Ending soon – How to Start a Nonprofit Course Pre-release Discount

Starting a nonprofit organization is not easy nor is it simple. And it is very critical that you get it right. The consequences can be serious if your paperwork and foundation are not carefully and diligently prepared. There are forms to complete, applications to file, budgets to develop, and dates to meet.

We’re almost ready to release a complete How to Start a Nonprofit Course and you can get a deep discount now.

How? Just go to this page to see everything the course will cover and click on the button at the bottom of the page. A discount coupon will soon be in your email box.

You are NOT pre-enrolling and you are NOT paying for anything right now. This is just our way of saying thanks for being a reader of The Practical Leader.


Top Earning Side Jobs

Top-Paying Side Jobs – Infographic

In addition to their full-time work, many people also decide to take on a variety of side jobs, usually because it’s something they enjoy or they just want to make some extra cash. What people might not realize is that some of these side jobs offer very good rates of pay, in a few cases a far better rate than their actual employment!

Among the best-paying side jobs are sign language interpreter, which can pay almost $40 an hour, and software developer, which often earns a solid $30 an hour. The added beauty of both of these roles is that there is a consistently high demand, so there is likely to be a perfect opportunity not too far away. These aren’t the only side jobs with an excellent pay rate; perhaps copy writing, freelance photography or bookkeeping is more for you. Whatever your interests and your expertise, there’s probably a top-paying side job to suit.

This infographic by All Finance Tax (www.allfinancetax.com) outlines some of the best-paying side jobs on offer today, as well as detailing the flexibility of each one in order for you to combine it with your full-time work. They can be a really good earner and give you the satisfaction of fulfilling a role that you very much enjoy.


Back to normal

CHAIN & LOCKWe were hacked. This website and two more that I administer were hacked by person or persons unknown. It was, in light of all that could have happened relatively benign. The hacker(s) found a backdoor and installed a malware program that did three things.

First, it enabled them to send spamvertising from my websites. Using the websites as a source, they sent out ads. If you got any ads for products or services you did not inquire about, it is spamvertising. That’s how we first discovered the intrusion. We received notice from a server host that spamvertising was coming from our site.

Second, it enabled the hacker(s) to set up phony pages, again with advertising. Through our procedures we found out that there were pages in Japanese, again advertising products. If you own or administer any websites, there is a simple way to learn if anyone has done this to your site(s). From Google or from Google Chrome, type in Site:mywebsite.com (where mywebsite.com is the address of your website), and press enter. Google will list every page of your website. Look through them to find any you did not create.

Third, if someone googled a topic and one of our pages came up in the search, when someone clicked on it, it might work or it might not. Some of them became redirects to, you guessed it, spamvertising.

But, we’ve fixed it now by downloading all our sites, cleaning them thoroughly, fixing any security holes, installing a higher level of security protection, and reloading them. We’ve also changed all passwords to make them much stronger.

I was surprised to discover just how aggressive hackers are. There are thousands of attempts to log in to websites like mine every hour. Thousands. Happily I can report that no transmittable viruses have been found so visitors to this and my other sites are safe. You need do nothing except continuing with your normal internet precautions.

Thank you for being patient. My regular posting schedule will resume this week.

Livescribe Sky – an easy to use pen for taking digital notes

wifi-smartpen_recordSeveral times a week I sit in meetings with clients, board members, and team leaders. In each of them things are said, ideas proposed, and conclusions made that need to be retained, shared, and referred to later. I have been writing notes on a paper tablet then scanning and sending to those who need to see them. And among those reading this, there are doubtless those who take notes directly on an iPad or other tablet, perhaps even a laptop.

But I like paper and pen or pencil. I can’t readily make diagrams or drawings on a laptop or iPad. Writing on paper is somehow reassuring. I’ve even had clients tell me they are reassured that I take notes on paper because when the person sitting across from them is tapping away on a keyboard they are never sure if that person is paying attention or posting to Facebook.

But there has not been an easy and straightforward way of getting what I write on paper into the digital and virtual world.

Until now.

Livescribe has actually been around for a few years but I just discovered them last month. After researching their products I decided on the Livescribe Sky Wifi pen. It records what I write, and if I want to it will record what is being said as well. It will automatically sync with my Evernote account (another useful tool I’ll review next week). And I can send my scribblings on paper directly to the people who need to see them.

