Posts tagged ‘motivation’

Six Words to Make Ideas Scale

ScaleIdeas are born everyday–big ideas, little ideas, ideas born from one person and ideas born through thought and application. What makes one idea stand out from another and what makes the idea stick, gain traction and create a movement? Here are six words to help make ideas scale:

1.  Fire: Someone recently offered me some good advice. The said the key to “success” was to always know your end goal. The more you fuel this goal, the more you’ll believe in it and the more you’ll believe in yourself. A blogger I truly admire has been chewing on this lately, and you may relate–I know I did. For me, it’s not just a case of knowing my end goal, but knowing why that’s my end goal. To me, the why over rides the what and is what will drive success. We all have goals–but why do you have them? That is the tougher question, and that is what will get you through the droughts.

2.  Simplify: Life is complicated enough–people don’t need more complication. Identify ideas that simplify tasks (without the use of a 30-slide power point to explain it). Identify ideas that are focused. Here’s a sign that you have overcomplicated your idea: You experience paralysis by analysis. This is a problem for tenant number 2–because it stops you from executing.

3.  Stop: We’ve heard of growing pains. There will come times that you may need to stop. This could mean that you need to simplify the juggling act. Or, it may mean that you stop a product line or stop the way you do something and find a new way. It could mean that you need to stop starting new ideas–and re-focus back on the original idea. As, if we keep starting new ideas all the time–then we aren’t committing to what our end goal is and are spreading the fire too thin.

4.  Execution: My mom always told me, “Don’t try. Do.” Take two seconds and reflect on what you’ve been doing and what you want to be doing. Do you see how much “trying” sneaks up on us? Chris Brogan recently wrote about this in his e-newsletter as well. For those that want to do, we need to eliminate try. Those that make ideas become realizations, just do it. There might be success and there may be failure. But they did it. They learned, and they keep on doing.

5.  Build: There are an infinite number of ideas right? Well, there are perhaps just as many people coming up with those ideas. You see–lots of people are “ideas people.” Everyone seems to have the next big idea or the next big thing. Repeat this to yourself: Being an ideas person does not make you different and will not bring success. If anything, this means you need to connect with more builders. Builders are people that have vision while also being able to plan and make it happen. Builders are the people that fill in the gaps, aren’t afraid of getting messy, and are resourceful.

6.  Contagious: Be contagious–in your thinking, speaking, doing and giving. It’s important to note that being contagious happens naturally–it’s not forced. You and your idea can also be contagious without you knowing it–at any time of the day. So be on the lookout for opportunity, for fellow builders, and fuel for the fire, you never know what might happen. As Seth Godin says, “Great ideas aren’t anointed, they spread through a groundswell of support.”

Bonus Track: These aren’t rules, but they are guidelines. If you like rules, then check out Seth Godin’s post “Rules for Ideas Worth Spreading.” My fav: “Don’t poll your friends. It’s your art, not an election.” Or, check out the book “Made to Stick” to learn some more words to help your ideas spread. Now, go build your fire.

What words help you focus and make ideas scale?

flickr credit: maniwa_pa on How-To Choose the Right Cause

The other month, I wrote about choices. I wondered if we needed to commit to a certain cause if we truly want to make a difference. The answers were inspiring–motivating. It seems I’m not the only one who has asked this same question.

If you’ve been here, then you’ve also asked: How do you know what the right cause is (and how do you choose)? Larry Brilliant, former Executive Director of, has some answers–or better, some more questions for us to ponder:

What’s the single most important criteria?

–is it big enough?

–will it scale?

–is it different?

–is it sustainable?

–is it helpful?

Before you act…consider the face of the poorest person you will ever meet. Then ask yourself if what you are about to do will benefit that person–if not, think again.

Brilliant offered this advice in his presentation at Stanford, which was part of Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Lectures. You can view this video in full, as well as other videos from Brilliant (including the one where he shares the five areas decided to focus on in Jan. 2008) on Stanford’s Web site.

I think another important question is–does it get your heart pumping and blood moving? I think these questions are great, but if you choose one cause–you are about to get even more up close and personal, and you want to avoid cause-burnout. What about you? What are other good questions to ask yourself?

PS: Apparently, I’m on a question-spree with these last two posts. Hope you find it as helpful as I do–thank you all for your valuable input on the awareness fever post. 😉

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

The Next #read4change Book is…

You voted, and now, Actions Speak Loudest by Robert McKinnon will be our next #read4change book. I feel it’s quite timely considering my post last week about knowledge, attitudes and actions.

Actions Speak Loudest is a compilation of some of today’s greatest doers like Jimmy Carter, Queen Noor, Mia Hamm, Joe Torre and others who are everyday American heroes that make a difference. Together, they look at thirty-two issues, ranging from childhood obesity to climate change, that are critical to the well-being of the next generation–while also providing ideas and ways to take action. All funds raised from sales of the book go back to the causes and organizations featured within its pages.

