Serving on a non-profit board can be one of the most rewarding activities a person can undertake. However, there are pitfalls. Following are five common mistakes that many people make when joining a non-profit Board of Directors. These mistakes can be costly to the Board member and to the organization.
- Failure to understand all of the functions of the Board. Some first-time Board members have a romantic view of what it means to serve on a Board, perhaps thinking that it is all about approving requests from the organization for ideas and attending fundraising events. Boards of Directors have a number of responsibilities. They are responsible for making sure the organization is financially sound, in compliance with regulations, that the chief executive is accountable and performing, that a strategic plan is in place and meeting milestones, and that Board meetings are run effectively and efficiently. The work can be tedious, and if Board members drop the ball, the entire organization can fall prey to scandals or financial ruin. It is important that Board members are educated about all of their responsibilities, and have the skills to contribute to the overall functioning of the Board.
- Joining for status and not carrying one’s weight. Board members are generally expected to contribute time, skills, connections, and/or money (either their own, or via fund raising) to the non-profit. Some people join Boards specifically to pad their resume or market their businesses. While this might be an outcome of serving on a Board, Board members should join a Board only if they are willing to contribute and have an impact. Before joining, they should be clear about what is expected of them – and the organization should be up front and clear in setting expectations.
- Overstepping bounds. Board members are stewards of the organization, not managers. They should not break the chain of command and talk to employees without express permission from the executive director. Similarly, a Board member should never speak to the media without express permission from the organization.
- Jumping right in with answers before taking time to listen and learn. Most Board members already have a track record of achievement in their careers. It is natural for them to come with experience and answers. However, non-profit organizations – like any organization – have their own history and culture. Board members need to take time to listen and learn before jumping in with what might seem to be obvious answers. Doing otherwise risks alienating fellow Board members who have been with the organization for a longer time.
- Poor collaboration and teamwork skills. Boards of Directors are made up of volunteers from different walks of life. They are often politically charged, sensitive groups. It takes collaboration skills and savvy to communicate ideas and influence others on a Board. Ramming ideas through is not the way to get things done, although some strong-willed executives forget that this is the case and can offend other members of the Board. Balance results and relationships when working with fellow Board members; think of your tenure on the Board as a marathon and not a sprint.
Before I learned and personalized these seven steps, I felt stuck in my sales.
I didn’t know who to talk to. I didn’t know what to say to them…and then what to say to them next…and God forbid ask for their business.
It was really embarrassing to think that I was a business owner and had not idea how to sell and no sales training.
What I have learned is that I am not the only business owner or professional who never learned how to properly sell.
Now, I have read the books that give you scripts, tricks, and slimy tips that assure you record-breaking sales.
Tactics like “Get your prospect saying ‘yes’ three times in a row and then ask for business.”
Really? That is how we are supposed to sell our services and products and be able to look ourselves in the mirror?
It sounds so ridiculous…assumes our prospects are complete idiots…and makes me feel like I need to take a shower because I have become one of “those” sales people.
There is a better way…an easier way…a more respectable way to increase your sales confidence and ultimately your sales numbers. It begins with understanding the 7 Indisputable Steps of Sales:
- Prospecting – identifying people who might need your products/services
- Building Rapport – developing a authentic, genuine respectful professional relationship
- Qualifying – understanding their need, ability to buy, timeline and value they seek
- Educating – sharing the logical and emotion value of your product/service
- Overcoming – voiced or unvoiced, helping your prospect remove barriers
- Closing – asking for the business
- Stewarding – taking care of the client through fulfillment and after the close of the sale
These logical, easy to follow-steps work.
They are natural and not manipulative.
They work for high-price tag sales and philanthropic efforts.
They work for short sales processes and long sales processes.
They just work.
In the Triumph Sales School we use these 7 steps as the backbone of a complete system that we customize to your industry, business, and personal style.
If your sales are slumping and maybe feel a little skittish, consider where you might be missing a step that is causing you and your sales to stumble.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re likely to wind up somewhere else.” – Yogi Bera
Very few of the business owners I’ve met have a clear idea of where their businesses are going. For that reason, they are indeed likely to end up “somewhere else,” along with everyone who is affected by the business. “Somewhere else” might be a happy place, but generally not. They lack vision!
