Who’s on your personal board of directors?

Whenever I look at past positions I’ve held or recent projects I consulted on, I don’t remember the dozens of emails, marketing plans or fundraising appeals I wrote. Instead I always think about the people who worked with me. It’s how I got things done—working with people, laughing with people, or just plain relating to people. Funny thing, we also remember all too well the folks we encounter who stood in our way of a goal or shied away from our inclusive attempts. Why? Because how we get along with one another in this world has an impact on everything we do, how we think of ourselves, and most importantly, how relation-rich our lives are.

I had the pleasure of reading and featuring a book this month that was written by one of the best, genuine relationship-builders I know, It’s Not Just Who You Know by Tommy Spaulding. I recall meeting Tommy more than 15 years ago and thinking, “I wish I knew his secret for connecting with people so easily.” Well, the secret’s out! Thank you, Tommy, for spilling the goods and telling your story. It was a wonderful read. And for my CausePlanet folks, I’ll be sharing excerpts from my interview with Tommy over the next couple of weeks.

CausePlanet: The concept of looking at your relationships in your life as your “personal board of directors” is an important preliminary step to evaluating your “relational equity,” as you put it. What areas of one’s life should each of these relationships represent and why?

Spaulding: It all depends on each person’s values. I’ve broken my mentors and “personal board of directors” into four categories: Family, Health, Professional and Spiritual. It is good to place one, two or three relationships/mentors in each of your chosen areas. These relationships should not only help you grow in these areas, but also hold you accountable. You should surround yourself with relationships that tell you what you “need” to hear, rather than what you “want” to hear.

CausePlanet: I like how you boldly state that “netgiving” is about love. Other authors have echoed this sentiment, even in areas such as philanthrocapitalism. What’s the best way to inject love into your business relationships gracefully?

Spaulding: Here’s the rub. If your actions aren’t sincere, genuine and authentic, then “injecting” love in any relationship is like filling a tank of gas with a gigantic hole in the gas tank—it just won’t fill up. You can’t fake netgiving and you can’t fake love. Both come straight from your heart. And when you build personal and professional relationships with this spirit in your heart, you have built something that lasts a lifetime.

CausePlanet: You introduce an innovative term called “ROR,” or Return on Relationships. How does the notion of “netgiving” without expectations coexist with the notion of getting a return on your relationships or ROR?

Spaulding: Aw, you just cracked the code with your great question. ROR (Return on Relationships) only works when you don’t expect a return. It sounds counterintuitive, but it is as real as rain. If you enter every relationship with an expected outcome of “getting” something, you are building the foundation for a transactional relationship. If you enter a relationship with a “netgiving” heart, then 99 percent of the time your return will be greater than you anticipated.

Spaulding’s book released on August 10, 2010 or you can read a Page to Practice™ summary by subscribing to our monthly service or visit the summary store for single titles. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn about what we’re reading for nonprofit leaders.

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