March 7, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Three Reasons Why You Should Probably Ask!

Thanks to Dan Kirsch at the Grinspoon Foundation for turning me on to  Here is the blog/article by Steve Martin, co-author and presenter at INFLUENCE AT WORKThree Reasons Why You Should Probably Ask!

Reason #1:  People are more likely say ‘yes’ than you think.  Love that Martin cites actual studies.  My experience is more anecdotal than scientific … yet backed up by over 6,000 visits/presentations … and thousands and thousands and thousands of ASKS in my life.

***JUST ASK is a life principle, not just a sales or business mantra.

In my world, most people actually want to say ‘yes‘ to a legitimate, fair and rational request.

Reason #2:  Asking doesn’t weaken your power, it boosts it.

At The Suddes Group, we have an internal mantra of ACT or ASK.  If you know what needs to be done, do it.  If you’re not sure or need help or want someone else’s counsel …  ASK.

***Again, not just sales.  “I’ve had a long couple of days.  Could you upgrade my room?”  “I know my son’s tuition is due.  Would it be possible to spread that over six months instead of one payment?”  “Since this is a trip around the world in 23 days, including 9 all-night flights or trains, could we make all the reservations in business class/first class?”

BTW, the answer to all three of these questions was “YES“.

Reason #3. You’ll actually feel better if you ask.  Martin makes a great point about the difference between rejection and regret.  Personally, I much prefer ‘rejection’ (or, better put, someone simply saying no to the request) … than to look back for weeks, months or years, with regret, wondering what would have happened if I had only asked.  


Special, Special, Special Note to All Leaders in the For Impact World.


We are doing a ton of work right now in healthcare and with healthcare foundations.

We spend a lot of time talking about about goals, increasing philanthropic revenue, staffing, major gifts vs.  special events and much more.

The proverbial lightbulb went off when we started talking about ROI!

Return-On-Investment is a ridiculously simple concept for an advancement/development operation.  It is especially relevant for a hospital foundation.

What is our ROI?

  • At 1X right now, it’s no wonder the hospital CEO won’t take our calls.
  • AT 2X, we’re generating revenue for the hospital, but our cost of fundraising is 50%!
  • At 3X, we become part of the conversation at the proverbial table.
  • At 5X (20% cost of fundraising), we are a integral and critical part of the business model.

There are two simple ways to dramatically change ROIReduce the denominator (cut expenses) and increase the numerator (raise more money).

The ROI conversation allows for a much more meaningful discussion about expenses, people, slots, what should be a foundation expense and what should be a hospital expense, etc.

Increasing philanthropic revenue is a function of ‘major gifts’, visits and presentations.

Then, the key to ROI is simple:


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February 27, 2014 | Tom Suddes

The Simple Science to Good Storytelling

If you are a daily/weekly ‘user’ … this may feel repetitive.  Bear with me.

I can state unequivocally that rarely a day goes by without some reference/focus/coaching around the Power of STORY.

Here is a short ‘story’ on ‘story’ from Fast Company and Harvey Deutschendorf (speaker and author).  The Simple Story of Science to Good Storytelling:  Listening to a compelling story activates different parts of the brain, and luckily putting together a good tale isn’t always that difficult.

He reminds us that stories were the first and only way to actually share information, dreams, to entertain, inspire and to connect.  His five big points:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Always keep the audience in mind.
  3. Use as an opportunity to share something of yourself.
  4. Don’t take  yourself too seriously.
  5. Share some sincerely felt emotions.

I believe much of those five points can be captured in a word:  AUTHENTICITY.

We are working with one of the largest healthcare systems in the country.  Their ‘STORYLINE’ is captured in their original ‘Tagline’:  THE SPIRIT OF INNOVATION.   A LEGACY OF CARE.  The original ‘FOUNDING’ story by a group of religious sisters is so compelling that it leads into everything that they are trying to do TODAY. Read more

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February 22, 2014 | Tom Suddes

The Delimma of Coaching Yourself

I’m always looking for good content to aggregate for the For Impact tribe.

