Ep 135 | Staying True to Your Vision and Mission…And When Not To

I think that having a vision that you keep at the front and center of your work is a wonderful thing to do from kind of an operational and making sure that you're headed in the right direction standpoint. But when you're actually doing the day to day work, those visuals are usualy so big that they're not helpful. And so I think it's important to acknowledge that is an important thing to have as an organization so that everyone is on the same page. But at the same time, you've got to break that out into smaller pieces so that you can actually have something to work on. – Lindsey Hardegree

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In this episode, we are joined by Lindsey Hardegree, a nonprofit professional in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the Executive Director of the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia. She has also worked in small and large organizations as an employee and a consultant.

Lindsey served as a Development Director for Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and as Board & Special Events Manager for Alliance Theater. In 2013, she was recognized in the Nonprofit Leaders 30 Under 30 Award and in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s inaugural 30 Under 30 in 2015. 

She is also a productivity specialist and professional organizer certified by Marie Kondo as Georgia’s first Certified KonMari Consultant. Lindsey owns a company, Get Organized Y'all™, which aims to work with families, individuals, and companies to create their ideal life by organizing their businesses and homes. 

Lindsey takes us through how to stay true to your vision, mission and keep moving forward with your plans for the upcoming years and beyond. Besides, how do you pay attention to your vision and mission, use it in the organization, and have conversations with your board and teams to ensure everything is working together.

What you'll learn:

Importance of having a vision and goals
How do you know what to keep or refine
Doing a follow up for your vision
How to stick to your plan in times of crisis  or crazy changes
Feedback sessions for your progress
Tips for directors and board managers in supporting great ideas from their staff
Giving room for creative sessions
Taking good care of yourself as a professional

Want to skip ahead? Here are some key takeaways

[03:15] Importance of having a vision and goals. Organizations undervalue the importance of having a plan. A plan and a vision help everyone to be on the same page. However, you must break your plan into smaller pieces where you can think of what happened last year and what you need to work on. Besides, by breaking it into smaller pieces, you won’t be overwhelmed at the end of the year.
[09:30] Knowing what to keep or refine. Think of how your organization operates internally and build a reflection on every step. For instance, after an event or a campaign, analyze what worked or didn’t work.
[15:21] How do you stick to a plan despite a crisis or crazy changes? Accept that it is not business as usual. Ask yourself what can’t happen the way you had planned it and what opportunity do you have now that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
[19:54] Feedback sessions. Normalize having feedback sessions after some milestones, specific events. Ask how it went, what you should do, not do and how to do it.
[23:54] Tips to support great ideas from your staff. Have a judgment-free way of sharing ideas. No idea is a bad idea. You can come up with an idea to share their ideas anonymously. Also, you can use the “why game” where you get to understand the root of their idea. It might also generate more ideas along the way.

Lindsey Hardegree

Lindsey Hardegree

Position

Lindsey Hardegree is an experienced nonprofit executive in Atlanta, GA. Currently, she serves as the Executive Director of the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia, and has worked at both small and large organizations as both an employee and as a consultant. Lindsey's nonprofit career has included experience in all types of fundraising, board management, program development, marketing and communications, and general operations and strategy. Some of her previous roles include Development Director for the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, Special Events & Board Manager for the Alliance Theatre, and Founding Board Chair for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Atlanta. She has served on numerous boards and participated in multiple leadership programs throughout the Metro Atlanta area. In 2013 she was honored in the inaugural Nonprofit Leaders 30 Under 30, and in 2015 she was recognized in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s inaugural 30 Under 30.

In addition to her full-time career in nonprofit, Lindsey also works as a professional organizer and productivity specialist at her business Get Organized Y'all™. She was trained and certified by Marie Kondo as Georgia’s first Certified KonMari Consultant, and enjoys working with individuals, families, and companies to define their vision and create their ideal life by organizing their homes and businesses.

