Ep 240 | You Have a Plan…Now What? with Cassandra Quinn

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Planning is important. It helps you know where you're going and what that means for your growth and impact. Executing that plan is the second half of the battle. Knowing if things are working and your strategies are going to get you to the end goal is where a lot of people get stuck. Learn about how you can effectively keep you and your team on the right track to geeting things done in this episode of the podcast.

What you'll learn:

→ how to move from planning to doing.
→ identifying which tasks to do, delete, delegate, and defer.
→ when and how to pivot.
→ review your plans regularly.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[5:40] Different people are more comfortable in planning and some in executing. Having both people in the room and understanding the stregnths of each can help you organization navigate this process. Then its about creating ownership of different areas of the process and identifying the decision makes for different elements of the plan.
[9:33] Put your tasks in a matrix to help determine which tasks you are going to defer, delegate, do, or delete. For example, if something is high impact, low difficulty, then it's an easy choice to do. If it's high diffculty, low impact, then delete.
[13:48] When it comes to changing course pay attention to data and metrics. Understanding what elements aren't working makes it easier for you to determine what you keep doing and where you pivot. Break big projects or events into smaller goals so you know what really is or isn't working vs scrapping the entire thing, for example.

Cassandra Quinn

Cassandra Quinn

Cassandra Quinn thrives on closing the gaps between people, ideas, and solutions and she's on a mission to create a more joyful, fulfilling, and rejuvenated world that's rooted in inclusive prosperity, collective wisdom, and savvy stewardship.

Her current business partners with socially conscious companies to optimize operations, teams, and sales to maximize ethical profits and cultivate a positive work culture through a people-first, systems-led approach.

With 11 years of business ownership and diverse industry background, she leverages her expertise to guide and inspire her company's consulting, training, and fractional operations & leadership services.

As a proud Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Alumni Ambassador, a member of the Trusted Advisors Council, and a volunteer for the Leadership Team of the Chicago Chapter of Conscious Capitalism, Cassandra is actively involved in shaping positive business practices. Additionally, her company is a proud member of 1% for the Planet, which provides third-party accountability for members committing to corporate environmental responsibility. Learn more: https://cassandraquinn.com 

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hello, hello, I'm so excited to be here with you talking all things planning and execution, how do you take the plans that you've created and actually turn them into execution tasks and the things that you can do to hit those goals. So that's what we're gonna be talking about today. And I'm so excited about today's guest.

Cassandra Quinn, thrives on closing the gaps between people ideas and solutions. And she's on a mission to create a more joyful, fulfilling and rejuvenated world that's rooted in inclusive prosperity, collective wisdom and savvy stewardship. Her current business partners, or her current business partners with socially conscious companies to optimize operations teams and sales to maximize ethical profits and cultivate a positive work culture through a people first systems led approach. With 11 years of business ownership and diverse industry background. She leverages her expertise to guide and inspire her company's consulting, training and fractional operations and leadership services. The proud Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business alumni ambassador, a member of the trusted advisors, Council, and a volunteer for the leadership team of the Chicago chapter of conscious capitalism, Cassandra is actively involved in shaping positive business practices. Additionally, her company is a proud member of 1% for the planet, which provides third party accountability for members committing to corporate environmental responsibility.

We have an incredible conversation that could have gone on for hours and hours, I so adore Cassandra, I have known her for some time, and you're gonna really love her insight and ideas and approach for how you can work as a team with your visionaries with your operations, your technical people to make sure that you get the thing done, know how to get the thing done, know when to pivot, where to track the data, all the things we cover so much in this 30 minute episode. So I'm excited for you to hear it, and can't wait to jump in.

But before we do, this episode is brought to you by our January freebie, if you are looking at adding in any sort of tech or any sort of new software into organization, then you're definitely going to want to check out this guide and checklist. It's going to help you evaluate the tech that you have, it's also going to help you figure out what tech is going to be the right tech to solve the solution for the problem that you have. And you can grab it in the show notes for any episode in January, or at https://thefirstclick.net/240, which is where all the show notes will be held for this episode. I hope you grab it. If you're thinking about getting any sort of tech in your business, this is a free resource for you. All you have to do is grab that download. Let's get into the episode.