BONUS: Robert McKinnon will join our #read4change chat. Stay tuned for time and date.

Feeling lost and wondering what the heck #read4change is?

In September 2009, with some inspiration and a desire to create deeper connections with the talented online community, SB launched “read4change,” an online social change book club–where anyone can participate.

Using the Twitter account @read4change and the hashtag #read4change–do gooders, social changers, nonprofiteers and the like gather around each month to discuss that month’s book and how its relates to our do-good work.

Now, curious about how to get involved?

  1. FOLLOW us @read4change on Twitter.
  2. RECOMMEND a book. Email me at
  3. VOTE each month on which book we should read. The top book will be chosen.
  4. READ the book or browse our bookshelf to see what we’ve recently discussed.
  5. DISCUSS the books with us on Twitter using the #read4change hashtag.

Want to help? Just answering these two simple questions helps:

  1. Do you prefer to have a pre-set reading list–or do you like voting on the book each month?
  2. Given the holidays, should we meet for December’s #read4change or schedule our next one to be early January?

Are You Keeping the Main Thing, the Main Thing?

I don’t know about you, but this is a question that I make myself answer everyday. Of course, that means that you need to know your main thing. Preparing for marriage over the past year, I’ve found that my main thing has changed. And for me, that’s a good thing because it represents the type of person I want to be, it keeps me more focused, and in in the end, makes me better at everything else.

During one of those moments–you know, the times where you feel like everything is coming at you from all directions and you’re just not sure how you’re going to make it all work–I reached out to my friend Qui, who simply said: “Keep the main thing, the main thing.” Seven simple words that got my head to the ground working, only this time, I was healthier, happier and more productive.

Thus, I want to recognize some colleagues that I know have worked hard this past year to keep the main, the main thing.

Main Thing Keepers

  • Andre Blackman: When I first met Andre, he was living in DC as a newlywed working to balance life, marriage, work and his pursuits in public health. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I told him I was engaged, and he said: Just you wait, things will change. (How right you were friend, and I’m a better woman for it!) Fast forward to today, he’s living closer to family, moving the public health field forward and leading the charge in his role at RTI. Nice job Andre!
  • Geoff Livingston: I greatly respect Geoff’s approach to work and life. For one, I like how he integrates his love for social change pursuits into his work–nice balancing. Further, if you read his blog or follow him on Twitter, you often hear him give props to his wife. In fact, this past year, Geoff sold his company and joined the CRT/Tanaka crew. In his blog post announcing the big move, Geoff acknowledged his appreciation and renewed relationship with his wife! Even better–His first descriptor in his Twitter bio for the longest time was “husband.” To me, for someone who is so accomplished in our field, to wake up everyday and say he is a husband first, that deserves mad respect.
  • Rosetta Thurman: Admittedly, I don’t know Rosetta as well as the other two. But just read her latest post on her own personal revelations when it comes to life, love and the lure of the “career.’ Rosetta, I feel you. I use to deny kids and used to think I was destined to be single–and in fact, I was quite comfortable with that. Now, I’m in love and getting married in a couple months. Thus, I encourage you girl.
  • Bonus: Seth Godin. I don’t know him personally, but I feel it’s very easy for us in the social media field to get thrown off-course. In this video, Seth shares these sentiments and challenges us with the question: “Where are the real relationships?…Networking is so important when it’s real, and it’s always a useless distraction when it’s fake.”

Your turn. Who do you know that is keeping the main thing, the main thing? And better yet, how are they doing it?

Do you consider yourself an activist?

There are certain people you get really excited about meeting. One of those people for me was Geoff Livingston. A couple of weeks ago, I finally got the chance to meet him in person. During our conversation, he referenced me as an activist.

This was another first for me. I know Geoff said it with love, but no one has ever called me that, and I found myself pondering: Do I consider myself an activist? So, I let it marinate. And I came to three conclusions:

1. I do consider myself an activist. But then comes the question, what am I advocating for? I feel the answer to this question will continue to morph, evolve, and develop with time. For the longest time and presently, I am an advocate for a cure to multiple sclerosis. I’m also an advocate for my family, for human rights, for literacy and for social good. It may be cliche, but the quote, “Stand for something, otherwise you stand for nothing.”

Well, when my name is called, I want to feel confident about where I’m standing and why. This blog helps document my approach to activism as it’s deeply rooted in the belief I have in the process of social marketing and behavior change.

2. Being considered an activist is a good thing. I consider it a badge of honor. I know the word “activist” itself carries with it many ideas and immediate connotations from a variety of people, which is all great and dandy. However, what I realized was more important, was what it meant to me. I started thinking of others that I would deem “activists.” Maybe I’m just a little too on the optimistic side, but I first thought of those like Susan B. Anthony, Martin Lurther King Jr., Nelson Mandella, and my family.

