I’m continuing to write about some mindful habits and insights to frame thinking and actions for the New Year.
Today’s post pulls together some thoughts on FOCUS and PRODUCTIVITY.
First, I’m highlighting Tom’s book notes from The Power of Full Engagement (read post). The powerful nugget:
Manage your energy, not your time!
Second, I want to highlight Paul Graham’s essay: Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule. Graham is the co-founder of Y-Combinator and Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule has been a guide for me since I first found it several years ago. Graham challenges us to think about two different MODES of working: (Bold emphasis is mine.)
There are two types of schedule, which I’ll call the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour.
When you use time that way, it’s merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you’re done.
Most powerful people are on the manager’s schedule. It’s the schedule of command. But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.
When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That’s no problem for someone on the manager’s schedule. There’s always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker’s schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.
I partition most days into two parts. The first is the MAKER part of my day: writing, creative thinking, strategy. I will work from my home office… or my corner coffee shop… NOT AT THE OFFICE. Early mornings 5-10am are when I’m most creative (with an interlude to get the kids up, dressed, fed and to school). I then arrive to the office around 10 and schedule calls / meetings AFTER 10:30.* This let’s me FOCUS my creativity when my energy is highest around a MAKER schedule.
If you are a leader you need time to THINK. Manage your energy, not your time. When do you do your best thinking? PROTECT YOUR MAKER TIME. The science is clear and conclusive – we incur a heavy transaction cost associated with the interruptions that stop/start our ‘deep work’.
The lore of the elevator pitch comes from the early days of Hollywood when one would hope to trap an executive in an elevator and ‘pitch.’ The Elevator Pitch is an enduring shorthand that represents the simplest description of what you do.
You need brevity and simplicity… but simplicity alone is not your goal! Your goal is to get the other person to say, “I get it!” or “I want to learn more!”
The Elevator Pitch is dead. What we aim for is Elevator Engagement.
We achieve our goal more effectively and efficiently if we focus on the two-way (engagement) and not the one-way (pitch). Instead of spewing for 20-60 seconds (even if succinct), think about one great question you can ask the other person to get them ENGAGED in a conversation.
At our boot camps we do an exercise to illustrate that you can actually communicate WAYYYY more in 60 seconds by simply asking one or two questions than you can by talking (however concise you may be). It works because:
In asking a question, you start with the other person’s construct (or gestalt!).
We become fully engaged when we are talking. So, the simple act of getting the other person to talk changes the level of engagement. (This is Dale Carnegie 101!)
If you start with a question, you immediately learn what is pertinent and non-pertinent. You can use a short amount of time on relevant information.
Finally, we can position our work in their words. LISTENING is one of the most powerful selling skills in the world.
Earlier this year we were helping an organization make a neuroscience pitch to a foundation. The executive director was asked to appear before the foundation board and ‘make a pitch’. We had to reprogram her default, one-way pitch, to instead starting with a question to the panel of eight. She simply asked, “Has anyone ever had experience with a stroke, or a family member that’s had a stroke?” The board chair raised his hand and then spent two minutes talking about the importance of neuroscience research. Others jumped in. They were engaged — fully.
The executive director was able to simply build on the conversation. Though she had eight slides prepared, she found she only needed to use three of them (in response to the conversation). The board said it was one of the best pitches they had ever received – that’s because she didn’t pitch; she engaged.
She was awarded the grant!
Nota bene: There are many circles (usually tied to funding communities, e.g., silicon valley and nyc / financial) where a ‘pitch-deck’ is standard affair. Don’t let the ‘pitch deck’ put you in ‘pitch mode.’ As in the neuroscience story, you should focus on engagement. And, of course, we’re partial to the one-page pitch deck!
I’ve just returned from a trip to Ireland. I had a number of great meetings with social entrepreneurs and conversations about ‘social entrepreneurship’.
