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In the business of helping purpose-driven organizations succeed, we all know that it's all about relationship. Yet, networks and organization leaders prefer to put their goals and agenda front and centre. When they're unsuccessful in putting their agenda on the table, the focus on relationship becomes fickle and shallow.
We need to redeem how we make business with one another. Instead of profiting from relationship, we should ask ourselves, how our relationships not just give us what we want in terms of vested interests but also allow us the opportunity to examine our understanding of our organizations and the world we live in.
If we prioritize relationships before our own sacred goals, we do not lose even though we might not get what we want. If we prioritize being in-community with one another instead of competing for those limited funds and scarce resources, we are less about scarcity but more of generosity. If we understand that when an organization or a leader succeeds, there are hundreds more that can benefit from a simple stroke of convergence. If we lift one up, we know that this person will one day lift more people as they rise up from their own struggles.
Hence, when was the last time you forge a relationship between and within and outside your own networks and systems, without any vested agenda or purpose at all? Sounds too saintly? No! It's our business to make purpose-driven organizations more more purposeful towards humanity. It's our business to keep kindness our agenda.
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Do you know that you can enjoy being in a community despite being an introvert?
Yes, I'm basically an introvert, although a lot of people will not believe when I say that. I have to get over the introversion because my work dictates that I should be outgoing, energetic, and open.
But introvert leaders must be able to be respected for who they are. In my community that I'm building, The Provocateurs' Nexus, this online community could be something different to different people.
To the overachievers and action-oriented leaders, a space to run their ideas and expand their professional network;
To the dreamer and visionaries, a space to experiment on different models of operating and different knowledge bases they can tap on;
To the change-makers and catalysts, a space to learn, laugh, and build the next systems change tools and techniques;
To the young and inexperience, your Kuyas and Ates (older brothers and older sisters in Filipino) can guide your way so you can avoid the mistakes they made;
To the silent and introverts, you can be lurkers, observers, and quiet support but your presence and impact is felt nevertheless.
To the empaths, you engagement this community by volunteering and leading with your thoughts and prompt and ensuring that everyone is feeling safe and valued will be appreciated.
You bring your whole being here and we respect and value that here.
Of course, if you're not part of this, how would you know the difference?
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I have never been so committed to getting this right. A community that I have been looking for for the past five years. As you know my consulting practice has taken me in various directions, metaphorically and physically. Hence, the product of all these tours, detours, reiterations, and close-calls are now lovingly produced into this community, The Provocateurs' Nexus.
As I was talking to representatives of my target demographic, I noticed three qualifications which I think deserve its own explanation.
They want EASY, NO RISK GUARANTEES!
We are bombarded with so much gizmos, gadgets, apps, and everything that involve making our lives easier. We are given promos that are time-sensitive to get us into action. We don't want any sleazy marketing. We want personalized, high touch attention. I hear you! Let the buyer buy without any hassle.
They want NO GUILT, LAID-BACK PARTICIPATION.
I'm all for it. There is no sense of building a program for those who are overworked, underpaid, overly-stressed, and underpowered in their current roles who will not have any time or energy to devote to anything else. I can't emphasize this need very well. There's a space for lurkers, browsers, and introverts too. I will not be taking away time as opposed to be building personal efficacy over time.
They want NO UNSOLICITED ADVICE.
Aside from effective facilitation and expert moderation in this instance, key is the adherence to values and principles laid out from the beginning. In any group dynamics, there could be misunderstanding which can lead to conflict or hurt feelings. The need to be respectful and supportive can be shown not just in giving or receiving advice. Giving advice when not welcome at all is just being insensitive. For this community, I'm leaning towards disclosing based on one's comfort level and encouraging conversations at a more general level and not particularly pointed to one or more individuals in the group. More of a teaching moment for everyone.
If you want to know more, head to my page where I talked about the benefits, terms and conditions, no risks guarantees, stories, and more.
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The explosion in publishing has been noted to be the one of the most significant breakthroughs in recent years. Nearly practically anyone can self-publish his work and sell it online to his communities. The marketplace is very saturated with new books and materials entering every year, bumping the previous ones in terms of competition for the consumers.
To get an edge over this saturation, service-providers and purpose-aligned organization must provide more than their annual reports and publications, it's the experience with you that counts. Experiencing your capabilities, wealth of experience, and analysis is the way forward to break out from the commodification in the sector.