[Intro] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each month we dive deep into a digital marketing or fundraising strategy that you can implement in your organization. Each week, you'll hear from guest experts, nonprofits, and myself on best practices, tips and resources to help you raise more money online and reach your organizational goals.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, everybody, please join me in welcoming the wonderful Cassandra Quinn to the podcast. Cassandra, thank you so much for joining me today.

[Cassandra Quinn] Absolutely. I'm delighted to be here. I'm glad we were finally able to make it happen.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yes. So with all things we're talking operations and planning. And you know, this wasn't necessarily a topic of conversation, but I have had some internet issues and some technical issues, which is why we're recording later than we expected. And something that we need to consider when we're dealing with operations right or plan a plan B plan C?

[Cassandra Quinn] Yeah, definitely. And and of course, as we're planning, things never go exactly as we expect them to. So having those kinds of backup options and like, ability to be flexible is always key. I tell my team and I have for years, we got to be flexible, like gummy worms.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. Yep, flexible like gummy worms. So we're in January, we've hopefully got all of our plans in place. But before we kind of jump into some tactical stuff, I would just love to hear why you love to geek out on taking plans from concepts to execution like why is that something that excites you and how did you get into this work?

[Cassandra Quinn] Yeah, so it excites me because I love to be able to help people I started I just did define that further. But then I realized just generally people but I love to especially working with businesses and business owners because of their entrepreneur, entrepreneurial spirit and their love for creating especially. So I love to be able to take something from an a seed of an idea to fully actualize like that delights me to know something from the moment To that it kind of is an inspiration all the way through execution, and really being able to actualize that dream or vision. So that's what excites me and why I got into it.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I love that. And I think it takes a special person because, you know, I feel like so many of us, I'm this way as well. And I think another person I had on the podcast last year, you know, shared with me the term procrastinate planning. So the planning part is fun, like the dreaming the coming up with, what are we going to do? What's our year going to look like? It's fun, but the actual movement into execution is where a lot of people get stuck.

[Cassandra Quinn] Yeah, it's interesting, because I feel like folks, really, there's a push pull with that, right? So there are definitely, or maybe it's like sort of two camps of types of people, there are people who just love the juiciness of planning and imagining it's dreaming, I kind of, I usually compare it to that feeling like if you're somebody who like plays the lottery, and that feeling of you're buying that lottery ticket, that big Powerball, and the fun of dreaming of what might happen if you won the Powerball, right. And so sometimes we really like to stay in that because we don't want to be on the other side of the numbers just came out. And we didn't actually win, right. And so that's one camp of people, the other camp of people are so hungry and chomping at the bit to do doo doo, that they skip the planning. And they just jump right into action, they have an idea. And they have part of the pieces in their mind of how it should be done. Or they think they do and they jump right into execution. And so I think it's really important to recognize the value of both pieces, you don't want to get stuck in the planning, and really spinning your wheels. And you also don't want to jump in so soon that you're prematurely. It's, it's almost like the analogy I would use for that is like the bull in the china shop, right? Like they're, they're excited in there, but they're knocking things over and things are not gonna go as well as you hope because you don't have a plan to get that bowl through that china shop. Yeah,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] well, I think that's the hard part in the nonprofit space is there's so many voices, and so many people at play, right? People inserting their opinions from executive directors, development directors, to board presidents, or even major donors. So sometimes it can be hard to navigate. who ultimately makes those decisions? So kind of starting with like when we think about where we're going as an organization? Like how do we kind of hold true to the plan when it comes to execution? Like how do we kind of say, well, this is where we're going. So we're just going to go down this path for a while and not get distracted? Like you said, like the bull in the china shop?

[Cassandra Quinn] Yeah, a lot of that has to do with having systems and processes in place of how you execute plans or how you execute goals. So then it becomes that meta planning for planning, right? And so really knowing how are you breaking things down? What is the process for deciding making decisions, who's taking ownership of those plans and decisions, because you're right, especially in nonprofit space, it's very different than when I'm working with my non my for profit, like business owner entrepreneur types, where they may be the only decision maker or they're really the one the buck stops with them. And so when you're looking at a nonprofit, where you're gonna have a board, you're gonna have an executive director, team, sometimes all of that, really getting clear about who owns each part of that plan. And at what point is everyone coming together to be working together and collaborating to move the project forward? And when are we trusting that those who have ownership of those pieces of the plan are going to be executing?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. So let's do the reverse plan of that. With regards to we already have a plan in place, we kind of know who's doing it, but we're overwhelmed in the execution part. So we're kind of stalling because we don't know how to execute? Where might we want to start then in that situation, to make sure we're still getting things done and moving forward. Because I think in that case, a lot of people are, quote, unquote, busy all the time, but they're not necessarily busy in the elements that are driving the results for the business.

