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Res Ipsa Loquitur

From the archives, three great nuggets from Tom about facing your/your organization’s reality in order to move forward.

  • RES IPSA LOQUITUR. THE THING SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. This is some kind of Latin legal term. Loosely translated by me, it also means IT IS WHAT IT IS.
    • You’d like to have endowment to cover your entire operating budget. It ain’t going to happen. Ever.

      Instead, use a Leadership Circle membership goal as it relates to the Opportunity to Save, Change and Impact Lives, “When we have 30 members in our Leadership Society (@$10,000+ per year) it allows us to innovate new programs and provide core support to existing impact. It also allows us to move quickly when needed – To save and change more lives.”

    • You have a member of your staff or team that needs to get off the bus (they aren’t coachable and aren’t going to change.) It’s as much in their interest as yours. IT IS WHAT IT IS until you decide to make a change. (See Nick’s recent post on the ‘No Eeyore’ Rule.)
  • FACE THE BRUTAL FACTS. My friend Jeff Bernel, who headed up the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, told this to me very directly one day at lunch. I’ve never forgotten it.
    • You need more money. You expect that to happen by doing the same thing you’ve been doing. It won’t.
    • DO THE MATH. Do the ‘BLUE’ Math around your Impact. Do the ‘RED’ Math around your Staff, People and Operations. And Do the ‘GREEN’ Math around your Income, Funding Plan, Giving Pyramid, etc.

      You need to know where you stand now and what you need in the future. For example:

      • Your Tuition is T. The Cost of Education is C. T – C = G. The GAP. Know it. Sell it.
      • DO THE MATH!!

The Importance of Taking Great Notes

The Memo for the Record is an important mechanic in our sales process. (See last week’s post on the importance of Follow-Up.)

“Nothing so much assists learning as writing down what we wish to remember.” Cicero

I’m constantly amazed at how often salespeople don’t take notes! A great Memo for the Record is composed directly from your notes – Notes you took on the visit.

A great Memo for the Record should:

  • Record what happened on the visit. Someone on your team should be able to pick-up the memo and continue the conversation.
  • Use quotes. THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!! The best message in the world is the one that comes from the prospect’s mouth. Capture words and exact phrases used by the prospect(s); put them in quotes.
    • Bad: Prospect seemed to like our program.
    • Good: “The after-school program is a huge priority for me.”

    This will:

    • Help you LISTEN. Read Vocabulary Wars.
    • Help others on your team LISTEN (even though they weren’t there).
    • Make life so much easier when you pull out the call report in six months.
  • Use bullets. Easier to read. Easier (faster) for you to download.
  • Be as long as needed, but completed within 36 hours of visit. This memo should capture all the key points that you would need to remember in six months, but shouldn’t take you all afternoon to compose.
  • Include follow up for you, your organization and the prospect. I would encourage you to dictate these notes IMMEDIATELY following the visit. Don’t wait. (I carry a dictation device and transcribe the call memo in my car – minutes after the visit.)

I’ve altered a real call memo and included training notes to help you learn: Download sample call memo. You can also download a call-memo-template to help you get your notes organized, quickly.


Use Oscillation To Increase Performance

We’re re-publishing some lessons from Tom’s For Impact Campaign Manifesto: Take a Quantum Leap


It’s not just a big word. Taking a Quantum Leap is a lot like doing ‘WIND SPRINTS,’ a particular form of training that mixes INTENSE EFFORT with RECUPERATION TIME.

Jim Loehr, über-coach of world-class athletes (and now corporate leaders), makes a big deal of ‘OSCILLATION.’ Here’s a great personal mantra, from the cover of Loehr’s terrific book, The Power of Full Engagement:

“MANAGE your ENERGY, not your TIME.”

Julia Cameron also talks about it in musical terms: ‘REST,’ which is the SPACE between the NOTES. Whatever you call it, a Quantum Leap requires BLITZES, BURSTS and BACKING OFF, in order to recuperate, in order to attack.

Perhaps the best analogy for me is a boxing match (which I happen to know a little bit about.) You fight a two-minute round. Get a one minute rest. Fight a two-minute round. Get a one-minute rest. Within the round, you’re on offense and defense. You’re moving, hitting, defending, resting (while moving), etc.

Special Note: For 35 years, Colorado College has used this idea in what they call the ’BLOCK PLAN.’ One Class. 3 Weeks. Time Off. Next Class. 3 Weeks. Time Off. OSCILLATION works. Use it.


Change Your Attitude. Change The World.

