Story

Purpose Clarity

This month’s print edition of HBR makes mention of a new study supporting ‘the purpose-profit’ connection (p32).  The study looks at the relationship between strong purpose and public company financial performance. I believe the insights apply to all organizations – That is, any organization with a strong purpose will see increased performance.

The study finds there is a strong link between PURPOSE and PERFORMANCE (or, in my adjusted language, IMPACT). Researchers make a distinction in two types of high purpose organizations. The first is what it calls ‘high camaraderie’ where everyone simply has a sense that they are doing something great, TOGETHER. The second type of purpose is ‘high clarity’ from management. This is noted as the type where managers excel at translating purpose into action.

The statistically significant performance bump was only found with organizations that have ‘purpose clarity.’

As a leader, think not just about PURPOSE, but ‘PURPOSE CLARITY.’  To help you with this, I would bridge some of the findings of the research with some of the For Impact teaching. Think about PURPOSE as an anchor for your STORY. And, by story, I don’t mean a narrative with a beginning-middle-end. I mean how you FRAME the organization.

A GREAT STORY…

  • Is anchored in hope-filled purpose (Start with WHY!)
  • Simplifies WHAT you do.
  • Serves as a litmus for action.

Some of the writing in the research study further supports thinking about placing PURPOSE inside of STORY.  “The company’s primary purpose – the real one, which isn’t necessarily the one written in the official documents or etched in the wall plaques – [that] guides its actions and decisions.”

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Gartenberg, Claudine Madras and Prat, Andrea and Serafeim, George, Corporate Purpose and Financial Performance (June 30, 2016). Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 16-69. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2840005

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The Funding Roadmap: Align Your Story, Team and Sales Process

The For Impact Funding Roadmap has been built, tested, and refined in working with thousands of organizations to raise over $2Billion. Though each organization is unique, we believe the Roadmap has universal application – Whether you’re a startup, a college running a large campaign, or an international NGO – every funding initiative needs a STORY, a TEAM, and a FUNDING PROCESS.
[Download the PDF.]

Here are some quick thoughts on the Roadmap. [We’re also leading a teleseminar this Tuesday with more explanation, examples and help to APPLY the Funding Road Map to your funding. Register here.]

Design your STORY

The funding roadmap begins with STORY.  A great story is anchored in hope-filled purpose, simplifies what you do, and serves as a litmus for action.

  1. Simplify your MESSAGE. Message is what people HEAR, not what you SAY. What do we want people to HEAR? Ultimately, this should be a message about CHANGING, SAVING, or IMPACTING lives.
  2. Create your FUNDING RATIONALE. A Funding Rationale is why you need the money, and what you will do with money. Another way of thinking about this is around defining the ask. (Most organizations don’t have a good ‘ask’.)
  3. Design your PRESENTATION. The ‘ASK’ is an experience. We actually stop to think about the complete experience, from predisposition, to the environment, to the materials.

Really important point about STORY. This is not just a ‘funding thing’ – It guides your IMPACT and provides MEANING for your TEAM.  Organizations so often enter a cycle of strategic planning – I wish there was a norm to enter into a cycle of STORY planning!

Develop your TEAM

Jim Collins says, “First WHO, then WHAT.”  With our Funding Roadmap we might say, “First WHY, then WHO, then WHAT!”  

  1. Commit to SALES.  Every organization needs to STOP and make a commitment to sales. What does this mean for your team? For your organization? For your strategy/resources?  
  2. Engage LEADERSHIP.  Leadership needs to be bought into the STORY and likely even the source of the STORY. Leadership also needs to be bought into the model.  
  3. Model TEAM SELLING.  This is about defining roles and responsibilities for staff, board and champions.  

    Important note: In a true sales model, your board is not responsible for fundraising! In a true sales model there is a role for board members that is very different from saying they are responsible for fundraising.

