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I Have a Dream: The Speech and Story

Today we reflect on the life and message of Martin Luther King Jr. Here are some nuggets about the I Have a Dream speech. Appropriately, it comes up again and again, in studies of metaphor, engagement and story.

  • Dr. King finished writing his speech at 4am, just hours before his address. It was originally entitled, “Normalcy, Never Again.”
  • King used over FIFTY metaphors in his speech! Contained therein was was an extended and powerful frame of the biblical struggle for freedom and the American struggle for freedom.

    From Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas – John Pollack

  • “I Have a Dream” represents a CHANGE of story to INSPIRE and LEAD! In The Story Factor, Annette Simmons writes that Dr. King’s refrain offers a positive vision that, “inspires generations to change their story from “I have been oppressed” to “I have a dream.”

  • The original and prepared speech did not contain the phrase, “I Have a Dream!” 11 mins into the speech gospel singer Mahalia Jackson — sitting behind Dr. King — shouted “Tell ’em about the ‘dream,’ Martin, tell ’em about the ‘dream’!”

    Dr. King recalled that he ‘just decided’ to go with it! In front of millions, he started RIFFING!

    There is no substitute for authenticity. When I listen to Dr. King’s speech I believe I can FEEL his heart kick it up a notch with each riff. (Dr. King’s final speech ended up being DOUBLE the length of his prepared remarks.)

    Story recounted in Originals by Adam Grant, and Shortcut.

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Culture of Health

To ‘Be For Impact’ is to have a very whole-person view… of impact… and of your own role (and vitality) in that impact. ‘Change the world’ is a common refrain in our sector but this begins by taking care of yourself.

Three years ago we asked ourselves, “What would it look like for our company to be completely and totally committed to health?” We launched THE SUMMER OF HEALTH. For 90 days we were ALL-IN in terms of supporting, incentivizing, and funding lifestyles of wellness, nutrition, and fitness.

That was a big success.

More than the impact it had on our team, the Summer of Health was a value (and a story) that catalyzed relationships beyond our team. I began to hear from readers that wanted to talk about HEALTH, first and foremost!

Health. Vitality. PERSONAL Impact. These are values that resonate for us and for others. So I wanted to share a quick update…

After the Summer of Health, we decided to adopt the commitment (and investment) as a permanent part of our culture and business model. We simply call it: CULTURE OF HEALTH.

Here are some selected stories from our team (as shared in our annual survey), almost three years in. The biggest words that come up again and again are PERMISSION and FAMILY.

  • “I’ve found it interesting how my efforts in the gym have spilled over into other aspects of my life. When I cook meals for us at home, I do so with my exercise and health goals in mind. These healthy meal choices affect my family as well as myself, and I think my enthusiasm for my gym routine has helped create a positive feedback loop where we work to support family members’ exercise goals.”

  • “I think one of the main things Culture of Health has given me is PERMISSION. Without having to worry about cost, I can do the kinds of self-care that I was probably hesitant to indulge in. A number of years ago I wrote down some dreams I had, and one of those included getting regular massages – not just once a year, but much more frequently – they are one of the ways I can fully relax and be taken care of. I’ve been getting massages every two months, and it’s such a great way to unplug, and basically do 90 minutes of meditation too (I struggle to do 5 minutes of meditation!). Having the same massage therapist has also meant she knows when things are out of whack with my body, and can give me a more holistic treatment.”

  • The family impact comes up again-and-again. “When I grew up we ate fast food and processed stuff. The Culture of Health has us thinking about nutrition. My kids are growing up with a completely different eating habit. That’s an impact that will last forever.”

  • “After reading It Starts with Food we [husband and I] decided to try the Whole 30. It then inspired my brother-in-law and his family. While the impact has been big on us, it’s been transformation on them. He’s down 60 pounds and going strong. I don’t think you expected to have the ripple impact through the Culture of Health but that’s what I’m seeing.”

When we first introduced the Summer of Health, we saw the loss of weight, energy spikes and the like. Then things started to normalize.

