When You Make a Mistake…

Like it or not, we’ve all made our share of mistakes. It’s what we do next that determines our success as a leader.


Image courtesy of Byrne Reese on Flickr

Early in my career, I made a big mistake with a volunteer. He had done some things which forced the Board chair to remove him from his post, and it was my job to implement this action. However, the way I chose to do it was publicly disrespectful of the many years of service this gentleman had provided my organization. He was so offended that he responded in public.

When confronted with the outrage of the offended volunteer and his friends, I doubled-down, got hot-headed and defensive, and started to further escalate the situation.

Thankfully, someone pulled me aside and said, “You may be in the right, but your attitude and approach are putting you in the wrong.”

What’s the Point of Personal Productivity?

I have a whole series of articles cooking in my head about personal productivity: how to go paperless, how to use an iPad to tame your to-do list, how to regain your sanity by cleaning up your office, and more. But before we tackle any of that, we need to address a critical question:


Image courtesy of Jake Johnson on Flickr
What’s the point?

Picking Up Trash, and Other Leadership Lessons from Summer Camp

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.

Camp Kanata, 1998

Camp Kanata

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.

The Executive Director’s Role with Call Notes

Call notes are like getting regular service for your car: you can keep pretending that you don’t need to do them, but sooner or later, you won’t be able to get anywhere.


Image courtesy of Tom VanNortwick on Flickr

The development director’s responsibility for call notes is clear. Even those that are naturally inclined toward recalling details can improve the quality of their follow-up by using call notes. Even more importantly, call notes provide vital continuity in the organization’s institutional memory when the development director leaves.

That said, the executive director has an especially critical need to create call notes.

How To Stand Out During and After Meetings

Before I get to this week’s article, could you do me a favor? Please click one of the share buttons and share this post with your circle of friends. I appreciate it!

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.


Photo courtesy of David Wall on Flickr

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.

3 Reasons to Stop Sending E-mails at Night

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.”


Image courtesy saranv on Flickr

There are three reasons you should not send e-mail after about 7:00 p.m. in the evening:

4 Things I Learned on a Grant-Review Panel

I had the pleasure of serving this spring on the regional review panel for the Virginia Commission for the Arts’ annual funding cycle. It was a fascinating process, and I learned a few key things worth sharing:


Image courtesy luxomedia on Flickr

1) It is a mountain of work for the reviewers

The panel on which I served reviewed only 36 applications. It took me over 30 hours to read them and make notes. Major funders — foundations, major corporations, etc. — probably get way more. So remember that your grant application is just one of many that will have to be reviewed, and be thankful and conscious of the size of this burden.

Outsourcing the Low-Hanging Fruit

You have them — we all do. There are probably several responsibilities you “have to do” that make you feel like you’re wasting your time. But do you really have to do them?

Low-Hanging Fruit

Image courtesy of iancarroll on Flickr

In late 2013, I was underwater. Our organization’s recent successes were causing huge increases in my biggest time-vacuums: IT maintenance, website, e-newsletter and social media. Of course, all four of these things are critically important to our success, and they have to be done. But without question, these four functions could — and should — be done by someone other than the executive director.

The Email You Can’t Live Without

If your nonprofit is still operating in the dark ages regarding email and calendars, pay attention.

Image courtesy of cicciodylan via Flickr

Image courtesy of cicciodylan on Flickr

Microsoft is now offering Office 365 for FREE. Office 365 includes services that only the biggest, most sophisticated nonprofits used to be able to afford: