What's your Platform?

During this election season, there is a lot of talk about political platforms but how much thinking have you done about your own platform to share ideas? Whether you are a program assistant at a community center or the CEO of a foundation, you probably have big ideas about how to solve the problems that you see in the world. If you didn't, you probably would have picked a different field to work in. The best idea for change in the world doesn't mean much if no one hears about it, except for you and your cat.

This idea of branding and building a platform for do gooders has been keeping me up at night. My greatest frustration is that all of the great marketing goes to the dumbest ideas, e.g. the marketing muscle that went into Snookie's book "It's a Shore Thing" (no link purposefully given because I am trying to save all of our brain cells). Where is that sort of marketing might when it comes to the recent college grad who is building a performance company to use improv to bring public policy ideas to life or the author who is breaking the mold on what a donor looks like or the organization that is building a nation-wide green economy by seeing residents of the inner-city as a solution, not the problem? Since they don't have million dollar marketing budgets and prime-time commercials, I thought it was time to build a do-it-yourself movement for good idea marketing. I've built a branding book of the month club to help all of us spend some extra time building our brand. Not so you can be the next reality tv star but  so your great ideas can get the light of day. Learn more here. 

You are the master of your fate (and your outlook calendar)

Two weeks ago I was at a crossroads. I have always prided myself on a semblance of work life balance and feel like I am very effective during the workday. I cross things off my to do list, I don't sit under a mountain of paperwork, I return phone calls (for those of you that are not employed by a foundation, I swear these things are revolutionary). But the last couple weeks were different. My email in box was overflowing (it seemed like every item in there needed about 3 hours of strategic thinking to make a decision), my normally clean office was covered in piles of papers, and I was eating sour cream and cheese chips out of the vending machine for lunch as I was driving to another meeting. The bags under my eyes were making my staff nervous and I think I looked like I was on the edge of a hide under my desk breakdown. So much for balance.

Luckily I have a great coach, who asks common sense questions that I get too busy to ask myself. Her question was "why did I let my schedule get so crazy?". That gentle reminder that my schedule is not the boss of me was all I needed to get back on track. So here are the four things that have given me my sanity back and ensured that my hair does not all fall out:
1) I set aside an hour at the end of each day to clean out my emails and handle all the paper on my desk,
2) I set aside one and a half hour blocks every other day for uninterrupted strategic thinking,
3) I set aside time for lunch each day. I may decide to have a lunch meeting those days but I will always have time to eat, and
4) I am saying no to meetings that I would normally say yes to out of obligation or fear of missing something good.

What do you do to keep your schedule on track?