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“Say No to 1,000 Things”

Here’s a powerful thought from Steve Jobs. (I know. We all might be on ‘Steve Job’s overload’ after the thousands of articles [eulogies?] after his death. However, he probably deserves all of the print.)

Carmine Gallo has written one of my favorite books called The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and just came out with a new book called The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success.

In Think Like Steve Jobs Did in Success Magazine, Gallo shares the idea of Saying no to 1,000 things.” He mentions that in 1997 when Jobs returned to Apple, he said, “You have to put your A-Team on every product. You can’t put your A-Team on every product when you have 300 products!!!” Within the next two years, Jobs streamlined that to 10 products!


What are the 1,000 things, or 100 things, that you need to say ‘NO’ to???


Velocity, Execution and Focus

I just read a great article on Larry Page, Google’s CEO (and one of the Founders).

He actually returned to the top job in April, and has been making a ton of changes.

Here’s a great quote:

“Ever since taking over as CEO, I have FOCUSED much of my energy on increasing Google’s VELOCITY and EXECUTION, and we’re beginning to see the results.”


3 pretty strong words for all of us.


Ask & Talent

My friend John Macheca is a smart, experienced entrepreneur (30 years)… who has also worked in Development/Major Gifts.

He and his wife/partner Jean joined us for the recent Custom Training at Eagle Creek. He shared another great way to talk about the 3 of our favorite letters of the alphabet: A.S.K.

The best TALENT for your org has a combination of:


Attitude is self-explanatory. You either have a great one… or not. (You cannot hire/spend time with the ‘or nots‘!)

Skill always helps. For me, this is usually about ‘soft’ skills like relationship-building, fun to be around, likeable, trustworthy, authentic, etc.

Knowledge is a combo of experience and curiosity. The more varied/eclectic the background/experience, the better.

Curiosity is a desire to learn, which means they seek out interesting stuff in books, online and with people.

Next time you go to hire (or for that matter, review), think about how they measure up to the A.S.K. quotient.


Vision as Reality

I watched my two partners make massive changes in 3 organizations at our Custom Training at Eagle Creek.

Nick and Kerry teamed up to help these already successful orgs… make the proverbial QUANTUM LEAP to the highest levels of IMPACT.

I was particularly impressed (as were the participants) at Nick’s ability to talk about VISIONTHE WHYTO WHAT END… in a way that wasn’t hoakey or B.S.

Nick simply challenged them to:

  • Have a clear, compelling VISION/PICTURE of the future… and their 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.

I woke up this morning thinking about Nick and Kerry’s impact… and a Board Session I did in Sydney, Australia.

A pastor (who was definitely ON BOARD) said there were only 3 things that were critical for any organization’s success:

Common word? VISION. Not the ‘illusion or hallucination’ vision but the real vision… with real results.

Note: I hadn’t seen Nick and Kerry in action lately. We’ve been all around the country/around the world and don’t get to be together that often.

I was blown away at their performance. So was the group. They gave them a standing ovation!!!

*The former ‘students’ have far surpassed the (Old Guy) teacher.



Everyone knows that R.O.I. is RETURN ON INVESTMENT. In our FOR IMPACT world, when you Change Your Vocabulary… you move from ‘donor/donation‘ to investor/investment. And, as we all know, every investor wants a RETURN on their INVESTMENT.

However, I believe there are two other ‘I’s’ that need a RETURN


Return On Impact is probably more important than Return on the Investment. It’s about the WHY you exist… WHY what you do is important… WHY people should even make an investment.

Return on Income is all about WHAT you do with the money… and HOW you deliver on your promise/vision/impact. Income is not just limited to ‘philanthropy’. It’s all of your revenue streams. (If you get the nuance of this, it is then distinguishable from Return on Investment.)

Obviously, you should be able to convey the RETURN ON all 3 of these I’s.


Happy Veteran’s Day: 11/11/11

Forty years ago (to the month) I was heading to Fort Benning, Georgia, to begin an Infantry Officer Basic Course. I followed that with Airborne, Pathfinder, multiple Leadership Courses… and 18 months as a Tactical Officer at OCS (Officer Candidate School).

Looking back, I cannot imagine a more powerful leadership and life experience.

