May 28, 2013 | Tom Suddes

Ultradian Rhythm and Circadian Rhythm

After Ireland last week, my circadian rhythm is definitely out of kilter, so to speak.

Interestingly, this morning I was reading something from Pilar Gerasimo, Editor and Chief of the magazine, Experience Life. She was referencing the ultradian rhythm … the idea of taking breaks a few times a day.

Tony Schwartz, the big-time ‘energy management’ guru, has been talking about this concept for a long time. Here are two really good articles about the crazy way we work … and a much better, scientifically proven methodology for productivity.

The first is the 90-Minute Solution where Tony talks about the “basic rest-activity cycle” and the idea of better bodies operating in a 90-minute rhythm (the ultradian rhythm).

The second is his New York Time’s opinion piece entitled RELAX! YOU’LL BE MORE PRODUCTIVE. Here’s a tease quote:

“Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less.”

He goes on to explain why we can’t increase the working hours in the day, but we can measurably increase our energy.

Again, this is all about PRODUCTIVITY!

If you are really, really, really committed to getting more ‘stuff’ done … being more productive … you need to take 3 minutes and read these two articles!

Note: I’ve had a really productive day so far. I’ve got a lot of Ireland follow-up complete. Wrote a piece on the FOR IMPACT MANIFESTO. Took a bike ride after the first 90 minutes. Thinking about a ‘nap’. (It’s not because of age, but rather Tony’s suggestion!)

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May 23, 2013 | Tom Suddes

For Impact in Ireland

Almost the entire team has been in Ireland this week. It’s been absolutely ‘brilliant‘ (as they say in Ireland).

We presented from The Abbey Theatre stage to 300 ‘nonprofit’ leaders and board members on Monday.

*The Abbey Theatre is one of the most iconic venues in the world! The Abbey Theatre is THE National Theatre of Ireland … and it was started before there was a country!

The Message and Point of View was the same as in the States: BE FOR IMPACT! (The only slight difference was the message was to a COUNTRY.)

Much more to follow.

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May 17, 2013 | Tom Suddes

Thank You Notes

I’ve been doing a little bit of work with the Wake Forest Advancement Team.

In the week after our day-long coaching/training session … I’ve received five or six handwritten thank you notes!

In this age of tweets, texts and emails … these notes were a surprise and much appreciated.

Amazing what getting something from proverbial ‘snail mail’ can do to lift your spirits. (Plus, I can keep the ‘hard copy’.)

Coincidentally, I just got a wonderful letter from my friend Jim Mahoney at Battelle for Kids. A letter! (Jim and Battelle for Kids want to give me some award for being a FRIEND. I’m their FRIEND because I love what they do and I love working Jim and his team.)

A handwritten note. An actual letter. A phone call.

Amazing what these kinds of old school communications can do.

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May 16, 2013 | Tom Suddes

Forget the Mission Statement. What’s Your Mission Question?

Pretty much our entire company is on its way to Ireland tomorrow. I wanted to share another fantastic article from Fast Company entitled: Forget The Mission Statement. What’s Your Mission Question?

If you have any interest whatsoever in our thinking around IMPACT DRIVES INCOME, MESSAGE, MISSION, PURPOSE, RAISON D’ETRE, VISION, etc. … read this article around these five questions:

    1. Why are we here in the first place?
    2. What’s the world need most that we are uniquely able to provide?
    3. What are we willing to sacrifice?
    4. What matters more than money?
    5. Are we all on this mission together?

Note: I just re-read the article twice. There are so many nuggets and gems in here that I’m not even going to attempt to summarize for you. Read it.

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May 16, 2013 | Tom Suddes

David Foster Wallace’s Unforgettable “This is Water” Speech

I had not seen this commencement speech that David Foster Wallace gave at Kenyon College. It went on to be published as a short book and now it has been adapted into a 9-minute film.

Thanks to Fast Company’s, you can read the story and view the documentary.

Not really a spoiler alert, but I wanted you to know the title comes from a zen koan:

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’”

I encourage you to take 9 minutes out of your life to hear Wallace urging the graduating class (and all of us) to stop and appreciate life as it’s happening.

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May 15, 2013 | Tom Suddes

Lead Up

You’ve got to love Seth Godin. Read the whole blog but you’ll get the concept of Lead Up right away! Seth talks about doing this with intention … and committing to:

  • Do it on purpose! (30,000′ on our Altitude Framework.)
  • Tell stories that resonate with those in charge. (Share the Story. Selling is not telling, unless it’s a story. Etc.)
  • Demand responsibility. Don’t worry about authority. (Own your role and responsibilities.)
  • Reflect credit. Embrace blame. (Great leadership.)
  • Earn the right by taking small steps. (Small wins. Quick wins.)

LEAD UP. If everybody does that within the For Impact sector … IT CHANGES THE WORLD.

