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What a two-person office has taught me about workplace culture

main.jpgI recently celebrated one year at my company, jabber logic, which provides marketing and consulting services for nonprofits and small businesses. In the past year, as I’ve explained to friends and family what I do — helping clients rebrand, managing social media, writing website copy — there’s one fact that seems to stand out most: I’m one of just two people in my office

My boss, Amee McDonald, founded the company with her husband, and we work with contract employees on specific projects. But, most days, it’s just the two of us in an open office. There are no cubicles to retreat to, and no hiding the fact that you just microwaved a fragrant bowl of soup. I’m not only constantly aware of the office dynamic; I’m partially responsible for it. And while that alone can be demanding, it’s also been a valuable lesson in determining the kind of workplace culture I want and what I can do to shape it.

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Realistic resolutions

letsgetreal.jpgAhh, January…. It is as familiar as vitamin-D deprivation, the sales on workout gear and closet organizers, and leafy green vegetables. Each year, about 50 percent of us make new year resolutions, but few of these resolutions survive through winter, let alone the rest of the year. According to the founder of the Canadian Obesity Network, Dr. Arya Sharma, one reason why so many people fail to keep their resolutions is because the goals are unrealistic.

In light of this, I tried to keep my resolutions for 2016 smaller both in number and in scope. I’d love to hear your thoughts on making resolutions and if you have set any specific goals for this year!

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So you’ve got an idea... Now what?

You have an ideaThe beginning of the year is a time for optimism, planning new changes, and gearing up for greater impact than the year before. It’s a time of inspiration, but how often have you felt stymied, misunderstood, or rejected when trying to get the rest of the team on board?

There are many challenges in translating ideas into action. First, getting the idea from fuzzy dream to clear concept. Then, getting others to understand your vision for change. If you’ve made it this far (congratulations!), now you need to translate the ideas into actions, not to mention figuring out the implementation and (if you were right) the impact.

Still inspired? Fortunately, even our breakthrough innovations can follow in the footsteps of past brilliance. There are tools, steps, and process that can reduce your risk and guide your direction. Let’s go through the steps.

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Optimistically yours

I know I’m not alone in thinking there are a lot of super complicated things going on in the world right now. But I also have a hard time keeping world happenings separate from my own life.

We live in a world where Donald Trump is running for president and might win the Republican nomination, a world where a large number of people agree with his assertion that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to enter the U.S. In this world, terrorism and mass shootings are not altogether unexpected, and the discussion of racism in the Twin Cities has been pushed front and center.

Every time I hear the news, I find myself thinking, “How do I fit into all of this?”  Because none of these things look like a future I really want to be a part of.

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Defense against the dark arts: nonprofit accountability

small.jpgIn the world of Harry Potter, Defense Against The Dark Arts is a required class at the Hogwarts Witchcraft and Wizardry School, where the students learn the skills needed to defend against unsavory Death Eaters and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Similarly, staff members at nonprofit organizations can equip themselves against unaccountability by learning how their organization's system of internal controls, human resources, and financial protections work. 

Now when you cast the spell “Expecto Patronum” (a shield of positive energy), the spell you cast will be well-crafted and effective. (My patronus comes in the form of a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.)

As we close in on the end of the calendar year, your nonprofit organization might be scrambling to maintain end-of-year obligations to donors while simultaneously meeting the demands of their staff. This is all the more reason to be mindful of your nonprofit's accountability expectations.

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Kindness—large and small—and how Minnesota shows it

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I’ve been thinking recently that there are two kinds of kindness: microsocial and macrosocial. I totally made these words up, but hey, I gotta use my philosophy degree for something.

Microsocial kindness is a person-to-person dedication to someone else’s wellbeing: offering someone a ride, sharing food, listening to their woes, bringing them soup when sick, and so on. This kindness is very small-scale, grassroots, and individualized. People tend to save it for their immediate friends and family. It makes sense; there are only so many hours in a day and so much money in your wallet; no one can spend every minute of every day helping others.

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The scoop for December 2015

Dying to know what YNPN-TC members have been up to in the past few months? The wait is over because The Scoop is back!

  • Mindy Breva is now Associate Development Officer at the University of Minnesota Foundation
  • Christina Perfetti is now Neighborhood Coordinator at St. Anthony East Neighborhood Association
  • Guthrie Byard, Ariah Fine, Stephanie Jacobs, Lisa Joyslin, Rinal Ray, and Renae Youngs were speakers at the 2015 MCN Annual Conference
  • Phillipe Cunningham and Jamie Millard are featured models at this year's I AM MPLS 
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Time for the annual YNPN-TC Ugly Sweater Happy Hour!

Get those sweaters ready, because the Ugly Sweater Happy Hour is coming up! Join us and ring in the holidays in (not-so-great) style!

  • Date: Monday, December 14
  • Time: 6-9 p.m.
  • Place: Half Time Rec, 1013 Front Ave, St Paul, MN 55103

Prizes will be awarded for the ugliest of ugly sweaters!

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#AskYNPNTC event recap

On November 18, YNPN-TC hosted its first-ever virtual event, #AskYNPNTC. Young nonprofit pros from across the state--and even the nation!--joined in our day-long conversation by following the hashtag on Twitter. Questions raised by YNPs touched on a range of topics from giving shout-outs to folks doing good, transplants and moving, volunteer recruitment, the nonprofit arts scene, event planning, social media engagement, and literally everything in between (anyone recall the great taco debate?). 

This inaugural conversation was a great success: @ynpntc saw over 28,000 impressions, had 57 retweets, 83 replies, and 133 likes! Huge thanks to everyone who participated, whether you creeped on the hashtag during your work day (admit it, you kept an eye on your social feed), tweeted your questions, or shared your insights and experiences; this event would not have been possible without you.

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Thank you, outgoing board members!

Five amazing YNPN-TC Board Members are finishing up their terms at the end of the year: Carl Atiya Swanson, Brandon Boat, Cary Walski, Madeline Graham, and Chris Oien. How can we best say thank you?

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info@ynpntwincities.org

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Our mission, vision and values guide all that we do at the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities (YNPN-TC).

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