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I have been feeling completely and totally overwhelmed lately.  I need more time.  An extra hour a day would be fab.

Why?  Trying to keep up with the amount of information I need to be taking in.  The amount of information that gets shared in a 10 minute period on Twitter is (gulp!) amazing.  I’m embarrassed to say how much time I spend on Facebook.  And, then there is my stack of books…

The stack of books on my nightstand keeps growing.  I just finished Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.  I’ve read Open Community by Lindy Dreyer and Maddie Grant.  I’m in the middle of The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kantor and Allison Fine.  Waiting to be read on my nightstand:  Waiting for Superman by Karl Weber, Poke the Box by Seth Godin, The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk, Enchantment:  The Art of Changing Hearts, Mind and Actions by Guy Kawasaki.

I’m constantly reading something, trying to keep up, trying to find a focus and well, I’m overwhelmed and stuck.

When I read Scott Stratten’s Unmarketing.  Stop Marketing. Start Engaging, I laughed out loud I can’t tell you how many times and I realized that I already engage and listen to people on a higher level nearly every day.  To connect with people is in my blood.  It’s who I am.  Let me be clear though, I’m not saying his book wasn’t worth reading.  It was worth every single minute.  It taught me that I have taken for granted these interpersonal skills I was blessed with, that there are many, many people out there who struggle with how to talk or interact with others.    It also gave me the courage to go talk to Scott after hearing him talk in St. Louis.  I’m not an overly religious person, but there were times I felt like crying out “Hallelujah” while he was talking.  I thought that might seem odd, so I opted for shaking his hand and telling him thanks.

Twitter has been an amazing source of resources and knowledge for me too.  I have tweeted with local (I call them celebrities!) like David Siteman Garland (you can find him at The Rise To the Top), Chris Reimer (Rizzo Tees) and Scott Ginsberg (Hello My Name is Scott).  David does an amazing job with video blogging and has interviewed some amazing guests.  I have made him my official 1/2 marathon training partner because I often listen to the interviews as I’m running.  He pushes me to think about starting my own business.  Chris has an awesome story going from a CFO at a nonprofit organization to a Social Media rockstar at Falk Harrison and in his “spare” time blogging and selling t-shirts at Rizzo Tees.  I connect with Chris because I am in nonprofit work and often think about switching up my career.  Chris showed me that anything is possible.  Scott Ginsberg is my daily dose of inspiration.  If you don’t follow him (or David or Chris) on Twitter – you should.  Scott’s recent tweet “If you want to follow your heart, start by creating the necessary space to hear what it whispers to you” stays with me at all times.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Because each of those people are doing what they love.  It’s obvious they work really, really hard.  I’m sure they eat, sleep and drink their work.  It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, what matters is that you’re passionate.  Part of my internal struggle is that I am passionate about many causes and many people and I’m not sure where I go with that.  I know in my soul that I need to help people do bigger and better things.  I want to inspire people to create change and to make a difference.

Have you ever had something happen to you or witnessed something that caused you to really look at your life and question what you’re doing?  I think my big one was September 11th.  Then, it was Katrina.  Today it’s Japan.  Three  devastating tragedies.   How sad that it takes something like that to see everyone come together for the same cause.

Can’t we look at issues like failing public schools, homelessness, immigration and see that it’s not a Democrat or Republican thing.  It is a human being thing.  Have our “leaders” been “leading” for so long that they aren’t sure what’s really happening any more?  Are they so far removed from the real situation that they can’t help anymore?  You know what?  It makes me tired.

Tired of the feeling that nothing is getting done.  Tired of everyone just talking.  Tired of everyone pointing fingers at the other side.  How long are we going to keep talking?  And at what price?  Instead of holding out so that you can be right, can’t we agree that no matter what the problem is, it’s not a one size fits all answer?  But rather than not getting anything done, let’s get something done.

Taking Care of a Friend (Age 3)

Taking Care of a Friend

I’ve been working in a nonprofit for 10 years.  I believe that more and more people are going to be depending on nonprofits for their services.  Where do I fit in?  What can I do?  I want to inspire people to action.  I want your group, no matter the size, to know that they can make a difference.  I want to encourage grassroots efforts because sometimes, that’s what it takes to get things done.  I want to connect with my clients on a deep and personal level.  I want them to not be afraid to think big.  I want to help them think outside the box.

