10 Things I Learned at a Non-Profit Conference

10 Things I Learned at a Non-Profit Conference

Sarkey's Foundation Bi-Annual Leadership Forum 2015In November of this year (2015), I had the honor of being a guest speaker at the Sarkey’s Foundation SW Regional Leadership Forum in Oklahoma, attended by over 600 organizations. I was invited by one of the organizers and long time friend, Sandy Wright of YUUMA. The theme of this year’s conference was “Rethink Everything,” but what I experienced was “Storytelling” was the real theme and it wound through many presentations, including my own.

The keynote speaker presentations were absolutely amazing. I even had the pleasure of getting to sit next to one of them during dinner before the conference began. I also attended several breakout session, like mine, but mostly the topics that were related to my field (online marketing, design and content).

Here’s what I learned and wanted to share:

  1. From Dan Pollatta, an American entrepreneur, author and humanitarian activist, I learned that when we ask “How much of my donations go to the cause and how much to overhead,” it forces us to think that ‘overhead’ isn’t part of the ‘cause,’ that charities have to scrimp, and that a ‘pie’ chart doesn’t change or grow.
  2. From Janine Driver, NY Times Bestselling author of You Can’t Lie to Me and You Say More Than You Think, speaker and body language expert, I learned that crossing your arms is not necessarily a defensive posture. That a person may be problem solving and by crossing their arms, it engages both right and left hemispheres of the brain and gives the person a 30% better chance at solving the problem. (I learned a LOT more from her, but that was one of my favorites.)
  3. From Jeannette Walls, journalist, speaker and author of the memoirs, The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel, I learned that – HOLY CRAP I’VE HAD AN EASY LIFE!!! – and that optimism is an amazing trait. “Things usually work out in the end, and if they haven’t, it just means you haven’t come to the end yet.”
  4. From Mike Koehler of Smirk New Media in OKC: “Stop doing motivationals on Social Media!” Make sure everything has value.
  5. From John Trybus, APR, Deputy Director, and Bridget Pooley, Program Manager at Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication, I learned (or relearned) that content is about information and stories are about action and emotion. We all should be spending plenty of time defining the purpose for each story!
  6. From Susan McPherson, founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, I learned to approach a brand as if it was a person: who are they, who do they hang out with, what do they do in their spare time, and why are they ‘the business.’These next three come from the folks at Georgetown University CSIC (who had two sessions on Storytelling), so I also learned three ‘Mega’ trends they see coming:
  7. Citizen Storytelling: Periscope. Social Sharing. Etc. The problem: Managing the Message. Most voices are authentic, but not necessarily in alignment with an organization’s message. If you find someone reporting… invite them in and ask to use certain parameters.
  8. Disruptive Characters: Julia Roberts as MOTHER NATURE (natureisspeaking.org) is an example of this approach. You can create a character to represent an aspect of your mission. An organization should be a supporting character, not a main character (nor the CEO/PRESIDENT/DIRECTOR).
  9. Virtual Reality: Tom’s Shoes is an effective example. A young customer is putting on virtual reality goggles and can see and hear places in Peru where they GIVE the shoes. Google Cardboard Glasses are one such tool.
  10. Lastly, my biggest ‘take-away’ was how passionate people were in the causes they supported. The personal stories that drove these people to work tirelessly for so little pay or recognition were astonishing, and humbling.

If you missed it this year, you’ll have to wait until 2017 to catch the next one. However, I believe a real change is coming for non-profits.

In the meantime, see who you can help out in your community!

Do you know the three R’s of successful project management?

They are real time, relationship and responsibility. These three R’s of project management can transform an idea into a successfully completed project. When planning a project it is important to give real time schedules in which a project can be finished. To do this, it’s important to make a plan of action. You want to include when will the project start, how long it will take, review points, due date and finalizing with the client.

Maintaining a positive, cooperative relationship with co-workers and clients is also essential to quality project management. Good communication is the key to these relationships. Take a few minutes to email, call and keep the other team members and the client informed about the current project stage.

Assigning individual responsibilities for the tasks and taking responsibilty for the overall project can be the difference between success and failure! Your name is on you work. Do a job that you want to stand behind. Not all projects succeed, but they do teach us about our weaknesses, strengths and where to improve. Practicing the three R’s of project management is your stepping stone to success.

Project management is a dynamic and multifaceted discipline that requires skillful navigation in a variety of domains. From time management to relationship building and taking on leadership roles, the foundational pillars of project management are rooted in the ability to balance and coordinate tasks to ensure a project’s success. Whether you’re a seasoned project manager or new to the field, understanding the complexities of time, relationships, and responsibilities is essential in any project’s execution. In this article, we will explore some key insights and strategies to help you excel in these three critical areas of project management.

