emphasize my point. Imagine that you and your prospect were walking around a lake and came upon a drowning child. What would that prospect do? It’s likely she would jump in, fully committed to save the life of the child (so would you). I can’t imagine a scenario where you would first try to spend years getting this person interested in saving children (read: cultivation).

So … if you’re saving or changing lives then you can’t really argue that we need more cultivation. I would propose that the issue at hand is really much more about communication. That is, how you communicate your impact in such a way that is clear, concise and compelling. So clear, in fact, the prospect jumps on board (read: into the lake) to make a major investment in your vision.

If you can communicate the impact, the income will follow. If you can communicate the impact, you can ask for any amount of money on the first (sometimes second) visit. The challenge, again, is that we struggle with our message. Or, we might even have the message, but we’re not out visiting with people, one-on-one, to share the message and present the opportunity for them to help (save the child – as it were).

Your job is to communicate the impact, not spread manure. I know that’s blunt but I want to motivate you to action with this idea. You’re doing great things … so present the opportunity for someone to help … now.

People come from all over the world to the For Impact Boot Camp because they need more money. In order to address that, we spend almost half of the Camp talking about HOW to COMMUNICATE the IMPACT. It’s all about communication, and it’s why attendees have success when leaving. They have the ability to communicate their impact in such a way that it is as clear as saving a drowning child.

P.S. If you think my example is too simplistic or unrealistic, please know that this same example is what set into motion the greatest philanthropist of our era – I’ve altered the lake example somewhat but borrowed it from noted philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer who wrote an amazing article in the New York Times, “What Should a Billionaire Give – and What Should You?” In that article he also explains Bill Gates’ moment of clarity around impact that moved him to action.

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You Need Funds “For What?”

We were brainstorming about a coaching client. Talked about trying to get them to stop begging for money … and start answering the question:

“FOR WHAT?”

We can’t figure out why this ends up being so powerful, but it just is. In the start-up/entrepreneurial world, we call this USE OF FUNDS. It answers the question: “Where does the money go?”

It’s tied directly to packaging your Priorities and Projects and Programs (obviously around your IMPACT) vs. ASKING FOR MONEY!

Stop begging for money. Start talking about the WHAT and the USE OF FUNDS!

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Nick’s Note: If Effective, Then Plenty of Money Available

“Most philanthropists, even experienced ones, say that it’s harder to give money away effectively than it is to make it.”
– Beth Cohen, Director of the Global Philanthropists Circle (GPG)
(An organization created by David Rockefeller’s great granddaughter.)

 

A few thoughts on that point:

  • You should be asking whether or not your organization is an effective use of funds.The answer is either yes or no.
    • If NO – then you don’t deserve the money (pretty simple).
    • If YES – then the issue is that you’re not able to communicate your effectiveness.

    This goes back to one of our principle message points: Impact drives Income.

    I think this is encouraging.

  • Think much bigger about your Impact and Income.Tom always shares a great line from his sales mentor, who came from the life insurance business: “It’s easier to sell a million dollar policy to a qualified prospect than it is to sell a $10,000 policy to a family member.” Thing big about your qualified prospects.

    The greater the capacity and philanthropic interest, the more difficult it is for that person to be effective (evidenced by the quote from Cohen).

    This means there is an entire network of investors out there looking for you (if you are an effective investment).

    This is also encouraging.

  • Trust me, most organizations are not out communicating their impact.While we know there are plenty of people who have ‘short arms and deep pockets,’ I have a tough time accepting that judgment about somebody before going to see them.
    • Most people don’t go visit with the prospect: they send a letter, don’t hear back, call it a rejection, and chalk it up to the idea that he prospect is “getting hit up by everybody.” Or, “It’s a competitive environment.”
    • When they do visit, they ‘ask for money’ (instead of ‘presenting the opportunity’). They don’t communicate the impact. What the prospect hears is, “We want your money,” instead of, “This is how the investment will change lives, save lives or impact lives.”
    • Or, worse yet, they visit, talk about the NEED for money, share no impact and make no real ask.

    So don’t base your assumptions about prospects (people, foundations or corporations) on what you’ve heard on the street.

    Try this.

    • Get a visit with a qualified prospect.
    • Share the story around your impact (communicating your effectiveness).
    • Present the opportunity to make an investment that will change lives, save lives or transform lives.

    It makes all the difference in the world. You will be successful and the word on the street will be that you walk on water.

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6-Word Message

Don’t short-change the power of a CLEAR, CONCISE and COMPELLING MESSAGE.