Purpose-driven organizations that are struggling to get the attention of your constituencies and stakeholders, here are the top four strategies to publish successfully and earn their donations, loyalty, and support.
1. Publish in areas where your target stakeholders learn, mingle, and network. That will keep your brand front-and-centre.
2. Repurpose your analysis and studies in variety of creative ways. The latest stats on digital consumption reveals an uptake on audio and video content. Make it accessible anytime, anywhere.
3. Design an experience that they will never forget. Unforgettable, relevant, and peer-to-peer exclusive atmosphere will increase your credibility in the field. You become the go-to for anything authoritative in your domain.
4. Build your defenders for the long game. In my book Provocateurs, I discussed the evolution of community, from fans to acolytes to defenders. Defenders will not only support your work, but will sponsor, evangelize, and take action for your benefit that aligns with their interests and values as well. Adapt your events, publications, and communications to build up your community.
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When I last saw my 11-year old niece in 2019, she was singing the 1960s hit, the Sound Silence. That was one of the best folk songs in my book. I remembered in the 90s, when I got to know some of the best classical folk and rock songs and started to learn the guitar for the first time. The Sound of Silence was one of the beats that was unbeatable. I gave up on the guitar after trying for a few months recovering from blisters all over my fingers, but not on the song.
The Sound of Silence is eternally relevant and powerful with its hunting melodic harmony that remains supreme against the auto-tone, music trashing modern bands we have today. I can say that I grew up learning to play these songs, interpret these songs during my high school life, and appreciate a different era of my parents and grandparents where some of these songs have been birthed.
Silence in today's world is a rarified survival tool. Everyone wants it but it takes courage to find and keep a silent life. If you think about it, silence is a blessing.
As I grow in years, I would lean more to the quiet, calm, and assured days and moments as opposed to the big, boisterous, and larger-than-life events that take our breath away from time to time. The sound of silence is the heart beating, bird chirping at outside, snow falling from the sky, staring at a newborn baby (which I did today!), snoring sound in another room, electric fan swirling, moments that no words can be enough. I'd rather be drowned in silence than to fill up the space with meaningless chatter and fake words.
There is power in silence and using this power responsibly and positively honors the One that gives us the power to listen. We can hear more when we listen on non-verbal cues that are rich, textured, and layered of meanings. I am coaching one professional and I told her that there is no problem with silence. Don't avoid it like a plaque but understand the meaning of silence in every encounter or situation with the people in the room. Being a leader means being aware of the underlying context that most of the time, is hidden from verbal expression. Emotions make us human, respecting the positive benefits of silence is truly a gift. Take notice, be interested, and listen discerningly.
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never heard
No one dared, disturb the sound of silence...
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In a workshop a few years ago, the facilitator asked us about our superpower. I think I can safely say that I'm an encourager. Always an encourager.
I grew up between my older siblings and my younger one. As a middle child, I learned early on how to get along with everyone. I also learned that it's best to see the positive side of being a middle child, take whatever is handed down and be grateful for small allowances from infractions.
As a I grow older and worked in many workplaces, I use positivity as a strategy for coping, building up resiliency, addressing issues, and also building people up as well so that they could achieve their full potential.
The best encouragers that I met in my life were some of my family members and close friends. They saw the potential, passion, and dedication in me. My early teachers were formative. They believed in me before I have formed an healthy opinion of myself. And my life experiences proved that building relations is what matters most in the end. Okay you got the job done, got the award, got the business, or moved ahead in life, yes to that! But real success is really about lifting others up too and building them.
With mental health issues on the rise, inflation and economic pressures on many households, long-term effects of the pandemic, people are looking for ways to maintain their sense of boundaries and protect their sanities and peace. My superpower as an encourager is highly valuable and in-demand. I guess it's time to be more busy in this area.
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I was in an online connections meet-up of a social enterprise eco-system network for the first time. What was my biggest take-away in a matter of half an hour talking to a group of strangers was the fact that at the end of it all: they were no longer strangers but good friends.
