Steal The Show

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Knowing Michael Port as a TV actor, I have to admit to being initially skeptical about his insights for business professionals. But after reading his Steal the Show, I now recommend it to every development officer I know. After all, we are all called upon to perform one-on-one with donors, at special events, giving reports to the board, even meeting with supervisors.  What’s more, in light of the new tax laws, we know that we now need to be more relational and intentional than ever before in connecting with each other and donors to perform at higher levels.

While I urge you to read the entire book, I have pulled a few pieces of wisdom from his book to share with you.

“You don’t need to be an entertainer to be a performer. Performance can be about wowing an audience, but it can also simply be about connecting with others, which is a beautiful thing.” (Page xi)

Note:  In light of the new tax laws, we are going to need to be more relational than ever before. We will need to connect in ways with each other and our donors in a more intentional manner, in other words, perform at higher levels.

“One must find their true inner voice. For starters, it’s about letting go of your inner critic, the voices in your head telling you you’re not good enough, don’t know enough and don’t have enough.” (Page 4)

“If the voices in your head put you down, make you feel small, or tell you that you’re not good enough, it’s not likely you’ll get too far. However, if the voices in your head are positive, encouraging, and supportive, telling you that you are absolutely capable of achieving your goals and dreams, you’ll do just that.” (Page 27)

Note: Psychologists tell us that 10,000 or more distracting thoughts enter our minds every day. They also remind us that many of these negative thoughts concern ourselves. When we allow these thoughts to impact our behavior, we limit our ability to perform at a top level.  At Crouch & Associates, our core team practices eliminating that inner critic. We begin each day writing our Daily High Performance List with a commitment to block negative thoughts. It takes practice and determination, but it creates the climate for top performance.

“The purpose of performance is to uplift people!” (Page 28)

Note:  Here is an interesting thought:  If your personal “why, how and what” (Simon Sinek) is not about contributing to the world to make it a better place, then perhaps the nonprofit world is not your best fit for a career.

“During my acting training, I was taught to ask myself during early-stage development and rehearsals: What are my goals and what is my motivation to accomplish these goals?  And so should you, no matter what you do.  The fault lies when our objectives and/or motivations are unclear, conflicting, or muddy because we haven’t approached the question with a true, clear purpose.” (Page 43)

“One of my business partners, Matthew Kimberley, often says that feeling overwhelmed is not necessarily a function of having too much to do but rather not knowing what to do next.” (Page 47)

Note: I believe this to be one of the major challenges of every nonprofit.  At Crouch & Associates, all our clients are taught how to use the 6x6 Priority Report.  It requires one to define his/her priorities and through the companion 5x15 Report, one is required to stay focused on outcomes. This discipline leads to better communication and outstanding results.

“Acting as if  is an imagination technique for converting what we see as adverse circumstances in work or life into new and more inspirational opportunities.  When you are acting as if, you are using your brain’s amazing powers to positively anticipate and create a different way of seeing the world and/or a different way of behaving. It’s a technique that helps overcome negative behaviors and attitudes that hold you back so you can begin to make more conscious and intellectual choices about how you perform and what you want to achieve.” (Page 50)

“Acting as if  is also a strategy for dealing with anxiety and worry. It helps us stay balanced and organizes our energy.” (Page 53)

Note: There have been many times in my career where I have felt inadequate and scarred.  I remember the first time I sat alone with Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve Chair.  I was so afraid he would ask me a question about the economy, and I would look foolish as I tried to respond.  I held my breath and prayed that would not happen.  If I had prepared myself with the attitude of as if, I would have been prepared confidently to say I don’t know… will you explain that to me?  My anxiety would have been at a much lower level.

What causes us to be paralyzed when it is time to call a donor for an appointment or to put off making a visit… in most cases it is fear. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard social psychologist, has adopted the motto: “Fake it until you make it.” And she tells us this can be done authentically.

“Your imagination is a powerful asset.  If it can make you think small, it can also ensure you think big.  If it can make you feel small, it can also ensure that you feel big.  Eventually, acting as if becomes acting as is.” (Page 55)

Note: There is no doubt in my mind that we need more top performers in our fundraising world. This book offers insight from the world of entertainment that can be applied to the development profession. Highly recommended.


Aligning The Stars

I first read this book in 2003.  Tom Tierney’s wife, Karen, is an alumna of Georgetown College where I served as President.  At that time, he was the Chief Executive of Bain & Company and Chairman of The Bridgespan Group, Bain’s nonprofit affiliate.  Jay was the Louis Kirstein Professor of Human Relations at the Harvard Business School.