“Somewhere else” might be a happy place, but generally not.
If owners don’t know where the business is going, employees surely don’t know. When employees don’t know, each must rely on his own judgment to guide his decisions and actions. The result is people working at cross-purposes and suffering from unclear expectations, second-guessing, frustration, suspicion, high turnover, conflicting values, wasted effort, mistrust and general chaos. (Notice that those are all bad things.)
The answer is to identify a meaningful vision for your business
The answer to those difficulties is to identify a meaningful vision for your business, to capture it in a vision statement and to focus everyone’s efforts on achieving it.
The most compelling vision statements paint a picture of an ideal
The most compelling vision statements paint a picture, not of a business itself, but rather of an ideal that results when a business has accomplished its purpose. Confused? Let me illustrate with examples of great vision statements:
The vision statement of the Citizens’ Advisory Board in my hometown is “Every child safe, well and stable.” How’s that for an ideal? If you worked for the CAB, would you understand your purpose? Would that vision guide your decisions and actions? (You’ve probably never heard of the CAB, but by reading just six words you have already shaped an opinion, haven’t you?)
The vision statement of The Walt Disney Company was “A smile on every face.” Would that ideal provide guidance and purpose to people working at Disneyland? I think so. That is no longer Disney’s vision statement. They have messed it up. A quick search will turn up numerous vision statements for Disney, including one that says: “…Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world…” Differentiate? We seek? Related products? And who wins if there is a conflict between “profit” and “innovative?” This puffery is not nearly as clear and useful as “A smile on every face.” (I’ll wager no one at Disney even knows the new version, let alone takes guidance from it.)
The vision statement of Google is “All the information in the world organized and accessible.” Do you suppose that vision had anything to do with Google Search, Google Earth, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reviews, AdWords, YouTube, Image Search, Video Search and all of the other Google products, including any they may have invented since I started typing this paper? (How did the world respond to their vision statement? Google it!)
It is unlikely that a business will ever fully achieve the lofty ideals captured in its vision statement.
Don’t misunderstand. It is unlikely that a business will ever fully achieve the lofty ideals captured in its vision statement. There will never be a time when every child is safe, well and stable, or when every face wears a smile, or when all the world’s information is organized and accessible – but those visions provide the ideals that focus decisions and actions within the organizations.
What is an ideal resulting from your business achieving its purpose?
Creating a clear, compelling vision statement is not often easy because business owners don’t often know what they want. To create your vision statement, you must decide and you must express it clearly. Begin by asking: “What is an ideal resulting from my business achieving its purpose? (The confusion you feel trying to answer that questions is the same confusion that causes chaos in your organization.) Think about the result you really want (“relief” is probably not a compelling vision). Keep your answer simple, short and descriptive, but do not settle for platitudes such as “happy customers,” or “quality products,” “the best service.” Nobody pays attention to platitudes.
Consider an indirect ideal
Consider creating your vision statement around an “indirect” ideal. For example, a client of mine has a goal of a specific amount of profit and growth over the next five years. Instead of “Profit and growth” as a vision statement, he chose to create a vision statement describing an ideal that would result in profit and growth. His vision statement is “The employer of choice for professionals in the _________industry.” That is an indirect vision because it does not mention profit and growth, but rather a condition he believes will result in profit and growth. He understands that attracting and keeping top professionals leads to repeat customers which leads to profit and growth.
Below are a few sample indirect visions statements from my company, Actioncoach, and some of my clients:
“World abundance through business re-education”
“Everybody calls us first”
“Known for unmatched communication”
“Known for the fastest response times in the industry”
“Every customer a raving fan who provides referrals without being asked”
“World peace and cultural understanding through a compassionate, profitable IT staffing experience”
Your vision statement can save you or rat you out
A word of caution: Your vision statement will provide clarity to calm chaos – if it clearly represents your true purpose. If it does not, it will clarify the contrast between your stated intentions and your actions, which will add cynicism to chaos. In that case, you would be better off “somewhere else.”
Your career…is yours! It is your responsibility.
Sure, there are factors outside of your control that affect your career path.
However, the most influential factor in your career development is you!
