Posts tagged ‘focus’

One Book, Two Questions and Three Words for 2010

With a new year, comes a lot of reflecting. Whether this describes you as an individual or as an organization, I’ve got one book, two questions and three words you need to read in 2010. These will help you identify your core values, focus your motivation and goals, and help translate all the above in your day-to-day activities. Let’s get reading.

1. One Book

I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of this book. If you have, please comment. The book is titled five, and is across the board, a five-star book. So many books tell you what to do and think about your life. Stop reading those books. They take valuable time, and they often don’t provide any answers. Why? Because you have to provide the answers. The reason I like the book five is not because it’s simple, design-based and interactive, but because it forces you to reflect on your own life, your own goals and your thoughts. This is often the hardest part–but most rewarding. It provides prompts and questions, along with lines to pencil in your ideas. It’s a work book–but it’s not work. It uses creative design and textography throughout to draw you in and inspire. So, stop doing the easy part by reading what others think you should do, and focus on you.

2. Two Questions

These two simple questions could change your life. They are provided by author Daniel H. Pink, author of the book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, which looks at human motivation. These two questions are:

  • What is my sentence?
  • Was I better today, than I was yesterday?

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

3. Three Words

If you’ve quickly skimmed down here to read the three words, I’m sorry to say, it’s not that easy. You see: It’s not my three words you need to read. It’s your own. Beth Kanter clued me on to this as she was inspired by Chris Brogan. Kanter’s three words were: Networked, Generosity and Full of Life. For Brogan, his were Ecosystems, Owners and Kings. According to Brogan, your three words should:

“…help you the way a lighthouse helps a ship in a storm. Give yourself a word that guides you towards a powerful new opportunity, and that keeps you focused on what comes of this year. Use these words as starting points for tangible goals, SMART goals that can be measured and have dates to accomplish tasks by. These words sit above the actual goals, and set your guiding principles in place.”

What I like about the three words, is that they are your words. So, do what works for you. For me, my three words are: Simplify and Focus. I don’t have a third, because, well, re-read my first word. 😉


They say people who write down their goals are more successful. You can define success any way you want–as long as you define it for yourself. So, even if you aren’t sure what your goal is, start writing down something and logging your ideas. Eventually, something will come, and when it does, it’ll be powerful because it’ll be born from within.

To Make a Difference, Must You Choose?

Life is full of choices–some more important than others. I started this post about four months ago, and the question remains unanswered for me, so I greatly appreciate your insights.

To make a difference or to bring about the illusive and often intangible “change” …must we choose? What I mean is this: In the non-profit and social change arena, must you choose a cause to rally behind and make your life’s work to make an impact? I use to think no. Now, I’m not so sure.


When I first started blogging I was an anonymous blogger. I wasn’t sure how it would be taken by potential employers and colleagues. I later revealed my identify. However–I’ve never quite fully stated in public certain causes I support or the specific “change” that gets me motivated. In our space, must we? Should we?

I don’t need to tell you that the line between professional and personal is blurring. I use to think we had to stay middle of the road when it came to personal matters–I thought this was the better route to go. After all, you don’t see companies or employees advocating for the causes they care about or beliefs they believe in….or do you?


I think the pendulum is swinging. More and more, people and organizations are taking a stand. I think, in the future, part of what will make you credible and a force to be reckoned with, is what motivates you and where you take your stand. Remember that quote we were told as kids as we worked to understand our world:

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.

We all have influence. Why is it–that we as people or bloggers or even companies are afraid to exercise it towards the very things we care most about? Fear is powerful–and it can occur within a person or within an organization. Sometimes, we may not even recognize the role of fear as it may be built in systems and processes we may have little control over. Good news: fear can be squashed and new solutions and innovations can light the way. We should leave more trails, rather than report each others foot steps as a pack hovering together for warmth. Am I off here?

For instance, I’m a Christian. There, I said it. Does that change things? Let’s talk about it because I’m tired of not talking about it. How come many of us don’t talk about the things that motivate us to get where we are and push us to do our work? What gave me the courage to finally publish this post is that I know I’m not alone in pondering these questions. Thank you to people like Rosetta Thurman and Alex Steed. Read their posts.