FUND your VISION

  1. Identify/ Prioritize/ Strategize your PROSPECTS.  Prospects. Drive. Everything.
    There is a lot to say on prospects (that’s why we have a whole guidebook) but here are some key points:

    • Focus on your top prospects
    • Focus ‘top-down’
    • Present the Opportunity (And don’t make decisions for your prospects!)
    • When building a strategy ask this question, “What would it look like to maximize this relationship?”
    • Maximize relationships at this given moment
  2. Just VISIT. In the words of the prolific sales trainer, Brian Tracy, “Spend more time with better prospects.” We’ve been teaching this for years. There is so much value in the old maxim, “JUST SHOW UP.”
    The visit is the entire context for the ASK. It has three parts:

    • Predisposition
    • The Presentation
    • Follow-up
  3. Just ASK. This is kind of an alpha/omega to everything we teach.

Finally, it’s worth tying this all together as it relates to the For Impact Point of View:

Impact Drives Income.  

Impact is about your STORY.  

You need a PROCESS to make the INCOME happen.  

And, PEOPLE drive everything!

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Story: Played Out in General Election Cycles

41G4UZjjg2LOne of my go-to books on STORY and INFLUENCE is The Story Factor by Annette Simmons.  First published in 2001, Simmons did a wonderful job pulling together frameworks and practical examples that illustrate how influence happens (or not) through the power of framing (i.e. STORY.)

It’s really powerful to pull some nuggets from this book during a general election cycle – Think about these points the next time you’re arguing politics with your relatives!  (Good luck!)

“A good story helps you influence the interpretation people give to facts.  Facts aren’t influential until they mean something to someone.  A story delivers a context so that your facts slide into new slots in your listener’s brains.  If you don’t give them a new story, they will simply slide new facts to old slots.  People already have many stories they tell themselves to interpret their experiences.  No matter what your message, they will search their memory banks until they find a story that fits for them.”

“Whenever you tell a story that contradicts someone’s core story they will usually get angry. This is a natural defense. Understanding anger is an important part of telling influential stories… If you choose to tell empowering stories you will encounter anger as people defend their ‘victim stories.’ When a new story demands courage, extra effort, or invalidates past choices, people usually get defensive.”

“Facts don’t have the power to change someone’s story. Their story is more powerful than your facts. As a person of influence, your goal is to introduce a new story that will let your facts in.”

“The beauty of story is its ability to last in memory long after the facts and figures are gone.”

“In the end, the best story wins. Not the right story, not even the most frequently told story, but the story that means the most to the greatest number of people—the one that is remembered. Lawyers know that. In the courtroom, diagrams, passionate language, exhibits, and the art of questioning witnesses are orchestrated to tell the story a lawyer wants told. A storytelling lawyer activates the emotions and senses of a jury and invokes the power of drama to influence the decision. The timing and style of a prosecution attorney walking ‘the murder weapon’ around the room can ignite the fears, horrors, and imaginations of the jury. They may be consciously concerned about the facts, but their subconscious mind is watching that gun and playing a story they imagine might have happened complete with screams, blood, and emotion. If this ‘story’ becomes real enough for them, they will find the facts to fit the story their subconscious already believes.”

This last part is worth summarizing: The best story wins. People will find facts to fit their ‘story.’

 

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July Teleseminars: Make Your Story Awesome and How to Ask

Teleseminars are a way for us to offer valuable training to our For Impact Community – in a short, ‘call in from anywhere’ format. Join us this Tuesday and Wednesday for two of our most popular topics:

Teleseminar: How to Make Your Story Awesome
Tuesday, July 26, 2016 1:00-1:45ET
Free for first 50 registrants

Description:
The story you use to maximize funding…
The story that brings rockstar talent to your doorstep and fully engages your team…
The story that you tell yourself every day to stay focused and fulfilled.

Story adds passion, purpose and urgency to your message, plan and every day actions.

  • Is your story about needing more money? Or changing lives?
  • Do you have a good story that helps get to the ask?
  • Do we have a story that engages the board? Engaging them as passionate champions and advocates?

This 45 minute teleseminar will:

  • Share examples of stories used at organizations to help them with these questions.
  • Address common challenges to funding, action and engagement.
  • Give you several actionable tools use can use to DISCOVER your story and make it AWESOME.
Teleseminar: How to Ask – The Language of the Ask, the Close and Follow-Up 
Wednesday, July 27, 2016 1:00-1:45ET
Free for first 50 registrants

Description:

“Would it be possible for you to consider taking the LEAD on this initiative?” [pointing to $1M]

“Where do you see yourself?”

