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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shamelessly Self-promote Volunteer Programs

The following post is a response to the Energize October 2011 Hot Topic by Susan J. Ellis “What Leaders of Volunteers Can DO to Gain Executive Attention”.

Thank you for your hot topic Susan.  It provides valuable insight in how we can gain attention for our sector.  I would like to perhaps extend your first point to include – Shamelessly Self-promote!

In the very competitive promotions industry, "shamelessly self-promote" was the catch cry of the printing franchise of our home based printing business.  While my career may have changed, I have continued this mantra as I feel it works for any industry including the volunteer management sector.

Volunteer Management is about having well designed and managed volunteer programs, which utilize the skills, abilities, intellect, passion and time of volunteers, to address community needs or value adding to an existing service.  However, as you suggest Susan, there may be some people within an organisation or in the general public who may be unaware of the extent of the volunteer programs and the role which volunteers play within an organisation.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Make it Fun!

Have you ever heard people lamenting that it’s Monday or saying “Thank god it’s Friday”.

No matter how much we love our jobs there will always be moments when we can’t wait for the weekend.  Moments of frustration over plans gone wrong with too many interruptions can sometimes wear us down.

I read a book a while back called “The Fish Omnibus” by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul and John Christensen.  This is a compilation of several books based on “The Fish Philosophy”.  It is not a book about fishing; however it is a book about a Fish Market in Seattle in the U.S.A. – “The Pike Place Fish Market”.  The Pike Place Fish Market has been written about, been featured in videos and is known in training circles throughout the world.  Why did a fish market become internationally significant?  They revolutionised how they treat customers and in doing so made their own workplace fun.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Change Your Way of Thinking.

My inspiration for writing blogs often comes from either personal experience or from something that I have read.  My most recent post was inspired by a debate on International Womens day in 2010.  I found it on Youtube, used excerpts and posted the links.  One of the speakers had quoted “The Power Of Nice”, a book written by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval.  I have since borrowed this book from the library and have had difficulty putting it down.  It is brilliant!!!  Unfortunately in my enthusiasm to share this book with my work colleagues I left it at work.  I was all set to read more and become totally absorbed in the many examples of how being nice can have a profound effect in ways that would seem unimaginable but that is for another blog post, another day. 
 Instead I picked up a book which I had started to read a while ago entitled “The Idea Factory – A guide to more creative thinking and writing” by Valerie Parv.  Valerie speaks of the tendency in Thailand where the value of an endeavour is judged by how much “sanuk” it contains, which roughly translated, means fun.   So when did we start forgetting to have fun?  Did we have fun in the first place?  Who said life had to be boring and unfun?  Valerie goes on to describe the parts of the brain, the left brain which is the editor and the critic and the part that remains in charge most of the time and the right brain which is the creative side or the fun side.   It is the creative side which comes up with alternate ideas, thinking outside the box so to speak. 
Often a problem can be solved by looking at it from a different perspective to come up with a different or creative solution.  Consider the Post-it Note, born from the collaborative, creative thinking of two chemists, Dr Spence Silver and Art Fry, who turned a failed adhesive into one of the most commonly used stationery items around.  Creative people use ideas, which come from the right brain and put them into action, which is a left brain function.  So how do you know if you are a creative person?  Dr Denis Waitley suggests some characteristics which identify the creative person.
·        Optimism about the future
·        Discontent with the status quo
·        Curiosity and skill in observation
·        The ability to daydream and fantasise
·        An adventurous outlook and interest in many subjects
·        The ability to recognise and break bad habits
·        Independent thinking
So are you creative?  Would you like to be?  My challenge to you is to step away from the traditional, critical framework of thinking where we become bogged down by definitions and rigidity.  Rather, use your creative right brain to develop unique solutions.  Brainstorm with colleagues and make it fun.  You’ll be amazed what you can come up with.
Thank you for reading my blog post.
I would love to hear your creative solutions. 
So share them with the world.  Write a comment!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Power of Nice in Volunteer Management

Linda Kaplan Thaler in her book, “The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness”, co-authored by Robin Koval, suggests that “nice has an image problem.” She goes on to say “Somewhere along the way, using the word nice became something you said when you had nothing else to say.”
How right you are Linda and how often do we, as volunteer managers, hear that word in reference to our roles.  In fact the other day, a colleague and I were discussing how our roles are often characterized by people, outside the volunteer management sector, by comments of “how nice!” While we cringe at the saccharine, somewhat patronising description of our jobs, we both agreed that there was nothing wrong with being nice.  In fact it was essential and we wouldn’t want it any other way.