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Ask… Listen… Ask… Listen

In our trainings, we do a ‘card trick’ to demonstrate the greatest sales tip ever.

ASK a questionLISTEN to the answerASK another question (based on the previous response)… LISTEN to answer.

Asking questions is the best way to do DISCOVERY… the best way to create ENGAGEMENT… and an absolutely marvelous way to be able to PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY!

Here are 3 quick tips on how to be a great listener, followed by an article from Selling Power (September/October 2011) titled ARE YOU LISTENING? (8 Steps to Positive Listening Skills That Can Improve Your Sales) by the editors of Selling Power.

    1. Total focus. Actually sit up, engage with your eyes and ears as you focus on exactly what the prospect is saying.
    2. Get people to tell their story. Most people love to talk about themselves and share their stories with you. This is a perfect fit with out IMPACT –> INCOME | SHARE THE STORY –> PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY. (It’s not just you that should share the story… but they should share their story with you.)
    3. Take notes. In my mind, this is a great way to show respect, show that you’re listening and show that you care. The best thing about notes for me is that it helps me focus on listening, and then when the prospect is finished I can refer back to the notes and quotes.
    *It’s also a great way to capture as much of the visit as you can for the Memo for the Record, which, of course, you are going to complete as soon after the call as possible.

Read the article for 8 More Steps to Positive Listening Skills!



“If it is important, do it every day.”

“If it’s important, do it every day. If it’s not important, don’t do it all.”

This quote from Dan Gable, perhaps the world’s best and certainly most famous wrestler, is from an article titled The Gable Method by Dan John.

While the article addresses this in the context of coaching and warm-ups and training… its application to all of us is pretty powerful.

On the Personal Development front: family, children, friends, health, growth, etc. (“If it’s important…”)

On the Funding/Income side, it means that everyone in the For Impact World is very interested in generating more income, revenue and philanthropic support… yet (almost) everyone in this sector says, in effect, “I know I need to do more Major Gifts, make more Asks, whatever… but I don’t have time to do that after meetings, budgets, events, meetings, committees, meetings (you get the point).

If it is important, do it every day. If you made one personal contact every day to better maximize a relationship, what would happen? If just one person in your organization Presented an Opportunity (made an ASK) every day.… what would happen?


“If it is important, do it every day. If it’s not important, don’t do it at all.”


For Love & Money

Interesting article in latest Fast Company on Philippe Cousteau Jr. He and his sister have started a foundation called EarthEcho International.

Article starts with Cousteau wondering, in the wake of the recession, if the “not-for-profit system itself was flawed”. (Duh?)

Article is primarily about starting socially responsible exchange-traded fund (ETF). I’m not espousing this as a great idea. I am, however, happy anytime somebody looks at creative ways to have a greater impact.

Interesting quote,

“When I apply for one and get it, that means someone else doesn’t. I didn’t want to be a part of that anymore.”


What is the THEME?

Great article in Harvard Business Review about Francis Ford Coppola, who has produced 72 movies and directed 33, including The Godfather and Apocalypse Now!

In answering a question about how he gets creatively unstuck, he says his “little exercise” is to ask:

What is the THEME, in a word or two?

While Coppola uses this to get out of an impasse or break a roadblock, I would encourage everyone in our For Impact World to relate this to the Vision word, the Message and the Story. If you know your theme (in a word or two or three!), it will help you run your organization, hire great talent, deliver amazing solutions and impact, and much more!

Thought for the Day: What is your THEME?


Wealth, Money & Happiness

Personal Development.


I came across this article in a pile of ‘stuff’ that I keep on Wealth. It’s from O Magazine, March 2005. Ten writers, thinkers and financial experts gave some ‘answers’ to the question of ‘How much is enough?’

Article starts with this:

“We get to work early, stay late, toil weekends and sign up for second shifts. Is this any way to run a life? Or should we be more like the Europeans, who work less (by a staggering 350 hours a year) but may be happier?”

*I just back from Ireland where we were talking about how “the entire country takes the entire month of August entirely off”!

Here are some highlights and some quotes that were meaningful to me. Read the entire article if you get a chance. (more…)


The Story for the Visit

What’s the narrative that brings you and the prospect together? The reason for the visit?

We’ve been using this a lot in our discussions around prospect strategy. Absent of the framing the story looks a little like this: I’m Nick, as you can see from my title, I’m a major gifts officer and so I’m coming to talk to you about money.

Easy to see how that one might create a little call reluctance on the part of the major gifts officer and lot of objections from the invitee. Impact drives Income… absent of the why-we’re-meeting it’s ALL about the income.

The Story for the Visit should be authentic, interesting and communicate a reason to meet face-to-face.

