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How to Start a Small Business Advisory Board

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All non profit organizations need an Advisory Board. Especially small start-up community based organizations. Even if you are the only one starting up a non-profit you need to go out now and find 5 great people to mentor and inspire you on to greatness.

Boston-based business coach Susan Hammond, author of the Advisory Board Kit has the following advise for starting your first Advisory Board.

What is the advantage of having an advisory board?
Many times entrepreneurs and business owners get myopic. They’re just trying to get their business off the ground, and they forget to look at the big picture. Your advisors won’t, and they also become your advocates and network on your behalf.

What types of experts should I look for when assembling the board? 

Start by conducting an honest skills assessment of yourself and your senior management team (if you have one), and figure out where the holes are. If you know what your goals are and you know what your skills assessment looks like, there will be a gap somewhere–those are the expert advisors you’re looking for.

Where do I find the right people?
Anywhere: chamber of commerce, your kid’s PTA, your church, Rotary Club–it’s basic business networking. You might read about someone in the newspaper and cold-call them. I recommend that you approach any [potential advisor] with a letter or e-mail–be very specific about what you’re looking for–and then interview them. Generally when you get a critical mass of three people onboard, you’ll find that they have connections that can help you find those other advisors. A total of seven is as large as you want to get.

Any potential advisors to avoid? 
My cardinal rule is do not invite family or friends, because they become yes people. Plus, they’re going to give you advice whether you want it or not, so why put them on your advisory board? I also don’t believe in putting people such as your accountant, attorney or marketing consultant on your board; you already pay those people to advise you. You’re looking for people external to your company, who are going to challenge you, who may have gone through the same issues you have and will bring a different perspective.

How do advisors benefit from helping me? 
In companies that might ultimately raise venture capital, advisors will probably get some type of stock option. In a non-venture capital type environment, it’s really going to depend on what the organization can bear; it could be $100 a meeting plus a great meal, or it could be $1,500. However, if an advisor makes it a priority that they get paid or get options, they’re the wrong kind of person for you. You want people who want to give back. Maybe they had help when they started their company, or they think your idea is wild and want to be a part of it–or maybe they just like to give advice.

We have two community based non profits, and both have benefited greatly from an Advisory Board. The worst thing a new entrepreneur can do is trying to go it alone. We are social creatures and need interaction, inspiration and support from one another.

Steve Monahan, President

Georgia Institute for Non Profit Leadership

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What is Servant Leadership?

Servant Leaders understand that we are here to serve one another.

Think of the leaders in your life,  your work, your community, our Government. Are they Servant Leaders, or Self Serving Leaders?

Abraham Lincoln

While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he published in 1970 in which he stated:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. That then by conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. A Servant Leader is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.” “The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“.

Servant leadership is not a new concept but an ancient understanding. There are passages that relate to servant leadership as far back as 500 BCE in the Tao Te Ching.

The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware. Next comes one whom they love and praise. Next comes one whom they fear. Next comes one whom they despise and defy.

  There are many passages in the bible to Servant Leadership. I have included 10 here for thought.

1. Treat all equally

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

2. Help all not just those who agree with you.

 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? (Matthew 5:43-47)

3. Stay focused on the moment

 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:34)

4.  Love God and your fellow-man

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”(Matthew 22:36-40)

5. Be a Servant leader, not a leader with servants

“But Jesus called them [his disciples] to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45

 6. We are not here to simply make a living; but to help the living

 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)

7. Know where to focus

“My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)

8.  Love is the mark of a Servant Leader

 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.(John 3:16-17)

9. Be persistent and optimistic

 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

10. Believe and have faith in the unseen, more than the seen

Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63-64)

 Question: Have you looked inside your heart lately? Are you following your special path, and helping others with your special talents?

“We are not here merely to make a living but to be of service to others. We are here to create a better world, and carry within our hearts a vision of a greater   tomorrow. We impoverish our selves and others if we get caught up in the day-to-day challenges, and forget our purpose and mission here”.  Stephen C  Monahan, President – Georgia Institute for Non Profit Leadership

Non Profit Leadership: Want to Know the Best Hiring Question ?

womNo matter what level person you are interviewing… Non Profit Executive Director, or Volunteer staff person you need to know what they have accomplished, not just what skills they have.

