Archive for October, 2007

The Most Common Misconception About Fundraising

When I do a board retreat and ask trustees what they would prefer not to be asked to do, the most common answer is “Fundraising.”

 The reason is that they don’t understand what fundraising is. That is only a teeny, tiny portion of what fundraising is all about.

There are so many things that a very shy, person can do in the process of fundraising. A person who loves to cook. A person who is great at research. Someone who can do calligraphy or type or speak passionately about a cause. Or write a thank-you note. All without asking for money.

Fundraising can be a team sport or be done in solitary. The beauty of it is that if you care deeply about a cause,there are ways to ensure the resources to meet the needs of an organization, whether your idea of a good time is a liter of coke, a bag of Doritos and the newest Newt Gingrich book, or getting together with 2000 of your nearest and dearest and running a marathon.

I will be spending some time in my blog exploring all of the ways to raise funds for all of you who care, but are ask averse. The truth is, although I ask, I am one of you!

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, Ask Averse fundraiser


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Are Weddings Photo Ops Or Religious Occasions?

I went to a lovely wedding at a hotel last night. We were packed in like regional jet customers on a short flight. Some late comers were actually standing. The place looked great. The music began and the woman in front of me took out a digital camera, right in my line of vision and started to film. It is not her fault that I am 5’1. That was my Mother’s doing: marrying a guy who was 5’5 and then smoking 3 packs of unfiltered Camels a day during her pregnancy accounted for that, but I couldn’t see a thing.

Of course, there was a official photographer stationed behind the bride and groom, not obstructing anyone’s view. I looked around the room. There were LCD panels glaring all over the place.

I am not a deeply religious person, but I have the wild notion that a wedding is at least on some level a religious occasion rather than a photo op, or why make all of the men wear yahmakas. Surely, it isn’t for the sake of fashion. And if its not a religious event, why pop for a Rabbi and a Cantor. You could just go on line and get a license for a friend to marry you, or a waiter, or a girl from Hooters.

But I digress. This is a plea for the guests to put the cameras down during the service. There are professionals hired by the family of the bride to take care or recording this momentous occasion.  Take time to reflect about what is really important: who got the better deal in the match and do you know anyone eligible for the hot bridesmaid on the left.

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP Cranky Guest

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The Joy of Having Male Friends

Last week I read a fabulous book called “The Girls from Riyadh.” It was part Charles Dickens and part “Sex in the City.” It was  Dickensonian in that it was a serialized soap opera. Dickens’ medium was the newspaper. This author sent out a weekly e-mail. The “Sex in the City,” aspect is because it was about the love lives of 4 young women.

What struck me as the real tragedy was not the miserable relationships they had with their husbands and boyfriends, but that they had no male friends.

I get all kinds of sickly sweet crapolo on the web about celebrating the friendships between women. But what about our friendships with guys! Yeah, what about the guys!

Its Friday morning. Here is my week in guys.

Monday: Met with Mastermind group: 3 Guys, Scott Ginsburg, Steve Hughs, Andy Masters and moi. One in his 20’s, one 30’s, one 40’s, and me in my 50’s. Helped me with my book marketing. We shared take- home ideas from the great Chris Clark-Epstein workshop on Sat.

Tuesday, met with Tom Burk, the husband of client  Vicky Burk, who is about to become a client. Tom works at an all boy’s Marianist high school. Thank you Vicky for marrying a man who is also a development professional. So considerate!

Wednesday. Finally met a friend I’ve been working with for over a year! Matt Kush, my SEO guy and I have had a phone friendship while he was builting my website. My other pal David Hults and I brought him to St. Louis from Chicago to give two workshops on SEO optimization. Matt did a kick ass job.

David LOVES clothes. In London I had bought him a tie with matching cuff links to match his blue, blue eyes for helping our daughter-on-law with her career planning.He seemed to like them. Yeah.

During Matt’s presentation, there were some problems with the network in the media room in my new building, and my new guy friend, David Strom leaned over and whispered this sweet nothing in my ear, “Let me know if you want me to come over and fix the wifi.” I mean, how great is that!

And yesterday, I had lunch with one of my all time favorite guy friends, Ed Tasch. We talked about two of my favorite topics, our kids and governance. We usually also hit politics, but I was in a bit of a rush.

