October 22, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Find Your Mission


The idea of ‘synchronicity‘ and ‘flow‘ just seem to get reinforced every day.  Last week, Nick led an unbelievable day around STORY and MEANING and PURPOSE.

FAST COMPANY, November 2014 arrived after that with the cover and primary theme/article on FIND YOUR MISSION.

The article was written Robert Safian who is also editor at Fast Company.  (This really smart guy was also editor at Fortune and Money and now Fast Company.)

I had just written a quick thought/blog on Work-Life Balance vs. Integration and then I read this quote from the Editor, “I’ve tried to provide a philsophy on practical framework for managing your choices.  Life and business can’t be separated anymore (maybe they never really could).  Today we all need to appreciate the layered sophisticated interaction (my bold) between the personal and professional in order to make the most of both.”

The article, Find Your Mission, ends up being about an organization and a person figuring out what really is at the core of their being.

It’s a long article but well worth the read.

***One reason this article resonates so much is that it basically provides tremendous reinforcement of our Controlling Insight:  IMPACT drives INCOMENot the other way around.  He says it this way, “The more companies like Apple and Chipolte focus on something beyond money, the more money they make.”

Oh, yeah.

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

October 21, 2014 | Tom Suddes

A Leader’s Job is to Bear Pain … Not Inflict It


I came across some old notes (1998) on Robert Greenleaf’s seminal book, SERVANT LEADERSHIP. As with many great books, the message is in the title/on the cover.

Greenleaf suggests a domain of leadership grounded in a state of being, not doing. He goes on to say “The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to SERVE … and being a leader has to do with the relationship between the leader and the led.”

SERVANT LEADERSHIP is a small pamphlet (only 37 pages long), but powerful.

“The essence of leadership is the desire to serve one another and to serve something beyond ourselves, a higher purpose.” – Robert Greenleaf

Note: Somehow, the idea of a leader’s job being to bear painnot inflict it … came from SERVANT LEADERSHIP and one of my all-time favorite books, ONCE AN EAGLE, by Anton Myrer, an amazing book on ‘leadership’ as seen through the eyes of an army leader who rises from the ranks of Private in WWI to General in Vietnam.

As a leader, a parent or a coach … the idea of ‘servant’ and ‘serving’ seem to be more about bearing pain than inflicting it.

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

October 16, 2014 | Tom Suddes



At a company meeting last March 1st (at Notre Dame), I had a chance to talk with the team about the whole Work-Life Balance thing.

To me, it has always been way more about INTEGRATION … rather than BALANCE.

For me, it was always about the entrepreneurial adventure and the integration of family and boxing and travel and good health.

Stew Friedman, who is a Wharton School Professor, has just come out with a new book called LEADING THE LIFE YOU WANT: SKILLS FOR INTEGRATING WORK AND LIFE.

I saw this post at Forbes from Dorie Clark and am just starting the book.

Two great teaser quotes:

“The people who are most successful in terms of having a significant IMPACT on the world are those who embrace others parts of their lives, rather than forsake them.”

“That was the big motivating idea: to cut through the common wisdom that you have to give up everything in order to be successful.”

I fought the work-life balance thing for a long time.  ‘Balance‘ time with family, work, travel, working out, six weeks at Notre Dame, etc.

It finally dawned on me that having family members work with you in business, taking grandkids with you on trips, taking a mini-sabbatical at Notre Dame to coach allowed great time for writing and thinking, etc. or way more about INTEGRATION.  Friedman talks about the term ‘work-life balance’ needs to be overhauled and the implication that we can (or should) appropriately balance our personal and professional lives all the time is faulty.

It’s probably worth ordering the book just to get the thinking behind this pretty big idea.

One last quote:

“The people who are most successful are those who figure out ways of bringing the different pieces together in ways that are mutually reinforcing.”


Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

October 7, 2014 | Tom Suddes


30 years ago, I tried to create THE IDEAL DEVELOPMENT OFFICE (IDO) for Catholic secondary schools. That subsequently morphed into a Major Gift Process and then into a Funding Roadmap … which is probably in its 10th (?), 30th (?) iteration.

Here is the latest change … and it is not made without a great deal of thought and input.

We are changing Green #2 from JUST VISIT … to JUST ENGAGE.

While JUST VISIT is a specific part of ENGAGEMENT… it is a lower hierarchy.

JUST ENGAGE reinforces at the highest level the importance of ENGAGEMENT, MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS, VISITS, DIALOGUE, CONVERSATION, and more.

fi_funding_roadmap_100614click to download a copy

If you have not seen ON ENGAGEMENT (or maybe just haven’t read it in a while), now is a really good time to review.


Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | One Comment | Share

September 30, 2014 | Tom Suddes

My #1 Job Is To SELL.

Just received my November 2014 Success Magazine.  Still one of my favorites.

Success publisher and founding editor, Darren Hardy, has a new book just released called THE ENTREPRENEUR ROLLER COASTER.  Here’s the exclusive excerpt.

Although Hardy is talking to entrepreneurs about THE CHOICE (What is the most important thing you can do every day?), his answer applies to all of us.  It’s not about the best product ever, top-notch management, best customer service or best business plan.

In Hardy’s words, You’re #1 job is SALES.”

I’m trying to finish my own ‘sales book’, JUST ASK.  One of my favorite quotes will be on the cover.

“You’re in sales.  Get over it.”

We’re all in sales.  We’re selling vision, ideas, new recruits, investors, and much, much more.

Hardy, again: “You are going to SELL all day.  Every day.  That’s business.”


Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

September 18, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Moving the World Forward …


I just got my Fall 2014 issue of Rotman Management from the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management.  This is one of my four top reads/magazines along with Fast Company, Success, Inc.

There’s a great article by Roger Martin, former dean and author and brilliant design thinker, and Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, one of the premier funders of social entrepreneurs and innovators.

Here’s the article: Moving the World Forward: The Quest for a New Equilibrium.  

Here’s the summary:  “By combining elements from government policy and business entrepreneurship … social entrepreneurs are moving the world forward in creative ways.”

If  you have an ounce of social entrepreneurial blood in you, take the time to read this.

One last quote:

“The most exciting part is that social entrepreneurship makes possible equilibrium shifts that neither of the traditional forms (government or business) can achieve on their own(!)

The creative combination of elements from both poles is what enables social entrepreneurs to build unique models designed for their particular context (my bold).”




Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

September 16, 2014 | Tom Suddes





Here’s a simple question: Would Apple or Microsoft or IBM (or your own favorite company) ask ‘VOLUNTEERS’ to do their ‘SALES’???

Just the idea of the word ‘SOLICITATION’ (the implication of which I cannot go into in a PG-13 document), should be enough to make you give up on this 1950’s “Peer-To-Peer Solicitation” model!

Note: In this Traditional Model, a typical ‘ask’ by a peer (to a peer) goes “I have your (3 x 5) card. Can you give something? Just send it in.” WOW! Clear. Concise. Compelling. NOT!


Here are 7 pretty solid reasons not to use VOLUNTEERS to make SOLO SOLICITATIONS:

1. DESIRE, ENTHUSIASM, PERSISTENCE. How many of your ‘volunteers’ really, really, really like to ask a friend for money? If presented as such, these volunteers lack key ingredients for sales success: ENTHUSIASM and PERSISTENCE.

It is professional staff’s mission and responsibility to Present The Opportunity to Qualified Prospects.

2. TRADING DOLLARS. Every ‘VOLUNTEER’ knows that whenever they ask one of their friends/peers for money… they will soon be asked back for that prospect’s favorite cause. This system of ‘trading dollars’ certainly does not allow for aggressively MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS.

Professional staff are objective, fair and committed to helping their prospective investor feel great about their commitment. Read more

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

August 29, 2014 | Tom Suddes

No More Mission Statements


No one, and I mean literally no one, can recite their organization’s Mission Statement. This is not just true in the “Not-for-Profit” world but in the “For Profit/Business” world as well.


If you don’t believe me, TEST IT! Ask three or more staff and volunteers to recite, in unison, your Mission Statement (without looking)!


*Compare this to Mother Theresa’s Mission Statement: “We must radiate God’s love.”

Your real goal is to have a MESSAGE that is CLEAR … COMPELLING … and CONCISE … and can be delivered in a CONSISTENT fashion!

“The true Mission Statement expresses your raison d’etre, the purpose or reason for your existence. It should be the invisible life force that drives and unifies.”

Soar With Your Strengths
Donald Clifton, Paula Nelson

It’s not just your organization that has trouble with Mission Statements. It’s a universal problem in the ‘real world’ of ‘for-profit’ business as well. (I’m wondering what ‘Mission Statements’ motivated Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers???)

My favorite example is from a great company … that is 100 years old … and has a following that we all would die for:


This is my favorite company because it’s my ‘vehicle of choice’.  But, this could be the ugliest, least inspiring, can’t believe they wrote it … Mission Statement ever.