[Cassandra Quinn] Yeah, so it is a couple of different things. I think that when we are getting overwhelmed and execution, especially if we're getting distracted with things that are not part of the goal, or the plan, of really taking a step back and saying are the things that I'm busy doing, serving the organization as a whole and the answer is no. Then it probably needs to go in In some other category besides do, I really have an impact kind of matrix that I, I use, it's very similar to like an Eisenhower matrix of the like to delegate. And then I also have delete, and defer. And so thinking about what needs to be deferred to later. And really, the ways that I weigh that out is thinking about the impact scale. And for me, again, that's like a, x and y axis and thinking about impact on one axis and difficulty on the other. And saying, Okay, if I know it is both really highly impactful, and easy, well, that's a no brainer, that's something we're going to do right away, if it is something that is low impact and hard. Well, again, usually, that's a no brainer, that's the Delete. But the thing that ends up becoming that time suck, and that energy drain, and that distraction piece that you're talking about is those middle pieces, right? The ones that might be high impact, and difficult or low impact and easy. And that's where sometimes when we get overwhelmed, we get drawn to those because we go well, I can just knock this out, and I can feel productive. And that's not really where our focus should be going. So really asking ourselves, where is it on this? And is it really serving? What we need to get done in this moment, I think a lot of times having project timelines and knowing when things fall, because I think that that's another piece that really organizations struggle to do across the board is break it down into smaller and smaller chunks, you have these really big goals, you may even set some milestones that are along the way. But we don't then take the time to break that down into monthly, weekly daily action items. And so that's when we get into overwhelm. Because we look at this. And it isn't actually a single action item, it is an action item with 15 to 30 Micro action items. So you Oh, where do I install, I don't know how to do this. I didn't think about how much time all of this was going to take. And so that's where I really encourage people to spend more time in the planning portion than they believe they need to, and build in incremental times that you are slowing down the project and checking in not waiting to the end to do that post mortem or debrief but being like, is it working? Is it not? Because then you can get calibrated and get back on track. So building those kinds of checkpoints in as well. So I don't know, maybe I geeked out and went on too long.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I think that's all fantastic. And I have a couple follow up questions to that. But the one thing, the first thing is like you can always tell who the operations people are in the meeting and who like kind of more of the creative thinkers or like visionary type people are. Because the visionaries will be like, Hey, this is we're going to do this project now. And the operations people will say, Okay, well, when do you want this deadline? And when do you want this deadline? And then all of a sudden, they're like, wait, no, we just want this to happen. Right? Like, that's exactly what you said. So like paying attention to who those people are in your organization and like relying on everybody's kind of strengths, right to kind of pull that together and, and having to be a little bit flexible with each other to kind of dream but also execute, I think can be really tricky. So I love that you said that. But also what you ended on like really having those conversations as you go throughout your project timeline, like when do you know when to give up on something or when to pivot versus like, okay, you know, this might not be hitting what we want right now. But we need to ride this out and see where it goes.

