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 | Comments | 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

August 19, 2014 | Nick Fellers

How To Make Your Story Awesome

I’ve heard it said that culture eats strategy for breakfast.

I buy that.

If that’s the case then I’m convinced STORY eats strategy for lunch, dinner and all the little snacks in between.

We’re preparing two important resources for our followers and alums.

Teleseminar on Thursday, August 21: How to Make Your Story Awesome
1ET. Free for the first 95 to register.  Info & Registration.

Storytelling Boot Camp on Thursday, October 9
Eagle Creek (our HQ in Columbus, OH).  Info & Registration.

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

August 19, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Hire for Attitude. Train for Skill.


Attitude is everything!

Please take this literally! In all my years and all my experience, I have learned that ATTITUDE really is EVERYTHING. Your attitude on ‘life,’ on ‘work,’ on ‘problems,’ on ‘failure.’

My friend Tim Kight calls this the R Factor. E + R = O. Event + Response = Outcome. Everything is about your RESPONSE (ATTITUDE), not the situation or the activity itself.

This is especially true in SALES!

The ATTITUDE you bring on a visit … the PASSION and ENERGY and EMTHUSIASM that you show about the work that you do and the impact you have … is a gazillion times more important than what you say, your engagement tool, your numbers, and everything else … even the attitude of the prospect!

ATTITUDE vs. SKILL. Going back to the ‘HEART’ thing, I want to add this ‘test’ I learned from the master motivator and best sales trainer in the world, Zig Ziglar.

List all of the CHARACTERISTICS and TRAITS you are looking for in a person who would perfectly fit the Ideal Profile for the role/job you are wanting to fill.

  1. ___________________________________________
  2. ___________________________________________
  3. ___________________________________________
  4. ___________________________________________
  5. ___________________________________________
  6. ___________________________________________
  7. ___________________________________________
  8. ___________________________________________
  9. ___________________________________________
  10. ___________________________________________

Next, take a moment and mark each one with A for Attitude or S for Skill.

Now, total all your A’s and S’s.

Interesting, huh?

When we do this exercise in group settings, this list almost always ends up with about 90% A … and 10% S!!!

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

August 14, 2014 | Tom Suddes

The ‘T’ in Talent


I have known about the idea of ‘T’ people for years. This idea is particularly powerful in today’s world and your search for talent, particularly for certain leadership roles!

As you search for Talent … and look to hire the best FIT … look for these T-PEOPLE:


The ‘deep‘ vertical line is pretty clear. CFO’s should know everything about finance. Chief Development Officers (CDO’s) should have a ‘deep’ understanding of sales, etc.

The ‘broad,’ horizontal line is what makes the difference between a ‘good’ teammate and ‘great‘ teammate.

The ability to bring this background, knowledge and experience to the ‘creativity/innovation table’ is what allows a small but talented leadership team to change the world.

Special Note: Tom Peters wrote many years ago about how much he loved talking with people with ‘GAPS IN THEIR RESUMES.’ As always, he was way ahead of his time. The horizontal line across the top of the ‘T’ allows for GAPS IN THE RESUMES, six months backpacking in Europe, doing NOLS or Outward Bound, taking a sabbatical, a trip around the world or whatever else makes you a much more interesting and valuable person.

Think about the ‘T’ as you look to hire your next TALENT.

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

August 13, 2014 | Tom Suddes

World’s Simplest Management Secret

We (our team at For Impact/Suddes Group) spend a ton of time on ‘BUS’ issues. Here is the “World’s Simplest Management Secret”  … when it comes to getting the most productivity out of your talent:


I got this wonderfully simple tip/secret from Geoffrey James at Sales Source through Inc. Magazine’s blog.

Here’s the essence:

  • You can’t manage ‘people.’
  • You can manage individuals on your team.
  • However, they are all different … and need different styles.

Thus, apply the World’s Simplest Management Secret: JUST ASK (THEM)!

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

August 12, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Elite Teams: The Missing Element

Nick, Steve, Kerry and our team must hear this comment every day: “We love your stuff. We need your help (with our Board, with Training, with Coaching). BUT WE DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY IN THE BUDGET (for training).”

I hope the following thoughts on Elite Teams will help you re-think the whole idea of training, budgets, team dynamics, priorities and more.


  • What is the one common element inherent in every Elite Team?
  • What common thread creates Elite Teams in the military (Navy Seals, Delta Force), professional sports (LA Kings, Miami Heat, St. Louis Cardinals), professional musicians (symphony, orchestra), medical teams (surgical teams, trauma units), etc.?
  • What does every one of these elite teams … and the individuals involved with the team … DO better than everyone else in the world?


Think about it.

Military teams constantly practice, practice, practice in boot camp, training camps, simulations, etc.  Twenty years ago, the idea was to practice … in the hope that you’d never have to play. The U.S. has now been engaged in the real stuff for over 20 years … which makes the whole idea of practice here in the States even more important.

