Archive for December, 2011

Non Profit “Getting to Know You” Board Meeting

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Have Fun While Learning Something Interesting About Your Associates

non profit boardWhen is the last time you had some FUN at a non profit board meeting? Huh? What? Fun? We’re allowed to have FUN? Is that in the by-laws?

Just WHEN is the last time you learned something interesting — some personal factoids — about your fellow associates? As a matter of fact, do you know ANYTHING about your fellow non profit board members that reveals a lot more than just the person you see once a month at the meetings? A monthly meeting convenes and then “POOF”, your board associates disappear for another month. Just WHO were those people?

I’ve been fortunate over the years to be involved in some groups that have used getting to know you exercises in the past, and they all begin with some GREAT questions — let’s call them ice breakers. These questions are designed to get board members talking so that they can share some REAL insights about themselves, while having fun doing it. Trust me; you won’t believe the quantity of ice that melts, the barriers that drop, and the bonding that will take place when some of these questions are posed in this exercise.

By the way, I’m not sure who or what organization to credit for some of these questions — many groups and individuals have used them for years and modified them. Let me just say that they work, they break the ice, and the exercise will give your upcoming New Year a fresh new look by creating better non profit board member relationships.

So, here are some ice-breakers. The first two will really get the group going and engaged in this great exercise. I encourage you to send these questions out to the board members prior to the next board meeting — it’s a way to ensure the creative juices begin to flow. Believe me, it’s FUN and it works, and really helps towards team building!

The first two are some of my favorites because they set the stage for people to open up in front of their peers:

1. Write five statements about yourself, one of which is FALSE. We’ll get the rest of the group to determine which one of the statements is false.

2. Write one fact about yourself you believe the group would never have known about you, like you were a member of the Hell’s Angels, or you were a nun in your prior life.

3. What do you do to have fun?

4. Sum up your life philosophy in three words

5. Would you rather be a genius or incredibly good looking? [This generates a lot of fun comments.]

6. If you had the chance to go back and change your degree(s) and move into a different career, what would they be?

7. What one piece of advice would you pass along for posterity?

8. You will be quoted on national TV. What are you going to say?

9. You are running for President. What is your campaign slogan?

10. What is the best book you never read, but always meant to?

11. You can avoid doing one onerous task for the rest of your life. What would you select?

12. What would your Indian name be? (i.e. Dances with Wolves, Runs with Scissors, etc.)

These are just some of my favorite ice breakers. Get creative and generate some of your own for your next non profit board meeting and try them at your first board meeting in 2012. Enjoy, and yes, you’re allowed to have fun at board meetings.

by Joseph R. John

Tim Tebow. He’s a winner. What else does it take?

Monday, December 19th, 2011

I happen to like Tim Tebow.  Always have.  He’s got a winner’s mentality and he shamelessly gives credit to his God first, his teammates next and then maybe he admits some ability.

Tim TebowDoes the Denver Broncos quarterback have what it takes to be successful at the professional level?

Seven wins and two losses as a starting quarterback so far this season. Tebow’s proven to be successful——even while being inconsistent and unconventional. Many observers of the game, particularly former professionals, question his technical abilities.  For now, we’ll leave the question about his quarterbacking skills up to those who have a much deeper understanding of things like the option offense, throwing styles, and pocket skills. However, it’s clear that Tim Tebow has plenty of what it takes to succeed in one area where so many professional athletes fail—managing a high-pressure media interview.

Last month, CBS Sports aired an interview between Tim Tebow and television analyst, former Bronco, and NFL Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe—a man who has criticized Tebow in the past. He has called Tebow a “$10 million project” not up to the task of leading an NFL offense.

Sharpe went into the interview to aggressively and unapologetically hammered home his point of view.  The former Bronco may have worn a fashionable suit and put on a fierce game face, but Tebow had all the right moves and delivered a textbook performance.

Here’s what you can learn from Tim Tebow about managing a tough media interview:

Take control from the start

Tebow didn’t just leave his response to Sharpe’s introductory comments at, “My pleasure.” He took the opportunity to set the tone by being gracious, humble, and establishing common ground with his interviewer.

Contrast this to Sharpe, who soon ceded all control by asking Tebow, the subject of the interview, “Can I say something honestly?” Tebow gladly granted permission.

Stay positive

Tim Tebow has drawn tough criticism throughout his collegiate and professional playing careers. Right now, with a solid winning record so far, and some of the most thrilling last-minute heroics in pro football this year, he has every license to say that he has proved detractors wrong.