Here are 17 questions that will help you gauge your current career satisfaction. Answer each question with a “Yes”, “So-So” or “No”:
- I feel satisfied.
- I feel appreciated.
- I feel respected.
- I have enough autonomy.
- I am making a difference.
- My political standing is powerful enough that my job is secure.
- I have enough variety.
- I have opportunities to keep learning and developing.
- My life and work are in balance.
- I feel aligned with the values of my organization.
- I respect and admire my colleagues.
- I respect and admire my manager(s).
- My work lets me express myself.
- My current career is close to my dream career.
- When I am at work, I feel energized.
- I don’t see any other, better career opportunities.
- I am not burning out.
If you answered “So-So” or “No” to more than 5 of the above questions, I want to challenge you to take responsibility for your career.
You can do something to make your career path better.
We can help develop a plan to get you where you want to go professionally.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free consultation.
I had the privilege of attending, and for two years serving as a pastor, at Journey Church in Norman, Oklahoma. The founding, senior pastor of the church is Clark Mitchell. There are a ton of things I learned and gained from my time under his ministry and leadership.
One lesson was “all blessings flow through relationships.”
Isn’t that true? If you take time to look at your life, then you will quickly see the blessings you have are because of your relationships with others. We were built for relationships.
Now, this is not a post about “networking”, which if you are like me feels really “icky” and “unauthentic.” I would have to admit that I am probably one of the worst networkers I know. However, I am blessed with amazing relationships. And like you, these relationships have brought me to where I am today.
If you want to find success, you are going to have to master relationships. Theodore Roosevelt said,
“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”
Remember, Theodore Roosevelt was a “man’s man.” He was a Rough Rider and the President of the United States. A “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of guy. However, he understood the central role relationships play in your success.
As you continue to build your career, and even your life, remember these 10 Commandments of Relationships:
- Choose Your Tribe Wisely: Are you hanging with chickens or eagles? We must surround ourselves with people who pull the best out of us…instead of the worst. Some people will keep us all penned up…others help us soar!
- Make Relationship Building a Priority: You might think you are not good at building relationships. That’s ok. If it is important, you can get better at it. Start with this fundamental truth: PEOPLE MATTER!
- Balance Care and Candor: Your relationships should be characterized by truth and care. Do you know when to challenge your friend with the truth versus when you share the truth with empathy and compassion?
- Make it a Habit: This might sound very “cold and robotic”, but you are extremely busy. If you don’t make it a habit to reach out to your relationships, then you will only do so when you need something. I don’t think that is how you want to be known in the relationship.
- Like-Mindedness Matters: Find people with common goals, values, interests and aspirations. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have experiences with diverse groups. Those experiences are key to your growth. However, the people we will grow closest to we often share core things in common.
- Be A Giver: If you got into a relationship thinking it is all about you, then the relationship probably won’t last or at best be very shallow. Seek opportunities to serve others first.
- Be a PLUS: John Maxwell talks about this in his book the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership in the Law of Addition. Be the person someone wants to run into at the grocery store…not the person people run from. Be positive and encouraging, not critical and a downer.
- Shut Your Mouth, Open Your Ears: You will build much stronger relationships with people based on what you hear them say, not what they hear you say. If you are a great listener and ask great questions, people will be blown away by your conversation skills. Try it.
- Be grateful: When was the last time you told someone you were grateful for the relationship you had with them? You understand as well as I do how rare healthy, strong relationships are in this world. Take time today to let those people know how much you value them.
- Right the Wrongs: Relationships are hard and messy. That is probably why we don’t engage in them like we should. If you mess up, own up and apologize. If someone wrongs you, forgive them and move on.
Friends…it is all about relationships. They are key to your success in every aspect of your life, even professionally. If you want to find your dream job, you are going to have to master relationships.
Plus, what good is success if we don’t have strong relationships with whom to enjoy that success with each day.
What steps can you take to build stronger, more authentic relationships?
So you have determined that your idea for a “dream career” has sat on the shelf collecting dust long enough. Oh…you have looked at it and longed for it regularly, but you are now ready to do something about it.
As they say, “you are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
You are ready to take a journey toward you ideal career…your DREAM JOB!