Never content to stop learning, Lindsey holds advanced degrees in management and theology and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Ministry in Church Leadership and Community Witness at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. When she’s not busy working or volunteering, Lindsey enjoys reading voraciously, being a bit geeky (she particularly loves Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The Sims), and drinking a good cup of coffee! Learn more here: http://getorganizedyall.com

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of The Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. My name is Sami Bedell-Mulhern and I am your host and today we are talking with Lindsey Hardegree. All about how to stay true to your vision, your mission and keep moving forward with your plans for the upcoming years and beyond. Lindsey Hardegree is an experienced nonprofit executive in Atlanta, Georgia. Currently, she serves as the Executive Director of the Episcopal Community Foundation for middle and North Georgia and has worked on both small and large organizations as both an employee and as a consultant. Lindsey’s nonprofit career has included experience in all types of fundraising, board management, program development, marketing and communications, and general operations and strategy. 

Some of her previous roles include Development Director for the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership special events and Board Manager for the Alliance Theatre, and founding board chair for the Nonprofit Professionals Network of Atlanta. She has served on numerous boards and participated in multiple leadership programs throughout the metro Atlanta area. In 2013. She was honored in the inaugural nonprofit leaders 30 under 30. And in 2015, she was recognized in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, his inaugural 30 under 30. In addition to her full-time career nonprofit. Lindsey also works as a professional organizer and productivity specialist at her business get organized y'all. She was trained and certified by Marie Kondo as Georgia's first certified KonMari consultant and enjoys working with individuals, families, and companies to define their visions and create their ideal life but organizing their homes and businesses never contends to stop learning.  

Lindsay holds advanced degrees in management in theology and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of ministry in church leadership and community witness at Emory University's Chandler School of Theology. When she's not busy working or volunteering, Lindsay enjoys reading voraciously, being a bit geeky, she particularly loves Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Sims, and drinking a good cup of coffee. We have an amazing conversation, all about how to pay attention to what your vision and mission is, how to use it in your organization, and how to have conversations with your boards and teams to make sure that everything is all working together. I hope that you enjoyed this episode. But before we dive in, this episode is brought to you by our Patreon account. If you've been wanting to take more action on these episodes and get more done, and we invite you to join us as a patron, for just $5 a month, you can get an additional workbook to go along with all of the episodes and take action on what you learned here. We have other plans as well that include things like Q and A's. But I hope that you'll join us there at thefirstclick.net/patreon.

[INTRO] You're listening to The Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. I'm your host, Sammy Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, everybody, Lindsey, thank you so much for joining me on this episode. I'm so excited for this conversation today. 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Absolutely. Thank you for having me. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So I want to start off with why is it that you think that vision and kind of having a goal, whether it be for like a year or a quarter like how is that impactful to organizations? And why is that such a passion for you? 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Yeah, I think that people underrate the value of having kind of a plan and vision for what they're doing. So a lot of organizations, of course, we talk about mission and vision all the time from a kind of a large organizational standpoint. But that's not necessarily the best way to plan our time if that makes sense. I think that having a vision that you keep at the front and center of your work is a wonderful thing to do from an operational standpoint and making sure that you're headed in the right direction. But when you're actually doing the day-to-day work, those visions are usually so big that they're not helpful. And so I think it's important to acknowledge that it's an important thing to have as an organization so that everyone's on the same page. But at the same time, you've got to break that out into smaller pieces so that you actually have something to work on. And I think that thinking about the year is a great thing to do. But then breaking it into smaller pieces can also be really helpful. 

So for instance, as we're recording this at the end of the calendar year, everybody's going crazy talking about the end of the year fundraising plans we just had Giving Tuesday, it's very easy to think about, okay, all of this stuff has to happen at the end of the year. We got to get the mailing out, we've got to get the email out all of those things. But if you started thinking about those bits and pieces earlier in the year, you actually had a plan and said you know what, yes, this year we would like to do Giving Tuesday because it went really well last year or it didn't go well last year. We want to try something new. The first thing you can do is not necessarily think about it in October or November, you're going to want to start thinking about it in January and say, Okay, let's talk about what happened last year. Let's think through what worked and what didn't. And we can then take that information and utilize it moving forward. 