An incomplete list of storylines for visits.

    Storytelling: This is one of my favorites. Very earnest. Very literal. We can’t advance our impact unless we’re out – on the street – sharing our story.



Ask Them To Write The Grant!

Nick and I were talking about foundations and program officers and the inability of otherwise competent development staffs and leaders in attaining ‘grants‘ from a foundation.

3 Quick Things:

    1. A FOUNDATION is still led, run, managed by PEOPLE! Sending out shotgun proposals, based on online guidelines, is a cop out.
    2. Those PEOPLE can be talked with and visited ! It’s their job!

Start by asking what the Foundation’s priorities are. Then, find the fit. Then get the Foundation Director or Program Officer to be your Champion. Then…

Actually ask them to help you with the proper words and terminology to get the grant!

Could be as simple as “Would it be okay if I sent you a DRAFT of the proposal before we submit it?”

Try it. You’ll like it.


Answer the 3 (Double) Questions

Based on thousands and thousands of visits, I would suggest that these are the 3 BIG (Double) QUESTIONS of every investor.

    1. WHERE is the money going? (And WHY?)
    2. WHO decided that? (and HOW?)
    3. WHAT do you want from me? (And WHEN?)

PHILANTHROPY comes from the Greek words for friend of mankind. Your ‘FRIENDS’ cannot help you if they don’t understand the answer to these 3 questions!


Improv and Spontaneity

I just read that researchers at John Hopkins used an MRI to study the brains of jazz musicians and found that improvisation – which is the essence of spontaneity – activated the part of the brain associated with the highly creative ‘flow’ state.

He went on to say that every day spontaneity can help you find all aspects of your life and work.

Have some free time? Don’t schedule anything! Go for a walk, get some exercise, do something you wouldn’t normally ‘do’.

It’s been proven that will make you much more productive.


Arthur’s Day

At 12:59 today, I will be at the Guinness Building in Dublin, Ireland, helping to celebrate Arthur’s Day and generate funds for the Arthur Guinness Fund for Social Entrepreneurs.

Arthur’s Day refers to a series of music events, which were first organized in 2009 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Guinness brewing company by its owner Diageo plc.

Those events took place internationally in the cities of Dublin, Kuala Lumpur, Lagos, New York and Yaoundé on 23 September 2009. The event was broadcast internationally on Sky TV, ITV2 and DirecTV. €6 million has been pledged to the Arthur Guinness Fund. The celebration has been endorsed by several high-profile names, such as rock star-turned political activist Bob Geldof, director and screenwriter Guy Ritchie, footballer and Guinness football ambassador for Africa Michael Essien and British celebrities such as Peter Crouch, Sophie Dahl.

Guinness drinkers are expected to raise a glass to the memory of Arthur Guinness at 17:59 (5:59pm), a reference to 1759, the year the Guinness Brewery was established.


Perseverance and Persistence

A very ‘small‘ thing happened to me recently that may have a ‘big‘ impact on you.

I was working with a wonderful young Social Entrepreneur who has an opportunity to scale and grow her business to literally change the world.

I gave her the name of someone I thought would be a tremendous help as Champion, as an Investor and as a strong Advisor (who was deeply engaged in her sector and an expert at what she was trying to do.)

I asked her to follow-up with me and I would make the contact and introduction.

Almost two months went by. I didn’t hear anything. Then I received two-line email saying she had ‘forgot’ and wondered if I could still help. In the normal rush of a busy day, I laid it aside and meant to get back to it.

Just found it this morning. Almost two months again from the email.

I realize part of this is certainly my fault. However, if you are a Social Entrepreneur… if you are truly trying to change the world, you need to be waaaaay more perseverant and persistent!

As they say in the States, “Keep the ball in your court.” It’s up to you to do the FOLLOW-UP!


8 Ways to Lose in Business

Really good insights from John Maxwell, leadership expert speaker and author. This is from his column in October Success Magazine.

It caught my attention right away that Maxwell referenced the seed of this particular lesson came from the former President of Coca-Cola, Don Keough. Don Keough is a big-time Notre Dame Champion, an investor, as well as involved and committed to projects in Ireland.

The 8 ‘rules and attitudes’ to follow if you want to ‘lose in business’ or in your For Impact organization or in your life are as follows:

    1. Quit taking risks.
    2. Relay totally on experts and research to make decisions for you.
    3. Always ask yourself, “What would the founder have done?”
    4. Concentrate on your competitor instead of your customer.
    5. Administrative concerns take precedence over all others.
    6. Be inflexible.
    7. Look to someone else to do your thinking for you.
    8. Memorize the motto, “That’s good enough.”

Here’s the full column from Success.