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I didn’t know it was possible to start a business

July 20th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Inspirational

Work Hard, Have Fun, Dream Big

If I could share any advice with my 22-year-old self, it would be very simple: Dream Bigger

Before you roll your eyes and decide that this is over-simplified advice, I want you to really think about it.

How many of you can honestly say you believed in yourself and your abilities so much that you foresaw your success at 22? Were you laser-focused on achieving greatness and motivated to be your best self every single day?

Some people are like this at 22, but I wasn’t.

When I was younger, I didn’t understand that people could start their own business. I didn’t understand how to channel creativity into something tangible. I didn’t know how to translate my people skills into a career I would be passionate about. At 22, I just didn’t get it. Since I did not know how these things were done, I could not understand how to make them happen. If I’d known I could do these things, I would have done them sooner. I had to experience several different fields – from TV to technology and a few odd jobs in between – before I finally hit my stride and developed the confidence to demand more responsibility and autonomy in my role. I did not set out knowing I wanted to start a business; I just knew I wanted more.

I invest in young people who dream big. Evan and Nick from Tipsy Elves left successful, high-paying careers to jump head first into the crazy world of Christmas sweaters. Ashley from Natural Grip pursued her vision wholeheartedly, making the first 150 pairs of grips from scraps in the trash at her husband’s office. They all dreamt big and made it happen with whatever they had. They taught themselves along the way and made a ton of mistakes, but they never would have tried without those initial dreams.

Work hard, have fun, dream big.

Robert Herjavec

My parents gave me the opportunity for a better life; the rest was up to me.

Leadership: the strength to say good-bye

March 26th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Inspirational

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap; a time to kill, a time to heal; a time to laugh, a time to weep.

Ecclesiastes, from which that quote is taken, wasn’t conceived as a guide to doing business – but maybe it should have been.

Leadership coach Henry Cloud starts there, says The Globe and Mail writer Harvey Schachter, to claim that we need to become as good at ending things – products, services, projects, relationships, or even organizations – as we are at starting or innovating. That’s a sobering thought as the New Year begins. But it’s also a path to greater effectiveness.

In many ways it’s harder to end things than to begin them. It’s even harder to end them fully, professionally and well. We’re afraid of the unknown: what will our organization be like without this staff member, that working group, those partners? We may not want to let go of a process or commitment that has served us well in the past. Life brings us enough painful endings without going out of our way to create more.

Wisdom from the garden

Leaders often overlook or underestimate the impact of ending the right things, Cloud believes. But in the garden, correct pruning helps a bush or plant reach its full potential. The same is true of organizations.

He notes that branches or stems should be pruned for three reasons:

  1. They’re not the strongest ones. They’re taking up just as much light and nutrition as the healthiest branches, but they’re not producing the same amount of fruit or flowers in return. What parts of your organization aren’t doing as well as the others?
  2. They’re too sick to recover. They’re so badly damaged or diseased that more water, more fertilizer and more hope won’t help. They must be removed to protect the rest of the plant. Where are the “unfixable” projects or processes in your organization?
  3. They’re already dead. They’re taking up space needed for healthy branches, and blocking the sunlight from strong twigs and new shoots.What aspects of your organization interfere with communication, productivity and new ideas?

To sum up, we can’t have great new beginnings without necessary, natural and beneficial endings. But there are good reasons why endings are so hard. Acknowledging the emotions behind our reluctance to end anything will help bring us to the point where we can finally take pruning shears in hand for the benefit of our own well-being and that of the organizations we serve.

Read the full article in The Globe and Mail.

publication date: Jan 6, 2014
author/source: Janet Gadeski

Emily Carr uses crowdsourcing in fundraising campaign

Thanks to Board of Governors member Bob Rennie, who created a generous matching fund, Emily Carr will now be able to match donations made by university alumni. In celebration of this new fund, Emily Carr has launched a campaign on Indiegogo, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform. This campaign, called Match It Upincludes a video produced by Leah Nelson and Jay Grandin, Emily Carr alumni and founders of Giant Ant.

