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Friday, July 25, 2014

Are You Satisfied With Your Career?

"Are you satisfied with your career?" asked Joan Black, CFRE, a highly experienced and respected fundraiser based in Calgary, Alberta.

The small group of us around the table smiled.

"No, that's a real question," Joan said. "Are you?"

The five of us were participating in strategic planning for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Foundation for Philanthropy-Canada at their annual summer retreat. Gradually, most began to answer her question, but I didn't know what to say.

At another point in time, I would have answered, "Of course, yes." I work in the charitable sector. We do good work. We do noble work, according to Archbishop Desmond Tutu!

What does "satisfied with your career" really mean?

To define this for myself, I turned to my favorite job satisfaction measurement tool, the Gallup Q12. This is a list of 12 yes or no statements that are indicators of job satisfaction.

Preliminary question: what are the elements of "my career?" 
My career is not just what I get paid to do; it includes what I do in my volunteer life, too. In my case, my volunteer work is equally, sometimes more, important to my paid work.

The 12 questions (modified a little)
Q1: In the last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow.
Q2: In the last six months, someone has talked with me about my progress.
Q3: I have a best friend at work.
Q4: My associates are committed to doing quality work.
Q5: The mission of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
Q6: In my work, my opinions seem to count.
Q7: There is someone (in my career) who encourages my development.
Q8: Someone (in my career) seems to care about me as a person.
Q9: In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
Q10: At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
Q11: I have the tools I need to do my work right.
Q12: I know what's expected of me at work.

I can confidently say that I can answer "yes" to having a best friend at work (#3); my associates are committed to quality work (#4); I feel like my work is important (#5); and someone seems to care about me as a person (#8). But the other questions, I'm on the cusp. Some of this I can control--I can find opportunities to learn and grow (#1); I can acquire new tools to do my job (#11).

The others require outside feedback. I was surprised that I couldn't honestly answer "yes" to many, until I separated my paid work and my volunteer work. I could answer "yes" for my paid work (#6, #7, #9, #10), but not for my volunteer work. Since both my paid and unpaid work are equally important to me, I realized that I need to examine and rearrange what I do for my service.

I didn't expect to be so self-reflective as a result of an organizational strategic planning session, but I am grateful to Joan Black and our session facilitator, Juanita Gledhill, MCC Group, for triggering my introspection.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

7 Signs It's Time to Look for a New Fundraising Job

Over the past year, we've worked with several people who have been in job transition--sometimes by choice, many times not. All of those who were job hunting not by choice were highly qualified, seasoned professionals who were actually accomplishing their goals. In some cases, they were even exceeding the expectations set for them.

So we started thinking--what were the signs that things weren't going to end well? Here are seven red flags:

Your goals are moving targets. As you approach achieving what you're told to do, your manager changes the goal or changes the way your accomplishments so far have been measured. You're set up to never achieve closure on your projects.

No one shows an interest in your work. Yes, they'll glance at your reports, and question your tactics every now and then, but on the whole, they don't seem to think what you do matters. "I don't do fundraising" or "fundraising is not my responsibility" are common refrains among your staff and volunteer leaders.

You can't identify a single person that you work with that you trust and feel is a genuine friend. There may be people you like, and people that you sometimes hang out with, but you can't name anyone that you trust to truly have your back. They won't stand up for you if something goes wrong, especially come budget time. They are also people who talk about your friendship, but you know in your heart that if you went away, they would not just go to lunch with you for fun.

Your ideas don't seem to be valued. Every time you bring up a new strategy or idea, your suggestion is "put on the back burner," never to be seen again. New ideas that you manage to implement are not acknowledged as your idea.

Your organization doesn't invest in your advancement. You don't get promoted or get increased pay or recognition even when others do. You've hit a "glass ceiling" of sorts.

You don't feel like you fit in with the organization's culture. Perhaps you did at one time, but for some reason, on a gut level, you don't feel like you do now. Maybe there was a change in leadership on the staff or board side. Maybe there's a change with your peer group. Maybe there's a change in organizational direction. Whatever the reason, you don't feel like you fit in.

Someone's out to get you. Okay, this last one is rare. But sometimes it's obvious that someone important doesn't like you.

If you have several or all of these red flags, take the time to quantify what you've accomplished at that position, and make them as concrete as possible. Brush up that resume and update your LinkedIn and other online profiles. Rev up the networking machine and talk to your personal supporters. Good luck finding the next job which hopefully will give you the respect and recognition that you deserve!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Five Lessons Learned from Flying a Jetpack

Jim Anderson catching some air at Jetpack America
At GoalBusters, we do crazy things sometimes. One of our latest "you did WHAT?" adventures was flying water powered jetpacks at Jetpack America in San Diego, California.

Here are five lessons from flying a jetpack that can be helpful in everyday life.

Small change can make a big difference.
To navigate the jetpack, the adjustments on the control bars are minuscule. A millimeter of movement can result in dramatic changes in altitude and direction. A comparable example from my recent experience: a donor recently committed to the largest major gift in the history of a small nonprofit organization. Years ago, he started tossing quarters into a large bowl, then depositing that money when the bowl filled. That account, essentially his collection of loose change, funded a significant portion of his gift. Literally, small change!

Forward momentum is critical.
One thing the jetpack instructor wants you to do is maintain forward momentum. If you start to hover, you risk an unplanned back flip (which I almost did)! In daily life, it may feel at times that you're "hovering." Piles everywhere, lists that never get completed. Focus on getting one thing done every day--at least one thing is moving forward!

You need a coach that you can understand.
It's one thing to have a coach; it's another thing to have a coach that you'll actually pay attention to. One of the technical challenges of the jetpack is simply hearing the directions from your instructor--the jetpacks are loud and the helmets are not the best fit. While the instructor tries to coach you through adjustments, sometimes it's hard to hear or understand the terminology, or it's hard to get your brain to process the instructions quickly. When you actually do what the instructor wants you to do, things go really well!

Sometimes the greatest obstacle is fear.
I'm not a strong swimmer. Other than swimming pools, where I stick to the shallow end, I would rather look at water than be in it. Open water is scary to me. The jetpack itself wasn't that scary: it was the part about crashing into the water and not being able to surface that scared me. Logically, I knew they were not going to let me drown, but I was still a bit scared. So when I was airborne, I was tense, worrying about crashing, which made it harder for me to adjust, which made me crash. Whenever I remembered to relax and breathe, I had a much better time with the flight. (It also helped to have a very reassuring instructor.) There are other things I'm afraid of that impact my day to day, but if I remember to relax and breathe, using meditation techniques, it usually works out okay. (Except anything with spiders. Can't relax on that.)

It's a lot of work to make things look easy.
You got to admit--flying the jetpack looks pretty easy, doesn't it? But I was exhausted at the end of a 20 minute flight! This activity is about small muscle "twitch" movements, and way more work than it looks like. So, as is often true in life, things aren't always as easy as they look.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. Jim was incredibly happy with his flight. If you'd like to channel James Bond and try your own flight, go to Jetpack America. (Mention either Jim Anderson or Alice Ferris to get a $50 discount on your first flight.)

And please watch our videos: whoever gets 200 views, gets a free 20 minute flight! And we'd like to go back, so stay tuned for more random lessons....


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