Thanks, Sarah!

Think of a presentation you’ve heard that has really stuck with you.

Are there many? Likely not.

I heard one this week, by Sarah Owen of Collaboratory, that I can’t stop thinking about, so I thought I’d tell you about it.

The delivery itself was masterful — clearly well-rehearsed and tight.

But the content was even better, not just because Collaboratory’s work sounds amazing, but also because Sarah knew how to tailor the message to her audience, which in this case was the Board and staff of an organization much like hers was a few years ago.

Here are my takeaways from that message and its polished delivery:

  • Articulate your big idea or commitment
  • Have a clear, compelling goal
  • Figure out your organization’s very best role or contribution (Theirs is coordination)
  • Solve interrelated problems all at once, because it doesn’t make sense to separate them artificially
  • Set a gutsy, meaningful deadline (For them, 18 years is how long it takes a baby born today to become an adult, hence an 18-year timeframe.)
  • Anticipate pushback, so that it doesn’t surprise you when it comes
  • Constantly address the question, “Who do we think we are?”
  • Be candid about the hard or messy stuff too
  • Give things catchy names (I’d love to work in her “Brainstorming Department!”)

(If you’re curious about the specifics, Collaboratory describes itself as “the greatest community problem solving initiative in American history” and intends to “solve all [its] region’s social problems in 18 years.” Gulp.)

She used this quote, which I love:

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” ~Leonard Bernstein

And she ended with, “Be bold. No one wants to die pretty good at something.”

Amen, sister!

(And thanks to Eric Avner and the Waterloo Region Community Foundation for exposing me to Collaboratory. I’ve never wanted to work in southern Florida until that moment.)

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