Simplicity

The Elevator Pitch is Dead

“What’s your elevator pitch?”

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!

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The Leadership Circle: Occam’s Ask

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming For Impact Guidebook about Leadership Circles.

Every organization should have some form of Leadership Circle. In its simplest form, this is ONE baseline-major-gift level of support, positioned as the cornerstone of your annual fund.   The Leadership Circle is not just another giving level – It’s a funding program and a strategic pillar of your funding model that qualifies prospects, simplifies stewardship, provides flexible funding and annuity!

You’ve heard of Occam’s Razor; this is ‘Occam’s Ask’. It’s set at ONE level between $1K and $10K – messaged around your mission and vision in a way that represents your simplest and strongest sell.

HOW TO MESSAGE: (Examples)

  • STORY: “We would like to invite you to be part of the Leadership Circle – a group of 100 families, individuals and/or businesses that are extremely committed to the mission of the YWCA. Membership requires a minimum $10,000 investment in the fund, renewable annually. Each year, these funds will be used to make the biggest impact in the areas of after school programming, innovation and scholarships. But, ultimately, The Leadership Circle is about investing in our vision to transform our community.”

  • COLLECTIVE IMPACT: “This Leadership Circle level is significant because the collective power of its members – providing the core funding support that allows the YWCA to be an efficient organization, responding to the most important needs of women and families in our community. Additionally, this Leadership Circle has the impact of $2M in endowment for each 10 members.”

In working with over 1,000 organizations, I can’t think of a time when an organization didn’t benefit from a Leadership Circle. As a tool, its versatility rivals duct tape.

A FEW WAYS TO USE THE LEADERSHIP CIRCLE:

  • As a QUALIFIER. The Leadership Circle can be a GREAT ASK on a first visit. The story around the Leadership Circle should be tied to your simplest and strongest sell and if someone commits the $10K then you KNOW they are serious about your impact.
  • As a component of your overall FUNDING MODEL and CASE.  It’s helpful for top funders to see that you’re building a base. This should offset the perception (and reality) that you’re going back to the well with the same funders again and again. It’s really helpful to be able to show (in your plan) that at the same time you are asking for LEADERSHIP SUPPORT, you are also building giving-based-relationships through the Leadership Circle.
  • As a MOMENTUM BUILDER.  If you’re working on leadership support for a major project the Leadership Circle can be a powerful momentum builder. It’s one thing to go to your board and announce you THINK you will have some leaders on board. It’s another to back that up with the cash flow and commitments from 20 new memberships in your Leadership Circle.
  • As an ANNUITY and ENDOWMENT EQUIVALENT.  The membership base of support becomes an annuity. For example, 20 families at $10K is $200K per year which is the equivalent of having $4M in endowment!
  • As a FOCUSED way to TEST and BUILD TALENT. Having a Leadership Circle offers a safety valve for new salespeople. “When you don’t know what else to do, ask for a membership.” This is a clarifying directive. Asking for a membership does not eliminate the potential for a larger gift – if anything it qualifies the relationship (offering objective insight to the sales manager.)

    If a new major gifts officer fails to close a $1M gift it could be for a number of reasons. Maybe it’s a prospecting issue. Maybe it’s the story. However, anyone should be able to close Leadership Circle membership.

    Having developed dozens and dozens of new major gifts officers, I cannot emphasize the importance of this idea. It’s the simplest way to build confidence and funding momentum.
  • As an engagement strategy that PAYS. ‘Nuff said.
  • As a STEWARDSHIP CIRCLE. Get rid of all events and focus that energy on just providing stewardship and thanks to your Leadership Circle investors!  Here is an idea, make it someone’s job to simply get every member of the Leadership Circle to your organization to SEE the impact (return-on-investment) in a given year.  Good things will happen.
  • As ‘BUDGET RELIEF.’ Everyone wants ‘unrestricted funding’. A better message would be around budget relief. I would encourage you to try and create a funding model in which the Leadership Circle monies are unbudgeted. You can then report back to membership the IMPACT of their COLLECTIVE investment.
  • As a way to get into a PLANNED GIFT. Participation in the Leadership Circle for a few years offers a rationale to get ask for a planned gift to PROTECT the annual gift.  “You’ve been giving $10K every year as a member of the Leadership Circle. Could we ask you to PROTECT that with a gift from your estate?”  A $200K planned gift would ‘protect’ the $10K.