The most recent client I used the Livescribe with relaxed when he learned that I would send what we spoke about to him by email. He had been so absorbed in what we discussed that he had not taken notes himself.

So if you attend meetings, lectures, classes, sit with clients, participate in group and team meetings, or just want to pitch an idea that you sketch out on paper, Livescribe is for you.

What’s required? A Livescribe pen, an Evernote account (it’s free and when you sign up with Livescribe you get even more storage for free), and a wifi connection. Well, even if you don’t have wifi it comes with a cable so you can connect to a USB port. You will need to connect your Livescribe to a computer from time to time to download updates to the software.

You will also need paper, but not just any paper. Livescribe uses standard paper with microdots printed in special patterns. The pen comes with a starter notebook and you can get more in two sizes on Amazon. If you have a color laser printer that is Adobe®PostScript® compatible and can print at 600dpi or higher, you can print your own. But the notebooks are really quite reasonably priced through Amazon, about the same as ordinary plain paper notebooks.

Are there issues? The first one I got was defective. The small video display did not work. But the replacement works fine and Livescribe warranties the video display for two years (which is about the battery life anyway).

So, I like it and I recommend it. It is a Practical Leader Recommended Product.

The 15 diseases of leadership according to Pope Francis

From the Harvard Business Review, April 14, 2015, by Gary Hamel

pope francisPope Francis has made no secret of his intention to radically reform the administrative structures of the Catholic church, which he regards as insular, imperious, and bureaucratic. He understands that in a hyper-kinetic world, inward-looking and self-obsessed leaders are a liability.

Last year, just before Christmas, the Pope addressed the leaders of the Roman Curia — the Cardinals and other officials who are charged with running the church’s byzantine network of administrative bodies. The Pope’s message to his colleagues was blunt. Leaders are susceptible to an array of debilitating maladies, including arrogance, intolerance, myopia, and pettiness. When those diseases go untreated, the organization itself is enfeebled. To have a healthy church, we need healthy leaders.

Through the years, I’ve heard dozens of management experts enumerate the qualities of great leaders. Seldom, though, do they speak plainly about the “diseases” of leadership. The Pope is more forthright. He understands that as human beings we have certain proclivities — not all of them noble. Nevertheless, leaders should be held to a high standard, since their scope of influence makes their ailments particularly infectious.

The Catholic Church is a bureaucracy: a hierarchy populated by good-hearted, but less-than-perfect souls. It that sense, it’s not much different than your organization. That’s why the Pope’s counsel is relevant to leaders everywhere.

With that in mind, I spent a couple of hours translating the Pope’s address into something a little closer to corporate-speak. (I don’t know if there’s a prohibition on paraphrasing Papal pronouncements, but since I’m not Catholic, I’m willing to take the risk.)

Herewith, then, the Pope (more or less):


The leadership team is called constantly to improve and to grow in rapport and wisdom, in order to carry out fully its mission. And yet, like any body, like any human body, it is also exposed to diseases, malfunctioning, infirmity. Here I would like to mention some of these “[leadership] diseases.” They are diseases and temptations which can dangerously weaken the effectiveness of any organization.

