The Nonprofit Exchange Book Reviews
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The Interview Transcript
Hugh Ballou: Greetings, we’re back with The Nonprofit Exchange. This time, Russell and I have been wrestling with this for a while. We have had so many great guests that it’s hard for us to find a spot to do this. We wanted to, at least once or twice a year, highlight some great books. Some are from our guests, and some are not. We have six books for you today. The top five, and a bonus book. Greetings, Russell. I will say hi first.
Russell Dennis: Greetings. Welcome, all of our friends out there on Facebook and everywhere. Thank you for joining us. It’s a great day. I am just moved by all the birthday messages that have come in for me today.
Russell: Today is the day. I wanted to give a shout-out to all the people—business associates, family, friends. Thank you very much. It’s been a great journey, but it’s better because of you. And all the people who join us every week to support The Nonprofit Exchange.
Hugh: Congratulations. We’ll try not to embarrass you today. So you have three books, and I have three books. We will share a bit about each book in a brief synopsis. It’s not meant to be a thorough book review. It’s Hugh and Russ lifting out reasons why you should read this book. While we are queuing up, we are talking about leaders reading. Do you want to say more about that?
Russell: That is part of a growing organization and transformational leaders always evolve. They set the table so that people who are in the organizations can evolve. Personal development is one of the reasons that people might volunteer with you or serve on your board because you’re either growing or going backward. Some would go as far as to say you’re either growing or dying. It’s important to increase that knowledge base. What I’ve discovered as I grow is that I don’t know more every day, but that’s perfectly all right. We want to bring you these resources. We’d like to make it a regular segment. Many of our guests have come on with books. We want to talk to them. Oprah Winfrey did it well with her book club. Maybe some of these people we can bring back to talk about their books because there is so much fascinating literature out there. We have six pretty good picks to talk about today, don’t we, Hugh?
Hugh: We do. The other part about leaders read is I listen to a lot of podcasts. Our friend Ken Courtright has one called Grow Your Business Today. He says he reads a book with a highlighter. When he goes back and reads it again, he uses a different color highlighter. He highlights different things because he is ready to learn the next thing. I find that to be so very true. There are a lot of challenges. We will highlight six. Maybe in a few months, depending on comments from our listeners, we will highlight a few more. Let’s list the books to get our listeners’ interests up. What are your three? Then I will share my three.
Russell: I have three great ones. The first one is Asking Rights by Tom Ralser. He wrote a book before that called Return on Investment for Nonprofits. The second book is The Guide to Proposal Writing from The Foundation Center. It is a classic. It is a staple. It is the book on writing grants. There are a lot out there, but this one is pretty powerful. And because everyone loves numbers so much, I have a wonderful book by Mark Mullen called The Nonprofit Budget Builder Toolkit. Everyone just loves those numbers so much.
Hugh: That is awesome. Mine are more generic. We teach nonprofit leaders to install really good business practices in their organization. The first one is Twist by Julie Cottineau, who we had as a guest a while back. That’s about who we are, our identity, and our promise to people. It’s good for nonprofits to think about that. I don’t guess many do that I have ever known.
The second one is a good book by my leadership coach who has been our guest, Roberta Gilbert. The whole leadership methodology by psychiatrist Murray Bowen, M.D. It’s called Extraordinary Relationships. It’s the anchor for us knowing ourselves.
The third one, and I live in Virginia, and up the road from me is where Napoleon Hill grew up. The Napoleon Hill Foundation. A couple years ago, we had Don Green, who is the executive director of the Napoleon Hill Foundation. I don’t know about you Russell, but I find over and over again that nonprofit leaders have not heard of the work of Napoleon Hill, who interviewed 500 of the top leaders in the world and created this methodology. Those are the three. Which one do you want to start with? Pick one of those awesome books.
Russell: I am going to jump right into Asking Rights by Tom Ralsin. One of the questions that people should answer in that: Why should I give you money? It was posed to him early in his career. It’s that view of how do you view the people that fund you? Tom’s premise is that what you really have are investors. I know a lot of people think of donors. Donors are investors. They are partnering with you to make an impact. When you look at monies that people contribute to you, or talent—there is time, talent, and treasure—when people contribute one of these three things or a combination of them, they are making an investment in you and betting on your team. What can you do? You have different groups of investors. Donors are just one type of investor. You have different funders. It could be pure investors or people funding you through grants or sponsors or memberships. Those are people who invest in you.
