Trust meditations

There’s this video, making the rounds on social media.  I love it for two reasons: first, I love watching slow motion acrobatics with beautiful people. Second, I kind of dig the new age calm of the narration, entreating me to learn to trust.

Take 3 minutes of your day and enjoy the eye candy and relax.  Then, when it’s over, go ahead and shake it off, smile to yourself, and say “Hooey!  This is hooey!” 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

Mailbag: How do you get past fear?

Q: I don’t think I’m cut out for fundraising.  I love my organization and I want to help get the funds we need to survive and do our work…and I even know what I *should* be doing, I think.  But when it comes to picking up the phone and calling donors, I can’t.  I am stupidly panicked and get anxious and just can’t pick up the phone.  How do I get past my fear?  I don’t want to keep letting people down.

A: I have a friend who posted a quote on her facebook wall recently, and I’ve been chewing on it such that it made me fish your email out of the ol’ mailbag.  Here it is:

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.” –Steven Pressfield

I want to like this quote.  I really do.  But the more I think about it, it’s hooey.  The only thing I actually agree with is that fear is good. Read more

Accounting vs. Plain English – the problem with “unearned” revenue

I went to business school.  I learned a lot of very useful things there, but when I give people the 30 second version of why it was so important to me and my career, it all boils down to this: college taught me how to speak French and Latin and a little Old English…but in business school, I learned how to speak Accountant and Consultant and a little Finance.  And a good part of what I do professionally is translating from one of these business languages into plain english.

Many folks get frustrated that such translation is necessary.  Can’t we all just use a common language for all this?   Read more

Mailbag: Why I hate my bike-a-thon

Q: I have a charity that’s really important to me.  It’s a medical research group that is trying to find a cure for a disease that affects one of my loved ones.  It feels incredibly important to me, as part of my journey, to participate in their annual bike ride.  I like feeling like I’m doing something, even if it’s just a very little something, and it’s an incredible emotional moment (one that I need!) to be waiting at the start line in a huge crowd of people who all have their own stories that they’ve put aside for the day to come together for something much bigger than all of us.  But when it comes down to it, I feel that it’s my selfish little thing.  *I* want to participate, *I* want to make a difference, to a cause that’s important to *me*… I just can’t bring myself to ask other people to give me money.  I wind up paying the minimum donation for participation out of my own pocket every year.  Is that bad?

A: Is that bad?  No.  That’s a gift of $XXX that the organization wouldn’t have otherwise.  That’s not a bad thing.  But that’s not the question.  You want to know if I will give you my blessing to continue doing that, or give you some way to get beyond your insecurities… Read more

Mailbag: Glorified Panhandling

Q: How do I not feel like I’m just a glorified panhandler when I’m asking for money?

A: Oh, boy have you come to the right place.  However you want to phrase it, it’s a VERY common hangup for people in fundraising (volunteer and professional alike).  Let’s start with some praise: you clearly know how fundraising works.  You have to ask for money.
Does that seem too obvious?   Read more

Mailbag: I think my biggest donor hates me

A very edited version of a question received from a friend/reader:

Q: It’s my first year in a new position, and we’re working on launching a capital campaign.  We really really need a huge new gift from my organization’s biggest donor…but I think she hates me.  It’s messing with my head, paralyzing me with fear, and making it hard to think about anything else.  I don’t think the campaign will succeed without her, and what if it’s my fault she turns us down?

A: OK, so the stakes seem high here, but I don’t know if you’re making an honest assessment, or whether your fear is leading you to obsess about a worst case scenario. Read more