We’re really proud of the team at the UI. They now provide accelerator and support programs to Social Entrepreneurs in over 30 countries!!! Since the institute’s inception, we’ve provided pro-bono mentorship and coaching to these entrepreneurs.
We think of Unreasonable Institute as a platform that finds, attracts and supports the most promising Social Entrepreneurs on the planet – they are GREAT at this.
For our part, we benefit from proximity and relationship with entrepreneurs all over the world – working on some of the most complex problems ranging from clean water, to climate change, to housing, to health (access). In terms of impact, we view this as a huge leverage point. We get to be with these entrepreneurs as they BEGIN their journey (toward scale).
The Future Cities Accelerator:
Kerry and I are preparing to leading a two-day Boot Camp around Storytelling and Sales at the Future Cities Accelerator. This is a new Unreasonable Institute concept developed in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation to find, support, and scale ten game-changing ventures supporting poor and vulnerable populations in the US. As we prepare to spend time with these entrepreneurs, here are some key refrains we will share:
We become what we think about.
In addition to the global power of this insight, we caution social entrepreneurs from getting too caught up in messaging ‘earned-income revenue’ or ‘biz model’. These are HUGELY important, but entrepreneurs can get distracted as they make their way through awards circles, fellowships, and conferences. They seem to be sucked into a world that debates the how at expense of story about the why and the what.
Eyes on the prize. And the prize is the impact.
There are no rules.
(Assuming ethical and legal baseline, but beyond that, there are no rules.) Everything we share in terms of our frameworks are simply constructs that we’ve made up (and tested A LOT). Don’t ever think there is some magic fundraising (or entrepreneurship) secret that you don’t know. There isn’t.
We are taught to present, not to engage.
Simply ask yourself before every pitch, or sale, “What would ENGAGEMENT look like in this situation?” Use more visuals. Be simple. Ask questions. (Despite the fact that every entrepreneur is going to have you make a pitch deck – outside of silicon valley, boulder and wall street – nobody uses a pitch deck.)
Think Big. Build Simple. Act Now.
We don’t believe that ‘Changing the World’ has to be cliché. ‘Changing the World’ is the epitome of THINK BIG! And it’s only cliché if you can’t follow-up with how you’re going to do it – SIMPLY and IMMEDIATELY.
Entrepreneurs will complete the boot camp next week after which our team will provide coaching and support for nine months. I hope to be able to share some great stories about innovation and promise for impacting our most vulnerable populations.
Prior to his post at Manchester United, he managed Aberdeen, a Scottish Football Club. He learned about the importance of ZOOMING OUT to lead. My emphasis in bold…
Watching is (an) underrated (leadership) activity…it costs nothing. For me there are two forms of observation: the first is on the detail and the second is on the big picture. Until I was managing Aberdeen and hired Archie Knox as my assistant manager, I had not appreciated the difference between watching for the tiny particulars while also trying to understand the broader landscape. Shortly after he arrived at Aberdeen, Archie sat me down and asked me why I had hired him. The question perplexed me, until he explained that he had nothing to do since I insisted on doing everything. He was very insistent… Archie told me that I shouldn’t be conducting the training sessions but, instead, should be on the sidelines watching and supervising. I wasn’t sure that I should follow this advice because I thought it would hamper my control of the sessions. But when I told Archie I wanted to mull over his advice, he was insistent. So, somewhat reluctantly, I bowed to his wishes and, though it took me a bit of time to understand you can see a lot more when you are not in the thick of things, it was the most important decision I ever made about the way I managed and led. When you are a step removed from the fray, you see things that come as surprises– and it is important to allow yourself to be surprised. If you are in the middle of a training session with a whistle in your mouth, your entire focus is on the ball. When I stepped back and watched from the sidelines, my field of view was widened and I could absorb the whole session, as well as pick up on players’ moods, energy and habits. This was one of the most valuable lessons of my career and I’m glad that I received it more than 30 years ago. Archie’s observation was the making of me. As a player I had tried to do both– paying attention to the ball at my feet whilst being aware of what was happening elsewhere on the field. But until Archie gave me a finger wagging, I had not really understood that, as a manager, I was in danger of losing myself to the details. It only took me a handful of days to understand the merit of Archie’s point, and from that moment I was always in a position to be able to zoom in to see the detail and zoom out to see the whole picture.
Stepping back to watch from the sidelines is not natural (at least not to me!) This story has powerful leadership insights and implications for all of us.
Ferguson, Alex; Moritz, Michael (2015-10-06). Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United (p. 18). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.
His core message: Do less, but better. You can unlock quality and make your highest contribution toward the things that really matter by doing only what is essential.
He dubs this ‘Essentialism.’
In some ways this isn’t a new idea, and yet, I found myself underlining nuggets on every page:
If you don’t prioritize your life, somebody else will.
To embrace the essence of Essentialism requires we replace false assumptions with three core truths: “I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything.”
Once we accept the reality of trade-offs we stop asking, “How can I make it all work?” and start asking the more honest question “Which problem do I want to solve?”
Essentialists spend as much time as possible exploring, listening, debating, questioning, and thinking… Almost everything is noise, and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. This is the justification for taking time to figure out what is most important.
This makes a lot of sense. Recent discoveries in neuroscience tell us that the decision-making function in our brains does not prioritize!
Essentialism is applicable to any human endeavor:
Sales/Major Gifts. Spend more time with better prospects. Just Visit. Just Ask. The discipline of the Sales Process (e.g., strategy, predisposition, follow-up.) These are the essentials; almost everything else is noise and nonessential.
Life. An Australian nurse named Bronnie Ware, who cared for people in the last twelve weeks of their lives, recorded their most often discussed regrets. At the top of the list: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” McKeown argues for LIFE DESIGN, “This requires, not just haphazardly saying no, but purposefully, deliberately, and strategically eliminating the nonessentials.”
