This year I took off a full two weeks during the holiday, spending time with family on the Big Island on a coffee farm and mostly offline. I didn’t do a complete unplug, as we’re so dependent on the Internet for information in navigate our daily lives, which is a huge change since I first got online in 1993. And, now with those beautiful sunsets behind me, I look ahead to 2015.
I have a couple of New Year’s rituals that help prepare me for a new year. These include a review of the year’s accomplishments and two techniques that help you focus on your goals: Peter Bregman’s theme for the year, and Chris Brogan’s “My Three Words .” I also throughout the month of January review my work routines and systems and redesign or tweak to improve productivity. Rituals and routines have many benefits for your personal effectiveness. They capitalize on our brains’ ability to direct our behavior on autopilot, allowing us to reach our goals even when we are distracted or preoccupied with other things.
Year in Review
- Facilitator for Learning Network: Most of my work is designing and delivering capacity building projects for nonprofits literally all over the world and here in the US. One of my main projects this past year, and continuing into 2015 was to serve as the facilitator for a learning network of community foundations who are hosting Giving Days, funded by the Knight Foundation. To be successful as a facilitator in a peer learning isn’t about subject matter expertise, although having that knowledge helps. It is about making it possible for participants to capture, share, and reflect on what they have learned. It also helps participants take risks in trying new techniques because they have the support of their peers.
- International and Domestic Training and Speaking: I presented over 100 keynotes, panel sessions, webinars, informal talks, and workshops for nonprofits in the area of integrated social media strategy, leveraging professional networks in service of mission, learning from data, instructional design and delivery, crowd funding, attention training, walking as work, and other topics. This year took me to Europe to keynote at the Internet Festival in Pisa, Italy and to Amsterdam to give a plenary talk at International Fundraising Conference. I also gave a plenary talk at AFP in San Antonio, Texas. In the US, I keynoted and gave workshops at nonprofit conferences in Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Buffalo, and Omaha. I keynoted at the Grant Manager’s Network Conference and was on a panel with Alex Samuel and Jeremiah Owyang at SXSW.
- Inspirational Talks: I did my first TedX talk in Berkeley about building relationships online and individual social responsibility. I presenting a “Walking Keynote” at the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference where I walked the talk. I gave a lightening talk at the Gates Foundation convening of the Markets for Good community on “Between the Keyboard and the Chair“
- Facilitation and Train the Trainers: I was honored to co-facilitate a leadership track at the first ever Leading Change Summit hosted by NTEN which was an amazing learning experience. In addition, I presented a webinar on training design and facilitated a session on nonprofit technology training design at NTC. I worked with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design, development and facilitate training on how staff can leverage professional networks for learning and in service of strategy, including a special session training your attention online. I wrote many posts on instructional design for nonprofit training, including this wrap up post from our NTEN NTC session on teaching and learning for nonprofits.
- Adjunct Professor and Guest Teacher: This past year I enjoyed my first experience teaching a graduate course at Middlebury College/Monterrey Institute for International Education. I taught a seminar course on integrated social media strategy for international nonprofits and a session for students to learn how they leverage their professional networks for career and learning in a flexible classroom space. I also had the opportunity to be a guest teacher at the University of Buffalo which was amazing. I also was a guest lecturer for a Berkeley MBA Class on networks.
- Design and Innovation Labs: 2014 was my year of living in the technique of facilitating design and innovation labs and I had the opportunity to design and facilitate many sessions, including design lab sessions for GuideStar Donor Edge, Pittsburgh Nonprofits, Leadership Network Design, Community Foundation Program Officers, Google Impact Grantees, and others.
When I look back on 2014, it was a very rich and productive year. And, I expect no less in 2015.
My Theme for the Year: Learning
This was my theme for last year and I plan to keep the same theme. I’ve been working in the nonprofit sector for 35 years, doing training for the past twenty, blogging for the past twelve, and published author over the past five years. Learning has kept me inspired and improving what I do. But, it isn’t just about learning new techniques. When you’ve been doing what you do for a long time, it is also about unlearning (being mindful when bad habits creep in and changing them) and relearning what you have learned or updating it or reinventing it.
2015 will be another year of learning for me. You’ll be reading more about how to learn – either professional learning or learning in organizations or learning from peers and how technology – especially social networks and data supports the process. I’m particularly obsessed with how to design for the modern learning, so stay tuned for more on that.
My Three Words
- Teaching: This is my passion, my calling, and my professional work. Most of work projects are capacity building and training other trainers. I will continue exploring and writing about assessment, curriculum development, facilitation, evaluation, and documentation. I will be teaching a graduate course at the Monterrey Institute in January as well as guest teach at other universities. In order to be a great teacher, you have to always be learning. I have a goal for one learning day per month where I will take workshop on instructional topics and share those here. One thing I feel strongly about is that if you want to be a great facilitator or teacher, that you should live in a particular method and iterate on it for at least a year, if not longer. I plan to do that with facilitation techniques for design and innovation labs. I will continue to do deep reflection on my instructional design and delivery and continue to share insights here on the blog.
- Networked Leadership and Learning Skills: Okay, that isn’t one word, but I couldn’t capture this idea in one word. But I continue to be interested in teaching “networked leadership skills” which how to use online networks and the Internet in service of your career, professional learning, or organizational goals. I’m teaching several workshops on these topics for nonprofits and community foundations as well as will be a learning facilitator for a peer group of young leaders at nonprofits funded by the Packard Foundation (more to come on this). I will also continue to work on network design projects, particularly those focused on developing “learning networks.” I will blogging about the use of online social network tools and techniques for effective professional networking.
- Walking: In Oct, 2013, I got a fitbit and got addicted to walking. I walked away 30 pounds, but something else happened. I discovered that walk is an important part of work – it helps you think, it helps you develop professional relationships, and can help when you are leading trainings. I will continue to blog about walking as work – and will do a session at NTC 2015 with Ritu Sharma on the topic. To relate it back to an area of nonprofit technology, I’ll be following the discussions on wearable tech and health data.
I wish all my readers and colleagues a very happy and healthy 2015!
What is your theme for 2015?