How to Get Buy In for your Big Projects


Sami Bedell-Mulhern 0:00
Since you’re on

Patrick Kirby 0:06
Hi, gang. Welcome to those who are watching live Welcome to those who are watching and replay. Welcome to another guest expert training here and nonprofit boot camp out. Here’s the treat for today. I realized it was last minute, I realized that you’re probably like, Ha, man, I wonder if I can use my Bootcamp for good. I wonder how I combine my chamber and my nonprofit together. That’s why we have this today. This

Unknown Speaker 0:36
I was just called to this. I was

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 0:37
well I love person too. In the studio. Like we have like a yes. Yeah,

Speaker 3 0:42
I feel I feel a little left out. Oh, you left out

Patrick Kirby 0:48
or a straight shot up? 94? You’re fine. Anytime you want to come up here, Sammy. Hi, how are you?

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 0:54
Great. How

Patrick Kirby 0:55
are you? Doing? Awesome. So So today is in practice, how you combine your chamber plus nonprofit everything in how to make your community better. So part of the thing is, we we often associate chamber membership with like, okay, it’s in its own category. We’re a nonprofit, that’s maybe a chamber member. And that’s kind of confusing. We don’t know what to do and how to combo platter anything. I got you today, it’s gonna be fantastic. So I’d like to introduce our guest expert today. Bekannten, hi, high chamber, boot camp member of the chamber community, North Dakota member, nonprofit, Executive Director, and founder and Foundry, adding like an adult was totally that, but I founded it. And now I’m the executive director and then member of the chamber as well correct in

Speaker 3 1:55
the chamber offices out of my physical location, and my town of 1800 people, I love it. And that’s important, again, like for For everybody watching this, like, this is what it looks like in a very small town very.

Patrick Kirby 2:07
But again, if you’re a rural nonprofit, even if you’re a larger nonprofit, even if you’re a chamber in a city that maybe serves a lot more people, it doesn’t matter. The position that we’ve always taken that bootcamp is the chamber is a catalyst for nonprofits to use all of the experience that that that for profit businesses have to make their community better, right, this is where the bond is. And this is kind of weird. So we’re gonna talk about that today, we’re going to explore kind of how you can use and be a nonprofit and use your chamber membership for good how you can use the boot camp and what this means in real time, and not theoretical, because we’ve got a couple of projects that you’re working on that you’re combining all of these things together to make your community better, and we’re gonna talk about that it’s gonna be amazing.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 2:56
Okay, Patrick, can I jump in just one quick thing before you guys kick this off, because it’s gonna nag at me. I love that you’re coming from a town of 1800 people, because I think sometimes people think small when they’re in a small town and think they have to play small. And that is just not the case. You can do amazing, incredible things. I grew up in a small town as well. So I’m really excited that you’re here to talk up to everybody. And I’m glad that you’re coming from a smaller rural area, because I really think it’s going to inspire people to do incredible, amazing things. And just stop thinking small and know that they can do greatness, even if they’re from a small place.

Patrick Kirby 3:32
Oh, Sammy, you just

Speaker 3 3:35
know that like one of my one of my like, like taglines or just mottos is that the size of your life is not determined by the size of your zip code. Yes. Because like that, it’s never been more true than it is now. You know, like, even 10 years ago, 20 For sure. I’m starting to age myself a little bit, but that’s fine. The way we work now didn’t exist when I graduated from high school, like the way like the fact that we’re doing this in urine, like outside of Minneapolis. Is that right? Right. And again, we’ve got people joining us from whom who knows where this didn’t exist then. So we are seriously in like, such a new frontier. And I just sometimes don’t think small towns have fully, like, grasped the potential that exists for them. So I love that you said that because it’s like, it’s kind of my jam, Sammy. I love

Patrick Kirby 4:30
you want to fire immediately, you know that?

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 4:33
I know. A funder. I know you guys have some questions.

Unknown Speaker 4:37
You added the lightning. Yes, sir. You did.

Patrick Kirby 4:40
kindling on already. Okay. So before we get started, I want to make sure that you get an opportunity to kind of like, Hey, who are you what you do? 5000 foot view, right? Let’s go that way.