I agree with McKeown’s notion that Essentialism is an idea whose time has come. We are in an age-of-noise. Discern. Focus. Do less. Have more IMPACT.
We use a Leadership Consensus Building (LCB) framework on nearly every project. At the highest level, this is a versatile framework to:
Create clarity around vision, message, priorities and plan,
Get others ‘on board’ with these elements, and
Build (funding) momentum.
This visual illustrates the LCB Framework:
I often describe Leadership Consensus Building as similar to coalition-building – You’re bringing people together around an idea, cause or vision and creating priorities, goals and buy-in. A natural result of this process is that everyone becomes invested in the outcome!
Leadership Consensus Building can be used in many ways and can help with these specific challenges:
Getting a board ‘on board.’ Think about strategically engaging each board member one-on-one (or in small groups) as part of this framework. (This is much better than holding a retreat and herding cats.) And, you can use a team gathering to start or conclude the process – We often do this in the form of a Vision Day!
Determining (funding) priorities. We often employ the framework to help with organizational development and strategic planning – facilitating this process to engage key leaders and stakeholders, listen to key issues and keep framing toward a common goal. The framework is essential to effective strategic planning with a team.
Predisposing prospects for campaign funding. This a great way to test and strengthen your message with your best prospects. Depending on the prospect you can say, with authenticity, “We want you to be our lead funder on this so it makes sense to sit down and talk through the priorities and plan well in advance of that conversation.”
Testing feasibility math. Leadership Consensus Building is about engaging key stakeholders with a working version of your message, model and math. It brings ‘to the market’ a real message and plan for discussion – versus a hypothetical! This is an alternative to a traditional feasibility study which means you can be…
Building funding momentum (while you figure out ‘the next big thing.’) I see too many teams who are waiting to engage in a funding conversation until _____ . While you get stakeholders on board with a vision and plan, this framework allows you to be sharing a future project AND asking for a commitment for a CURRENT project.
Because we spend so much time teaching this to leaders, I’m going to record a seminar on the subject this Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Blog readers can participate for free – More info and registration. On the call, I will walk through this visual and illustrate how it can be used in various ways, giving examples you can model. Actions:
Download and use the LCB Visual above
Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know how you’re using it.
And, email me if you want to talk about how we can facilitate this process for you and your organization.
We feel that these 9 Guiding Principles are pretty self-explanatory, but here are some notes to help you take charge of your Development Operation. ( Download and print the poster here.)
START WITH WHY. 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 – no saving, changing and impacting lives – which is exactly what people want to do!
If the number one question of every investor is, “Why do you exist?” and 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. For more on this, see Altitude Framework PDF, How to Stay at 30,000′ and Simplify Your Message.
YOU BECOME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT! Earl Nightingale, the father of personal development wrote The Strangest Secret in 1956 – the seed from which the personal development industry grew. Here is the ‘Strangest Secret’ – You Become What You Think About! It’s the difference in outcomes when you think about IMPACT, VISION, MEANING, instead of payroll, cuts in funding and survival. Read more here.
CHANGE YOUR VOCABULARY! WORDS ARE IMPORTANT! Stop using all the typical ‘nonprofit’ industry jargon. Start using ‘sales’ terms, ‘business’ terms, ‘common sense’ terms.
CHANGE (THE) RULES! Thisis a little play on words – in this generation’s lexicon, to RULE is a good thing. CHANGE DOES RULE. At the same time, in order to really CHANGE something (yourself, your organization, the world), you also to have CHANGE THE RULES. We believe it’s much stronger than that: THERE ARE NO RULES! Read more in our For Impact Guidebook: CHANGE (THE) RULES.
ENGAGE GREAT TALENT. Small or young organizations (for profit/nonprofit alike) often identify FUNDING as their top challenge – until the organization really figures out a working funding model. At that point, the top challenge becomes the RIGHT PEOPLE. (We can help you with this!)
DO THE MATH. You can’t ‘SELL’ unless you understand all the ‘NUMBERS!’ Doing the Math means owning and internalizing an understanding of your numbers – Your numbers tell an important part of your story. Doing the Math also means taking the time to simplify the numbers in a way that others – Your board, your prospects and your staff – can understand. Read more about Blue, Red and Green Math here.
COMMIT TO SALES. You are in sales! Not everyone wants to hear that but it’s the truth. What is sales? Sales is the responsibility, the calling, the opportunity to carry the story of your organization – how it’s saving, changing and impacting lives – and share that story with people, 1:1, to build relationships with them to ASK them to help save, change and impact lives. Sales is about ATTITUDE!
JUST ASK. JUST ASK. JUST ASK. No explanation necessary. Just do it.
*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!!!
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
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).
The For Impact ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK is one of our most referenced and utilized tools (by our team, our coaches and our clients) – TO RAISE THE LEVEL OF THEIR GAME!
We use Altitude to order thinking, communications, and storylines. We use it to develop Engagement Tools. And, we use it to think through the Flow of a Visit.
The Altitude Framework works great for Presentations, Agendas, Meetings, Speaking, Strategic Plans and Action Plans.
It’s also a great Framework to respond to questions. “At what altitude is the best or most appropriate response?” And, it’s a powerful coaching model. “Let’s talk about this issue at this particular altitude.”
We have color coded our Altitude Framework (Blue, Red, Green) to lay out our content, our guides and our books. And, it allows us to talk shorthand and reach decisions ten times faster than a normal process.
One of the reasons that this framing device has been so popular is its obvious simplicity. Everyone can understand the hierarchy of WHY, WHAT and HOW and they intuitively get the connection between VISION, STRATEGY and EXECUTION. Following are some ways to help you understand and apply ALTITUDE. (more…)