Author: angie.

Do you manage someone remotely or find yourself trying to lead from a distance? I have asked a close friend, Jen Mullen to provide some insights into this leadership challenge. Jen is a Regional Manager with Aeropostale, a FORTUNE 100 Best Company to Work For in 2011. She manages a large group of district managers and store managers that covers half the country. I have been constantly impressed with her connection with her team and her management style. I think you will gain a lot from her tips below. Enjoy and thank you Jen!

Have you ever played the “telephone game” and found out that what you said at the beginning of the chain is drastically different at the end? When you were a child, the results were amusing to hear. In a business, the impact of miscommunication can cost a tremendous amount of time, money and potentially clients and future business. So, how do you ensure that your message is being translated correctly from one location to the next and from one person to another?


Communicating with a team that is geographically challenged can add complexity, but is not impossible to master. “Communication” itself is the challenge, not the geography. What some people need and want varies from person to person, so as a manager and leader, you have to adapt. No system is perfect and nothing will ensure that you will get 100% consistency, but there are some things that you can do to ensure the message does not get lost.


1. Trust but verify. A very wise CEO and mentor of mine once told me that you are only as good as your weakest link. Very true in life and in business. The impression of your business when you are not there leaves the same impact as if you were in the room. Mistakes and errors can cost you business, but you cannot be in every location for all communication with every client. So you have to trust the team that you have, BUT verify what you want to see.

Ø  Be involved, but know your audience. Lead your team situationally-it sounds basic, but it is the most common mistake made by a team leader-treating everyone on your team the same. If you have someone who is very detail oriented, you can get a higher level overview than someone who is not as diligent about details. Over-managing someone is almost worse than not following up. Know who you can delegate to and know who you need to follow up with on a consistent basis.

Ø  Manage the situation, not the person. Your top person is most likely talented overall, but there are probably areas they haven’t mastered, so they need more follow up if put in that situation. Don’t assume that they will perform at a high level on every task.

2. When sending launch or follow up information, keep emails simple and concise. Emails should be bullet-pointed with what your objectives are. Too many people write emails as they speak, so the “fluff” is added in. You lose your message with too much information and will lose consistent execution. If you want to capture someone’s attention, make your subject line the topic of your message (i.e. “A question about our meeting today” or “Items to follow up on-please read and respond”). A strong subject line will ensure that they are reading what you are sending.

Ø  Keep your bullets brief. No need for emotion. It gets lost in an email and people can misinterpret what you are saying. Only provide action items or things that you need to draw attention to.

Ø  The email is not THE ONLY message. If something is that important for you to send a bulleted list, then it deserves follow up. Do that in person if possible. Email strands dilute importance.

3. Keep voicemails to a minimum. You have 30-45 seconds to hold a person’s attention. Don’t leave someone a lengthy voicemail about what you expect or what you want to see. Leave a message about why you are calling and what urgency your message has

Ø  “Sue-hi, it’s Jen. I am calling to follow up on the updates to the conference next week. Can you call me back today to provide an update on where we are and what support you may need prior to the event?”

Ø  You have provided the recipient with what you are calling for (gives them time to get prepared to call you back), when you expect to have a call back (give them a realistic timeframe) and the next steps (support needed, etc)

Ø  If you do choose to leave a message, be specific. The worst thing for your team member to hear is “Hi, it’s your boss. Call me back.” They have no idea what the context is or what the urgency of the message is. This causes anxiety in people-in the absence of information, people make stuff up.

4. Make phone time, “face time.” I make it a point of talking with every member of my team at least twice a week, once at the beginning to set the expectation and once at the end of the week to recap. When you have a team of up to 15 people in different places, ensuring that they are all on the same page is key. As the manager, have a set of points that you want to talk about with each person-open issues or projects that you may need an update on, developmental objectives etc. Get document updates sent over ahead of time, so you can look at the document together.