When it comes to funding a nonprofit, what matters is not what the nonprofit themselves thinks. It’s what it is that people are getting. What do the people who are writing the checks think about what it is that you’re doing? They’re investing in you. What are people who are getting the services think? It’s not about us. We always have to have an eye toward whether we are making a profit. I know profit sounds like a dirty word, but Tom talks of it as a return on investment. That’s what people who are banking on us are looking at. They are looking at the return. They contribute to help us keep our doors open as nonprofits.
This book is about more how to successfully fund a nonprofit. He is talking about a lot of different areas. He is talking about sustainable funding. It’s important to capture the ideas of what value means to the different audiences that you have. From this perspective, it’s about the people who invest in you. How do you sustain that? What are different funding pathways? What are you open to in terms of learning, in terms of growing, and thinking about what’s important to the people who are writing these checks? Look at the view from the other side of the desk. It doesn’t matter if it’s a corporation or a foundation. Everyone has their motivations. It’s looking at that to figure out what’s important.
He spent a lot of time doing this. When he wrote ROI for Nonprofits, he looked at a lot of these areas. But from the point he wrote that book to the point he wrote this one, he made some other discoveries along the way in terms of what makes people fundraising-ready. He had criteria. He is a nonprofit consultant who helps people raise more money. He has a 20-question list of criteria he uses to determine if an organization is ready. If they can’t check off on all 20 areas, he won’t take their money. He will talk about which areas need to be shored up and go back to doing that. This book talks about those 20 areas, which are important to fundraisers and establishing that value that you bring. This is a very good book to read. I think when we sit down, we look at the value that we give people who are constituents of ours as a nonprofit. You have the people who directly get the benefits; you have those who write the checks to pay for them. That could be corporations, foundations, government entities, social entrepreneurs, donors. Each of these different groups have a different set of values or perspectives on what’s important. What he is talking about here is understanding that and not changing who you are, but explaining in your own language how you are bringing value and incorporating what matters to them. It’s not necessarily about us if we are doing services for people.
This is a very good book. Take a few hours to read. This is one you get the highlighter for. There are lots of things to think about and consider. And periodically go back to it and look at some of these things to remind yourself what are some of the questions we should be asking. Are we going to the people that make sense? If someone says, “What gives you the right to ask us for money?” if you have the building blocks in place, it will be pretty clear. This book gives you loads of building blocks.
Hugh: Russell is the funding guru. He asks the questions that other people don’t ask. Some of what your methodology is is coming out through what you have picked out of this book. What do potential funders want to see? You take it to the board. What do board members want to get out of this? That is important.
Share with us some of your disciplines for reading books. You have an extensive library. When I talk to you, you often quote books, even in these interviews. What is your discipline? Do you read every day, or a certain time a week?
Russell: I don’t know if you remember back when our auto industry started having hiccups. They were talking about the concept of just-in-time learning. I found all sorts of fascinating stuff on interest areas. I get a number of services. I’m always looking at books because it’s really important to be open to learning on the fly. Increasing my knowledge base on nonprofits has always been important. New developments take place. Thinking shifts. I continue to collect books. I have library cards in two counties. Public libraries are the best investment running for our tax dollars. I am always on the lookout for new articles, new information, new books. A cross-pollination of ideas across different publications and books. I have run across great TED Talks. There is so much out there. The world is our oyster now thanks to technology, which is aggravating when it doesn’t work, but a thing of beauty when it does. I am constantly learning.
Readers lead, and I have my nose in a book. I can highlight on a computer. I read with pens and highlighters. A lot of notes in the margins of my hard copies. Some of them are a little dog-eared. I like to read a lot of books on learning. Those are some I can highlight, too.
