May 24, 2010 | Tom Suddes

It Belongs To Him Who Tells It ‘Best’

No question about it. Ireland and the Irish culture IS all about STORIES!!!

The Chair of the Board of the Abbey Theatre is an amazing Champion. (BTW. Harvard Law, great connections in the States, but a truly brilliant Irishman!)

We’re working on the STORY of the Abbey Theatre. It goes back to the first Manifesto in 1899, a guy named Yeats! Teamed up with a woman, Annie, from England and Lady Gregory to put on the first performance of the Abbey Theatre in 1904!!! What a STORY!

The Abbey’s ‘problem’ is much like all of our great organizations in the States. Their STORY is multiple-themed, multiple-strands… and difficult to summarize and frame.

I think we’ve done that through a really powerful TIMELINE that basically shows YESTERDAY… TODAY… TOMORROW.

The big action item here: No matter how strong or long (or convoluted your STORY…) it still needs to be SIMPLIFIED… FRAMED… and TOLD!

Stealing one of Churchill’s opening lines:



P.S. Saw Macbeth performed on the Abbey stage in Dublin. What an experience! Talk about a STORY!!! That Shakespeare guy has some potential. I wonder if he’s written anything else?

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May 21, 2010 | Tom Suddes


Spent an unbelievable week in Ireland last week working with absolutely ‘brilliant’ people and amazing organizations! Primarily hosted by Business to Arts (Stuart, Rowena, Andrew and Georgina) combined with a couple of terrific days with the Abbey Theatre. (Saw my first play on the Abbey stage. First Shakespeare. First Macbeth.)

Came away with sooooooo many nuggets and ideas. Thought I’d share some with American FOFI (Friends of For Impact).

ACH DÍREACH CUIR CEIST!!! (BUT JUST PUT THE QUESTION.) This is Gaelic. Leave it to the Irish to come up with a long-winded way of saying JUST ASK!!!

I love the Irish culture for its amazing STORYTELLING ability. This is one time, however, when the whole aggressive American thing might be better. Again, JUST ASK.

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May 21, 2010 | Nick Fellers

Early Bird Boot Camp Registration Ends Today at 5:00 PT

A reminder, if you’re thinking about attending the For Impact 2010 Funding Boot Camp today is the last day to take advantage of early bird pricing.

I expect that we’ll sell out some time today if everyone that’s told me they’re signing up pulls the trigger — otherwise, I’m predicting middle of next week. Either way, there are seven seats remaining.

Info and registration at

If you can’t make it, we’ve built our Open Coaching Network to function as an online boot camp and just-in-time coaching resource. Video footage relating to ‘how to ask’ (presenting the opportunity) is packaged from previous boot camps.

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May 19, 2010 | Nick Fellers

The Steve Jobs Close

I’m assembling a number of closes we cover at our Boot Camp and in our training/strategic coaching. Hopefully, I’ll end up with a solid guidebook we can share with readers. Over the next few weeks I’ll publish a few closes to the blog. Most closes come from a 70 minute audio on closing I recorded last year.

The Steve Jobs Close is really about closing at the highest level. Understanding this ‘close’ begins with an urban legend.

In 1984, Apple was looking to hire new CEO. The company was growing beyond the reaches of the young Steve Jobs. The board wanted some seasoned leadership for the journey ahead. They set their sites on PepsiCo VP John Scully and, as the legend goes, the board spent two days talking about compensation, market segments, business plans, products, etc. At the end of two full days Scull said thanks but no thanks.

Jobs, still looking out for the best interest of his ‘baby’ is befuddled at the board’s inability to close the deal. The story then says Jobs flew out to meet Scully. They went for a walk and Jobs asked Scully to share his thoughts. He spent the duration of the walk just listening to Scully. When Scully finished, Jobs turned to him and said, “Let me ask you one question, ‘Do you want to sell sugar water to kids your whole life or do you want to change the world?’”

Scully go it. He took job. He was CLOSED.