You see, I feel like I come from a lineage of activists so to speak. One, my grandfather of about five generations ago was a Cherokee Indian Chief. Another super great uncle was an abolitionist with John Brown and was actually hung with him as documented in the book Man on Fire. Though I know that one is a bit extreme, there was my great-grandpa Russel who was a teacher…A teacher who lost his job because he didn’t believe in the segregation of his classroom. To carry on the torch and encourage others to join,  well, to me, that’s a good thing.

3. This, inherently, implies action. The word itself carries the word “act” in it. Are there “activists” that you don’t agree with? Yes. Are there activists with bad intentions? Yes. Are there activites who use approaches you don’t agree with? Yes. But, then, if that’s the case, act on it. =) Being an activist is what you make of it.

Find your voice. Channel your purpose….and I think you’ll find that you will want to ACT on whatever you feel called or led to do more than ever. Are you with me?

(*I hesitated writing this post, because I thought the word “activist” might lend itself to be controversial. But then I thought, hey, SB readers are pretty smart folks. They’ll have some good insights to stretch me even further on this. I’m counting on it. In the meantime, thanks Geoff for the compliment!)

flickr credit: RockChalk Jayhawk, John Rover

Expert versus Asset: Which One are You?

I’m going to warn you. Some people are going to view this article as radical. In recent weeks, there’s been lots of articles and conversations that denounce the expert, calling them carpetbaggers or government gadget gurus or what have you.

In my humble opinion, those that are experts are only referred to as “experts” by other people. This is one reason why they are experts….because they denounce their own “expert-ism.”

These are the people we love. The people that are life-long learners, not in a cliché way, but by role-modeling through action. They aren’t afraid to try new ideas or to spend extra time stretching an already vetoed idea. They experiment.  They are not in a leather chair with shiny Italian shoes, but they are in the jungle of the marketplace navigating knowledge, ideas and society for applications of thought. True experts, also fail at times. But they learn from it, tweak it and make it better.

Last week on Twitter, I had a thought and shared it: “Don’t be an expert. Instead, become an industry-valued asset. The difference? One works for himself and his own knowledge base, the other, wants to be valuable and enjoys collaborative efforts.

Now I don’t know about you, but I would much rather work with someone who wants to be valuable. These are the people that do any task just because it needs to get done, even if it’s not in their official job description. These are the people:

  • that will admit when they don’t know something. But come to your office the next day sharing what they learned from doing some extra research the night before.
  • that know that everyone can teach them something, from the doorman to the man with his name on the door.
  • that first listen and observe in the meeting, rather than interrupt and share their ideas first.
  • that ignore their job description and take initiative whether its making copies, to binding the reports to adding in two-cents on a proposal, to in effect, get the job done.
  • that puts themselves second and the client, task, job, person first. They avoid inter-office politics/chatter to make sure that the client doesn’t suffer.
  • that recognize that they don’t deserve anything, but they earn everything.

People who want to be valuable don’t wait for people to come to them; instead, they roll up their sleeves and say, I’m ready. What do we need? In fact, my family has the saying that if you even have to ask: How can I help? Then you aren’t helping, because helping=doing. Perhaps once we separate those who want to be experts and those who want to be assets, the value of that employee and the work given will shine.

Not to be on a soapbox (okay, maybe a ramp), but perhaps you are an expert. But are you sensitive to how your colleagues and those in your industry react to the word “expert.” Perhaps, we need a new word for you, or perhaps you can angle yourself to be an “industry valued-asset.” Call it a game of the tongue, but words have meaning, as does action. What are your words saying and your actions doing?

In your eyes, what are some ways you differentiate between an expert and an industry-valued asset? What are other ways people can make themselves “valuable” in your eyes?

photo credit: jeannie86

Happy Birthday SocialButterfly…and Me!

Today marks SocialButterfly’s 1-year birthday.

This past year was full of surprises, new adventures, and has been such a great whirlwind that I feel much like the kitten in the picture – trying to catch my breathe and “paws.” My anthem for 2008 was “Too Blessed to be Stressed,” and many times, I found myself needing to be reminded of just that.