I was CEO of an Executive Search firm for years. We received large fees for finding top talent for fortune 500 companies. One thing I learned well was that people are managed on performance not on their resume skills. Many people who have great skill sets on paper –   never perform in the real world.

So what is the best question to ask a potential team member?…  ask them the SMARTE question. Ask them a question using this acronym to describe their most significant business accomplishments in detail.

While it’s only one question, it’s repeated multiple times for each category of responsibility, to make sure you’re covering all aspects of expected performance. You need to evaluate new team members not on resume skills, but on successful actions at their last position.  Most jobs are really a series of performance tasks like “redesign the accounting  system to track donations better” rather than a list of skills, such as 5 years accounting management.

Here is the SMARTE question to ask all potential team members.

  • Specific task:  please describe the specific task, challenge, project, or problem you solved in your last position?
  • Measurable: What actually changed, How did you or your manager measure your performance?
  • Action: What actions did you actually accomplish and what was your specific role in their success?
  • Result: What were a few actual results you achieved the past year in your role.?
  • Timeframe: When did this accomplishment take place and how long did it take from start to end?
  • Environment: What was the environment you had to accomplish this under, such as crisis mode, personnel issues,  level of sophistication, the people involved.?

Ask the SMARTE question and forget the resume skills and you will really get to know what someone accomplished not what they have unused skills in.

Top 11 Industries for the future

A Whole New Mind

The U.S  has  transitioned in the past 10 years from manufacturing to technology, to now “Creativity”.

According to the top future thinkers, and author Daniel Pink in his best seller A Whole New Mind,  the top 11 industries in the new Creative Economy will be.

  1. Advertising
  2. Architecture
  3. Arts
  4. Crafts
  5. Design
  6. Designer Fashion
  7. Film, video and photography
  8. Software, computer games and electronic publishing
  9. Music & visual and performing arts
  10. Publishing
  11. Television & Radio

As a leader it is your job to recognize the shift to creativity from technology, and ensure your business and employees are ready and trained to serve the needs of all in this new creative era.

Georgia Institute for Non Profit Leadership

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Developing and supporting Georgia’s non-profit leaders

Support, Teach, EmPower

Georgia Institute for No Profit Leadership Supports you in your role as a leader following you passion and serving the needs of others in your community.

We provide workshops,  in the community to Teach you how to be a leader and inspiration to others.

We Empower you with world-class instruction to position you to be competent, caring and courageous as a leader of  your non-profit organization, and  be a trusted, competent and admired leader in your community.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Georgia Institute for Non Profit Leadership
Atlanta, Georgia USA
Stephen C Monahan, President
EMail:  SteveGeorgiaInstitute@gmail.com
PHONE:  1-864-674-7387

Quote: Set your sights very high

Think Big

Non Profit Leadership: Trust your Creative Side

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The nearly impossible task we have as leaders is to stay focused on our goals, yet be creative, and not get sidetracked by over thinking things. Being intelligent we love to think about issues. But too much thinking at times can prevent us from tapping into our natural creativity. We have to remember we have a brain…and have a heart and soul as well. Sometimes we have to ignore what our logical brain is saying, and trust the creative part of us as well.  Sometimes we have to be courageous enough to buck the norm and trust our creative side in making decisions.

The world is lost in thinking. We think that thinking is who we are. We have lost sight of the fact that thinking is a tool, to help us live meaningful conscious, alive lives. We have other tools also, gut feelings and creative inspirations.

There is a time and place for thinking and an equal time and place for turning our minds off, and allowing silence to revitalize our lives.  From that silence new ideas flow.We have 3 brains so shutting down our newest thinking brain is fine. Our two older brains can still keep us living and moving safely.

Most of us think that thinking is who we are. It seems to be so obvious that we do not realize it is the water we live in. I am reminded of the following story.

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This didactic little parable points out that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and deal with.

Obviously we cannot and should not stop thinking, but we must realize that we are not what we think, and that we must choose what to think and what to dismiss.

We have to realize that we are in control of our thoughts and must not allow them to control us. There is an old saying that is true to this point…”Our minds are a wonderful tool but a terrible master”

When we get too absorbed, or lost in our thinking we can become disconnected to the inspiration and creation opportunities all around us.  We must use our amazing ability to think, but not get  lost to the beauty and wonder of the “water” or creative energy within us, and all around us.

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