My brother Mike was a Marine. My dad was a Marine. There’s been a significant number of Notre Dame boxers who served in the military, including a couple who are on the ground in Afghanistan today.

A big ‘SHOUT OUT‘ to all of those in our For Impact world who have served in the military. We appreciate everything that you do and have done for this country.


11/11/11: 1st Day of Rest of Life

This is a great day to COMMIT to CHANGE – to start all the ‘good stuff’ you’ve meant to do (but haven’t).

11/11/11: 1st Day of the Rest of Your Life.

This day will not come again for 100 years! What can you start today (or this weekend) that will dramatically change your life, your career, your business or your organization???

I was with a great team at the University of North Dakota yesterday and today. They are talented, committed and excited about their opportunities.

Yesterday we trained together… today they committed to change together.

Special Note: When I would take my youngest son, Taggart, to school… I would usually say something ‘father-like’ as he got out of the Jeep. One day, I said (again) “Remember, Tag, today is the 1st day of the rest of your life.” He replied, “You told me that last week, Dad. Which is it?”


Attitude Really Is Everything


The ATTITUDE you bring on a visit… the PASSION and ENERGY and ENTHUSIASM (IASM means I Am Sold Myself) that you show about the work that you do and the impact you have… is a gazillion times more important than what you say, your Engagement Tool, your numbers and everything else.


Hope Is Not A Strategy

On my latest trip to Ireland, I was walking down Grafton Street and there were a number of ‘volunteers’ out selling chocolate bars, Butlers Chocolate no less!

The purpose was to aid the HOPE FOUNDATION, who work with ‘street and slum children’.

With complete admiration for what the Hope Foundation is doing, and with absolutely no disrespect whatsoever…


As Rick Page says on the cover of his great book, you need a lot more than ‘HOPE’ to actually FUND YOUR VISION!

Gentle reminder today to DO YOUR MATH and put a self-fulfilling 1,000-DAY FUNDING PLAN together.


A “Cup of Sugar”

I am working with one of the best development people I’ve ever coached. ‘L.B.’ is a sponge. She gets it. And she knows what to do with it.

We were strategizing a recent call on a company that is located, literally, right ‘next door’ to the college. The presentation was for support to help underwrite the cost of the New Campus Master Plan.

L.B. did her normal great engagement/conversation. Then, in a brilliant flash of total authenticity, she said to them, “We are coming ‘next door’ to ‘borrow a cup of sugar’.” (!!!) The company executive loved the analogy and committed $25,000, which was the request. More importantly, it’s the start of a much stronger relationship… ‘like a good neighbor‘.


In the Community vs. Of the Community

We’re working on a project that would launch a proven education and workforce development model in an urban Boston area. The team’s leaders have visited with over 500 stakeholders – including community leaders, families, schools, funders and government officials.

A funder shared that they reason this project appears to be working is that it is ‘of the community’ not ‘in the community’.

In. Of.

World of difference.

In the US (and perhaps globally) we don’t have money problems. We have effectiveness problems. How often have we seen philanthropy or government throw money at a problem without any solution?

For the project in Boston, this has become an important part of the message to funders; I believe we all now understand that whether it be impacting a slum in Kenya, transforming Newark’s schools (see: Putting Zuckerberg’s Millions to Work for Schools) or launching an innovative workforce development center in south Boston that the solution must be OF the community, not IN the community.

Sharing here because I know many of you can use this frame in your work and your message; many of you are facilitating change that is OF the community. Tell that story. Have THAT conversation.


“Always On…”

“In this day and age, people expect access all the time… not when the company (organization) wants to ‘sell’, but when the customer wants to ‘buy’.” (Which is 24/7… ‘always on‘.)

This comes from my friends Kelly and Nancy, who run one of the ‘hottest/coolest’ integrated marketing firms in the world.

Here’s Kelly’s visual:

The ‘On-Off’ Model reminds me of why Traditional Campaigns are so outdated, out moded, out everythinged.

Every organization should be looking at the ‘Always On‘ Model of TODAY | TOMORROW | FOREVER.

[vs. the ‘Feasibility Study/Case Statement/Strategic Plan/Silent Phase/Public Phase/General Phase… Pause 3-5 Years… then Repeat’ Model!!!]