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Do you remember achieving something remarkable? Something that you had built, had changed? For some, achievements are huge…for some, small and every day.

Connecting with what achievement feels and looks like makes it more likely it will be recognised. More importantly its more likely it will be repeated. From small steps having been through treatment and illness and then on the road to recovery, to building something physical to something abstract, a mission delivered, a goal achieved. So, at the end of 2016 and ahead of 2017 take a look at this video. This is in the big achievement world. Really big. But look at what goes on. Look at the faces, the humanity, the sense of one, the shared goal, the part everyone plays. Look at the emotion, the tears, the screams, the physical contact, the smiles, the leadership, the team. I defy you not to be moved and inspired.

 

We aren’t all building a rocket, though Elon Musk is. But we are all achieving. Everyday, despite what seems like endless obstacles we still achieve. Every story of success, life saved, home found, life extended, breath taken, hand held, smile made, building built, phone call received, life changed.

Let’s stand with each other and cheer, and cry and clap and scream just a little bit more in 2017

After all, it’s really not rocket science.

Happy new year!

 

 

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Middle managers. Salt of the earth. Engines for action. Guardians of delivery. Middle managers need love and attention if they are to do what needs to be done to make things happen. Coaching, nudging, counselling and direction.

The leadership deficit affects middle managers. Unsure of above they can’t shine for below. Looking sideways they find solace in colleagues so they often look like a gang, projecting a tribal confidence. Sometimes they struggle because they are over promoted. Sometimes they struggle because they are too talented but locked in. Sometimes they just long to get on with it. Deliver and excel. Glow.

So here’s some helpful wisdom and tips for the much-needed tribe of middle managers

1. Keep looking above you – understand your boss and their needs and challenges. If you fail they fail. Help them.

2. Keep learning. You must grow. It’s your duty to yourself, so keep learning and improving

3. Build space for yourself. Room to think and reflect. Space to resolve and perspective to get it right

4. Be self-aware and open. Ask for feedback. Every now and then only, or you will look needy rather than open. Be aware of how you behave, why and when and correct where you need to

5. Know yourself. What are your strengths? Do them every day. Don’t worry about your weaknesses except if you are doing a job that is your weakness. If so move.

6. Define success – Be clear on what success looks like. You, them, everybody.

7. Focus on next but never forget what’s gone – Have a view on whats next but also what’s past – goals and KPIs, a to do list yes but more important a rolling done list

8. Build your portfolio – Your marketing brochure for you, your personal brand and offer and evidence

9. Listen to your people – They are smart. Not always right but that’s irrelevant. Listen to facts, emotion, feelings, fears and hopes. Then act.

10. Focus everyone on the external – Heres the order to where you need to look – the world, the donor, the cause, the work, the organisation, the team. Everyone works better when they focus on what really matters

Rise up middle managers. Lead from the middle. More power than anyone – so use it wisely and for the right reasons.

 

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How about this. Choose the charity you work for rather than they choose you. Find an adventure.

Choose a mission and a cause. Choose a bright future and an urgent now. See a way to make a mark, a dent in the universe. Choose leadership. Choose personality, atmosphere, a team, a gang. Choose a journey and a path. Find somewhere to build yourself, learn, and grow. Choose somewhere to fail as well as you choose to succeed and deliver. They will even out and you will be further forward.

Select them like a house or a home or a partner. Raise your expectations. Find higher love.

Choose.

As Jaime Lyn Beatty said “A job will fill your pockets. Adventures fill your soul”

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Thank you. Simple words and simple sentiment. Trips off the tongue and the page. Yet in reality, it can be completely boring we don’t even see it. Time for an upgrade.

First thing first. Why is it boring? Because it doesn’t feel like its heartfelt. A template more likely. Where is the art? Where is the love? If you were delivering a thank you speech you would give it a lot more attention wouldn’t you? But a letter. So imagine treating it like a creative writing exercise. As if you meant o connect and meant to make them sparkle when they saw it. Wouldn’t that be magic? So to upgrade do this.

  1. Keep some structure in your head – hello, what they did, the difference, thank you, where next, more
  2. See the person in front and see how they might feel
  3. Now upgrade to making a connection as if they are your friend (because in fundraising, friend raising comes first remember)
  4. Now flow, just write with love

Here’s a letter that appeared in a local newspaper saying thank you for a collection.

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A sleep walking letter. But what if you created some art. Here’s the same thank you.

Imagine the scene last January outside Tesco’s. Streams of shoppers place gifts one by one into collecting tins held by warm-hearted but cold fingered volunteers. By a warm fire later, each volunteer was able to smile at the sum of those cold fingers – £1317 for our hospice. That’s the price for 5 nights of Hospice at Home care giving families the break they need from daily caring.

Thank you really matters, because without those volunteers and shoppers, we could not deliver the love and care we are able to daily. We wanted to share our thank you publicly.

We would love others to join us and help us do more. Its an inspiring place – everyone is welcome in our family – so if you are interested and want to explore please send me an email at XXXX or call me on XXXXXX.

Thats’s how you upgrade. Love and art. Try it.