In Ireland and certainly here in the states, I think Social Entrepreneurship still represents TWO frames. The first is having to do with earned income. (I’m reposting thoughts from 2008 below)
The second frame is more broad. It represents the entrepreneurial attitude for change or impact. It’s this second definition that I like and it’s also this second frame that is starting to define the social sector. Go to a nonprofit conference and notice the average age. Then go to a similar conference organized for ‘social entrepreneurs’ and again, note the average age.
We’re obviously fans of the social entrepreneurship because the very term invites challenging thinking and norms. That being said, I don’t think one room (or conference) is superior to another in terms of commitment or values. It’s worth noting that the conversation-at-large is generationally shifting. If it weren’t for the IRS I could argue that in 30 years we might not have a ‘non profit sector’; it might become the ‘social (entrepreneurship) sector’.
From the archives, but still relevant today – Read on for Tom’s thoughts on hiring.
Read a really terrific book called REWORK by the founders of 37 Signals. As are almost all of the books I really, really love, this is simply a collection of nuggets, loosely framed.
Three of the twelve nuggets from the chapter on HIRING really jumped out at me.
1. Hire when it hurts.“Don’t hire for pleasure; hire to kill pain.” I can’t tell you how many organizations I’ve been around that desperately want to hire a ‘Major Gift Officer‘ or more ‘Major Gift Officers’!
Nobody has prioritized their top prospects (Master Prospect List). Nobody in the organization has visited with their Top 10 or Top 20 or Top 33. There’s no Message, no Math, no Model.
Yet, we think hiring another development person/MGO is going to make some kind of difference. (more…)
Almost everyone who is looking for a senior development person or MGO (Major Gift Officer) is thinking:
“It takes a lot of money to get an ‘experienced’ Major Gift Officer …”
“I can’t pay the $80,000/$100,000 (or more) that we understand it takes to get this person.”
Bottom line: You are NOT constrained by SALARY in your search for TALENT!
Think about this creative/contrarian idea of finding TALENT at both ends of the “Talent Spectrum.” My favorite place to be looking for talent on this spectrum is on the far left or the far right. (And I’m not talking about political leanings!)
‘SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE’
High Cost of Living
Make A Difference
Some thoughts on the ‘Spectrum:’
BEST & BRIGHTEST – Look on the ‘left’ end of the spectrum for incredibly passionate, excited, enthusiastic ‘BEST & BRIGHTEST!’ I would rather have two great, young, committed ‘Best & Brightest’ as Development Officers/ Major Gift Officers/Sales Staff … than an older, know everything, ‘experienced’ Development Officer. It costs the same, but I get double (triple) the coverage, usually with a much better attitude!
I look for ‘superstars.’ I love working with, coaching, mentoring the Best & Brightest. Look for young people who are unchallenged in their current job, bored, or just plain unhappy doing what they’re doing. Offer them an opportunity to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Seek ‘Best & Brightest’ if you’ve got a job that just requires a lot of energy, commitment, hard work, travel, etc. Don’t worry about lack of experience – think of it as no ‘baggage!’ Promise them an amazing experience, great contacts and ‘work’ days filled with challenges/meaning.
*Read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, on why people work. The new generation wants to be involved in something with a PURPOSE, not just a PAYCHECK! Many young people can view their work at a great For Impact organization as an upgraded internship or even as a kind of volunteer/youth service commitment!
SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE – This group at the ‘right’ is a terrific RESOURCE. Their families are raised and they are ready to get out of ‘rat race’, want new challenges and would love to use their experience and talent to help change the world! We love these ‘young in spirit,’ talented Eagles and Ducks coming from the for-profit world who are aligning a change in career with purpose. This group can bring a wealth of business experience, sales and financial expertise, and just plain productivity to their position/responsibilities. If it’s the ‘right fit,’ someone at this point in life can have a HUGE impact on your organization. They are looking to get ‘re-potted’ and ‘re-energized’ around something more than work, more than a job. Yes, they still need to earn income, but many have other sources, and just want to be treated fairly. Recruit them on the MESSAGE – not the MONEY!!!