This seminar covers over 20 PHRASES and QUESTIONS we use to JUST ASK.  It’s intended to provide very practical nuts-and-bolts examples to help you visualize HOW to ask:

  • New prospects
  • Board members
  • Long time supporters to step up

Stories and closes will include:

  • How to close like Steve Jobs
  • How to ask when you have no idea about capacity
  • How to ask AFTER the visit — dealing with ‘what I should’ve said was….’
  • Three ways to ask your very best prospect to take the lead and how to follow-up when you can’t afford a ‘no’
  • Questions to help you qualify on a discovery visit
  • How to make sure gifts close by a date / time
  • How to address the most common objections when they come up
  • How to predispose the prospect to a really really big ask

 

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We Spend 95% of the Time Thinking About Ourselves and Our Own Story

“When we are not engaged in thinking about some definite problem, we usually spend about 95 percent of our time thinking about ourselves.” – How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

I’m not sure how to tell you to use this nugget – I just know it’s very insightful.

Related: In The Power of Story, Jim Loehr writes:

“The human brain, according to a recent New York Times article about scientists investigating why we think the way we do, has evolved into a narrative-creating machine that takes ‘whatever it encounters, no matter how apparently random’ and imposes on it ‘chronology and cause-and-effect logic.

Stories impose meaning on the chaos. They organize and give context to our sensory experiences, which otherwise might seem like no more than a fairly colorless sequence of facts. Facts are meaningless until you create a story around them.”

Here are some ways I’ve processed and coached around this recently:

  • As a speaker or leader.  I promise you no one else is over analyzing your work or your presentation to the degree you are – especially when things go bad.  You’re spending 95% of your whitespace-thinking trying to align your world in your head… how you did with a presentation or how you are doing in your role.  Other people have reactions to your work but they don’t dwell on it — they dwell on themselves. They can ‘let it go’; you should too.
  • As a human being.  Now that you’ve read this, take note of how often you’re making sense of your own life, your own narrative.  What if we can shift it to something more like 50/50!?  I believe we can! Or, at least, we can direct our 95% toward more empathetic thinking.
  • On a visit.  Whomever I’m sitting with is spending 95% of their time working on their own narrative!  What’s the narrative!? (Discovery! Discovery! Discovery!) I want to listen and then tie to that!

 

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The ‘Old Guy’ Riffing on Campaigns, Lesson From the Field, Our Model and more

We’re reposting some of OG’s greatest hits – Here he is riffing on Campaigns, Lessons and the Model. Some great stories “from 30 years in the field” and the beginnings of Be For Impact, Impact Drives Income, Just Ask and more.

Download the audio file (right-click, “save as”)


(Recorded by Tom Suddes)

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Live Like O.G.: A Note on Tom’s Health

 

Nick and I wanted to share with our For Impact Community an update on Tom’s health. Tom was diagnosed with ALS in May of 2014. Those familiar with this disease know that it is progressive and degenerative, attacking nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Tom is not able to use his voice and body in the way that we are all familiar with – jumping on podiums or doing 1,000s of push ups with the boxers at Notre Dame – but his spirits are good!

Our Founder & Chief Spirit Officer – affectionately known as O.G. (The Old Guy) – is no longer able to be involved in the day to day operation of the For Impact mission, but he continues to challenge us, support us, and inspire us.

I search for meaning in all of this (often) and take comfort in knowing that ALS does not define my dad’s life. To “Live Like O.G.” is an aspiration and a reminder for us all:

O.G. thinks anything is possible.
O.G. lives life fully. Every day.
O.G. is generous – with his spirit, his time, his energy, his resources, his counsel, his adventurousness – beyond any person I have ever met.
O.G. invests more in experiences and people than material possessions.
In O.G.’s world, there are no problems. Only solutions.
The word “no” is not in O.G.’s vocabulary.
He (along with my mom) is supportive, encouraging, down to earth, creative and fun.