Through the Indiegogo campaign, every alumni donation will be doubled, and every gift will entitle donors to special perks and benefits.

To participate in this exciting campaign, please visit the Indiegogo site Your support will ensure our new campus meets its potential as one of the most important economic and cultural developments in Vancouver.

How charity: water Has Reinvented the World of Charitable Giving

July 11th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Social Media, Videos

by Taylor Corrado   June 18, 2013 at 8:00 AM

The IRS lists that there are over 1.1 million nonprofit organizations in the United States — so nonprofit marketers, like the rest of us, have their work cut out for them. Getting people to care deeply enough about an issue is extremely challenging, particularly given the number of emails, invitations, and requests most people get on a daily basis. So, how does a nonprofit stick out from the pack?

One nonprofit chose to focus on radical transparency, giving donors the security and comfort of knowing that every dollar they donated would directly benefit their mission. This is the story of how charity: water embodies the inbound nonprofit, and why HubSpot and charity: water are partnering to transform nonprofit marketing. (Learn more about the partnership in this video, and keep reading for more about charity: water’s inbound giving strategy.)

One of the fundamental principles of inbound marketing is building an online community of individuals who know, love, and share your brand with others — and then moving their engagement along to inspire them to take action. Historically, nonprofits have put themselves and their mission first. Instead, charity: water decided from the beginning to put their supporters at the center of their organization, by empowering them to tell their own personal stories of how they became connected with the cause and fundraise individually to help end the world water crisis.

In short, charity: water created a new model to make their marketing efforts more personalized, which in turn made their entire approach more lovable. We’ve outlined more details on how and why charity: water is the model for the inbound nonprofit in this post, and how that benefits their fundraising efforts, their donors, but most importantly, the villages they bring clean water to every year. I hope you find some inspiration in their approach, and perhaps some ideas to take away for your own nonprofit fundraising and marketing.

Dollars to Projects: The Power of Proof

Sharing the impact of your organization’s funds raised may not have been a high priority in the past. But with the growing debate of overhead vs. impact, supporters are looking for the results of their donation more and more. Charity: water has woven this concept into their model from the beginning.

For instance, founder Scott Harrison shared the GPS coordinates of the first wells that were built to everyone that attended his birthday-party-turned-fundraiser, where he raised the first $15,000 dollars for charity: water. From that, Dollars to Projects was born — a program that “tracks every dollar raised, showing you the water projects you helped fund for people in need.” Here’s how it works:


After charity: water designates an individual’s given funds to a project, they email a custom project report with pictures and results. Here is an example of a water project report a supporter might receive:


The hope for the future is that in 10, 15, 20 years, their supporters will be able to see the impact of their previous fundraising campaigns or donations and see how they have affected one person — or an entire village — by supporting charity: water. But whatever a donor or fundraiser can give or raise, the proof of their impact is right there for them to see.

Captivate an Audience With Video

With an annual September Campaign that raised over $2,000,000 in 4 months last year, charity: water brought the story in Rwanda to thousands of computer and phone screens with five distinct videos. The first of the series was a movie-like trailer that launched the campaign on September 1, 2012, narrated by founder Scott Harrison.

The story isn’t just about the country’s need for clean water. The video highlights the recent history of struggle in Rwanda, as well as the need for education and new roads. In fact, clean water isn’t mentioned until a minute and thirty seconds into the four-minute video. Images of the children and mothers carrying water from dirty water sources shows you the lengths people will go for something so vital.

September Campaign 2012 Trailer: Rwanda from charity: water on Vimeo.

Charity: water spends up to two weeks in the country they are going to dedicate their September Campaign to so they can capture footage for these trailer videos. They meet with the people that are going to be directly benefiting from funds raised, share their stories, and connect their audiences — new and existing — to the campaign before it even launches. They make the campaign as personal as possible, knowing that is what inspires people outside of the affected country to want to give and fundraise.