    Bonus: This can also be part of a TRIPLE ASK.
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The For Impact Workshop: New Locations Added

We’re hitting the road this fall!

Come see us at our For Impact Workshop: Fundraising on a Napkin in the following cities:

October 11, 2016 | Los Angeles, CA (Register using the code ficommunity for $100 off)
October 26, 2016 | Portsmouth, NH (Register using the code ficommunity for $100 off)
December 15, 2016 | Omaha, NE (Register using the code ficommunity for $100 off)

WORKSHOP OVERVIEW

Fundraising on a Napkin summarizes 30 years of fundraising achievement into simple, bold and actionable ideas that any organization can use – Non Profit, For Profit, Social Entrepreneur or NGO.

Whether you’re looking for strategic clarity, ‘sustainable funding,’ a jumpstart in major giving or just no-fluff advice that works – Fundraising on a Napkin delivers on all fronts.  Over 3.5 hours, we will share stories ‘from the field’ and the successful and innovative ideas that have transformed thousands of organizations and raised over $2B, including:

  • How to get strategic clarity
  • How to simplify your message and communicate the vision
  • How to find and engage with great leaders, prospects and champions
  • How to build a high performing leadership team
  • How to build an effective culture around funding the vision
  • How to ask

This high energy, motivating session will give you a road map you can follow to re-design (or design) your organization for impact and income success.

WHAT TO EXPECT

  1. Example-based coaching throughout the day
  2. Lots of interaction so you don’t get bored – this is not one of ‘those’ workshops
  3. Proven frameworks and, to the extent that we’re able with time, one-on-one strategy to help you apply the frameworks
  4. No power point (see no. 2) but lots of visuals
  5. Simplicity.  Complexity is not actionable, so we give you the tools that will have the greatest R.O.I. to your organization in the near term (next 100 days) and longer term (next 1000 days.)
  6. Value that goes beyond funding! We’re all entrepreneurs, so while we always want to create value in the form of funding results, there is a huge personal development theme to everything we do.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND

This workshop is for Executive Directors, Board Leaders and Development Professionals – Any and all responsible for shaping and implementing funding strategy.

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Do the Simple Things to Avoid Team Complexity

In his book The Checklist Manifesto, author Atul Gawande calls attention to 3 different kinds of problems: the simple, the complicated, and the complex.  

From The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right:

“Two professors who study the science of complexity—Brenda Zimmerman of York University and Sholom Glouberman of the University of Toronto—have proposed a distinction among three different kinds of problems in the world: the simple, the complicated, and the complex.

Simple problems, they note, are ones like baking a cake from a mix. There is a recipe. Sometimes there are a few basic techniques to learn. But once these are mastered, following the recipe brings a high likelihood of success.

Complicated problems are ones like sending a rocket to the moon. They can sometimes be broken down into a series of simple problems. But there is no straightforward recipe. Success frequently requires multiple people, often multiple teams, and specialized expertise. Unanticipated difficulties are frequent. Timing and coordination become serious concerns.

Complex problems are ones like raising a child. Once you learn how to send a rocket to the moon, you can repeat the process with other rockets and perfect it. One rocket is like another rocket. But not so with raising a child, the professors point out. Every child is unique. Although raising one child may provide experience, it does not guarantee success with the next child. Expertise is valuable but most certainly not sufficient. Indeed, the next child may require an entirely different approach from the previous one. And this brings up another feature of complex problems: their outcomes remain highly uncertain. Yet we all know that it is possible to raise a child well. It’s complex, that’s all.”

I want to relate this framing to teams and dysfunction. Building and leading a team is a complex problem. Like raising a child well – “It’s complex, that’s all.”  In our work at The Suddes Group, we’re often building or reconfiguring teams to create greater funding results. One of the things we’ve observed is the relationship between the simple and complex problems. When teams don’t execute on the simple problems, the complex problems are amplified.

