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  • A RARE LOOK – Novak Djokovic Like You’ve Never Known Him
    By Bill Simons - Wednesday Jul 5, 2017

    LOVE & HARMONY: SOUNDING LIKE A SPIRITUAL TEACHER, NOVAK SPEAKS OF LOOKING WITHIN, CALMING THE MIND AND FINDING PERSPECTIVE Novak Djokovic has always been a seeker – a person who takes different paths, who always explores. You might call him a restless spirit – or maybe an old soul. As a kid, his extraordinary tennis teacher, […]

    Source: Inside Tennis Magazine
  • Using your brand strategy everyday in everything
    Wednesday May 17, 2017

    If you’ve ever researched branding you’ve probably heard jargony terms like “brand proposition”, “brand promise”, ‘positioning”, “personality”, “voice”, or “unique selling proposition (USP)” tossed around. Any rigorous rebranding process typically starts by establishing a clear strategy, using at least one, if not many, of these approaches. There are a lot of approaches for developing brand strategy, any one of which can help your team get clear on what you’re trying to communicate.

    A well-developed brand strategy should help everyone see how your strategic plan or mission comes to life in day-to-day communications, both inside your organization and outside of it. But too often, nonprofits and businesses view their brand strategy as something that’s only useful when creating a new logo or tagline-- not as something that can help transform how everyone in your organization communicates every day. When folks criticize branding as “navel-gazing”, decorative, or extraneous, it’s usually because the team behind it has developed it in a vacuum. A solid nonprofit brand must originate from and be deeply tied to its vision, mission, and values, and bring them to life in dynamic ways that inspire the hearts and minds of people inside and outside of the organization.

    BIg Duck’s model for building strong nonprofit brands, which we call “brandraising”, uses two simple brand strategy concepts: Positioning and Personality. Both can help anyone on your staff– from your staff leadership and board to to your programs team and beyond– write, speak, and behave in ways that bring your mission to life and create a truly on-brand experience of your organization, head-to-toe.


    Positioning is the primary idea you want people to associate with your organization, and it’s a North Star everyone on your team can use to guide their actions daily. It’s closely related to your mission, but more focused on and oriented toward how you want to be perceived, not what you do.

    For example, Auburn’s mission is, “Auburn equips leaders with the organizational skills and spiritual resilience required to create lasting, positive impact in local communities, on the national stage, and around the world. We amplify voices and visions of faith and moral courage. We convene diverse leaders and cross-sector organizations for generative collaboration and multifaith understanding. And we research what’s working — and not — in theological education and social change-making.

    Walk into their office or meet with their team and you’ll see that mission is used rigorously to inform their work. But that language isn’t easy for staff to remember and use with every interaction. Their positioning—“Auburn is the premier leadership development center for the multifaith movement for justice.

    Publicly, Auburn shares and promotes its mission. Internally, its positioning statement gives staff a tool to express their big idea so they can be sure that everything they do supports and advances it.

    Positioning is often reductive: a simplification of what you actually do. It’s hard to get it right, but when you do, it’s a useful pocket-tool you can grab handily on the fly.

    When developing your organization’s positioning statement, make sure yours is simple, clear, and usefully distinguishing from others in your space. Remember, it’s not always something you state publicly, so you can get away with things like “the leading organization...”, for instance, which could be problematic in public-facing language.

    Got your positioning pinned down? Here’s a few ways it can be used inside your organization for maximum value.

    • Integrate an overview of your mission and positioning into your onboarding trainings for new staff and board members. Make sure everyone is clear what they are and how to use them. Consider developing a set of role plays that give them a chance to practice. 
    • Use positioning to guide how you write and speak. For example, give the positioning to the board member who’s going to speak at your upcoming event and frame it as the ‘cheat sheet’ for what they need to communicate about your organization.
    • Use positioning to help determine if new materials your vendors develop are on strategy. Does that new brochure or website, at a glance, support your positioning?


    Personality is the tone and style your organization uses to communicate. It’s relatively easy to develop and can have a transformative effect; suddenly, everyone’s writing, speaking, and representing your organization consistently. (Read Farra’s article The Power of Brand Personality at your Nonprofit for more.)

    If positioning is a more perception, or communication-oriented way to think about your mission, than personality is a more perception or communication-oriented way to live and express your organization’s values for many (but not all) organizations.

    If you’ve ever taken a class at Soul Cycle you know their staff are dynamic examples of living the brand. No matter which location you visit, Soul Cycle staffers are unrelentingly friendly, helpful, and upbeat, no matter their role or level of seniority. Sure, they have bad days, but they are clearly trained to turn on the charm whenever a customer walks in. Wouldn’t it be nice if your staff were perceived that way by your donors, clients, and board members too? They can be-- but first you need to hire and train them to do so– otherwise, they’ll continue to do what most people do naturally, just be themselves, for better and for worse.

