Friday, October 22, 2010

Speaking from the Catbird Seat

Speaking in front of the right group of people can do wonders for your future speaking engagements and for your career in general period.

It seems not to matter much which civic or fraternal organization you choose to speak to. These groups are starved for interesting speakers who enjoy sharing with them at such events. Too many speakers find it to be a task to be in front of a group instead of treating it as a pleasure. Which camp do you fall into?

Speaking for myself, I would almost pay for the privilege to deliver a few words to a captive audience. Unless I am just outrageously adamant about a topic the group finds deplorable to discuss in the first place, I am welcomed with open arms and grateful enthusiasm.

It doesn't take an audience long to discover the energy level of a speaker. Usually in the opening sentence many hints are dropped has to how these next 15 minutes are going to unwind. I love to joke about whatever particular group happens to be in any given audience. In fact, the less I know about a group's livelihood or type of expertise they possess the more time I put into researching who they are.

Discovering facts that I wouldn't have learned in just casual association, I am able to have a group laughing at itself as early as possible in the opening minutes of my speech. There is no better way to grab the attention of your audience then to immediately have them become aware of the fact that you have done your homework about who they are. I'm telling you the physical temperature will rise in the room when they recognize you are just one of them. They literally warm up to you, ready and willing to hear what you have to say.

At this point I am able to zip right into the subject of the reason I have been asked to speak at this gathering in the first place.  Now that may be a bit of a misnomer. Actually I may have solicited this organization because I want them to hear what I have to say. It may be days, months or even years before I hear any  feedback from the day's events. Though it is not always measurable, it happens in the background anyway.

Those minutes in time when you stand in front of any group, you are the expert on whatever topic you are speaking about. If you are the author of a book, you would do well to have it available at the beginning and end of your talk. Your audience wants to be part of your interesting slant on whatever it is you are speaking about. They will pass on your book to any number of future clients for you. Is there a better way to be the expert on any subject than to hand whoever you are speaking to, a copy of your book?

I think not. If there was any doubt as to your expert knowledge on your subject, those doubts have disappeared completely.

Want to be considered one of the top experts in your field of Grant Writing? You can be a local hero or possibly even a National one if you have the desire to see it through completion. We'll talk about this in the near future. Can you imagine how many doors this would open for you?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Talent Code, 10,000 Hours to Success

How often do you read a book that changes your life?

When you do, it is hard to pull back from the experience without sharing it with others. So often, my experience has been, the second I mention a book to a friend or associate I might as well have said this book is the kiss of death. Stay away from it. I could be wrong but so often their facial expression looks exactly like an evil sneer.

I hardly bring up the subject anymore, though my reading has become exceedingly vociferous. My old t-shirt I still wear at bedtime says,"So many books, So little time." Every year it has more meaning to me.

The book in question here is The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. It has been out awhile but I only discovered it for myself a few months ago. The spirit of the book still follows me where ever I go or whatever I'm doing. It sneaks up on me like a rift from a favorite piece of music. What I hear it my head are the good parts, the profound parts, the notes that ring my own personal bell inside my skull cinema. I play them over and over again, never tiring of the joy they bring me.

Does that make sense to you?

The book explores the relationship between deep practice and repetition of whatever subject, sport or desired talent floats your boat. The discussion becomes a bit technical and involves the introduction of a white matter we all possess in our bodies called myelin. It is actually a strand of fibers that becomes stronger as we improve whatever skill set we happen to be working on. As these strands of fiber grow and continue to be wrapped in solid material we become more adept at what ever skill we happen to be working on or toward.

As a child I was in the era of those who were born with a so-called natural ability of physical achievement that the rest of us were not privy to. It was said "he has a built in ability to play baseball...she has a natural tendency to play the flute...he is a musical virtuoso...she is a prodigy on the piano. Take that even over to today, so-called modern times..."he is an over night sensation...musically, spiritually, in books, in swimming, in the playing of the violin, in political savvy." All you have to do is fill in the blank _____.

All one has to do to become an over-night success, according to The Talent Code is be willing to focus your energies on what you really love to do. It requires at least 10,000 hours of  "Deep Practice" that allows you to learn and become more proficient in your skill with every mistake you make. That myelin material becomes stronger and stronger with every milestone you achieve in your quest for perfection.

As Grant Writers we too become more and more efficient in the way we process information. Learning from our mistakes makes us stronger every time we apply our skill set to a new Proposal or RFP announcement.

