Thursday, December 31, 2009


I love this image. It is colorful. It has some whimsy to it. There is movement. Not the traditional New Year's fare of champagne glasses, streamers, confetti, and paper hats. And as the image suggests, what are your taking with you into the new year? I have been hearing for weeks clients (and friends, family members) talk about what they are leaving behind...but what are your making sure goes with you into the new year? What is the foundation on which you will build?

New Years Resolutions are a tricky affair. I actually don't make them. But I do make plans, set goals, develop strategies, get introspective, change, grow. It is not enough to take a day and say, "from now on I am going to try to be/do..." without framing that statement with an assessment of where you are in the moment and then clearly stating what you will commit to. Think about it; making a commitment to something is very different that saying what you are going to do. "I am really committing myself to..." is very different from "I am going to do..."

For example, try: "my finances are so disorganized and the situation stresses me out, therefore, I am committed to..." or "my weight gain, resulting from my inactivity and laziness makes me feel sluggish, affects my productivity, and diminishes my self esteem, therefore, I am committed to..." For the non-profit organizations in the world, try this: "Financial sustainability is key to our longevity, therefore, we as a board will commit to..." or "our organization's culture lacks a philanthropic spirit...we are too task oriented, therefore, I am committed to..."

We are all taking our bags from 2009 with us into 2010. It just is. The problem comes from not looking at what's in the bags and growing from there. These bags don't cease to exist simply because the clock strikes midnight. Really. So take the time to open the bags, have a look inside, and be incredibly intentional about your 2010 plans.

Enjoy the trip!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Year End Giving

Many people hold their charitable giving until the end of the year. Doing so may be tradition, your expression of the meaning of the season, or perhaps a function of accounting by knowing how much money you have left to give away. What ever...charities are hoping you'll give!

And I am curious...What kind of philanthropist are you? What is your personal giving style? What moves you in your world, moves you enough so you will support it financially? How much do you care and how does your financial support match your caring?

So try this:

Go grab your checkbook. Write a check to the charity most important to you. Go on...write the check and hold it in your hand. The amount on the check is probably what you think you should give, or what you can give. Now write a second check with the amount you would love to give--you would dream to give--to the charity. Really, write the check and hold it in you hand. What is the difference in the amount on the checks? How did you decide on a gift amount on the first check and the second check. What's in your strategy? What is in that space between the two amounts on the checks? Think about it...explore that gap. What would it be like for you to make a movement from check #1 toward check #2, to becoming the philanthropist of your dreams, making gifts that match your love of your cause? Now write a third check, one that is greater than the amount on check #1 and probably not as much as #2...and put it in the mail!

There is so much thought and love and strategy and economics that go into our personal giving. I get it. The key point is to treat your giving--of any size and method--as a philanthropic gift. Giving is philanthropy and you are a philanthropist. Own it. And I challenge you, in this bold act of personal giving, to know what you give, why you give it, when you give it, how you give it, and to whom you give it. Be informed. Be smart. Be strategic. And match in some meaningful way your love of the cause and the amount of your check.

Please give.

Gro(w)th Coaches loves to work with philanthropists. Together we can explore and name your core philanthropic values and make personal giving plans to match them. Giving is not a random act of kindness. Giving is an expression of love, of hope, and of strategy. Contact me and we will explore the possibilities in your philanthropic dreams.

P.S. Don't forget to void/shred two of the three checks you wrote for our exercise above. Or if you want to, send all three to the charity!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday News

I love the Sunday papers! The weekly ritual begins with making coffee, checking on the weather and the tide out the window, noticing the stillness of the house, and then gathering the papers from the porch. Laying the papers out and sorting the sections (in what order to you read your newspaper?) begins the glorious ritual of the morning usually marked in hours and cups of coffee. Sweet!

Each week I get valuable information from the newspaper about philanthropy, careers, volunteering, fundraising, useful (or not) technology. This Sunday, the papers appeared to be offering important information for me to take into my week, information I would like to share with you and others. There was really solid and provocative information for non-profit staff and volunteer leaders--clients of Gro(w)th Coaches--that could be useful. I'll share:

From The Boston Globe: "Picturing a Ton of Carbon Dioxide" was a little article that described a civil action in Copenhagen last week where some activists used a concrete cube to show just how much space one ton of CO2 takes up and to make real an abstract--the human carbon footprint is real. By the by, each American releases 23 tons of C02 into the atmosphere each year!

Imagine you have the entire world's attention for a moment: What does your cause look like in a real, solid, provocative form? What is the image you can create to show individuals their actions (or attitudes, complacency, laziness, action, etc.) matter? What does viewing your cause, your passion through an artistic lens do for you?

Also from The Boston Globe: an Opinion piece called "Mr. President, where is the passion?" that was really interesting. No political rant from me here; simply look at the theme of passion and the importance of having/showing passion when leading. The author says "...being the smartest guy in the room doesn't mean very much [politically], certainly not as much as being the most passionate guy in the room." True.

So in addition to everything you know about your work, your cause, your non-profit's topic, what are you most passionate about? What is the piece that really, deeply drives you? How does this passion show up? As the author asks, what are you "...willing to go to the mat for, no matter the consequences..."?

An editorial in The Jewish Journal delivered a very smart analysis of a very challenging philanthropic issue: generational giving and long-range planning. "Our elder statesmen and women have the assets and limited income. The baby-boomer generation has the income and no assets. Those two groups have to come together and support [the community] financially to their respective abilities."

What do you know (really know) about your supporting philanthropists? What do you know about who they are, how they give, what motivates their giving and how do you match this knowledge against strategic fundraising tactics? If you can believe that everyone has an investment in your cause but they just don't know it, what would it take to make them know it and act (give a gift) upon the knowledge? What if the barrier to making a gift to your cause was you and not the cause itself?

The New York Times had some goodies too. There is a "career posting" recruiting volunteer members of a board of directors! Really. Right next to the postings for hospital administrators and college presidents, the ad "Executive Jobs: Board of Directors" says "candidates should have the capacity to become vested partners in this endeavor, and possess senior executive experience and/or knowledge of the philanthropic and charitable giving community." This charity is going directly to the source--they want executives to volunteer and unemployed or in-transition executives read these ads. Smart.

How are you smart--really smart--about recruiting new members to your board? What is "the source" to which you go to recruit the kinds of board members you want/need? What would it take for you to put away your Rolodex (or palm pilot, or Outlook database, or spreadsheet...) and go to the source?

And if you are hiring, have hired, managing, learning to manage, changing culture, creating culture, creating team, or some such human, relationship, partnership function, here are a few more articles from The New York Times to challenge you:

Check out the weekly column Career Couch: "As a New Manager, Get to Know Your Team" and the article "My Initiation At Store 5476" and the weekly column Corner Office whose subject this week, CEO of Timberland Company Jeffrey Swartz, talks about "What Makes You Roar?"

What a great way to start the week!

And if I can offer you some valuable coaching in the process, give me a call.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Musings about gifts...

What is your gift? What is it that you offer the world, unlike anyone else, anywhere? What makes this your gift? What do you know about your gift and what do you notice when you give it? How is your gift received? How is your gift acknowledged? If you replaced this one gift with another for a day, what would the new gift be? How many gifts can you offer up at the same time? When you do, do they all stand as powerfully and amplify each other or do they lose some of their individual or collective power? If your gift is not viewed by the recipient as a gift, is it still a gift? What do you make up about all of this?

Enjoy the day. Enjoy the season.