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Innovate or Die: The Fight to Establish a Culture of New Thinking

main.jpgThe following blog is by Adaobi Okolue.

I’ve been having this recurring dream that’s got me wondering what the next couple of years in nonprofit land (and my perceived state of freedom) will look like. In my dream, I’m making stops at local nonprofit organizations in one of those white cargo vans with conspicuous ’60s flower-printed curtains draped over the back windows.

Ignoring “no solicitation” signs, I walk up to front-desk personnel and assure them I have meetings with their executive directors. After introductions, I convince these executives to check out my new fundraisinggimmick tool (too heavy to carry up). As I open the van’s backdoor, the Stride Gum ram emerges from nowhere and catapults executive after executive into a black hole.

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Our Top 10 Posts of 2011

What a year 2011 was for the YNPN Twin Cities blog. Fifty-two posts from twenty-eight different board members and volunteers, viewed over 16,000 times and with over 100 subscribers by RSS and email. Here are the top ten most popular of those posts, as voted by you the reader, with your clicks and your eyeballs. If you missed any of these the first time around, here's your chance to catch up!

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Forget Leading from the Middle. Lead from Wherever You Are.


main.jpgThe phrase “Leading from the Middle” has been popping up all over the nonprofit world lately. From articles to blogs to conference breakout sessions, it seems people are quite eager to teach us how to “Lead from the Middle.”

After doing some research, asking around, and even requesting a fellow YNPNer do an e-news piece on the topic, I have come to a conclusion: “Leading from the Middle” is a flashy phrase with little substance.

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Organization Spotlight | Charities Review Council and Upcoming Diversity Series

You've probably heard of the Charities Review Council...but do you really know what they do? Have you heard about their upcoming partnership for a diversity series in 2012? Bridget Ulrich sits down with Jamie Millard of the Charities Review Council to learn more about the organization and it's exciting new program on diversity and inclusion.

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A Heartfelt Farewell...

The New Year has always been a signifier of change. That change may come in the form of a gym membership or to-do list. While some of us will be grunting in gym floor mirrors lifting 10lb weights, others—like our outgoing YNPN-TC board members Tom Basquill and Cat Beltmann—will be letting go of weight of a different kind. I recently caught-up with these two to talk about their overall board experience and what’s next. 

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Tell Me What You Really Think: 360 Degree Assessments for Professional Growth

One of my favorite personal brand definitions is that it's what people say about you when you're not in the room. Of course, that raises the question: how can you get a good measure of your brand when people's most honest assessments take place when you're not around? Well, the most straightforward way is to go ahead and ask them.

I recently underwent a 360°Reach assessment that does exactly that. For one of these assessments, you ask the people in your life—friends, family, coworkers, classmates—to anonymously fill out a short survey. Questions include what attributes they most associate with you, what they perceive your strengths and weaknesses to be, and projective questions like what household appliance you'd be and why. (Interestingly, those last questions can be the most insightful.)

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YNPN-TC: Our Top 11 of 2011

This is definitely my favorite time of year - a time for giving, hot chocolate, and reflection. As we get ready to bring in a new year, I always appreciate the opportunity to take a look back at the year past to celebrate what went well, think about growth and prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities. 2011 was a BIG year for YNPN Twin Cities. Here’s a list of YNPN’s Top 11 of 2011:

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Organizations Are from Mars, Volunteers Are from Venus—Keys to a Successful Relationship

I’ve heard that volunteer recruitment is like dating. As a Volunteer Manager for a couple of organizations, I can say that I’ve experienced how similar these two activities can be. They both involve—

  • Meeting someone new
  • Learning a bit about that new person (or organization)
  • Both parties decide if they like each other enough to begin a relationship
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YNPN Twin Cities Insider: Catching up on turning it up (to 11)

You're busy. You probably miss a lot of events and opportunities for professional and leadership development. If one of those missed opportunities was our last Insider event—Turn It Up To 11: Finding the Next Setting in Your Leadership Path—you've got some homework to do.

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Strengthening Your Work and Reputation During Times of Change

The last year or so has been a whirlwind of activity and constant change. On November 14, 2010, my life changed dramatically when the most precious baby girl entered my life.

Being a dad has created a whole new set of responsibilities and experiences. I wouldn’t alter any of it, but all of this change had an impact on my personal and professional lives. I have a great supervisor at work and many great peers and role models to learn from. Change is still hard to deal with.

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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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