Archive for August, 2007

To Make Money, Speak for Free

I love the Rotary. For one thing, all of the hot middle age men are there. If my hunky husband of 31 years corks off before I do, after a stint at Weight Watchers, I’m heading straight for the nearest Rotary meeting. I’ve had three friends who have found guys at their Rotary Clubs. Last week I gave a pro bono talk on my book “Raising Charitable Children.” This week, I’m writing a proposal for a strategic plan for Rebuilding Together. The executive director had heard me present at their national meeting years ago, but I just wasn’t on her radar screen. Thanks to my Rotary gig, I’ve been asked to submit a proposal.

A free speech in 1996 got me a 5 year PBS-Learning Institute gig for which I won not only a Telly Award, but landed me about 1/3 of my client base for those years. A free speech in New Jersey resulted in a recent call from a pharmaceutical company 6 years later.

Because I’m in the speaking business and this isn’t a hobby or a loss leader, I cap my free talks at 12 per year, but it beats eating a sandwich at my desk. Plus, I have a lot of single girl friends, and I can check out those Rotary stud muffins!

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, Rotary Groupie


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Marketing for Speakers and Nonprofits: Paper AND Plastic

Last night, I had dinner with a computer genius who consults  to software and hardware developers and writes for the New York Times. He wants to get back on the speaking circuit. He has a new photo, thanks to ace photographer Suzy Gorman. When I asked him about working on his one-sheet, he told me he is only going to market on-line. NOT. This is a common mistake my nonprofit clients make. It is not a paper or plastic world, as our grocery stores found out. People want a choice and information has to be available in more than one form. Its about paper AND plastic.

     The deal is this: When folks leave a great talk we’ve given, they frequently remember what we’ve said, but not our name. If they have a piece of paper in their hand, they can pass it off to a boss or their assistant and say, “We have to have this Carol for our next meeting.” Or, as happened to me two weeks ago, they file our one-sheet, and call 6 years later, having schlepped our one-sheet from job to job. (God bless the pack rat!!!)

     The same thing is true for nonprofits. Some of our clients want to find out about us on the web, some by word of mouth, some in the paper, some want to come for a visit. Its not about marketing our services and philanthropic investment opportunities in just one way.

     All of this is to say, David, you have to print a one-sheet! The good news is that you have lots of great photos thanks to Suzy.

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, Speaker and Plastic Bag Saver

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Board-Staff Teamwork: Nonprofits at Their Best

ed-tasch.jpegI see a lot of worst practices. Thank heaven for them. It feeds my consulting practice and therefore my shopping and mortgage jones. But every once in a while, I see an elegant dance that exemplifies the best in board staff team work.

Enter the National Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse. I did a board retreat for them years ago. I was asked to lunch afterwards with their board president Judy Brostron, a nurse/attorney. I knew she was going to ask me to be on the board. I was going to say “no.” I was simply too busy. I had a list of other names in my purse. All I remember was being back in my car and being on the board. It turned out to be a brilliant move on my part.

One of the reasons I agreed to be on this particular board was the executive director, Ed Tasch. He is just one of the best. I knew that the place was well run. How well run was a surprise even to me.

Enter our poor landlord, another non profit executive,  who wanted to raise our rent. It would have been easy for Ed to recommend to the board to accept the increase, suck it up, and move on. But that isn’t what Ed did. I asked Ed, a veteran of more than 25 years at this agency, how he felt about a move. We all have ways of expressing stress. I get headaches. Ed gets belly aches. He practically grabbed his gut. He said, “If I can save the agency $17,000 a year, I have to look into it.”

To make a long story short, not only did he look at a ton of other buildings, he polled the entire staff as to what was best for them, he brought the board into the search and asked our opinions, and ultimately, he negotiated a DECREASE in rent with our landload and $200,000 worth of improvements!

I am so honored to be on this board and so pleased that this level of professionalism is not everywhere, or I would be out of work!

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, friend of Ed Tasch, real estate mogul

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Goal Setting: Lessons Learned from Myles Bakewell, Age 9

tom-bakewell.jpegMy friend Tom Bakewell proudly shared a fabulous father-son moment he had with his son Myles, age 9. Myles had been working on his life’s goals (didn’t we all at age 9!) and although the list was long, Tom clearly recalled the first two: 1. Don’t get anymore paper cuts. 2. Always have a tree house.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Myles and his goals and trying to figure out what mine are and whether they are clear, measurable, achievable and inspiring.

Although I am going to leave the cure for cellulite to the scientists, my goals right now are 1. Pay off the mortgage 2. Walk 3 miles a day. If I keep walking, I figure I might be around to enjoy my mortgage-free domain. So far, I am in week 139 of wearing a pedometer. I should have started counting pedometers the way that McDonald’s counts hamburgers. I could have had a sign on my still large bottom reading, “27 pedometers used.” They have wound up in toilets, reported only 358 steps walked after 4 hours of waddling around Paris, and mysteriously just disappeared from my waist, never to be seen again. The mortgage goal was going quite nicely until Uncle Sam, not always my favorite uncle, wanted an extra $17,000. The other event that derailed that goal slightly was helping Frank and Laura buy an adorable house, which was a sheer joy. I am back on track, though, this month.

 I heard a great speaker a couple of weeks ago in Las Vegas when I was doing the keynote at The Director’s Convention, which was for credit union board and staff. Rory Rowland suggested that once you set goals, to post them.

I’m thinking a lot about Myles and Rory. Myles’ goals to take care of his digits and live part of his life in the trees awes me. I’m trying to figure out if my goals inspire me enough to make a statement about them and put them on my wall, as Rory suggests. Living debt free and being able to choose my work and make sure that Frank can do the same, and the ability to keep running through airports might just be wall-worthy.

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What Makes a Great Board Retreat: Wine not Whine

Rhonda Brown, the Board President of Willows Way, had a clear vision of the board retreat: Goal numero uno: Team building. She chose to hold the retreat at a winery 90 minutes from St. Louis, a perfect distance. Not too far towillows-way-retreat.jpg make the trip onerous, not too close to make it super easy to go back home for the night.

Steve Brennell, the executive director, was also very clear about what he wanted to achieve. It is so much easier to facilitate when folks know what success looks like! Plus, Steve and Rhonda were on the same wavelength. The stars were aligning.

I was worried about people not committing to both days. It is so hard to have folks come in the second day and have to play catch-up. But I was wrong. It was either Rhonda or Steve’s charisma or just good timing, but there was a great turnout. Everyone who came committed to both days. Most stayed in the local bed and breakfasts.

Its always interesting for me to meet new board members, but this group didn’t know each other well. There were Democrats and Republicans, relevant because of funding issues and approaches to government, folks with experience in various kinds of fundraising with other organizations, different ages, genders, races, all dedicated to the mission of Willows Way: to help adults with developmental disabilities.

There was the usual board member who said she “hated fund raising.” By the end, she agreed that she would be glad to get involved with stewardship and thank donors. The big surprise was the adorable young attorney who loved to cold call. Will wonders never cease! Also, a fabulous special events gal and a banker who clearer understood project management. Also, there was a guy who had both big and small business experience. The board was just beginning strategic planning, and whatever their plan, they had plenty of talent to keep the place financially afloat.

As always, some of the most interesting time was spend outside of the formal retreat. Brenda, an elegant elementary school principal who loved to travel, told us about being captured by terrorists in Peru. Should the agency be attacked, well…..

By the time we were done at noon on Sunday, I was pooped and happy. Willows Way had a great team, prepared to go into its strategic planning, and I headed home to hit a few outlets and  then a nap.


Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, Occational Red Wine Drinker


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