Profound: adverb – a very great or intense emotion.
Be profoundly positive. A simple concept with tremendous ramifications. After deciding to leave Apple and start GoVoluntr, this concept has become so prevalent in many ways. During my time at Apple there was something Ron Johnson (former VP of Apple Retail) would always say to his leaders and reports. “Be Profoundly Positive.” It sounds cliche and typical of an executive to say and most may not pay heed to a mantra so generic, but as I’ve been working on getting GoVoluntr up off the ground with some successes coupled with it’s challenges, I’ve experienced so many instances where this is needed in all of us, in every level, everyday.
I was volunteering the other week at one of my favorite fundraising events helping setup. The day was going well and I was contributing to the best of my ability, adding in personal skills and experience where I could to make processes more efficient, while engaging with my fellow volunteers and NPO representatives. It started off very enjoyable and I was feeling great about my contributions and the level of engagement I was personally getting out of it.
About an hour in, there seemed to be a volunteer quantity deficit. The reasons are many and the solutions are never clear, as sometimes volunteers commit and just don’t show up. It’s just like friends that we have that commit to a social event and end up flaking. Except the impact is much more drastic in the NPO world.
So I ended up being bounced around quite a bit from project to project, and would get temporarily reassigned if a project was time critical. No big deal. Love working hard and I’m here to help. But as the stress of the lack of volunteers started mounting, one of the coordinators (possibly a volunteer himself) started to express his frustrations out on the few people volunteering. The social aspect of volunteerism dissipated very quickly, and what was engaging and interactive turned sour and menial very quickly. I’m an avid fan of the NPO’s that I was serving by volunteering but I left that day with a sour taste in my mouth.
I was thinking about how unfortunate this would be if someone was volunteering for the first time and had this experience and generalized the experience as “volunteerism.” I found the idea of being profoundly positive even more profound for all levels of organization, but especially when it comes to volunteer management. Even when times are hard, it’s so crucial to be profoundly positive, as it will not only help you solve more problems but it can mitigate a lot of misdirected feelings. My dad has said to me “it’s easy to be great when times are good, it’s truly being great when you can be great when times are bad.” Be profoundly positive.
Later that week I was sitting in a meeting in an advisory role for a NPO. The council was a gathering of professionals representing a lot of the established tech companies that surround us here in SV. During the meeting the Executive Director announced that the federal government had cut it’s funding. After discussing alternate methods of fundraising we talked about how some of that money was being redistributed to help with enforcement of diversity laws and audits. This conflicted with the goal of the NPO to proactively work with employers for job placement and community outreach for their clients. We discussed some more about the values of the NPO and wanted the relationship to be built on willingness and participation instead of a sense of forced agreement. We were going back and forth for quite a while when someone from YouTube said something that was absolutely brilliant. “At this point we can’t change what has happened with the budget cut. But we can change how we perceive it.” She then went on to explain that it was matter of perception. We could leverage the funding going into corporate enforcement by packaging ourselves as a great way to pass audits and regulations. Once we had the attention of the Corporation we could build the rapport and cultivate the relationship in line with the NPO’s values. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.
It is business critical for all NPO’s to think about creative ways to succeed. It’s imperative to remember that serving the cause is the ultimate goal and there is nothing that is getting in the way of it. One person being profoundly positive during this meeting turned a serious matter into an uplifting and engaging experience. It’s infectious and powerful. Be profoundly positive.
Lastly, I’ve been working on GoVoluntr for about a month now and it’s been much more difficult than I imagined it would be. Which makes me wonder if I underestimated how hard it is to start a company or I overestimated my ability to start a company. It’s probably a little of both. As I plug away on all the various aspects of the business, I’m finding that each piece comes with it’s own challenges and the only way to over come them is to be profoundly positive. By finding a way to be profoundly positive, especially when it gets tough, you can start to create a path to achieve your goal. This last month has been a great learning experience to be profoundly positive.
So as you go through your day in work, family, and community – think about how you can be profoundly positive. I look forward to hearing your comments and stories about being profoundly positive.