[Cassandra Quinn] Yeah, I think that that's a great question. I think that a couple of pieces. It is determining not just the what of the project pieces or the action items, but the Y is really going to help guide those decisions. So figuring, if, for example, let's say we were planning an event, and we're trying to have a particular end, it's a fundraising event, right. And so we may have a fundraising like financial goal, and we might have an attendance goal and figuring out is that attendance? What is the purpose of the attendance goal? Is it just to drive the fundraising number? Or Why else do we want those people in the room? And how are we going to get them in the room? And I think that that's the other piece of that. That's the drilling down part of saying, Okay, we may have this big number we might say we want 500 people at this event, but we're all those people coming from well, we probably have different channels that we're attracting those people. And so sometimes it's about when you go into analyze say we may have wanted 500 people in the room because we really wanted to have visibility and reach a big audience. But right now we're really struggling to do that. And it's taking a lot of our bandwidth. So maybe we need to cut that back. And how do we need to calibrate recalibrate how that affects all of the other pieces? The other piece of that too, I would say, is looking at where do you kill a small action item versus the whole goal, right? I think that that's where it can get a little delineated is if I go, Okay, I want 500 people there, I'm gonna say 100 of them are going to come from new audience, like people, we're trying to attract an invite to our organization for the first time. And then we come up with a plan on how we're doing that. And that's not working out, well, there's something there that needs to be fixed. But that doesn't mean the whole plan to get 500 people or is not working. It's just that one particular piece, right? Ticket sales, maybe going really well to our warm audience or our social media, it's just this particular part that might need to be modified. Or we let it go and say, Okay, we're gonna abandon that, put a pin in it, come back, evaluate why that didn't work and try again next time.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] That's so good. So how, because I think people get nonprofits are notoriously famous for making decisions based off of their own opinions, gut feelings, all single conversation they have with the larger donor, as opposed to the data points, like what you're saying, and I love how you attach those specific metrics to them, deliverables as opposed to emotions and opinions. So you know, are you a fan of like, just a Google Sheet? Like, where do you track this stuff? Because I think people get lost in the sauce there. So they just don't do it. Yeah,

[Cassandra Quinn] I think that the simple answer is tracking any what ever method is going to be the easiest and most organized for you. Because tracking it in any way is better than not having it at all. So rather than me being like, I love this tool, or I think this tool is fantastic. I think that it's important thing is to have the data, because I it just blows my mind how often like you said, people are making decisions that are not based. In fact, they're based and feeling. And sometimes we we don't even realize it sometimes even those of us who are very data driven decision makers, we think we have a handle where I have a rough idea of how many and then you start crunching the numbers or you start crunching, whatever the data is. And you go Oh, my gut about what the data was was wrong, right. So gut estimating sometimes is not a good tool, either. So yes, if a if a Google spreadsheet or you know, an Excel spreadsheet, is what is going to be the easiest and most. How do I say like the least resistance to being able to get done than track. I personally don't like to do manual data tracking, I prefer to find the tools that are going to be able to do some of that tracking, and like number crunching and reporting for me, and then being able to pull pull those together and look at them. But you don't have to do it that way. It can be a really low tech, I would say there was one other piece that came up for me thinking about tracking data that was important will come back to me.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And it always happens to me, I always have too many thoughts in my head versus what I can get out right away. So I'm with you there. But I think too, like if you're worried like I think some people don't track data, because I think it's like too overwhelming like, well, people on the podcast talking about like website analytics and all this, that and the other and I can just hear a lot of my listeners being like, we don't have the sophistication to be able to do that. If you're feeling that way, like even hiring or reaching out to like a older Gen Z or or younger millennial to kind of come in and help you develop some of that tech can be a great opportunity for a volunteer a volunteer opportunity for someone.

[Cassandra Quinn] Absolutely. And what's really lovely is a lot of platforms that nonprofits and businesses are already using, have some of those built in tracking tools. So if you're looking at like email marketing, most likely, if you're using some kind of broadcast email platform, there's going to be some kind of tracking in there. If you are using some kind of database to keep track of your donors, there's probably going to be a way that you're going to be able to track how many donors when they donated how much they donated. So they're even if it's not all in one centralized place, there are ways to be able to pull those reports and start looking at them. Now I will say what is fascinating to me, too, is how many organizations don't track. And even if they do, they don't know how to use that information. Well, like sometimes people trap because they've been told and they're good rule followers and they go I track all my data. And I'm like, How are you using it? How is that affecting your decision making? I don't know because I don't know how to use that information to make effective decisions like they don't say that Right, that's, that's my summary of what? What's going on under the surface. But they go, I don't know, I just I just have this information because somebody told me it's good to keep track of. And I go, well, thank goodness, you have the data, give it to me. Yeah, but like learning, learning how to use that information to make smart decisions. And that is really important. And I think that that's where I see a breakdown in planning as well, is that so often we're chasing tactics, rather than using smart tactics lined up towards a particular strategy, right. So somebody might say, well, I know we need to be on social media. Okay, but why? And in what ways? And what are we trying to accomplish with that? Right? If there's not a strategy behind that, like, then being on social media is just a tactic. And it's kind of not, it's not savvy resource usage? And and then you're just, yeah, you're burning through time and energy when you don't when you don't have that sack behind the strategy?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] No, I love that. Because I think, you know, the data can tell you a lot of things like, how are people getting to where you need them to go? But like, Why, going back to what you said earlier? Like, you know, when we decide to pivot, or when we decide to add new things or take things away, it's all about the why, like, what is it that we ultimately need people to do? And what are the strategies that are getting us there? So the plan tells us, we need to get 500 people to this event. The tactics help us get there, the pivoting happens in what's working to get people there and what's not. And the data will tell us what's getting us there. So if we're spending five hours a day on social media to try to get people there, and we're finding that that's not the avenue that's getting people to buy tickets, that's what it's time, time to pivot. Right. And also, I think, understanding that with limited resources of either time, and or money, you know, not all strategies are created equal. And the data will tell you that for your own organization versus the emotional feelings of the people that are surrounding your organization. Yeah,

