Get off message & on belief

Don’t be a messaging robot.

Earlier this week, I was invited to give a workshop for 501 Commons volunteers. My advice to get off message raised a few eyebrows. Don’t we want everyone ‘on message’?! Nope, you want them ‘on belief’. Here’s what I mean.

You aren’t successful if every single person in your organization answers the question: “What does your organization do?” in the exact same way.

You’re successful if everyone answers that question using your 3 key words in a way that reinforces what you want to be known for with passion, energy and conviction.

Supporters want to engage with an organization that has a compelling way of addressing a cause they care about.

Word-for-word ends up being robotic. Robotic isn’t compelling.

Worry less about being “on message” and more about attracting staff and board who are “on belief”–you’ll go further, faster and with less effort.

(Here’s guidance on how to help your organization find its 3 key words.)

photo credit: Ѕolo via photo pin cc

Word of the Week: Perspective

Young woman or old woman?

This image is a classic. I can only see a young woman. Many can only see an old woman. Some can see both. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Perspective comes out most strongly in the words we choese and the images we use. The two are often paired. In those instances, you get a perspective double whammy.

To get a little perspective on perspective, look at PAWS and ASPCA. Two non-profits who care deeply about animals. Two very different perspectives on how to convey that love.

What’s your organizational perspective? Your version of upbeat might be a potential donor’s version of a total buzz kill. Good to know which one will resonate.

This week, we’ll look at what perspective means for your brand and messaging. We’ll juxtapose some perspectives (a la the example above) and take a fun poll on the Guilt-Potential Perspective Continuum!



A brand, a guy and a glitch

At 5:06 am on Sunday, September 18, 2011, it was raining cats and dogs in Seattle. It was pitch black and, although not cold per se, it wasn’t balmy. Along with 404 others, I decided it was a mighty fine day for a triathlon.

Fast forward to 9:54 am. I am huffing and puffing my way to the finishing line. I hear music. I hear my family cheering me on. And I hear a voice announcing my name as I cross the line. (Woohoooo!!!)

There was only one glitch: it was a man who announced my red-faced lunge across the line.

Don’t get me wrong: I like men. I’ve got a great husband, an adorable son, and a fantastic dad, all of whom were there cheering me on.

The glitch was that this was the Trek Women Triathlon series. As Sally Edwards (who is an amazing, iconic and completely and totally inspiring woman) says, the events are meant to help women find their “inner athlete”.

So I was kinda expecting a female voice to be cheering me on in that final, give-it-all-you-got, lunge-for-the-finish-line moment. Why? Because the Trek Women (and Danskin Women) Triathlon brands are all about the ladies.

The lovely gentleman who was kind enough to make me feel like a rock star even though I looked like I needed an oxygen tank would be a dream announcer at most any other triathlon. But at this event, it was out of sync with a brand based on the belief that all women can use athletic goals as a way to achieve their life goals.

I’d recommend the Trek and Danskin Women Triathlons to any woman who wants to find her inner athlete. And I hope that when you cross that finish line–and cross it you will!–one of your triathlon soul sisters is rocking the mic and cheering you on to glory.

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?