Building connections is not as easy as I thought it was. This problem is compounded during COVID19 where lockdowns increased social isolation and the mental health issues that come with it. Nowadays, for many, it seems that 'building connections' is seen as a luxury not as need. It's easy to work with colleagues over Zoom but building interpersonal connections is almost impossible or nil at this point. It's very easy to say that you don't have the time, when it's actually about prioritizing and valuing it.
I maybe immune to this at some point because I work alone and I'm basically to myself for many working days. To me, connecting is like breathing air. If I haven't connected meaningfully to another person, colleague, network member, client, prospect, or to anyone in my circle, I will be totally down for the rest of the week. As opposite of energy suckers, I long for energy booster communities which I can fully show up as a person, not just a professional and be embraced by them. In return, I show up and engage actively. There is no real substitute for that kind of community.
As I ponder on this today, I note that integration and connection requires discipline, strategy, and intentionality for these things to take place. Building it and they will come is a surefire for lackluster results. It's those things that are always taken off the plate when events get tough.
Instead of seeing it as burdensome or work-requirement to connect, note that you needed it as part of the humanity. We need to connect, belong, and share with one another, trusting and relying on each other to succeed in life.
With that Zoom community call today, I felt revitalized than ever. It provides levitation I need for the rest of the week. More of these, then I will feel like am really where I belong. Right here talking with people without any agenda but to connect meaningfully.
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I have heard this several times, and every time I know exactly what's going to happen next.
But, your rate is high.
But, I just don't think it's the right timing.
But, we are having a major reorganization right now.
But, we just hired two people full time for this.
But, I just don't know if we have the budget.
But, I can't guarantee you she would give you time to meet.
But, I'm not the decision-maker here.
But, we hired two consultants recently.
But, I have to consult first, figure out what we want and get back to you.
But, the Board decided we will do x,y,z first before taking this process.
Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. When you don't want to buy, there are many reasons. Some are valid enough, and some are concoctions to get the person out of the door. It boils down to trust.
For the seller, build trust no matter. Relationship comes first.
If they're not the right buyers, walk away with your head high.
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I was speaking to a group this week. We polled them if they have a positive outlook during the pandemic and less than half confirmed that they had. They also reported that their supervisor supported them a lot. This showed that even their supervisors might not be feeling positive as well.
We can only surmise.
Positivity in the age of post-pandemic emergence is a pre-requisite and it's the basic quotient to have before you can build along changes that come into your life. I know for a fact that this is not easy. But I chose to be positive, persistent, and hopeful, despite several setbacks I experienced last year.
We can never know what other people are experiencing. If you can count the people in LinkedIn that have critical illnesses, jobless, with family and personal challenges, you will know that your troubles aren't comparable to these situations.
It's better to go beyond resilience: benefit from shocks, stresses, raise the bar, and go along with changes and welcome ambiguity. Cultivate opportunities even in the midst of trying conditions and know that you're not alone. You can be in a lockdown but isolation is a choice. You can still be connected in the deepest, most humane way if you choose to be.
I can say that the distance between our efforts and what we have as external impacts is our positivity equity. Increase that positive equity now and as you move up, lift others along the path to your recovery.
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A few years ago, when I was jumpstarting my practice again, I attended a local community organization's meeting made up of different providers for networking and to get to know the burning issues of the day. One lady questioned my presence and intimated that I might be in a 'wrong meeting' because am in the consulting business. Presumably, she thought that their group should not be a 'target' of my marketing.
Like in many of professions, as a professional and a person, we come with many hats. Because I was seen as the 'consultant' ready to take their monies and hard-earned budget, I got an inquisition. But if you come with an open mind, a consultant can be a guide, an expert, another connector, and could be an ardent supporter just like any other individual. I can also write a cheque if I want to!
How come organizations suffer from myopic perspectives and ill-thought actions? Because they insulate themselves from outside voices and perspectives that can actually enrich their work and challenge their assumptions. Within the confines of the comfortable existence, a few of them dare to venture to reach out or be accessed by people marginal to their operational logics. Innovation is relaxing controls and embracing the creative diversities from resources and talent around you.
Don't be too quick to say no to people from unlikely origins, with backgrounds different from yours just because of the prejudices and biases against/for these people. There is always a treasure hidden behind a job title or a strange name or a weird hairdo. If you dismiss these people arbitrarily, you're literally leaving money on the table. For a non-profit, this attitude is suicidal.
Be open to possibilities and be surprised with your findings.