January 15, 2009

The Power Of Stories: Day 2

The Perfect Mix Tape

High Fidelity is probably one of my favorite movies. The biggest reasons for this is Rob Gordon's (played by John Cusak) monologue about creating the perfect mix tape. I searched for half an hour through YouTube to find the clip but no bored 30 year-old living in his mother's basement has posted it yet, so this (slightly augmented) transcript with have to do:

You have to start off with something good, and then with track two you have to put in something even better. But you don't want to peak too early in the tape, so you cool it off for a bit for track three. After that, you might find yourself in a freefall. Don't panic. Just listen to your songs back-to-back and see if they sound good next to each other.

After Egger's introduction to the conference, it was tough to imagine that anything could satisfy the masses for the rest of the week. Much to my surprise, though, track 2 delivered...

The day was designed to be mostly professional development. At breakfast we participated in roundtables, where a professional from the Sector sat with us and answered any questions we had. Stan and I were at the AFP table, where Catherine from the DC Chapter was patiently fielding queries. I was intrigued to learn about her background, which was in associations. And she wasn't kidding - Catherine worked for the Association of Associations before joining the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Awesome.

After breakfast, it was off to workshops. I visited four sessions that day, and all were extremely invigorating. First up was a session on the Urban Institute's new research software. Probably sounds infinitely boring to most of you, but trust me - it's awesome. Have I ever mentioned that I'm a geek? After that I went to the most popular session of the week, Google For Nonprofits 101, taught by Matt Dunne who works as the Manager of US Community Affairs for Google. In addition Matt is an AH Alumnus, former two-term Vermont State Senator, and former candidate for Lieutenant Governor. It's amazing what you can find on the Internets...

I'm really glad his campaign was unsuccessful, though - otherwise he wouldn't have been able to share with us all the amazing things that Google offers for the Nonprofit Sector. I've already spoken of my love for Google, but seeing the software suite in action brought it to a whole other level. Here's a fun little video if you're looking for more depth:

After the technology overload, I transitioned into a session on effective meeting management. A couple great people from Leadership Ventures came and packed a full day's worth of information into sixty (60) minutes. I left with a packet of sample agendas, recommended communication flows, and some creative problem solving ideas. Meetings can be mundane, but as the sage Dan Quayle (motto: "Thank you, George") says, they can also be powerful:

The thing is, if you control the Senate meetings, you control the gavel. And the gavel is a very important instrument... an instrument of power. An instrument that establishes the agenda.

Armed with a slew of information on leading meetings with more creativity, authority, and instruments of power I headed to the last session of the day. But I was in Track 9 territory. No Man's Land. Most of my energy had been stolen from role-playing ("OK, now Sam is going to be the disruptive employee. At what point do we confront his behavior in front of the entire group?") and digesting mountains of technical data.

But much to my delight, I was greeted by Ann and Laura from Youth Resources in a workshop titled, "Youth In Governance: Breaking Into The Boardroom." I went in with completely selfish motives. A few months ago I was honored with the opportunity to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, and I was recently invited to join the Board of Directors for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Phoenix. So, I trotted into the room thinking that I would share my experiences as a young person in the Boardroom and spread little Wisdom Dust on my peers.

Instead, I encountered one of the most articulate and intelligent people ever. Period. Listening to Laura talk about her time with Youth Resources was inspiring. The programming that Ann (Executive Director at YR) and her team offer to the youth supports their development, empowers them to make important decisions, and sets them up for current and future success. It was a pleasure to hear the story of Youth Resources, and I left looking forward to nothing more than tracking Laura's career. She is the reason why Robert says that this upcoming generation is our salvation.

I left energized and excited about another day. John Cusak would've been proud.

"I swear to God this mix could sink the sun."
Jack's Mannequin


Ann B. said...

THANKS, Scott!! We appreciated your interaction with us, too! You should come back to the Midwest this summer and help us with TEENPOWER!!

Ann B.

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