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‘Cultivate’ and ‘Hope’

Playing off my recent post on planting trees… now.

Old Line, Traditional ‘Planned Giving’ was all about CULTIVATION… and HOPE.

When I first started in Development at Notre Dame (horse, buggy, rotary phones), we had the most amazing guy who was responsible for ‘Planned Giving’. Frank’s job was to CULTIVATE (prime football tickets, dinners in Florida, etc.)… and then HOPED that when they passed away they would leave us something. (They usually did. Sometimes it even covered the cost of the tickets!)

Think about the results of what happens in the ‘New’ Model around Today | Tomorrow | Forever.

• The Triple Ask.
• Legacy Gifts.
• Combining Legacy (Estate) Gifts with Cash During Life.
• Etc.

Your choice. Plant trees now or ‘cultivate and hope’.

Special Note: One of the reasons Harvard’s Endowment is $30 Gazillion is because they started planting trees (getting Legacy/Planned Gifts) in the 1700’s.


Best Time to Plant Trees

“The best time to plant trees was 20 years ago. The next best time is NOW.”

A great line from a wonderful, young, smart woman who is leading a healthcare foundation. She shared this during a conference/coaching call last Friday, and it really stuck.

Nick and I spent time last week with 4 or 5 great organizations talking about our Holistic (Today Tomorrow Forever) Model… and the need to ‘plant trees now‘! (Especially Legacy Gifts).

*This quote should be in front of every Development Officer/Advancement Officer as motivation MAXIMIZE RELATIONSHIPS… at THIS GIVEN MOMENT. (Again, plant trees now!)


Return On Energy

Was just finishing up a revision of ON PROSPECTS and realized the power of the concept of Return On Energy (ROE). Here’s the visual that should help you understand this concept… and force you to rethink your current action and energy expenditure.


Focus On Your Strengths

This has become one of my most personal and driving maxims. Simple fact: People don’t change. Each one of has great strengths and corresponding weaknesses.

There’s a ton of powerful research and thinking on why we should not be trying to ‘fix’ our weaknesses… but rather focusing on our strengths! (This is particularly true when comes to finding and hiring good people.)

Here’s a wonderful story that makes this point better than anything I’ve ever heard or read. It’s taken from the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book. It’s called ANIMAL SCHOOL.

Once upon a time, the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a “new world.” So they organized a school.

They adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming, in fact better than his instructor; but he made only passing grades in flying and was poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his web feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school, so nobody worried about that except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running, but had a nervous breakdown because of so much make up work in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He also developed ‘charley horses’ from overexertion and then got C in climbing and D in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but insisted on using his own way to get there. (!)

At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceedingly well, run, climb, and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.

The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their child to a badger and joined the ground hogs and gophers to start a successful private school.

Note: In re-reading this, I just saw how strongly this parallels a lot of our education system.


Who, Not How

If you’ve got the right people on the bus, the right team, the right talent… then you really shouldn’t spend a lot of time to ‘manage‘ them.

This ‘WHO, NOT HOW’ concept represents a way of thinking that values the assignment of a project or action (WHO) over the method of accomplishment (HOW).

Here’s one of my absolute favorite stories on getting stuff done and particularly on WHO, NOT HOW!

Written by Elbert Hubbard, editor of the “Philistine Magazine“, Message to Garcia was published in March of 1899! I am paraphrasing Hubbard’s story… but I think you will get the point.


THE STORY: When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the insurgents… a General Garcia. He was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba – no one knew where. Mail or telegraph could not reach him… and the President had to secure his cooperation quickly.

Somebody told the President, “There’s a fellow by the name of ROWAN who will find Garcia for you, if anybody can.”

Andrew S. Rowan, West Point Class of 1881 was a First Lieutenant in the 19th Infantry, U.S.A. (Yes!) Because he knew the topography of Cuba, was familiar with Spanish, and had shown himself to be a brave and prudent solider, Lieutenant Rowan was selected for this mission.

In short, he took the letter, sealed it in an oilskin pouch, strapped it over his heart and crossed from Jamaica to the southern coast of Cuba in a sailboat. He disappeared into the jungle, made his way inland to Garcia’s camp… and DELIVERED HIS MESSAGE!!!