Speaker 3 4:52
Okay. It’s very hard to make this fast. So you’ve got all the time in the world. I’ll do my best. So graduated From oaks public schools in a long time ago, Patrick, we’re not gonna over 20 years ago, and definitely again and I’ve gotten a lot of flack from like people in my community publicly as I’ve talked about this, but like, moving back to oaks was like never my thing. So I live in this town oaks, North Dakota. Oh, 8k ES There’s an E don’t forget it. Like will I’ll remind you 1800 People farming community, amazing upbringing, like, great place to grow up. But when I graduated from high school, the way we work today didn’t exist. And so I couldn’t see this amount of like, kind of just general ambition and drive. I didn’t know how that was gonna land. My dad is a fourth generation farmer. My mom was a florist, very cool people. But like I wasn’t drawn to farming, didn’t want to be a nurse didn’t want to be a teacher. So like, what was what was I going to do? Right? So I’m moved to Fargo, I went to NDSU. I could do the Go Bison thing. But like everybody does that. So we’re not going to do that. So but like, really, my my world opened up at least somewhat. I mean, didn’t leave North Dakota at that point. But I was gone for about a decade. And what what brought us back was that my mom wanted to start a business on our farm, we could get into that. But it’s not really central to this message. So my husband now is represents we represent the fifth generation of my family to farm our land. And so my husband does that. And moving back, I knew I was going to help my mom start this business. I still really had no idea like how I was going to, like, what was this? Again, I always do this. But it’s like, when you are wired to see the world a certain way. It’s really, it’s really hard to imagine what that’s going to look like in a small place. So I really fought hard to maintain some sense of like self through that whole journey. We we also started our family right away, which anybody that has children, it’s like, you literally are just trying to like the swimming like you’re just swimming like trying, oh, we do gulping air, like coming back on there it was it was a lot and continuing to try to like figure things out. And then it was in 2019 When our youngest of three children, so we built a family. That’s what I did. You know, when we first moved back, she was four. And I finally was like, Alright, now now’s the time. So my background, what I had been doing since we moved back was an organizational development, which simply means like companies would hire me, I worked with Dale Carnegie training, most people kind of are familiar with that. global company. Companies would hire me to come in and work with our teams, we would work on culture, we would work on communication, leadership, interpersonal skills, those kinds of things. And I was wrestling like wrestling a bit with the fact that like, all of my best work was done outside of my community, right? Like, most of the time, I’d get hired to come into Fargo more than more often than not, and work with the companies here. And I thought everybody should have access to the kinds of development opportunities that I’m doing through this work. And so I started really thinking about like, what, what would this look like if I tried to create an organization that somehow made this kind of stuff available? And the stuff I’m talking about? It’s just like, if I help you get better, Patrick, and any, any skill, that skill set follows you everywhere, right? And in a small town, people are really interconnected. It’s like, I always joke I’m like, we’re like woven like this, right? So it’s super tricky. Sometimes, like, this isn’t always awesome. But we’re also really strong, like, the strength of people gets expressed everywhere, all the community groups, all of the if you’re in a church, if you’re part of a company, right? So I started thinking about what I wanted to bring to the world. And it really felt like a nonprofit route was the way to go. And it is because the price tag for some of the courses that I was training in Fargo, there’s not a company in my community that would ever invest that kind of money. And it’s not because they they don’t care about it, it’s because it can’t. So it really felt like this is absolutely fundable. So growing small towns was born in 2019. And this was also like I had a building that I had such an affinity for like, it literally spoke to me. I would go like I was shuffling. I was jogging, like light jogging. I wasn’t running anywhere. I don’t run. But I’d go for like my morning jog. And I’d walk by the building and literally it was like it speak to me. And it didn’t speak to my husband like I don’t know if you knew that. Like it only spoke to me, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. My grandparents had run it as a Ben Franklin store, which again, anybody rural or like small town is going to know that. It’s really like a product business of the 80s. I’d like

Patrick Kirby 9:53
to timeout just real quick because I grew up in cake eater, like Edina Minnesota. You had a Ben Franklin he called it

Speaker 3 9:59
the Benjamin I’m calling it’s not what was called, but like, oh, yeah, my grandparents ran it. And I was very, very influenced by my grandparents being on Main Street as partners. My grandma, my grandma see, felt had such an impact on my life like I can’t. I was there all the time my mom worked there. So anyway, the building had started to kind of fall into disrepair, I could not let it go. I just thought, Oh, my goodness, like, Wouldn’t it be the most amazing thing if I could create the space that I could bring the people that I’m connected to professionally, and give all these amazing opportunities to the people in my town we got in live streaming equipment, like all of this stuff. I had really big dreams for what I wanted this to be. But it happened. We bought the building at the end of 2020. Again, did it still we like we just like forged ahead despite the global pandemic, which is really hard. And we opened in July of 2021. So growing small towns is the name of my nonprofit. We’re housed in OAKS, North Dakota and 510 Main Avenue in this 8000 square foot building. That’s a mix of like cool, unique spaces that people can rent, we can host things people call work there. And that’s, that’s my bid. That’s what we that’s what we do.

Patrick Kirby 11:18
So one of the things that I’ve found so interesting about your not only commitment to bootcamp but commitment to the chamber is that you how was the chamber, the Chamber executive director is in, she’ll build lives. She lives in my building lives in the building. Caught have seen it, it’s fine. Yeah. But you’re also a nonprofit. Right? So yeah, how? Let’s go back to organizational development, because I think this is where the bridge between like somebody who is a part of the chamber or who has a member of a nonprofit, but also maybe a chamber member? What’s Is there a difference between organizational development at a professional sort of like a for profit company level? And a nonprofit? What does that look like? Oh, because when you’re talking Chamber members, this is something that we talk about all the time at a boot camp, and we’ve sort of developed it over the last quarter of the course, the last couple of months, especially with some of these guests expert trainings is there is no difference. It’s just tax status, number one. But number two, there’s a personnel difference, right? How do you how do you differentiate the ability to do organizational development or what that looks like in a for profit nonprofit, since you’ve worked in both you are actively participating in both?

Speaker 3 12:35
Right? So for me, this is why I love this conversation. Like, somehow along the way, there has become this weird delineation between these two things. And the way that the reason I’m so like, impassioned to figure some of this stuff out, is because any group of people that have come together for a common purpose to me is an organization. Yeah, right. So like, my community is an organization. So nonprofits totally are organizations and organizational development and the capacity building efforts of like, compact, like, companies just have the they have stakeholders, right? They have stakeholders that expect a return on their investment. And so as long as the people can produce more as a result of that investment, then they’re cool with it. Yeah. In the nonprofit sector, it becomes the super weird conversation like, well, we can invest in that because it doesn’t go to programs. Yeah. Well, who is? Who is creating? Who is iterating? Who is figuring out what comes next for programs? Its people? Yeah. So So for me, I’m literally just like it is about the people. And how did somehow somehow, regardless of what your tax status is, how have we forgotten that like a group of people that come together to accomplish a goal? They are an organization? Yeah, so organizational development holds across contexts? In my opinion. Yeah. No, and it might be just an opinion, but I’ve kind of seen it. I’ve seen this kind of hard, kind of hard facts at this point. Like, go ahead and argue with me, I guess, I know, debate it right. Well,

Patrick Kirby 14:11
we talk a lot about in the boot camp itself, right. You know, there are a lot of different courses that you can take. And there’s a lot of different programs you can take within there that are going to tell you the same thing. Number one, if you don’t have the people, you don’t have the programs, if your people go away, your programs only assist if you don’t have a nonprofit, you’re not doing anything. So why not invest in the people. It’s very difficult, though, for a nonprofit to say, Okay. I am taking a gift from a nonprofit and I’m going to donate $1 Right, yeah. And I’m going to take it and I’m going to invest it into the people in which work for volunteers 100%, whatever. There is this major disconnect between, I’m going to take money, but I’m going to put it towards something that doesn’t necessarily immediately serve the person. It’s 100%. Right? Right. How do you how do you justify that? Because you’re in the middle of it?