  1. The disease of thinking we are immortal, immune, or downright indispensable, [and therefore] neglecting the need for regular check-ups. A leadership team which is not self-critical, which does not keep up with things, which does not seek to be more fit, is a sick body. A simple visit to the cemetery might help us see the names of many people who thought they were immortal, immune, and indispensable! It is the disease of those who turn into lords and masters, who think of themselves as above others and not at their service. It is the pathology of power and comes from a superiority complex, from a narcissism which passionately gazes at its own image and does not see the face of others, especially the weakest and those most in need. The antidote to this plague is humility; to say heartily, “I am merely a servant. I have only done what was my duty.”
  2. Another disease is excessive busyness.It is found in those who immerse themselves in work and inevitably neglect to “rest a while.” Neglecting needed rest leads to stress and agitation. A time of rest, for those who have completed their work, is necessary, obligatory and should be taken seriously: by spending time with one’s family and respecting holidays as moments for recharging.
  3. Then there is the disease of mental and [emotional] “petrification.”It is found in leaders who have a heart of stone, the “stiff-necked;” in those who in the course of time lose their interior serenity, alertness and daring, and hide under a pile of papers, turning into paper pushers and not men and women of compassion. It is dangerous to lose the human sensitivity that enables us to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice! Because as time goes on, our hearts grow hard and become incapable of loving all those around us. Being a humane leader means having the sentiments of humility and unselfishness, of detachment and generosity.
  4. The disease of excessive planning and of functionalism.When a leader plans everything down to the last detail and believes that with perfect planning things will fall into place, he or she becomes an accountant or an office manager. Things need to be prepared well, but without ever falling into the temptation of trying to eliminate spontaneity and serendipity, which is always more flexible than any human planning. We contract this disease because it is easy and comfortable to settle in our own sedentary and unchanging ways.
  5. The disease of poor coordination.Once leaders lose a sense of community among themselves, the body loses its harmonious functioning and its equilibrium; it then becomes an orchestra that produces noise: its members do not work together and lose the spirit of camaraderie and teamwork. When the foot says to the arm: ‘I don’t need you,’ or the hand says to the head, ‘I’m in charge,’ they create discomfort and parochialism.
  6. There is also a sort of “leadership Alzheimer’s disease.”It consists in losing the memory of those who nurtured, mentored and supported us in our own journeys. We see this in those who have lost the memory of their encounters with the great leaders who inspired them; in those who are completely caught up in the present moment, in their passions, whims and obsessions; in those who build walls and routines around themselves, and thus become more and more the slaves of idols carved by their own hands.
  7. The disease of rivalry and vainglory.When appearances, our perks, and our titles become the primary object in life, we forget our fundamental duty as leaders—to “do nothing from selfishness or conceit but in humility count others better than ourselves.” [As leaders, we must] look not only to [our] own interests, but also to the interests of others.
  8. The disease of existential schizophrenia.This is the disease of those who live a double life, the fruit of that hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and of a progressive emotional emptiness which no [accomplishment or] title can fill. It is a disease which often strikes those who are no longer directly in touch with customers and “ordinary” employees, and restrict themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality, with concrete people.
  9. The disease of gossiping, grumbling, and back-biting.This is a grave illness which begins simply, perhaps even in small talk, and takes over a person, making him become a “sower of weeds” and in many cases, a cold-blooded killer of the good name of colleagues. It is the disease of cowardly persons who lack the courage to speak out directly, but instead speak behind other people’s backs. Let us be on our guard against the terrorism of gossip!
  10. The disease of idolizing superiors.This is the disease of those who court their superiors in the hope of gaining their favor. They are victims of careerism and opportunism; they honor persons [rather than the larger mission of the organization]. They think only of what they can get and not of what they should give; small-minded persons, unhappy and inspired only by their own lethal selfishness. Superiors themselves can be affected by this disease, when they try to obtain the submission, loyalty and psychological dependency of their subordinates, but the end result is unhealthy complicity.
  11. The disease of indifference to others.This is where each leader thinks only of himself or herself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of [genuine] human relationships. This can happen in many ways: When the most knowledgeable person does not put that knowledge at the service of less knowledgeable colleagues, when you learn something and then keep it to yourself rather than sharing it in a helpful way with others; when out of jealousy or deceit you take joy in seeing others fall instead of helping them up and encouraging them.
  12. The disease of a downcast face.You see this disease in those glum and dour persons who think that to be serious you have to put on a face of melancholy and severity, and treat others—especially those we consider our inferiors—with rigor, brusqueness and arrogance. In fact, a show of severity and sterile pessimism are frequently symptoms of fear and insecurity. A leader must make an effort to be courteous, serene, enthusiastic and joyful, a person who transmits joy everywhere he goes. A happy heart radiates an infectious joy: it is immediately evident! So a leader should never lose that joyful, humorous and even self-deprecating spirit which makes people amiable even in difficult situations. How beneficial is a good dose of humor! …
  13. The disease of hoarding.This occurs when a leader tries to fill an existential void in his or her heart by accumulating material goods, not out of need but only in order to feel secure. The fact is that we are not able to bring material goods with us when we leave this life, since “the winding sheet does not have pockets” and all our treasures will never be able to fill that void; instead, they will only make it deeper and more demanding. Accumulating goods only burdens and inexorably slows down the journey!
  14. The disease of closed circles, where belonging to a clique becomes more powerful than our shared identity. This disease too always begins with good intentions, but with the passing of time it enslaves its members and becomes a cancer which threatens the harmony of the organization and causes immense evil, especially to those we treat as outsiders. “Friendly fire” from our fellow soldiers, is the most insidious danger. It is the evil which strikes from within. As it says in the bible, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste.”
  15. Lastly: the disease of extravagance and self-exhibition. This happens when a leader turns his or her service into power, and uses that power for material gain, or to acquire even greater power. This is the disease of persons who insatiably try to accumulate power and to this end are ready to slander, defame and discredit others; who put themselves on display to show that they are more capable than others. This disease does great harm because it leads people to justify the use of any means whatsoever to attain their goal, often in the name of justice and transparency! Here I remember a leader who used to call journalists to tell and invent private and confidential matters involving his colleagues. The only thing he was concerned about was being able to see himself on the front page, since this made him feel powerful and glamorous, while causing great harm to others and to the organization.

