So we’re at GMN 2016 in the Big Easy. While MicroEdge and Blackbaud have been longtime supporters of GMN, it’s my first time participating. It’s early, but I’ve already had some great conversations with some of the ~750 attendees, a third of whom are our customers! I’m learning a lot and sharing a laugh or two.
I had the pleasure attending the opening plenary session, delivered by Dr. Jan Young, Executive Director of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis. An impressive woman with a distinguished background, Dr. Young was a great speaker and I think she provided some good guidance and inspiration for all of us in the audience.
The theme of Dr. Young’s talk was “Doers, Thinkers and Leaders.” Dr. Young’s discussion began with a little bit of humor—she asked the poignant question, “Who has said as a child, I want to be a grants manager?” This question elicited quite a bit of laughter, as you can imagine. I thought to myself, did I always want to be a marketer? Was I attracted to it as a kid? I do remember a significant astronaut phase. Eventually, after giving up my dreams of being the next Buzz Aldrin, I found myself drawn to advertising, and that eventually led me to marketing.
Dr. Young asked the audience for some responses. Some that stood out were — Nurse, Doctor, Actor, Air Traffic Controller—jobs that most children may think about at one time or another. Dr. Young went on to point out that grants managers end up playing many roles, and sometimes they are doctors and nurses that help their grantee partners, actors that must wear many hats and play many roles, and certainly air traffic controllers when it comes to managing the grants process. So then she congratulated the audience and said, “You are living the dream!”
Dr. Young went on to say that grants management has evolved into a more strategic role that has a big impact on the entire organization. As such, it needs more leadership. She encouraged everyone to take a leadership stance, starting with themselves. Dr. Young went on to provide five points of personal leadership, which I will pass along here in paraphrased form:
- Pay attention to the choices that you make – values dictate these choices. In addition, pay attention to the information we choose to keep vs discard, what we listen to vs what we disregard.
- Keep your agreements. To others and to ourselves. If you promise something to someone, make sure to deliver it. And this also means to yourself.
- Speak the truth. Dr. Young joked that there are good and bad ways to deliver the truth, using the example of a woman asking her husband how she looks in a dress…but the message was clear that the end result is better when you speak the truth.
- Be accountable. Take responsibility and don’t pass the blame.
- Ask for what you want. Dr. Young encouraged strength and conviction.
A great start to the GMN 2016 annual conference! I’m looking forward to learning from the other sessions, and my conversations with attendees.
Last, but not least, our “life-sized info graphic” at the MicroEdge booth is taking shape! We are asking attendees to respond to the question: Where are you on your journey to measuring outcomes and impact? The choices are Minimal/Basic; Developing; Strategic/Integrated, and so far “Developing” is in the lead with “Minimal/Basic” close behind. I’ll keep you posted on how this develops.
Here’s to living the dream!