This may sound like old news. I say it is NEW to me. For the first time since I was a child I believe we are all equal in our abilities to achieve our dreams and goals. IF and that is a BIG IF, if we continue to practice our skills with a greater sense of ability achieved each and every time we use our strengthening set of skills. We too must put in our 10,000 hours and fail and learn from our mistakes, wrapping our myelin with corded strength.

Want to be the BEST at something? The corniest question of all is still the truest and best example of all Daniel Coyle brings out in his brilliant book.

"How to you get to Carnegie Hall?"  Well, Practice...Practice...Practice, of course.

It is still about 10,000 hours away, if you are just beginning your journey.

There is no such thing as failure when we continue to practice and hone our skills to almost perfection.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Be a Prospect Research Rock Star

"Which prospects have the highest propensity to give?" Wealth Engine is responsible for both the title of this blog entry as well as the quote above. I was looking at their ad moments ago from yesterday's issue of Philanthropy Today.

I visited their site and spent most of my time trying to find out what the costs are to tap into this Wealth Engine. I was unsuccessful as a casual clickster. If I laid out a considerable amount of personal and/or business related information I could receive a trial demo without cost.

One of the questions asked was donation level of my company, under 3.5 Million on up to 35 million and above. Wealth Engine's P2G program looks to be a real plus for high roller giver seeking.

The site states you can use Wealth Engine's program to identify the following information and I quote:

How can you use P2G?
  • Identify individuals for upgrade to higher giving level
  • Identify target gift ranges for upgrading current donors
  • Identify qualified prospects with highest likelihood to give
  • Develop segmentation strategy based on estimated giving capacity

This looks really interesting to me. You of course can do your own investigation of their site as I have done here. Now I have no tie to these folks what-so-ever other than their ad in my daily blog from Philanthropy-Today.

Being the age I am, the opportunity or even a small chance to become any type of a Rock Star much less a Prospect Research Rock Star instantly had me clicking the gorgeous ad. I am here to say that it is one effective little bit of ad space. It has me thinking about the power expressed in that iddy bit of landscape.

If prospect research is the Keyword for Wealth Engine's SEO, I'd call this a home-run for them, certainly in the placement of this little ad.

In my own little business I cultivate my clients as to their Mission and what match-making can I do in order to find the entity that wants to scratch their itch. I have no precise formula or secret code I am able to fill in the blanks with to achieve an instant match. Maybe Wealth Engine has it?

Is P2G the answer? Numbers of successful users, fans and followers will tell the story soon.

When it comes to pairing a nonprofit with the perfect funder aren't we all Rock Stars even if just for a moment?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Seizing the Funding Moment

Subscribing to a few different philanthropic blogs and newsletters will always give you an edge.

Last friday, October 15th,  I received my afternoon copy of PND RFP Bulletin. Sometimes the serindipitious pops up when you least expect it.

Civil and Human Rights

Left Tilt Fund Invites Applications for Social Change Work
Grants of up to $20,000 will be awarded to nonprofits and individuals working to address the root causes of economic, political, and social injustice....

Posted on October 15, 2010
Deadline: October 25, 2010

I have a client who has recently received his nonprofit 501(c)(3) status.

He has been putting all or most of his own money into this cause. It is very heartfelt and he has personal ties to this small health center in a Latin American country.

The 20K offered would fund almost an entire year of operation for this small but extremely effective concern.

As you can see time is of the essence. There are many questions to answer but here is the caveat for this grantseeker. The mission of this would be Funder almost mirrors the needs of this grantseeker.

The following was taken from Left Tilt Fund's website.

"The Left Tilt Fund is a non-profit private social justice foundation founded in 1998. We fund organizations that address the root causes of economic, political, and social injustice through community-based organizing, education, legal advocacy, and other innovative means."
"Left Tilt is particularly interested in economic equality, civil liberties, prisoners’ rights, labor issues, racial justice, homelessness, the environment, the arts, and international solidarity work pertaining to Palestine, the Middle East, and Latin America."

"We strive to support a diverse range of social justice organizations, including those that do not receive funds from traditional sources. "

It is my goal to always take advantage of a situation like this. It would be easy to almost get careless, as this appeal matches the needs of the client so completely.

I'm approaching this as an opportunity to help my client make his dreams come true for this nonprofit. We are emphasising self-confidence and self-reliance through this process. We will be following the RFP to the letter burning as much midnight oil necessary to meet the 10 day deadline.

Wish us luck!