[Cassandra Quinn] 100%. I think that, again, recognizing that a lot of times people have broad strokes, ideas, or broad strategies that again, are not dialed in. And so even saying, We've got to be on social media, well, there's a million different platforms. Where's your audience? Yeah. And do you even know who your audience is. And when you define, you may have segments of audiences, especially nonprofits, like sometimes they may have a donor audience that is very different than who they are serving through their nonprofit, right? Sometimes that's one in the same you might have like a museum or something and like your art, your donors are also your your patrons. But sometimes you have that really segmented and it might be that, like, your donors spend a lot of time on Facebook, but your clients are over on Tik Tok. Right. So knowing Who are you trying to communicate through to that channel? So I think that that's part of it, too. Is that part of the like? It's the who, what, when, where, how, why it's like that, like investigative, like, planning. And if you can't be you need to be answering all of those questions as you're building out strategy.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, so we have our plant, let's just say we have our plan for 2024. We feel really good about our q1 strategy, like how often are we? You've talked about, like how we want to distill this down from quarterly to monthly to daily, you know, I kind of bring it down more. How do we How often are we kind of looking at our annual plan versus our quarterly plan versus our monthly plan? Like, what's a good cadence that maybe organizations could look at to making sure they're staying on task and reviewing things? This is a very long winded question. Because I've been, I mean, years of my business, I've had times where I hit October. And I go back and look at what my goals were at the beginning of the year. And I've somehow, like gotten completely off track. And I was like, oh, yeah, I forgot that I was going to do that. I never did that. I've instead been like moving towards this other thing. And like, I don't even remember what it was that I planned at the beginning of the year.

[Cassandra Quinn] Yeah, there's so much set it and forget it that happen in planning, which is another reason why sometimes people don't value planning because they've experienced planning in that kind of way. And they go, Well, it's a waste of time, because we're like it never either we don't use it, or if things don't turn out the way we planned anyway. So why even bother? We'll just figure it out as we go. Right. And so I think that to answer your question about like, how often or what's the cadence of you to be revisiting? I think it depends on your role and how much of the plan you're responsible for is my short answer. But I would say like, for me, I am I'm zooming out and looking at my annual goals and plans and strategies, probably at least every few weeks to make sure that I'm on. But that's like me personally, not necessarily in a meeting, not everyone coming together and debriefing, but I'm zooming out to that level, no less than once a month, but I'm probably in mine, like every week or two. Because I want to make sure that everything is fitting together because that that that's the piece for me is I always want to make sure that I'm calibrating my day to day and week to week actions to the long term goals, not just the short term action item that I'm trying to get done. So I have to be reminding myself Oh, yeah, that's what I'm working on. So I think from a team cadence or group cadence, I think that being able to look over your like, monthly goals every week, and say, where are we and probably maybe looking at your monthly and quarterly in that kind of way, at least in a big snapshot. And then a monthly you're looking at that quarter and at least the next quarter in detail and making sure you're taking time to zoom out at least briefly to the year. And then at your quarterly meetings, you're looking at the whole year in depth is the cadence that I would say so I would say you should be having weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings that are focused on different things, and you're touching on all of it. But each of those meetings is focused on a different segment. Does that answer your question? No. 100%?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And does that kind of help you keep that motivation to stay in that quadrant of the matrix of high impact? high effort?