In Hubbard’s words: “The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia. Rowan took the letter and did not ask, ‘Where is he at?’ By the eternal! There is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and his statue placed in every college in the land. It is not book learning young men need nor instruction about this and that but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies; and do that thing – ‘CARRY A MESSAGE TO GARCIA!’”

All kinds of ‘lessons’ here. Pick the one you need today.


“Move That Bus”

I happened to be walking by a television when the Home Makeover show was on… right at the time when everyone shouts: “MOVE THAT BUS.”

It immediately reminded me of Jim Collins’ eponymous BUS metaphor.

You’ve all heard the right people on bus, wrong people off bus, right people in the right seats.

What you might not have heard was the interesting conclusion that with the right people in the right seats (and the wrong people no longer on the bus)… the bus can move in any direction and still be very successful. As we constantly try to remind our organizations and leaders, it’s not about perfect plans or perfect strategies or perfect direction. It’s all about ACTION.




The ‘Old Guy’ can’t remember where I first heard this, so I can’t give attribution. But, it’s pretty powerful.

Great SALES people sell with ENTHUSIASM.

The last four letters are I.A.S.M.

I Am Sold Myself.

If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, you should change jobs! Today!

Besides the obvious issues about loving what you do, being passionate about your organization, company, service, product or whatever… you dis-belief will be transparent and obvious to everybody with whom you’re selling.

How are people going to ‘buy’ from you when they see that you haven’t bought (believe) yourself in what you are ‘selling’???

Special Note: I read once that the word ENTHUSIASM is about ‘God within’. Regardless of the name of your respective ‘God’, the idea is that you are filled with something bigger than yourself.

I’m not very smart about this whole lexicon thing, but I’m guessing that this is probably also tied somehow to being an ‘evangelist’ for what you believe in.


How to Find the Ideal Development Offer – Short Guide (PDF)

Right now, we’re helping with a search for a Vice President for Advancement, a Major Gifts Officer for a National Youth Development Organization, a Development Officer for a Hospital and dozens of ‘Salespeople’ for For Impact Organizations.

I put together a short guide with some ideas on the ‘Ideal Development Officer’ (whatever that is).

If you’re looking to add great salespeople to your team, check this out. Give us a call if we can help you search, hire or train your new team.

P.S. Two startling statistics.

I just heard that within the 1,200 Catholic High Schools in the country, there is almost 50% annual turnover of their Development Staff.

Then, I saw in the paper yesterday that ‘The’ Ohio State University wants to increase its annual $27 Million Fundraising Budget… by $7.8 Million… WOW! to add 91 positions to its current staff of 107 people!!! (Numbers are tied to a $2.5 Billion Goal.)


‘If the Job Could Talk’

We are constantly being asked for advice, counsel and help with finding, hiring and training Advancement/Development Officers.

My good friend Bryan Driscoll is a great facilitator, coach and trainer who also specializes in helping companies hire the right people.

Bryan uses the phrase, ‘IF THE JOB COULD TALK’ as a way to think about actually defining the job, the role, and the fit.

In the development world, all of these are ‘FUZZY‘ at best.


Seek Balance

Master motivator Zig Ziglar says it this way, “True SUCCESS requires BALANCE. SUCCESS is only real if it encompasses physical, mental, spiritual, relationships, career and finances.”

Make a LIFE. Not a LIVING.

When somebody says, “Get a life”, that’s what they mean.

It’s your life. If given the choice of balancing your WORK, BUSINESS, CAREER… with your LIFE… always chose LIFE.

I once heard one of the best business professors I know and one of the most ‘successful’ business leaders in the country both say to a class of MBA’s that it is “pretty much impossible to balance your business and career with your family”. I so violently disagree that it is difficult to capture on paper.

We’re all terminally ill. Workaholics and busy, busy, frenetic, multitasking people are all going to die. When you talk to old people like me, they will remind you that your children will never be this age again. Your parents will eventually be gone. Your brothers and sisters will be spread around the country. And, if they’re really honest, they’ll tell you that the whole ‘quality time‘ vs. actual time is just a cop out.

It’s Friday. Leave ‘work’ early (or now!). Get some solo time, workout time, family time life time. (‘Work’ will all still be there on Monday.) (more…)