Special Note: I shared this with our entire For Impact/Suddes Group team. It resonated with them; and, they wanted to share it with their coaching clients and training partners.

Thus, it’s out to all of you.

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May 15, 2013 | Tom Suddes

The New Math of Giving

As anyone who reads our ‘stuff’ knows, we’re not real big on bottom up fundraising.

What I find particularly powerful about this article, The New Math of Giving: How $5 Does More Than A $40,000-Per-Plate Fundraiser, is just the whole idea of DO THE MATH.

You may be able to use

I don’t believe the future of fundraising/development/more income is driven by social media, tweets, texts, etc.

However, I love the creativity that Matt Pohlson and Ryan Cummins have brought to this field.

Something to think about.

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May 13, 2013 | Tom Suddes


Everybody in the 3rd Sector/For Impact world is looking for TALENT. Everybody.

Same is true in the ‘real’ world.

I want you to take a look at the following job post at one of our family’s absolutely favorite places to eat: Northstar. Food is fantastic. Atmosphere is incredible. Servers/’talent’ is unmatched.

Here’s the job post:

I know their staff is really well trained. However, you can see that they have created their own Ideal Profile of who they’re looking for … “energetic and enthusiastic … eager to be part of a fun team … totally committed to excellence”!

Love the next line, because I believe it applies to our development/advancement/fundraising world as well: “Prior culinary experience is not necessary, in fact, living life with optimism and enthusiasm is the only criterion there is”!

Positions are available for “generous and genuine applicants who love giving guests a reason to smile”.

Then, the however, by the way, additionally “Northstar has always provided full-time hours, health insurance, vacation and active lifestyle benefits to our employees who desire them.”

I’m begging you to go to the back of the Chronicle of Philanthropy and read any of the job postings and job descriptions.

  • Most of them are 400 or 500 words …
  • Most of the words are around “keen understanding of best practices, personal success in donor cultivation, Bachelor’s Degree mandatory and a minimum of seven years progressive fundraising experience, strong organizational management and interpersonal skills”, blah, blah, blah.

I would rather be a server at Northstar than take a ‘job’ as they are presented to advancement/development professionals.

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May 7, 2013 | Tom Suddes


Dick Celeste, Senior Counsel to For Impact and The Suddes Group (and someone I’m honored and humbled to call my friend), has one of the most impressive track records/resumes/bios you’ve ever seen. Rhodes Scholar. Head of the Peace Corps. Governor of Ohio. Ambassador to India. President of Colorado College. (I’m sure I missed some things.)

One of the most fascinating things about being around Dick is he is filled with stories. What is unusual is his stories always involve Presidents or Prime Ministers or Secretaries of States or Kings!

He shared this one with me the last time we were together and it’s pretty powerful.

Dick related that when he worked for Colin Powell, then Secretary of State, General Powell shared these two pithy statements:

    1. “Don’t bring me a round stone when a sharp rock will do.”
    2. “The field is always right.”

The first one seems to ask not to over think a problem or situation. Just communicate it.

*This seems quite the contrary to Henry Kissinger when he was Secretary of State. He would make his staff re-do their white papers four or five times … always telling them to make it better. Then, after the fourth or fifth time, he would read it!

Powell’s #2 is particularly compelling to me at this moment.

We do a lot of work with large national organizations, large national healthcare systems, and many, many regional organizations with ‘field offices’.

Since we work every day, side by side, with the ‘field’ … we have a deep understanding of the challenges, motivation and morale of the ‘field’ (troops).

Powell’s background in the U.S. Army, and ultimately a 4-Star General, gave him the experience and background to make this statement: “The field is always right.”

So, unless you are actually in the field … stop making decisions from headquarters!

Katniss, our miniature Highland cow, out in "the field".

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May 7, 2013 | Nick Fellers

Teleseminar How To Ask: The Language of the Ask, the Close and the Follow-up

Join me as I talk you through ‘How To Ask, How to Close and How to Follow up.’

Thursday, May 9
1:00pm – 2:00pm (EDT)
Register Here

"Would it be possible for you to consider taking the LEAD on this initiative?" [pointing to $1M]
"Where do you see yourself?"

This seminar covers over 20 PHRASES and QUESTIONS we share in our workshops and boot camps. It’s intended to provide very practical nuts-and-bolts examples to help you visualize HOW to ask:

  • New prospects
  • Board members
  • Long time supporters to step up

Stories and closes will include:

  • How to close like Steve Jobs
  • How to ask when you have no idea about capacity
  • How to ask AFTER the visit — dealing with ‘what I should’ve said was….
  • Three ways to ask your very best prospect to take the lead and how to follow-up when you can’t afford a ‘no’.
  • Questions to help you qualify on a discovery visit
  • How to make sure gifts close by a date / time
  • How to address the most common objections when they come up
  • How to predispose the prospect to a really really big ask

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