Having a Bad Day?

Sometimes it's because it's Monday.  Sometimes it's because you didn't sleep well.  Sometimes it's just because you're having too many minor- or major- hassles at work.  And sometimes it's JUST BECAUSE.  You're having a bad day. It happens. It's not easy being a leader, responsible for others as well as for fulfilling a mission. One of the nonprofit experts I follow, Joan Garry, has a wonderful blog about what to do when you're feeling a bit wobbly about things.  Read it and have a better tomorrow!


Helen Keller's Nonprofit Wisdom

We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own path, and we will never be happy if we live someone else's idea of life. ~Helen Keller

As a child, I was a bit obsessed with Helen Keller.  While she was a hugely important figure to me, I never thought I'd be quoting her in one of my blogs.  And I don't think that she ever intended for the quote above to be interpreted as nonprofit management wisdom. But it occurred to me upon reading her words that often organizations compare themselves to other organizations and are disappointed with what they see.

"How did they get that grant?"  "Why did so-and-so join their board and not ours?"  "How come we're not growing as much as they are?"  "Are we ever going to be able to have office space as nice as theirs?"

Of course we are all aware of the competition among organizations in the nonprofit space- for attention, for dollars and for survival.  Even in collaborations across organizations, there is often a subtle (or not-so-subtle) competitive thread.  We all want to believe that our organization is the best, fulfilling its mission and providing its community with everything they need.  But sometimes, reading another organization's newsletter, or attending another's fundraising event, there's that gnawing thought that you're falling short in comparison.

What do you do about this "grass is always greener" angst?  Well, here's a reality check for you: You don't really know what is happening behind the doors of their (more beautiful than yours) office. They might be struggling with major financial challenges.  They might have a seriously dysfunctional board.  They might be envious of YOU. They might be thinking, "How come they have such great social media presence?"  "How do they do so much great programming with so few staff?"  "Why are they always getting quoted in the media?"

It would be easy to say, "Stop looking over your shoulder at the other guys."  That's not what I'm saying.  Instead, be aware of the other guys.   There will always be other organizations that you look at as something you aspire to be, and there will always be other organizations breathing down your neck.  Competition can be healthy, if you look at is as a motivator.  Put your head down and focus on YOUR mission, YOUR community, and YOUR fundraising. Be an organization that other organizations are envious of.

Let's talk about how you can have the best organization possible.  Contact me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com.


We've Got (Board) Trouble, My Friends

As Dennis Miller used to say (before he went off the rails), “I don’t want to go off on a rant here…” but we have a big problem with nonprofit boards. Nonprofit board members are falling short in their skills, knowledge, and experience, and are ill-equipped to meet the needs of the organizations they serve, according to a study conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, in collaboration with BoardSource and GuideStar.

The 2015 Survey on Board of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations, which surveyed almost 1000 directors, found that 27% of respondents don’t think their board members have a good understanding of the organization’s mission and strategy; 65% don’t think their fellow board members are experienced enough in governance, and almost half (47%) do not fully understand the role and responsibilities of a director.

In addition to their personal financial commitment, a board members’ main contribution is to provide governance and leadership in key areas: establishing and maintaining financial integrity; developing specific and measurable performance objectives for the organization and its leadership; evaluating the CEO; creating board leadership succession plans; and planning for strategic growth of the organization.

People join boards because they want to have an impact in their community and contribute their energy to an organization’s mission. It’s concerning when they do so without a clear understanding of what that commitment entails.  It is important that the organization recruit committed and (ideally) experienced board members, but it is equally important that those board members be educated about what it means to be productive and how to fulfill their obligations as a board member.  Organizations can contribute to this process by establishing clear strategies and goals, and by developing performance and evaluation metrics.

Let’s have a discussion about your organization and your board, and how you can find your best path! ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com

Call Your Mother!

You've probably noticed that Mother's Day is coming up this weekend. It is difficult to overlook. I'm all for celebrating moms- I'm a mom, I have a mom, many of my friends are moms-  but I'm not always a fan of the holiday. My heart aches for the people whose mothers are no longer around and for the women who are struggling to become mothers and for the mothers who have lost children, making the day so hard to bear. My own mother is 83 and going strong (knock wood).  When I was growing up in the 70's, she was an emerging feminist, marching in Washington and holding consciousness-raising groups in our living room. She enabled me to view the world with a feminist perspective (she wanted me to go to a women's college, but I drew the line at that) and to embark on my journey merging my personal and professional needs and skills. Although we never called it that, she was a huge proponent of work/life balance. I'm certain it was because she was able to work only until she gave birth to me, though she would have liked to have continued.

