Archive for May, 2017

A counterintuitive approach to pressure can help you manage the moment

If you’ve ever let pressure take control, you’re not alone. Working on behalf of a nonprofit can create all sorts of potentially stressful situations. But no matter the scenario, Performing Under Pressure’s Hank Weisinger emphasizes the importance of managing the pressure you feel rather than try to resist or ignore it. In fact, Weisinger encourages us to befriend the pressure-filled moment.

I recently read an article that emphasizes Weisinger’s point. According to Dr. Kelly McGonigal, the most helpful mindset towards stress is viewing it in a way that she calls “protective.” She adds that:

The three most protective beliefs about stress include:

Trying to see your body’s natural response to stress as something that’s helpful

Recognizing that you can handle the stress in your life “and even learn and grow from” it

Keeping in mind that stress is something all of us encounter

So, what does it mean to befriend the moment?

Befriending the moment is one of 22 strategies to alleviate pressure that Weisinger and his coauthor, Pawliw-Fry, explore in their book. They say, “Think of pressure moments as a challenge or opportunity/fun.” This strategy must be used frequently to reduce your threat perceptions, which can cause choking. Seeing situations as threatening drains your energy; reduces your self-confidence; impairs your judgment, attention and short-term memory; and increases impulsive behavior to avoid failure. Feeling challenged, though, is an “inherent performance steroid” and can lead to enthusiasm and positive energy. People do not thrive on the pressure, but they revel in the challenge, making statements like, “I want to see how good I can be.”

Get smart on pressure: If you find yourself losing the battle to pressure, learn more about Weisinger’s strategies for how to manage it in his new online course.

See more titles and summaries on this topic:

Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

Buy-In: Saving Your Good Ideas From Getting Shot Down

Image credit: Entrepreneur.com

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Why is failure your ally and how do you get better at it?

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 12.02.02 PMWe recently added Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner to our summary library because it addresses a critical gap in the body of work around failure. According to coauthor, Kara Penn, Fail Better explores HOW failure is a path to success. We asked Penn about how you can make failure your ally, and more importantly, how to get better at it.

Kara Penn: Failure is useful as tool for learning and improvement, if we are open to learning from missteps. But learning from failure is not guaranteed, so we have to work at it.

I imagine most of you can recall a situation in a work or personal environment when failure occurred. We all do it! And it’s memorable. And like touching a hot stove, we tend very much not to ever want it to happen again. But if we can craft and increase control over how we fail and in service of what, we are receptive to a very powerful tool.

The Fail Better Method offers three practical stages to our project work where we can plan for smart mistakes and prepare for greater successes:

 

Launch: At the outset of a project or initiative, think about setting the groundwork for both project success and learning—combat common failure modes like not having Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 12.00.49 PMthe right resources or skills lined up for the project to succeed, not setting up a strong foundation of communication, or not building enough buy in to your efforts through key partners who can champion your work. In addition, this is a great time to think about how your plans and proposed action for moving forward in launching a program, service or idea tie to the actual outcomes you want to achieve. Logic models or Theories of Change are tools common in the nonprofit sector that can help organizations think through this. These tools allow you to see if you’re building your approach on sound or faulty assumptions and can be used as a diagnostic tool later when needed to see what went right and what was off track.

 

Iterate: Use implementation to test ideas, and be willing to have those efforts not be successful in service of learning. For example, in a fundraising campaign,Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 12.00.58 PM many of nonprofits use an end of year appeal letter as a way of reaching out to donors. However, this is a perfect place for experimentation using a technique that many software developers use—A & B testing—try out two or three different versions of letters or even methods of engagement, and see which one gets the best results and brings in the most responsiveness and donations. Use this information to build a better approach for next time. It’s relatively low risk and low cost. And gives you a lot of valuable information. Piloting programs instead of launching them outright at full scale is another way of minimizing risk and learning along the way so mistakes or failures are captured early and addressed, while successes can be scaled up. And finally:

 