We’re re-publishing some lessons from Tom’s For Impact Campaign Manifesto: Take a Quantum Leap


I will re-state this, beat you up with this, never let up on this: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!


“They just INHERITED a large fortune…”
“Their BUSINESS is booming…”
And, of course, “They love our CAUSE and our CASE!!!”

2. DON’T MAKE THE DECISION FOR YOUR PROSPECTIVE INVESTOR! (Especially before you even get there!)

“They’re burnt out…”
“They’ve got 3 kids in college…”
“They’re still paying on an OLD pledge…”
“I’m not SURE they can do $10,000 (or $100,000…)” etc.

It’s not important whether ‘YOU’ are ‘SURE.’ IT’S NOT YOUR MONEY! Give THEM a chance to say “YES!”


Get (a few of) them to FALL OFF THEIR CHAIR…

“Wow!! I had no idea you were having this kind of impact!”
“I’ve never had someone sell me with such passion!”
“This is a REALLY BIG DEAL!”

(If you have NOT caused someone lately to be SHOCKED at the SIZE of the OPPORTUNITY, You’re not THINKING BIG ENOUGH!)


Engage. Then Plan.

We’re re-publishing some lessons from Tom’s For Impact Campaign Manifesto: Take a Quantum Leap.

Lesson: Engage. Then Plan.

Andy Groves said it. You need to LIVE it! It seems counterintuitive because obviously you need a very simple Funding Plan. But, you also need to ENGAGE. TAKE ACTION. GO VISIT.

Your ‘PLAN’ will get better and better as you’re actually out DOING IT!

“Every PLAN looks great until the first contact with the enemy.” Sun Tzu

“Every fighter has a PLAN … until he gets hit.” Leon Spinks

“We have a STRATEGIC PLAN. It’s called ‘DOING THINGS’.” Herb Kelleher


The Ball Is Always In Your Court

Want a great way to CLOSE MORE GIFTS? FOLLOW UP!

Just last week we had all of our coaches together for a few days at Eagle Creek and we spent several hours on FOLLOW-UP.

In the For Impact world, there are three parts of a great ASK:


Many times the third piece is either completely dropped or mostly an afterthought, “I met with them. I’ll wait for them to get back with me.” UGH! This could be the worst mistake of any VISIT/ASK.

Going through the effort to Get a Visit… Share the Story… Present the Opportunity… and then NOT following up is not only wrong – it’s disrespectful! When it comes to Follow-Up, the ball is always in your court.

I believe FOLLOW-UP needs to be given as much (if not more) attention than the first two parts of an ask. At the very least, these are three equal parts. I don’t have exact numbers, but I can confidently say that most of my asks are CLOSED in the third act.

There is nothing worse than having an ask pend into oblivion. Use the FOLLOW-UP to maintain control of the relationship:

“Could I check in with you next Friday?”
“Can we talk after your visit with your financial planner?”
“We have a Board Meeting in two weeks and I would love to be able to share your commitment with the Board.”

*It’s probably impossible to misquote or butcher one of Yogi Berra’s malapropisms, but here goes:

“Half of the game is presentation. The other 90% is follow-up.”

A quick nugget on Follow Up: Practice the 36-HOUR RULE.

Complete all follow-up (with your organization, with your prospect and with yourself) within 36 hours of the visit. 80% well done follow up (in 36 hours) beats 90% – 100% perfect (in 3 weeks). The more time elapsed, the less you remember and the less they feel!

Read, download, print or share more great nuggets from Tom’s Guidebook: On Follow Up

Act or Ask.

This week, we’re re-publishing some lessons from Tom’s For Impact Campaign Manifesto: Take a Quantum Leap

Lesson: ACT or ASK.

Make this a big part of your TEAM CULTURE. A BIG, BIG part of the culture.

Everyone on the team needs to know how to either ACT or ASK!

If you know what to do, DO IT.
If you think you know what to do, DO IT.
If you aren’t clear, ASK for clarity… and then DO IT.


Speed Doesn’t Kill

This week, we’re re-publishing some lessons from Tom’s For Impact Campaign Manifesto: Take a Quantum Leap and asking our Coaches to apply to real world scenarios.


As Mario Andretti said, “If you feel like you’re still in control, you’re not going FAST enough.”



Why would an investor make a decision NOW to make a really big IMPACT on your organization, when there is no sense of urgency on the organization’s part?

I know. You’re thinking that you actually need to ‘slow down,’ ‘do better planning,’ ‘get all your ducks in a row,’ etc., etc. You’re wrong.

