Latest Posts

“If there’s something to gain and nothing to lose by asking, by all means ASK.”

We are preparing for next week’s SALES BOOT CAMP at Eagle Creek.  I thought I’d share a picture of the orchard, garden and pool area for Eagle Creek alums and new attendees.

Eye in the sky on ECLC.

SALES is about the ASK.  The quote by W. Clement Stone is awfully simple and awfully powerful:


This is almost ALWAYS the case:  SOMETHING TO GAIN … and NOTHING TO LOSE.



Maya Angelou: The Most Important Virtue

I was in Winston-Salem this past weekend at Wake Forest with Oprah, Michelle, Bill, et al.  (Full Disclosure:  They were for Maya Angelou Memorial Service.  I was there for the grandkids!)  Thanks to Shane Parrish at Farnam Street, here’s a great little blurb on Maya Angelou and a great quote:

“I’ve always had the feeling that life loves the liver of it. You must live and life will be good to you, give you experiences.”



Number of Asks: The ONE Lever

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explores the formation of organizational habits. (You can read this quick summary by BusinessWeek.) One case study examines Alcoa’s remarkable business turn-around in the 80’s/90’s. CEO Paul O’Neill focused the cultural energy (and habits) around safety–more specifically, around the number of safety violations.

We call this the ONE LEVER. Meaning, to maximize team cohesion and culture change you need to focus energy on ONE LEVER at a time to create organizational change.

What will that lever be? Be specific. Be clear.

The Orlando Magic focus on ‘butts in seats’.

FedEx focuses on number of packages that don’t arrive when promised (aiming for zero).

Just about everyone reading this is seeking some form or another of improved funding results.

Call it a culture of philanthropy.
Call it a sales culture.
Call it greater revenue for impact.
Call it funding the vision.

When you’re bringing your team along there is so much ‘other stuff’ that can obscure progress. Events, predisposition activities, reporting, deadlines, board meetings.

As it relates to INCOME DEVELOPMENT the ONE LEVER is – in most every case – the NUMBER OF ASKS.
This is what we emphasize, design-around, message, measure, reinforce.

Obviously a funding goal is pretty important. However that is a RESULT of this measurable activity. Similarly, Alcoa’s leap in quality (and then profits) was a RESULT of increased safety.

One lever: Number of Asks. Preach it. Measure it. It will be transformational. I promise.

Note: It’s not uncommon to see an organization (of any size) with fewer than 10 real-asks per quarter. In fact, it’s a safe bet that by our definition most are at ZERO.


OGs Note: Sales Requires Measurement

The old adage of “what gets measured gets done” is an overused/abused cliché, but it captures the essence of a SALES culture. EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING, needs to be MEASURED.




Two of the best people I have ever worked with offer terrific insights here.

Fred ‘Falcon’ Mickelson is a former ‘big dog’ at a very large corporation, ‘professional’ volunteer leader, board chair, and an absolutely brilliant thinker.

“Activities are necessary and lead to results, but activities are NOT results. Therefore, keep track of activities, but set REAL goals and measure progress towards achieving those goals on a specific, pre-set timeline.”


Terry Fairholm is a former Suddes Group partner and ‘hockey puck’ with an MBA and 20 years of super successful FIELD experience as one of the best campaign leaders in the industry.

“It’s not about activity, it’s about RESULTS. ‘Getting the word out’ is a statement that has never made any sense to me. We (development professionals) don’t get paid to get the word out; we get paid to raise money.”

Message is what people hear

What is ‘message’?

A message is not necessarily WHAT YOU SAY, it’s WHAT PEOPLE HEAR.

This is the simplest definition I can offer. It’s adapted from Words the Work.  It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear. By Frank Luntz.

If you geek-out on message, this is a terrific read.

I’ve been using this definition to make people aware of their message.

What do you want people to hear? Ultimately, I suspect it’s that you’re changing lives, saving lives or impacting lives.


“If you want to change the world …”

Admiral William McRaven, a Navy Seal for 36 years, delivered the commencement address at the University of Texas.  If you haven’t seen it or heard it or read it … you should.  It’s been mentioned by a lot of people as one of the finest commencement talks ever.

Here’s the shorthand version of Admiral McRaven’s 10 Life Lessons from Seal Training.

Lesson No. 1:  If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

Lesson No. 2: If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

Lesson No. 3: If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

Lesson No. 4: If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

Lesson No. 5: If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

Lesson No. 6: If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

Lesson No. 7: If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

Lesson No. 8: If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

Lesson No. 9: If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

Lesson No. 10: If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

At the very end of the 10 lessons, I urge you to check out this link or others which include the actual video and the text of his talk.