[Cassandra Quinn] Or low probably low effort, high impact, lower effort, keeping the effort as low as possible is what we're because

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] of the high effort parts, whether it's low impact or high? Whatever, you know.

[Cassandra Quinn] You Yeah, I think that like one of the best things that I learned about like motivation, goal setting, project management, is that we can really only sustain for about 12 weeks or a quarter at a time in terms of motivation and focus. And so it is really great to be planning in those 12 week sprints. And so that's when like, even though we're going to be doing annual planning, and for me, I love because I want to know where I'm headed. I like to know what at least big picture goals of five years, 10 years so that, again, we're choosing to do things this year that are going to affect the things that we're trying to get done in the five year and 10 year vision. But yeah, I think that like it helps with the motivation and getting people realigned and refocused. If you are making sure that you have those quarterly cadences to dial in those kind of 12. Week Sprint's on projects,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] oand those 510 year plans might be big picture things, like we want to have a $10 million endowment or we want to launch three new locations for after school programming, or we want to have you know, our new physical location capital campaign completed, they wouldn't be tactical things like we have 50 monthly donors or you know, things like that, right? Like you're talking like big, big picture type things that you're working towards.

[Cassandra Quinn] Exactly. And so saying, Okay, if we're trying what was what you said, like three new physical locations, was that one of the examples you gave? Yeah, yeah. So it's something like that in a five year plan, I would want to know, at least a rough estimate about when we're wanting to open each of those locations? Or is it that we're trying to open all of them in year five? Or are we pacing those out? What's the runway to get the first one open? How are we going to like space that out? So like, even though I might not be getting to the tactical pieces of that, when where why, you know, I would be at least looking at the kind of breaking it down to at least the next level. So okay, we won't have three new locations, we know that that's not going to be possible in our first year, we're probably going to need at least a two year run to be able to get that first one open. And then we're gonna need to learn a lot about opening that. So we're gonna have another year gap so that we can learn from that, and then we'll be able to open the next one, and so on and so forth. And so just knowing how to keep an eye on that big picture. Oh, I finally remembered what I was gonna say. I think, at least this is one of the things that like popped up in my mind, as we were chatting is you were talking much earlier about the people who are the visionaries and the people who are like the, like doers and operators, right. And organizations absolutely need those people. Right. And like both both folks, and they're they're vital to execution. But recognizing who those people are and when each of needs to be in the conversation and when they don't need to be. Sometimes, visionaries can train wreck. Yeah. Tactical, tactical actions that are like I can't think of a word I want, but getting stuff done. And then inversely, those tactical people can get really overwhelmed or even bored or like antsy in like the visioning of things. Like they're like, Come to me, when you have an action plan right? Now, I do think that there are times that we have to move through the discomfort of being in shared space, when the conversation is the opposite of our preferred focus, because we all need to be able to align and be on the same page, too. So as a visionary, I have to be able to be in that room and understand how my great idea may not be able to be broken down and executed the way I thought, and I need to be in the room to be a part of that conversation. And inversely, I think, to understand the purpose and how it serves the mission, those tactical people need to be more in those visionary conversations, even if they don't quite get it yet, or understand the how, because they often also are panicking about how, how are we going to do that? We don't need to know the how yet. No,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. I think knowing who those people are is really important. I have a client that I work with. And whenever I talk to the executive director, because I'm in both the marketing, strategic and marketing execution hat for that organization. When I talk to him, I'll say, Okay, this is not this is we're visioning right now. So we're not gonna worry about how this gets done, I just want to brainstorm or I'll start the conversation with, okay, this is the project we're working on. I need your support with these specific tasks that we have to get done. But framing the conversation from the beginning is super helpful in that situation, for me to get what I need out of the conversation, because I'm communicating to him like, this is what I need in this conversation, we're not going to figure out exactly how this is done. But I just need your brain and your your ideas to give that to me, versus I need you to tell me what we can and cannot do on the technical side of this. So I love that.