From our For Impact Coach, Robb Pike:

One of the biggest shifts I have seen in our clients comes when they OWN a SENSE OF URGENCY. Some examples of SPEED from the field:

“Not long ago I would wait months for a prospect to respond to me. When I realized the longer I waited the less people would get help I started following up quickly and regularly. Emails, phone call, and even a text or two. Sometimes I would ask ‘Am I being too persistent?’ What I found was almost everyone would actually thank me for my persistence and commitment. A couple actually gave more because they felt our organization was more committed to our work than others just because I never stopped.”

“We work in 90 day sprints now. We move fast and focused. Two years ago we would barely make our numbers (if we did) by the end of the fiscal year. Now we are in a 90 day sprint to close NEXT fiscal year and we are still in this fiscal year.”

“I love the ‘Just Visit’ strategy. We used to spend months with research, inviting people to events, and sharing marketing materials in hopes they would want to know more. Now, if we want to talk to them we move quickly to ‘Just Visit.’ Our work is too important to wait for the perfect moment.”

If you don’t own an SENSE OF URGENCY around your IMPACT, then who will? If you know the impact of your work, you know that saving/changing/impacting lives can’t wait. If you don’t have a sense of urgency no one will.


Let Go of Your Baggage.

We’re re-publishing some lessons from Tom’s For Impact Campaign Manifesto: Take a Quantum Leap this week and next.

One that comes up often in coaching and working with clients is getting over the ‘We’ve always done it this way’ attitude and instead asking questions like, “Is this (event, appeal letter, feasibility study, etc) producing the right results? Or any results for that matter?”

Tom says simply: LET GO OF YOUR BAGGAGE.

You can’t make a QUANTUM LEAP dragging ‘BAGGAGE,’ ‘SACRED COWS,’ and an ‘ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY’ attitude.

“IL SOLE NO MUOVE.” Da Vinci and Copernicus both got blasted (by the church) for espousing this heresy: ”THE SUN DOESN’T MOVE.”

“The world is flat.”
“The 4 minute mile can’t be broken.”
“Peers must ask peers (for money).”
“Feasibility studies are mandatory.”
“We need this event to raise awareness/friends.”

Let go of your ‘BAGGAGE.’ All of it.

Read more about Sacred Cows and Change here.

[Note: we do take a hard line on many things we consider to be OLD THINKING. The good news is that if we take something away, we’ll always give you a NEW way to think about it.]


Giving Is Good

A quick follow up to yesterday’s post on defining SUCCESS. A friend shared this quote from Pablo Picasso:

The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.

There are many a way to interpret this quote, but I’ll just say it’s GOOD TO GIVE! From an old Ode/Optimist Magazine article, “Giving improves health, spreads wealth, strengthens social bonds and, best of all, it’s CONTAGIOUS!”

The GIVING triple win:

For Yourself. ‘The more you give the more you get’ is not just a cliché. It works.

For Your Organization. The better you understand your purpose (saving, changing, impacting lives) the easier it is to go out and SHARE THE STORY and PRESENT OPPORTUNITIES for people to give to your impact.

For Philanthropy and Fundraising. Helping people enjoy the benefits of GIVING sure is a worthy calling!


SUCCESS. If You Can’t Define It, How Will You Know When You Make It?

SUCCESS. Everybody wants it. Few people can define it.

If you can’t define it, how will you know when you make it?

I’ve asked these questions of thousands of people over the years:

“How many of you want to be a success?” All hands go up.

“What does it mean for you to be a success?” Blank stares.*

(*It’s like, “Who wants to be a millionaire?” “Yeah! I do! I do!” “WHY?” “Huh?”)

SUCCESS. If you can’t define* it, if you can’t measure it, how will you know when you achieve it?

*When I say ‘define’ I mean in writing, clear, concise, compelling.

The dictionary definition of success is the “attainment of wealth, position, honors or the like.BULL HONKY!

This implies that most believe SUCCESS has something to do with finance, money and material goods, like houses or cars. The older you get, the more you know that it’s actually the complete opposite. In fact, in all of my readings, most of the philosophers and thinkers never tie SUCCESS to money. It’s always about value, significance, fulfillment and impact.

For example:

“Try not to be a SUCCESS, but rather to be of VALUE.” Albert Einstein

“Many people have come to a point in their life when they want to move from SUCCESS to SIGNIFICANCE.” Peter Drucker

“Our focus should be on FULFILLMENT, not SUCCESS.” Victor Frankl

And, of course, there’s Maslov and his ubiquitous pyramid who says our highest needs is SELF-ACTUALIZATION, after we’ve done the whole ‘food, shelter thing’.