Speaker 3 15:07
Well, I guess again, I continued, I usually I justify things by asking extra questions, which I don’t know if that’s smart or not smart. It’s just the way that I’m wired to think about this

Patrick Kirby 15:18
stuff Socratic, like, super, super method person,

Speaker 3 15:23
but you kind of just want to say, Okay, well, okay, so I’m gonna use a tagline. Like, I’m not a tagline. But like something you ever heard you say over and over and over. So nonprofits serve the areas that the government won’t, and the private sector, or the government can’t and the private sector won’t Is that normal thing, right? So like, for profit entities won’t do these things, because there’s no money to be made. And they’ve got stakeholders, right. The government can’t because, again, like, oh, my gosh, we could get into such conversation about this, just like my own journey of trying to get people behind what I’m trying to do. The government has to like serve everybody there. Therefore, sometimes it kind of feels like I serve nobody, don’t if you’re a government employee don’t like beat me up for this. But it’s just it literally is just about, it’s about like, where can you put your energy where people can get behind you? Right? So if that’s the case, that nonprofits serve in these spaces, these forgotten spaces? Helped me this would this would be the question is would be helped me understand how an investment in the human capital, social capital, and cultural capital of a for profit is a worthy and ROI based expense, but it doesn’t, that doesn’t translate to literally the work that no one else is willing to do. Like, I almost get a little choked up when I talk about it. Because it’s like, these people, the people that start nonprofits that are slogging every day and nonprofits like they, they are absolutely a were an investment of development should go right. And I just I don’t understand like, so it’s always just to help me understand how this isn’t the case. Yeah, that’s the question that I tend to ask. It’s also

Patrick Kirby 17:17
and again, if you’re a for profit business, or you’re a nonprofit, and you don’t, okay, oh, I don’t know if I’m worthy of funding. Oh, my God. Okay. That’s a mindset gift we need just make right away. By the way, there’s a couple of things you can click on. But here’s another thing too, and I worked for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. They’re based out of east coast, Bethesda, Maryland, right? You’re thinking big entity that makes no sense whatsoever. But the government decided back in the day, that the number of individuals who had cystic fibrosis did not justify it didn’t wanting didn’t warrant didn’t work funding because it affected too few people. So they considered it an orphan disease, which is a great term for a great job,

Speaker 3 17:59
buddy, such a great explanation of why

Patrick Kirby 18:04
this exists. Yeah, exactly why nonprofits exist, and why need to invest. So there were few too few people that the government could justify the expense to do research on behalf to cure a disease that was ravaging individuals who just would die at the age of 18 or less.

Speaker 3 18:22
And the idea that anybody should just die from a disease at the age of 18. But then the government slanted enough, there’s not enough of you that suffer from that. That’s that’s the reason nonprofits zigzag contrapposto,

Patrick Kirby 18:34
there’s a gap in funding, right? So the parents of these children decided if they’re not going to do it, if not us, who, and they decided that this was going to be a thing. So they invested themselves, they raised the money, they paid for the research, they did the research, through private funding, through a nonprofit that ended up having pills that are on the market that have individuals who have cystic fibrosis will live as long as everybody who doesn’t have fibrosis, and that’s the thing. So it’s the gap in services, but without the without the investment in the people and without the investment in the structure without the investment in the in Linz, right? Yes, this would have never happened. And I think some of the smaller nonprofits and smaller towns don’t think of themselves as a giant, big cystic fibrosis entity except

Speaker 3 19:24
for the fact and they’re not. They’re not they’re not, but

Patrick Kirby 19:27
they’re the ones that are filling the gaps. And so you’re looking at a lot of smaller towns, smaller flyover country areas where, okay, you’ve got a community center, maybe or a childcare center, or maybe a clinic a free clinic that are making the small towns better. The nonprofits of the me the ones who fund it, number one, and run it number two, and if you don’t have people, if you don’t invest in the people who are running any of those things, those products don’t exist, those processes don’t exist. Those those entities don’t exist as a whole. Well, there’s

Speaker 3 19:58
existing Yeah, And then there’s thriving better. Yeah. I mean, my my goodness, like, human capital. And like, again, our world like the world around us is constantly changing and evolving and growing and shifting. And so if me standing in the middle of that, and I’m this nonprofit leader, like no matter what the thing is that you’re there to help solve, if you aren’t being afforded the opportunity to learn how to navigate the ever changing world around you. Why Why on earth have we decided, somehow collectively, that it’s okay, for nonprofit leaders, fundraisers, board members, all of them to just stay stuck in some sort of random spot and time because that investment in them as humans isn’t worth it? Why is that acceptable to any of us? Like, I didn’t know this was a soapbox that I felt so strongly about, but I do. I do. I feel extreme. I feel I feel like that’s the continue to be the challenge of like the question, I’ll continue to ask that question. But it’s the

Patrick Kirby 21:06
way it’s always been done. That’s a nice little comment. Right? So we’ve always, we’ve always done it that way.

Speaker 3 21:10
Oh, so whomever made that comment? I feel that in my bones like that’s, that’s a rural thing. I mean, for sure. And so here’s the challenge that that I feel like I’m in and we can kind of talk about this Yes. Like, I intentionally leave the four walls of my of my small town, like I’m back, we’re actually recording live in Fargo. But I go out to other communities, I look, I observe, I pay attention, I ask questions. And then I try to bring that back to my community. And the biggest challenge is that very thing that when you’re trying to impart that new way of thinking, or you’re trying to bring that new way of thinking to a group of people that don’t leave the four walls of their small town, you’re always going to be met with that response. So how we are growing small towns, how I as a person have tried to navigate that number one. And this is like literally just if you’re a small, rural nonprofit, or, frankly, any leader, and you’re a little bit audacious for your community, okay? The first thing is like, find your people, Patrick Kirby, he’s my person, okay? Like you need somebody that you can turn to look to bounce things off of like, it’s a super important thing. I can’t I can’t overemphasize the importance of like, building out at least a handful of people that will, that will listen, and that will cheerleader you, and that will challenge you. Like, I actually have like this whole thing that I’ve done. Like, there’s kind of five kind of types of people that you need. And we don’t need to go into that. But like, but like,

Patrick Kirby 22:43
but like, it’s who are the types? Because I think there’s people who are listening who are like, Okay, I’m a small nonprofit, I’m a small regional, I’m a small like, Ah, I don’t play big yet. Who are the types of people that you’re looking out for? And that you who you’re trying to associate with? Because there’s good value? In figuring out? There’s a ton of people in my town? Yeah, I don’t know who to pick to, or lean into, who would maybe be a rock for you to bounce ideas off of.