Before you start on this journey, I want to remind you to pack these 4 items for your journey toward your dreams:
- A Clear Self-Definition: Often when we decide to go after our dream career it is from a place of inflated or deflated ego. You don’t want either. A deflated ego is full of self-doubt and other self-limiting beliefs that will make the journey very difficult…like carrying unnecessary luggage. An inflated ego may cause you to overlook and underestimate some of the essential steps on this journey…like not making sure you have the right equipment or plan for your journey. You need an accurate, correct self-definition of who you are, what you are capable of accomplishing…and more importantly, what God says about you.
- A Full Fuel Tank: This journey will take fuel. Many times the routines we have become accustomed to have gotten us in a rut. We may have forgotten what it is like to roll-up our sleeves, change things up and dig in to the work it takes to get to the top. I would be willing to bet you have rolled up your sleeves before so I am confident you can do it again. You just need to assess your season in life, decide what changes need to be made, and commit to doing what it takes. If God has given you a vision, He will give you provision…which includes the strength to do your part. Press into Him and He will sustain you!
- A Clear Picture of What’s Possible: Pull out your vision…your picture of the ideal future. Are there areas of your vision where you have hedged your bets? Are there aspects of your vision where you have let the past dictate your future? Have you invited God into the conversation and allowed Him to speak to your vision? I would imagine that His vision is much greater for your career, and your life, than you might expect. When we, alone, are the architects of our vision they are automatically incomplete. But when we allow God to craft the vision it is complete, accurate and incredibly inspiring. When was the last time you asked God to speak into your plans for your life…or better yet surrendered your plans for His?
- A Growth Plan: This journey is going to change you. It is going to change you because you have to change to be in this new place professionally. I am always impressed by professional athletes who while at the peak of their performance continue to push themselves to improve. They are practicing harder, trying new things, and always growing. An attitude of growth and lifelong learning is required for the journey to your dream job. Are you willing to learn something new? Are you willing to try new things? Are you willing to look outside the box? There is a work that probably needs to happen inside you as well…are you open to His work in you so He can do new things through you?
You are not alone in the fears, hesitations and numerous questions that arise from these discussions. It is scary, risky and dangerous business to chase your dreams and fight “comfortable.” That is probably why most people don’t do it.
If “enough is enough” and you don’t want to spend another day settling let’s talk. Contact me at email@example.com so we can schedule a time to chat about your dreams and what it will take for you to get there! Your dreams are at least worth a conversation.
I have had several conversations lately with people looking for their dream job. The reasons for the interest in career transitions is for another post, but the conversation is becoming quite regular.
I find it interesting that the conversation is not about finding a “job”, but specifically people are talking to me about their interest in finding their “dream job”.
That question runs deep within each of us. I would argue that we all want to feel that we are doing work, everyday, that is both profitable and that we can be passionate about.
I know personally that I have had jobs that were neither, and that was extremely unfulfilling and stressful. I have had jobs that were profitable, but lacked a sense of great meaning and progress. And I have had jobs that I was passionate about, but just weren’t paying the bills.
I know that we all want careers that offer both passion and profitability.
Here are 3 things I think are critical in your search for your dream job:
- Your Dreams, Passions, and Aspirations: These are not only the conversations of grade schoolers. When was the last time you took time to reflect on what you really want “to be when you grow up?” It is never too late to consider and answer this question.
- Your Talents & Skills: There are a set of unique gifts and skills that you have been blessed with from birth and have developed throughout your life. But don’t stop there. What talents and skills could you further develop if you spent the time working on them?
- The Marketplace: This is where the rubber hits the road. Is there a market for your skills and talents. If there isn’t, then you may have found a great hobby…or you may have to go to work creating a new market. However, if you are going to land your dream job there has to be a market where those skills, talents and giftings can be offered.
You can find your dream job. With the proper career development and execution of that plan, you can start working toward the job of your dreams. Contact us at the Triumph Team at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation on how we may help you find your dream job.
It has been really sad to see a slew of my friends lose their job recently. Layoffs and downsizing is rampant in the oil and gas industry, which dominates the economy where I live.
Everyday it seems that I am reading in the newspaper or on social media about another batch of layoffs that continues to put highly talented and capable professionals out of work.