As we go along and we are building a resource area, we’d love to hear about what some of you folks out there who tune in are reading. All of you in the community, what are you reading? What do you want to know more about? We’re always open to that, and finding new resources. That is what the community is all about. Sharing that knowledge base and all those wonderful resources that are all out there. Now there is so much information flying at us from all directions. Where do we start? People don’t need new information. They need somebody to help us carve out the most important pieces and assemble it in a way that will help them get to where they need to go. That is one thing I pride myself on being able to do: a possibility engineer.
Hugh: The possibility engineer. The podcast is supported by sponsors. The sponsor today is SynerVision’s online community for community builders. *Sponsor message*
We have interviewed Julie Cottineau. Her book is Twist. She is a branding specialist. She was in charge of North American branding for Virgin Airlines and a number of other big deals. Now she does her own brand. Her book is available on Amazon. The full name is Twist: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands. She has this color theme that goes throughout it. Twist is mentioned on about every page of her book. Lots of color throughout.
I asked her what are the top three branding mistakes that people make? She said it’s hard to keep it to three. She said the mistakes that nonprofits are making. We talked about not really understanding what a brand is. Confusing your brand with your marketing. That’s a big mistake. Your marketing is how you get your message out there, and your branding is your fundamental story. What are you about? Why should people care? If we think about our favorite movies and books, they have a twist. She develops this concept in the book. I couldn’t put it down when I got it. You could build my nonprofit twist. That’s what you want to do.
If I only had 10 times the budget, people say. That’s a big mistake. Stop saying that. I could throw 20 times the marketing budget at you, but if your brand isn’t in shape, your fundamental story of who you are, who you serve, and what is different about you, then it’s a waste of money.
She goes on to say that your brand is not your logo. Your brand is your fundamental story. So many nonprofits will show me this logo as their brand. That is a representation of your brand. Your brand is represented by your logo. That is one way. But most importantly, your brand is your brand promise. Julie has what she calls Brand School. People go through her school, which is a live event, where you do the nuts and bolts of branding.
On her website, BrandTwist.com, she has the Nike logo. It’s not about sneakers. It’s about their story. On the interview on the podcast, we talk about her points about branding. It’s really a course on branding. When you go to her website, she offers you an evaluation of her brand. It’s called BrandTwist.com. She will do an evaluation. But the book, it helped me understand all that stuff I was doing wrong, Russell. I have a good logo, but that’s not my brand.
The other part of brand we work with is the culture and leadership. Everyone on your board, everyone in your organization, represents your brand. We have heard of airlines dragging people off seats. That one event by one person did enormous brand damage, as our guest David Corbin said. That was brand slaughter. Next time, we will review his book. It’s out there, makes you think about it seriously. Brand slaughter is when people misbehave or act out of brand promise. They have damaged your brand.
I recommend Twist. Russell, back to you.
Russell: She said that twist is your most important tool. There is a lot in there. The questionnaire is brilliant. That is a great book to look at.
The second book I was looking at was The Foundation Center’s Guide to Proposal Writing. It’s a staple for anybody that writes grants. They wrote the book on that. They are probably the best source bar none for information on foundations and corporate programs that are out there and what they are doing. They talk you through some strategies for working on your proposal and some activities outside of the proposal itself, things that you need to consider while you are putting these proposals together. The meat and potatoes of what they offer, and there are loads of examples of successful proposals that have been submitted, where they show you these particular areas of the proposal they are talking about.
For grants, you want to make sure you have all of the parts. You want to have your credible programs. There are elements to show you are ready for funding that they address. You have the correct structures in place; you are clear on your mission, vision, and values. They roll into the various parts of the proposal, one being the executive summary. The executive summary is the highlight reel for your proposal. It’s the piece that you would want to write last because it really drills down into what it is that you’re doing, so you want to be clear on that. But it has different pieces in it. What you are looking at in the executive summary, you want to highlight the whole enchilada. What is the problem you are solving? Then describe your solution. How much you need, your organization’s key assets and people. You write this last. That is the first piece.
The statement of need comes next. It should be short and persuasive. As short and persuasive as you can make it without taking anything away from what you are trying to do. You provide information that supports your cause, your business case, any relevant information like business stats. You collect the best sources of information in that statement of need. What will help you make that case? What information are you gathering? Are you focused on numerical and quantitative stuff, or are you focused on qualitative? For building that need statement, find the most authoritative and recent sources of information you can find so that it adds strength to your proposal.