Any funding effort is largely a function of simple problems: (more…)

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How To Write A Call Memo

The Call Memo is an important mechanic in our Sales Process – It’s an internal memo-for-the-record. I would encourage you to write-up these notes IMMEDIATELY following the visit. Don’t wait!

(I carry a dictation device and transcribe the call memo in my car – minutes after the visit ends.)

Download sample call memo: I’ve altered a real call memo and included training notes to help you learn. You can also download a call-memo-template if you want more structure.

Objectives of the Call Memo:

  • Record what happened on the visit. Someone on your team should be able to pick-up the memo and continue the conversation. In most cases, you can have a sheet of paper out to take notes during the visit. I’m amazed at how often sales people don’t take notes!
  • Use quotes. THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!! The best message in the world is the one that comes from the prospect’s mouth. Capture words and exact phrases used by the prospect(s); put them in quotes.
    • Bad: Prospect seemed to like our program.
    • Good: “Of everything you’re doing, I honestly don’t really care about the after-school program but I think the summer program has mountains of potential.”

    This will:

    • Help you LISTEN. (Read Vocabulary Wars.)
    • Help others on your team LISTEN (even though they weren’t there).
    • Make life so much easier when you pull out the call report in six months…
  • Use bullets. Easier to read. Easier (faster) for you to download.
  • No rule on length. Should capture all the key points that you would need to remember in six months, but shouldn’t take you all afternoon to compose.
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“Can You Get Me A Proposal?”

Have you ever finished a great visit and had the prospect say, “This is great – Can you get me a proposal?”

If someone asks this we need to simplify on the spot – “Sure thing. Are you an email person?” (Everyone is.) “Would it be okay if I summarized our conversation in bullet point form and shot that back by email?”

Save yourself HOURS by converting ‘proposals’ to ‘bullet points.’

Read more on Follow Up.

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Know Your Goal!

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is: Set your goals of ENGAGEMENT.

“PRODUCTIVITY is the act of bringing a company (organization or person) closer to its GOAL. Every ACTION that brings a company (organization or person) closer to its GOAL is PRODUCTIVE. Every ACTION that does NOT bring a company (organization or person) closer to its GOAL is not PRODUCTIVE.

What I’m telling you is…

PRODUCTIVITY IS MEANINGLESS UNLESS YOU KNOW YOUR GOAL.”

Eliyahu Goldratt is an Israeli physicist who has been described by Fortune magazine as a “guru to industry” and by Business Week as a “genius.

He wrote a self-published, underground best seller entitled The Goal (North River Press, 1984, Revised 1986 and 1992).

This may be one of the best ‘business books’ I’ve ever read. It’s not dense, text-heavy business gobbley gook with charts, tables and Venn diagrams.

It’s actually written as a fiction story. Jonah (the consultant) uses the Socratic method of asking questions of Alex (the manager) to completely turn around a faltering business/ manufacturing plant.

THE GOAL, on one hand, is complex, with terms like: throughput, bottleneck, the theory of constraints and the cloud theory.

At the same time, it is incredibly SIMPLE: KNOW YOUR GOAL!

IF PRODUCTIVITY is a function of understanding your GOAL… being able to define SUCCESS… being able to MEASURE your progress…

Then, THE CHALLENGE is to:

  • DEFINE SUCCESS.
  • SET SPECIFIC GOALS.
  • CREATE MEASUREMENTS.
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The Power of Engagement Tools

Part of our For Impact story has been the invention of THE ENGAGEMENT TOOL. This one-page presentation flow, at altitude, has become an absolutely indispensable part of our client and coaching success.

THE WHY

IF you’re out making VISITS and PRESENTING THE OPPORTUNITY (which all of you
should be) – you need a SIMPLE, POWERFUL, ENGAGING PRESENTATION TOOL!!!

I can almost guarantee you don’t have one now because an Engagement Tool is not a PowerPoint, Campaign Brochure, 3-Ring Binder, or stuff from “National’s Marketing Department.”