Speaker 3 23:12
So okay, so there’s, there’s, there’s like more than one frame on this. So there’s, who do we think of in terms of who is going to fund and support the work? That’s a that’s a separate conversation, donor conversation, right? Donor conversations are his jam. And honestly, we can get into like, all the things we’ve tried in my community because of your advice, and like what we’re seeing, it’s incredible. But right now, I’m literally talking about the preservation of the sanity of the person in the middle of it. And that’s again, why like growing small towns exists for this reason, like, I want it to find a way to have ideally, like corporate entities at this point, sponsor and underwrite and, like, adopt the people like me, and so but the like me is only I only mean this, like, if you’re in a small town, and you’re trying to do cool stuff for your small town, then you belong with me, period. I don’t care what your title is. I don’t care what you were hired to do. I don’t care if it’s volunteer, like small towns need somebody that cares that much. And when you’re when you think about it differently, it is a lonely, lonely road. So the types of people you need. I wrote about this in one of my blog posts as one of my best read blog posts because I talked about the fact that like, when you have an idea, it’s almost like a little flame. And what happens in a small town is You we tell the the wrong people, and by the wrong people, we call them the wet blanket committee. Like they literally come around and they’re just like waiting in the hedges with like a giant wet blanket, throw it over your idea and it’s snuffs out your flame. And so it’s like maybe we’re not so much burnt out as we are, we’re just getting extinguished. So it’s like who are the people that will continue to fan that flame and so that you can see it further down the road? So, first of all, we all need just absolute champions. Sometimes these are our family, right? They’re the people that like, no matter what you do, they’re gonna love you for it. Right? Like, they’re not necessarily as tight or tethered to your idea. But they just genuinely love you. I don’t know if I’m going to remember because I wasn’t planning to talk about this.

Patrick Kirby 25:20
What makes it super cool? Yeah,

Speaker 3 25:22
like we’re live, and we’re just trying to figure it out. So then you need you, you absolutely need people at some point that will challenge the assumptions of what of what you do. So they will again, they’re kind of like the devil’s advocate, the advocate people, but you need them a little later down the road, we need accountants. This is really funny because like, I don’t always like to be told what to do. But you need somebody that’s just like a, you said, you were going to do this, you were going to do this, you were going to do this. Are you sticking to that thing? Then we need Coast drivers, Patrick Kirby as a coast driver, we are co Stryver. By the way, it’s not coast to coast, right? Like it’s that could have sounded like something else. CO hyphen Stryver. A person that is simultaneously chasing something of some sort of similar magnitude doesn’t have to be the same work at

Patrick Kirby 26:17
all. And that can be a business owner in the community too, right? So this, this

Unknown Speaker 26:21
could absolutely be something that you capture in your own backyard, right?

Patrick Kirby 26:24
So there’s a nonprofit who’s like, okay, but I work with like, I don’t know, kids, and there’s like parents who don’t have this giant drive. They’re not, no, it’s the business owner who sees like, okay, we’re also going to grow. We’ve also got this moment and this enthusiasm, etc. So I don’t want you to think that this is like a lonely place where you’re like, oh,

Speaker 3 26:42
yeah, no, not at all. And the interesting thing about CO strivers is that they’re the ones that they commiserate with you, that’s the primary role that they play in this like launching something or trying to do something of magnitude, right? They are a person where you can be like, oh, yeah, like this just happened, this is how it went. And they feel it because they’re going through something similar.

Patrick Kirby 27:03
So part. So part of the bootcamp too, is there are a lot of people who are members here, and a lot of nonprofits who you’ll sort of bump into, or you’ll kind of see within the those of your coach drivers, Sammy to meet, right. So like, she and I are business owners, and we’re sort of like working together on a whole bunch of things. We commiserate a whole hell of a lot. When we talk about like, what’s working, what’s not, and what’s from a marketing set, like all the Oh, yeah, all the time. So it’s not just your like other nonprofit you’re doing, you’re finding the other compatriots within the community who are going to see that as

Speaker 3 27:38
being entirely different industries. And oftentimes, if they are all the better, right? Frankly, yes. So then number five, look, I remember them all you need go, mentors. So these, these can be really, truly hard to find. But if you are looking, if you are really if you know exactly the goal that you’re trying to accomplish, trying to find somebody that has done it is pseudo valuable kind of person to find. And again, this would be kind of exclusive of industry more just like somebody that’s crushed something of a similar level, right? And the difference here, they aren’t going to commiserate with you, because that’s what your cost drivers for. They’re literally the say, Try this, try this. Try this. And you’re at least hearing the perspective from somebody that’s actually done what you’ve wanted to do. Right. So the biggest mistake I think that we make when we’re thinking about these five people, there’s a few things. One, you don’t need five separate humans to do this. Okay. Patrick Kirby, again, we’ll just keep talking about us, I guess, because here we are. He is both my number one cheerleader, like literally like, my worth to him is not tied to whether or not I’m successful in my organization. So there’s, there’s the cheerleading factor. He’s everybody’s cheerleader, it’s awesome. Also a cost driver, right. So there, I’ve got to two things in one person. What he won’t do is he’s not an accountant.

Patrick Kirby 29:03
By the way, if anyone’s watching, not specifically Sammy for that, yeah, I am not an accountant. He

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 29:10
is not. Yeah, he is. I’ll tell you the amount of times that we have conversations where I’m like, Patrick, can I get the numbers for this? Can I get the numbers for that? He’s like, Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll totally working on that tomorrow. I’ll get that right over to you. In about six months.