The project description will be the longest piece of it. It is your approach to what you are going to do. What you keep in the project description is your objectives. What are the measurable targets you are trying to reach? What are the methods you are going to use to get there? What do you need in terms of staffing and administration? The next piece is evaluation. How do you know what you’re doing is successful? Are you getting the work done? Finally, you address the sustainability piece. Is this going to be an ongoing project, or how are we going to be able to keep this project rolling after the funding piece is gone?
The next piece is the evaluation. That really gets an area all to itself because this is where measures are important. The view that a lot of people take on the evaluation piece of the puzzle is that we have to check these boxes just to make the funder happy. It’s a necessary evil. But the proper view in my estimation is to think of it as a way to figure out what is working, what is not working, how we can get better at what we do, what’s going on out there, what have we learned based on research that has been done, and can we create our own measures? If you don’t create your own, other people will create them for you. In being unique and doing something unique, the measures that you have in mind may not fit exactly.
The other thing to keep in mind is can my people use them? Can we employ them in the field? Will they be useful in the field for people who are delivering services? That is a good place to collect information, if it makes sense.
The key is it all depends on the funder. When you read a request for a proposal—this is the funding agency’s description of what they want to accomplish with their investments—they set some standards and criteria. You want to see if it’s in alignment with what you do. You determine a level and type of valuation that is needed. You determine whether the evaluation is on the project you create. Maybe you create a product or program that moves people to a different place. Or maybe it’s a process. You have to decide if you are evaluating a program, process ,or both. Then there is quantitative data, numerical-based data. We have qualitative data that may be based on people through third-party evaluations or questionnaires. There should be linear when you talk about evaluation from start of the project to end of the project. The evaluation should take place all the way through. When you start off, you should have a vision for where you want people to go. The professional term is the theory of change. What is going to happen when people take advantage of this program we are offering? Where is it going to move them to? It’s a question of funder preferences. You can do this evaluation in-house, or maybe you bring a third party on. A lot of things make sense.
They also talk about the budget. Of course, your budget ought to be aligned with your objectives. It should be reasonable based on the work you do. There are a lot of expenses. You want to measure those expenses, whether they are new costs or ongoing costs, whether they are direct or indirect. What revenue sources do you have? Here, they talk more about other things because the proposal is to get revenue. When you make a budget, you want to think about revenue. Not only will you be addressing the budget for the project, but most of the time, when you write a proposal, they want to see the budget for the entire organization so they can see how your project fits in with the overall budget. Are they going to be the only people contributing money? How does the money that you’re requesting fit in with the rest of your projects and programs and overall strategy? It’s all about tying the strategy pieces together. That is critical.
This is probably the only book you will ever need. Me being me, I read all sorts of things on this. But you would be hard-pressed to find a book better than this one that explains to you the process of writing grants.
Hugh: Awesome. That is your sweet spot, your area of expertise, and experience. I teach transformational leadership, as I’m sure you do. There are two fundamental methodologies that we rally around at SynerVision. Transformational leadership is the culture of an orchestra or choir. It functions at a higher level. In order for that to happen, the leader must function up. The orchestra is a reflection of the conductor. The board and the organization we lead is a reflection of our leadership as a leader. Oftentimes, leaders complain about their boards not functioning in the matter they would expect them to, or how the board functions itself to function. I typically ask what is your role in that? People look at me like I’m crazy. No, you look in the mirror. If the conductor doesn’t get the sound they want, they start looking at themselves. What they see is what I get. They respond to me as a conductor.
To be an effective transformational leader, there are other books we can review by authors who are long dead, so we can’t interview them. We will talk about Bowen systems. My coach is Roberta Gilbert. She has a number of books on Bowen systems. She is a psychiatrist and has written books about Bowen methodologies. It’s called Bowen Family Systems, and there is a Bowen Institute at Georgetown University. It’s a methodology still unfolding. People write papers and study it. Transformational leadership is dependent on the leader stepping up. Bowen systems is how leaders step up. Those systems are compatible. After 12 years, I still work with Roberta as my personal coach. I continue to read her books over and over. My wife and I have been through this together, and we share things and learn from each other. We learn from experiences. Learning something and living with it for a period of time has maximum impact.