Yet not once in the interview with Sharpe did Tebow criticize a coach, a team member, or a single skeptic. Instead, he went as far as to say that he had a lot of work to do to overcome “doubters” and “critics.”

Use repetition

Twice, Sharpe asked Tebow whether he felt the Denver Broncos organization was behind him. Twice Tebow delivered the same answer, saying that he is thankful and feels blessed to play for the team.

He clearly had prepared; he knew the question was coming and the answer he would deliver. Most important, he didn’t feel that he owed Sharpe a different answer, even if Sharpe had asked the same question in a different way.

Maintain message discipline

What Tim Tebow was trying to communicate came through consistently and clearly. For him, this season is first and foremost about the team and winning games. Personally, it’s also about his growth and improving as a player and a leader.

Almost every answer he brought back to these core messages. He also kept his responses concise to avoid rambling answers and filling empty space that would have diluted the strength of his points.

Finish on a high note

So much of a viewer’s overall perception of an interview comes from how it wraps up. Whether it’s a one-on-one, an editorial board, or a news conference, you always want to finish an interview with your message and on your terms.

Tebow did this beautifully in this interview. He said he wants to score touchdowns and win, but he also said he wants to be a role model and make a difference in people’s lives and the world. He stayed on message and, with some wise and generous help from Sharpe, even managed to leave the interview on an emotional peak.

The debate around Tim Tebow’s ability to be a successful NFL quarterback on the field will no doubt continue. But off the field, when the lights are on and the cameras are rolling, it’s clear that there is more to Tebow than your average megastar athlete.

Neil Kuvin



The Culture Cycle: Pressure, Performance and Perfection

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The Culture Cycle The Culture CycleThe link between culture and performance has been and is

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being studied by one the most renowned researchers, authors and thought leaders on organizational management and culture, James Haskett. In his new book, The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the unseen once that transforms performance, Haskett writes, “In many organizations, culture is the most potent and hard-to-replicate source of competitive advantage.” High performance culture is thriving. It’s not just a personal strategy; it’s becoming one of the principal and critical drivers of performance in most successful companies. The approach taken by today’s business leaders puts them under intense pressure to maximize performance and demonstrate success with quantifiable, measurable and sustainable conditions. Their leaders present some of the most incredibly challenging opportunities to company chiefs. The mood created is extraordinary. Is it perfectionism? Does it motivate or diminish the psyche and the real nature of the goal? In one fell swoop, focusing on companies that “get it” and those that don’t, Heskett proves that developing an effective, dynamic, forceful culture can account for up to half of the difference in operating income between two organizations in the same business. “Organization culture is not a soft concept. Its impact on profit is significant and can be measured and quantified,” he writes. Heskett provides a compelling case for the economic value of an effective organizational culture that he bases on four important sources of cultural competitive advantage — the “Four Rs” — of referrals and retention of employees, returns to labor and relationships with customers that foster customer referrals and retention. Energy and effort is what gets you there. The more the merrier. He finds that as much as half of the difference in operating profit between organizations can be attributed to effective cultures. Why? “We know, for example, that engaged managers and employees are much more likely to remain in an organization, leading directly to fewer hires from outside the organization,” Heskett writes

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in the book. “This, in turn, results in lower wage costs for talent; lower recruiting, hiring, and training costs; and higher productivity (fewer lost sales and higher sales per employee). Higher employee continuity leads to better customer relationships that contribute to greater customer loyalty, lower marketing costs, and enhanced sales.” Neil Kuvin  

