Time and time again, this one is very true.
Show up and deliver. Always be ready to take the opportunity that is presented regardless whether it is the right time, place, or scenario. An opportunity is some times disguised as something else.
Showing up means taking action, making commitments, and securing engagements with people that you think will help get you to the next level. It doesn't matter whether it results in a small incremental step. Those steps will add up and will lead to sizable progress cumulatively.
Showing up means taking the courage, while you don't see the big picture, the answer to the problem, or the complete information. It doesn't negate the fact that you showed up, made the effort, and seize the day.
Deliver, when nobody is reading, nobody is listening, nobody seems to care. Deliver consistently, with passion, with love and care as you put your products out, let the world know this is not about the popularity, the number of likes, the retweets, and the instant fame. It is about your message, your story, your contribution. It is about how you relate to your community, your family, and the world.
Showing up ever ready to take the challenges of the day will create the attitude and the frame of mind to move beyond obstacles, whether imagined or not, and will expand your reference of what you-can do!
My two-year daughter knows how to pull the right strings. When she wants to play with the dog, she would say, “Nemo” a hundred times until we give in to the demand. This incessant demand will drive us crazy and will not stop until she gets what she wants.
In life and in business, are you persistent (not overbearing and spammy) enough to endure the momentary hardships that accompany the task of getting your products out to the door, getting donors to support you, getting to the right audience for your content, or getting to the right customers that know and value what you are offering?
Are you persistent and ever-acknowledging that getting to the goal is incremental? It is not that one shot, one sale, one product. The basketball player has to get hundred (or thousands) of shots to perfect their shoot. The athlete has to prepare for the Olympics one to two years ahead of the game. The farmer has to persist with weather, prices, and regulations that made harvest a truly happy result. The juggler in the circus act has to perfect his stunt for two years before he can confidently perform on stage.
Have you asked enough to get what you want? A promotion, a raise, a referral, a testimonial, a developmental project, a speaking engagement? A product endorsement? A Board Trustee for your non-profit? A mentor? A sponsor? A friend of a friend of a friend that can get you to the right venture funder? Have you figured out in your head or have you really tried asking?
Ask more. Ask often. Ask until the door is opened for you. There is no reward for not asking. You get nothing.
A couple of years ago, the notion of building your own nonprofit /(also known as Non-government organization) NGO and chasing funders left and right to fund your projects would be faced with trepidation. Not now.
There were many new NGOs and INGOs that have mushroomed in the last five to ten years.
Yes, the facility, the technology, the networking, and the amount of information that we have about what works and what do not work have abounded in a gazillion times.
This is also the era of start-ups, innovation prizes, and private sector-led initiatives that call for market-oriented solutions.
Everyone can be a disruptor, innovator, accelerator, and other important adjectives or noun that you can name. I just googled the word ‘disruptor’ and guess what, it produced 10,600,000 results.
There were many instances and conversations with groups, individuals, and networks I found myself in small chit-chats that revolved around about building an NGO for this and that. It is a noble and endearing idea that some people will commit their life and time to help others and for social good.
But, I think that people have misunderstood the day-to-day work that it requires.
A lot of nonprofits fail because they do not have the business mindset and the financial management skills to keep it afloat.
Marketing is a number one preoccupation aside from getting those services out in the door to the target communities. If you do not have the plan to keep it sustainable, you will literally have to use your personal monies to keep it barely alive.
I have worked with founders and creators of various nonprofits and all their time is devoted to getting funds either by grants, donations, and other creative income-generation mechanisms.
Do not be surprised that by the first 5 years or more, this is what the CEO and Founder’s job would look like. Not very glamorous.
This search for funding has gotten a lot in trouble. From a nonprofit that works in, for example, the environment starts working on a different mandate totally unrelated to their core mission.
The chase for money can lead to further scope creep, venturing to unknown and inexperience lands just to get some dollars pumping into the organization before another staff gets to asked to resign. I have seen this practice a lot.
They tend to do many differentiated things but lose a lot of focus and expertise due to being a "Jack of All Trades."
They also court new donors with new monies on new ‘flavor of the month’ topics such as greening “everything” or using "technology" as a the solution to all social ills in the world without checking for what works with their client communities.
Building an NGO is a very demanding and challenging experience. Some people have built NGOs that have lasted for many decades and have succeeded a lot. Some built NGOs to be their own boss.
Giving back is the least reason why a new nonprofit has to be built. There are 1001 ways to give back without building one.
Start with the local community agencies in your area and build the required skills, perspectives, and experience you need to determine if this is the road you want to travel on.
Most companies, businesses, non-profit organizations see the competition- the organization across the street with the same offering and think that it’s their worst enemy.
It’s not. A coffee house mushroomed in one street is a reflection of actual buyer/consumer interests. That means that there is a demand and continuing demand that needed to be satisfied. Take the cue from the competition that is very successful.
The competition will show you what is selling or not, what the market wants versus what you are offering. The competition will tell you that your services, products, or values are not well-articulated. It will tell you why you need to expand or contract or seek new markets. The competition that is doing well will tell you what practices work and what practices to abandon. What areas are not being serviced, what gaps in customer needs are not being met and what positioning can be done?
A good competition is a good source of information about what is coming around the bend, anticipating that changes can disrupt your business in many ways and that being a bystander of these changes will do you no good. You might be disrupted even before you know it.
