The summer after I graduated from college, I worked as a counselor at Camp Kanata outside Wake Forest, North Carolina. Having never attended summer camp as a child, this was a completely new experience for me. But nearly twenty years later, I still think of it every day.
Working as a counselor that summer taught me more than I could have dreamed, and three of these lessons are highly applicable to a career in nonprofit leadership.
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There is a simple trick to standing out during your meetings and continuing to impress afterward. It’s so simple that it’s astounding that not very many people do it. What’s the trick? Schedule time in your calendar to prepare for and follow-up from meetings. When you schedule a meeting, you should actually add three appointments to your calendar.
Schedule Time to Prepare for Meetings
It doesn’t take long to prepare for most meetings — usually no more than 10 minutes. Sometimes you have the 10 minutes available just before the meeting, but more often than not, you are running in and out of meetings most of the day. The key here is to schedule a time when you’ll prepare: maybe it’s over morning coffee, or in several blocks of time in the afternoon. Whenever you do it, start your day knowing exactly when you’ll prepare.
It’s 9:45 p.m. and you’re working at home, because “if I don’t get a few things checked off my list tonight, I’ll have a terrible day tomorrow.” But whatever you do, don’t click “Send.”
There are three reasons you should not send e-mail after about 7:00 p.m. in the evening:
You’re a nonprofit executive. You represent a mission. You build consensus. You rally staff, volunteers, and the community. You do not own anything, and it is not all about you. Therefore, the words my, me, and I should rarely, if ever, pass your lips.
There is never a right time to refer to “my staff,” “my budget,” or “my donors.”