 

facts or myths determine

We need trustees. Good ones, calm ones, listening ones. But sometimes, some of our trustees believe weird things. Like conspiracy theories that gain currency, some trustees can interpret their understandable and limited knowledge with the gossip and hearsay that sometimes surround fundraising. A dangerous and toxic mix we need to avoid if we are to move forward. So here are a few we hear every so often and a few slightly exasperated yet young in cheek responses I am sure we have all felt but may not have said.

  1. You don’t need to spend money to raise money – Yes well it’s all for free isn’t it, like lunch or a free gift. Except it isn’t. It costs. Simple as.
  2. You can get your money back really fast – McDonald’s are to blame for this one. In some cases you can. But for most, well we need to be patient and plan
  3. Fundraising is like selling really – Well to be fair it is isn’t it….well it isn’t. So accepting some similarities for ease, we need time to expand this one, but for now it just isn’t
  4. Fundraisers are responsible for raising money – it’s not everyone else’s job – No comment.
  5. We don’t really need to pay staff to raise money – Frankly we aren’t worth it to be honest. Why pay? See 1.
  6. We spend too much on admin and overheads – Define? Exactly. Please someone. Watch Dan Pallotta and discuss.
  7. We need a new audience – Completely. Nasty old rich people a? You know the ones giving us the money right now, lets ignore them and go elsewhere more trendy?
  8. We are ok not to tell people what the money is for – Cash machines, walking wallets, etc. Contempt breeds contempt
  9. We know best – By yourself you don’t. With professionals working together, we know enough to get the job done and done well

So these are the myths that sometimes surface. Chase them and confront them. But before it gets to that, educate, explain, inform. And remember, all it takes for nonsense to triumph is for good people to say nothing

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A signature on a work of art can be a powerful statement. Or a name on the spine of a book. Or the credits rolling at the end of a film. It’s a claim of art, of creation, of work delivered. I wonder then, why, if everyday when we make something that changes worlds, we are less keen to claim its creation?

Sitting in a cafe last year, drinking a beer in the fading sunlight of an early spring afternoon outside the Pantheon in central Rome, I pondered on the creation before me. The Pantheon is magnificent. Inside its huge dome, held aloft by granite and concrete, the largest free-standing concrete dome anywhere is focussed on a perfect circle – an oculus at 142ft that shines the dimming sun through to the marble and stone space below. When it rains the water flows through and down into a hidden drain – snow is said to be magical. Its doors from the 15th century overshadow the vast space around it. Outside 16 pillars hold aloft the triangle roof and the huge, majestic latin words across the front. No doubt a noble call to arms or a bold statement to the glory of Rome or god or life. The words – lost in meaning to most, dominant the square below.

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Closer inspection however, reveals the real meaning “M[arcus] Agrippa L[ucii] f[ilius] co[n]s[ul] tertium fecit,” meaning “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, made [this building] when consul for the third time”

So it’s that simple. One of the great wonders of the world – I made this. A signature. Graffiti. A roman selfie. Huge. Enshrined forever.

Maybe we are too modest. Maybe we collaborate so we can hide. Maybe the creation is not recognised or understood. Maybe as time moves on we revise history and our claims are forgotten. Maybe we are content to hold them to ourselves and forsake the public display of ‘ I  made this’. Either way, when people all around us make and do things that change the world for good, maybe we could shout a little more, be a little bolder. Here’s to Marcus Agripp. I made this.

Good on you Marcus.

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I used to know a brilliant fundraiser who had a habit of ordering her notes and papers on a table as if she had used a set square. I often found myself knocking them out of the precise angle she had set which caused great stress to her and mild amusement to me. This is the wrong form of disruption. I apologise unreservedly.

We are now entering an era of massive disruption. This will be in the way we ask, the way we organise ourselves and the way we deliver results. Our methods require the disruption of lives so we can ask on the scale we need to, to address the problems in the world we want to solve. This has changed already and we are going to need to be much more flexible, pragmatic, proactive and most of all brave. Many people get lost between Innovation and Disruption. Forbes and The Economist have a done great articles on the distinction, but essentially disruption is a shift, a change in thinking and behaving and the invention of new and better. Simple version below.

innovation-continuum

We think of disruption as huge stuff. Uber and taxis. Apple and tech. Facebook and Twitter. But small disruption is needed too. Small can mean a change in thinking, behaviour, invention of new and better by different. Creative disruption to shift behaviour from the current norm to a new place. What can that look like in a small way that can have a big impact? What can you do on a day-to-day basis that stirs things up for good? How do you mess the papers organised with the set square?

So, simple things. How about disrupting the way you work? How about changing the reporting so it matters? About how you thank people. How about shifting back the responsibility for a process to the person who is supposed to do the process? How about you get them to meet a donor? How about a donors sign off? How about replacing meetings with 20 minute time frames – no action then stop. How about creative disruption in direct mail or legacies or digital where you create a different view or message, where you go with a hunch and just see? How about disruption in your team meeting – get out of the room and visit something together or create something together – a problem you keep ignoring. How about removing one approval a day and letting someone decide for themselves? Disrupt and challenge because you want to see and be better. How about changing the rules or even better getting rid of them?

How about brand new?

The list can be endless. But the mind that adopts creative disruption with small steps can make things happen and for the right reasons that lead to big steps.

Have a go. #disrupt4good. Ideas on a tweet please.

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