So having a vision of where you're going to get to during each quarter of the year, is going to help you to figure out when you need to start working on those bits and pieces. And is there information that you can think about earlier in the year that will keep you from having so much to do at the same time, especially when you get to the end of the year? This is great for thinking about, if you've got fundraising events that you're doing, you know, galas and golf tournaments, and all of that stuff, thinking through your email marketing, thinking through your social media calendar, all of these things can benefit from really coming up with, what are we trying to accomplish this quarter? Or even what are we trying to accomplish this month? And having that plan early enough out that you can kind of back up and make sure that you're prepared as those events happen.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love placing kind of like the big rocks like the non-negotiables. Under for the whole year. So like we know, like you said, we know we have this gala, we know we have this event, and we know we want to do Giving Tuesday because of it. Well, we know that these are the big rocks. Because then don't you think it helps you to plan ahead and plan your resources. But we kind of talk a little bit about how that plays into what you say yes and no to because like you might be an organization we're giving Tuesday doesn't work for you. And you say to every other nonprofit, well, we don't do Giving Tuesday, and they might think you're crazy. So then you just do it because everybody's doing it. And then it flops and you've wasted all this time and energy. But that really gives you the flexibility to feel confident and say you know what, not right now. 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Yeah, absolutely. I think that that's a really important point. And the two places I see that really coming up are things like these peer-to-peer giving campaigns, similar to Giving Tuesday or online fundraising. It's one of those things that boards particularly like, Oh, yes, we should do this. And you might actually know that what we've tried before, and here's why it didn't work, or to be perfectly honest, that's not the best way for us to engage new people and have new relationships, we want to go about it this other way. And it takes that planning out and acknowledging what you're doing in advance to be able to have that conversation. Because if you're down to the wire, of course, people are gonna say, Well, you just don't want to do the work, or it sounds like it's a lot going on at one time. You know, like, those things that we internally in our head, like, I promise you, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that this is a bad idea. You know, really being able to acknowledge why you don't want to do something, or why you should do something will help you make that argument. The other really big place that I see that happening a lot is with events. So I'm sure that most people who are listening are probably aware that while special events are a great fun thing to be a part of, they are by far the most expensive and most effective way of fundraising.

So it's one of those things where and again, I've been on a lot of boards, I do a lot of board management, I love boards, they're very, very important for the work that we do. Boards are particularly bad about saying, oh, we should do a special event. And the reason why is because they're fun. And they're very visible. And so they see the work happening. When you're doing your annual fund mailing, they might not see that work happening. But to be perfectly honest, it's way more cost-effective and honestly brings in more people by having that one on one communication. So one of the ways that exactly the point, you're talking about knowing where you're going and why you're going there can help you make the argument to say, You know what, you already have a special event, we don't need another one. Or here's the reason why this particular event you're proposing might not be the best thing for us to do, I'd much rather take, you know that $40,000 and spend it on one on one meetings with high profile donors, and let's just take them to lunch or do small, little gatherings with their personal friends, costs way less, more, one on one time, just a much more effective way to go about raising funds. So those are great examples of why knowing where you're headed and why you're going there can help you make the argument for doing or not doing something. 

[Sami Bidell-Mulhern] So this episode is going live in January, so we're just starting our year, we should. Well, we may or may not have our plans, because I know some nonprofits are going into the second half of their year, which is totally fine. Um, but kind of you as we kind of how do you recommend organizations kind of take their planning so now we know what our plans are. We have our quarter plans, we're going to start to execute. When do we start to kind of take a look at okay, this is working really well let's keep doing this or this isn't doing kind of what we thought it would maybe we need to refine because we don't want to be changing all the time because that's also disruptive. So how do we kind of figure out that ebb and flow so that we can continue to maintain so we don't get to the end of December and repeat the same thing of okay, either we're scrounging to hit our fundraising goals because we didn't hit them all year or we're scrounging to pick up some sort of activity because we just need to fill that gap.  