Here’s a really great article from 99u (Insights on Making Ideas Happen) titled The Future of Self-Improvement: The Dilemma of Coaching Yourself. Author and researcher, Joshua Foer, talks about the ‘OK Plateau’ where we gained enough skill for our needs … and then stop pushing ourselves.

He identified these four principles that he saw experts (masters in my words) use to keep learning:

  1. Experts tend to operate outside their comfort zone and study themselves failing.
  2. Experts will try to walk in the shoes of someone who’s more competent than them.
  3. Experts crave and thrive on immediate and constant feedback.
  4. Experts treat what they do like a science. They collect data, they analyze data, they create theories, and they test them.

Read about Bill Bradley and his unparalleled work ethic and practice schedule!!!

Then, read and re-read the notes from Atul Gawande, a best-selling author and highly accomplished surgeon, as he talks about the struggle with self-improvement if you already feel like you’re at the top of your game.

Spoiler Alert: Gawande makes an exceptionally strong case for OUTSIDE COACHING/EXTERNAL COACH who can help make the Quantum Leap to mastery.

Every top athlete and top sports performer (think Olympics, golf, tennis, etc.) has an EXTERNAL COACH that pushes, cajoles, challenges, observes, provides feedback and much more.

Who is your EXTERNAL COACH???

Or, are you happy at the ‘OK Plateau’?

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February 16, 2014 | Tom Suddes

“Championships Are Won on the Bus.”

“One of the great players in the NBA told me that championships are not won on the court.  They are won on the BUS.” 

Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO

What a great follow-up to Jim Collins’ BUS analogy.  (On.  Off.  Right Seats.)

Championships are won on the ‘BUS’.  Team chemistry.  Working together.  Even dreaded ‘team building’.  (Which, by the way, does not have to be an artificial exercise using three sticks, four leafs and some moss … to build a boat that will hold three people.)

The idea of team-bonding (on the Bus) certainly makes for more productivity, and more fun.

Note:  Our top BUS guy is our Senior Partner Steve Elder.  Team Leader/Sales Manager/Uber Coach who totally gets the whole BUS/TALENT thing.  I remember Steve telling me once that the ideal team for a project would fit in a minivan.  I think his point was if your project has more than 6-8 people … probably doomed from start.


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February 12, 2014 | Tom Suddes

“Oh, that’s the Red River?”

A short, fun story on forgiveness not permission. Zeb Pike was an American Brigadier General and Explorer. There’s a pretty big mountain in Colorado named after him.

The story goes that Pike was exploring the southern portion of the Louisiana Territory. The Red River was the boundary between the U.S. and Spanish/Mexican Territory. He was ‘exploring’ on the ‘wrong’ side of the Red River. He was captured by the Spanish while wondering around in what is present-day Colorado. Pike supposed response to his capture was:

“Oh, that’s the Red River?”

Pike’s accounting of the region drove the U.S. to secure Colorado and even California.

Personal Note: What I love about this story is that we have our Zeb Pike. Robb Pike is a Partner and Senior Coach with The Suddes Group. He has the same kind of adventurer/explorer attitude as his ancestor. Robb is always aggressively and positively pushing boundaries. And when called on it, answers (in his own way), “Oh, that’s the Red River?”

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February 11, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Philanthropy 50 Announced

CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY just published Top Philanthropists for 2013.

Here’s the article and the list.

My quick takeaways:

  • For Impact orgs and development officers need to stop using the excuse of the ‘economy’. Gifts by living donors in 2013 equaled almost as much as the previous two years combined.
  • 97/3. 3% of your organization’s constituent/family/prospects will contribute/invest 97% of the money you raise.
    I believe that if every For Impact leader, social entrepreneur and development professional focused on that 3% … the third sector could triple the amount of investment it receives.
  • Just reading these stories should provide great optimism and inspiration. If you are a development professional, a valued board champion or CEO/Executive Director/leader in the third sector … you should take the time to read this.

Special Note: I just wrote out a huge rant about ‘FOUNDATIONS’. Then I tore it up. Life is too short.