Cautionary Tales for Non Profit Boards

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Personal Credibility Watch Outs for Non Profit Board Members Recently, one of my articles addressed a book titled The Personal Credibility Factor. I can’t think of a timelier book for those in government, as well as those in the for-profit or non profit sectors — EVERYONE is under the microscope of public scrutiny. In the Seven Steps to influence personal credibility, Step #4 is quite apropos for many board members in non-profit organizations to review. The step is labeled as “Know Yourself — the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” What makes that section of this book, and that particular step, very interesting and timely are the watch outs that are woven throughout the chapter. There is a brief exercise for the reader to help assess personal tendencies while increasing personal self-awareness. The questions are direct and quite simple: Are you a big picture person, or one that wants information and more information? Are you “diplomatic” or are you “direct’? Do you “retreat” or do you “engage”? And the list of self-assessment questions continues. Within each of these thought-provoking revelations are some watch outs. The following watch outs are excellent guideposts for board members, both new and current members, to seriously consider as they interact with other members at board or committee meetings. Essentially, the watch outs can be reduced to eight key points: As a non profit board member, you like the big picture but don’t like a lot of details — Watch Out and understand that you will need to provide more data or detail to meet the needs of others, and if you are unwilling or unable to provide that detail, you might need to find alternative ways to gather it. As a non profit board member, you may be a person who wants evidence and facts, lots and lots — Watch Out for paralysis by analysis. There are many times when less is more—accept the fact that more information is sometimes just duplication of the same data. Be careful that you don’t squelch the fire and energy behind others’ ideas by slowing down the decision-making process too long. As a non profit board member, you may be very direct in your communications with people — Watch Out for others’ misunderstanding your directness as rudeness. Although you might believe you are simply presenting an opinion or giving clear direction, others might view you as being dictatorial and closed to any other perspective. As a non profit board member, you may be a person who likes diplomacy in all communications — Watch Out for being unclear. In your desire to be diplomatic, you could be perceived as being wishy-washy or having no

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clear position on an issue. If you are directing others’ actions, they might conclude that you are making suggestions versus giving direction. As a non profit board member, you don’t like center stage and like to be in the back ground — Watch Out for being overlooked. In your desire to give others the floor to speak, you can easily miss opportunities

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to express your thoughts and ideas, even when they are really valuable and needed. Your quiet respect for others might cause them to believe that you have little to offer. As a non profit board member, you want everyone to be engaged and you want everyone to have the same energy level that you possess —Watch Out that you might overwhelm people. You might be perceived as being someone who needs all the attention, especially when you do not use effective listening skills. Understand that people express comfort in different ways, and that it is not your job to energize the world. Be sure to ask people their thoughts and ideas, not just give yours. As a non profit board member, you may be a person who is spontaneous and likes to try out new things —Watch out for starting things that you don’t finish. Because you respond spontaneously, you might find it difficult to focus on issues long enough to complete them. When you fail to complete things, including the commitments that you make, others might lose trust in your ability to follow through. As a non profit board member, you like structure and lots of planning, especially long range planning — Watch out for being too rigid and stressing out when changes occur. In your desire to put a plan in place for everything, you might miss out on experiencing the beauty or magic of the moment. It’s helpful to be prepared, but not if it causes you to miss out on what you were planning for all along because you were too busy thinking about the next steps. Socrates stated “Know Thyself.” In The Personal Credibility Factor, Socrates’ statement becomes “Know Yourself — the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” by Joseph R. John The Personal Credibility Factor, Sandy Allgeier  

Hello. What’s in Your Google Wallet?

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

What’s in Your Wallet? Is it Google Wallet?

Google WalletImagine not having to make another payment with coins, paper or plastic cards. Say good-bye to our past, and say hello to our future. Introducing the Google wallet, where everything that once was in your wallet, is now on your phone! So, leave your wallets and credit cards at home. All you need is a charged phone.

Right now, Google wallet is only available to stores that offer the electronic payment application. Within time every store will offer the Google wallet.  It’s available for the Sprint Nexus 4G and the Android phones. The iPhone is currently in the process to have access to it. Only two kinds of payments can be used, MasterCard and Google Prepaid Card.

More and more stores are taking this route for future purchases with customers. Presently, Google wallet is working with and encouraging companies to make it accessible for their customers.

Google wallet makes the check-out process faster and easier. Customers can also redeem coupons and use their rewards cards. American Eagle Outfitters offers the Google wallet. When a customer is ready to purchase his/her items, he/she simply takes out their phone, clicks on the app., and “swipes” or “taps” the phone over the register and the transaction is complete. After a transaction is complete, there is a confirmation notice that appears on their phone to make sure the purchasing process was successful.

It’s as easy as one, two, three.

Not only does Google wallet make the purchasing process faster and easier, it simplifies the purchasing process and keeps customers organized. Customers won’t have to dig through their purse or back pocket and search for their credit cards or coupon. Instead all they have to do is pull out their phone and “click.”

Many wallets are unorganized with coupons, credit cards, rewards card and personal identification cards. Google wallet can prevent disorganization by making it applicable for people to have their credit cards and coupons on their phone.

I’m sure the biggest concern people might have is the security factor.  “What would happen if my phone was stolen?” In this situation, you would contact your bank and wireless company. Basically, it would be the same procedure you would take, if your credit card or phone were lost or stolen. “How safe and secure is it?” Google wallet has a secure element function which is designed to protect the data that is stored.