An Engagement Tool is used to Present the Opportunity ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’.

As Tim Allen of Tool Time fame says, “The RIGHT TOOL for the RIGHT JOB.”

GREAT PRESENTATION TOOLS can:

Create a terrific FRAMEWORK for the FLOW of the VISIT,

GRAB PEOPLE’S ATTENTION,

FACILITATE important DIALOGUE,

Create ENGAGEMENT and INTERACTION,

COMMUNICATE STATS & STORIES, LOGIC & MAGIC, and much more!

THE WHAT

We organize our PRESENTATION TOOLS around “these 3 things”:

A NAPKIN

A FLOW SHEET

An ALTITUDE MAP

You can download an EXAMPLE of each one of these here.

THE HOW

Download / view the For Impact engagement tool.

See also: Guidebook – On Engagement | Guidebook – On Visual Engagement

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The iPhone: A Case for Oversimplifying

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.

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Find those who care about your CAUSE, then sell your CASE.

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

Cause: Your reason for existence. The big problem you’re trying to solve or change.

Case: Your approach. Your model. The way in which you impact the CAUSE.

Think about the the difference between CAUSE and CASE.

When you’re with people that already understand the CAUSE you must engage them with your CASE. (See Use the Rule of 3 to Simplify at 14,000′)

Having a funding rationale answers the question: “Where does the money go?” It’s tied directly to packaging your CASE: Your Priorities and Projects and Programs, around your IMPACT.

The CASE should be all about the WHAT and HOW you will USE FUNDS to deliver your impact.
For example:

“We’ve put together a plan to scale and innovate in our three core areas – Family Literacy, Read Aloud Programs and Teen Services – that would require $1.3M over the next 1,000 days. Here’s what we would use the funds for – 1000 Families in our Literacy Program, increase 1:1 teen Mentoring by 30%, excellent data and evaluation, and 10 new school relationships.”
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Creating Great Funding Rationales

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

In this video we cover the ‘Last 3 Feet’ tied to Creating Great Funding Rationales (hint: “Unrestricted” does not make a great Funding Rationale!)

  • Create a Funding Rationale tied to a Unit of Impact if possible – “Our goal is to underwrite all 3000 of our families each year at $1500 per family. How many families can you help support?”
  • Package up your Programs – “Here is the Impact we’d like to have in each community and it will take about $100,000 per community to make it happen.”
  • Use a Leadership Circle membership goal as it relates to the Opportunity to Save, Change and Impact Lives – “When we have 50 members in our Leadership Society (@$10,000+ per year) it allows us to innovate new programs and provide core support to existing impact. It also allows us to move quickly when needed – To save and change more lives.”

Previous video in this sequence: Using Altitude to develop your Presentation.

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10 Types of Funding Rationales

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

Here is a list of some of the framing devices we often use to create Funding Rationales. (i.e., you need these numbers to rationalize the ASK!)

In an abridged form:

  • The Gap: Using a gap number to justify the ASK.
    Tuition: Tuition is $6K, cost per student is $8K. Gap is $2K. Could ask someone to underwrite THE GAP for five students.

    Project: Receive federal grants to the tune of $45K/year for $60K/year program. Ask someone to fund the gap for three years = $15K/year or $45K ASK.

  • The Widget: Break down projects/programs/model into a cost per person or cost per unit. Package this as the ASK. Typically, I use the widget to create the simplest and strongest sell.
    “One child for one year.”

    See also: See Chipotle vs. Max and Erma’s

  • Funding the Prototype: This is a different way of funding your annual operating budget for a start-up. Communicate how your model works and what is needed to make the model happen – then run a funding pyramid.

    Example: This year we need $1.1M to build the prototype.

    Going to need:

    1 @ $200K
    2 @ $100K
    3 @ $75K
    4 @ $50K
    6 @ $25K
    10 @ $10K
  • Funding the Vision: Think of this as funding the model/prototype and future projects/priorities for the next 3-5 years. If you will, this is ‘the campaign pitch’ but with a more holistic view of ALL funding priorities. Within Funding the Vision:

    Leadership Commitments: Top tiered commitments that validate the funding plan.