Patrick Kirby 29:26
Sure. Yeah, we don’t listen, I heard you turn your talents. Yeah. And that’s not one of them. But again, but we know this, we don’t really and again, part of part of that is knowing who’s in your circle, right?

Speaker 3 29:38
You have to know we what we do is we expect too much of people like that. So the this is the kind of the second thing with these roles. So there’s five of them, right? We look to our family and like Okay, so I’m married. We’re married, whatever, Patrick’s married, I’m married. We’re married two separate people, looking at the person and being like you But you shouldn’t be this or you should do that. That’s not not only is it not fair, but it’s totally setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment. If anything, look at the roles and say, What does my spouse is? What does their natural inclination do, my husband can challenge the crap out of me. He’s very, very good at it. I don’t always appreciate it, right. But I know I need that. And because the truth is, like, I have been, like, I have big brained like high level creative, intuitive ideas, if I can explain it to him in a way that he understands, I want to be able to explain it to a single person in my small town. So having him there, I get frustrated, but it’s very, very valuable

Patrick Kirby 30:44
part of the reason to hear and if you’re a nonprofit, you’re looking at why I don’t really have a person or like, my spouse doesn’t really care about this, or maybe I’m not, you know, tethered to any one person. This is where you dive into your donor base or your supporter base, you’re bound to look internally, right? This, you cultivate it, and you find people who can give you perspective and not cash. So again, we’ve mentioned this in bootcamp guest expert trainings a lot, which is, if you want money, ask for perspective. If you want perspective, ask for money, and the difference is abundantly clear. Rebecca, I need $5,000 Your responses like you know, I don’t have it. But you know, who does this person, this person, this person, if I approach it from, I don’t know where to go from my nonprofit. I’m wondering if you can use your big brain to help me get through this as what what do you think about this? They’re going to, cuz people love talking about themselves. They like to talk about their perspectives, right? They’ll tell you and they’ll eventually say, How can I help? Absolutely do the door open to say, Okay, I’m gonna peg you into one of these five?

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 31:50
Can I ask a question about these five, especially the first two, because this is what hits me right away is those first two can easily be flip flopped so quickly? Like, as far as like, how do we differentiate when we’re having these conversations? Who’s going to be like the wet blanket and is just like the naysayer, I forget the name for your second one, versus who’s going to challenge us and help us do better? Like, what are some things we might want to look at those two people? That’s a great,

Speaker 3 32:14
that’s a great, great question, Sammy. So, so listen, like at some point, we have to open ourselves up to the potential pitfalls of our idea. It isn’t. First question or first conversation out, if you like. So what I what I how I frame this in the past is like when you’re talking to people, and again, I don’t think this is just a small town thing, it’s probably more of a personality thing. The challenge is that in small towns, again, it’s that that insular behavior where we don’t leave like we don’t, again, and that there’s nothing wrong with that. And I want to be very clear, because I don’t need people coming down on me on social media once this thing like, wherever this goes, people watch it, I don’t, I’m not this isn’t a criticism, or of being a disparaging statement at all. It’s just a fact. If you don’t leave, you only know what you know. And so the challenge, I call them constraint lead thinkers. That’s, that’s what I call a wet blanket committee person. Okay. So you really just have to think about, you have to know, especially if you’re testing out the merits of an idea. So for nonprofit leaders, this could be the merits of a new program. This could be the merits of an event. This could be the merits of any idea that is somehow a departure from what you’ve always done. You might think to yourself, and I’ve heard this and I think this is terrible advice. So I’m just gonna say it like, we need to be sure that we have X percent of the people from our community on board. No, you don’t. You know why? I know you don’t. Because again, this is like, this is like a Margaret Mead. I think this was she that said this like to underestimate the incredible power of a small handful of people that really believe in something. That’s grassroots. And that’s how stuff gets done.

Patrick Kirby 34:03
Can I double down on this? Oh, please do Oh, your nonprofit is doing awesome things. Your small businesses doing awesome things. Nobody cares. Yeah, no damn person cares about your nonprofit or your business.

Speaker 3 34:16
And so about that. It’s like we’re weren’t running around trying to get everybody to tell us we’re awesome. And the truth is, though, the field is the people that tell us we’re awesome. Yeah, are as irrelevant as the ones that say we suck. It does it because it doesn’t matter. The commitment. The dedication comes from building a small coalition of people that believes so much in what you’re trying to create, that they will put their energy, their effort, their love, their commitment and their money behind it.

Patrick Kirby 34:48
This this is why this is why boot camp is so important. It’s why you’re you as a nonprofit. Being a chamber member is so important, because you have this giant list of businesses who value you as As much as you think you should be valued, because they know that you’re making a massive impact all this stuff. Okay.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 35:06
Question. Yeah. So things are tough right now, fundraising reports that are coming out aren’t, you know, showing a glowing review of where we are in the situation? So I know where Patrick and I would stand on this. And I think I know where you stand. But I want to touch on this is that when we’re talking about these big ideas, these new ideas, stepping out and pulling in this small group of ambassadors and really like, almost taking a risk and taking a chance on something? I think a lot of leaders are like, No, we’re just going to do what we know what works. And we’re not going to try anything new. So what would you say to people about like, now is the time to think outside the box, now’s the time to really push the envelope. Now’s the time to find these people and do something different versus the same, which isn’t going to ignite, inspire and kind of encourage, like, how do we manage those risks? How do we kind of decide where we want to go and who we want? And Patrick, calm down?

Patrick Kirby 35:59
Yeah, go ahead. I was just I want to say, That’s brilliant. And I wanted to frame this in the project that you are working on, at your chamber with your EDC, and with your nonprofit, across the street from your built building. Okay, so I just want to

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 36:16
reverse this segue. Oh, no, no segue. By the

Patrick Kirby 36:20
way, this is why this works, right? Because it’s absolutely, because it’s a great setup to the practicality of what you’re actually doing and how your nonprofit and your chamber need to think differently for this. Okay.