ELDERS-SAGES – There is an abundance of TALENT sitting under this category – just waiting to be asked! ELDERS-SAGES are a HUGE untapped resource for the For Impact world! Maybe not full-time, but these people bring so much wisdom, talent and life experience to the table, that they can have an amazing impact in only a few days a week or month. Look here to find wonderful, wise and (often) witty Board Members, mentors and even ‘unpaid staff.’ Elders-Sages can offer incredible TALENT for a very affordable investment, with a huge ROI. If asked, many of these ‘untapped resources will work for satisfaction/ fulfillment (vs. money!). (I’ve know some absolutely unbelievable ‘$1.00/year’ staff that put ‘paid staff’ to shame!)
Here, you’ll find people who love your cause, vision and message … a have a lot to contribute … and ‘HUNGER for these OPPORTUNITIES!!!’
Just ASK them if they are interested! Aska great Board Member who fits this profile to join you as a full-time/part-time STAFF PERSON! If ‘60 is the new 50’ then 70 and 80 are the new 60! ‘Boomers’ (millions of us) aren’t ready to retire, play golf, sit around the house, etc. We/they want to make a difference. And, it’s not about ‘money!’ They will help and even INVEST!
See Marc Freedman’s book, The Big Shift for great stuff on ’boomers’ and ‘second careers’ at For Impact organizations.
“Only one in five Americans over 55 is currently on the job …. Older Americans are wealthier, healthier and living longer …. And there is ample evidence that they ‘HUNGER’ for OPPORTUNITIES … to contribute their experience and time in meaningful ways.” America’s healthy aging population is the country’s only INCREASING NATURAL RESOURCE.”
-Marc Friedman (Prime Time)
PRIME EARNING YEARS – People ‘in the middle,’ God bless them, need a job! Their focus is often on ‘the job,’ a paycheck, supporting their family. A focus on ‘heart,’ particularly the element of ‘taking a smaller salary for work you love,’ is much tougher when you’re responsible for a family.
Look at this ‘TALENT SPECTRUM’ as a way of creatively adding great staff and volunteer leaders. I’m not suggesting you overlook all of the wonderful, talented, committed people who are in their “prime-earning years.” But don’t get caught up in thinking this is the BEST OR ONLY place to look because you need someone with X years of development experience!
Bottom line: Best & Brightest, Elders-Sages, Success to Significance. All of these are wonderful places to SEARCH FOR TALENT.
HIRE FOR ATTITUDE. TRAIN FOR SKILL (at the For Impact Boot Camp.) No more expensive hiring mistakes!
We’re reposting some of OG’s greatest hits – Here he is with the companion audio to the Campaign Manifesto: Take a Quantum Leap. If you know us well you’ve heard the first 5-10 minutes of intro – Feel free to scoot past!
When Apple launched the first generation iPhone in 2007 it shared a device that offered full-email, rich media, a web browser, and a phone.
Think about what they chose to call this: a phone (that does really cool stuff!)
Often times working with organizations to simplify – there is a fear that the final concept omits ANYTHING. In one of these standard group setting the original iPhone device would’ve been named the iWebMediaMailPhone!
When explaining WHAT you do, choose words people understand. Anchor the concept and THEN tell me how you’re different, cool, etc. When someone says you’re oversimplifying just point to the late genius Steve Jobs.
P.S. I downloaded the new episode of Sherlock last night. I don’t know if I would call that a TV show, or a movie, but I purchased it through iTUNES. Not the iMediaEverythingCloudStore.
*Warning: It’s pretty easy to run down this list and blow off a number of these with a “We’ve already got this/done this” attitude. I encourage you to take a look at the resources we’ve provided below and create an Action Plan for 2016.
Set up your next month’s visits right now!
ENGAGEMENT is all about FOCUS and DISCIPLINE and EXECUTION.
Don’t ‘think’… DO! Once you have your Funding Plan and ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY laid out… EXECUTE! (ACT!)
Commit to SHARING THE STORY and PRESENTING THE OPPORTUNITY!!!