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Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling

A quick follow-up on Nick’s post regarding our commitment to STORY … TALENT … and SALES.

For some reason, this topic is covered by Harvard Business Review. Just seemed to be more powerful than TMZ or the New York Post.

WHY YOUR BRAIN LOVES GOOD STORYTELLING should give you all the ‘backup’ you need to commit time and focus to your STORY.

Filled with words like oxytocin, neurobiology and transcendent purpose … Paul J. Zak also talks about James Bond, Joseph Campbell and Spartan 300. Here’s one great line:  BEGIN EVERY PRESENTATION WITH COMPELLING, HUMAN-SKILL STORY.

Note:  I’m extremely proud of how we are able to help organizations and people TELL THEIR STORY. We’ve learned, after 30+ years, how important that STORY is to SALES and FUNDING.



The Keys to Happiness

*Quick shout out to Shane Parrish at Farnam Street.


At 30,000′: Success doesn’t make us happy.  Happiness makes us a success.

“When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work.”

Here’s a shorthand of some of Achor’s thoughts on becoming happier.

  • Meditate. “Research shows that regular meditation can permanently re-wire the brain to raise levels of happiness, lower stress and even improve immune function.”
  • Do something nice for someone.
  • Invest in your social relationships.
  • Get outside.
  • Spend money on experiences not stuff.

Check out the article and the book.


Top Challenges for Organizations

Small or young organizations (for profit / nonprofit alike) often identify FUNDING as their top challenge – until the organization really figures out a working funding model (or business model).

At that point, a top challenge becomes the RIGHT PEOPLE. The limiting factor to more IMPACT/INCOME is finding the right people!

(Of course, there are many challenges but these are the two constants in our work with hundreds of organizations.)

To those two, I would add a third top-challenge, self-identified by large organizations and that’s COMMUNICATION.

There are some intentional parallels:


The Suddes Group has really focused on helping the sector around these three challenges, developing solutions in these areas:

  • STORY. Hopefully it’s obvious that we’re all about STORY. The organization’s story guides strategy, talent, sales, and much more. Having the right story frames and simplifies communication.
  • TALENT. Helping organizations find the right talent. It’s interesting, we used to stay away from helping with hiring / search, instead focusing on the sales process. But we’ve learned that very few people are really thinking about a sales model and finding the right talent to lead / sell / support. We help organizations find the right people! It’s all about For Impact Talent!
    Note: To that end, we’re going to start posting positions at
    To learn more about FI Talent Solutions contact Jessica Gemm.
  • SALES. Helping organizations commit to sales…. the sales process… sales model… sales culture… to build and maximize relationships. We started in 1983 by providing sales-based campaign solutions. We WERE (and in many cases still are) the organization’s sales team. Today, we provide training and coaching to organizations throughout the US and the world in order to build their own (ongoing) sales cultures.

Find Your Mission

The idea of ‘synchronicity‘ and ‘flow‘ just seem to get reinforced every day. Last week, Nick led an unbelievable day around STORY and MEANING and PURPOSE.

FAST COMPANY, November 2014 arrived after that with the cover and primary theme/article on FIND YOUR MISSION.

The article was written Robert Safian who is also editor at Fast Company. (This really smart guy was also editor at Fortune and Money and now Fast Company.)

I had just written a quick thought/blog on Work-Life Balance vs. Integration and then I read this quote from the Editor, “I’ve tried to provide a philosophy on practical framework for managing your choices. Life and business can’t be separated anymore (maybe they never really could). Today we all need to appreciate the layered sophisticated interaction (my bold) between the personal and professional in order to make the most of both.”

The article, Find Your Mission, ends up being about an organization and a person figuring out what really is at the core of their being.

It’s a long article but well worth the read.

***One reason this article resonates so much is that it basically provides tremendous reinforcement of our Controlling Insight: IMPACT drives INCOMENot the other way around. He says it this way, “The more companies like Apple and Chipolte focus on something beyond money, the more money they make.”

Oh, yeah.



“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


  • A WORLD without … HATE
  • A WORLD without … CANCER
  • A WORLD without … POVERTY
  • A WORLD without … ILLITERACY
  • A WORLD without … DEPENDENCY

A Leader’s Job is to Bear Pain … Not Inflict It

I came across some old notes (1998) on Robert Greenleaf’s seminal book, SERVANT LEADERSHIP. As with many great books, the message is in the title/on the cover.

Greenleaf suggests a domain of leadership grounded in a state of being, not doing. He goes on to say “The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to SERVE … and being a leader has to do with the relationship between the leader and the led.”

SERVANT LEADERSHIP is a small pamphlet (only 37 pages long), but powerful.