Making a Difference

If this is the goal, what does this mean? This is where my hangup is. I feel like we’d all answer this question differently. In terms of my cause-reporting on SocialButterfly, you could say I’m a bit of a generalist with a heavy leaning towards public health. But what about cause-doing? One word comes to mind:


People who are successful are great at being able to focus. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about verticalization–thanks to friend Geoff Livingston. In the non-profit, government, and even the public health worlds, each has its verticals. As we’ve matured, more areas of focus have evolved within the realms of “non-profit” and “social change.”  I have friends who are passionate about alleviating teenage homelessness. Friends who are persistent in the drive to address climate change. Friends who persevere to find new ways of doing business. Friends who are focused.

In the past, I focused on giving the Hispanic community a voice in Mid-Missouri and got involved in immigration issues. Then I focused on spreading awareness about multiple sclerosis and raising funds for multiple sclerosis research. In four years, I got to be a part of raising over $325k for multiple sclerosis through event planning and grassroots efforts.

Then, to be honest, I avoided “choosing” and this is why. I discovered social marketing–and focused on it because to create change and have an impact, you need to learn behavior changing skills and knowledge. You need to be a student of the evolving strategies, research and tools. This is why social marketing is appealing to me–because it provides a framework to go about influencing change, whether you are passionate about combating human trafficking, decrease drug abuse, ending poverty, eliminating HIV/AIDS, address climate change, increasing the country’s health or wanting to increase the rate people in your school wear seat belts–social marketing can light the way. Now, my focus is social marketing. I firmly believe that the process of social marketing can help address many of the battles we face. Yet I’m torn.


The more I think about it, the more I’m bothered. Being bothered is good because it shakes you up and makes you question, think and go deeper. Thus, I ask you: To make a difference, must I (or you) choose one cause–one organization–or one group of people–to champion?

flickr credit: angrytoast

Focus on Some Inspiration

I am so thankful for community–including those at BlogHer. I woke up this morning and found this inspiring post and video emphasizing a word that I’ve been concentrating on: FOCUS. The video starts with this beautiful quote. I encourage you to take a moment and reflect upon it:

“Your real work is to decide what you want and then focus upon it, for it is through focusing upon what you want–that you will get it. That is the process of creating.”

The video closes with another thought-provoking quote by Ghandi:

“Keep your thoughts as positive because your thoughts become your words.

Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors.

Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits.

Keep your habits responsible because your habits become your values.

Keep your values positive because values become your destiny.”

You can apply these words to yourself, to your family, your work, and you can also apply them to your organization. Think: When was the last time you (or your organization) felt inspired?

Building a Web Site: Easy as 1, 2 OR 3?

Today, I heard that fundamentally there are three main purposes of a Web site: 1) informational, 2) transactional and 3) community-based. An Informational Web site is one that is primarily a resource. A transactional Web site has a desired action, which is usually associated with e-commerce. And lastly, a community-based Web site is one that is designed to encourage people to interact, network and share.

I’m not one to put things into boxes and draw hard boundaries, but at first I liked this concept. It’s simple. It’s easy. But, after pondering for a second, I got to thinking: is it relevant? We all know the Web is an evolving beast, which is why I think today’s best Web sites pull the best components from each of these three “types”  to creates a stronger vehicle.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that Web sites don’t need to focus. In the world of the Web, I’m seeing the concept of “focusing” becoming increasingly important. For example, these Web sites have focus:

  • Wikipedia–Informational
  • Amazon–Transactional
  • Facebook–Community

But Wikipedia is also a community of editors working together to create a service. Facebook has its own marketplace where transactions are worked out and don’t forget Facebook advertising or monetary exchange through Facebook applications such as Causes. Amazon–though primarily transactional–encourages us to give reviews, rate its products, create gift lists and in essence, build community around the purchases we make. Marinate on that thought for a second and then take this statement into consideration:

Considering current evolutions of the Web and comments such as Shel’s, I’m thinking the text books may need some updating. Web sites still need to focus, but at the same time, they need to add value to the end-consumer, provide products or services or action steps, while also building community. Just take a look around–the sites that we are all using everyday are Web sites that can serve multiple functions. So, get creative. Just because you have a ton of content you have to share, there are ways to not only “inform” people of the content, but also ways to generate actions, make the content interactive and build community. Thus, I answer “all of the above.”

What do you think? What’s your take? Is building a Web site easy as 1, 2, or 3?

flickr credit: Andreanna