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Pages tagged "Innovative Thought Leadership and Sector-Shaping"


Coming back from failure

Last year, I was asked to present a workshop session on social media for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Essentials Conference.  I couldn’t have been more confident. I had presented before, knew social media marketing well, and overall felt like it would be a breeze.

And then the session happened. 

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How can you benefit from a peer mentor circle?

(A huge thank you to Lindsay Bacher, Sarah Sheldon, and Kristin Swedlund for sharing their reflections on our Peer Mentor Circle with me while I was preparing to write this blog.)

Looking for a mentor, but don’t have connections to anyone “high up” in their career? Consider forming a “Peer Mentor Circle.” What is a Peer Mentor Circle, you ask? I like to think of it as similar to a book club, but is made up of a small group of peers who have come together to act as mentors for one another.

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Cataloguing my battle scars

main.jpgI was getting texts from a married dude in the middle of the night, and not surprisingly, I didn’t even think of going to HR.

I worked for a museum at the time, and the Twin Cities were hosting the major conference for our industry. It was my first full-time professional job, and my museum was hosting an evening event for the conference. During the course of the conference, I met a bunch of people and invited them to our event to be friendly and welcoming. I even gave out my cell number so people could connect and get directions or more information. It didn’t even occur to me that someone would abuse that.

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Too little can feel like too much

I was hoping we could talk abundance. Living abundantly, thinking abundantly, creating abundantly. But I’m finding that we can’t get there if we don’t first address scarcity.

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Truthfully, in my searching there’s just not a whole lot of reference material about abundance that isn’t an afterthought to scarcity (do a google - you’ll find an abundance of scarcity). So I’m here to add my writing to the pile, because it seems that’s just where we’re at right now. In one job I had I worked semi-remotely, connecting to my co-workers all over the country daily over Gchat or Skype. I thought it was awesome. Sending emojis, gifs, or just simple hello’s were all great ways to connect…

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Men - Be Better

As nonprofit professionals, many of us love to pat ourselves on the back for doing positive work and putting forth a solid effort. Don’t get me wrong – more often than not, it’s well deserved. We do this incredible work with our nonprofits despite the fact that as a sector, we have considerable room for growth in financially compensating our professionals. That being said, sometimes we are too quick to congratulate ourselves and overlook how we may be contributing to pervasive societal norms.

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This is apparent with the many recent revelations of sexual misconduct perpetrated against women all across the country. While Im hopeful to finally see a growing public awareness of an issue that has existed since the beginning of time, I often find myself unimpressed and concerned by the visceral reactions of many men. Even men who try to say the right thing have a tendency to distance ourselves from the issue, which can elicit harmful effects regardless of our intentions.

Every single person is responsible for helping to rid our communities of all forms of sexual misconduct. No one is excluded from this conversation, and I believe that men must stop distancing ourselves from these issues. Here are four basic pieces of advice that I’m going to assert that all men need to internalize immediately.

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For those times you feel like a fraud

Recently, someone requested a meeting with me to chat about many things—from the nonprofit sector in general, to what the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits does, to ideas he had for the sector that he wanted to run by me. As I sat and waited for him to arrive at our meeting, one thought kept going through my head: ‘He is expecting to meet with an adult, but he’ll get here and see me – a kid (even though I’m 27). What business do I have being here?’ It’s a feeling I know all too well – imposter syndrome.   

According to The American Psychological Association, imposter syndrome “occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success.”  People will often think their accomplishments are the result of luck – not ability, and often worry that others will expose them as a fraud.

I always assumed these worries I was having were because a) my anxiety gets the best of me or, worse, b) because they were all true. I had no idea this was a legitimate thing. When I realized that these thoughts I was having weren’t actually true, I started to wonder what I could do to shut that voice up. It’s a work in progress, but here are some things I’ve learned that might help you if you’re going through this as well.

