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’.
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’.
NOW is a great time to turn SACRED COWS into HAMBURGER! NOW is a great time to shed BAGGAGE which is holding us back and keeping us from making QUANTUM LEAPS!
Any time I am in front of a audience, I ask people to spend time writing down the SACRED COWS of both the Non Profit Industry (Third Sector, Fundraising, etc.) and of their particular Organization. I usually provide some ‘yeast‘ with things like:
“We need this event to raise awareness/friends.” Special events are not ‘special’ and not ‘events.’ ‘Donors’ hate to go. Staff hates to put them on. The ‘triple net‘ is a very poor return-on-energy and return-on-investment.
“Peers must solicit peers (for money).”Just the idea of the word ‘SOLICITATION’ (the implication of which I cannot go into in a PG-13 document), should be enough to make you give up on this 1950’s idea!
“Feasibility studies are mandatory.”Internal leaders enlist external consultants to do a feasibility study for justification, CYA, and backup. Consultant conversation with a prospect goes like this: “If XYZ nonprofit org were to do a hypothetical campaign with a hypothetical goal, how much hypothetical money would you hypothetically give to this hypothetical campaign?” (UGH!)
I find it fascinating that allowing people to talk about their SACRED COWS and the baggage that they are carrying around unleashes such an enthusiastic response.
I encourage you to go ahead and ‘vent‘ but then get on to talking about real issues that need to be dealt with and that are still happening because “It’s the way we’ve always done it.”
It’s always a great time to get your team together and talk about turning all those SACRED COWS into HAMBURGER and dumping all the BAGGAGE that we are carrying.
On my trip around the world, I saw those ‘sacred cows’ walking around the streets of India. I also learned that once these cows become too old or die, the carcasses are shipped across the border and turned into hamburger.
Along those same lines, a Hindu sage, Ramana Maharshi, asks: “Would you carry your luggage on your head while on board a train?” He says we are not lessening the burden of the train by keeping it on our head, but only straining ourselves unnecessarily.
Special Note: We do take a hard line on many things we consider to be OLD THINKING. The good news is that if we take something away, we’ll always give you a NEW way to think about it. Read more about Sacred Cows and Change here.
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.
If you’ve ever been to a For Impact training of any kind, you’ve experienced the infamous “Rope Trick.”
We pair participants up and “handcuff” them together with ropes. The goal is to solve this problem at least once – to completely free yourself from your partner without your rope ever leaving your wrists at any time. You can imagine the hilarity that ensues, but there is a point!
Many people repeat the same funky dance moves over and over yet end up back in the same spot – Still handcuffed together.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein
Solving this problem requires that you change your perspective.
Alan Keys, a pioneer of computer science, says:
“A change in perspective is worth 80 I.Q. points.”
Being For Impact is all about a change in perspective. Change can be scary, so in our approach we always GIVE you something valuable/simple in exCHANGE for the ‘old way’ of thinking. And if old Alan is right, these changes will also increase your I.Q. 🙂
Think about some of the ‘insane’ behaviors you/your organization are still doing – Special Events, Feasibility Studies, Cultivation, Transactions, etc – And, if you haven’t already, I recommend that you read or share the For Impact Guidebook: Change (The) Rules!
(P.S. If you want the solution to the Rope Trick – Email me and I’ll send you video solution.)
From the archives, three great nuggets from Tom about facing your/your organization’s reality in order to move forward.
RES IPSA LOQUITUR. THE THING SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. This is some kind of Latin legal term. Loosely translated by me, it also means IT IS WHAT IT IS.
You’d like to have endowment to cover your entire operating budget. It ain’t going to happen. Ever.
Instead, use a Leadership Circle membership goal as it relates to the Opportunity to Save, Change and Impact Lives, “When we have 30 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.”
You have a member of your staff or team that needs to get off the bus (they aren’t coachable and aren’t going to change.) It’s as much in their interest as yours. IT IS WHAT IT IS until you decide to make a change. (See Nick’s recent post on the ‘No Eeyore’ Rule.)
FACE THE BRUTAL FACTS. My friend Jeff Bernel, who headed up the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, told this to me very directly one day at lunch. I’ve never forgotten it.
You need more money. You expect that to happen by doing the same thing you’ve been doing. It won’t.
DO THE MATH. Do the ‘BLUE’ Math around your Impact. Do the ‘RED’ Math around your Staff, People and Operations. And Do the ‘GREEN’ Math around your Income, Funding Plan, Giving Pyramid, etc.
You need to know where you stand now and what you need in the future. For example:
Your Tuition is T. The Cost of Education is C. T – C = G. The GAP. Know it. Sell it.
One that comes up often in coaching and working with clients is getting over the ‘We’ve always done it this way’ attitude and instead asking questions like, “Is this (event, appeal letter, feasibility study, etc) producing the right results? Or any results for that matter?”
Tom says simply: LET GO OF YOUR BAGGAGE.
You can’t make a QUANTUM LEAP dragging ‘BAGGAGE,’ ‘SACRED COWS,’ and an ‘ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY’ attitude.
“IL SOLE NO MUOVE.” Da Vinci and Copernicus both got blasted (by the church) for espousing this heresy: ”THE SUN DOESN’T MOVE.”
“The world is flat.”
“The 4 minute mile can’t be broken.”
“Peers must ask peers (for money).”
“Feasibility studies are mandatory.”
“We need this event to raise awareness/friends.”
“We need a NEW LANGUAGE. The critical distinction is not between business and social, but between GREAT and GOOD. (We need to) jointly embrace a LANGUAGE OF GREATNESS.”
And, I say, CHANGE YOUR VOCABULARY!
I believe that if you CHANGE the way you TALK…
you can CHANGE the way you ACT!
It’s not just a personal belief: there is compelling science around the psychology of CHANGE that includes tremendous work on this whole idea of NEUROLINGUISTICS and how we FRAME things. Pioneering researchers on cognitive science and linguistics have pointed to the paramount importance of something called ‘FRAMING’.
George Lakoff, Professor at University of California Berkeley, defines ‘FRAMES’ as the mental structures that shape the way we see the world. He says that ‘FRAMES’ are part of our “cognitive unconscious;” but the way that we know our current frames or new frames springs from LANGUAGE.
I want to strongly encourage you to CHANGE YOUR VOCABULARY. CHANGE the way you TALK …To dramatically CHANGE the way you ACT.
My hope is that the following OLD WORDS/NEW WORDS will help you ‘TALK THE WALK’… to make it easier to ‘WALK THE TALK!’