Donating to a cause you feel passionate about is one thing; but telling a specific story, about specific people, is far more compelling for donors and fundraisers. Think about how your organization can instill a personal connection with your own stories.

Share Stories With Instagram

Some of the charity: water team was in India just last week, capturing footage and images for this year’s September Campaign. While not all organizations travel to the field for every campaign, you may have access to even attendees or site volunteers — these are opportunities to capture real life stories of those either impacting your mission, or those that will be impacted. This is a very important moment for you to capture the stories of those involved and share them in real time with you social networks.

Charity: water did just that while in India through Instagram. They spoke to men and women whose live have changed since receiving clean water. They shared several of these stories with an image of the person as well as a short comment of how that person’s life has been impacted:

cw-picture-woman2       cw-instagram-women1

These are only two women, but they represent all the women in India that are fighting for clean water, among many other necessities to improve the quality of life in their villages. Any woman (or man) can relate to these two individuals, and their stories reached over 110,000 followers because charity: water took the time to share them through social media.

They also have a dedicated page on their website for storytelling – because they’ve seen the proof in the form of donations — that these real life stories inspire people to support their mission.

Partner With Like Brands

Not only does charity: water partner with other organizations across the globe to provide thousands of people with clean water, they also partner with like brands who are willing to contribute a percent of their product sales to fund water projects.

Tom’s shoes, who donates one pair of shoes for every pair sold to communities around the world, first partnered with charity: water back in 2010. They designed two limited edition shoes and donated $5 from the sale of each one. As a result of their sales, they brought clean water to 540 in Ethiopia. They came together with charity: water again for this year’s September Campaign, with a limited edition eyewear collection that contributes $10 from the sale of each pair. They even shared a photo of a child in India wearing a pair on Instagram just a few days ago.

Another online retailer, Bonobos, partnered with charity: water earlier this year by designing limited edition pants incorporating the charity: water logo. They donated $5 of each pair sold to charity: water, raising $30,000 and surpassing their $25,000 goal. They currently have a personal “thank you” page showing the results of their contributions:


Partnering with like brands doesn’t just bring in more donations for an organization — it spreads awareness of charity: water’s mission (or any organization’s mission) to individuals who may not have found them organically. The target audience of Tom’s and Bonobos is very similar to the charity: water audience. By leveraging the reach of other companies, they were able to spread their mission online through channels they would not have access to on their own — and Tom’s and Bonobos enjoyed similar exposure to new audiences. This is a very creative way to grow your network and gain the support of for-profit organizations.

While there are many other ways to transform your organization into an inbound nonprofit, these are some great examples that you can replicate on a small or large scale for your own organization. I hope you’ve found charity: water’s creativity and resourcefulness as inspiring as I do — and that you share your own inspiring stories and ideas with us in the comments.

From Seinfeld to Sushi: How to Master Your Domain

March 4th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Inspirational

I recently read a great profile in the New York Times about Jerry Seinfeld written by Jonah Weiner (no relation). In addition to providing a view into the life of one of the most successful stand-up comedians of the modern era, the article focuses on the method behind Seinfeld’s observational comic genius, and specifically, the painstaking process he applies to developing a joke.

I always find it valuable when people at the top of their profession provide insight into how they do what they do, but as a long time fan of the comedian and the show (in my opinion, Seinfeld stands alone as the best sitcom of all time), I found this to be a particularly engrossing read.

I was also struck by the number of similarities between Seinfeld’s approach to his craft and that of Jiro Ono, the 86-year old master sushi chef and subject of the highly acclaimed documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” I strongly recommend the film to anyone interested in watching the pursuit of excellence personified.