[Lindsey Hardegree] I think that the important part to making that all flow, the way that it needs to be is to build in time and reflection at every step of the process. And so what's very tempting to do is that we've got this thing we've got to do, we've got this meeting we've got to prepare for, we've got this event coming up, we've got this fundraiser that's happening, let's get them all done. And then at the end of the year, we'll talk about what worked and what didn't work. And inevitably, by the time you get there, you have forgotten half of the thing, work, or you have so much that you've got to prepare for the next thing that's coming up, but you don't give it the time that it should have. So really thinking through how you operate internally, is going to be really important for making sure that you have those moments of evaluation throughout the calendar year. Yes, we have special events. Here's a vet day on Saturday, and the first thing on Monday morning, every single time we have a special event, we know that there's going to be a two-hour postmortem, where we talk about what worked, what didn't work. And we have a process where we know this is the person who's going to record the notes for it. This is the person who's going to be responsible for making sure there's follow-up, you know, whatever it is thinking through kind of a template, if you will, for how the different pieces of your work happen. 

So when you have a special event, the follow-up should probably look relatively similar every single time you have that event, there's no need to reinvent the wheel every time that happens. Or when you get to the end of some sort of big campaign, a mailing campaign, for instance, let's talk about two weeks later, you're gonna have a meeting to say, All right, what worked about that and what didn't work, it may be a 20-minute long meeting, it may be up, you know, what that actually went really, really well. And all the things that we thought of last year, we implemented and they worked great, we don't want to change anything. Let's do it again next year. Awesome. Acknowledge that and move on. There's nothing wrong with that kind of meeting either. But allowing yourself the opportunity to celebrate the win can be just as important as analyzing what you might want to change in the future. So I really recommend building in those moments of reflection along the way. So when you get to the strategic planning, or the season planning, or whatever you call it at your organization, when you get to that moment where it's okay, end of the year, time to plan the new year, you have the benefit of all of that feedback that you've been collecting all year long. So it's really more of a recap of the things you've already discussed, and figuring out how the pieces of the puzzle fit together than it is coming up with all of that from scratch. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] When we talk a lot in a lot of these episodes about how the follow-up planning, the follow-up is part of your process. The follow-up recap is just as important as planning the details of the event itself. So I love that you're bringing that up because you're right. If you don't do it right away, you forget the little things. It's and then it becomes more of a he said she said kind of situation as I like that it's an opinion thing, as opposed to like a data thing. And I think that's where a lot of organizations go wrong. To your point earlier. Board members want the event because it makes them feel good. They maybe get to be in the spotlight for a little bit strokes, their ego a little bit. So they're like, Yeah, let's let's do that. If you don't have the data behind that, to say why that is or isn't a good idea, then you're just kind of at the mercy of whatever. 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Right, exactly. And I think it's important to acknowledge that sometimes it's okay to stroke your board members and have their egos, that's okay. That is not the reason you exist, of course, right. It also is not like, Oh, my goodness, horrible, awful bad thing. Don't ever do that. Because you do need to make sure that people who are dedicating their time, and resources, their connections, whatever the case may be, that those people feel appreciated as well. So I think that there's some balance there and thinking through all of this feedback, and having that be a part of the process, as you move through your year will help you to say, You know what, actually, we probably could have taken five minutes to thank the board on stage. And we didn't do that. Let's make sure the next time we have an event that we do that it's one of those things where all of these little bits and pieces can even be a part of everything you do throughout the year, once you say them out loud and realize the opportunity is there. So it's, again, you can never underestimate planning and people want to because it seems not productive. It feels like we need to be doing stuff. We shouldn't be just talking about stuff. But there's a balance there. And if you talk about it, then you're gonna do it better if that makes sense. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, no, it does make sense. So let's talk a little bit about what happens when we then get into so two sides right when we get into a moment because I think this happened during COVID For a lot of organizations, they already saw like an influx of money come in because what they were providing was a critical mass for what we needed in that moment, or they didn't have plans in place, and everything dried up. So when those moments happen, it's panic, right? Because either you're like, oh, shoot, we, well, whatever is panicking, and you're trying to figure out what to do or not do with the funds, and you're trying to figure out how to kind of manage all of that. So do you have any tools or ways to think about going back because yes, the vision is a big picture, the vision is where we're going. But in times of crisis or crazy change? How do we settle in with that to make sure that we're doing the right thing or making the right choices to stay on track for what we said we were going to do. 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Right, I think that there's kind of a couple of when I use the word filters, I don't know if that's a good word to use or not. But there's kind of a couple of filters that you need to put that information in that situation through. So the first thing I would say, I'm going to use COVID as an example simply because it's just happened, it's still happening. It's, you know, one of those things that's fresh on everyone's mind. So with COVID, the first thing you have to think about is okay, this thing has happened. Clearly, it can't be business as usual. What does that mean? Yep, the first question is, what can't happen? What did we have planned? That's not possible. And with COVID, it was things like special events, pretty much everybody canceled those, or they had to find some way to do them virtually. So that's, you know, business as usual on events. That was the first thing that got changed. A lot of people had programming changes that they had to think through, or operating within the office itself, you know, everybody went home, and oh, my goodness, what do we do? Because nobody has laptops that work. There are all of those kinds of issues, too.  

