Talk to Everyone

Merritt and I saw Peter Shankman speak several years ago at the the Bridge Conference in DC. Since then, we’ve attended a ShankMinds conference in NYC and benefit from his impromptu emails and other goodies he shares on his website.

Loved this email that sailed through earlier this week. Talk to everyone. You never know who you’re talking to or what it may lead to. Posting it here for you here with Peter’s permission.

Thanks, Peter!

Peter Shankman.jpg

Happy rainy Tuesday from New York City...

I'm the commencement speaker later today at the West Bronx Academy Public High School later today. As many of you know, I'm very proud of my NYC public school roots, and I'm always happy to speak to public school kids whenever I'm asked. But how this came about is funny, because I wasn't actually asked.

In the apartment building where I live, there's a pool. And the pool has a lifeguard in the evenings. His name is Anfernie. He's 17 years old, and has been lifeguarding for two years. Considering that hardly anyone ever uses the pool, it's a pretty sweet gig for him. Whenever I bring my daughter down, he and I would get to talking. I've given him advice on college, entrepreneurship, etc. He's always been thirsty for knowledge, and I've always been happy to offer him any value I could, in-between playing the "Daddy Whale game," (which, in case you're unfamiliar, involves me swimming the entire length of the pool and back multiple times, with a six-year-old on my back, until said six-year-old gets bored and wants to do something else.)

Anyhow, I got an email last month out of the blue from the school, asking if I'd want to be their commencement speaker. Why? Because Anfernie told the principal that I would be a great speaker and she should reach out to me. The principal researched me and emailed. I, of course, was happy to do it. 

What's my point? TALK TO EVERYONE. You never know who you're talking to, who might have things to teach you, who you might be able to help. You never know where a simple conversation could go. I've gotten many corporate keynote gigs simply by talking (and listening) to the person next to me on an airplane, instead of burying my head in my laptop the entire trip. (One of the benefits of ADHD - We're naturally curious! We LIKE to learn about people, and almost everyone, when given the chance, will gladly tell you about themselves.)

Let's make a pact to look up from our phones every once in a while, and start a conversation with the person next to us. You'd be AMAZED what it can do for you!

Remember the excitement you felt the day you graduated, 



Highlights from the AFP Gateway Conference

Last week my colleague Lizzie and I had the opportunity to attend The AFP Gateway Conference on Philanthropy in St. Louis. The conference theme was “In This Together: Collaborating for Change.”

Our nonprofit friends on the opposite side of the state put on an amazing conference. A stellar lineup of local and national speakers like Linda Haley and Antionette Carroll, a chance to get Carol Weisman’s latest book, and ample networking toped our list of favorites. 

Breakout sessions we attended included everything from emotional diversity, DIY video creation, social media & email newsletter strategies and achieving big results in small shops. Topping the list of takeaways:


  • Really good fundraising is based on love. If you’re doing it right, your fundraising journey is going to impact you as deeply as it does your donors.

  • We don’t go to donors looking for money. We go looking for their heart. With that, money follows.

Effective Marketing

  • Quality video is an important part of a nonprofit organization’s communication strategy. It produces more conversions than any other content.

  • Set social media goals (hint: goals should include actually being social & engaging with your audience!)

  • Ask yourself if YOU find your social media content interesting, relevant and engaging. Would you take time to read it?

  • The average human attention span is 8 seconds, or about 2 scrolls of the wheel on a computer mouse. Is your email going to grab their attention?

Big Results for Small Shops

  • By definition the small nonprofit is under-resourced. Utilizing consultants and agencies, you can accomplish what you don’t have the bandwidth to personally, and the ROI is more than worth it.

  • The advantage of a small organization is a very focused team with strategic goals and tightly focused donors. Relentlessly review efforts to achieve goals, create a ‘not-to-do’ list because time is the hottest commodity not to waste.

  • Reach out to donors just to ask advice. They will appreciate a contact without an ask and they love to dispense their opinions.

Our overall consensus is that it’s important to make time for professional development. We came back recharged, refreshed and armed with new ideas to help our clients.