While that might seem bad, I think it’s simply normal and probably more ‘practically sustainable’. I’ve also notice the ‘normalized conversation’ changes. It moves from ‘diet and exercise’ to ‘environment, nutrition, and fitness’… and I hope we can continue to move forward toward ‘vitality’.

In my mind our overall ‘health and vitality’ went like this.

Overall, this continues to be the right move. On average it’s an incremental financial investment of 3% to 4% each year to our bottom line. The financial return is not a straightforward calculus — but it’s there. Moreover, the impact return is transformational (and generational).

We all want to impact the world. Hopefully, this post gives you a little PERMISSION to take care of yourself, first!

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How to Leave a Voicemail

Most people don’t know how to keep control of the next action when leaving a voicemail. This can have a huge / negative impact on your selling, fundraising, or follow-up in general! This is a tactic I picked up early in my sales career. It’s simple and effective.

Most people leave a very standard voicemail. “This is Nick Fellers, I’m calling about XYZ. My phone number is 614-352-2505. Please call me back.”

Do not leave the responsibility for follow-up with the prospect. It’s YOUR responsibility!

Instead, “It’s Nick Fellers, I’m calling to connect about ______. I’m sorry I missed you. You can reach me at 614-352-2505. Or, I’ll try you again later.”

This keeps you in control of the follow-up action.

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Dream in Years. Plan in Months. Evaluate in Weeks. Ship Daily.

This tweet caught my eye. (If you’re reading this via email or rss reader, make sure you load the picture).

From U.S. Chief Data Scientist, DJ Patil.

What a GREAT notecard!

-Dream in Years.
-Plan in months.
-Evaluate in weeks.
-Ship Daily
——-
-Prototype for 1x
-Build for 10x
-Engineer for 100x
——-
-What’s required to cut the timeline in 1/2
-What needs to be done to double the impact

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Have a Triumphant Thought Pattern

Early this am I was re-reading The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (1898 – 1993). Dr. Peale is one of the original positive psychology authors. He wrote from a theological place of origin and applied teachings in a secular context. In 1984 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the tremendous and positive impact of his message.

Dr. Peale’s First Principle of Positive Thinking is: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

On the subject of believing in yourself he writes, “Feelings of confidence depend on the type of thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Think defeat and you are bound to feel defeated. But practice confident thoughts, make it a dominating habit, and you will develop such a strong sense of capacity that regardless of what difficulties arise you will be able to overcome them.”

And, “The secret is to fill your mind with thoughts of faith, confidence, and security.”

I made many highlights and notes on those two paragraphs, then came the nugget that LEAPT off the page (in bold).

“I know a man who is a tremendous asset to his organization, not because of any extraordinary ability, but because he invariably demonstrates a triumphant thought pattern. Perhaps his associates view a proposition pessimistically, so he employs what he calls “the vacuum-cleaner method.” That is, by a series of questions he “sucks the dust” out of his associates’ minds; he draws out their negative attitudes. Then quietly he suggests positive ideas concerning the proposition until a new set of attitudes gives them a new concept of the facts.”

TRIUMPHANT THOUGHT PATTERN!!!

That’s what we should strive to bring as leaders and salespeople!!!

Here is the question I wrote to myself? “What can I do to make a TRIUMPHANT THOUGHT PATTERN my consistent discipline and contribution?”

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Maximizing Relationships Requires a Funding Rationale

The absence of strong Funding Rationales (a.k.a. your reason for needing funds) likely means your organization is not maximizing relationships.

At a major-gifts level* there needs to be some specificity in terms of funding a specific program, outcome, or priority initiative. (See 10 Types of Funding Rationales).

If you don’t have a specific Funding Rationale then one of two things usually happens:

  1. The commitment is not maximized.

    People give to support a mission or a cause, and they invest more to support specific impact (or outcome).  Our experience has been that a portfolio gives 3x more when you’re able to clearly define a strong funding rationale!!!  