So the first question is this thing that happened, whatever it was, what can't happen the way we had planned it? The next filter, I would say is, what opportunity do we have that we wouldn't have had otherwise? And so for some organizations, I mean, it's one of those things where you have to think about this from a perspective of again, the overarching vision, if your goal is to make sure that people who are hungry have food, then COVID provided an opportunity for you to do more of that. And to think through all right, if we want to do more of that, if we know there are more people in need, how do we make that happen? So what can't happen anymore? And what can happen, that you might not have otherwise had on the plans. So once you think through those two things, then you can start to operationalize it, but just immediately go to, oh, we got to get more food.  

Well, that's not necessarily the first step, the first step is to think about, okay, why do we need more food is it because kids were getting food from school programs, and they're not in school in person anymore. And so we need to come up with an alternative way to go about that. Really thinking through just the big picture. Again, that's where the organizational vision is gonna be really helpful, because that's going to be your yardstick to say, Okay, here's an opportunity. We are an organization that feeds people and their opportunities to feed people we haven't fed before. But also they need blankets, I'm just making stuff up, right? Like it. So we could hand out blankets, or blankets, a part of your mission of the organization is that in your vision, and it could be that it's complimentary, and so you decide to move forward. Or it could be that it's mission creeps in. And there's nothing wrong with saying, I know that you are an amazing company that has donated 10,000 blankets, but we don't have the infrastructure to hand those out. Because we do food, we don't do blankets. So here, let me put you in touch with my colleague at XYZ organization who might be able to take your donation.  

So that's where the big picture vision is helpful is to think through, what can't we do and what can we do? And then what should we do?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, that's gold, what you're saying. So I hope if you weren't really paying attention, come back and listen to that. Because I think what you're saying is gold, whether you're in a time of crisis, or just in general, because organizations get bombarded all the time with people that are like, Well, hey, I'll give you $10,000 If you'll do this program or service, and right, we're so just automatically intuitively cool, that's $10,000. But that $10,000 that you have to do to execute that program might end up costing you 30 or $40,000, to execute because it's not part of what you are best at. So I think what you're saying is critical across the board and so important, and I love those three questions. I think that's brilliant.  

[Lindsey Hardegree] Yeah. And like you said, That's great to look at from a time of crisis perspective. But it's what we're doing all day long anyway, honestly, or we should be doing is thinking through things that perspective. We just those are your immediate, okay, something has happened. Let's come to this. That should be baked into your process moving forward. And again, can be a part of those feedback sessions. It's those questions you ask, Okay, how did this thing go? What should we not do anymore? What should we do again, and how do we do it? 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Do you recommend organizations also then kind of do these feedback sessions on a monthly or quarterly basis not tied to a specific event, but just tied to, hey, here are the milestones that we were supposed to have hit by this time. Why haven't we hit them? Why? Why did we exceed them? Like, you know, and kind of evaluate all of those things on an ongoing basis? 

