An Executive Director's point of view


August 18, 2016: They don't have to care

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
When prompting other entities to support your efforts - individuals, businesses, government, academia, media, grant-makers, etc. - look at your program from their point of view, not yours.

Don't proselytize or lecture them about the need you seek to address.

Determine where their interests intersect with yours, and build your appeal around that point.

Show them how supporting your program will help them.

And understand that they may not share your passion for the cause or organization (and they are not going to, no matter what you do or say), so craft a less emotional pitch to win their support.

July 06, 2016: Appearances

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
... are often misleading.

When in my mid-30s, I attended a meeting of executive directors of small associations.

A colleague who appeared to be the oldest person in the room sat in a rumpled suit, tie askew, with one collar mindlessly folded upward.

His mustache was uneven, his hair windblown, and he didn't seem to know or care how he looked.

I immediately thought, "loser."

That was a big mistake.

As the meeting began, and people shared problems they were experiencing in their organizations, he offered solutions that others hadn't thought of. People actually took notes to record his suggestions.

The careless impression he made did not indicate the extent of his knowledge. I learned then that, just as you should not judge a book by its cover, you should not judge a professional by his appearance.

May 27, 2016: Videogames

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
You can learn a lot about yourself when playing videogames.

Are you aggressive or cautious? Do you swiftly move forward or first marshal your resources? Are you stronger on offense or defense?

You probably know these things about yourself already, but your videogame habits will force you to better recognize your inclinations, in case you haven't already.

There is usually no good way or bad way to play or to plan. Every situation is different and every player is different.

But being aware of your strengths and weaknesses - and admitting them to yourself - will go a long way toward helping you to develop and implement successful strategies in your professional life.

April 17, 2016: Stop cussin'

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Some people swear a lot.

They may think it displays the intensity they experience on the job. That it shows how much they care.

They may even believe it is an effective way to call attention to the good and the bad things that happen in organizations.

But their outbursts usually disturb other people. In a big way.

People who swear appear to be angry, out of control, and acting unpredictably. They sound mean-spirited and likely to harm and humiliate others, even those on their team.

And they sound uneducated, as if their vocabulary was so limited they had no choice but to rely on the same adjectives to describe their emotions all of the time.

If you require a verbal release for your tension, teach yourself to say "rats," or "oh, man," or "darn," or something that is not as offensive and stinky-sounding as what you may have said before.

It's not about being more polite or acting like a prude.

It's about being an intelligent professional, not an ignorant maniac.

March 13, 2016: Door-to-door canvassing

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
If your organization conducts door-to-door activities for any purpose, be sure the first sentence your canvasser speaks at the doorway clearly explains who you are.

Don't try to trick people into listening to you by uttering political rhetoric or asking a leading question. That's manipulative and insulting.

Say who you are, what your organization does, and what you want.

And don't interrupt people around dinner time. They don't want you to bother them when they are eating.

February 26, 2016: Say "thank you"

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
In the television show Mad Men, Peggy Olson complains to Don Draper that he never thanks her for all the ideas she gives him.

"That's what the money is for," he angrily responds.

Well, people should be thanked all the time, anyway.

You should thank a waiter for bringing your food, a cashier for giving you change, a bagger for packing your groceries.

And you should thank your employees for their work, even if they are simply doing what you pay them to do.

The words "thank you" should be the most frequently used words in your vocabulary. ("Please" should be a close second).

January 26, 2016: Snow

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
This was my plan during Chicago's last big blizzard.

And when you clear the snow away, be sure to allow access for disabled people.

January 15, 2016: Big bucks

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
I hope the three Powerball winners give a huge chunk of their dough to not-for-profits.

And that they give it in a strategic way.

They should identify a small number of issues they want to impact and then determine the best ways to do that. They can give money to existing organizations or they can create new ones.

550 million dollars sounds like a lot of money (because it is a lot of money). But it will only make a tiny dent, if that much, in the problems of the world.

It would be best if those folks viewed themselves as investors, not as contributors, and gave money to generate results, not merely to support "worthy" causes or their favorite organizations.

December 23, 2015: Good at everything?

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Reading association magazines, blogs, and listservs, you'd think there were a slew of associations that did everything well.

Well, there aren't.

Even robust, well-managed organizations often miss the mark in some of their activities.

So, don't envy organizations that seem to be more successful than yours. Don't wish you were just like them. Don't try to imitate them.

If you think other associations could be a source of good ideas, don’t choose one as a “model.” Check out lots of different groups and grab the ideas you think could work for you.

An organization that appears to enjoy a high level of achievement in one activity may be suffering a horrible setback in another.

September 28, 2015: Action, not position papers

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
If your organization seeks to influence a decision - public or private - it needs to determine how that decision will be made and how it can be influenced.

Announcing a policy position or publishing a journal, magazine, or newsletter article may be part of a larger advocacy strategy. But those activities, alone, are not enough.

To succeed, you must TAKE ACTION. Simply voicing your opinion is insufficient. You need to engage in activities that are likely to persuade decision-makers to adopt your position. And you need like-minded individuals and groups - including those outside of your industry or profession - to do the same.

Making speeches and issuing declarations is just not enough.
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