    This is the difference between asking,”Will you invest $10K in our vision?”  And, “Will you invest $10K to help with this priority and these outcomes that will help us deliver on the vision?”
  2. Funders (over) restrict the funding.

    When we see this, it’s an indication that the funder is creating a rationale because yours is not clear enough!

    Note: While restricted funding is not bad in and of itself, gifts committed with restrictions crafted by the funder hinder an organization’s efficiency or focus. Said another way, if you don’t define your priorities/rationales then someone will do it for you.

*For most organizations this is $10K+ and could come from an individual, corporation, or foundation.

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Planned Giving – Be Proactive and Keep it Simple

For most organizations, Planned Giving is largely a reactive and complex conversation. It needs to be proactive and simple.  

When using our For Impact TODAY/TOMORROW/FOREVER Funding Model, the beauty of having a complete funding model as part of your presentation is that it you are always able to talk about Legacy/Planned Gifts.

Instead of trying to figure out HOW to get into a conversation about estate planning you can simply say, “We talk to EVERYONE about ways to have an impact here, FOREVER.”  (Visually referencing a complete funding model.)

In terms of simplicity, there are people out there that understand all the modes and vehicles for planned giving… they’re called estate lawyers and accountants!!  

You (as a salesperson) don’t need to know all the mechanics. In our (simple) approach there are only three ways to make a planned gift:

  • Assignment of a life insurance policy
  • Bequest (will)
  • Other

‘Other’ includes all those ‘other’ complicated financial arrangements (including gift annuities) that we can pass off to an expert.

I really don’t believe this is oversimplification. As a salesperson your job is to present the opportunity to have an impact, FOREVER.  97% of the time they have their own accountant, lawyer, or insurance agent that can help them with the mechanics of the gift!

Keep it simple!

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The Rule of 3

The Rule of 3 is the ultimate simplification and framing device. It’s powerful because it simplifies anything AND offers an arrangement that is digestible… even attractive to the human mind.

We are wired to receive things in threes! When you have two of something it creates conflict – it’s an either / or. In a traditional three-act story, the second act creates the tension, and the third act resolves.

When you have more than three, studies show the brain is more inclined to ‘give up’ than to internalize all the points.

Going back age of the Roman ages, Cicero became a famed orator using the cadence of three’s in his speaking. Today, politicians, advertising agencies, and media people use this device — the second you look for it, it’s EVERYWHERE.

Think about the resonance and stickiness of three’s…

  • Father, Son, Holy Ghost.
  • Small. Medium. Large / Tall. Grande. Venti.
  • Faith, Hope, and Love.
  • Goldilocks. Mama Bear, Baby Bear, Papa Bear.
  • Blood, sweat, and tears.
    Note: This one comes from a Churchill speech, “Blood, toil, tears and sweat.” The fact that no one remembers ‘toil’ underscores the point of THREE.

We use the Rule of 3 in a lot of our For Impact framing.

Some applications:

  • Speaking. The next time you give a speech, focus on making just three points (or even better yet, three short stories – supporting three simple points). I’ve coached Fortune 500 CEO’s that have said, “I’ve had a lot of communications coaching. That’s one of the best tips I’ve ever received. It’s simple and works every time!”

  • AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

  • Simplifying Your Funding Message! Instead of trying to explain ALL of your programs and projects, simply say, “We do these THREE things…” (Notice how we do that in our presentation framework.)

  • Productivity. Try to accomplish ONLY THREE things in one day… and become more productive than you ever imagined.

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Culture and Friction

Culture is how you work.

Friction is a force of resistance.

At The Suddes Group we lead organizations through campaigns that advance impact. Every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it is getting and we view campaigns as a process that requires a change in design. Note: Change doesn’t have to be a deficit, it can be enhancement.

In every instance, there are elements of cultural (or team) friction that must be overcome. This is because the campaign process requires that the team changes how it works (and humans are complex).

In the world of physics, overcoming friction (static or kinetic) requires energy. The same is true in terms of overcoming a force of resistance in a team. You can apply more energy OR you can remove the force of resistance.