Ø  Ask a lot of questions and ask them in the “right” way. I call this a “virtual tour”-getting a snapshot of what is happening without actually being there. Instead of saying “How is your project going?” , which can get you a vague response that is not detail oriented, say “Walk me through the updates of your project,” which forces the person to give you specifics on what is happening. Evolve any close ended questions into leading statements and question-“Tell me about”, “What changes did you make,” “What progress have you seen,” to gain more information and details. This will lead to more open dialogue and consistency from market to market

Ø  If you are following up on an initiative, the focus is the same. “Tell me how you implemented my suggestions this week,” or “What was the client’s feedback to our recent updates.”

5. Are you “Giving” time or “Taking” time? This is most important with conference call communication. Some managers believe that the conference call is the most effective form of communication because you are impacting more people. If you have a large team, a conference call can be a “Time Taker,” especially if you are using it to get updates on projects or follow up on issues that do not apply to all. Conference calls should be used to recap results, discuss future initiatives or changes to projects as a group. When you talk to a team who has sat through a non-productive call, they will tell you how much they dislike conference calls. The opposite is true for a structured, time controlled conference call.

Ø  If it is a group project and you need team updates, set parameters for each team lead, and ensure that you set the expectation of what you are looking for as well as a timeframe for their update (1-3 minutes usually works best, pending complexity).

Ø  Focus on communication that will “Give” people time-best practices of highly productive teams, more efficient processes or short cuts that don’t diminish the outcome. Time is the most precious asset your people have, so anything you can do to provide them with more will be motivating to them.

Managing a team in a productive manner is critical to the success of your organization-having a productive team is achieved through great management. Great managers are great communicators who understand how to inspire a high level of productivity in their team, even when managing from afar. In a technology driven world, we can take productivity to new levels with follow up and accountability. But know that the most effective multi-unit managers use every resource available to them AND understand that nothing is more impactful than a good old phone call!


spacer (1K)Connect with Jen Mullen on LinkedIn here.

Recent training sessions boost productivity and morale at Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer and the Lone Star Chapter of the National MS Society.
Wouldn’t it be great to send each of your team members to a one-day seminar to talk about strategy, systems, communication tools, professionalism and goals? The cost, time away from the office and inability to send the WHOLE team make it unreasonable and don’t provide the return on investment. Many teams have dediced that instead of sending the team to training, it is best to bring the trainer to the team.

Whether you have 8 hours or 3 days allocated for training, a lot can be accomplished by utilizing a third party training facilitator. Also, by contracting someone with a specific NPO executive background with a focus on fundraising, your team also gains the benefit of receiving consulting advice along the way with the meeting facilitation. This expertise also allows for a more strategic meeting agenda and the skill to quickly understand the specific challenges in a charity development office.

Here are a few helpful questions to ask when considering in-office training:

  1. Do we know the goals and objectives of the training? This can range from creating or fostering a sense of team, learning to communicate more effectively, discovering process and systems tools, outlining a fundraising strategy or tactical plan to practicing problem solving in small and large groups.
  2. Who should attend? Trainings can be beneficial for one-on-one coaching or for large groups. Understanding the goals and objectives first will provide insight into the right people to have attend the meeting. If you aren’t sure, work with the facilitator to determine the best approach. It might be that a hybrid or a multi-meeting option would provide the best outcomes.
  3. When should we host the meeting? It is wise to consider any upcoming changes to the team: is anyone new starting next month? Is someone going on leave in the next few weeks? Determining a date that allows for maximum participation is critical. While event dates, registration ‘go live’ dates, mail drop deadlines and other deadlines are on the calendar, the primary goal is to have everyone together. Rarely do you hear that a person is sad they stepped away from the office for a day of reflection, training and development.

To learn more about recent training and development sessions, visit or to schedule meeting facilitation or training for your organization, contact me at 512-944-3417 or On Linkedin I have added a list of recommended reading so let’s connect at

This month I invited David Neff of Lights Camera Help and author of the newly released The Future of Nonprofits to share insights about internal innovation and social media. Enjoy and thank you David! 

So you want to be an innovator at your nonprofit?
There are 4 things you need to create an internal
innovation engine in your nonprofit!