Take the case of Uber that has disrupted the taxi cab businesses that have been there for generations. It has created a whole new sharing economy around the needs and interests of consumers who are also users and producers of these services. Do not be the taxicab operator that just woke up one day with a business valuation of less than $200,000.00!
Big box businesses have folded/ are folding up such as Sears, ToysRUs, Greyhound is discontinuing its operations except for Ontario and Quebec, and recently Macy’s might be next in line. These businesses have weathered many storms and remained very strong contenders in the retail market and transport market for years and years. Sears started with a catalog market and became one of the best-preferred retailers for middle-class buyers. Not anymore.
While the middle-class-targeted retailers are folding up, lower buyer segment markets are generating newer and more stores such as Red Apple and Giant Tiger are taking up empty retail space that has been vacated. There is always an opportunity if you can look closer at the changes that are taking place.
Innovation is the stuff that we strut about but rarely understand. It is not a magical moment where executives of Apple just figured it out today. It is a methodical, integrated, and disciplined approach to finding opportunities, studying opportunities for its potentials and risks, and pursuing opportunities to take the business to the next level of competitiveness and profitability.
Is your business merely surviving, beating up the competition, or dominating the space? Do not sacrifice the future of your company in the altar of today’s successes. Learn from the competition and innovate continuously.
Diaspora, immigrant communities, global travellers and citizens offer more than global stories and exciting exotic foods-they hold several assets that needed to be maximized. Cultural knowledge, international perspectives, remittance, know-how, linguistic fluency, heritage, connections. These are some of the links that needed to be made in the minds of decision makers, executives, planners, leaders, and doers.
In this day and age, the local is global and the global is local. People that are comfortable with the binary of either local or global is obviously missing the whole point. It is the same people demanding a practitioner to either specialize or die. I would say specialize and die!
Here are some of the pointers to bring full circle the wealth of international and intercultural assets found in the diaspora/ immigrant/ and international/global citizens.
1. Companies, organizations, and governments are beginning to reflect the diversity found in the population, consumers, employee base, and their neighborhoods. This brings back to the question- the global is local and the local is global. It is no longer a foreign idea to seek out global talent from the pool that is right in your backyard at the same time look for global ideas to enhance your local situation.
2. The global remittance should result in improved lives of families working overseas and the kinds of infrastructure, support and growth opportunities should reflect that in each country.
3. The bridge between the new country and the old country must give way to a fluid interconnectivity that is not alien but an inherent identity of the immigrant community. Our sense of nationalism comes from our sense of humanity. Regardless of whether we have strong clear ties to another nation, the same ills, sets of problems and issues beset other places, and there is more reason to collaborate than to compete for competition’s sake!
4. Companies with global reach across the world cannot afford to alienate local cultural characteristics that made each country, region, cultural group, tribe, and community different and unique. McDonald's with the global franchise can afford to culturally adapt to the local taste in order to compete with the local favorite. Cultural intelligence is a pre-requisite for a successful business internationally.
5. It is time for globally trained people to push back and be proud of where they come from, the countries and locations they worked, the things that they have seen and experienced, the cultures they have tasted, learned, and imbibed. This sets them apart from the competition. Do not forget your assets and relegate it to lower import just because you have moved to a new country and wanted to assimilate and not appear different- be proud about it.
The next generation of jobs and employment and careers for the near future are those that cannot be done by robots and artificial intelligence. Are you honing that intercultural, international, and global expertise and talents that you possess? Bring it out and dominate your field.
Engagement is the lubricant to effective change management efforts.
Once the solution has been identified and a plan has been set in place, the question now is how to implement the plan and ensure that all the stakeholders are in the same page and would be able to support it.
The engagement process is very similar to many change management process in many organizations, be it in the public and the private sector.
It starts with understanding and knowing who are the authorities who need the approval of these mechanisms so that it is set for adoption throughout the organization.
Who needs to lead, articulate, and champion this at the public level? They hold the accountability role. It is with them that the buck stops, so to speak.
The second tier of engagement in the organization is the middle management and the staff. They need to be on board in the whole process.
At the implementation stage, they need to fully agree and provide the best support or facility to ensure its successful implementation.
The third tier of engagement is the public.
It could be your shareholders, stakeholders, volunteers, constituencies, customers/clients, and other important public entities that have a clear stake in the process.
They should be engaged throughout the process but in implementation, they should have a clear role to play - to be involved, to support, to be informed/updated on the progress, etc. They hold the keys to wider support from the communities they represent, can speak on behalf of your organization, and can oftentimes, clear the cobwebs of doubt, negativity, and pessimism about the changes that are being espoused.
The engagement process can be a long process for very complex projects and initiatives involving multi-stakeholders with varying degrees of involvement and agenda/interests.
It could involve a considerable amount of staff time, financial resources, and even public media campaign to solidify the changes in the minds of its target audience. It cannot be rushed though.
Taking the time to really get down to the target audience and create trusting and open dialogue bridges an otherwise hostile and indifferent crowd.
The key is to create the environment where people can trust the changes are for the better, that it welcomes their inputs and participation, and encourages healthy debate and discourse.
Between planning and implementation, the engagement is a must and cannot be taken out from shortcut purpose.
When this is done carefully and wisely, the long-term benefits outweigh the initial short-term growing pains.