    Momentum Commitments: TIMELY gifts. Could be Leadership or not… but means so much because of the timing. Provides a lot of leverage, energy, etc.

  • TRANSFORMATION: Justifies all caps on that one. Sometimes it’s simply about a number that would completely TRANSFORM our organization, the investor, etc. This is a rationale that extends far beyond a ‘campaign lead’.
  • Project Sponsorship: “Can you underwrite the medical program for three years @ $30K/year?”

    Note: If it were me… get rid of the notion of asking people to fund ‘operating’ or ‘infrastructure’. Literally everything you do can be packaged as a project, priority or program.

  • Angel Investment: “We’re going to need 10 investors at X to get this idea off the ground. We’re taking something of an angel-investment approach. Can you be one of these angels?” – Very much about timing, the level, the funder, etc.
  • Strategic Partner: Often a corporation or foundation that provides ongoing, high-level funding support on an ongoing basis. It’s a great relationship because you [the org] are a means of delivering on the funder’s priorities in the community or sector.
  • Protection: This is a rationale or way of asking someone to ‘protect’ and annual investment with a planned gift/legacy gift. More on that here.
  • Leverage: We need to raise X to generate 10X.

    Note: Yesterday I was on the phone with an organization that needs to raise $5M to generate $1Billion. To make my point. They need to raise $5M to generate $1,000,000,000,000.

    Obviously, you don’t need all of these. I’m hoping the brief descriptions can spark some answers to common questions like:

    “What do we ask for?”

    “How do we package our operating to justify a big ask?”

    “How do we rationalize the number?”

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The Only Presentation Tool You Need

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10
weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Simplify your message so that it fits on a napkin.

It’s not easy. However, I believe that your ability to engage someone with your why, what and how is proportional to how clearly and cleanly you can communicate your message.

This is a really big deal!

When sitting down with someone new they should ‘get it’ in a matter of seconds. Too often we overwhelm people with power points, three-ring binders and slick brochures. I’ve made many ‘million dollar calls’ using ONLY a napkin. I believe it is the BEST and ONLY presentation tool you need.

At the thousands of training and speaking engagements I’ve done, I can spend three straight hours talking, listening, and responding to our Controlling Insight, on a napkin:

Every day, every training, every coaching just reinforces the power of this insight.

*Since I’ve presented this 1,000 times, give or take, and still get ‘juiced’ at the simplicity of this message – doesn’t hurt for you to see it again (and again, and forever, again.)

Just for kicks, see if you can identify these industry changing businesses from the napkins below. Or email with your own napkin – We’re happy to respond, add thoughts, etc.

 

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8 Common Messaging Challenges

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10
weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!


This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Some quick reminders and primers coming into this post:

  • Message is what is HEARD, not necessarily what you SAY. (Read: What’s in a Message?)
  • A potential funder needs to be engaged around the message at three levels – the WHY, the WHERE (money goes) and the HOW (can help – supported by a funding rationale). Read our Altitude Framework PDF for a comprehensive look at this.

Here are eight common messaging challenges we see:

  • The message (engagement) starts at the wrong altitude. Engagement begins at 30,000’ – about changing, saving and impacting lives. A quick assessment of the way most ED’s are talking about the organization and you see that it’s so programmatic (think: 14,000’). We do a lot of coaching to get people up to the 30,000’-changing-the-world-level.
  • No simplicity. Not able to state 30,000’ on a napkin. Not able to communicate three priorities. Not able to articulate a simple funding rationale.

    Special note: One way to simplify your message is through the use of visuals!