Professional sports teams probably spend 3X to 10X more of their time practicing than they do actually playing the game. Think spring training, training camps and exhibition seasons … training, practices and workouts during the season.

Same with professional musicians. Symphonies and orchestras spend tons of time in practice … as well as practicing individually on their respective instruments. (Same is true of all artists and actors in theaters, opera, movies, etc.)

In medicine, doctors and nurses spend a huge amount of time in practice, beginning with their medical schools and nursing schools through residency and internships, etc. Then, they practice and rehearse how to handle surgery or major trauma.

What is the ONE THING that we DO NOT DO in the not-for-profit/For Impact world? That’s right. PRACTICE.

We don’t take any time to get together as a team. We hate roleplaying. We ‘wing it’ every time we do go out and make visits (which is not very often).

Bottom Line: If you really want to have an Elite Team at your For Impact organization … you need to commit to PRACTICE! Call it training, continuing education, whatever.

I also firmly believe that this applies to your Blue Team (your IMPACT Team) as well as your Green Team (your INCOME Team)

I’ve been doing this kind of practice/training with teams for over 30 years. I absolutely guarantee you that the ROI is a ridiculous 10 to 100 times! I can actually give you cases where it’s been a 1,000 times ROI within 24 to 48 hours!! (No kidding. Multiple cases!)

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

August 11, 2014 | Tom Suddes

The Art of Conversation

Conversation in the original Latin had a very broad meaning. It meant something like “living together, having dealings with others,” and it referred to more than just talking. We can learn a lot from connecting to this original bigger sense of the word.

This comes from Dawa Tarchin Phillips, president of Empowerment Holdings, a leadership consulting firm, and a research specialist at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at UC Santa Barbara.

In the For Impact world, the idea of a visit … with a real conversation … is central to the actual Presentation of an Opportunity.

There is a lot of good stuff in the this article from the Magazine Mindful, August 2014.

To encourage you to click:

  • In contrast to a genuine conversation, talking can happen with little regard for whether someone is listening.
  • Words are precious.
  • Be present.  ‘Con’ means together with.
  • Think before your speak.
  • A real exchange happens when all sides enriched.  (One of the reasons that the word DISCOVERY is an integral part of our Presentation Framework.)

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

August 8, 2014 | Tom Suddes

The Song I Came To Sing …


As you get ready for the weekend (one of the last of the summer for many of us because of school starting, etc.) I wanted to share one of my favorite thoughts from a Bengali Nobel Laureate. I’m hoping it might give you some inspiration/motivation to do that thing that you have been “WISHING”.

“The song I came to sing remains unsung to this day.

I have spent my days in stringing and unstringing my instrument.

The time has not come true.  The words have not been rightly set;

Only there is AGONY of WISHING in my heart.”

Rabindranath Tagore
Bengali Nobel Laureate

Email This Nugget Email This Nugget | Comments | Share

August 7, 2014 | Tom Suddes

The Magic Bus



Almost every organization I know is struggling with ‘HIRING’ issues. Jim Collins’ eponymous ‘BUS’ metaphor is a great way to look at hiring the best possible TALENT. All of us have probably come across Collins’ quote, from his book GOOD TO GREAT:

“Get the RIGHT PEOPLE on the BUS.
Get the WRONG PEOPLE off the BUS.

Regardless of how many times you’ve heard this, it’s a very powerful way to begin thinking about your search for GREAT TALENT! It applies to both staff and your board.

‘NOW’ is the best time to sit down with all of your current people and have a BUS conversation!

  • Are they on the right bus?
  • Are they in the right seats?
  • Do they know what direction the bus is going? (Do they ‘get’ your vision?  Do they care?)

“GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE ON THE BUS.” You want only the very best talent on your bus. Only people with great ATTITUDES. People who are PASSIONATE about your organization. People who are AUTHENTIC, who are great communicators and relationship-builders. People with the right combination of heart, head and hands.

“GET THE WRONG PEOPLE OFF THE BUS.” As you’re looking for new talent, you need to get the wrong people off your bus or you will pollute the new hires that you have so painstakingly recruited! Some of your current people are just toxic. Others are just complacent or stagnant. Both of those will have an impact on your new ‘Best & Brightest’ or ‘Success to Significance’ talent.

“GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN THE RIGHT SEATS.” Jim Collins is way smarter than me … and has incredible research to back up all of his thinking. “Right people in right seats” is a really powerful way of talking about identifying and focusing on strengths, defining the job, and matching the right person to the right role.

Now here’s the interesting conclusion … with the right people in the right seats (and the wrong people no longer on the bus) … the bus can move in any direction and still be very successful! You can change direction because you’ve got the TALENT to adjust accordingly.

As we constantly try to remind For Impact organizations and leaders, it’s not about perfect plans or perfect strategies or perfect direction. It’s all about ACTION. Soooooo ….. Right People. Right Seats. Then, (as they say on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) “MOVE THAT BUS!”

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.