To be competitive in the future, organizations have to create a culture of innovation that will drive a continuous flow of new, relevant and successful business projects and programs. This works for nonprofits and for-profits.

If you have the desire to become innovative, you probably recognize that the way to win in the future is to reshape your culture and fire up the internal innovation engine. Simply put NPO’s can Innovate and Thrive, or Stagnate and Die.

Regardless of size, every organization can create an internal innovation engine. The key to success is getting your corporate culture right and then tapping into the new found potential with an efficient and effective structure designed to harness and act on the newly uncovered ideas.

1. Get Aware!
Stop having all your employees focusing on working and start thinking outside of their explicit job role. You can transform your culture just by mandating that your employees attend conferences that are tangent to their job responsibilities, read articles by authors outside of your field, and engage in communities they are passionate about. Find inspiration and ideas outside of your field and bring them into your work. In today’s digital world if every employee is not actively thinking about how they can incorporate new technology into their job function you are falling behind! Do not be afraid to re-purpose brilliant concepts to fit your organization.
2. Staff Right!
You can also transform your culture by adding eager, creative thinkers and empowering them to contribute beyond their job duties. Innovation by addition only works if you are willing to screen and hire new employees for skill sets beyond the typical job description. Hire people who can fulfill the job description but can bring additional expertise and experience in areas like social media, film and video production, and gaming. The future is online, and getting people excited about the challenge of leading the NPO field into the digital age are a critical step in creating that culture of innovation.
3. Set Your Structure!
The most critical component of an innovation transformation is the structure that takes ‘ideas’ and transforms them into ‘innovations’. By our definition, an innovation is a new idea that drives tangible value. Having a structure that can bring in hundreds of new ideas and filter them to find the next great innovation is the most critical element of building an innovation engine in your organization. A great structure is more than a set of filters, a great structure provides an entire organization with a way to engage their staff, volunteers, and constituents in finding solutions to the most challenging problems. A great Structure rewards new ideas and provides growth opportunities for those who are courageous enough to submit their ideas for consideration. A great structure can evaluate hundreds of new ideas each year and identify the 2% that will drive real meaningful value to the organization, the constituent, donors, and volunteers.

4. Execute!
Take the first steps! Engage your entire staff, constituency, and volunteer network in becoming active contributors to your innovation effort. Make innovative thinking a metric of success in staff reviews and get serious about the evaluation of new ideas. Don’t just talk about being innovative, seek out a great idea, evaluate it, test it, and celebrate the success across your organization.

So how do I do all this in a 40 hour work week? You don’t! You spread it out over time and months. Want to see how it works? Take a look at our book The Future of Nonprofits and order your copy to learn more:

Corporate support for event programs can provide meaningful funds and awareness but can also be difficult to manage. Many of the groups that shared their stories talked about logistics of sponsorships, how to increase corporate involvement and integration with other programs. Hopefully the information below will provide some insights.

·         A few of the programs revealed that over 70% of their revenue is coming from corporate partners and sponsors. This massive support is divided among sponsorship (cash and in-kind), employee involvement, cause marketing, in-kind media and grant support. One program’s title sponsor went so far with their commitment to the cause that employee fundraising success is tied to their annual work performance reviews.


·         When talking with potential partners, be sure to share all major budget expense categories and determine if there are ways for them to impact your bottom-line aside from just cash. One example was a title sponsor that engaged their in-house marketing department to design and print all event marketing collateral.


·         Be sure that your existing corporate partners are mission-focused and that they are not deterring other companies from getting involved. Engage sponsors in conversations about reaching out to their industry network including vendors and network. In one case, the entire event series benefited when the title sponsor removed their name from the event and it acknowledged a need for other companies to step up and help.


·         Provide a corporate partner kit. Items to include are: campaign coordinator contact information, a team captain guide, a recommended communication plan and messages for their communication schedule, fundraising ideas, planning suggestions and templates for wallet-sized cards with event information. Some organizations offer co-branded landing pages for companies that have made a $50,000+ commitment. The responsibility for content and creation is distributed between the two organizations.