  • No engagement. Several times each month I look at an organization’s message and say, “That’s actually pretty damn good! I’ll bet you’re just not ENGAGING anyone with the message.” What I mean is, you don’t need to wordsmith or reframe anything. Instead, you have a message problem in that no one is actually HEARING and INTERNALIZING the message. This could be because we’re not out visiting with or it could be because we’re out talking and not LISTENING. Listening allows us to frame our message in a way that makes sense to the other person.
  • No funding rationale. No math or no story to support ‘the ask’. This is identifiable when we have a funding goal only and we’re either saying, “Can you give?” or we’re just picking a number out of the air. See my earlier post on 9 Types of Funding Pitches.
  • No WOW. Only commentary here is that most organizations DO have a WOW factor. They often don’t see it because they focus on what’s not perfect.
  • Story is not awesome. By this I mean your 30,000’ narrative is not representing your transcendent purpose, your BHAG, your audacity.
  • Framing is about the INCOME. Not the IMPACT. A common 14,000’ example. Whereas we should be communicating how ALL of our funding supports specific projects, priorities and programs we say something like, “We need funds for staff salaries… admin… overhead.” YUCK. You frame everything around your excel spreadsheet and not the PURPOSE or INTENT of the expenditure. Again: Yuck. Another example is the message that’s all about the business plan. WHY do you exist and WHAT do you hope to achieve with said business plan (around the IMPACT).
  • All CAUSE, no CASE. (Or, All PROBLEM, No SOLUTION.) This refers to a message that is heavy on selling me on the problem. So much so that I never really engage with the CASE – either because it’s not there, or because you’ve lost my attention. Note: Hitting all three altitude levels actually makes a simple and complete CASE FOR SUPPORT.
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Use the Rule of 3 to Simplify Your Priorities at 14,000’

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Our most used frameworks is the Altitude Framework – Used to order thinking, communications, and storylines; to develop Engagement Tools; and, to think through the Flow of a Visit.

This framework is used for everything from visits to strategy sessions to dealing with objections. However, it’s best use is COMMUNICATION and SIMPLIFICATION of your message.

14,000’ is the view and perspective from the ‘top of the mountain.’ (In the Rockies, they’re called ‘fourteeners.’) At this altitude, the air is thinner and the raptors soar. If 30,000’ is about vision, 14,000’ is about focus. A place to talk about Business Models and Strategy, but most importantly, a place to finding clarity around Priorities.

One of our favorite devices for simplifying your message at 14,000’ is The Rule of 3.

The Rule of 3 is a magical rule for SIMPLICITY.

As human beings, we’re wired to understand, internalize, and remember threes. Politicians know this, as does the media. Neuroscience tells us that the brain actually finds harmony in threes.

One is lonely (no choice.)

Two creates an either/or conflict. (Sophie’s Choice, anyone?)

Not only is Three just right (thank you, Goldilocks) but anything more than three is too complex!

Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less tells us stories of engagement DECREASING proportionate to MORE choice.

Look around:

Three-Act Plays. The first act sets up the story, the second act creates conflict, and the third act is the resolution.

The Holy Trinity.

Pyramids. An ancient symbol for strength.

Think BIG! Build SIMPLE! Act NOW! (Can you feel the cadence?!?!)

Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

You can use the Rule of 3 to communicate your biggest Priorities at 14,000’. For example, if you have 7 programs, you need to package those into 3 priorities, such as:

People, Programs, Places
Research, Education, Service
Meals, Homes, Health & Wellness Programs
Read-Aloud Programs, Family Literacy, Teen Intervention

Action: Take the time to write out everything you do on one or two sheets of paper. Then use the attached trigger list to simplify your programs and funding needs into 3 Priorities.

And next time you’re with a prospect you can say, “Over the next 1,000 days we’re focused on these 3 Priorities, which one are you most interested in?”

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Start With The Why

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done! This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Start with the Why is our number one For Impact Guiding Principle.

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

The 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), and 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!

Starting with Why has many implications in our For Impact world; here’s a few:

A vocabulary challenge to the sector. What prospects hear (often times) is “We need money to meet our annual funding goal” or “Buy a table at our gala.” These messages have no WHY, but what your prospects want to do is save, change and impact lives.

Selling happens at 30,000’. The number one question of every investor is, “Why do you exist?” If the person you are talking to doesn’t care about your WHY, it’s very hard to talk to her about the what and the how. Conversely, if your WHY is his number one priority, you can ask on the proverbial ‘first date.’