Embed: As efforts draw to a close, we often fail to reflect on our work, review the data we’ve collected and share out our Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 12.01.06 PMfindings and insights with larger audiences. This lack of investment in learning at the end is VERY common, in nonprofits but all sectors. We are all busy, rushing into the next thing, but a lot is lost by not doing this and we prep ourselves to lose valuable insights—including pieces that were successful that we want to build on, and things that weren’t that we want to correct or improve for next time. Nonprofits can make time for this by employing a concept used by the U.S. military—an After Action Review—where teams involved in a project huddle up and document what went well, what went wrong, why, and what should be done differently next time. Documenting this information and creating some next steps to share and apply these insights can be a quick way for an organization to learn and improve.

Watch for future Q&A with Kara Penn about Fail Better when we talk about the circumstances when failure is at its best and how to create a culture that’s open to failure.

See more books and summaries related to this title:

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Image credit: Harvard Business Press (cover image), FailBetterNow.com

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Tired of the same fundraising ideas getting repurposed? Get global.

 

fundraising-co-ukWhile many philanthropists, nonprofit leaders and fundraisers have an eye on proven practices among the usual suspects in North America and Europe, many charities both giant and small, inside and outside these regions are exhibiting innovative methods worthy of global attention. Author Jeff Brooks distills seven trends found outside of these regions in his review of Global Fundraising.

Global Fundraising authors, Cagney and Ross, have uncovered helpful case stories in countries that once were considered unlikely places for fundraising events. Contributing authors add to the discussion in detail, educating you on how major regions around world manage philanthropy, fundraising and nonprofits.

Ultimately, this book is for anyone who is curious about fund development and philanthropy practices that are working well in other countries and who hopes to gain a fresh perspective for their own organization.  Learn more about this book and our summary.

Questions? Email us at Support@CausePlanet.org.

More books and summaries related to this topic:

Community: The Structure of Belonging

Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World

Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World

Image credit: Wiley Publishing

 

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Inject soul into your use of technology

contentmarketingLeroux Miller’s comprehensive guide to curating content is the cornerstone to creating a climate of followers engaged in your organization’s fundraising and brandraising.

The author’s vast number of nonprofit examples and specific guidance on why it’s important to create your content identity, build a plan based on your constituents’ preferences, and map out a functional timeline are only a few of the passage highlights in this book.

You’ll have answers to some of the most popular questions like, “What are the benefits and drawbacks of each online channel?” “What three questions should my homepage answer?” and “How do I allow for content surprises in a pre-planned editorial calendar?”

The secret in Leroux Miller’s sauce is she practices what she prescribes. She has worked out the kinks in all the methods and tools she recommends and has done so single-handedly. So, if you’re wondering if your small or sophisticated shop can implement her approach, wonder no more.

We asked Leroux Miller about injecting soul into your use of technology and what’s around the corner for nonprofits:

CausePlanet: Hi, Kivi. Many thanks for the much-anticipated book about content management. What would you most like readers to know about how your book uniquely adds to the body of work on this topic?

Leroux Miller: Nonprofits are trying to change the world–and that’s hard! That’s why I believe content marketing in the nonprofit world is much harder than in the for-profit world but also potentially more powerful, too. It’s all about making strong connections with participants, supporters and influencers and showing how relevant your organization is to their lives so they’ll help you change the world. This book is for and about nonprofits and how they use content; it’s not just slapping business advice on to the nonprofit world.

CausePlanet: Content management is constantly evolving in light of the channels that seem to emerge every day and the tools with which we can better communicate. If you added new content to your book, what might the topic be?

Leroux Miller: I think it would be an expansion of chapter sixteen on the technology of content marketing. In just a few short years, the technology the corporate world uses now to customize your experience on some of your favorite websites will be available and affordable to even small nonprofits, too. That will change everything.

Learn more about this book and our summary.

Check out Kivi Leroux Miller’s slide deck.

Questions? Email us at Support@CausePlanet.org.

Image credit: TheNerdyNonprofit.com

 

 

 

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