This past year, I:

  • Moved 4 times, one being from the middle of the Missouri River in Columbia, Missouri to the row houses of Capitol Hill.
  • Have been deliriously happy as a new bride-to-be. After a two-year, long distance relationship, my honey and I are now sharing the same city and enjoying building a new life together. Bless our hearts, we looked at 33 different places in DC before we decided upon our current apartment. Needless to say, I felt like we had earned our real estate licenses!
  • I graduated grad school, finished a fellowship, wrote and presented my thesis paper across the pond, and began a full-time gig doing what I love – social marketing and social media marketing.
  • Worked with a total of about 8 part-time volunteers, including my parents, one of my best friends, and a few people from our community in Arkansas, through a grassroots effort, created and built a fund raiser for Multiple Sclerosis and raised over $70,000 in one night – making my total efforts in four years of MS fund raising a total of $325k+.
  • Made many new friends and colleagues that continue to inspire me through Changebloggers, motivate me through connections on Twitter and online community, support me in my development and run the race with me….so to all you readers and friends, I hope I have done the same for you in return. If not, give me a little kick in the pants, and I’ll get going.

For 2009, who knows what will be next….but I promise you, we’ll be sure to keep it interesting. As a fellow reminder to both myself and my readers, keep perspective, and as a friend of mine once told me, “Keep the main thing, the main thing.”

Not only is it the blog’s birthday this week, but it’s also mine…in case the title through you for a loop. =)

flickr credit: loveberries
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Be Inspired by this Week's Blogger Neighbor: Stacey Monk @ EpicChange

Continuing my weekly “Blogger Neighborhood Series” in honor of the great Mr. Rogers, who called us to “Get to know our neighbor,” I welcome Stacey Monk from Epic Change, who continues to leave me inspired.

Stacey is an amazing writer, showing both her contagious passion and gracious, sincere personality through every word, so I’ll let her tell you about her journey, mission and how she’s gotten to where she is…


Blog Name:

The Epic Change Blog

Blog Topics:

The Epic Change Blog is a diary of our experiment in social entrepreneurship and an organization I recently founded called Epic Change. We started it just after we received our 501c3 determination last September, and we blog whatever we’ve experienced on the journey since then, including:

We try to give a complete, transparent picture of what we’re working on so that our supporters can feel engaged in what we’re doing, and so other folks can learn from our mistakes and successes. We also try to provide regular opportunities on our blog for folks to get involved. Last week, for instance, to celebrate National Volunteer Week, we provided daily opportunities for our readers to perform 10-minute volunteer activities.

About the Author:

I’m a nerd, a recovering military brat, a perpetual nomad and a total sap. I believe the world is what we make it. I started my career managing a performing arts series, moved into public sector consulting for Deloitte, then worked in IT strategy & change leadership at Genentech and, finally, launched a small change management consulting firm called Funken Consulting. Last year, I left for Africa, came back, stopped working for money & founded Epic Change, a nonprofit that “helps hopeful people in need tell their epic true stories to acquire the resources they need to create change in their communities.” I have a BA in Philosophy and a grad degree in performing arts management from the public policy school at Carnegie Mellon. I like to think that artsy background helps me be more creative in my approach to social change. You can check out my street cred on LinkedIn.

If you could live on any street, what would that street be named and why?

I’d live where Hope, Audacity, Authenticity, & Gratitude intersect because I know I’d like the other people who live there. [This is my favorite quote of the week!]

Who would be your dream real-life neighbor?

Any man who can sing. For today, let’s say John Mayer. His song Say is stuck on my brain. Or maybe Josh Groban. His voice makes me feel like I’m in the presence of an angel.

If you were in charge of the planning the neighborhood’s block party, what entertainment would you plan?

Ditto, previous question. Or I’d plan a performance by a dance troupe that I love like Alvin Ailey or Momix. Or we’d dance ourselves, which might be the most fun. Despite my chubbiness, I love to dance. I’m certified to teach ZUMBA and Shake Your Soul.

If you customized your own license plate, what would it say and why?


What would you gift to a new neighbor as the perfect welcoming gift?

Blueberry Pie. Despite 1950s connotations, pies = love.

What’s your favorite blog post and why?

I’d like to point to something brilliant by someone else, because I’ve taken so much as inspiration. Right now, today, though, I’m really wrapped up in what’s unfolding as a result of my recent, totally random, guest post on the Go Big Always blog of Jive CMO Sam Lawrence. I met him totally randomly on Twitter, and last Wednesday after midnight, when he was tweeting that he didn’t feel like posting to his uber-popular marketing blog, I offered to take his place. He, probably in jest, wrote back “Go for it ;)” and I did. That single post has led to a flurry of others, including one on ZDNet, a tweet by @Scobleizer, and a connection to social media giant Jeremiah Owyang, as well as a drastic increase in the number of people interested in our cause. So for today, the Go Big Always post is surely my fave, despite the fact that it begins with a reference to feces.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned from blogging?

Be authentic.

Past Blogger Neighbors Include:


This continuous weekly series highlights different blogs and their respective bloggers in the blogosphere neighborhood. Following the great Mr. Rogers, who tells us to ‘Get to know your neighbor,’ this series introduces us to our blogger neighbors, making for a more unified, collaborative voice for the social sector. Like to nominate someone or be featured yourself? Contact me @