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Best Practices vs. Next Practices

I was re-reading a great book for entrepreneurs called MAVERICKS AT WORK by Bill Taylor and Polly Labarre. (Bill was Co-Founder and Founding Editor of Fast Company, one of my favorite, favorite magazines; and Polly was eight years as Senior Editor there.)

I came across a powerful line about ‘Best Practices’ vs. ‘Next Practices’. My own interpretation of this thinking fits our For Impact Point of View and Methodology.

In many cases, ‘Best Practices‘ are ‘Old Practices‘ that have worked in the past… and people are able to point to them as a reason for results.

As stated in ‘MAVERICKS‘, ‘Next Practices‘ become more about “insights and a business plan for the 21st Century… a new way to lead, compete and succeed”.

Just last week, we were asked, again, “We just want to know what are the ‘Best Practices’ used in Development and Fundraising.”

In my old Tom Peters’ style, I would respond, “There aren’t any.” In my new, mellower, coaching style, I would respond, “There are certainly SOME Best Practices. However, it’s all about the NEXT PRACTICES that are going to make the difference.”

Impact Driving Income. Strong Message and Purpose and Vision. The Today | Tomorrow | Forever Holistic Model. A Great Sales Process. Ridiculously Simple Engagement Tools. Talent That Can Sell. And on and on.

If what you are about is scaling and growing your IMPACT. If you are about your Vision. If you are about the future. If you are about Funding that Vision.

Then, you should be looking at NEXT PRACTICES.


Running Contrary with Speed and Simplicity

I received a call from Kevin, a past client with 20+ years of funding experience. Kevin completely changed his organization’s approach to fundraising after working with For Impact three years ago. He streamlined its approach and message. The organization cut down on all the events, it started making a lot more asks, and it started generating a lot more revenue.

His words:

I still tell everyone I meet about For Impact… that’s it’s the real deal. For whatever reason, I think most people [in the funding biz] can’t comprehend what I’m saying.

I think the entire industry and all the trainings perpetuate this idea that our job is to be friends with everyone. Instead of focusing on selling, fundraisers try to think up more and more ways to be friends.

I’m always telling everyone about For Impact… about how it changed our outlook… focused us on results… all the while making STRONGER relationships.

People can’t comprehend a lot of the things you teach:

  • That it’s okay to ask without a board member.
  • That it’s okay to ask on a first visit.
  • That you can actually share everything you need to share from one piece of paper.
  • That it can be this simple.


O3 and O3 Culture

I’m working with a bright, talented (interim) VP of Advancement at a great college.

She and I were talking about a new culture… and she defined it as an Out Of Office!

If you’re in SALES (which we are)… and you want to raise as much INCOME as you can (which we do)… and you want the greatest RETURN on your ENERGY and TIME (which, of course, we do)… then you need to build an OUT OF OFFICE culture.


Results or Reasons?

“In life there are only 2 things, results and reasons. Successful people have lots of results and unsuccessful people have lots of reasons.”

This is from Keith J. Cunningham, mentor to Robert Kiyosaki, RICH DAD POOR DAD author.

Via For Impact Coach, Mike Gemm.

Are you about RESULTS or REASONS (excuses)?


Start With Why

I came across a brilliant thinker, Simon Sinek, who has a great book, Start With Why, a powerful Ted Video (18 minutes), and an amazing story around the power of ‘WHY’.

Essence of his message:

People don’t buy what you do… they buy why you do it.

He calls it the ‘GOLDEN CIRCLE’.

Mediocre organizations and leaders always sell ‘outside-in‘… talking about WHAT, then HOW (features, benefits).. never even getting to the WHY.

Great leaders sell ‘inside-out‘… leading with the WHY.

Sinek’s ‘Golden Circle’ is our ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK… with research!

And, it’s a perfect reinforcement of the FOCUS of our ENGAGEMENT TOOL.

I urge you to take 18 minutes out of your day/life and watch the video. I believe it will influence the entire way you sell, Share your Story and Present the Opportunity.


What Does ‘An Ask’ Look Like? A Checklist.

There is a lot of room to define this one… you should take the time to define it within your organization.

In the For Impact world A REAL ASK satisfies this checklist:

  • We were WITH a prospect – physically.

    See: Just Visit. There are exceptions to this but 19 times out of 20 the ask is done in person so that there is engagement and dialogue.

  • We asked the prospect for specific help with a specific project, program or level of support.

    In doing so the dollar figure was clear. Example: “John, we need your help, would it be possible for you to underwrite this project for $20,000?”

    It wasn’t open-ended, we didn’t ask, “Could you give whatever you can give?”

    Also, in being specific, the funding rationale wasn’t for ‘unrestricted’ or ‘operations’… those aren’t specific. See: Have a Funding Rationale – Something specific to ask for.

  • The ask was a dialogue – a back and forth with questions and listening — so that we could ensure that we were maximizing the relationship at this given moment.

    Read: The Ask as a Dialogue to help with this concept.

  • We will expect a YES or a NO – and will follow-up accordingly.

    Thinking about how to get to a YES or NO ensures you have covered appropriate mechanics and you can continue within a sales process. Otherwise, there is a risk of pending into oblivion or unclear follow-up.

Without the definition provided by this checklist we often find:


No More ‘Meetings’. (Period.)

A fun challenging thought for a Tuesday.

WHAT IF… we never held another ‘meeting’!!??

Political consultant and pundit James Carville says,“Losers meet. Winners do.”

He goes on to say that, “Absent a major peace negotiation, complicated merger or complex legal settlement… there is no reason on earth to have a meeting last more than 30 minutes.”