I would say if you are leading a church or nonprofit, you can’t do it without this book, without this methodology. You cannot be the leader you were created to be without knowing yourself. It’s studying ourselves from our family of origin. In the book, she talks about Bowen’s heritage, what led him from family therapy to this leadership research. She talks about herself and her journey and her work as a colleague of Murray Bowen. Now she is a purist. She teaches exact Bowen theory. There are other people who have rewritten it for their purposes in their books. That’s okay. I have rewritten transformational leadership in my books as a conductor. Ultimately, leaders transform cultures, transform themes. It begins with self-transformation. Extraordinary leadership helps you understand yourself.
When I first started this, I had written my books, defined my methodology. Everything is working well. Why do I need to study something else? My wife said, “I’m going.” I guess I better go. Just find out what it’s about. It took me a whole year to wrap my head around this. I am a slow learner, but I was too blind with what I was already doing. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that I would be a better leader if I would embrace this. I would be able to transform myself in a more appropriate and direct way. This is more permanent. Over time, we continue to learn.
In her book, she talks about the eight concepts of Bowen systems. She starts out with triangles, the basic building block of human relationships of three people. They are neither bad nor good; they’re neutral. If anxiety is present, it goes around the triangle. If there is a power play, one person takes a power position in the triangle. When you start seeing things out of balance, look at where the triangles are, and the overlapping triangles.
The second one is differentiation of self. Who are we? Have we defined our principles for decision-making? Our principles define how we’re going to make decisions. If I am in the face of conflict, I stay calm and approach the conflict open and directly. Stick to the facts. Before this, I avoided conflict, and it got worse. Basic self is adhering to our fundamental guiding principles. Pseudo-self is when we make a decision to please somebody, which is not a good choice. They are never pleased. It tends to irritate them and everybody else when you cave into what other people are pushing you to do. Differentiation of self is how we are not fused with our spouse, our best friend, our parents, our dead parents. We cease to be an individual. Fusion is how we act in a matter that we think the other person wants us to act, and we can’t break out of that.
There is the multi-generational transmission process. I am the son of a CPA who is the son of a CPA. I broke the thread. It’s very linear: good/bad, left/right. Mom was not linear. What am I? I am a mixture of both. Rigid structure, got to be creative without breaking the rules. Multi-general transmission process. What happens at the graveyard in the little town my mom was in when I was born. The McPhersons, which is my middle name. I heard the stories of multiple generations, and I learned about myself. It’s not bad or good. Just learning about self. There is the family generation process. There is a number of principles, concepts that Bowen identifies. He teaches the concepts.
The last one is societal degeneration. We are seeing that one play out. He didn’t finish writing that one.
Sibling position. I am the oldest brother of brothers. He didn’t start this, but he did more research on how we know ourselves based on our family of origins. There is the family generation process, and there is the differentiation of self, which is basically what it’s all about. Who are we? How do we show up? We really show up like we did in our family of origin. So does everybody else. This helps us understand people. We don’t correct other people. We don’t type them. We don’t categorize them. We try to understand them, and we observe behaviors. That helps us observe without getting it on you.
A couple of Bowen quotes: “That which is created in a relationship can be fixed in a relationship.”
“You have inherited a lifetime of tribulation. Everybody has inherited it. Take it over. Take the most of it. When you have decided that you know the right way, do the best you can with it.” I said the basic overfunctioning. I meet leaders that say here are the goals, here is how you get there, go to work. They tell people what to do. That is a form of overfunctioning. Never do what someone else can do for themselves. Oh, I always ought to be willing to do stuff that I ask other people to do. The key word is “willing.” Every time you do something, you rob a volunteer of an opportunity to do something they want to do. Back to Russell’s premise earlier. Find out what people want. Let them do it.
This is the antithesis of Freud. If you see a Freud therapist, he/she says, “How does that make you feel?” Bowen says, “It’s okay to have empathy, but get out of it quickly.” Feeling decisions are faulty decisions. Thinking decisions are well-grounded, principle-based decisions. The goal is to rise up out of the emotional together to find what gathers us all.
