Read the Thin Ones

January is the month of new beginnings and new resolutions.

As you implement your New Year’s resolutions, let me pass on some quirky advice I received years ago.

Before I discovered this awesome field of Advancement, I worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. I was a member of their Management Development Program, which developed future leaders through generalist experiences in operations and administrative departments. A perk of the program was ongoing leadership training.

One of the most memorable sessions was presented by the President of another Federal Reserve Bank. Memorable not for the length of his presentation or his delivery, but for his brevity. His prepared remarks were simply this:

“There are a lot of good books on leadership out there. Read the thin ones.”

Then he opened it up for questions. I remember being thoroughly unimpressed, as I had expected a 30-minute inspirational keynote on leadership. But you know what? I still remember it after all these years. And over time, I’ve realized the wisdom in his recommendation.

As you embark on a new year, I hope you’ve considered professional development as part of your resolutions/goals. And as you seek books to read to expand your knowledge and skillset, here are five “thin ones” to consider. (Let me know what others you recommend!)

A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen: Inspiration for all of us inviting people to a higher calling of being part of something bigger than oneself.

Asking by Jerold Panas: A common-sense quick read that is a foundational text for anyone inviting gift support. Particularly good as a gift to volunteers joining in gift invitations.

The One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard: A seminal management text every supervisor should read.

Managing Major Gift Fundraisers: A Contrarian’s Guide by David Lively: Read this if you’re trying to re-engineer your prospect management function or trying to formally start one in 2021.

A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young: Written a while ago for the advertising industry, but a good book for anyone seeking new ideas; the author provides a formula for doing so.




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