There are 1.5M nonprofits in the U.S. You must be able to talk about your raison d’etre (reason for existence); otherwise, you just ‘exist to exist.’

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Start the New Year on a “HIGH”

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Our most used frameworks is the Altitude Framework – Used to order thinking, communications, and storylines; to develop Engagement Tools; and, to think through the Flow of a Visit.

This framework is used for everything from visits to strategy sessions to dealing with objections. However, it’s best use is COMMUNICATION and SIMPLIFICATION of your message.

30,000′ is an airplane’s cruising altitude – plenty of blue sky, a great view, etc. At 30,000′, our brain even seems to work better!

At this altitude, it’s all about your vision, your aspirations, your raison d’etre. It’s a place to think and talk about your mission, your meaning, your values.

At 30,000’ leaders and visionaries have the ability to see the horizon. Obviously, you can’t do that from 3’. At 30,000’ you can see the curve of the earth, the rising and setting of the sun. The perspective at 30,000’ is unmatched. This is where you can think about making a “dent in the universe” and communicate how you are CHANGING THE WORLD!

Use this framing device to think and answer some questions at 30,000’:

  • Why do you what you do – To what end?
  • What is your raison d’etre (or reason for existence?)
  • What are you best in the world at?
  • What would you do with $1M or $10M (or X times your current operating budget?)
  • What makes you unique or how are you collaborating to solve a big social problem?
  • What gets you really fired up in the morning? (About your impact!)

Use the answers to these questions to develop your Message at 30,000’ – Your big picture purpose statement, the meaning of your work – Something we call the Blue Box Message.

“The Blue Box”:

  • Represents the starting point for everything
  • Frames a conversation at the highest level
  • Is simple (not full of fancy prose)
  • Is articulated clearly, concisely and compellingly

Here are some examples of great Blue Box Messages:

Changing the lives of the visually impaired worldwide.

Transforming the aging experience.

To provide the finest liberal arts education in the country.

Breaking the circle of poverty by changing the system.

Transforming Columbus: Inspiring the entrepreneurs of the future.

Strong Healthy Kids, Strong Healthy Families, Strong Healthy Communities.

We provide the opportunity for disadvantaged women and children to transform their lives.

We want safe water for EVERYONE FOREVER.

To make reading matter and change the story for low-income students and families in San Diego County.

Redefine Interprofessional Education. Redefine Healthcare Delivery. For Better Patient Health Outcomes.

Join us tomorrow for more on Simplifying your Message.

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10 Action Steps to Help You Engage in 2016

*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.

Here are 10 Action Steps, to help you ENGAGE:

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What I Would Do If I Had $1M

My copy of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill was published by Fawcett World Library, 1969.

Based on Napoleon Hill’s famed Laws of Success, Think and Grow Rich represents the distilled wisdom of distinguished men of great wealth and achievement. Andrew Carnegie’s magic formula for success was the direct inspiration for this book. Hill’s “secrets” are founded in universal law and principles.

Originally published in 1937, it has been characterized as one of the most influential books of all time in pointing the way to personal achievement.

W. Clement Stone wrote “more men and women have been motivated to achieve success because of reading Think and Grow Rich than any other book written by a living author.”

Following is a story Napoleon Hill uses to underscore a number of the key principles of Think and Grow Rich:

  • Definiteness of Purpose
  • Faith
  • Imagination
  • Desire
  • Persistence
  • Organized Planning to Achieve a Purpose

The following story is quoted from the book. The (parenthesis) are mine – Tom

While Dr. Frank W. Gunsaulus was going through college, he observed many defects in our educational system. These were defects that he believed he could correct if he were the head of a college. (His challenge!) He made up his mind to organize a new college in which he would carry out his ideas without being handicapped by orthodox methods of education. (Creativity, out of the box thinking, unorthodox!!!)

He needed a million dollars (Specificity) to put this project across. Where was he to lay his hands on so large a sum of money? That was the question that absorbed most of this ambitious young preacher’s thoughts. He turned it over and over in his mind until it became a consuming obsession with him. Dr. Gunsaulus recognized, as do all who succeed in life, that definiteness of purpose is the starting point. He also recognized that definiteness of purpose takes on animation, life, and power when backed by a burning desire to translate that purpose into material equivalent.