As a project manager, one of the most important responsibilities you have is managing time expectations. With time being one of the most limited resources we have, it's essential that projects are completed on time and within budget. This can be a challenge, but with proper planning, it's possible to give realistic schedules in which a project can be finished. Planning a project is a key part of managing time expectations. You want to make sure you have a clear understanding of what the project entails, who will be involved, and what resources will be needed. Once you have a good understanding of the project, you can begin to develop a plan of action. Your plan should include when the project will start, how long it will take, review points, due dates, and finalizing with the client. It's important to break the project down into manageable tasks and assign responsibilities to team members. This ensures that everyone knows what they are responsible for and can work towards a common goal. When developing your plan, it's important to take into account potential roadblocks that could arise during the project. It's unrealistic to expect everything to go smoothly, so be sure to build in some flexibility into your schedule. This will allow you to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and still keep the project on track. Regular review points throughout the project are crucial to managing time expectations. This allows you to keep track of progress, identify any areas where things are falling behind, and make adjustments as needed. By staying on top of the project throughout its lifecycle, you can avoid any surprises that could impact the timeline. Another important step to managing time expectations is to set due dates and communicate them clearly. Make sure all team members know when their tasks are due, and build in ample time for review and feedback. By setting due dates, you can ensure that the project stays on track and that everyone is working towards the same deadlines. Finally, it's important to finalize the project with the client. This is when you will deliver the finished product or service and get feedback. Make sure that the client understands the timeline and is on board with the schedule. If there are any changes or delays, be sure to communicate them clearly. In conclusion, managing time expectations in project management is a critical task. By planning the project properly, breaking it down into manageable tasks, building in flexibility, setting due dates, and communicating clearly with the client, you can ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget. Remember to stay on top of progress and make adjustments as needed. By doing so, you'll be able to deliver successful projects that meet or exceed customer expectations.

Maintaining a positive, cooperative relationship with co-workers and clients is essential to quality project management. Successful project management cannot be achieved without effective communication, and strong communication skills are the key to building solid professional relationships. To be successful in any project management endeavor, project managers must put in the effort to maintain strong relationships with all stakeholders involved, including fellow team members and clients. First and foremost, good communication is fundamental to building cooperative relationships. Communication is more than just exchanging information; it is about connecting with others. Effective communication is about understanding the emotions and intentions behind the information being shared. When communication is practiced adequately, it is possible to build strong relationships with team members and clients. There are many ways to build good communication with co-workers and clients. One way is to take a few minutes to send an email, give a call or send a text with updates about the project. Keeping the other team members and clients in the loop about the current project stage not only helps maintain a positive relationship but is essential to effective project management. In addition to keeping team members informed, it is equally important to listen actively when communicating with them. Active listening means making a conscious effort to hear and interpret what the speaker is saying. It is an essential tool for fostering open communication and building robust professional relationships. Another way to establish a cooperative relationship with co-workers and clients is to practice empathy. By putting yourself in the other peoples' shoes and understanding their point of view, it is possible to build trust and establish a rapport that leads to effective communication. Empathy is also an important trait to have when working on projects, and it can be essential for identifying and addressing any concerns the team may have. Setting realistic expectations and following through on commitments is another key to maintaining strong professional relationships. Establishing clear timelines and keeping the team and clients informed of the progress of the project can help to prevent misunderstandings and miscommunications. Furthermore, it shows that the project management team is committed to delivering quality work on time. In conclusion, maintaining positive and cooperative relationships with co-workers and clients is essential to quality project management. Good communication is the key to building these relationships, and communicating through various channels, such as emails, texts, and phone calls, is necessary to keep all stakeholders informed. Active listening, empathy, setting expectations and following through on commitments are all essential skills that can help to establish and maintain strong professional relationships. Remember, effective project management is about more than just getting the job done; it is also about building and maintaining relationships that enable everyone to work efficiently and effectively.

As a project manager, your reputation is on the line with every project you oversee. To ensure that you are consistently delivering quality work, it is essential to create an atmosphere of responsibility in your team. Whether you're just beginning your career as a project manager or are a seasoned professional, the following tips will help you achieve this goal. Firstly, it is important to establish clear roles and expectations for each member of your team. This will help everyone understand their individual responsibilities and what is expected of them in terms of contributing to the project's success. Being transparent with your team members will give them a sense of ownership to execute their tasks with care and consideration. Secondly, it's important to conduct periodic check-ins with individual team members to evaluate their progress and provide them with feedback. Frequent communication will allow for any issues to be addressed promptly, and it will also ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the project's progress. Another key aspect of creating responsibility in project management is to lead by example. As the project manager, your actions will significantly impact your team's behavior. When your team sees that you are taking responsibility for your work, they will be more likely to do the same. It's also essential to demonstrate integrity and honesty in all of your dealings. Additionally, making sure that everyone has access to project-related data is important. This equates to having a clear understanding of what is happening on the project in real-time. Evidently, regular updates, progress reports and status updates will work best for all stakeholders. Finally, the most crucial element of ensuring responsibility in project management is developing a team culture based on accountability. To achieve this, you should strive to create an environment that encourages your team members to take ownership of their work, hold themselves accountable for their actions, and commit to doing their best to achieve excellent results. In conclusion, project management is not easy, and it requires an excellent level of commitment and responsibility. It is vital to establish clear goals and expectations, monitor progress consistently, take responsibility for your own work, and lead by example. By doing this, you will cultivate a team culture of responsibility that will lead to successful projects and a successful career as a project manager. Remember, ultimately your name is on your work, and your reputation hangs on your ability to be a responsible and capable project manager.

In conclusion, mastering the three R's of Project Management (time, relationships, and responsibility) is essential to ensure project success. Time management skills ensure timely delivery of the project, developing positive relationships with team members and stakeholders improve collaboration and communication, and taking responsibility can foster a sense of ownership and accountability. These skills also translate well into other areas of life. Remember, managing projects can be challenging, but developing these skills can go a long way in making the process smoother for everyone involved. So, start mastering these R's today and take your projects to the next level!

About Eric

Eric Huber, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Owner of Blue Zoo Creative has 35 years in marketing, advertising, and graphic design for small businesses, a Fortune 100 company, and international organizations.

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