Got back to the office and Tom Bakewell helped me edit a report we are presenting next week to the board from hell. I would NEVER go into that mess without Tom at my side. I think Tom is highly amused by this engagement. He does a lot of turnaround work and is frequently the bad guy. I do a ton of keynotes and I am almost never the bad guy. As he keeps saying, “Welcome to my world.” Tom, if this is your world, I’m going to find an alternate universe ASAP, pal.

And today, I get to spend with my best guy friend of all times, by husband Frank. I adore my women friends, and I certainly don’t take them for granted. But I am so damn glad I live in St. Louis and not Riyadh.

One of my friends once asked if Frank ever got jealous of all of my male friends and I said occasionally, but the truth is, he realized long ago that when my “boyfriend” at TWA upgraded me to first class, he upgraded Frank as well, and ultimately, I don’t want to get into their pants, I want to get into their minds!

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, friend of guys and greatful for it

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The Weisman Method of Finding the Right Life Partner

carol-and-frank.jpgIt is so damn painful to watch. We’ve all been there. Two people I care about are separated and talking divorce. Frank and I had our doubts at the wedding, not much more than a year ago. She is a fashionista daughter of wealth who has the odd trifecta of brains, taste and depression. He is hungry for money, the good life and recognition. They both over-indulge. Not a recipe for happiness.

 Four things can kill most marriages, money, sex, relatives, and cleanliness. Money did these two in. She spends, he withholds.

 They are suffering, their parents are in pain, their friends are worried. Could it have been prevented? I think so.

Enter the Weisman Committee Method. My theory is that when you start sleeping with someone, your brain turns to mush. The trick is this: Before you meet someone, appoint a committee of 3-5 people you trust, who care about you and tell them that one day you will bring someone around and ask them one question, “Should I marry this person.” Not, “Is s/he a good person, or a nice person, or an attractive person or do you like this person.” only “Should I marry this person.” If your committee doesn’t unanimously say yes, wait until they do, or take a walk.

When I met Frank 32 years ago, my committee unanimously said yes, and we were engaged in 3 weeks.  We’ve been married for fabulous 31 years.

I have another friend who asked me if she should marry her sweetie. I said yes. I personally can’t stand him, but that isn’t the point. He is perfect for her. They 14 years of wedded bliss and I don’t have to live with the anal-retentive twit.

When my dear young friends are in a little less pain, I will tell them about the Weisman method. I hope the next time  they wed, it is for 31+ years. They are  good people with the wrong partners and they had no committee.

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, Frank’s Wife

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Will I Ever Be a Lady?

winifred.jpgMy Mother used to tell my that her Mom would despair of her wild antics and tell her that she would never be a lady. In fact, my Mom became exactly the kind of lady I want to become and continue at times to fall short of: fun, forgiving, wise and compassionate. I spent time with another such Lady in London last week. As Frank says, she is three times a Lady. She was born the daughter of a Lord, she married a Lord and in her own right, she has the Order of the British Empire and now the Commander of the British Empire. Lady Winifred Tumin is simply one of my favorite people in the world. Frank and I saw her at the NCVO meeting where I was speaking and she invited us for lunch to her new digs on the Themes.

 What I don’t love about her house are the four levels of stairs, but Winnie is in her seventies and still has fabulous gams, so running up and down the stairs is paying off.

What I do adore about the house is the art. Like Winnie, it is eclectic and fun and discerning and varied. I wish I had that kind of taste.  Every room makes you want to curl up with your favorite tipple, whether latte or wine, and either read a favorite book or cuddle your favorite  sweetie.

But the best thing about lunch at Lady Winifred Tumin’s are Winnie’s stories. She is a raconteur’s raconteur. We sat glued as she told us about going into hiding during the Irish uprising when her late husband was found to be on at the top of the list of people scheduled to be assassinated.

 A title is pretty much out of the question for moi, and I’ll never have legs like Winifred or my Mom, but to achieve even the slightest bit of their joie de vivre would make me one happy little mud hen.