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Why I fail loudly and you can, too

Assorted lemons some cut in half and some wholeTo be a young nonprofit professional in the Twin Cities is to be surrounded by peers who are doing interesting, relevant, and impactful work. We can point to thriving nonprofits and a vibrant arts community as evidence that we’re part of something big and good – and that is usually true! But with such a lively nonprofit ecosystem comes the reality that there are plenty of people angling for the same opportunities you are. And chances are, you’ll fail. At least, I do! Rather than focusing on how to minimize my risk of failure, I’m more interested in openly sharing the risks I take (and the failures I experience) with others and suggest you give it a shot.

As part of a healthy nonprofit ecosystem, opportunities for personal and professional growth surround us; however, there’s understandably a limit to the number of individuals who can take advantage of them. To be clear, I have read 380,000 thinkpieces where Silicon Valley-types talk about failing, and I’m cool with that—but it’s not exactly what I mean.

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What the nonprofit sector can learn from commencement speeches

A crowd of graduates throw their graduation caps into the airEvery year around this time, I tune into YouTube to listen to smart and talented actors, politicians, and comedians share stories and give advice to the graduating class of the year. Even before I graduated from high school, I’ve been watching commencement addresses. Yes, I’m kind of a commencement geek who loves to get goose bumps during these inspiring speeches!   

Hillary Clinton, Will Ferrell, Robert De Niro, Octavia Spencer, and Helen Mirren have given some of the strongest commencement speeches so far this year.

So what binds a moving and insightful commencement speech, a college graduate, and a young nonprofit professional together? I believe it’s the quest to figure out how to lend one’s skills, passions, and interests to build a more just and equitable world. In other words, what can we do do to make a difference in a deeply divided and broken world—or as Robert Di Niro put it in his speech at NYU, “a tragic dumbass comedy.” 

Whether you’re a recent college graduate or work at a nonprofit, times of uncertainty, vast change, and great stress can be common. So pep talks, jokes, and advice from a diverse set of successful individuals can be just the pick-me-up that’s needed to build strong bridges into the future.

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Can talking work?

Author’s Note: I want to be clear that nothing in this blog is meant to imply that anyone (liberal or conservative) should feel forced to participate in the conversations that I propose here. It is up to each person and organization to decide if these types of conversations are appropriate for their cause, and they should consider what they will do to create an expectation of respect for and from all participants. This decision should be made only after organizations have conversations with their members and/or those in the communities they serve.

I recently watched President Barack Obama's panel with young leaders in Chicago. It was a 90-minute discussion with a tone of hope that has been missing from the news lately (if you haven't, watch it now).

When I said in 2004 that there were no red states or blue states, they're the United States of America, that was an aspirational comment. But I think it's ― and it's one thing... that I still believe [you see] when you talk to individuals one-on-one — there's a lot more that people have in common than divides them.

I, feeling inspired, volunteered to write my first YNPN-TC blog on an issue I've been thinking about a lot since the election: the need for people of different political ideologies to talk with each other and the role that nonprofits can play in purposely making spaces for these conversations. I was pretty nervous to write it given today’s heated political climate, but I strongly feel we must find ways to get out of "own little bubbles" and create meaningful dialogues through which we can recognize that the "other side" is human and not, just, a faceless enemy.

Then Heineken released its "Worlds Apart" ad (and its related "Open Your World" campaign). 

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We need to raise the AmeriCorps living allowance. Here’s why.

main.jpgRaise your hand if you got your start in the nonprofit sector as an AmeriCorps member. I did, my spouse did, many of our YNPN Twin Cities members did, and maybe you did too.  

I served two terms in AmeriCorps and can directly trace my career trajectory back through my current grant writing position to a corporate fundraising job and back to my AmeriCorps gig in corporate volunteer coordination experience. My spouse served as an AmeriCorps member with a conservation organization and is now a certified arborist, providing field support to AmeriCorps members in a full-time position at that same nonprofit. We are living proof AmeriCorps provides relevant entry-level experience to people looking to start careers in the nonprofit sector.

AmeriCorps is valuable in training entry-level staff and helping people get a foot in the nonprofit door, which is why we need to raise the living stipend.

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