Here are my observations regarding five shared practices from two wholly unrelated masters of their domains:

1. Never stop practicing (there is no perfect)

Jiro has been preparing sushi for over 70 years; Seinfeld has been a stand-up comic for over 35 years. Both are widely considered to be among the best in the world at what they do, and yet listening to them, one comes away with the impression they will never be satisfied. They are constantly practicing, honing their work, and seeking to improve.

As Jiro describes it: “All I want to do is make better sushi. I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb to reach the top but no one knows where the top is.”

Seinfeld explains:

“If I don’t do a set in two weeks, I feel it,” he said. “I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life. I used to wonder, Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don’t I know how to do this already? The answer is no. You must keep doing it. The broadband starts to narrow the moment you stop.”

2. Sweat the details

There is no detail too small. Jiro serves sushi differently to left-handed and right-handed patrons, and once required an apprentice to make egg sushi 200 times before it was deemed acceptable. Seinfeld relentlessly iterates how to word a punchline. As the profile on Seinfeld describes it:

“Seinfeld will nurse a single joke for years, amending, abridging and reworking it incrementally, to get the thing just so. “It’s similar to calligraphy or samurai,” he says. “I want to make cricket cages. You know those Japanese cricket cages? Tiny, with the doors? That’s it for me: solitude and precision, refining a tiny thing for the sake of it.”

In this regard, their approaches are highly reminiscent of Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive at Apple, where obsessing over the smallest detail is not just part of their design ethos, it’s core to the company’s DNA.

3. Keep chipping away

Michaelanglo once famously described the act of sculpting this way:

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”

Jiro and Seinfeld appear to be applying a similar sensibility to their work, i.e. constantly removing the superfluous to reduce the object of their attention down to it’s quintissential qualities.

Watch Jiro prepare a piece of sushi, and you aren’t just watching him adding a piece of fish to a mound of rice, but rather the culmination of decades of trial and error, identifying what improves the taste, look, and feel of the dish, and leaving all else behind.

The same holds for Seinfeld’s approach to mastering a joke as illustrated in the following anecdote:

I had a joke: ‘Marriage is a bit of a chess game, except the board is made of flowing water and the pieces are made of smoke,’ ” he said. “This is a good joke, I love it, I’ve spent years on it. There’s a little hitch: ‘The board is made of flowing water.’ I’d always lose the audience there. Flowing water? What does he mean? And repeating ‘made of’ was hurting things. So how can I say ‘the board is made of flowing water’ without saying ‘made of…’

So,” he continued, “I was obsessed with figuring that out. The way I figure it out is I try different things, night after night, and I’ll stumble into it at some point, or not. If I love the joke, I’ll wait. If it takes me three years, I’ll wait…The breakthrough was doing this”— Seinfeld traced a square in the air with his fingers, drawing the board…”Here, I’m doing some of the work for you…They don’t think about it. They just laugh.”

4. Work clean

Both the article and film capture the somewhat non-descript, though Zen-like, environments where the two do their work. Jiro’s restaurant is underground, near a subway stop, and seats only ten; sushi is served on a simple black serving dish. Seinfeld works in an Upper West Side apartment described as “Clean, modern and cozy, it resembled some hip therapist’s office: a high-ceilinged, poured-concrete box with a long plushy couch, a little balcony and a kitchenette.”

In their spaces, both masters operate free from distraction and with complete focus on the job at hand. Jiro prepares each dish and then cleans his workspace the instant it’s completed. In the film, a classical score accompanies his motions — it’s hard to draw a clear distinction between where the food preparation ends and the cleaning begins.

Similarly, Seinfeld has his own specific approach to writing a joke: “Seinfeld…grabs a legal pad and a Bic pen and sits at his desk. No street noise penetrates. The pages of the pad are destined for either a wastebasket or a master file containing Seinfeld’s entire act, handwritten.”