(Incidentally, overcoming friction also releases energy in the form of heat. The brakes on your car become very hot because they create enough friction to slow, or stop, your car).

I’ve been thinking about all the cultures in which we work and some of the sources of friction. They usually include one or more of the following:

  • Story
  • Role Clarity
  • Communication
  • Clear Action Plan
  • Wrong Team/Team Member

Jim Loehr is my ‘virtual story mentor.’ I think the stuff the guy wrote in The Power of Story is the best there is – He says that the most powerful story in the world is the story we tell ourselves. He also says that anything that consumes our ENERGY can be a story (even if we don’t call it a story)!

Think about how much energy it consumes if we sit in a planning meeting telling ourselves, “No one has ever given us a million dollars. We aren’t designed for million dollar gifts.” Instead of a completely different story, “We’ve never asked for one million dollars, and that’s why we don’t have it!”

I’ll also comment on the wrong team (members). We’ve all been there. You can apply energy to overcome the force of a bad (or wrong) team member. Energy has a cost. But there is another cost, like the heat that emits from the brakes on a car, there is the heat that dissipates to your team.

We can apply energy to work through the resistance. Or, we can remove the resistance – change the story, develop a clear plan, change a team member, etc.

PS: In physics two objects in motion actually have TWO measurements of friction. There is static friction – which represents the force to overcome the static state. There is also kinetic friction required to keep a body in motion. It takes more energy to overcome static friction than it does to overcome friction in motion (kinetic). Same is true in our team culture(s).

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Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule

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.

Read the full essay at http://paulgraham.com.

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.

*Ideally.

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’.

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Don’t Make Decisions For Your Prospects

I’m consistently reminded by clients and boot camp alums of the power this one insight has on them.

Don’t make decisions for your prospects.

Most recently, I got a note from the head of advancement for a college who told me this ONE insight TRANSFORMED fundraising for him in 2016.

So, I think this is the perfect insight to reflect on as we start the new year.

  • Don’t assume the prospect has a ‘giving level’ just because they gave at X the past three years. Maybe they haven’t been asked.

  • Get comfortable with the Clueless Close. This is a great example of a way to ask – authentically – in which you’re not making a decision for the prospect.

  • Use this insight to question assumptions. At some point this year a natural partner will say to you, “You should ask for $X. That’s the right number for this prospect.”  

    Unless that statement is product of extraordinary strategy and dialogue with the prospect, don’t make a decision to LIMIT the ask. (Don’t worry about under-asking or over-asking. (See tip #6 in 9 Tips to Help You Get to the Ask.)

    When you catch this thinking you can coach yourself by asking, “What would this prospect give if they were totally committed to the impact? If this was their number one cause?” See if you can build your comfort to ask from this place.  

    Related: I sometimes find myself saying (with TOTAL authenticity), “It’s not my job to try and decide the appropriate investment level for you. It’s my job to make sure I make the best case for how we can have an impact and then let you decide if that’s right for you.”

  • Guard against the voice inside that says, “Maybe now is not the right time to ask.” We exist to save lives, change lives and impact lives. Deciding it’s not the right time to give a prospect the opportunity to save, change and impact lives goes against everything we are trying to teach.

Point of emphasis: This is an insight (or a guiding perspective), not a strategy.

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Be For Impact. Journey For Purpose.

Over the holidays I picked up Tim Ferris’ new book, Tools of Titans.  It’s a worthy read companion and deserving of a whole other post (or several).  Right away one nugget leaped out at me.

From James Altucher, an American Hedge Fund manager, entrepreneur, and best-selling author:

“Forget purpose. It’s okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives.”

That reads a little cynical to me… but leads into something we say a lot:

Finding purpose is a journey.

Being For Impact is a decision.

I don’t think we should forget purpose. We should realize it’s a journey and embrace the journey as such.  Drop the pressure to decide your personal single purpose. (I think this is Altucher’s EXCELLENT point.)

BE for Impact. That’s a decision you make today. JOURNEY for Purpose. That’s a decision you can embrace forever.

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