How it works:

The Steve Jobs Close is about closing at the highest level. Ultimately each For Impact organization is saving lives, changing lives or impacting lives. There are times when you just have to look someone in the eye and say, “Let me ask you one question, ‘Are you willing to help us change the world?’”

Unfortunately, Scully went to Apple and tanked it. That’s a different story that ends happily enough with Jobs retaking the helm and inventing the iWorld.

I love this story. I use it often. The Steve Jobs Close is really a story about closing at the highest level.

The board was mulling around with strategy and tactics.

People don’t BUY strategy (think: 14,000 ft). They BUY vision! They BUY purpose!

As Zig Ziglar says, “People buy on emotion and justify on logic.” Don’t lose site of this. You need both emotion and logic but sometimes we need to jump back up to the emotional hook or you can get lost in the logic.

A story from the field.

I was working with Junior Achievement — an incredible organization –- to fund a vision that included the expansion and renovation of a building. I teamed up with our board chair to visit with our very best prospect… the person we hoped would make the lead investment on the project.

On the visit, we started to get really deep into the minutia of one program. It didn’t feel like we were off course – the prospect was enthusiastic – I just knew there way to transition from talking computer terminals to teach kids ethics to an ask for $1M

I worked to reposition the flow so that I was able to move to a Steve Jobs Close. I said, “Mrs. Investor, being ethical is a decision and a commitment – we’ve made it and we’re not straying from it. [Long pause] Everything we’ve talked about today is about transforming Cincinnati and that’s the opportunity we believe we have with this plan in its entirely. [Pause] In that sense, I almost want to transition to a really high level question… to ask if you can help us with that transformation. If so, we’d like to talk to you about being the lead in that vision. “

This transitioned to a dialogue about leadership at $1Million. Mrs. Investor laughed a little (because I wasn’t as graceful as Steve Jobs). However, she felt the gravity and sincerity in what we were asking. After thinking for about 30 seconds she then asked us a series of very introspective questions and ultimately agreed to lead the vision… and lead it with a $1Million commitment.

The takeaway: If you find yourself lost in the weeds, ask yourself, what would Steve Jobs do? Move to a much higher level. Bring it back to the highest purpose… the highest cause…

  • Transforming the community

  • Ending homelessness
  • Saving lives
  • Reinventing healthcare
  • Changing the way education works in America

Note: As I write up real stories from the field I always alter little things – like a name, an organization or a city because I’m talking about real people and real funders. Though I’ve changed some names and places, the story really happened – exactly in this way.

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May 18, 2010 | Nick Fellers

Meetup Next Week in Denver, CO

Tom and I are going to be in Denver next week – each working on seperate projects. I have some open time on Tuesday (25th) and would love to meet up with some For Impact orgs over coffee — or, later in the day, beer. If you’re in the area and have an interest let me know (

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May 13, 2010 | Nick Fellers

The Goonies Close

The Goonies Close

I spent Monday and Tuesday with an organization in Minnesota that’s been trying to get a campaign going for the better part of two years. They’ve engaged volunteers, built committees… done a feasibility study… All the traditional prep stuff but can’t seem to get any momentum.

After visiting with them, I’m convinced they have prospects and a decent case. At this point – two years into project, – everyone is loathe to commit because there is no momentum.

Someone needs to be a leader. Someone (in this case the executive director) needs to stand up and say, “Ms. Prospect, now is the time. We’ve talked about this. It’s our time. I / we are drawing a line in the sand. I’m going to be leading several other conversations just like this and I’m asking you to follow me. We have a choice to make and I need to say – this is our time.”

I call this The Goonies Close.

Sadly, I’ve convinced 4 out of 5 people age 35+ have not seen the Goonies. (How? I don’t know. ) It should be a right of passage for every American. Spielberg + 80’s = ET and Goonies.

I encourage you to watch the Goonies for it’s own sake.

I encourage you to watch this clip, at (2mins) for one scene in which the Goonies (the geeks featured in the movie) have a choice to make. Mikey, the lead character, emerges to take a leadership role. The team is on a treasure hunt. They are at a crossroads, they can abandon the hunt – saving their dreams for another day – OR, they can go for it… now… a no-turning-back all-in commitment to the opportunity ahead.


