Archive for November, 2012

Non Profit Paraprosdokians

Monday, November 19th, 2012

What the heck! Non profit boards and Paraprosdokians?

By Joseph John

Yes. It’s time for some non profit one-liners.

It’s time to be a bit lighthearted. Yes, I’ve been told before that I’m a bit “Off-the-Wall,” but that’s my nature. And yes, I know my articles should be focusing on the serious issues facing non profit organizations and its board of directors, while providing “substance” and thoughtful commentary. BUT…

…across this great country of ours, we have all been operating in serious mode for months and, of course, with the Fiscal Cliff facing all of us, there are even more serious modes ready to kick in. So let’s “lighten up” a bit while still providing some food-for-thought regarding nonprofit boards.

Recently, several friends sent me some links to — why I don’t know —PARAPROSDOKIANS. NO, it’s not a disease. Wikipedia defines paraprosdokian as “… a figure of speech, which the latter part of a sentence or phrase, is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax.”

Here’s the first example of a paraprosdokian: TV Personality Stephen Colbert says “If I am reading this graph correctly — I’d be very surprised.”  Or from the great Groucho Marx: “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

Got it? So I decided to select some specific paraprosdokians that could be the one-liners that a non profit board member either says out loud at a meeting (or wishes he/she did) or simply mutters to oneself. Ready?

One of my all-time favorites: If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.” Another version of that one-liner is “Even though I disagree with you, you are entitled to your wrong opinion”.

The non profit board member leans across the table and complains about the lack of success for the fund raising campaign: “I didn’t say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.”

How many non profit board members can you think about with this one: “I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not sure.

Alright, I’m going to be kind and not make any comment on this one — instead, you decide: “Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others, whenever they go.”

This one rates an A+: “A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.” Obviously a great salesman and marketer to boot! Must have been one heckuva non profit board meeting, eh?

Now tell me honestly, you’ve NEVER thought about saying this: “Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.”

“We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.” Isn’t it a shame we have to act differently in public?

Have there been any “spirited” board meetings you have attended and this thought crossed your mind?  “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

Remember the Simpsons? There’s a lot of wisdom in Homer Simpson’s comment, “If I could say a few words, I would be a better public speaker.” Whew! I could spend an hour just commenting on that one. But I’ll leave it alone.

Is it possible that Winston Churchill, many years ago, just might have known one of your associates? “He is a modest man, who has much to be modest about.”

At the conclusion of a board, does anyone say, “Don’t go away mad, just go away.”

How good are you at creating paraprosdokians? Why not submit one or two that focus on business or nonprofit operations. Could be a lot of fun to see the creativity coming from all over the US…and beyond. Enjoy.


Why Aren’t NonProfit Boards Successful?

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Jim Kukral provides some insights on “non success.”

I no sooner sat down to write an article on nonprofit boards when a friend of mine sent me an article he had just read, written by Jim Kukral*. A quick read convinced me that I needed put my initial draft down and create a new one addressing some of the very salient points he raised in his direct and “tough love” article.

Kukral opened his article with the following statement: “Feeling down about your small business these days? Is the broken economy hurting your sales and keeping you up at night? Need some motivation and tough love to help you stop pitying yourself? Well, here you go: 13 reasons you might have in your head about why you’re not as successful as you should be.”

Well, I realized that even though Jim Kukral is addressing the problems that could be plaguing the small business owner, those same reasons apply to anyone, in any business, and, yes, to board members in the nonprofit sector.

He writes just one small paragraph for each of the 13 reasons — it’s almost like a punch to the gut, or a whack on the side of the head. The 13 Reasons: Laziness, Entitlement, Fear, Negativity, Stop Thinking, No Goals, “They,” No “X” Factor, Time Waste, Social B.S., Think Small, Don’t Want It, Don’t Believe.

I will share six of the 13 Reasons that Kukral writes about that I pulled from his article — these six reasons should really send a message to nonprofit Board Members. It’s interesting that many of those points are the same points I have been addressing in many of my articles. Do you think I’ll say “I TOLD YOU SO” at the end of my article?

Negativity: You may not realize it, but the people you associate with might be negative…They could be soul-sucking beings who don’t want anyone to be successful. Get rid of them, now! Surround yourself with successful people. People you want to be like.

Stop Thinking: How much do you want to bet you have paralysis by analysis? You think way too much about what you could or should do. Doers get what they want, and everyone else gets what they get. Stop analyzing and start doing.

No Goals: You plan nothing. You believe that someway, somehow, everything you always wanted will just magically happen. So you “play it by ear” and wait. You need goals to shoot for. Otherwise, you’re just treading water.?

They: There’s no “they”. There’s no secret group of people that controls your success or failure. You’ve made that up to make you feel better about yourself. The truth is you, and you alone, control your success in life/business/everything. It’s easy to blame “them” though, isn’t it? Weak.

Time Waste: You’re a classic time-waster. You spend hours and hours every day working on not-working. You do things that aren’t productive. How are you ever going to get anything done, or reach any goal if you keep wasting time? You’re not. So you might as well give up now if you’re going to keep this path.

Think Small: You think way too small. You are constantly looking only a day or a week ahead instead of years ahead. Because of this, you never get anywhere, and you never lead; you always follow.

Many of the points that Kukral addresses regarding small business owners apply to those in all walks of life. Oh, and here’s the big

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“OUCH”: Those negative characteristics carry over, naturally, to the nonprofit sector. Yes, if a person exhibits those reasons outside the nonprofit sector, what makes one think they won’t be carried over to their board of director responsibilities? And do you know what that snowball effect will cause? Well, read my article on “Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” SEE! I told you so!

By Joseph John

*Check out Kukral’s publications at