·         Host a corporate round table AND an executive round table. Ask your most motivated sponsors to serve as meeting hosts.


·         Provide tools including confidence builders to chapters to increase local sponsorship sales.


·         Evaluating in-kind benefits can be a difficult task. In many cases a sponsor will report an in-kind value as extremely high when you know that the value is truly a small percentage of their estimate. If an item is not budget relieving (does not impact your net or bottom line revenue number), but is considered part of the larger sponsor commitment, consider requesting triple or quadruple the value for in-kind partners. As an example, you can require in-kind supporters provide $30,000 worth of value to receive recognition and benefits of a $10,000 cash sponsor.


·         When trying to improve sponsor retention, one group shared that they host a post-event golf tournament as a thank you to sponsors. They use the event to solicit verbal commitments for the next year and follow-up with contracts within 4 weeks.


·         Be creative with post-event reports. Put thank you videos on your YouTube channel or create photo books on Shutterfly or similar sites.



I also encourage you to take some time to think about your vision for corporate involvement. What do you hope to achieve? How would you react today if your dream company contacted you for a first meeting? Have you identified the internal resources to adequately pursue, steward and champion corporate partners? I hope that this email series from the RunWalkRide conference has been helpful! Good luck with your sponsorship sales and, as always, I am here to help!










There were plenty of insights at the RunWalkRide Conference in March. In Part 2 of ‘Rachel’s Notes’ from the conference, you will find information about events — recruitment, production, staffing and more.

·         Most management models for large events either work National direct to Chapters OR National to Regional offices to Chapters. In some cases, National directly managed the event series and relies more heavily on vendors for support. When reviewing the RWR Top 30, most of the organizations are National direct to Chapters.


·         There is an issue of high turnover of local Chapter staff. Many organizations host annual and/or semi-annual in person training and find the results to be worth the investment. Others are offering online training available year-round as new staff join the team at various times during the year. When struggling with how to pay for training, I recommended organizations look at sponsorships and engaging national event series sponsors both financially and in-person to be a part of the series team, including training.


·         I was impressed with the amount of training provided to many of the volunteers who dedicate themselves to these events. If you provide fantastic training for staff and/or volunteers, are you promoting that during recruitment? With the job market in its current state, quality volunteers are looking for opportunities to learn new skills and expand their networks — use these selling points, but only if you can deliver!


·         One organization clearly identified their ‘pilot market’ and using this market to test new program concepts. If they experience a positive return in the pilot market they can move forward with replicating the program throughout the series. Do you know your pilot markets and are you effectively testing new concepts?


·         Organizations that staff national event positions with people from the field foster a greater sense of trust and respect than people with no direct on-the-ground event experience. It seems that the experience didn’t have to be directly with the same organization but a recognizable program or event.


·         National Event Series staff talked about engaging consultants for a variety of efforts including training, template creation and strategy discussions. Staff needs to determine where they add value to identify opportunities for outside support.


·         Many programs have made the ‘percent of participants fundraising’ a priority. To get started, the organization must understand what percentage is currently raising money. Additional data points include ranking the events within your own series to see who is doing the best with this metric and to help establish meaningful targets. There was quite a bit of discussion about where the percentage should be, but the information shared ranged from 5-65% and did not provide a true benchmarking option so begin internally and work to increase the percentage of fundraisers versus non-fundraisers over time.


·         An interesting volunteer recruitment tool was recommended by one attendee. They offer free registration to event day volunteers that are engaged in local running clubs. It helps with promotion of the event and early morning volunteer recruitment.


·         Event programs are very dependent on volunteer support. Family team recruitment and stewardship is often handled by volunteers while corporate teams are handled by staff.  Getting volunteers proficient at operations, recruitment and fundraising support is usually a 2 year process. Charities can benefit from using videos to help volunteers understand the event vision.


·         National offices are providing more resources to local chapters including in-house consulting, PR templates and pre-packaged advertising.


