Monday, May 11, 2009

Fight for the Cause, Build the Org or Sell Me?

What is most important to you, fighting for a cause, making your org successful or taking care of yourself? I have been struggling a little bit with who is giving the best advice. Many of the books, blogs or resources I have been reading only focus on one (maybe two of these elements). So how does one fight for what they believe, build a stable org and grow their career, ALL at the SAME TIME? Oh yeah, not to mention have a happy, balanced home life and devote time to their faith.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Me 2.o by Dan Schawbel from Beth Kanter, Thanks Beth. I was also lucky enough to get Momentum by Allison H. Fine, free from Wiley publishers (same pub as the NTEN tech book) at NTC, THANKS! However reading these two books back to back made me develop split personalities. Me 2.0 is all about me and Momentum was all about them. 

Let me start by saying, PLEASE READ BOTH, they were both enjoyable to read, but also chock full of great ideas, advice and practical steps. But read both, that is the key, then blend them. You should probably throw in a copy of Forces for Good and Good to Great also to finalize the balance.

Me 2.0 which is full of practical tips, good strategies and inspiration that can be acted on immediately and grown over time. 
Here are a couple highlights:
Authenticity is required: "A false image may get you some short term success, but over time, others will likely see through you..."

"Consider every opportunity a chance to improve and promote your personal brand. Whatever your personal goals are, maintaining this positive attitude will open up pathways for advancement and success in your life."

Dan offers this advice for Linked In (with detail and more ideas though including blogging and Facebook)
1. Craft your profile
2. Start and expand your network
3. Control your Google results
4. Ask for Advice
5. Get Recommendations
6. Search Jobs

"We have all heard the phrase 'It's not what you know, it's whom you know.' With personal branding, this phrase changes to 'It's not whom you, it's who knows you.'"

Dan has a great section all about discovering more about yourself as well. He then walks you through how to transform that into a personal brand. Once you understand what your brand is, it is time to sell it. One of my favorite parts is how he outlines how to create a blog and utilize social networks to really push that brand. It is "spot on" in my opinion.

"Should I use my powers for good or for evil?' Chandler from Friends wonders that. Well, so do I. The unanswered question after reading Me 2.0 is what should I do with my Personal Brand after I have it? Is it there just to make my rich and successful? Or can I lend my skills, knowledge and brand to make a difference within a cause? I didnt see many references at all about giving back to the community, sharing unselfishly or supporting a cause until page 162. Here Dan talks about the new rules of engagement in the Web 2.0 world in which "giving before receiving" is the common courtesy. But he does manage to end the book with a paragraph that says make sure you acknowledge the support that got you there.

Putting my negative thoughts about being too self focused, I really would recommend this book to anyone that is struggling with how to stand out. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle of this busy world. And often as nonprofit staff we let our own priorities fall by the wayside in order to help our orgs and fight for the cause. There is no harm in taking care of yourself and becoming a star, as long as it doesn't mean missing out on life, God and making a difference.

Momentum on the other hand was all about igniting social change in the connected age. This book focused on how you can empower groups to act on behalf of your cause or org. The author says it this way, "Momentum is a road map for problem-solving activists, board members, and funders who want to use the new social-media tools that are inexpensively and widely available."

A quote at the end is a great way to sum up much of what is in this book.

Kaliya Hamlin, an activist, advocate and blogger, perhaps put it best when she said, "Social change is happening. People are exchanging ideas, learning from one another and learning to trust one another in new and different ways, particularly...strangers. This process will lead to new and different ways of tackling existing problems - we don't have to come up with solutions, we just have to get out of the way of passionate people and good ideas will emerge." 

Here are a few other awesome quotes:

"Our passion for participation and social change is colliding with the reality that we are increasingly connected to one another."

"Connectedness does not come from technology but it is facilitated and strengthened by it."

"Our success will come when our efforts are reflective of, and connected to, the communities in which we work. We must reduce institutional behaviors that are stopping us from improving relationships with people who care about our work and with other institutions that share our passion and dream of turning the tide on social ills."

The book really pushes those themes and does a great job challenging you to rethink the way you involve and engage your supporters.  For me personally it was a good book, but was not as good of a read as Forces for Good. It was a pretty quick read though and was well worth my time.


Me or us? I dont think it that simple of a question. I will often sit back at work, look over the numerous projects and try to see if my workload is balanced.  I never really had a good way to frame that balance though.  But having read these books some things started to click for me.
  1. Am I spending time build my own brand (career)? (Me 2.o)  - Me
  2. Am I working to strengthen my organizations capacity to grow? (Good to Great) - Us
  3. Am I empowering my org's supporters to work on our behalf? (Momentum) - Them
Anyway those are just my thoughts.

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