Because frankly, some of the boxes we’re in are getting crowded.

We are living in an age where everyone is vying for attention. People are bombarded with names and companies and products every day through Facebook, Twitter, the internet, t.v, radio, the list goes on and on.

Sure, you gotta start somewhere. But if the plan is to pass out a t-shirt, I think you’re going to be disappointed when people aren’t coming out of the woodwork to volunteer some time, make a contribution or do whatever it is you think they should be doing. If your goal is to start a real program or have real conversations or have a real relationship with your target group, here are my four quick tips:

1. Start small. Relationships take time. A lot of time. Picture yourself as the rock about to be thrown into the lake. It starts small, and maybe the first 100 times you try, nothing happens. That doesn’t mean your audience isn’t listening or they don’t care. It just means you haven’t talked to the right people yet. Keep talking. Once you’re made those first few connections, they’ll start talking to their friends. Get the picture? That little rock that was just thrown is half way across the lake creating a beautiful ripple effect.

2. Be realistic about time. If your staff is already over committed then maybe its time to look at existing duties and re-prioritize.  Or maybe re-evaluate job descriptions and responsibilities.  If you are unable to cross anything off their list, maybe its time to bring in some extra help. If you can’t do either, then be prepared for what’s happening now to remain exactly the same. Honestly, it’s that simple. There are only so many hours in the day.  To want change, you need to make change.  It just doesn’t happen by talking about it.

3. Figure out where your audience is hanging out. Go there. Listen to the conversation. Join the conversation. Ask questions. What can you help your audience with? What are some of their fondest memories of your organization? Where are they now? Make connections.

4. If you’re wanting to start a relationship with your target market, whoever that may be…look at who is sitting around your table. Look at the people who are going to be ambassadors for your company. Are they people who you’d want to hang out with? Do they have emotional intelligence? I know the saying “different strokes for different folks”, but trust me, having the right people around the table is critical to the success of any good relationship.

Anyone can pass out a t-shirt. The key is getting them to keep wearing it.

What other pieces of advice would you give to someone wanting to start building relationships with their target market??

I’ve had a few jobs in my life.  Baby-Sitter.  Lifeguard.  Student Caller for my college Endowment Association.  Manager.  Event Planner.  Fundraiser.  All jobs I’ve learned something from that I’ve carried with me through the years.

I grew up in a tiny town in Kansas.  I got my permit to drive when I was 15.  I baby-sat for a family over the summer and I learned that I did not have the first clue on how to install car seats to take the kids to the pool.  One look in the rear view mirror of my car to see the little girl sideways showed me that.  Life lesson?  Don’t let a 15 year old drive with your kids.  Ever.  Lesson learned.

I was also a lifeguard.  Sunscreen people.  Every. Single. Day.  Lesson learned.

I graduated from the University of Kansas and am an AVID Jayhawk fan.  Crazy Jayhawk fan.  Can’t get enough.  So, when I saw an ad to be a student caller for the Endowment Association I knew I’d be great at it and I was.  Talking to people about supporting KU was easy.  Ask them about their favorite memory.  Their favorite teacher.  Favorite bar.  Favorite spot on campus.  If you can find one thing you have in common with someone (even if it’s a stranger), talk about it.  Ask questions.  Get them to open up.  Lesson learned.

If you have a job, you have a boss.

Unless you are the boss and then YAY for you!!

For me, these are must-have qualities for leaders:

Leaders should inspire.  Should motivate.

Leaders should surround themselves with like-minded people.  But, not so like-minded that they won’t be challenged on occasion.

Leaders should trust that those they’ve hired will do a good job.

Leaders should encourage creative thinking.

Leaders should have a sense of humor.

Leaders should be open to new ideas.

Leaders should be able to work with a team.

Leaders shouldn’t feel threatened when someone has a better idea.

Leaders should be compassionate.

What must-have qualities do you look for in a leader?

August 2017
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