Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Not About You.

Yesterday, I read a short, fascinating little tome by Bob Burg and John David Mann called "It's Not About You: A Little Story About What Matters Most in Business". (Bob is also the author of "The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea".) "It's Not About You" is a compelling parable about how extraordinary leadership is achieved when you focus on others. A no brainer, right? Well, it's amazing how often we get tangled in the web of "meism" without noticing it. This book will help you identify whether this is an issue for you and how to redirect your thinking process.

A blog post by Jeff Schreifels of the Veritas Group entitled "The Six Secrets to Becoming an Extraordinary Major Gift Officer" -  Secret #5 - You Don't Have All the Answers, covers similar territory.

As Jeff states, "Curiosity is such a powerful tool for a MGO (Major Gift Officer). Yes, I said tool -- because curiosity can become the driver to help you figure out a problem. It creates the basis for understanding a donor and can catapult you to the answer to some very complex situations.
So, quite frankly, if you are not a curious person, you should NOT be a major gift officer."

The post continues by describing a real-life instance of a brand new, inexperienced gift officer who proceeds to build a caseload of over 100 high-value donor prospects -- multi-millionaires and leaders of industry-- and in one year secures over $300,000 in donations simply because she was brimming with curiosity, loved to ask questions, and was fearless. It wasn't about her.

Similar to the tact the character initially employs in Bob Burg's parable, how often do we go to a donor meeting or address a fundraising event thinking, "I have to persuade them to do what I want"? Even if we thoroughly believe it is the best course of action for said donor or charity, it is an approach doomed to fail.

It is about the donor, the charity, the charitable foundation, and the beneficiary of your work -- it's not about you. Find out all you can about them. Do your homework. Be curious. Ask questions, probe, and be truly interested. You may be amazed at how much you learn that can be helpful. And how much fun you'll have listening to the inspiring stories and lofty aspirations shared by the people you meet along the way.