Friends, these diseases are a danger for every leader and every organization, and they can strike at the individual and the community levels.

Are you building digital barriers?

phoneOne company embarked on a program to update the way it interacted with incoming customer requests. As a consulting firm, they employed a fairly large number of mentor/coaches with a wide range of experience in business. There were accountants, manufacturing experts, clothiers, restauranteurs, sales experts, marketing and PR people, and much more.

Their advertising is comprised of WOM (word of mouth), online websites and promotion, and affiliations with business and service organizations.  As the result of a dedicated effort at promotion, incoming requests escalated. That is, after all, the intended effect of advertising.

The company labored under an obsolete method of responding to requests for help and rightly wanted to modernize. But they proposed a method that, IMHO, just went a bit too far. They wanted to make access completely and solely digital and virtual. A phone call would get an inquirer only a message that said to go to the website.

You see, with a perfect hatred I hate to call a company with which I have to deal and be forced to negotiate a long and tedious series of menus and key punches. Please just let me talk to someone. And I really object to being forced to either key in account numbers or speak in identification information and then am asked to repeat them once a person finally comes on the line.

Now you may be asking just what that has to do with leadership. Well, I could plow on here discussing the merits of contact systems for business, but this is a practical leadership blog so I want to point out just why I am broaching this subject.

  1. What we do is not bettered or well-served by layering in digital doors. Leaders use tools of all types, including digital and virtual ones, to further our cause, but we do not enhance our effectiveness by forcing people to communicate with us by keypads or touchscreens. I recommend that we be connected, but I have written before about the value of face-to-face communication.
  2. We are in the business of building capable people which is made more effective by the personal connection. We want people to hear us, believe in us, and follow us. This demands a human connection. One suggestion that surfaced in the discussions of the company referred to at the beginning of this post was to eliminate an office telephone entirely and thereby force people to connect online. The idea promoted efficiency. After all, it would be faster and facilitate recordkeeping if clients and potential clients simply entered information digitally. But it would be far less effective. And it would readily and immediately eliminate those potential customers who are not wed to a smart phone.
  3. Digital and virtual gateways may make it easier for someone somewhere, but it frustrates the bejeesus out of most of us. In an excellent article by Alena Hall at The Huffington Post called “Technology Is Taking Over the Most Human of Jobs, And I Am Not Okay With It,” the author recounts the challenge of ordering an iced coffee at La Guardia Airport. It did not turn out all that well.
  4. Accessibility…and the ease and convenience of accessibility…is critical to a successful and productive encounter. The principles of business are as old as human habitation of the planet: Visibility, Accessibility, Credibility, Profitability. Being accessible means we take advantage of as many routes in as we can – phone, online, in-person. It is in the fulfillment of our mission to give every person the support they need to become successful partners in our enterprise.
  5. In the end, this is not about convenience for us, it is about convenience for and accessibility for the client and the people we lead. To do so, we must make it as simple and as easy as possible for people to find us and to connect with us. We need a human voice from start to finish especially because the company referred to offers mentoring services, a personal and human connection. The reason? Accessibility. Convenience for the client is the paramount motive and personalized customer service sets companies apart. Efficiency may please the stockholders but it annoys the hell out of the constituents.