[Lindsey Hardegree] I think the answer is both Yes. And no, I think that it depends a lot on how your organization is structured. And that is both a kind of what your programmatic year looks like. But then also what your staff structure looks like, if you are a staff of four people, you probably don't necessarily need to have a feedback session for all of the milestones. And every month, necessarily, it's you're working together closely, you probably are right on that. But it may be that, for instance, let's say that you are a larger organization or even a medium-sized organization. And so there's a development department and a marketing department in your programs department. And it may be that you decide that you know what a once a month meeting, or someone from each of those teams comes together so that we're hearing each other's perspectives would be really helpful. It may be that you want all of the departments to participate in that, it may be that you know what, actually, each one's going to have their own meeting separately, and then on a quarterly basis will come together. I think a lot of that is driven by how your organization operates. And kind of what your staff culture is, and how closely you work together on things or how closely you wish you worked together, that might be a better way to say it.

I'm not a fan of having meetings, for meeting' sake, it is really not a productive way for any of us to spend our time. So I would recommend that you really think carefully about what might be helpful, and take it and leave the rest. And part of that can even be a process of kind of experimenting. So it might be you know what, for six months, we're going to try this monthly meeting. And we're going to do it for six months, even if after the first month, we don't think it's helpful, we're going to stick with it for six months. And then we'll come back and decide, are we continuing these? Or are we going to stop them? Or we're going to give it six months and see how it goes? There's nothing wrong with trying things and then making a decision after you've tried it?  

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, you're just developing more data, you're getting more information to understand what works and what doesn't. And I think for me, one thing that comes up with the monthly meetings if you're in like the second example that you talked about with the multiple teams, I feel like one of the positives of that can be when the budget talk comes around when the what are we going to execute? What are we going to do? What do we to fundraise comes around, if you can create those an element of buy-in so that then your program team understands why some of the money is going to marketing and the fundraising team understands why they have that increase of 20% this year to support you know, it's not that everybody's not living in their silos you can then make better decisions as a team as far as where the funds are going and why. 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Absolutely. And it could be you know, the easy example is let's say that the programs department has been wanting to start handing out blankets for a while, but they never have mentioned it. And if you have these regular checking sessions, someone from development is gonna say, You know what, we had this donor that tried to give us 10,000 blankets, and the program is gonna go, oh, actually, we really want to do that. Let's talk about it. You know, it's, it's those little opportunities and chances or marketing says, You know what, we're so tired of producing these postcards and programs because we never hand those out. We always just wanted to toss them in the trash. Well, there's budget savings right there. You know, those opportunities for everyone to talk kind of cross-departmentally can be really useful in coming up with new ideas or saying, You know what, we don't need to do this anymore. Where we've moved past this.  

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, I think one of the hardest things that comes out of those meetings is that a lot of people come to even in board meetings, in team meetings, whatever, a lot of people come to the table with great ideas. And they're something that could be really impactful for the organization in one way or the other. But maybe they're not great right now. So maybe what kind of tips do you have for maybe the executive directors or the board presidents or the, you know, development directors to be able to support themselves in those conversations to say, well, this is the plan we put in place. This is a great idea. Let's you know, put it in 2023. Right, terrifying to say, or let's revisit it later in the year like how can we kind of address those conversations so people still feel hurt? 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Yeah, I think that there are a few different things that you can do as different exercises. There's probably more than I know about but a few that I might recommend are opportunities to kind of have a judgment-free way of sharing ideas. And kind of the thought that for the intents and purposes of what we're about to do, no ideas, a bad idea. We're just exploring. We're not committing to anything. And that's important to acknowledge upfront because especially if you're doing it with the staff and the board together, the board is gonna hear something and go, Oh, we're doing that.

