Monday, October 27, 2008

How You Should Feel About Fundraising

Seth Godin again. This time passing on someone else's writing.
I got a nice thank you today from a fundraiser at a great organization in Toronto; which was interesting because we didn't send them any funds. Instead they appreciated that I'd taken an hour recently to talk with them about how Catalyst prefers to be approached and what I'd like to experience when requests are made.
Everyone who gathers resources for a meaningful purpose should read and re-read this post from Seth.
Here's a taste:
How good is your idea? How important is your cause? Important enough that you’ve given up another life to lead this life. You’ve given up another job, another steady paycheck, another bigger paycheck to do this all day long, every day, for years if not for decades, to make a change in the world and to right a wrong.

You Probably Shouldn't Try To Lead

One of the e-newsletters I subscribe to if from Patrick Lencioni. As with his best selling books, these shorter pieces are always insightful.
Here's a quote from the latest:
Whenever I hear someone encourage all young people to become leaders, or better yet, when I hear a young person say glibly that he or she wants to be a leader someday, I feel compelled to ask the question “why?”
If the answer is “because I want to make a difference” or “I want to change the world,” I get a little skeptical and have to ask a follow-up question: “Why and in what way do you want to change the world?” If they struggle to answer that question, I discourage them from becoming a leader.

It's almost sacrilegious in many circles to even suggest that everyone is not a leader. But I totally agree with Lencioni. Selfish leadership is damaging and it is all too common, especially among those who are gifted with enormous talent and charisma but limited wisdom or perspective.
I trust the remainder of the article will soon be posted here. If not, email me and I'll copy the whole text to you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Scholarship Announcement

Last week I was pleased to be with the first cohort of nonprofit organizations participating in World Vision's FreeFORM program for a jazz cafe in Niagara Falls. In addition to the always great entertainment from Mike Janzen, I had a chance to connect with several people I've met in the last several months through Catalyst.
A highlight was seeing the workspace where 6 Canadian nonprofits were spending three days processing their strategies and developing their futures.
My reason for being there was to announce that Catalyst has reached agreement to support the FreeFORM program with a scholarship fund to assist those groups who are unable to afford the tuition cost. The fund is administered by FreeFORM.
We are very excited to see the outcomes of this extremely well developed new program.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Passion and Profession

My father worked for over 30 years in a steel factory. He worked hard, took courses at night, and eventually moved into a management role. But I'm pretty sure there wasn't a day that he drove to work thinking "Now this is what I truly love to do!"
On the other hand I am part of a generation that often believes we should be able to do something that inspires us, be paid very well to do it, and have no interference from our bosses. It must make previous generations gag.
I have been spoiled (or blessed if you prefer) in that I have been able to have work I believed in and loved for the most part. I haven't maximized my earning potential but I've done fine financially. And my supervisors have been positive (in some cases excellent).
But I haven't forgotten how unusual that it and how grateful I ought to be.
Seth Godin's blog includes a great post about the risks and realities of trying to get paid for doing what you love.
I have a lot of respect for those who have found a way to combine their passion and profession successfully; but no less for those who have deliberately chosen to work to allow them to do what they love in other hours. The key to the whole thing is realistic reflection and deliberate decisions.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Abbey Park Underway

This morning we began our first program of leadership development for high school students. We are with a class of 24 through the business department of Abbey Park High School in Oakville, ON.
It was a good start as we explored the ways in which those things we did as children that we really enjoyed and thought we did well can often lead us to themes or patterns for the rest of our lives. It was encouraging to see many of the class appear to be engaging with the ideas and process.
We'll be together for a total of 7 sessions over the next 8 weeks and each student will ultimately have the opportunity to produce a personal action plan to take steps toward turning their life dreams into reality.
Already a few took the risk of sharing some areas in which they want to do something meaningful; from being in a position to care for their own families as well as they've been cared for, to educating poor children around the world beyond a basic level, to improving recreational facilities in the local community. There was a tangible energy shift in the room when a few people talked about their lives accomplishing something they identified as meaningful.
As part of the session I recommended the book "What's Your Red Rubber Ball" by Kevin Carroll, who also wrote "Rules of the Red Rubber Ball". It was great to be able to leave a copy of the book for the students to dig into.
A couple other highlight moments:
-the look on their faces when instead of saying good morning I opened with a game of Simon Says
-watching some faces light up as they started telling each other their own childhood stories
-seeing an enthusiastic teacher and being able to quickly affirm in front of the class that she has had a lifelong preparation for what she is doing right now
-having one of the students join the accompanying facebook group for the program before I even made it to the parking lot

I'll post more on this as the weeks go by