  6. After a human connection is made and we dedicate ourselves to maintaining it, we can use digital and virtual devices to enhance it. We cannot build much upon digital or virtual real estate. We live in an imperfect and inefficient world in which it simply is impossible to get people to follow the system all the time. They should call each other or email each other or text each other, but what if they call the office instead? People respect an office and simply being a professional organization carries with it certain implications – that we are pros, that we act like pros, that we act like business pros, that we conduct ourselves ambitious anticipation. The difference between McDonalds and a five star restaurant is not just in the food it serves. It is in the way a customer interacts with it. In some fast food places, actually more and more all the time, ordering and payment is made through iPads only. I’m not sure anyone leaves a McDonalds remarking on how great the service was. But they do so with upscale establishments. Why? A personal touch. I return to restaurants who remember what I drink and eat, what I like and don’t like, and anticipate what I might need. They know me and I am comfortable there.
  7. The objective is never efficiency. It is always effectiveness. How do we accomplish that? We will not, indeed must not suggest, imply, or demand that a client cannot connect to us except by using a website. Mentoring is the act of caring people helping needy people. There is a disturbing and counterproductive trait among some gatekeepers (gatekeepers are those people who answer phones, receive initial inquiries, and sit at the portals of business) who seem to like saying no. No, you can’t do that here, you have to do that over there. No, we can’t do that now, maybe later, and on and on. Therefore take a yes approach. Yes, you can call. Yes, you can fill out this paper form. Yes, you can sign up online. Yes, we can meet with you after hours or at your place of business. Accessibility is the focus.
  8. If there are logistics to work out, well then, work them out. We exist to serve the people we lead. Building layers of access doors and putting distance between us and them cannot turn out well. Instead, let’s build a personal bridge between us and the people we intend to serve and make it as easy as possible for them to get to us.

Leadership is not about who you are but about where you’re going

Self-importance seems to go hand in hand with titles. Ascending to a position of power and importance can readily go to one’s head. One leader revealed that within hours of being appointed to a new job, one where he was in charge, he received two phone calls from colleagues encouraging him to show his power, to let people know there was a new sheriff in town.

Admittedly it is a tempting thought. After all, you’ve worked hard, proven yourself, and paid the price for success. Then getting the place of power and authority, it seems a shame not to use it. However, I’ve found that


If you have been reading The Practical Leader for long you may remember that post I wrote last year about restraint. Power brings with is many possibilities for good and for bad. Using power to demonstrate power is almost always counter-productive.

It is critical to remember that the object of power is not power nor the ability to use power unless it is qualified by purpose.

Just what is the motive behind and the intent ahead of the power we wield?

Methods might have to be changed or recharged to refocus the organization on its mission. The mission and vision of a company, if it has been well-considered before implementation, remains fixed and constant. The means to get there do not. Power, and your new position , is a great chance to refocus on the mission, remind everyone (yourself included) of the progress made, and refine methods you’re taking to get there.

Paradigms change, we have to as well. We start out using one map, a projected lay of the land and assumption about routes to be taken. But as our understanding changes with time and experience, so must our “maps.” Changes must be made, but they need to be logical (according to sound thinking and valid argument) and they must be reasonable (according to rational thought and trustworthy information and data). Anything less and confusion will result raising levels of anxiety in everyone working for you.  If they cannot see the reasons why changes are being made and if they cannot understand how they will fit in those changes, their sense of security will plummet.

Finally, employ the power and privilege of your position to clarify and explain what’s being done and why. People of power have earned the right to be heard. Do not squander that right by remaining silent. With the power and the privilege comes the responsibility to treat others with the respect they deserve as individuals and valued participants in the company’s purpose. Explain, explain, explain. And don’t limit your explanation to one announcement, an email, or a notice put on a bulletin board. Keep explaining until everyone gets it.

Simply throwing your weight around puts the spotlight and focus on you which is precisely on the wrong place.  You, the leader, want to be the calalyst for action and advancement, not the point of reaction and resentment.