O.G.’s positivity is infectious and he embodies every motivational phrase he’s ever said or written:

Life’s a Journey. Enjoy the Present. Make a Life, Not A Living.
Wealth is an Abundance of Things we Value. You can’t take it with you.
Say yes! Focus on your strengths. Live to Give. Give to Live.
Don’t wait. There is no such thing as the “perfect” time to start something.
Be the Change. Live. Love. Laugh. Learn. Leave a Legacy.

Tom has been a Champion for the For Impact Sector for over 40 years. He has devoted his life to motivating and coaching thousands of Development Professionals. Along the way, he has helped to transform the language and attitude of GIVING. We have begun to reflect his living legacy here at forimpact.org. You’ll notice some big changes in the next month, including the most comprehensive For Impact Learning Library to date.

Share your O.G. Story

Recently, Tom was honored by the University of Notre Dame, where he has been the Boxing Coach since the mid 1970s. Hundreds of the men and women he has coached showed up to sit with him and share their stories of how he has impacted their lives. (Read more here: Longtime Notre Dame boxing coach, ref honored)

If you are one of the many that Tom has inspired, now is your chance to let him know.

Take a few minutes and tell us how Tom/O.G./Coach has influenced you using one of these themes (or a theme of your own):

#LiveLikeOG
#GiveLikeOG
#BeForImpact
#OGMadeMeDoIt

Send your stories to wow@forimpact.org and (with permission) we will share at FI.org in the coming weeks and months. Include your name and address and we’ll send you some “Live Like O.G.” swag.

Thank you for reading. Tom, Nick, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Note: “Live Like OG” t-shirts are available. All designs can be tweaked to your liking by choosing ‘change style.’
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Keynote Slides: Be For Impact

Last week we were with the New Jersey AFP at its annual Conference on Philanthropy. The conference theme was STORY – something we at The Suddes Group are pretty passionate about!

My basic message:

  • STORY is a point of view. It’s how we choose to interpret (or assign meaning to) facts. Most people talk about STORIES, not STORY. Stories are the narrative that follows the POINT OF VIEW.
  • The FOR IMPACT POINT OF VIEW: IMPACT DRIVES INCOME.
  • IMPLICATION of IMPACT DRIVES INCOME: If we get this it challenges almost everything happening in traditional fundraising.

Here are the keynote slides.

My thanks and kudos to the NJ AFP leadership. We speak at conferences all over the world and this was one of the best programmed and organized gatherings I can remember.

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You Choose Your Story

In the early 1900s, two shoe salesmen were sent to a remote village to see if there was an opportunity to sell shoes. The wrote back in telegrams:

Salesman #1: “10,000 natives. Stop. Situation hopeless! Stop. No one wears shoes. Stop.

Salesman #2: “10,000 natives. Stop. Glorious Opportunity! Stop. No one here wears shoes! Stop.

Question, which of these two stories is true? Answer, both.

The point? You have control over the story. You have the power to choose your story.

Further, as a leader, if you don’t choose the best possible story, then who will?

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The Power of Context

I’m not sure we give enough credit or thought to the power of context… the situation, atmosphere or circumstances that shape events and communication.

Context gives (EVERYTHING) its form and meaning.

“The room is EIGHTY PERCENT of the context for the comedy!” – Jerry Seinfeld.

Wow!

Think about CONTEXT (in these contexts!)

  • CONTEXT-setting! The job of the LEADER.

    “The CEO must set the context within which every employee operates. The context gives meaning to specific work that people do, aligns interests, enables decision making, and provides motivation.” – Ben Horowitz in The Hard Thing about Hard Things

    Set the CONTEXT!

  • CONTEXT for TALENT!

    McKinsey identified the number one challenge with hiring and leadership development to be OVERLOOKING CONTEXT. “A brilliant leader in one situation does not necessarily perform well in another.” (McKinsey Quarterly. Jan 2014)

  • CONTEXT for the ASK!

    (This one needs a book, not a bullet point!)

    Think about how we PREDISPOSE to set and control the CONTEXT for the conversation. What do we need to send ahead of time? The experience! Who needs to be there! Where will we have the visit?

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