So it's important to say we're not committing to a single thing right now, we're just exploring ideas. And a few ways to do that are kind of interesting and fun and help encourage people to think differently or to give a voice to somebody who maybe doesn't always speak up, but does have good ideas. One way is kind of the anonymous box idea, it's the I want you to all come to the meeting with an idea or more than one idea, have it written down on paper, put them on the box, nobody's names attached to anything, you know, you can type them up, or have somebody submit them on a Google forum, or whatever you want to do have a way for people to anonymously bring ideas to the table. And then you pull them out of the box, or whatever it is that you're doing, and discuss them and talk about, you know, for the next 30 minutes, we're not going to say no, we're just going to talk about how we might do this idea. And at the end of 30 minutes, we go, You know what, let's scrap that. Or it may be actually there's something here, and who are the three people that want to work on this.  

So that's one way to go about it. Another one and this one can be frustrating. But it also can be very, very useful. And generative is the why game. So it can be that we want to hand out blankets. That's the statement that you start with. And then you ask the question, why? Because people are cold. Why? Because they don't have heat. Why? Because they can't pay their bills. Why, you know, you just kind of keep delving deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper until you figure out what is the root of whatever it is, and you started with blankets. And what you end up with is, you know, gender pay gap or something like that, it can go in a million different directions. And through that process, you may come across something that you say, this is something we should talk about more in-depth, or this sounds like something that's similar to what we talked about last month, why does this keep coming? You know, looking for the patterns, or the things where people kind of have that sense of energy. And those are the things you say. Let's look at this a little bit deeper. And it's important to think through these from kind of a, like a game standpoint, almost. Because the first question everybody's gonna say is what's on the agenda. And I don't want to do a team-building exercise.

You know you have to acknowledge that this is our time for creative thinking. And it's important, we place value on it as an organization, we're going to reserve time for it. I don't know, a quarterly board meeting or quarterly staff meeting, or as a part of our monthly team meetings, whatever feels right for your team. Have it just as a part of the process. It's not about team building, it's about trying to make sure that you're doing your mission to the best of your ability. And that means allowing space for creativity. I think it's also important to acknowledge in that process that just because you bring an idea to the table doesn't mean you're responsible for implementing it. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Oh, oh, say that again?

[Lindsey Hardegree] Yeah. Yeah just because you bring Idea to the table does not mean you're responsible for implementing it. But yeah, a lot of times, we lose really good ideas and creativity. Because people don't want to add to their already too long to-do list. You have to create a culture that allows for creativity without the thing, okay, now go do it. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] The creativity and the failure, I think, you know, the opportunity to try something, and maybe not be super successful. But I want to really double down on this. Why question? Because you're right, it is frustrating, but it's gold. And I think, yes, you might find the idea or not find the idea. But once you've found the idea, you've also already then worked through your marketing messaging you've already worked through Who are you solving this problem for? Who can we collaborate with? Who are the donors that we're going to go after to support this because you've taken the time to drill it down? So it might feel like a waste of time, but it is going to distill, then when you decide on what it is that you're going to do from that statement. You've done half the work for everything else, just by pushing yourself. 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Yeah. And I do think that kind of, you know, to your point about talking about 2023 Sounds crazy right? Now, sometimes during these creative sessions, people think, Oh, well, we don't have time to do that. What if they specifically are for the future? You know, every year in January, we have our creative session together. And the point of the session is to come up with ideas that we're going to research for 12 months and not actually do anything with until the next year, you know, thinking about how you incorporate vision into the overall year and that doesn't mean it has to be implemented immediately. That can be it, maybe it's part of the strategic plan process, and that's on the slate for year four or something like that. But just because you've talked about it doesn't mean you should put it in a drawer and forget about it yet. Just figure out where are we headed? And let's work towards that. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Right, are we in this for the short term? Or are we here to play the long game? And what if we gave ourselves the gift of time? 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Exactly. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Getting out of that headspace like we have, we are so overloaded. We can't do anything else and kind of flipping that into more of an abundance mindset. And how can we take and expand on our vision, because if your organization is not here in the future, that is a disservice to your community, that it is a disservice to the people that you serve, or the environment or the pet, whatever? So be in it for the long, I love that so much.