I can only imagine the stress these people feel when faced with such bad circumstances. Mortgages still need to be paid. Groceries still need to be purchased. And soccer registration is due at the end of the month.
Whether you are reading this and walking through a layoff, sitting in your office hoping they don’t call your name next, or if you feel secure in your position and just wonder what “they” think of you, hopefully this will help you as you look at your career development.
The bottom line in how professionals are evaluated by their organizations is what value they bring to the team. Andrew Neitlich suggests there are really only two ways to bring value to the team.
The first way is to bring value through your strong network of relationships.
The second way your bring value to your team is through your strong technical or functional skills.
It is the combination, or lack thereof, where we are able to identify how your boss sees you. Use this guide to identify where you sit and assist you in your career development:
- “The Sitting Duck” – this professional has low functional/skill value and low relational value. Many recent college grads are seen in this light. While they are paid relatively low, my advice is to get out of this spot quickly.
- “Caught in the Middle” – this is the absolute worse place to be. You might be making good money, but people are questioning the real value you bring to the team and are starting to question if you are worth it.
- “The Guru” – this professional has amazing functional/skill value. They are amazing at what they do and the organization is much better because of them. The problem is nobody really knows who they are or what they do.
- “The Networker” – these professionals bring great relational value to the team, but if they are not able to close some deals they can be seen as an “empty suit”.
- “The Double-Spiker” – these professionals are the top 1-5% in their industry and they are paid that way. They have mastered both their functional/skill and their relational network. They have “spiked” functionally and relationally. They are seen as INDISPENSABLE to their organization and their network.
Obviously this is a moving target, but are you able to see yourself in any of these caricatures? Based on where you best identify yourself, do you know what your next steps need to be in your career development?
Here is the good news: your career is yours. Take action and start building it today.
A few years ago I started my own training and development business. Yup, I made the plunge into business ownership. I had a lot of ideas about what owning my own business would be like. Some were right and some were really wrong.
I was recently reading “Guerrilla Marketing: Job Escape Plan” by Jay Conrad Levinson and Andrew Neitlich (one of my mentors). They offer a list of 13 of the most common misconceptions about business ownership. Here are the 5 that most resonated with me:
- A Brilliant Business Plan is a Must: When I first started out I was perplexed and puzzled by the concept of creating a rock-solid business plan. I had never created one before and just knew the key to my success was blowing people away with one. No one has ever asked for one! A short business plan is a great start to your business. However, what you do need to have is a very strong marketing plan.
- You Finally Have Enough Money to Start: Wrong! A business can be like a “black hole”. It will suck all the money up you throw at it. You will always be able to spend more money on your business. The question is “should you?” One area that is a major “black hole” in business can be marketing. There are many ways to spend marketing dollars. Without a strong marketing plan you can go broke very quickly. With a good plan though, marketing does not have to cost as much as you think.
- If You Build it They Will Come: Hang a sign. Hand out some business cards. Tell people what you are doing…and they will knock down your doors. Wrong! No matter what your product or service, if you can’t sell it you will go out of business. Have I mentioned taking the time to develop a strong marketing plan?
- You Have to Have a $1,000,000 Idea: Let’s be honest, we all believe this one. We sit around and wish we could just come up with the idea and then we can start the business. The truth is the chance of you coming up with a $1,000,000 idea are about 1/1,000,000. Don’t wait for the idea. Businesses are started everyday that are based on passion, purpose and some hard work. You don’t need to find a $1,000,000 idea…you need to just find your niche. By the way, your niche is outlined in your marketing plan
- If Your Business Fails, You are a Failure: Wow! That’s a lot of pressure…and not true. Businesses fail everyday. The owners of those businesses can either sink or swim. Those who swim come up with a way to leverage their experience and learn. Those who sink let the failure label them and are never able to come up for air. Your new experiences, relationships and knowledge can propel you to success in your next business venture or your next job. You can add that to your personal marketing plan!
As you can tell, the mistake I made early on was not understanding that importance about a marketing plan. More specifically, underestimating the amount of work I would spend on sales.
If you are a business owner, what misconceptions did you have about ownership when you were starting out?
If you are considering your own launch, what questions do you have that maybe we can clear up for you?