·         I heard a few people say, “It doesn’t cost anything to have them [free walkers] there so why not?” Please know that participants that enjoy the event for free DO cost the organization. In some cases, their participation may lead to strong advocates, increased sponsorship revenue due to event size or may serve as an acquisition tool for other fundraising efforts. If you are open to non-paying participants, be clear about your per participant costs, the return on that participant (tangible and intangible) and make a conscience decision to include them in your planning. What is your per participant cost? Do you currently have non-paying participants? If yes, how are you engaging them in the mission of the organization and what fundraising opportunities exist with this segment of your event participants?



Events continue to play a critical role in raising money for causes. Often events are not adequately evaluated on their return for the charity and opportunities to increase revenue and decrease costs are overlooked. Be sure to question every part of your event year after year and work with the assumption that your organization’s event program will be very different in the future and that change is the norm. I can provide assistance to get you started and am happy to review any plans or ideas you might be considering. Best of luck!













If you have ever been in a meeting with me, you know that I love to take notes. The RunWalkRide Conference March 2-3 was no exception. With over 150 attendees, it was two full days of friends (old and new), learning from our peers, and ah-ha moments for a variety of projects. I hope some of you are able to use ‘Rachel’s Notes’ for your projects and to spur some thinking of your own! Our first topic is the Endurance Summit:

·         Endurance programs have expanded to include running, cycling, climbing, triathlon events and more. Most programs have been branded and are working to establish a community that supports each others’ efforts and shares lessons learned, training tips and celebrates fundraising success.


·         There were a few options discussed for endurance program coaching: E-coaching, virtual coaching, live coaching and partnering with existing training programs. What type of coaching are you using and is it the right one? When does it make sense to change? What research has been done to demonstrate the importance of the physical training program in addition to fundraising support?


·         It is recommended that training programs for ‘packs’ or groups be encouraged because it provides more motivation to stay with the program and fosters a greater sense of community.


·         Encourage volunteers to lead pilots of new events for the endurance program. Once these volunteers achieve critical mass, begin investing in the event and add it to the official calendar of activities. When does your organization decide to include a new event on the schedule and how is that decision made? What tools are available to these pilot volunteers to help them succeed?


·         The endurance program of the Children’s Tumor Foundation, NF Endurance, has a team motto: “Active volunteers and big donors make the rules.” During their presentation at RWR, they also stressed the importance of the pasta dinner because of it provides a platform to focus on the mission and network with fellow participants, volunteers and staff. What is your team motto and are you using a pasta dinner to highlight your mission and create a sense of community?


·         There is a risk for endurance programs that not every event will be a sell out so when purchasing entries be sure to have a plan ready in case the event doesn’t sell out and entries aren’t in demand. One organization had to deal with this issue and they immediately returned to their internal database and encouraged participation from that group of passionate supporters. Would your organization be ready with a Plan B and are you aware of the risks for the events you have chosen to participate in?


·         It was recommended that every program examine their messaging and make sure they are not using the “kids are suffering” message but rather focusing on the participants with positive and encouraging messages (ex: It’s in you!). What is your message and is it participant-focused and inspirational?


·         Many endurance programs are outsourcing the travel and logistics components of the program. How are you managing your resources and is there an opportunity to outsource work that is not directly generating revenue?


·         Be very clear about when a participant’s credit card will be charged if they have not met their fundraising minimum prior to the event. Some organization’s allow for fundraising up to 30 days post-event and others do not allow a participant to repeat the event if they do not fulfill their fundraising obligations. Do you follow through on your promise to charge their card if they are short of their fundraising goal? If not, is there another way for you to communicate the necessity of their participation? Are your participants given advance warning of when the card will be charged and have their received ample fundraising support?


·         Very important to introduce endurance program participants to other opportunities to get involved with the charity because for many, the endurance program can be a ‘bucket list item’ and is not always repeated. How are you introducing other engagement opportunities and are you offering new challenges for your participants?


