Parenting tips for managers

This is not condescending for your employees – I promise…but my own reading habits include a bunch of parenting blogs and business writing.  This intersection was bound to happen eventually.

Jim Higley, aka Bobblehead Dad, wrote a sweet piece on the Huffington Post about his three tips of parenting…turns out, they’re three great tips for leadership, too.  Check out the original here, if you manage actual toddlers (SAHMs need leadership too) – otherwise, click through for my three pieces of wisdom. Read more

Mailbag: Donors at Parties (part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of my answer to a development officer who wanted advice on how to deal with donors when you see them at parties.  (You can read the whole question here, as well as my advice on interacting with donors when you run into them at social engagements where you’re not the host.)

But now, what do you do when YOU’RE the host, and all your organization’s major donors are in a room together, and you have to work the heck out of that room?  Totally different challenge. Read more

Emotional Correctness – Lessons from a Lesbian Liberal on Fox

I am an unabashed social liberal.  That’s not a big secret.  So it won’t surprise anyone to learn that Fox News often confounds and enrages me.  And I find myself often wondering why people I admire, people who seem to share my progressive beliefs (OK, progressive is sort of a stretch when we’re talking about a “news” organization that does a whole piece on why women should become financially dependent on husbands…the notion that women might want to build their own credit history is apparently radical over there) – I wonder why these people agree to appear on Fox at all.

Well, here’s one answer, from Sally Kohn, and it’s one I think has relevance for all of us.

Now – how does this apply to YOU? Read more

Mailbag: Donors at Parties (part 1)

Q: I’m about to go through the annual December holiday party marathon.  13 of them this year, and I already feel unlucky.  I’m a development officer for an organization in a pretty small town, and there are only so many major donors, so I’m going to run into a lot of folks that I have urgent donor business with…what’s the etiquette here?  I don’t want to upset my hosts or my prospects, but I don’t want to pretend that I don’t need to talk to these people about giving my organization money.  I don’t know how to talk to MY donors at someone else’s party, and it’s sort of a separate question, but I don’t really know how to balance the party we’re throwing between a nice thank you celebration for the folks who support us year round and reminding some donors that we want their money before the end of the month.

A: Two good questions.  Let’s take them separately…First, Other People’s Parties.

Read more

Conversation starters, fond farewells

I’m the development shrink.  I know you’re frustrated by how much I ask you to prepare on your own.  Particularly when there are so very many folks on the web who will just give you lists of “great conversation starters for networking.”

Just remember how many lists Cosmopolitan magazine puts out into the world.  100 ways to please your man, surprise your man, keep him happy in bed, etc.  If anything were that simple, such magazines would be out of business.  They’re not revealing the secrets of the universe.

They’re fun to read…but you probably shouldn’t take their advice too seriously.
They’re fun to read…but you probably shouldn’t take their advice too seriously.

Listen to me carefully: if you go to a party with a memorized list of conversation starters and roll through them, that’s exactly what it will sound like.  Do you want to be known as the person who was trying so hard/was so horribly socially awkward/etc. that they memorized conversation starters to get through the holiday bagel reception?

But Cosmo keeps selling those magazines…and it’s because people WANT them.

So I’m willing to give you what you want, too.   Read more

Help! How do you work a room, anyway?

Q: I am going to about a million holiday cocktail parties and receptions in the next month, and I have a horrible secret that keeps me up at night every time I have to go to one of these: I don’t know what I’m doing.  All I want to do is stand on the sidelines, watching everyone else from my hiding place near the bar, until I get enough courage to say hi to the person who invited me so they know I came and then run away as quickly as possible.  How does everyone else do it?

The dreaded cocktail party.  They make it look so easy on TV…what’s the secret?
The dreaded cocktail party.  They make it look so easy on TV…what’s the secret?

A:Stupidly, the first thing that pops into my mind as an answer is that corny Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ad campaign (though clearly I’m not the only person to internalize this marketing) where they showed you a series of how different people ate their product.  It’s interesting to know how other people attack the cocktail party scenario, but ultimately, you need to know how YOU are going to work the room. Read more

How to build a network for influence, not show

It’s not how big your network is, it’s how you use it.

No, really.  So for all of you who’ve been emailing me to ask some version of HOW to network, this is going to be your week – all about practical tips for this mystical thing called networking.  But let’s start with theory.

Michael Simmons wrote a lovely piece over at Forbes about his own experiences and how they coincide with current network science.  And it’s good news for the people who tend to beg me for help, who tend to be introverts (or introvert-ish) and worried that everyone else in the world knows how to go to a cocktail party and come home with 10 new cards for the rolodex and that they’re missing out on some key that will open all these doors for them.

I’m not knocking the “come home with as many business cards as possible approach” – there are times where that’s very useful.  If you run your own business, as I do, it’s one of the many ways I try to generate leads… but that’s not the best way to build your social influence. Read more

Differences, yes. But advantages? The sexist problem with jumping to conclusions.

There’s a new study out that looks at gender differences in brain architecture and usage, using a neat new technique called diffusion tensor imaging.  The study was published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), but you’ll have to pay to read it.  Try this synopsis in the reputable UK newspaper The Independent.

Both have some significant problems – not in the work itself, which is interesting, but with the conclusions they draw.   Read more

Embrace your window of low expectations (things I learned from moving part 3)

When you move, people want to see the new house.  If you have them over in the first couple of weeks, maybe in the first month or so, then they expect total chaos.  They assume that there will still be boxes everywhere, that everything will be in disorder, that the beds won’t be made, that you’ll order takeout for dinner (or they’ll even bring it, in many cases)…and why would they expect anything else?  You just moved!

This is a great time to have people over.

In another month, they will have forgotten that you moved recently and expect the dishes to be clean, the laundry to be folded, art to be hung on the walls.  If you tend to live normally in a high degree of chaos, as I do (I have a toddler and poor eye for interior design – it adds up to a desire to live in a grownup house, but a despair that I will ever outgrow the feeling that this is only a wee bit above my grad student standards), those first few weeks are a golden window of opportunity to entertain, judgement free.

There’s an analogy to be made with a lot of nonprofit scenarios, and for you, individually, when going through job transitions. Read more