    Auburn’s personality is Loving, Entrepreneurial, Courageous, Multifaith, Progressive, and Respected. This list of guiding attributes is distinguishing and practically useful for writing, speaking, and other external communications.

    Some of my favorite organizational personalities have had words in them like, “menschy” and “fierce”– unexpected, memorable, and useful words that staff can connect with and that help differentiate.

    Once you’ve established a list of about five adjectives that reflect the personality you’d like your organization to express consistently, consider bringing it to life in these ways.

    • Integrate your personality into hiring practices and training programs. Want to establish your organization as welcoming, warm, and embracing? Doing so means you need to hire people who are, themselves, likely to be those things, or at least know how to act that way. 
    • Create on-personality spaces, events, and partnerships. Paint the walls and put up artwork in your public spaces that reflect your personality. Pick event venues and partners whose personalities are “on brand” for you. 
    • Celebrate in personality-centric ways. Each week, a staff member at Big Duck gets to annoint next week’s “Duck of the Week”, an honorary, celebratory title with no responsibilities at all. The Duck of the Week celebration, along with others we integrate into our weekly Team Time, help us live our friendly personality trait. Similarly, sharing industry research, great case studies, and other resources each week keeps our team on our toes and better able to live our smart personality trait.
    • Use personality to guide which social media channels you use and how you use them. Is your organization inclusive, perhaps you should convene an online community. Do you want to get your supporters to see you as energetic and gutsy? Consider hosting a takeover of your Instagram or Twitter accounts. Intellectual and inquisitive? Ask questions and moderate spirited debates via comments or Facebook Live.

    Ready to get started putting positioning and personality into action? Read more on how to create a winning brand strategy on Big Duck’s blog or in my book, “Brandraising”, learn how we brought Auburn’s brand strategy to life, or give us a call.

    Source: BigDuck smart communications for nonprofits
  • Famed Little Princess 109 light show to pulsate again in Newark
    By Sam Whiting - Wednesday Aug 2, 2017

    [...] as a psychedelic light show, the group passed an audition for Bill Graham’s Fillmore West and became a six-man lighting act.The 1960s flamed out, but on Friday, Aug. 4, LP’s signature images will flicker and pulsate again for its Little Princess 109 50th Anniversary Light Show at Swiss Park in Newark.Two bands, classic rockers Eddy and Jukers, and the Grateful Dead cover band Dead Guise, will attempt to re-create the San Francisco psychedelic ballroom era in the East Bay dance hall, as the surviving members of LP — David Hillis, Kirk Linstrum, Jerry Radcliff, Gary Lawrence and Jacque Asbury Reynolds — mix the lights the way they did in 1968.The band, which had included the now late Rollin Lewis and Chris Mickey, did four or five original numbers, including one written by Hillis called “Keep Your Virginity,” and were met by charitable applause by the gathered student body in the auditorium.LP started out on the junior high school dance circuit, but within a year they’d grown from six members to nine.Eighteen hands were operating 14 slide projectors, three movie projectors, three overhead projectors, two black lights and a strobe light.“We thought we’d died and gone to light show heaven,” says Hillis, who never left his regular job, making ketchup at the Hunt’s cannery in Hayward.Among those who played to a backdrop provided by LP were the Band, the Byrds, Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, the Youngbloods, and Frank Zappa, according to Lillis.After the Fillmore West closed, LP tried to transition to Winterland but there wasn’t enough work in it, and the collective finally folded after a Cow Palace gig on New Year’s Eve 1977.Three years ago, the lights were brought out of the dark by Radcliff, who had not been in the original jug band but was there when LP transitioned into a light show group (accepted despite being a student at rival Tennyson High School in Hayward).There will be a one-hour rehearsal for the other five members to practice the liquid projections, which involve an upside-down glass clock face in each hand.Colored water and mineral oil are poured in and delicately swirled to form the amoeba shapes that are projected onto a screen.

    Source: Sam Whiting
  • 7 Ways Mindfulness Can Unlock The Door To Your Authentic Life
    By Christine Horner - Friday Jun 2, 2017

    “Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” — Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness In between work, family and social media, we take few precious moments to reflect upon our lives and realize the importance of mindfulness. Perhaps, you purposely avoided looking at your life because, if you’re totally […]

    The post 7 Ways Mindfulness Can Unlock The Door To Your Authentic Life appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

    Source: Dumb Little Man - Tips for Life
  • Ex-Googlers Build a Neural Network to Protect Your Heart
    By Tim Moynihan - Monday Mar 20, 2017

    AliveCor's little EKG device has been around for a few years, but now it has a much smarter brain behind it.

    Source: Wired Product Reviews
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