Speaker 3 36:35
Okay. So I want to, like directly answer her question. And then, and then explain it through the context of this project that we’re doing. So. So it’s such a fascinating thing, right? Because there’s something in me that just like issues, the status quo, like I hate the status quo so much. So may I might not be a fair question person to ask this question of, but like, essentially, the way I think about that is like, Okay, so right away, you said times are tough, Sammy, and my, my immediate thought was, so says, like, so says who? I mean, that part of it is just like, so there’s this, there’s this narrative about, like, all these are the things that happening, I will never, ever ascribe to fear mongering, I can’t get behind it. I can’t do it. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t make me feel good. It makes me just think like, okay, so everything’s burning, but we’re still here. And so now what like that’s, so I struggle with this. But I it’s such a valid question. So I would say that like the the question to ask about that. And like, the question to ask yourself, because really, we’re talking about reframing the stuff between our own ears, like, that’s what this is about. We’re not, we’re not necessarily tasked with going out and changing the minds of other people, you know, how we change the minds of other people, is we shape their experiences, and we let them feel it, dream it think it themselves. That’s our power, that’s our power as influencers. We’re not influencers. I’m simply saying, when we influence, like, we have the ability to influence other people, we can’t tell them what to think and feel, we can’t tell them what to do. So it all comes down to like, Okay, how do we set the table to generate the kinds of thoughts, feelings and beliefs and then they’ll take action based on those things, that changes what they’ve experienced? So if we continue, Sammy, directly to your question, if we continue to just do the exact same thing, we aren’t generating or setting the table to generate any new thoughts, feelings, or beliefs. So if, again, this is why nonprofits or any organization continues to do things the exact same way because they get the results that they want. At some point, the results that they’re getting aren’t going to be what they want. That’s, that’s the catalyst, period, end of story. This isn’t for profits. This is in churches, this is in small towns, this is a nonprofit, again, organizations or organizations where two or more people exist, that’s an organization, right? So at some point, when the results that you’re getting don’t yield the results that you are, you know, they don’t yield the results you want, you want something more, what we immediately do is go okay, well, we got to do something different. Okay, fine. That’s great. That’s probably true. But actions come from beliefs, feelings, and thoughts, and beliefs, feelings, and thoughts are generated by what we experience or the memories we have about that thing. That’s why nostalgia is such a stronghold for small towns. We go, oh, the good old days are behind us. And so I always say, Well, what was so good about them? What did you feel? What did you do? What did you think? What did you believe? What were the things that were happening? And we can recreate those things to generate those same feelings in a modern context, if that’s the answer, but that’s why Sammy, that’s why we can’t just keep doing the same thing we’ve always done because the results are going to be the same. And over time, they start to wane. And then we go Oh, like our 25 year thing are brought worse grill out isn’t bringing in the people can’t believe it and you go well, yeah, no crap, it’s not.

Patrick Kirby 40:09
So to set aside to set this up for the practical like, here are the step by step things that you need to think differently about exactly that same thing. I

Unknown Speaker 40:17
wish I had my little graph.

Patrick Kirby 40:19
I know I wish I had a graph to explain it. Yeah. So there is a project I’d like you to describe that you have in oaks. And I want you to set this up from here’s what it is. And here’s how you immediately were the reaction of like, how you’re going to raise money to do it. Yeah. And then how we’re reframing everything to make sure that they’re doing the exact opposite. Based on sammies, like the way we’ve always done it, it’s gonna work because it’s not.

Speaker 3 40:50
So we have a green space on Main Street, right across the street from my building and oaks. It has looked this way,

Unknown Speaker 41:01
for a couple of

Speaker 3 41:03
decades. 19 and night shortly after 19 At the cafe, there was a there was a cafe that was that sat right on that property and just talk about the cafe I we all people in my small town always say cafe, small town.

Patrick Kirby 41:19
It’s cafe, it’s the cafe here in Edina, the

Speaker 3 41:22
cafe. It was a cafe. It was whatever. Here we go. And it burned down. So then for a number of years, it was a gravel pit, right? If there’s two buildings that flank it, there’s a fence on the backside that go to an alley but it’s right on Main Street. Over the years small improvements have been made. There’s like flagpoles in it. There’s a few trees planted, there’s grass planted, nothing further. I saw this thing and I was like that courtyard area is an outside external extension of the event space I’ve built in here. Like I imagined right away. I mean, like this was pretty pretty quick, but like I’ve been to block nine in Fargo. Okay, I’m only bringing that up because again you have to have experienced or engaged in something to even have an idea like this come to you.

Patrick Kirby 42:15
Okay, and plotline of Fargo is a giant building like the tallest one in North Dakota now. It’s like, it’s like famous, super famous. But there’s green space that turns into a raceway. It’s tough. It’s tough. It’s green space, there’s a there’s a band, little mini band shelter in the heart of downtown Fargo. Makes no sense why it’s there, but it’s a very attractive piece. There are those concerts and food fairs and a gathering space. Okay,