·         ‘Endurance programs are harder to budget for than walks or other traditional events.” If budgeting is difficult, it might be because the program is currently too reactionary and you might benefit from looking for new opportunities to be proactive with the program including marketing and recruitment, calendar expansion and more. If this is true, what method is your organization using currently and is it the best option?


·         A few groups mentioned that it was important to capture the first donation within 30 days of registering for the program AND individuals who gave to their own fundraising efforts raised twice as much as other participants. How are you soliciting funds within the first 30 days? Are you encouraging self-donations?


Several national endurance programs were represented this year at the Endurance Summit. It was a dramatic growth over last year’s attendance. I wonder if more programs have launched or if more established programs are becoming more sophisticated and interested in industry standards and best practices. Overall it was nice to see the enthusiasm and willingness to share among the attendees and I am positive that everyone left with a list of action items that will improve the net result of their program AND the experience of their participants for the better.














I recently attended the Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago. It was a great two days filled with seeing old friends and making new ones. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear what others are doing to promote and raise funds for their causes and what companies are doing to leverage their assets for the greater good. Below are a few notes from the sessions, panels, and small discussion groups. Enjoy and hope to see you there next year!

1. During the Walmart presentation, the speaker mentioned the fact that retailers feel a pressure from their customers to promote their giving around holidays. Charities sometimes shy away from holidays but should possibly be rethinking that strategy in regards to CM.

2. A&E started to generate interest in a cause through their Intervention show. Then, they needed to find experts that could help educate their marketing team about the issue. They turned to non-profits for their expertise. What expertise does your organization offer that you could include in benefits for partners?

3. Before launching their hunger initiative, Walmart made a 5 year commitment to the campaign. This allowed them to respond to first year comments with a ‘come get involved and help shape the campaign for the next 4 years’ message. It engaged them in the long-term instead of missing the opportunity. How long have you committed to your cause and when you receive comments (and you will!), how will you respond?

4. Cause Marketing is no longer about the CEO or Executive ‘wish’ and really needs to connect with employee engagement and customer interests. Non-profits should be building their CM prospect lists around where your clients shop and work and spend time getting to know the company’s employees and customers. But, be sure that once you have identified your ideal partners, try to connect at every level (customer, employee, marketing department, executive, board, etc.).

5. The CEO of spoke about identifying a celebrity for your cause that might not be on the ‘A’ List but rather someone that is passionate and that can be a quarterback or coach. You want someone that can rally a team of other friends and celebs for your cause.

6. Throughout the conference, I heard several people talking about the importance of data. The metrics used varied from the number of jeans collected by Aeropostale and or the amount of votes cast or applications received. The data was not always monetary so be sure you are thinking in broad terms about how to measure the success of your campaign. This requires conversation with your partner to determine the goals for each organization early on so they can be measured.

7. Create your own channels so you don’t have to wait for media to cover your program. The days of submitting a press release and praying for the media to pick up the story and share it with the masses is over. Every organization, regardless of size, has an opportunity through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, organization-hosted websites, retail outlets, and more to communicate with the public and more specifically – the audience you are trying to reach. Don’t wait – start sharing your message now!

8. If you are considering a crowdsourcing campaign, take a look at Americas Giving Challenge Survival Guide for Charities as a resource and overview of tools.

9.  There was a push by non-profits and companies to find third-party groups to regulate and monitor online contests such as crowdsourcing. I think there might be an opporutnity for technology-focused non-profits to provide this service as a social venture which could provide sustainable revenue.

10. Cause marketing partnerships are investing in documentary filmmaking to capture the excitement and real change happening because of these partnerships. One example is the Tide Loads of Hope documentary detailing their journey to Haiti. How is your organization using video for cause marketing and other partnerships?


To learn more about the Cause Marketing Forum, visit and search for Cause Marketing Forum on Twitter for tons of great updates and session recaps.

2010 was a busy year and as I reflect on the people I have worked with, the places I have traveled and the projects completed, I am both thankful and humbled. So many of you are doing such amazing work and with a passion that is motivating and inspiring! One of my recent lunch meetings brought up the concept that most of our time can be divided into four categories: play, learn, eat and shop. So, here are my recommendations for 2011….enjoy!


