The Quest for Clarity

Have you ever noticed how unbelievably difficult it is to do things well? To get something right from top to bottom? Not only do you need the high-level organization, but you must also struggle to get each of the little, niggling details just right. Achieving Simplicity is Anything But Simple The next time you see something that looks effortless and simple, stop to think about what it took to achieve that clarity and ease. I promise you, it didn't start out with … [Read more...]

No More “I’m Sorry”

Again and again I find myself starting or ending emails and phone calls with "I'm sorry." I'm sorry it took me so long. I'm sorry I couldn't make this or that happen. I'm sorry I haven't done this or that. But recently, it struck me that mostly, I've got absolutely nothing real to be sorry about.  I may have wanted to get something done the day before I actually did it, but the person I'm writing to doesn't care... or hadn't even considered that I might respond … [Read more...]

Wear a Badge to Express Your Goodwill

My friend Liz Jackson, also known as The Girl with the Purple Cane, has come up with a fascinating idea. With the help of the Michael Graves design studio, she has developed a Seat Share badge for people to wear on the subway. Wearing a badge indicates that you are willing to give up your seat to someone who might need it. The idea is that some people have invisible disabilities and though they don't want to call attention to their problems, they really do need to … [Read more...]

One of the Most Important Life Lessons I’ve Learned

I'm old enough to know better. I assumed that when someone didn't follow through that it was a fluke. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Only to find out that he didn't follow through again and again. A Cautionary Tale Recently a young, savvy guy in my fundraising field reached out to me to see if I'd open some doors for him.  I met with him in person and was impressed. Smart, articulate, energetic, informed.  All of the things I like.  Before we parted, I made a … [Read more...]

My Doctor Doesn’t Touch Me Any More

Hi Jonathan, Do I need to schedule an appointment with you this fall or have annual check ups become a thing of the past? I've scheduled a mammo for this month. What else do I need to do? That's the email I wrote to my doctor this week. He responded a few minutes later saying that I should come in for some blood work to check medication levels, but no need for much else. This correspondence got me thinking about how the doctor/patient relationship (at least mine) has … [Read more...]

What Should You Do When You Don’t Feel Heard?

Do you ever feel as though people just don't seem to be hearing you? Have you ever rankled a bit when something you said just a few minutes earlier gets attributed to someone else? That happens to me sometimes, and it surprises me. I'm not shy. I don't tend to shrink. And I'm not usually quiet. So it's puzzling when people don't seem to hear what I say. Turning up the Volume One natural response to not being heard is to talk louder. You just turn up your volume. But … [Read more...]

How Big Do You Choose to Be?

It's perhaps a bit late in my life, I know, but I'm wondering whether is possible to imagine myself taking up more space in the world. It sounds odd, I know. But I think your sense of how big you want to be -- i.e., how visible and successful you want to be, and how much impact you want to have -- may actually shape just how big you become! Small can be comfortable So far, I've opted for smallish.  I've never really thought of myself as wanting to be visible in a … [Read more...]

Shorter, Targeted Presentations = More Impact

All afternoon, I've been trying to record a video on a subject about which I know lots. I talk for over 30 minutes because there's lots to say.  But reviewing the results, I suspect that's not the best approach. How much information, after all, can anyone take in, particularly during this time of information overload and multitasking? How long can you really listen to someone telling you things? Particularly if it's just a voice recording with slides. How Long Should … [Read more...]

Do You Want Your Feedback Straight Up, or With a Bit of Sugar?

I believe in the oreo cookie approach to giving feedback. The recipe is quite simple: Start by acknowledging something you appreciate. Offer your corrections. End by stating something you approve of. This approach wraps what might be difficult to hear in between things that are much more pleasant to the ears. Straight Up Criticism Recently I got some unvarnished feedback. I had worked for a couple of hours on writing the copy for an e-newsletter. I had really … [Read more...]

Get a Response with Curiosity, Persistence and Humor

Have you ever submitted a proposal or applied for a job and then waited... and waited... and waited to hear if you were selected? If that's ever happened to you, I'll bet dollars to donuts that the longer you waited without a response, the more sure you were that you didn't make the cut. Right? You probably figured that if you got the job, someone would let you know as soon as the decision was made. It's fun to deliver good news. But if you didn't get it, they'd delay … [Read more...]