I feel grateful to have had my mother guide me along my path all these years, and that I get to continue to share my accomplishments and challenges with her is a true blessing. I'm all too aware that this will not always be possible. So, this Mother's Day, I encourage you to call your mother- whether she is still with you, or just in your memory- and spend some time with her.


Trivial Pursuit

In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia. - Unknown source

Do you find yourself preoccupied with the trivial, unable to take on the heavy lifting? Are you stymied by the morass of mundane tasks that need to get done before your "real" work can be accomplished?  Then the above quote is meant for you!

Work is not always about the big stuff- the glory.  It's more often about the little things- the guts.  Making your way through one to get to the other is all about having a plan.  And having a plan is all about having goals, and a path toward those goals.

It can be as simple as a daily or weekly "To Do" list that you  (with or without your team) actually check off as you go along.  Or it can be bigger and more structured, as in creating a strategic plan for your organization.

Regardless of the size of the plan, the point is: Get a plan. Don't be trivial.

Visit me at www.intuitionconsult.com to find out what we can do together to help you on your path.

This Week's Question: Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

This week, I want to spotlight a recent article that appeared in the Education Life section of The New York Times by Daniel Goleman, on emotional intelligence.  People who possess the qualities of E.I. often make great leaders, because in addition to knowledge and vision, they have the ability to connect with others and relate to them on an emotional level.

Goleman summarized the competencies as:


Realistic self-confidence: You understand your own strengths and limitations; you operate from competence and know when to rely on someone else on the team.

Emotional insight: You understand your feelings. Being aware of what makes you angry, for instance, can help you manage that anger.


Resilience: You stay calm under pressure and recover quickly from upsets. You don’t brood or panic. In a crisis, people look to the leader for reassurance; if the leader is calm, they can be, too.

Emotional balance: You keep any distressful feelings in check — instead of blowing up at people, you let them know what’s wrong and what the solution is.

Self-motivation: You keep moving toward distant goals despite setbacks.


Good listening: You pay full attention to the other person and take time to understand what they are saying, without talking over them or hijacking the agenda.


Compelling communication: You put your points in persuasive, clear ways so that people are motivated as well as clear about expectations.

Team playing: People feel relaxed working with you. One sign: They laugh easily around you.

Want to know more about Emotional Intelligence? Looking for ways to connect with your employees and others? Please be in touch to arrange a conversation with me!

Play Ball! Baseball and Leadership

In honor of the kickoff of the New York Mets' 2015 season,  here's a gem from Hall of Famer Bob Feller: "Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is."

Follow the Leader

A quote from one of my business gurus, Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great" and several other essential tomes: The practice of leadership is not the exercise of power.  True leadership only exists if people follow when they have the freedom not to. 

Enough is Enough

"If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."  - Oprah Winfrey "Enough is enough is enough" - Paul Jabara and Donna Summer

Those of you who have read my previous blog posts know that I have chosen intentions rather than resolutions to set the tone for my year. (In case you haven't memorized them, 2013's was "Less judgement, more compassion" and 2014's was "Listen and learn").

This year's intention is "Enough."  In reflecting on this word, it became clear that there was more than one way to approach the concept of "enough" and its application to my work and my life. Enough, as in: Does what I am doing make me happy? Am I satisfied? How can I show my appreciation for all that I have that brings me what I need?

But also, enough, as in: What doesn't make me happy about what I am doing? What are my boundaries? What is burdening me or stressing me, and how can I make that go away? How can I create a world that is joyful and satisfying for me and others?

As always, I will be integrating this intention into my daily life, seeing how it affects my perspective and my actions.  I will keep you posted!

Please be in touch to discuss your consulting needs.





Finally Friday: A Little Nonprofit Humor

It's been a long week here on the East Coast.  Hopefully, we've had our last major snowstorm of the season.  To end the week on a high note, I'm posting this link to one of my favorite bloggers, Vu Lee of Nonprofit With Balls.  I always look forward to Mondays, because of his posts. http://nonprofitwithballs.com/2013/12/8-classic-nonprofit-jokes-to-tell-at-parties/

Please be in touch if you or someone you know needs the services of Intuition Consulting.

Happy weekend!

Quote of the Week: Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

In honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday, a few of his memorable quotes: "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."

"Why fit in when you're born to stand out?"

"A person's a person, no matter how small."

"It is better to know how to learn than to know."

"Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world."

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."

"Fun is good."

Quote of the Week: Celebrating President's Day

In honor of President's Day, here are 2 Presidential quotes: "The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time."

- Abraham Lincoln

"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today."

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Get out there (stay warm!) and do something important today!