December 29, 2009
Today is my 35th wedding anniversary. Carol and I were married on a cold winter night in her hometown of Cincinnati.
We met in college and then continued dating when separated by hundreds of miles. Geography couldn’t keep us apart. I remember telling a man next to me on an airplane, “I’m flying home to Colorado from Tennessee where I attend college. My fiancée is from Ohio but she’s a university student in California and currently working as an intern in Florida.”
Now, 35 years later, we live in Kansas City and I’ve taken time to reflect on some of the reasons I love my wife more and more with each passing day.
- We are so much alike. We share the same priorities—family, faith, friends, finances, etc., etc.
- We are so different. I’m a marketing guy and she’s an accountant. Need I say more? The fact that I’m from Mars and she’s from Venus makes life much more interesting.
- We share so many memories. We’ve experienced so much together that I can hardly remember my life B.C. (Before Carol). We’ve lived our lives together “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.” Read the rest of this entry »
December 21, 2009
This month I was saddened to learn of the death of a very influential man in my life. My career mentor, Milton Murray, died at age 87.
During the first 10 years of my career, Mr. Murray was the most influential person in my professional development. Somehow the label “mentor” understates the profound influence of this larger-than-life man.
I first met Mr. Murray at the airport in Nashville, Tennessee while I was still a college student. He later helped me land my first job at a hospital in Kansas City where he was serving as a fundraising consultant. During the next four years I spent countless hours with him. I was a dry sponge soaking up the endless flow of wisdom from this wise, old sage. (At the time, anyone over 30 seemed old.)
As my career progressed, he introduced me to another of his clients—a hospital in Portland, Oregon. I moved my family there and for the next four years I had the privilege of continuing my education under the guidance of this great man. He taught me so much about fundraising, communications, nonprofit management, office politics and life in general. Read the rest of this entry »
December 15, 2009
Good sales people know the difference between features and benefits. Often that makes the difference between making a sale or conceding defeat to a competitor.
Likewise, effective job seekers must also know the difference. That knowledge often determines who gets an interview and ultimately who snags the job offer.
Sadly, most job seekers focus only on features when they should be talking about benefits. So what’s the crucial difference?
Features Tell. Features are facts, the list of items on your resume that describe you. They provide basic information — Who you are. Where you’ve worked. Dates you were there. Job titles. Accomplishments. Education. Community involvement.
Benefits Sell. Benefits convert features into relevant information. Benefits describe the value that a potential employer might find in one of your features. A hiring manager is always asking questions such as — So what? How is this relevant? Why should I care? What can you do for me?
Features and benefits are both important. To be effective, though, you must lead with benefits and then follow up with features. Read the rest of this entry »
December 10, 2009
It’s tough looking for a job in December. I’ve been there, and I know it’s not fun being in a job search during the holidays.
Right now, I personally know at least three dozen people who are between jobs. Though they’ve remained positive during these stressful times, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with fear and negativity. Few employers are hiring in December. The economy is still bad and who knows what the future holds. On top of that, personal finances are likely strained during this season of materialism and consumerism.
On the other side of the coin, though, the holiday season can actually be a deeply meaningful time for job hunting. Done rightly, December can be a time of renewal and rejuvenation as you anticipate all the good things awaiting you in the coming new year.
Here’s my advice to anyone feeling trapped in a holiday job search:
- Spend quality time with family and friends. A stressful career transition can refocus you on life’s true priorities—family and friends. Surround yourself with people who truly care about you and your well-being. Let them know how important they are to you.
- Reconnect with your existing network. Update your professional contacts on the progress (or lack of) you are making. Remind them what you’re looking for. Suggest simple ways they can help. Look for ways to express gratitude for things they have already done.
- Make new friends. The holidays are a good time to network and meet new people at parties, religious services or other social events.
- Rethink your strategy. From time to time, we all need to think about what we’re doing and why. For me, nothing works quite like sitting alone in a coffee shop. I can clear the clutter in my mind, filter out distractions and experience a surge of creativity. The change of venue gives me a fresh perspective. Read the rest of this entry »
December 3, 2009
Two years ago I served on the Finance Committee of my church. Like many nonprofits facing an unbalanced budget, we debated the merits of yet another fundraising campaign. I was among a minority who felt that another campaign was not the “silver bullet.” I shared my thoughts in an e-mail sent to my fellow committee members.
Believing that some of those ideas may be relevant beyond the parochial boundaries of my church, I share them with the hope that nonprofit professionals will be more strategic and less reactive when raising money. Here’s what I wrote back in July 2007:
— — — — — — —
Dear friends. First, I acknowledge that the budget needs an infusion of cash. Without question, we need more money and we need to do something quickly and dramatically. But…
Without the backdrop of a strategic vision, a fundraising campaign may ultimately do greater long-term damage to our finances. If we ask people for financial engagement when too few feel engaged at other levels, they may become calloused to our financial needs. How many hundreds of times have they heard us cry, “The sky is falling!” because expenses exceed revenue?
I begin, though, with the following assumptions:
- People everywhere are experiencing donor fatigue. They are saturated with fundraising appeals, not only at church but in their everyday lives. The needs are endless and the appeals keep coming.
- In the absence of a compelling, strategic vision, people become disengaged and uninspired. Members truly want to be inspired, engaged and strategically led. The congregation is comprised of good people who want to be involved and who are capable of generously giving more.
- Once members feel inspired, engaged and strategically led, they will come alive and be much more involved.
Within the Finance Committee we have discussed various reasons why people should give. I’ve clustered all those messages into the following three categories: Read the rest of this entry »
December 1, 2009
This time of year we hear from lots of people asking for money. That includes my charity-of-choice—the American Red Cross—which recently launched its holiday giving campaign.
Everywhere I turn someone’s hitting me up for another contribution. Isn’t it enough that I’m a leadership giver to United Way? Or that I also tithe at my church? Or that I buy trash bags, cookies and popcorn to support worthy causes?
As I drive around town, I’ll often see a homeless person panhandling at a busy intersection. His “case for support” will likely be handwritten on a crude cardboard sign.
Last week as I walked into my favorite bookstore, I was accosted on the sidewalk by the same man who’s been there years. Quite literally, that’s his “job”—begging for money. That brief encounter prompted me to think about the similarities and differences between a panhandler and a nonprofit fundraiser. Here’s what I came up with:
How are they similar?
- They both want my money.
- They both think they are quite deserving of a contribution.
- They both act as if it’s my patriotic duty or moral obligation to support them.
- They both will say thank you once I’ve given.
- Neither will likely follow up to let me know the positive impact my gift had.
How are they different?
- One is dressed nicer than the other.
- One has showered and shaved today.
- One is more likely than the other to have my e-mail address.
- One might publish my name in 6-point type in an annual report.
- One is more likely to ask me to give again, reminding me how much I gave last time and even requesting an increase.
Read the rest of this entry »