Day 31 – Mentoring

November 11, 2010

Mentor a young marketing professional.

I attribute much of my career success to a cadre of wise and compassionate people who served as my mentors.

They coached me. They believed in me. They helped me to reach my full potential. They cared about me and gave of themselves without expecting anything in return. I valued these mentoring relationships and often expressed appreciation. Time, though, has helped me to more deeply recognize the profound impact each mentor had upon me, my life and my career.

In gratitude for what others have done for me, I feel a social obligation to pay it forward. After all, part of my life mission is “to share unconditionally the abundance in my life.”

In recent years I have mentored three young professionals through a structured, six-month mentoring program. With an even broader definition of mentoring, I can count many more people whom I’ve mentored.

I will continue to help others, especially those who are eager to learn, who are curious about the world around them and who are committed to making a difference in the lives of others.

I will share of myself, expecting nothing in return. Yet, paradoxically, I’ve never found a mentoring relationship to be a one-way transaction. I have always received much more than I have ever given. I pick up new ideas, I experience a renewed flow of energy and, in a life of service to others, I am rejuvenated!

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Day 30 – Empowering Questions

November 10, 2010

Ask empowering questions of myself and others.

Appreciative Inquiry is a particular way of asking questions to envision and create a desired future. It builds on the basic goodness in a person, a situation, or an organization.

I like a positive focus that looks for what is right, not what is broken and needing to be fixed. By asking positive and empowering questions, Appreciative Inquiry seeks to discover what is already going well.

I’ve learned that whatever we focus on in life expands. We usually find what we’re looking for. Problem solvers, for example, go looking for problems to solve. In so doing, they find even more problems. The more they look, the more problems they encounter.

In this world, some people chose to be critics. They search for flaws and somehow they think they’ll look smarter by pointing out what is wrong with a particular situation.

I prefer to ask questions that focus on what is already going well. What is right? What are the strengths? When did we experience a time of exceptional success?

I also want to look at my job and to focus on what is going well. The more I focus on that, the more it will expand. I want more of what is going right, so I will probe into those areas and find ways to bring even more success into my life.

I value the advice given in Philippians 4:8 (NIV) which says “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

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Day 29 – Quadrant II Time

November 9, 2010

Set aside to do work that is important but not urgent.

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly-Effective People, Stephen Covey gives excellent advice for rejuvenation.

He suggests we divide our work into four quadrants and then spend more time in Quadrant II doing work that is important but not urgent.

The urgency of our fast-paced lives often demands that we spend time in Quadrant I doing work that is both important and urgent. We are thereby tempted to procrastinate doing important work that does not scream for immediate attention because it is not urgent.

The work we do in Quadrant II will vary from person to person. For me, work that is important but not urgent includes physical exercise, journaling, project planning and reading.

I set aside two hours every Tuesday morning. I mark “Q-II time” on my calendar. I usually spend this time at my favorite table in a local coffee shop. There I have wi-fi access, but I deliberately turn away from digital distractions because they pull me back into the world of the urgent. Just for two hours, I want to remain there in my private sanctuary where I can get away from the bustle that awaits.

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Day 28 – Study Areas

November 8, 2010

Create a learning plan for topics I want to understand better.

I hope to always approach life with an inquisitive, childlike sense of curiosity. I also want to be a life-long learner, never ceasing to explore the intriguing world in which I live.

Frequently I’ll encounter a word, a phrase or a topic I’m not familiar with. I try to capture those learning opportunities by sending myself a note on my smart phone or by jotting down a question in a notebook I usually carry with me. Later, I will Google the topic and explore the subject to whatever depth my time and curiosity permit.

I work at the American Red Cross, a complex, multi-faceted organization. Within that maze, I deliberately look for programs or services I want to understand better. I then set aside time to research those programs so I can be conversant on the topic.

Learning is something I inherently value, and I can usually rejuvenate myself by embarking on a my own customized journey of discovery.

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Day 27 – Life Challenges

November 7, 2010

Tell the story of a time when I overcame a major life obstacle or career challenge.

For me, journaling is an exceptionally invigorating exercise. With a fountain pen and blank book, I can retreat to the privacy of my own hidden sanctuary. There I can wrestle with tough issues, organize my thoughts and even relive the triumphant times when I was victorious in overcoming insurmountable odds. Most of my public blog posts, for example, began as embryonic ideas written just for myself during a journaling stream of consciousness.

In these journaling sessions, I’ve recalled stories of how I thrived when I was between jobs. Though the process was painful, I wouldn’t trade for anything what I learned during that time. During a job search I was able to reinvent myself and re-energize my career. Retelling those stories help me to better understand how I was led through the wilderness. That gives me hope and strength for whatever uncertainties I may face today.

I’ve also fought and overcome cancer. Being diagnoses with the “Big C” puts everything else into perspective. Being victorious in a life-and-death battle gives me courage to take on whatever might come my way.

As I remember the dramatic, defining periods of my life, I am rejuvenated. I am reminded of a favorite quote that sums everything up:  “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us in the past.”

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Day 26 – Career Benefits

November 6, 2010

Explain to a young person the benefits of pursuing a career in nonprofit marketing.

One of my most satisfying career ventures was teaching at Rockhurst, Kansas City’s well-respected Jesuit university. For several years I taught the class Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations.

Although I’ve earned my master’s degree in marketing, the classroom where I learned the most was the one where I stood at the front as the adjunct professor. I say that not to extol my talents as an educator, but rather to underscore the intrinsic value of explaining something to someone else. As Joseph Joubert said, “To teach is to learn twice.” I certainly understood marketing much better as I taught it to inquisitive college students.

Likewise, one of the best ways to appreciate my chosen career path has been to explain its benefits to a young person considering his or her career options.

Here are several things I would like for a young professional to know about a career in nonprofit marketing:

  1. Marketing is more than a job. It is a career path, a high professional calling.
  2. A marketing career can be a life-long pursuit and not necessarily a springboard to becoming the CEO or something else.
  3. Nonprofit marketing should be a stand-alone profession that is not subjugated to fundraising.
  4. Not everyone can do marketing, even though most people believe they are pretty good marketers.
  5. The best marketers combine their natural talents with formal training. There’s no substitute for a solid education.
  6. Don’t quit learning. Although marketing principles will remain unchanged, the tools and technology you’ll be using in10 years probably haven’t been invented yet.
  7. A good mentor can help you learn and grow. Find one.

By the way, later this month I have the privilege of returning to the university as a guest speaker. The invitation to speak came from the class instructor, whom I’m proud to say, was one of my star students in the very first class I taught.

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Day 25 – Social Media Plan – Personal

November 5, 2010

Define how social media can help me to blend the personal and professional facets of my life.

A couple of decades ago, workers were encouraged to compartmentalize their lives. “Don’t bring your work home,” admonished spouses of workaholics. Meanwhile at the office, supervisors would counsel employees, “Keep your personal life separate from your work.”

Today, things are different. We live and work in a 2.0 world where our personal and professional lives are inevitably blurred. It’s now impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.

I’m okay with not having a clear line of demarcation between who I am as a person and what I do to earn a living. There are key advantages to not having to role play and to compartmentalize the various dimensions of my life. I’m at ease living in a 2.0 era that demands transparency because I can always be my authentic self. I can live and work comfortably “in my own skin” without trying to pretend to be something I’m not.

The social media revolution invites us to live with greater integrity—with transparency, authenticity and openess.

On a personal level, I will continue to be authentic and purposeful as I connect with others using the various social media platforms at my disposal.

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