  • Day-cation in your city
  • Do a Pajama Run – after bedtime, go out and get ice cream in your pajamas…invite friends to meet you there!
  • Find your old stuffed animal, baseball or some other childhood toy and put it on your desk to remind you to dream and have fun!


  • Read Season of Life, Living a Life That Matters and The Giving Tree
  • Use Google Reader to organize all those blogs, e-newsletters and websites you know you should be reading but can’t seem to find the time for… (watch a video on youtube to learn more about Google Reader)
  • Build or expand your network…who do you call when you need advice or want to talk through an idea, how many new people have you added to your contact list in the last 30 days? Read Referral of a Lifetime if you need a jumpstart.


  • Coconut Cookie Drops — 5 cups of coconut, 1 can of Pet Milk, 1/2cup of flour, 1 cup of mini-chocolate chips (optional)…mix all ingredients together, place 2 tbsp sized scoops on a cookie tray, bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes
  • Feta Appetizer — mix feta and cream cheese together, line a bowl or serving dish with plastic wrap, sprinkle pine nuts in the bottom, put a layer of the cheese mixture, spread pesto, add another layer of cheese mixture, spread a layer of diced sun-dried tomatoes, put in final layer of cheese mixture…place in fridge for 2-3 hours…when ready to serve, turn the dish upside down on a platter and remove the plastic wrap, surround with crackers and serve
  • Tortilla Soup — cook 4 chicken breasts and shred, sauté 1 onion, 2 jalapenos, and 2 tsp of garlic…add the chicken, 1 can each of dark red kidney beans, corn, tomato soup,  chicken broth, beef broth, diced tomatoes (28.5 oz), 2 sliced carrots, and 1 cup of water. Stir in ¾ cup of fresh chopped cilantro, ½ cup of picante sauce, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, and ½ tsp red pepper…Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer approx. 30 minutes. Garnish with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, and avocado cubes.


  • — All original works and selling everything from clothing to artwork
  • — Amazing Austin-based store that sells fun and unique jewelry
  • — Just great to look around, especially when you need a laugh!
  • — Fantastic gifts for co-workers, volunteers,  and always sparks creativity

I hope these suggestions get you thinking about what you want your 2011 to be about and how you plan to spend it. I have definitely been reminded by every client this year that life is precious and every moment is to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. Thank you for your support and I look forward to a fulfilling, meaningful, and FUN 2011! Happy New Year!

E-newsletter Tips

  1. Determine your agenda. Are you trying to motivate people, provide relevant information, seeking donations? What need is your e-newsletter filling for its readers?
  2. Who is the audience and should they be segmented? Are you using the house list or are you interested in an acquisition strategy?
  3. Encourage e-newsletter sign-ups by offering additional resources, stories or articles.
  4. People open emails because of (1) who it’s from and (2) the subject line. For subject lines, consider highlighting how you plan to educate or enlighten the reader. For example, you can use How to, Review of, Top 10 Tips, Resource List, Answers to Common Questions, Interviews with Associates, or Review of a Book or Resource.
  5. Depending on the amount of content, consider adding an approximate reading time to the beginning so people can decide if they want to read now or wait when they can devote more time.
  6. Consider reading the e-newsletter out loud before you send it. Imagine all of your subscribers in a room. Can you picture yourself using those words? Talking about this topic? Would they stick around or wander out looking for a Diet Coke or Starbucks?
  7. Ask for feedback. Include questions like ‘What topic would you like to see us devote an issue to?” to encourage communication and to learn more about your audience.

Many of us subscribe to so many Twitter accounts, RSS feeds, blogs, newsletters, etc. that the reading can become overwhelming. I know I have a stack of magazines and newspapers waiting for me and calling my name in the middle of the night. In order to manage all of this reading, I use a few tools that you might want to check out:

I hope this information is helpful. I would love to hear from you about other resources, tips or suggestions you have for future issues. Thanks!