However, I would pose this question:

Is anybody else bothered by the fact that the 10 most generous donors gave a total of $4B … and 5 of those donors gave $2.4M to FOUNDATIONS, not to actual IMPACT ORGANIZATIONS???

  • #1: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan made an almost $1B commitment to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
  • #2: George Mitchell’s bequest was to the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.
  • #5: John and Laura Arnold gave $235M to their foundation.
  • #9: Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki. $219M to their foundation.
  • #10: Jeffrey Carlton’s bequest of $212M to a trust that will eventually become his charitable foundation.

Compare that to Philip and Penelope Knight who gave $500M to impact Oregon Health and Science. Or, Michael Bloomberg who actually gave away $452M directly to Arts, Education, Environment and Public Health ‘Nonprofits’. Charles Johnson pledged $250M to Yale to actually build something (2 new residential colleges). Pierre and Pam Omidyar gave $225M directly to four organizations.

I’m not the brightest guy around. Obviously, I’m missing something. I just don’t understand putting huge sums of money into a ‘FOUNDATION’ … which then gives away 5% interest off the corpus.

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February 10, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Why Mindfulness Is the Antidote to Multitasking

I saw this over the weekend. My (last?) thought on last week’s theme of FOCUS.

“Research into success indicates that we’re expanding our skills the most when we’re deeply immersed in a difficult, demanding task–the feeling of FLOW you get from constructing a new algorithm, perfecting a pitch deck, or prototyping a product.

But that feeling of FLOW can only happen when we’ve fully invested our attention.”

Here’s the article in Fast Company, Why Mindfulness is the Antidote to Multitasking. I’ve captured the guts in the quote above.

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February 7, 2014 | Tom Suddes

Busyness and the Workaholic Badge of Honor

To close out this week’s thoughts on FOCUS:

  • “71% of people believe they would become more productive if they FOCUSED more on top priorities at the expense of lower priorities.”  (However) “Over half of the same group believe they would simultaneously lose respect from their peers and their boss.” 
    This comes from Nick Tasler, HBR blogger, author and CEO of Global Consulting and Training Company in IT’S TIME TO PUT YOUR STRATEGY ON A DIET. He opens with David Packard’s quip: “More companies die from overeating than starvation.”  Tasler has four lessons that are certainly worth the read.
  • “The essence of strategy is choosing what NOT to do?”  This comes from Michael Porter, strategy guru of all gurus.  Again, this becomes a huge part of FOCUS … deciding what NOT to do!
  • And, finally, a terrific article from the New York Times on THE ‘BUSY’ TRAP.  This wonderful post by Tim Kreider is so good that I sent it to my family.  Urge you to take a moment from your “crazy busy” day/schedule to read this.  It’s geared towards parenting and children … but huge application to our professional lives.
    Here’s the last line:

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February 7, 2014 | Kerry Suddes

2014 Sales Boot Camp: ‘Super Early Bird’ Opportunity

Join us on June 17th and 18th at Eagle Creek (our beautiful 50-acre headquarters) to explore the For Impact Point of View and Sales Process. 

Our Sales Boot Camp is focused on frameworks and skill building – You will leave with the the knowledge you need to simplify your message and funding rationale and take your organization to the next level.

This one time per year opportunity is perfect for organizational alums, new hires or anyone looking to hone their individual skills –  a great personal and professional development opportunity!

Sales Boot Camp is a high-energy, two-day session focused on:

  • How to execute against a sales process (for major gifts, campaign gifts, transformational gifts, etc)
  • How to build and maximize relationships
  • How to build and lead an effective team
  • How to ask, close and follow-up

Register before February 18th to take advantage of Super Early Bird Pricing!

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February 7, 2014 | Tom Suddes

This Sunday, February 9th, Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles Performing on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York!

I was one of the estimated 73 million Americans who tuned in to watch the show. It was the Fab Four’s first visit to the United States.

No real point to this post … except that it’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years.

Special Note: I also remember there was a guy on the show that night spinning six plates on sticks. I sometimes use that as a great example of time to balance our lives. Still not sure how he did it.

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