So many great tips, I feel that you've already shared, I really hope that you guys pick one or multiple and just have different kinds of open conversations with your board. I think at the end of the day, that's what you're talking about is communication and freedom and creativity and, and acceptance within your team and your board. Is there anything else you'd like to share about kind of making sure you stay on brand on vision on mission?

[Lindsey Hardegree] Yeah, and this is this may sound like a little bit of a departure, but I promise, it's related. I think that it's really important that as nonprofit professionals, we do all of this process for ourselves individually. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, that's so good. 

[Lindsey Hardegree] It's one of those, you know, what I'm going to set aside a day, each quarter to think about what I want to get done, personally, professionally, with my family, with my friends, within my own volunteer commitments, you know, whatever it is, that is important to you, to have the time and reflection, to think through that. And then to hold yourself accountable to that. And to be okay with the fact that sometimes the family ball is going to be the most important, and the fun ball is gonna get dropped, or your own mental health requires that you do something for yourself. And that means that you're not going to be able to do as many things with your family, or with work, or work super important, this quarter and personal stuff is going to be on the back burner, because the next quarter is going to be flipped. thinking through what you personally value and what your vision for your life is, is almost more important than the work you're doing in your nonprofit, because without you being good, and being alright with yourself, you're not going to be fully present at work, and the work will suffer because of it. 

 It may have nothing to do with what's happening on the vision statement for the organization whatsoever, it may be that the people are not taking care of themselves. And if they aren't taking care of themselves, then they can't show up for work. And that has to be modeled top down. So if you are an executive director or someone who is in a leadership position, you have to model that behavior for your team. Because otherwise, they won't see it as a priority. And there's just nothing else I can hammer home wars that we got to take care of ourselves. And I hope a lot of people have learned that during COVID. Absolutely, there are a lot of people who've really burned out during COVID. It's okay to stop and take a break. And if you're in a place where your organization says it's not okay for you to take a break, then that might be a sign that you need to be looking for somewhere else.  

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Thank you so much for saying that. Because I think that's so important. And I think that we can't say that message. Enough. I know for my own personal planning, I do what you know, suggested at the very beginning, I put my rocks, these are the things these are my trips that my family has planned. These are when I know my kids are out of school, and I want to have more flexibility. These are when I want to. And I've moved launches and I've moved events around on my calendar because when you lay it out, I like to print out paper when you lay it out on paper and you see it in front of you. You're like, No, I can't launch this summit during this week. Because I know I need four weeks before that. And we've had a trip planned right in the middle of them. That doesn't make sense. And so yes, I agree with you, you need to pull your personal and professional together for the overall health of all things so that everything can function. So thank you so much for mentioning that. I think that's critically important. 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Yeah, yeah, absolutely. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, thank you so much, Lindsay. This was an awesome episode, I got some reminders that I'm going to need to put into place, and am excited about all of that and some communication tools. If people want to find out more about you. How do they do that? 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Yeah, so I actually work full time at a foundation. So it's, it's fun because I have to raise money, but then I also get to give it away, which is after you know a decade of working in development. It's nice to give money away for a change. But I also work part-time. I have my own company, where I do nonprofit consulting for organizations, but then also working with individuals on productivity consulting and personal organization home organization. So the easiest way to find me is getorganizedyouall.com. You can email me through that I'm on social media and get organized you all. And if you are interested in having some help with some of this stuff, you know from a productivity consulting kind of standpoint, or kind of figuring out what your vision is and your big rocks are. I'm happy to help with that, too. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So, yeah, and we will link all of this up in the show notes so that you can check that out at thefirstclick.net/podcast. But Lindsey, thank you so much for joining me. 

[Lindsey Hardegree] Absolutely. It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Thank you again Lindsey for joining me on this episode. I hope that you will subscribe wherever you listen, especially over on YouTube at thefirstclick.net/YouTube. You can check out the show notes at thefirstclick.net/podcast, we'll have all the links that Lindsey shared there and all the additional resources. Thank you so much for being a listener. I really appreciate it and I'll see you at the next one.

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