“How does it protect my payments?” Again, all data is stored in a secure element, which is separate from the phone’s vital operating system and hardware. Google also requires a PIN number before an initial payment occurs.

As consumers, we need to educate ourselves on upcoming technology such as the Google wallet. It will help us understand and become accustom to a new advancement. Making payments through our phone, without the usage of credit cards, is our future as consumers in the marketplace. Leave your wallet and bring your phone!

by Lauren Becher

YouTube Power: 4 Ways to Help Your Business

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011


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By Ashley Phenix

Once a video goes viral on YouTube, it is everywhere. People talk about it, talk shows put it on their funniest video segment, and even put non-sports related videos in their “extra mustard” section. Fifty percent of all YouTube content has been actively viewed by adding comments and ratings. Viewers help the video go viral by sharing the link on various social networks, Facebook being the most common.

Pepsi on YouTube

YouTube has many purposes, the obvious one is to entertain the public. So how can businesses best tap into the millions of daily viewers? Put something on You Tube! Here are four simple ways to use YouTube to support your business.

1. Promote

Rebecca Black was just a teenage girl with a dream. Thanks to a music video and over 2.5 million views, she became known by practically the whole country. True, it may not have all been positive feedback, but she definitely has made a name for herself. The popular TV show Glee even did a rendition of her song.

Black Friday

2. How-To

The best way to expand the value of a product in the eyes of a potential consumer is to demonstrate how to maximize the benefits of the product through its many uses. Dove has an actual ‘channel’ on YouTube where they post various videos helping consumers know how to best use Dove. Dove wants to help promote positive self-esteem and help consumers build confidence about their inner beauty.


3. Product Enthusiasm

When a new product is going to be introduced into the marketplace, the best thing to do is put teasers into the media. It builds enthusiasm through curiosity and intrigue. Samsung is coming out with something very new and releasing the big news at their Samsung Mobile Unpacked 2011 conference. How do you get people who don’t normally go to these types of conferences to get excited about something big? Get your video on YouTube. This YouTube video received more than 1.7 million views and over 1800 comments in five days. Samsung on YouTube

4. Manage Bad Press

Unfortunately for Dominos, a video was placed on YouTube with employees disrupting the sanitary properties of their outgoing pizzas. This video got so much press that it forced Dominoes to react fast. They took this opportunity to take the bull by the horns and release positive PR with their new business plan of inviting customer’s feedback and inviting people to be open about what they like and what needs work.

YouTube has so many uses when it comes to promoting a product or a cause. The best part about using You Tube in your advertising strategy is that it is free and word-of-mouth plays the biggest role. If your video goes viral, it is talked about, viewed, and remembered. You Tube holds great advertising power through the simple act of exposure. Exposure is everything.

By Ashley Phenix

QR Codes: It’s a revolution

Monday, December 12th, 2011

QR Codes: It’s a revolution

QR CodesQR codes are something that is revolutionizing the United States and other countries around the world.  A QR code is a two-dimensional matrix bar code that is used to identify products. It can store up to 4,296 alphanumeric or 7,089 numeric characters (  It was originally made for the automotive industry but has since been applied to many different industries and has the opportunity to change the way we live our lives.

QR codes have been placed in various places for people to quickly scan with their phone to access the hidden information.  The codes are unidentifiable until scanned, so no one knows what the codes say or even what they are for.  This unidentifiable information could be taken to the next level if applied to certain industries.

At a certain time in someone’s life, one may have to take advantage of the assistance the government provides when in a time of need.  The government offers a variety of different assistance programs such as food stamps, unemployment and health care.  When one has these assistance programs, he/she is given a card for that specific program which is often times a certain color and easily visually identifiable.  This could be embarrassing for people, especially if they have never before needed assistance.

QR codes could ease the embarrassment of using these government assistance cards.  Rather than the cards being a certain color or having any words on them at all, they could simply be one big QR code.  In order to do this, the government would have to reshape how things are done.  They would have to accommodate the use of these codes and constantly update the information of the people using the cards.  Also, in order for all of the embarrassment to be removed, it would help if other industries did this as well.  If all of the debit and healthcare cards looked the same, no one would know who has what.  Doing this would also provide a sense of privacy for people.

It would take a lot of effort to get these cards changed but it would be worth all of the trouble.  People should not feel ashamed when they are going through a tough time and have to take advantage of the assistance.  By having these unidentifiable cards, other people would not even be able to know the card holders name until the card is scanned.  QR codes are revolutionizing the world. This is the future.

By Tasha McClure