5. Be passionate

It’s hard to imagine a person dedicating their life to a single vocation without having a deep love and passion for what they do. That would certainly appear to the case for both Seinfeld and Jiro. From the Times article:

For Seinfeld, whose worth Forbes estimated in 2010 to be $800 million, his touring regimen is a function not of financial necessity but rather of borderline monomania — a creative itch he can’t scratch. “I like money,” he says, “but it’s never been about the money.”

He told me: “That’s the wiring of a stand-up. This is my best way of functioning…” He compares himself to baseball players — putting spin on the ball as it leaves his fingers, trying to keep his batting average high — and to surfers: “What are they doing that for? It’s just pure.”

Similarly, here’s Jiro responding to a question on retirement: “I’ve never hated this job. I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it. Even though I’m 85, I don’t feel like retiring. That’s just the way I feel.”

One final observation: I’ve found the more I pay attention to the habits of individuals who have reached the pinnacle of their profession, the more I recognize clear patterns between them.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who sees the similarities.

Several weeks before the Times piece was published, I shared the story of Jiro with a few people at a dinner event. A few weeks later, while in the midst of reading the Seinfeld article, I stopped to open an email that had just been sent by one of the dinner’s attendees. The email simply said, “Refreshing last paragraph…your sushi analog in baseball!”

There, in the last paragraph of an article announcing the Yankees had re-signed baseball great Ichiro Suzuki, was a quote from Ichiro that read, “I believe the Yankees organization appreciates that there is a difference between a 39-year-old who has played relying only on talent, and a 39-year-old who has prepared, practiced, and thought thoroughly through many experiences for their craft.”

I smiled to myself at the timing of the email and responded to my friend with a link to the Seinfeld article I was still reading. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I reached the conclusion of the profile:

The game resumed, and Ichiro Suzuki, the lean Yankees outfielder, approached the plate. “This is the guy I relate to more than any athlete,” Seinfeld said. “His precision, incredible precision. Look at his body type — he’s made the most of what he has. He’s the hardest guy to get out. He’s fast. And he’s old.”

by Jeff Weiner CEO at Linkedin

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Gettysburg College Fund Announcement Video

September 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Videos

Working with Vendors

January 13th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Videos

Late last week, a representative of one of our most important vendors informed me that he is leaving to pursue a new opportunity. After I recovered from shock and wished him well, I had a chance to reflect on his contribution to our program and the value that he and his organization have brought to mine. I have been fortunate to work with him for several years and believe both of us have learned from the relationship. We’ve also developed a friendship that extends beyond doing business together.

Some believe the client-vendor relationship is somewhat adversarial – and at times it may be – but generally I feel that most vendors are much more than companies feeding off our programs. They are valued members of the team, and should be treated as such. It’s not ‘bad business’ to develop positive relationships with these folks just because they send us bills for their services.

At the end of this post, you’ll find a video that pokes fun at the vendor-client relationship. This video has become quite famous and you’ve probably seen it at one time or another. Some parts may even ring true, unfortunately, and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of some of this behavior at least once. But generally, I believe it paints an unfair picture of the vendor-client relationship. In reality, I believe the relationship is positive for both sides and I hope my treatment (and yours) is better than this.

Following are just a few guidelines I recommend when working with vendors:

1. Select vendors who match your organization’s culture and values. Look for somebody you can work with frequently, will perform work at the level you expect and will contribute equally to the project. Work WITH them to partner on the projects you work on together. They are not here only to serve you, but rather they should become a valued member of your team. They’re providing a service that you either don’t want to provide yourself or simply don’t have the ability to perform. Welcome them, as they truly are an extension of your team.

2. Once you have selected a vendor, treat them as you would any other member of your team. It’s ok to be be open and honest about your successes and failures. It’s ok to become friends. It’s ok to show them how the sausage is made. The result will be a better relationship and final product that will benefit your organization. And it makes it more fun to work with them as well. Treating them as ‘that company that just takes money to provide a service’ doesn’t benefit either party.