Think of this 6-WORD MESSAGE as the 6 Sigma of the For Impact World!

Special Note: ‘6 WORDS’ can break down into 6 BIG WORDS …
Or 2 GROUPS OF 3 WORDS …
Or 3 GROUPS OF 2 WORDS!

Here is some ‘YEAST’ for your ORGANIZATION’S 6-WORD MESSAGE:

One of the best MESSAGES ever:

SAVE LIVES. REDUCE INCIDENCE. IMPROVE QUALITY.

This is the American Cancer Society’s WHY.

Here’s their 6-Word WHAT and HOW:

HOPE. PROGRESS. ANSWERS.RESEARCH. EDUCATION. SERVICE.

*It doesn’t get any better than this. You can have a conversation/dialogue for hours around the 6-Word WHY and 3-Word WHAT plus the 3-Word HOW.

Ohio Wesleyan University
6-WORD PURPOSE:

EDUCATING OUR STUDENTS FOR LEADERSHIP (&) SERVICE.

6-WORD PRIORITIES:

STUDENT LIFE. EDUCATIONAL EXPEIENCE. FINANCIAL STABILITY.

Colorado College

What follows is 9 words but, still, 3 groups of 3 Words to capture an entire mapping process and agenda for a $300 Million Fundraising Initiative is pretty concise.

RIGOROUS INTELLECTUAL EXPERIENCE.DIVERSE RESPECTFUL COMMUNITY.

NEXT GENERATION CAMPUS.

The Funding Priorities are then built around:

FACULTY. STUDENTS. CAMPUS.

A Senior Community Center

TRANSFORM (THE) AGING EXPERIENCE.
(AROUND) HOME. HEALTH. MEALS.

Here are some 6-WORD MESSAGES within FOR IMPACT/THE SUDDES GROUP:

CHANGE (THE) WORLD through FOR IMPACT LEADERS
CHANGE (THE) WORLD by SPEAKING. TRAINING. COACHING.

*Even our FOR IMPACT Point OF VIEW can be summarized in 6 Words:

IMPACT DRIVES INCOME. GO. JUST ASK.

BONUS: Here’s our ENTREPRENEURIAL MANTRA in 6 WORDS:

THING BIG. BUILD SIMPLE. ACT NOW.

*This works for every For Impact Organization, Social Entrepreneur and For Impact Leader.

 

OG’s Note: HAIKU.As I was writing out these examples, I was thinking about the similarity of these 6 Words to practicing the Japanese art of Haiku. Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry consisting of 3 lines, made up 5, 7 and 5 syllables each.

I remember back in 2007, Nick and I were in the Grand Canyon rafting the Colorado River… and practicing our Haiku. Here is one of mine that captured the entire day’s activities for 14 straight days.

WAKE. EAT. RI•VER. HIKE.
EAT. RI•VER. HIKE. RI•VER. CAMP.
WRITE. PUSH•UPS. EAT. SLEEP.

Two great blogs also explore the realm of simple poetry. Katya’s Non-profit Marketing Blog held a competition to see who had the best nonprofit marketing haiku. You can see the winning entry here. Nonprofit Quarterly wrote this article on the topic.

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Just 3 Sentences

I received this blog in 2010 from an amazing young, talented Social Entrepreneur. In her own words, it describes how SIMPLICITY can make a HUGE difference in a presentation.

Upon hearing your presentation at StartingBloc, I prepared a document that describes my start-up in 3 sentences. A simple, concise message explaining the how, what, and why.

Today I had a meeting with a nonprofit lawyer who tore gaping wounds into my business model, revealing all the ways that my start-up is a legal nightmare. I sat in quiet horror, listening to his criticism.

After he finished his diatribe, there was a pause. And I slipped him the paper. Just 3 sentences. He read them. He re-read them. Then he took a deep breath, and agreed to take me on pro-bono!!! This is the top nonprofit lawyer in XXX! Not only is he going to help me incorporate and will develop the documents I need to be legally protected after we launch, but he is also going to use his contacts to expedite the process so that I have 501(c)3 status within 4 weeks!!! And he is going to put me in touch with his friends who run foundations!!! And he will help us get media coverage when we launch!!!

It’s a life-changing development, because otherwise, I’m certain that my organization would go down in legal flames. But now I’m taken care of! Thank you thank you thank you. I know it was the simple message that sold him. 🙂

Just re-read the last sentence.

Kudos/accolades/applause to M. for doing something with an idea for the presentation.

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