Speaker 3 42:42
so I see this thing and I’m like, we can build that. And we can build that here. We have a really great landscape architect in our community. And so I don’t even I’m gonna be honest, like I’d have to check with Catia or chamber director to be like, how did all of this evolve? I literally just said, like, Guys, I think we can do this. I said let’s and then I know how it happened. It started with a big national grant. That was through Kubota which is a like a skid steer loader producer thing. We have we are in the Midwest. Yeah, right there. And and we went like we should go for this. So we took the time to meet with Phillip, our landscape architect and put together a design that would include like seating, and basically turfing it and having lanced like beautiful landscaping there and some water features. And then like we talked about art on both of these sidewalls, like just really put it all into this plan. And once we got it on paper, and it was a rendering, people could really start to match it. And by people, I simply mean the chamber board. So our chamber board and Alex has nine people on it. You have CATIA, who’s the director, and then me, there’s 11 of us. We went to the board and we said, do we want to pursue like making this thing happen as a chamber initiative, meaning the chamber would buy it and own it and maintain it going forward. So here’s here’s the question. Some of you might be like, What the What the hell like how, why did they do that? Well, our city doesn’t want it. Our Park Board, we went to them first to be sure. Like we weren’t stepping on toes, very much circles around that. Like, we don’t want to piss anybody off. Right? The people like you own the parks, right? They own all of the parks with all the kid equipment. There’s not a single gathering space in our community that was designed for connection. There’s not there’s just not like for adults. It’s all it’s all people. It’s all kid stuff, which is great. They literally were like, No, yeah, we don’t want anything to do with that. We’re like, right, we’ll take it. So the chamber, took a vote. They decided this is what they want to do. And so that’s what started the process of like, we had the plan. We reached out to the landowner. And we started talking about what, uh, you know, what are you going to charge for it? Is it really for sale? Will you sell it to us all of that, like long story longer? I guess at this point, there was a pretty hefty price tag on this lot. And the chamber board still could see the value of it. And that right there speaks to what we talked about earlier about this core group of people like, we, oh, my goodness, do we this group, it was like, and again, I’m going to just give complete credit to Patrick, where it’s due here, like, he met with us. And he was like, This is so fundable, like you guys can do this. So the price tag on the whole project is like 200 grand, okay? And that would be if we had to pay for every single stitch of it. Well, that’s not going to happen, because like, we’re going to all of our dough, all of our labor has already been donated our fire department, which are all volunteers, our police department, they want to see this thing happen. They volunteered to do all the labor. Suddenly, we have a Boy Scout that came forward and said, Can I take a piece of this enormous project and do it for my Eagle Scout project? We’re like, oh, yeah, you can. And he’s doing the paver project, then we get this other couple who are amazing and do so much for our community. And they, they are, it’s the den mother for the three Girl Scouts, and they each are taking a piece of the project. So we suddenly have like this again, groundswell of support, help people engaged people involved. And we followed Patrick’s advice to identify as many individuals as we can to raise money, okay. I can’t tell you how different this is. Like, nobody has ever done this the way that we’re doing it. So we, we start, we got 11 people. I fall I like literally called Patrick, I’m like, what, how do I how do I do this? Like, how do I get that? So it’s like, think of the people that love your community. Think about the people that have capacity. This is one of my favorite parts. Everybody in our small town knows who has the money to do this. Everybody knows, we pretend we don’t know we act like we don’t know, we don’t want to talk about it for sure. But we know. We all know. So it’ll be 11 of us sat around, we generated a list for over 40 names. There’s like 42 names of individual either people or couples. We went through it. And it was just like they were all on a whiteboard. I said, Who wants them? I was like, then I looked at us like Carrie, who do you want? She took who she wanted. Sarah, who do you want? She took who she wanted, we divvied up that list of 42 names. So where we’re at right now, we have had to our knowledge, okay, because this is the other thing. Like we’re not we’re not doing a great job of like communicating with each other, like where we actually add, but the pledges that have come in, we’ve had eight conversations, and we’ve raised $23,000.07

Patrick Kirby 47:45
Of the eight said yes,

Speaker 3 47:47
yeah, we had, we had one that said that I don’t think I’m interested. And again, like working with Patrick to be able to say like, what do we do if we say that? Like that’s the fear and the uncertainty of like, what do you do if they say that you just have to talk through it? It there’s nothing weird about it when we make it weird, guys. So here we are, we’ve got all these people involved, and we’re raising real money for it. We haven’t done a public event, we have not sent a single form letter that says, hey, Main Street business owner, we’re raising money for the park, and we’ll take whatever, like up to $25 with like, no, none of that we haven’t done any of that. We also haven’t sold any pizzas. We also haven’t sold any baked goods of any kind $23,000 In a town of 1800 people.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 48:40
So can I ask for an objection that you’re going to that other people are saying in their heads? Well, small town Yeah, we all know where the money is. Everybody knows where the money is, in every small town. Well, we can’t hit them because they’ve been tapped out enough or this loving others. So when you guys sat down and made this list, did you just say we’re not going to worry about anything else? We’re just going to make a list of people we think are interested in this project, or like how did you kind of build that so that people can say, Well, I’m gonna put that out in my head now and I’m gonna go after that money. I say,

Patrick Kirby 49:12
by the way, do you see us both? Like, if I might not answer a question in between this like this is really legitimately Senate because because we got that question out of the gate. And the question was sent to me immediately and

Speaker 3 49:28
I tell you in it, can I tell you why, like, give give it this real world context. We are building a new fire hall in my community right now. And and our Catholic church is doing a million plus renovation. That’s meant for the whole community. So we have to E norm Miss fundraising campaigns going on simultaneously. And that’s that’s not to mention, like the normal operating for any of the nonprofits that exist, right. So this is 100% a thing So when you asked was our list about who would care about this project? So partially? Yeah. Because so what we did Sammy, and again, this was Patrick’s advice. Again, like, if you guys are watching this and you don’t take his advice, I want to kind of throttle you’re in the thing. It’s there and then do it do it as he says it. But it’s, it’s not just like, who has money, because that’s kind of gross. I mean, it’s who shows up in the community. And who cares about any of these things so that these things came from the 11 people in the room. I went one by one through, I was facilitating this only because like, that’s my job, like, this is what I do. But it was his, his like frame and his questions. It was what what makes you super jacked about seeing this thing come true. Like, what do you envision being able to do in this space? 11 people answered the question, you now have at least a good handful of really cool things. And then we got that out on the table. And we’re like, Who do we know and oaks that has capacity and cares about any of these things? Now, did we get it wrong? Might we get it wrong? Sure. But again, like we’re so damn worried about offending people by what? Like, again, you imagine, like, it’s so funny when you really think about it. So you sit a person down a couple down, and you say, I’m so excited to be sitting with you. We’ve been brainstorming this thing, like there’s this group of 11. us it’s the Chamber’s project. And we sat down, and you literally tell them what you did. Like we sat around, we brainstormed all the things that we’re going to be able to do in this community. And when we put together a list of who would be most excited about supporting this project, you were one of the top names. You tell me how that’s offensive to anybody. Like if they go well hold, I can’t and you put then you put the little like the little pyramid down, right. And the bottom number and our on our pyramid is 5000 bucks, which is a lot of money. And if they and you go So which of these feels good to you? And they look at it and go home like holy? They go, Hey, that’s okay. Like, what what works for you? I’m telling you guys like the amount the fact that we’ve gotten 315 $1,000.03 $5,000 gifts in it. I can’t tell you how fun it is that the person who solicited that gift like the board member that had that made that ask. She comes back and she is like, I’ve never I have known her for so many years. She has had her Mainstreet business for 25 years. I have never seen her more like enthused and lit up. And I looked at her and I said, What a form letter have done that. She’s like, No, that’s so Sammy. That’s the power of it. It’s it’s absolutely incredible it is it’s it’s not just saying like who has the money, it’s who cares about this stuff. And again, we might get it wrong, you might get it wrong. But more often than not, we’re not, you’re not going to get it wrong. And they’re going to want to support it because you’re physically there imparting the enthusiasm and the dream of the project and person, a form letter cannot convey your personal enthusiasm for a thing. It’s not possible. Like, again, I don’t care, like you can have the best command of the English language, you could put all of freaking emojis in it that you want. Not the same as sitting human to human and just talking about this thing,