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, not quite a lady

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On Being a Mentor and Having a Mentor

Karyn and GregI got off to a very rocky start with my mentor Karyn Buxman. When I joined the National Speaker’s Association 14 years ago, Karyn was assigned to be my mentor. I e-mailed her. I heard nothing back. I called her. Again silence. I wrote her. No word. Finally, I called the head of the program and I said, here’s the deal, I have no feelings about this woman, I’ve never met her. I don’t know her. I need help. If she doesn’t have the time, get me someone else. He got hold of Karyn. She called me and we met. Karyn’s Mother had big time health problems. Karyn was traveling like a mad woman. We agreed that she would mentor me and she would get back to me within 48 hours when I needed help. It was the beginning of a kick-ass friendship. Knowing that I would need publishing help down the road, she was considerate enough to fall in love with and marry Greg Godek who now also mentors me. Now that is a seriously considerate mentor!

I have a big challenge right now trying to decide how many books to publish with the NY Times, Parade Magazine and Scholastic Parent articles about to burst on the scene in November and December. Greg has been helping me decide whether to turn my book Raising Charitable Children over to a major publisher or a friend of his who is a distributor. God bless having smart friends.

Meanwhile, I have been mentoring an emerging speaker. I met her while work with a battered women’s shelter. She is a board member of the shelter. She has a powerful story to tell. We’ve worked together to craft her story. The first time she told it to the board, she got a standing ovation. The first time I got a standing O, I’d been speaking for three years! Karyn used to tell me “You’ve done well little grasshopper.” My little grasshopper has wings. She gave me permission to share this e-mail with you:

“As you know I haven’t done much in the way of my desire to do public speaking.  A few weeks back I was in San Francisco and one day I was touring the city by myself.  Seeking some “me” time, I sought out a church I knew had a labyrinth.  As I strolled through the church I came upon a side chapel that had a podium with the Bible on it.  Approaching, I realized the Bible was opened to my most favorite passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes, Everything Has Its Time.  As I stood there with my hands resting on the podium a lump formed in my throat and tears in my eyes.  I felt I was finally “at home”.  Soon I was filled with great internal peace and a strong voice within that said “YES…this is it!  Getting a message out to others is what I am supposed to do!”  For years my question to God has been “What do you want me to do with all of “this” — all the experiences you continue to bring before me?”  I continue to receive individual pieces of the puzzle but I can’t seem to put it all together.  I have visions of what I believe will be, but I don’t quite know how to put it all together.  As I stood there and read the passage I found comfort in the words….For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven….

I am so glad to have you in my life….you are truly an inspiration.”

If you don’t have a mentor, get one. If you aren’t mentoring someone, offer.

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, Mentor, Mentee

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The Magical Week

We’ve all had weeks where nothing goes right. Last week was just magical. I went to work in Williamsport, PA for the First Community Foundation of Williamsport, which is actually the 6th Community Foundation in the US. My hostess, Julie Adams, was hyperventilating big time. In the past, they had a dinner, but it had gotten to the point where the banks that bought a table were sending their tellers, so they thought they’d have a speaker instead. Enter moi. Julie and I talked about having an afternoon workshop on getting your board involved in fund-raising. Her goal was 50. It sold out at 165, the max the venue held and there was a waiting list. The afternoon session went great and Julie went from grey to pink. My friend David Strom (A fabulous man to know) had pitched a story to the NY Times about my book “Raising Charitable Children.” They bit. I got a call from the Times and they asked if they could send a reporter to Williamsport. I thought for about a nanosecond and said yes. Not only did the reporter show up, but so did PBS to film the Raising Charitable Children speech. I had forgotten that I had signed a release. It just kept getting better. Three flights later, I was in Oklahoma City. It only takes as long to get from Williamsport, PA to Oklahoma City as it does to get from LA to Melbourne. (In case you were wondering). Again, I had a fabulous hostess. Not only did Gayle Farley take me out for great Mexican food, but when I got back to my amazing hotel room at the newly renovated Skirvin Hilton, a bag of designer chocolates arrived in my room. Heaven. I did my speech, hopped on my 7th and 8th flights of the week and arrived home happy on Friday night. On Saturday, I had a phone interview with a reporter who wanted to know about family giving traditions. I had no idea what publication the reporter was from. I asked her. She said Parade. I asked which Parade. She said THE Parade, the magazine with the largest distribution of any magazine in the world. I just sat there stupefied. We chatted for 45 minutes. She told me that on Monday she would be talking to Bill Clinton for the same article about his book “Giving” and to expect a call from a fact checker and that the article will appear on Dec. 16. I hung up. I stared into the horizon and had a moment of utter contentment. Perhaps this week there will be a cure for cellulite. One can only hope!

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