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).”




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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

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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???



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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

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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

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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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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)!

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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!)

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