Mark Cuban, billionaire, blogger and owner of the Dallas Mavericks says, “SUCCESS isn’t about how much money I have in the bank. It’s how big a smile I have on my face when I wake up.”

Mark Cuban, billionaire, blogger and owner of the Dallas Mavericks says, “SUCCESS isn’t about how much money I have in the bank. It’s how big a smile I have on my face when I wake up.”

One of my favorite definitions of SUCCESS is also around WAKING UP. It comes straight from the iconic legend of my youth, Bob Dylan.


In six words, DO WHAT I WANT TO DO.

Sometimes, just waking up every morning is good way to define success. ☺ My own six-word personal message/EIA (Eulogy In Advance) would be: “He Lived. Loved. Laughed. Learned. Left Legacy.”

While I won’t attempt to help you define your PERSONAL SUCCESS, I can share some thoughts on SUCCESS from some really smart people.

In 1936, Napoleon Hill wrote Think & Grow Rich, which has become one of the all time classics in the personal development field. He also wrote The Laws of Success. Mine is 3” thick with a bright red cover. Hill’s copyright is 1937. My first reading (inscribed inside the cover) was 40 years after that on the 25th of May 1977.

Here’s Napoleon Hill’s definition of success:

SUCCESS is the attainment of your DEFINITE CHIEF AIM
without violating the rights of other people.

Obviously, in order to achieve Hill’s SUCCESS, you’d need to know exactly what your DCA is!

Earl Nightingale, the actual father/founder of the personal development industry, wrote the all time classic motivational and inspirational book entitled The Strangest Secret. Recorded in 1956 for a small group of salespeople, The Strangest Secret went on to become one of the all time best selling records. It is also captured in 19 small pages – THE STRANGEST SECRET is really not that strange and it’s not a secret: YOU BECOME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT. That’s the whole message.

Earl lays it out like this:

SUCCESS is the progressive realization of a WORTHY IDEAL.

Again, it would be hard to meet Earl’s definition if you weren’t sure what your ‘WORTHY IDEAL’ was!

Based on these two brilliant thinkers’ idea of SUCCESS means that you need to be able to define your DEFINITE CHIEF AIM or WORTHY IDEAL.

One of my absolute favorite coaches (based on philosophy attitude, demeanor) is John Wooden. He was named the Best Coach of All Time. Coach Wooden says, “SUCCESS is about peace of mind… knowing that you did the ABSOLUTE BEST you could do WITH WHAT YOU HAD.”

Harvey Cook wrote a great book, Scientific Success, in which he supported Coach Wooden – “My definition of SUCCESS is being the best you’re capable of being, based on who you are.”

And then there’s Ralph Waldo Emerson:

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of
children, to earn the respect of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he offers these five steps for SUCCESS*:

  • Find MEANING and INSPIRATION in your work.
  • Work HARD.
  • Discover the relationship between EFFORT and REWARD.
  • Seek out COMPLEX WORK to avoid boredom and repetition. (MIHALY’S FLOW)
  • Be AUTONOMOUS and CONTROL YOUR OWN DESTINY as much as possible.

*He notes that talent and IQ don’t matter as much as we think they do (vis-à-vis SUCCESS). Awesome. That means I’ve still got a chance.

Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Success Formula:

  • Clearly decide what you are absolutely committing to.
  • Take massive action (not just action).
  • Notice what’s working or not and then change course or change approach until you get what you want.

We have put together a PDF poster with quotes on SUCCESS.

Use one of these definitions or create your own!


Unbeatable Deal Our Last Boot Camp of the Year

Are you or your organization an FI Boot Camp Alum? Contact me ( for an unbeatable deal on our upcoming Boot Camp. You can use this for yourself, to send new staff / board members or to refer a friend.

Our last camp of the year will be held October 20-21 at Eagle Creek – our beautiful 50-acre retreat center.

The For Impact Boot Camp is focused on frameworks and skill building – You will leave with the knowledge you need to simplify your message and funding rationale, and take your organization to the next level.

This high-energy, day-and-a-half session covers topics like:

  • How to execute against a sales process (for major gifts, campaign gifts, transformational gifts, etc.)
  • How to build and maximize relationships
  • How to build and lead an effective team
  • How to ask, close, and follow-up

The Boot Camp is perfect for organizational alums, new hires, or anyone looking to hone individual skills – both personal and professional!

Discounts are also available for teams with 4 or more participants.

For More Information, FAQs and Registration:
For Impact Funding Boot Camp
Tuesday, October 20 – Wednesday, October 21 2015
Ostrander, OH