We need to calm down, be in control of ourselves, and be calm and present. He says, “In the history of calming down, has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down?” There is a lot of little gems. She quotes Bowen in every chapter.
I have given you some concepts and some quotes. I think it is an essential book for leaders who want to step up their game and become a much better leader. Russell, what do you think of that?
Russell: That is an essential part. I went through the transformational leadership program on my journey to becoming a WayFinder. I had never heard of Murray Bowen. When I read this book, it was an eye-opener. The idea that all of these inputs from the family and positioning, it was completely foreign to me. I had no idea. These are things that were driving behavior under the surface. Transformational leadership is an area, a course in itself.
There are five types of behaviors and standards that transformational leaders set as attributes. They are charismatic in their behaviors; inspirational; intellectually stimulating, they love to teach and help people grow; considerate of individuals; and are real. Very authentic. Authenticity is that fifth piece. This is something that would be great for you to read. It will help you up your leadership game. Leading with influence. Leaders are influencers. They don’t necessarily do everything, but they make sure that things get done.
Hugh: What is your next book?
Russell: Knowing as I said before how much people love numbers, the next book is The Nonprofit Budget Builder Toolkit by Mark Mullen. He wrote this book a few years ago. It talks about how to build the budget. What are some of the things you need to consider? It’s not just about expenses. You have revenues. You have different types of budgets. It can be confusing to put together a budget for a nonprofit. A lot of people don’t always understand what their costs are. This book will help walk you through the purpose of a budget, a great overview. Talk about the types of budgets.
You can have a traditional or a zero-base budget. Zero-base will come from not having any history. They talk about the different categories of funding. You have discretionary, non-discretionary. You have restricted incomes, and others that are unrestricted. Every year, you will be looking at the process of budgeting. If you have a rolling budget, which is tied to your goals and your objectives, it helps build accountability. You’re not just looking at the other things you are evaluating, but money comes into play, too. It shows people what they are getting for their investment.
Sometimes, in a perfect world, you do the budget, and it stays the same. But sometimes things happen. So you have to revise it on the ground. The key is to have a process for working the budget. This book is very good at giving you a process for doing that. It will also talk about some of the work you need to do up front. If you have a good accountant. A lot of things are driven out of your chart of accounts. Your chart of accounts defines everything that comes in and goes out. Your chart of accounts is where you do this.
They talk about general accounts. The types of accounts. Asset, liability, income, equity, and expense. There is a little bit of accounting around it. They talk about accounting methods and advantages and disadvantages of them. If you have an accountant on staff, that’s great. But there are full-charge bookkeepers from CPAs to others that you can engage. Fractional CFOs. There are other ways to help you measure. It’s important to keep track of everything.
What is recommended in here is what we call a rolling budget. You have a projection for what you will have come in and the timing. Then there is what actually comes in and goes out. By building this history of what you project and what actually comes in and goes out, you start getting better. You start recognizing what can drive costs and revenue. You can start to assess your program performance. It’s all about how you do it. There are a number of different types of revenue that go in to a nonprofit. Your programs, you have a block of programs. Some are profitable, and others are not. They talk about how to classify them. That’s important. You have an operational budget, which is your forecast for your services and your operating expenses, your fundraising budget, and your budget statement of financial activities. Then you have the financial budget, which has your cash flow, debt service, investments, and budgeted statement of financial position, your balance sheet. These are the working pieces.
This is a really good product because it explains briefly but in good detail what all of these items are, and how they fit into what you’re doing. It also talks to you about how to create budgets for specific things. I built some of the models out of here into a fundraising course I put together. Having a good budget process is important. Having people on your board and on staff that understand budgeting is good.
One of the items in here that people may have issue with is an operating reserve fund. It’s a cash reserve. The common term for it is surplus. It’s having money left over at the end of the year. This is a no-brainer for people that are running businesses. Nonprofit circles don’t think about that. The business term for it is profit. It’s great to have that. You need that rainy day fund. You want to try to work that in because things can shift, particularly if you are dealing with government funding. Even with corporate funding, the economy can change. You want to be prepared for any shifts that might take place and have some revenue to operate in in any unforseen circumstances. One that we have seen a lot is over the last couple of years is weather. You have a weather event that throws everything in your community off. How are you going to be able to reopen your doors? Having a surplus is important.