After 35 years in the ‘business world’, I’m convinced that nobody really wants to go to another ‘meeting’ (except for maybe the meeting planner or the boss who is holding the meeting).

Luckily, I’m at an age where I can just say no… I don’t do ‘meetings’.

A suggested alternative: ‘GATHERINGS.’ Instead of a ‘meeting’, try a ‘GATHERING’ of the right people at the right time on the right subject… to brainstorm, re-design or correct course.

Imagine what life would be like without meetings, but where you gathered together in a fun, productive session with real results!

These ‘GATHERINGS’ need:

    1. Great Prep. Send appropriate info out in advance. Don’t go over it all at the meeting! (It’s Prep.)

    2. Specific Goal. The meetings should have a specific purpose… an action/result.

    3. Defined Time. 33 minutes is a great constraint!

Here’s a better idea: Go for a walk! It worked for Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison. It will also work for you.


The Strangest Secret

Here’s a wonderful ‘nugget’ to get your week started.

“You Are What You Think About.” – Earl Nightingale

This is one of the most profound ‘thoughts’ (pun intended) ever recorded.

Earl Nightingale is the father of personal development. Written in1956, his book, The Strangest Secret, was the seed from which the personal development industry grew.

When Earl was 35 years old, he recorded this short message for a small group of salesmen one Saturday morning. The message had such a positive IMPACT that everyone wanted copies to share with their friends and family. Earl arranged with Columbia Records to duplicate this record and ultimately received a Gold Record for sale of a million copies. (This is in the 1950’s!)

Here is the Strangest Secret:


This book/message is only 19 small pages and takes less than 30 minutes to read or to listen to the audio. Just order your own copy.

SPECIAL NOTE: Earl actually also says IMPACT = INCOME!! He calls it the ‘Law of Mutual Exchange.’

As a FOR IMPACT Leader and Social Entrepreneur…

What If…

All you Think about Is:

  • ‘Survival?’
  • ‘Woe Is Us’
  • ‘The Economy?’
  • ‘Meetings To Set Up The Next Meeting?’
  • ‘Cuts in Staffing?’
  • ‘Can’t Make Payroll?’
  • ‘People Won’t Pay For The Staff’s Salaries?’
  • ‘A 5% Increase In The Budget?’ (Which, of course, will have absolutely NO impact on your IMPACT!)

What if…

You actually Think about:

  • Your VISION
  • Your MISSION
  • Your MESSAGE
  • Your MEANING
  • Your IMPACT
  • Your PURPOSE
  • Your PLAN

Any difference?

Note: Same way with LIFE.

If all we think about is the ‘bad stuff’… there’s no room left to focus on the ‘good stuff.’


The Manager and Leader As Two Different Job Functions

One big challenge we see with organizations and individuals is the lack of intention around the role of a manager or a leader.

Marcus Buckingham provides the clearest distinction I’ve seen:

  • Job of a Manager: Turn talent into performance. To make other people more productive.
  • Job of a Leader: Rally people to a better future.

Separating the two jobs is not to say that one person can’t perform both jobs (although, most strong leaders don’t have management as a strength).

Separating the two jobs does more to help senior staff or board members identify and be intentional about each function.

In the field we often see:

  • Great leaders who are poor managers. Often, they don’t understand the distinction between the two and don’t address a management weakness – perhaps because they think that as a leader they must also be great managers.

    Management is not my core strength but I manage every day. Acknowledging the weakness either forces me to find others to manage, or to be more focused (deliberate) in my execution while wearing the ‘manager hat’.

  • People in leadership positions that could lead but don’t – mostly because they’re not aware of the leader’s role. Leaders make decisions. Leaders hold a clear image (the vision) for the future. They see and relate the image of the finish line, not the obstacles.

    In the words of our great friend and leader Bob W, “Leaders Lead!”

  • So called managers who are ‘drained by dealing with other people’. If this describes you, try to get out of managing. If that’s not feasible (due to size, for instance) at least acknowledge the difference and manage your energy accordingly.
  • Uncertainty about leadership – who is it? A leader MUST step up to assume a leadership role. No such thing as passive leadership. One easy question to ask of a team is, “Who is the leader?” Bill Gates once said that a vision must ultimately live in ONE person’s head. Who is that person within your organization? Does that person know it? Do others?

Book recommendation: The One Thing You Need to Know: … About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success. One of my top five biz books of all time.


On Simplicity

Midweek. ‘Simple’ thought.


Simplicity is not just a major factor in your organizations success. It literally changes our lives.

Simplicity helps us with our priorities —

Simplicity allows us to focus on (and enjoy) the moment —

Simplicity creates opportunities to be the best at what we do.

Attached is a page of quotes on SIMPLICITY. Enjoy.

Coaching Thought: ‘Books’ have provided me an amazing ROR (Return-On-Reading). Here are 6 great books ON SIMPLICITY.

  1. The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda. (Design, Technology, Business, Life). One of my favorite books on the whole idea of simplicity. Wonderful frameworks.
  2. Simplicity (The New Competitive Advantage in a World of More, Better, Faster) by Bill Jensen. Another great, great book on simplicity/enough is enough.
  3. The Paradox of Choice (Why More is Less) by Barry Schwartz. Top 10 Book of the Year. One of those ‘must reads’. Reinforces the 3 Circles!
  4. Simple Art of Greatness by James Mullen. Older book, but good stuff.
  5. The Power of Less (The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential… in Business and in Life) by Leo Babauta. Do Less. Get More Done. Simple steps on productivity.
  6. The One Decision: Make the Single Choice that Will Lead to a Life of More by Judith Wright. Judith Wright explains there is one decision you can make that will positively affect the quality of your life.