In his own words:

“For nearly two years, I had been thinking but I had done nothing but think! The time had come for action!

“I made up my mind then and there that I would get the necessary million dollars within a week. How? I was not concerned about that. The main thing of importance was the decision to get the money within a specific time, a strange feeling of assurance came over me — such as I had never before experienced. Something inside me seemed to say, “Why didn’t you reach that decision a long time ago? The money was waiting for you all the time!”

“Things began to happen in a hurry. I called the newspapers and announced that I would preach a sermon the following morning entitled ‘What I Would Do If I Had a Million Dollars’.

“I went to work on the sermon immediately. But I must tell you frankly, the task was not difficult because I had been preparing this sermon for almost two years.”

“Long before midnight, I finished writing the sermon. I went to bed and slept with a feeling of confidence, for I could see myself already in possession of a million dollars. (Visualization!)

“The next morning I rose early, went into the bathroom, read the sermon, and then knelt and asked that my sermon might come to the attention of someone who would supply the needed money. In my excitement, I walked out without my sermon and did not discover the oversight until I was in my pulpit and ready to begin delivering it.”

“It was too late to go back for my notes, and what a blessing that I couldn’t. Instead, my own subconscious mind yielded the material I needed. When I arose to begin my sermon, I closed my eyes and spoke with all my heart and soul of my dreams. I not only talked to my audience, but I fancied that I also talked to God. I told what I would with a million dollars if that amount were placed in my hands. I described the plan I had in mind for organizing a great educational institution, where young people would learn to do practical things, and at the same time, develop their minds. (The Ask!!!)

“When I finished and sat down, a man slowly arose form his seat about three rows from the rear and made his way toward the pulpit. I wondered what he was going to do. He came into the pulpit, extended his hand, and said, ‘Reverend, I liked your sermon. I believe you can do everything you said you would if you had a million dollars. To prove that I believe in you and your sermon, if you will come to my office tomorrow morning, (The Response!!!) I will give you the million dollars. My name is Philip D. Armour.”

Young Gunsaulus went to Mr. Armour’s office and the million dollars was presented to him. With the money, he founded the Armour Institute of Technology (now known as the Illinois Institute of Technology).

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3/3 kicks off 33 days of For Impact Ideas on a Napkin

Today is 3/3 and if you know us, you know that 3 is our favorite number! So, today, we’re kicking off 33 days of For Impact Ideas on a Napkin.

We’re starting with (of course) The Rule of Three.

The Rule of 3

The Rule of 3 is a magical rule for SIMPLICITY.

As human beings, we’re wired to understand, internalize, and remember threes. Politicians know this, as does the media. Neuroscience tells us that the brain actually finds harmony in threes.

One is lonely (no choice.)

Two creates an either/or conflict. (Sophie’s Choice, anyone?)

Not only is Three just right (thank you, Goldilocks) but anything more than three is too complex!

Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less tells us stories of engagement DECREASING proportionate to MORE choice.

Look around:

Three-Act Plays. The first act sets up the story, the second act creates conflict, and the third act is the resolution.

The Holy Trinity.

Pyramids. An ancient symbol for strength.

Think BIG! Build SIMPLE! Act NOW! (Can you feel the cadence?!?!)

Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

You can use the Rule of 3 to simplify EVERYTHING you do and how you communicate:

If there are 20 points you want to make about why you exist, you need to frame them up under 3 storylines.

If you have 7 programs, you need to package those into 3 funding priorities, such as:

People, Programs, Places.
Students, Teachers, Campus.
Read-Aloud Programs, Family Literacy, Teen Intervention.

If someone asks you a complex question, you can respond by saying, “I can answer that with these 3 things…”

If someone asks you, “How can I help?”, you can answer by saying, “We ask everyone for 3 things:

To be a Champion for our cause,
To Invite others to be engaged,
and to make an Investment in our Impact.
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