Patrick Kirby 53:31
the only addition I would make, because that’s brilliant. And that’s exactly what you should be thinking about. Is everybody else who’s donated to other projects like that. That’s great. That’s That’s proof they care about community. They’ve already proven they’re givers. You’re just aligning them with a project that they’re going to love. And again, and I will I’ll restate this, and I think we mentioned it a couple of times. A board member mentioned to me once when I was very hesitant about asking people, because we’ve already asked them, they’ve already done projects. How dare you assume that they don’t want to give to you?

Speaker 3 54:04
And I’m gonna follow up on that and say, Why are we so comfortable with assume like I’m making a decision for them? You’re a smart because we’re afraid of offending them. I think it’s offensive that we would decide for them. That’s actually more offensive. And so also I’ll just give a again, a case like this is legitimate. This is true town of 1800 people, three giant projects going on. One of the couples that I met with that were on my list, I sat down and I looked at them and I said you’ve been integral to the fundraising for the fire hall, like these two people are really involved. I said, I have no idea what you contributed and they told me was $25,000 and here I am sitting in front of them with a pyramid that’s got five grand on the bottom. The top is 50. Right? And I said, I know you care about this project because we had talked about it right? And I said we would love your support. You’re already giving so much to it, but your family We you guys, as a couple, like you have always gotten behind things in this community, we would love your support. And they said, let you know, just let us think about it. They were our first $5,000 gift. So I’m telling these numbers because I want you to know like, this is actually possible, right? They’d already given 25 grand. I didn’t know that. And so for me to assume that, like, I know what they gave and what their capacity I have no right to assume anything. And if we were worried about the cringe factor, that’s what this is, right? It’s that fear of just like, Ooh, what are we going to do if they look at us? Well, I would just, I guess, like the whole thing. I was like, what’s the absolute worst that can happen?

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 55:38
Yeah, they say no, they say they say the worst they say is no and worst they say

Speaker 3 55:42
is no thanks. And you go, man, totally. Okay. Totally. Okay. We appreciate all you’ve done for this community. I had that conversation. My one of my conversations was a no, I was floored. It was interesting. But you know what the other thing you guys, you’ll learn a lot, you will learn from having these conversations. And I learned some things and I brought it back to the board. And I shared it with the board and I help them. Think about it from this thing. That’s you can’t learn form letters don’t give you information. Because you don’t know why somebody takes your form letter and throws it in the trash. You don’t know why somebody takes your form letter and goes, Oh, I feel kind of crappy. Maybe I should give some you have no idea the motivation. At least if you have the conversation, you learned something. Giving his personal Patrick and I say it all the time, like giving his personal. That’s why small towns are so beautifully positioned to do really big, awesome things. We just don’t think we are because we we decide we know everybody. And like 10 years ago, I remember that one time in the bar when Fred said this, like holy, that you don’t know what that means.

Patrick Kirby 56:47
Fred died 10 years ago, Brad might have died, he died. It’s

Speaker 3 56:51
just it’s such a fascinating thing to be a part of. And I’m telling you, I am better for having Patrick in my life, like the way he helps me think about these things. That’s why That’s why the bootcamp is so valuable. Because people are people, no matter what, like, no matter what size of the town you live in, no matter the scope of your project, you think your thing doesn’t matter that’s on you. retrain and reframe the way you think about stuff like people are people everywhere. And this is human stuff. I mean, it’s all human stuff.

Patrick Kirby 57:25
Where do you go to find where you reside and what you do? And where website wise? Yeah,

Speaker 3 57:31
so the best place to find me track me down is just growing small You can learn all about the programs that we’re doing. And I would say oaks and, as well, please go there. Because you’ll learn a little bit our big Chamber of Commerce, our chamber, our little town is just, we’re just killing it in a lot of ways. It’s super fun. But it’s because again, like we’ve got people that care. And then they care. And they direct that care in a way that actually creates momentum and grassroots involvement. That’s what it takes, I think no matter how small your town is.

Patrick Kirby 58:08
Listen, that’s an hour of just quality awesomeness right there. Thank you so much for joining me. Pleasure again. So thanks so much for like taking everything that we talked about the boot camp you talked about from the digital marketing all the way to the board development all the way to the fundraising stuff. You’ve you’ve done it, you’ve done the work. It’s working. And I hope you learned something too. And I hope you had some inspiration there as well. So see you in the replay if you Hey, thanks for being on the replay. Thanks for being here live. Have any questions to start the conversation is down below. And

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 58:42
we’ll have resources and things around this video.

Speaker 3 58:46
This slide that I read that I suggested the five types of people. I’ve got those slides, we’ll get them to Sammy, and we’ll make sure they’re included John?

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 58:54
Perfect. This was amazing. Thank you so much. Good.

Unknown Speaker 58:58

Patrick Kirby 58:59
Bye friends.





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