Make Each Day Count.



“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”   Teddy Roosevelt

I saw this quote on the wall of a yoga studio.  Obviously makes a lot of sense in that environment.  The goal is to ‘practice’ yoga with mindfulness and a focus on your own body.  It is not about competing/competition with the instructor or others in the class.

***This took me a while to understand!  When I first started, I couldn’t do any of the 26 Bikram poses, for example, and I couldn’t believe how easy people went into the poses, nor how long they could hold them.

In our For Impact world, this idea of COMPARISON or COMPETITION is a zero sum game.  We should always be looking to be the best we can be … and also looking for wonderful ways to collaborate with other people and organizations.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Joy‘ seems to me to be a much more powerful word than ‘happy‘.

Make Each Day Count.




I’m reading another magnificent edition of SUCCESS MAGAZINE (July 2014).  Cover story is on Michael Douglas and dealing with life’s ups and downs.

Article closes with this great Hebrew expression Tikkum Olam which Douglas says was an idea handed down from the Old Testament and means “TO REPAIR THE WORLD.” 




NO “agony of wishing in your heart”.

I forgot to put the full Tagore quote in a post from a week ago.  If you remember, Rabindranath Tagore was the Poet Laureate of Bangledesh … and Bangledesh (formerly Bengal) has been where Holy Cross Fathers/Missionaries have worked since 1835.  It’s also where all of the proceeds from the Bengal Bouts (Notre Dame’s Boxing Tournament) goes.

I think this is a great quote to end the week and start the weekend.

“The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day. I have spent my days in stringing and unstringing my instrument. The time has not come true; the words have not been rightly set. Only there is the AGONY of WISHING in my heart.”

Let there be no “agony of wishing in your heart“.

Make Each Day Count.



The Last of Human Freedoms

“When all the familiar goals in life are snatched away … what alone remains is the last of human freedoms: the ability to choose one’s ATTITUDE in a given set of circumstances.”  – Viktor Frankl

My wonderful niece, Caitlin, just sent me a note referencing MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING.

Man's Search for Meaningmsm_date

This book has been labeled “one of the 10 most influential books in America” by the Library of Congress. My copy is dated April 1996/Trip Around the World.

Viktor E. Frankl was imprisoned in concentration camps for three years during World War II.  The inside flap states that Frankl began to wonder why some of his fellow prisoners were able not only to survive the horrifying conditions, but to grow in the process.

His conclusion — that the most basic human motivation is the will to meaning — which became the basis of his groundbreaking psychological theory, logotherapy.

At FOR IMPACT, we’re always pursuing the idea of purpose and meaning.  This is one of the greatest books of all time that reinforces that ‘search’.

Frankl was very fond of quoting Nietzsche,

“He who has a WHY to live can bear with almost any HOW.”

Just another reason to always start with the WHY.


Reflections on Memorial Day

My dad was a Marine Sergeant in the Pacific in World War II.  Quadalcanal, Iwo Jima and more.  My hero.

My brother Mike was a Marine.  Officer Candidate School then Aviation School then flew helicopters.  Also my hero.

Once got a ‘ticket’ for illegally ‘parking’ (landing) in Yosemite National Park with a helicopter full of Marines.

I can’t count the number of my Notre Dame boxers who have served their country … in all branches of the service … in the Gulf Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan.

I went through the Army ROTC program at Notre Dame in the late 60’s.  Not a ‘fun’ time to be in the military on most campuses, but Notre Dame handled it as well or better than anyone.

Commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and sent to Fort Benning, Goergia, for Infantry Officer Basic School.  Also squeezed in three weeks of Airborne School, three weeks of expanded Leadership Training, and five weeks of Pathfinder School.

Life/fate is weird.  Every 2nd Lieutenant who graduated from Infantry School at Benning in the five years previous to my class went directly to Vietnam.  Ours did not.  I went on to serve as a Tactical Officer in the Officer Candidate School at Benning for two years.  Then decided to try to go back to Notre Dame to be the Boxing Coach.

It’s been 40 years.  Most of you would not have been present or actually remember the treatment of our soldiers returning from Vietnam.  A ‘political war’ in a country that was largely ‘anti-war’.

Today, we give a standing ovation to a designated military person at the beginning of every Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game.  We applaud veterans in uniform when they walk through airports.  We give up our first class seats so that they may have a more comfortable ride home to their loved ones. (more…)


Stringing and Unstringing Your Instrument

Just got email from Garrity and the gang of Notre Dame boxers heading to Bangladesh to work in the villages with the Holy Cross Missionaries.

Reminded me of one of my very favorite quotes/poems from Rabindranath Tagore, Poet Laureate of Bangledesh.