Don’t you realize? The next time you see sky, it’ll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it’ll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s our time. It’s our time down here. That’s all over the second we ride up Troy’s bucket.

I know my friends in Minnesota aren’t the only ones in need of a leader to step up and say, “It’s our time!”

Note: I tried to embed the youtube clip but can’t – presumably because it’s copyrighted material… fair enough.

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May 5, 2010 | Nick Fellers

Hire people that are passionate about the product

One of my daily reads is Brad Feld is an entrepreneur turned tech VC who lives in Boulder. He’s sponsored a bathroom at CU Bolder – now has his name on it. He’s also a source for great reading recommendations and the one that turned me onto the idea to run 50 marathons in 50 states (I now have five under my belt in just over one year).

On Monday Feld posted that he finds successful investments tend to be in entrepreneurs that are completely and totally obsessed with the product. Today, as I give advice for the third time this week about profiling a director of development for a younger organization I think about this idea.

You want someone that is obsessed with the cause. Who will talk to anyone and everyone about the cause. Who doesn’t see this as raising money (loathing) but telling the story over and over and over.

The other bullet points that we tend to share re: profiling the right ‘development person’….

  • Not so big on ‘nonprofit fundraising experience’. The industry standard is letters and events. You want a sales person.
  • We love people coming from the for-profit world that are aligning a change in career with purpose.
  • Ideally someone with business development experience or intangible sales / high-end sales experience.

Though it may seem vague, I would say just focus on getting someone so passionate about the cause, with the right attitude, that can write and is wicked smart (TALENT). There is a reason why Jack Welch just told GE to hire the best and brightest.

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May 3, 2010 | Tom Suddes

Just Ask (on 2 Pages!)

I did a pretty decent Presentation to a very, very experienced development group on Saturday in Tampa, Florida. The NACCDO is an organization of marketing and development officers of the top CANCER CENTERS in the United States. This conference was hosted by Moffitt Cancer Center, a truly World Class Organization.

My topic was ACCELERATING THE ASK. After the introduction (and tripping and falling), I had about 60 minutes. I prepared for three weeks, plus the entire plane ride to Tampa, plus until midnight the night before and at 5:00 a.m. the next morning.

It’s kind of hard to take 50+ years of selling (I remember first ‘sale’ at 10 years old), 37 years of development work, our two-day boot camp/training camp/sales training into 60 minutes. But, I tried anyway.

One of the pretty cool things that came out of this session, at least for me, was getting all of our FRAMEWORKS and DEVICES on the front/back of an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper.

Here is the pdf. You can even blow it up as a POSTER (which I did for the group on Saturday).

It is, literally, pretty much everything I know about THE ASK. I hope it helps.

*Still some slots left at our only 2010 SALES TRAINING CAMP... on 22 & 23 June at our Ohio Campus and Farm (Eagle Creek). Call/email Kerry (614-554-7525/ if you need more info.

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May 3, 2010 | Tom Suddes

Tell Your Story

“I never give presentations.”

“I do tell stories.”

“STORY after STORY after (linked) to STORY.”

I’m definitely a Tom Peters ‘groupie’. I picked up his latest book, The Little BIG Things, in the Tampa airport.

As always, his 163 nuggets are thoughtful and provocative.

I opened the book up to #25 You Are Your Story!

“He/she who has the best/most compelling/most resonate STORY wins:

In life! In business! In front of the jury! In front of the congregation!”

I would simply add: IN FRONT OF THE PROSPECT!



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April 24, 2010 | Tom Suddes

If the Job Could Talk… What Would It Say?

A good friend of mine, Bryan D., does a lot of work with companies helping them with their TALENT.

One of the things he talks about when he’s trying to help a company to create a PROFILE for a particular job opening is asking the question:

“If the JOB could TALK… what would it say?”

What attributes, behaviors, skills, attitude would the ‘job’ say was needed?

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