What about long-term things? You may need to replace furniture equipment, vehicles. All of these things wear out. You want to have a capital budget for any large purchases that you’re going to make, or repairs to your building. Getting equipment. You never know what sort of things you’re going to need. This particular publication walks you through all of that. You prepare a master budget and program budgets. Everything needs to be tied into your strategic plan, so you have operating and financial budgets.
This is a wonderful book because there are a lot of graphics in it. You have charts. Show, don’t tell. You can see the flow. All of the information is easy to understand. If you have a financial professional accountant to help you through this process, that is even better. Your budget should be tied to all of your activities.
Hugh: Wise words indeed. I find lots of deficits. We have a perfect amount of time for the last book. Here is the bonus book. We did interview Don Green at the Napoleon Hill Center. He is published some of Napoleon Hill’s unpublished writings. There are quite a few of them. You and I have been at CEO Space where leadership guru Bob Proctor carries the book out and reads it every day. It’s staying in tune with the philosophy. Jim Rohn said you have to have three books in the library: Think and Grow Rich, As a Man Thinketh, and The Bible. Collections of wisdom.
Napoleon Hill is Think and Grow Rich. It’s a collection of his philosophies of achievement, his laws of success. He lists the attributes of wealth, and money is the last one. I think there are 13 attributes because he said it’s the least important. We put down money. We think of it as not necessary in the nonprofit world because of the word “nonprofit.” It’s like trying to run a car with no gas. My analogy is the money is the gas for the car. We’re not getting rich. We’re building assets that are the backbone of our stability and our legacy. We’re doing something that will last after we’re gone.
You read chapter two with the attributes for success: have a definite purpose; do something good that brings value to humankind; keep a positive mental attitude; and surround yourself with successful people. I find there are many people in the work of charities who have never heard of Napoleon Hill and his writings. He did a radio show for many years, and there is a book called Napoleon Hill on the Air that has recently been released. But you can get it on Audible, the audio recordings of him doing things. It is a transcription of his interviews. He is talking about the laws of success and giving him examples. The interviewer asked him pointed questions.
Think and Grow Rich is chock-full of things. He met Andrew Carnegie, who gave him lessons of introduction to all of his successful friends like Ford, Wanamaker, Woolworth, five presidents, JP Morgan. There were lots and lots of people that Napoleon went in and interviewed. He developed these laws of success.
He has some quotes throughout the book that are so important. “Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice. Never a result of selfishness.”
“Desire is the starting point of all achievement. Not a hope, not a wish, but a keen, pulsating desire which transcends everything.”
We worry about failing. He said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
As you were talking about strategy, “First comes thought. Then the organization of that thought into ideas and plans. Then the transformation of those plans into the reality. The beginning as you observe is in your imagination.” Sometimes that is where we stop.
Here is the famous one, “What the mind of a person can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” It all starts with a belief system. That’s where it starts. That is one percent inspiration, 99% perspiration. We leverage with other people.
I find people start out and don’t have a team around them. That is so key. Definite purpose, very clear plan, like you said. Bring something that is valuable to the world. Have a positive mental attitude. Failure is not an option. Surround yourself with people better than you. What my friend Russell Dennis says is if you’re the best person on the team, you better run because you are not going anywhere.
Russell, you’ve given some great insights. These are great books. We’ll list the books on the webpage. We encourage people to read them. There are a few pennies that benefit SynerVision if you buy on our portal through our Amazon Affiliate Program. Russell, thank you for pulling these books up and sharing some great wisdom today.
Russell: Yes, it’s been fun. We’ve been kicking this around. I’m glad we got it done. We’d love to hear more about what you’re reading, what’s important to you, what you’ve learned from these books. Think and Grow Rich is where the concept of the mastermind came from, by surrounding yourself with people that are very wise. If I’m the smartest guy in the room, I run and get into another room. I am in the wrong room. Thank you for joining us.