The Influential People in Our Lives

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 »

How Soon Will You Be Obsolete?

November 3, 2009

In these strange economic times, too many good people are unemployed. I’m grateful for my job, yet I know there’s no such thing as complete job security. This is a scary time, yet I fear something more frightful than unemployment.

I’m afraid of obsolescence—becoming obsolete, irrelevant and dispensable.

Every employee, every worker and every professional has an expiration date (and I don’t mean a date with death). Like milk in the grocery store, everyone has a “Best If Used By…” label. Everyone has a skill set, a knowledge base or a network of contacts that will be outdated very quickly in today’s fast-paced world. No one buys sours milk, no matter how fresh it once tasted. Neither do employers hire or retain obsolete workers, no matter how productive they once were.

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