“The essence of leadership is the desire to serve one another and to serve something beyond ourselves, a higher purpose.” – Robert Greenleaf

Note: Somehow, the idea of a leader’s job being to bear painnot inflict it … came from SERVANT LEADERSHIP and one of my all-time favorite books, ONCE AN EAGLE, by Anton Myrer, an amazing book on ‘leadership’ as seen through the eyes of an army leader who rises from the ranks of Private in WWI to General in Vietnam.

As a leader, a parent or a coach … the idea of ‘servant’ and ‘serving’ seem to be more about bearing pain than inflicting it.


Balance vs. Integration

At a company meeting last March 1st (at Notre Dame), I had a chance to talk with the team about the whole Work-Life Balance thing.

To me, it has always been way more about INTEGRATION … rather than BALANCE.

For me, it was always about the entrepreneurial adventure and the integration of family and boxing and travel and good health.

Stew Friedman, who is a Wharton School Professor, has just come out with a new book called LEADING THE LIFE YOU WANT: SKILLS FOR INTEGRATING WORK AND LIFE.

I saw this post at Forbes from Dorie Clark and am just starting the book.

Two great teaser quotes:

“The people who are most successful in terms of having a significant IMPACT on the world are those who embrace others parts of their lives, rather than forsake them.”

“That was the big motivating idea: to cut through the common wisdom that you have to give up everything in order to be successful.”

I fought the work-life balance thing for a long time. ‘Balance‘ time with family, work, travel, working out, six weeks at Notre Dame, etc.

It finally dawned on me that having family members work with you in business, taking grandkids with you on trips, taking a mini-sabbatical at Notre Dame to coach allowed great time for writing and thinking, etc. or way more about INTEGRATION. Friedman talks about the term ‘work-life balance’ needs to be overhauled and the implication that we can (or should) appropriately balance our personal and professional lives all the time is faulty.

It’s probably worth ordering the book just to get the thinking behind this pretty big idea.

One last quote:

“The people who are most successful are those who figure out ways of bringing the different pieces together in ways that are mutually reinforcing.”


Just Engage

30 years ago, I tried to create THE IDEAL DEVELOPMENT OFFICE (IDO) for Catholic secondary schools. That subsequently morphed into a Major Gift Process and then into a Funding Roadmap … which is probably in its 10th (?), 30th (?) iteration.

Here is the latest change … and it is not made without a great deal of thought and input.

We are changing Green #2 from JUST VISIT … to JUST ENGAGE.

While JUST VISIT is a specific part of ENGAGEMENT… it is a lower hierarchy.

JUST ENGAGE reinforces at the highest level the importance of ENGAGEMENT, MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS, VISITS, DIALOGUE, CONVERSATION, and more.

fi_funding_roadmap_100614click to download a copy

If you have not seen ON ENGAGEMENT (or maybe just haven’t read it in a while), now is a really good time to review.

On Engagement


For Impact Funding Roadmap – A History

Quick Background: This Funding Roadmap has gone through so many iterations over the last 30 years. It started as the Ideal Development Operation in the early 80’s with our work with Catholic high schools. Originally, it was almost all ‘green‘ … focused on funding and fundraising. The IMPACT drives INCOME epiphany changed that thinking in the early 90’s. This version (which could legitimately be v30) has been taught, trained and shared with thousands. Each word has been purposely chosen (and most have been a battle between Tom and Nick). It ain’t perfect and it will probably be tweaked again.

Special, Special, Special Note: Although I’ve tried to take 40 years of fundraising, sales, entrepreneur and business experience and simplify it into 3, 3 and 3 (with some subsets) … there is still maybe too much for many of our Type A, ADD-challenged readers/users.

Here is a SHORTCUT:

Blue #1 Red #3 Green #3
Simplify Message Determine Top 3 Prospects/Champions Just Ask

How To Make Your Story Awesome

I’ve heard it said that culture eats strategy for breakfast.

I buy that.

If that’s the case then I’m convinced STORY eats strategy for lunch, dinner and all the little snacks in between.

We’re preparing two important resources for our followers and alums.

Teleseminar on Thursday, August 21: How to Make Your Story Awesome
1ET. Free for the first 95 to register.  Info & Registration.

Storytelling Boot Camp on Thursday, October 9
Eagle Creek (our HQ in Columbus, OH).  Info & Registration.


How to Make Your Story Awesome

I’m defining STORY as a point of view – a way in which you choose to weave together facts. A set of glasses through which you see the world.

  • EVERYTHING is a story (awareness/mindfulness).
  • Your get to CHOOSE story (control).
  • As a leader, it’s up to you to LEAD the story for the organization, for your team, and for prospects (strategies). Lead!!!!

(Recorded August 21, 2014, Nick Fellers)
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