However, look at the message, tagline, battle cry that is engraved, inspired or tattooed(!) somewhere on their ‘iron horses’, ‘hogs’, or bodies:


You get the point.


It’s not about your MISSION STATEMENT … it’s about your MESSAGE.

The real goal is to have a MESSAGE that is CLEAR… CONCISE… COMPELLING… and can be delivered CONSISTENTLY.

Your MESSAGE should be able to be captured on a NAPKIN… and communicated in as few words as possible, ideally with a picture (visual).

Take a tip from the political world and STAY ON MESSAGE!

P.S. Don’t worry about trying to ‘change’ your Mission Statement. Leave it alone. It’s too painful a process. Just work on your MESSAGE!

“A customer can say ‘NO’ because the offer doesn’t apply to them; but NEVER because they didn’t UNDERSTAND IT!!!”

Jumpstart Your Brain
Doug Hall

In our world, that means someone can say, “not now” or “not a priority” for legitimate reasons, but never because they didn’t UNDERSTAND the VISION/MISSION/ MESSAGE!!!

3 Big Keys:

SIMPLICITY                BREVITY                CLARITY


It takes 3 pages just to ‘introduce’ your organization as a preface to a 30-page proposal or grant request!!! (for $10,000!!)

Think about these ‘taglines’ as a Message:

“We’ll put a man on the moon before THE end of decade.”
“I have a dream.”
“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
“He’s not heavy, he’s my brother.”
“1,000 Points of Light.”
“Just Do It.”
“Like a Rock.”
“Live to Ride. Ride to Live.”

Bottom line: WHAT’S your MESSAGE???



Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | 2 Comments | Share

August 21, 2014 | Tom Suddes

No More Major Gift Officers


Don’t freak out! If you ARE a Major Gift Officer … or have just HIRED a Major Gift Officer … or HAVE multiple Major Gift Officers … THAT’S GREAT!!!

What I’m strongly urging you to do is to CHANGE THEIR TITLE!!!

  • It’s soooooo development-y and fundraise-y!
  • It’s such an insider’s word.

We should wear a sandwich board that says “I’m a MAJOR GIFT OFFICER. I’m coming to ask you for a Major Gift. Get ready.”

Nobody OUTSIDE your organization deals with ‘MAJOR GIFTS.’

Nobody INSIDE even knows what they are.

As always, I challenge you with the ‘NO MORE’ … but offer an alternative SOLUTION.

Change the TITLE of your ‘MAJOR GIFT OFFICERS’ to something that includes the word RELATIONSHIP!!!

  • Could be a CRO: Chief Relationship Officer
  • Could be a RRO: Regional Relationship Officer
  • Could be RDOR: Regional Director of Relationships
  • Could be a CRO: College Relationship Officer
  • Could be just RO: Relationship Officer

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | One Comment | Share

August 20, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Focus on Strengths


This has become one of my most personal and driving maxims. Simple fact: People don’t change. Each one of has great strengths and corresponding weaknesses.

There’s a ton of powerful research and thinking on why we should NOT be trying to ‘fix’ our weaknesses … but rather focusing on our strengths! (This is particularly true when comes to finding and hiring good people.)

The premise of this is very simple:

Stop trying to fix your weaknesses … and FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS.

I think we do this intuitively. Do we really enjoy doing ‘stuff’ that we’re not good at???

The things I see as contributing to a failing culture in business and education, and I guess life, have to do with actually focusing on weaknesses. Think about it:

  • Business:
    “Here are your areas of deficiency. You need to work on these and try to improve your performance.”
  • Education:
    “You have four A’s and a D. You’re grounded (for the D).”
    “Math is your weakest subject. You need to spend a lot more time on math.”
    There is some really great stuff out there on this concept of focusing on your strengths. Donald Clifton wrote a great book in the 1980’s calledSoar with Your Strengths. Twenty-five years later, mentored by Clifton, Marcus Buckingham has brought attention to this idea with his great book Discover Your Strengths.

The more I read about Buckingham, I want to share my own thoughts about ‘STRENGTHS’ vs. ‘WEAKNESSES.’ Here’s a powerful, statistical nugget that could help you change your life and your organization:

Based on Buckingham’s research, 83% of people say “FINDING THEIR WEAKNESSES AND FIXING THEM IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS.”

The WOW here is that when very, very ‘SUCCESSFUL’ people are analyzed … the EXACT OPPOSITE is true!!!

Here’s the tip: Screw your weaknesses. Focus on your strengths. Do what you love. Read more

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

  Read Our Blog Become A Fan On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter

How to Make Your Story Awesome.