[Cassandra Quinn] Yeah, and I think knowing what kind of like exactly what you said, framing the conversation is so important, even even in one on ones, but the more people you're adding to the room are important, that clarity of purpose of that conversation, and that meeting needs to be defined, because that's another place where I see things go really sideways, when trying to like execute, is that we have not clearly defined the purpose of a meeting. And is this a meeting to vision? And to dream? Is it a? Is it a meeting to problem solve? Is it a meeting to make decisions? Are we drilling down into this one topic really deeply? Or are we trying to cover a broad broad base of like just touching a lot of different areas? And I think that that's where people get really frustrated with one another because you have your tactical people sometimes needing to get to an answer. And you have other people who are they're thinking that the meeting is about brainstorming. And so they stay in brainstorming too long. And because they hadn't gotten clear about is this a brainstorming or a decision meeting? Or even if a meeting has both? Is this particular part of the conversation brainstorming or or decision? Does that make sense?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] If everybody listening to this right now is not nodding their head that they've been in those meetings then? But I don't I mean, I feel like everybody has to have been in those meetings where there's frustration, because, yeah, everybody's not coming with the same idea or goal in mind. And that's what makes meeting so frustrating. So I'm really glad that you brought that point up. Cassandra, you have given so many good reminders, I think a lot of times we need to hear things, and we need to hear them. And a lot of the stuff that you shared is inspiring me to go back and actually finish my 2024 plan, because I'm not quite bull in a china shop mode yet. But I haven't fully fleshed out my plan. So you've inspired me to like really drill down and get them finished this week. But if there was kind of any last words of wisdom that you would like to share with nonprofit leaders and development directors about how they can kind of remove some frustration with executing on their plan, you know, what might you want to share with them?

[Cassandra Quinn] Yeah, I would say being able to drill down to the specificity you need in your plan will actually help you move faster when you go into execution mode. But recognizing that like you want to get to a level of specificity that you can take that action without a level of specificity that becomes rigid and I think that that's what makes people afraid about planning too. Is that it goes right back to what I was saying at the beginning where you have to stay flexible, like a gummy worm, you're gonna make a plan, and then you're still gonna have to flex it. Right? Yeah. And so recognizing that it takes both to really execute and succeed and a high level. And I would also say like, recognizing we don't like I think it's, I think it's a James clear who wrote atomic habits. And the the quote is, you don't, you do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems. And so remembering that if you do not have systems and processes in place, in order to achieve those goals, you are, you're going to struggle to get there. And most importantly, we're our brands are always going to default to aligning with our identity. So starting from your planning, from your place of identity, who are you? And why are you doing what you're doing? And what are your values, that's where I always start every year with teams is starting from identity. Because if you are making choices or decisions that are out of alignment with your identity, you are always going to default to get back into alignment with your identity as an individual and as an organization. And so making sure that your those things are in alignment, so that that they can they can work to support each other rather than be in cognitive dissonance

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] was so good. And I think a perfect spot to wrap up this episode. I'm Cassandra, thank you so much for being here. We could talk about I think, well, we and we do whenever we get on calls, we always end up talking forever about this stuff, because we love it so much. But if people want to connect with you learn more about the work that you do in supporting nonprofits and some of your resources. How do they do that?

[Cassandra Quinn] Yeah, absolutely. So it's really easy to learn more about what I do and who I am and how I support people by going to my website. And that's my name. So it's just Cassandra quinn.com. And then I'm also really easy to find on Facebook and LinkedIn. Those are the socials that I most play on. So feel free to connect with me there because I'm often updating and sharing resources and ideas and what I'm up to on those platforms as well.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. And this episode, can the show notes for this episode, and all of her links can be found at https://thefirstclick.net/240. Cassandra, thank you so much for being here and your patience with all my technical issues. Yeah, my

[Cassandra Quinn] pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. It was fun. So

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] like I said, I totally could have talked to Cassandra for hours. She's amazing. Make sure you head on over to the show notes to grab the resources and links to connect with her at https://thefirstclick.net/240 I hope that you're enjoying these episodes this month. We are so excited for the things that are coming for you this year. So make sure you subscribe, wherever you're listening. Leave us a review while you're at it. That really helps us get in front of more nonprofits in kind of grow the reach of our podcast. So I'd really appreciate you doing that favor for me. And I look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Bye

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