3. As a member of your team, treat the vendor with the same respect as you would anyone else on your payroll. Be fair. Expect the best. Set realistic goals and expectations. One of my mentors spoke often of “making insiders out of outsiders” and this is just as true for vendors as it is donors. As they learn about you and your organization, they will strive to provide the best result possible.

4. Understand that vendors receive payment for providing a service, but that doesn’t translate into being a servant for your organization. Getting the best from those with whom you partner means allowing them to provide ideas, feedback and truly PARTNER rather than simply doing as you demand. You don’t have to take every suggestion, but respect them enough to listen. Hiring a vendor who learns early on that it’s better to always say ‘yes’ will likely create a less-than-optimal result. You’re hiring them for their expertise. Let them provide it.

5. When you have problems (and if you work with anyone long enough you WILL have a problem or two) let them know. Be honest and provide feedback to help them understand what you will expect in the future. Vendors are nothing more than collections of people, and people sometimes make mistakes. You wouldn’t hold your employees to a ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy and you shouldn’t hold vendors to that standard either. You obviously can’t allow repeated mistakes or problems, but don’t overreact to the first one even if it’s a doozie.

6. Be realistic. Vendors provide services, not miracles.

7. If a vendor performs well, tell others. They’ll appreciate it. If they don’t, there’s no reason to spread the word. That’s not professional behavior. If you’re asked to provide a direct reference on a former vendor, by all means be fair and honest. But don’t seek out ways to damage somebody’s reputation. Sometimes things just don’t work out, let it be. There’s nothing to be gained for unprofessional behavior.

8. Like any member of your team, a vendor must meet your expectations. If the performance level just isn’t acceptable and you’ve given it a fair shake, it’s time to find a new vendor. When severing the relationship for performance problems, let the vendor know why you are doing so and how they might improve in the future. This type of feedback will allow them to exit the situation with knowledge that may benefit them (and other clients) in the future. It’s also helpful to document these expectations and problems so you can address them with others as you search for a replacement.

9. Treat your vendors well. I know so many people who seem downright mean to their vendors. Then they sit back and expect holiday gifts, birthday cards, trinkets, etc. They want to be treated like royalty because they’re paying the bills. Try returning the favor. Remember, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Show your appreciation for their efforts just as they show theirs for your patronage.

10. Remember: you get more flies with honey than with vinegar! Having a positive relationship doesn’t have to mean becoming somebody’s best friend, but it doesn’t hurt to maintain goodwill. When you need additional service, speedy turnaround, last-minute changes or something else that involves the vendor going out of their way to make something happen, you’ll have a better chance of getting that preferential treatment if you have a great relationship. All that nagging and complaining over the years might come back to haunt you when you need them most.

I hope, for the most part, I follow my own advice. From direct mail shops to telemarketing services to consultants and beyond, I have been fortunate to work with some very good people in the business. I’ve learned from them and they’ve learned from me. They provide valuable services and we provide solid business for them. It’s a true win-win for everyone.

I treat my consulting clients the same way. As the vendor, I am providing advice in a variety of areas, but I also enjoy developing relationships that last beyond the stated term of the engagement. I’m happy to stay in touch and hear how things are going. I continue to provide advice, and I gain knowledge from them as well. I love hearing of their continued success. I’m fortunate to have a full-time job and this allows me to be pretty picky about which clients I choose to work with. I won’t take a client for whom I can’t provide value, and I won’t take a client who doesn’t seem like they’d be enjoyable to work with. I hope the vendors we work with feel the same way.

The video I referenced at the beginning of this admittedly long post follows. If nothing else, maybe it’ll make you laugh a bit and teach you how NOT to work with a vendor.

Jeff Lindauer
Lindauer Consulting

Boston Children’s Hospital

January 13th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Videos

Socialnomics ROI Video

December 11th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Annual Giving, Fundraising, Marketing, Social Media, Videos

Social Networking in Plain English

November 22nd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted in Social Media, Videos