This week, I stayed put in DC/Virginia. If we’re looking at my week from a “glass half full” perspective, I learned a lot about my commuting options. If you look at it from the perspective of anyone who has ever commuted in the DC metro area, I spent an absurd amount of time in the car. Traffic in DC is awful, my friends. No joke. My dad is a transportation planner. The layout of this metro area has made him shed a tear on more than one occasion.
Aside from my commute, here are some highlights of my week:
-An indexed document management system. We have this thing called WorlDox where we load everything we’ve ever done, internally or for clients. It is great! You can search by author, client name, subject, document type, the list goes on and on. It’s a bit tricky to learn at first, but so worth it! I got added to a project on Tuesday and learned everything about it by Wednesday. I get that this may be the only thing more boring than traffic that I could write about, but I’m also making the assumption that if you are reading this you are a nerd, or you at least have nerd tendencies, so a document management system is something that might appeal to you.
-Being creative. It’s probably not a surprise that a big part of being a consultant is getting your name/brand out there (www.bondlammey.com, people!). As a result, I get to pitch lots of ideas for conference sessions and article submissions. I am a huge supporter of APRA and all of its related chapters, and it’s exciting to be able to partner with colleagues across the country on these efforts! Click here to take a look at my BWF page if you want to learn more about conferences I’m speaking at. Right now, there’s only one thing listed, but I think I’ll be adding to that list soon…
-APRA Metro DC. I attended a social event hosted by APRA Metro DC on Thursday night. What a great group! This was also fun because I got to venture to DuPont Circle. I stayed here this time last year, when I ran the Marine Corps Marathon (Oorah!) and hid from a hurricane! Thursday’s outing was much less eventful, but definitely enjoyable. I am now a member of APRA IL, MN, and Metro DC. Maybe I should try to collect chapter memberships…which one is next???
(Note: I realize that Minnesota Nice as a term doesn’t actually mean that people are friendly in MN, but that is what I mean here. I wanted to put that out there before my Minnesota friends think that I had a miserable week surrounded by passive-aggressive people.)
I spent most of this week back in Minnesota. I learned that Minnesota has a rich history with nonprofits, and that a lot of really talented and passionate people live and work here. Maybe one of them will bestow an Honorary Minnesotan title on me? Here are a few highlights of my week:
- APRA-Minnesota chapter conference. My colleague, Alison Roberts recommended I check this out (to read more about Alison, click here). This conference featured fellow east-coasters Lisa Howley and Chris Pipkins. The funny thing about this is that they both live in VA or MD, so I just flew 900 miles to see two people speak who live within a two hour drive from me! It was worth it- Lisa and Chris are seasoned and dynamic speakers. I especially enjoyed Lisa’s points about branding your team/yourself. Another highlight of this conference was APRA-MN in general. APRA was born out of MN, so it should be no surprise that this chapter is well-developed. Mark Egge is the outgoing president (he has a blog too…click here to read it), and in his state of the chapter he listed all of the benefits APRA-MN provides to its members. I was really impressed! Outside of their programmatic offerings, they maintain a list of research links (including Minnesota-specific ones), which is a great time saver if you work in a small shop. He mentioned they’re doing a new researchers boot camp in February, so if you live in/near MN and you’re new to the field, you might want to check that out. Here’s a photo from the conference of Mark giving his state of the chapter speech (disclaimer: I lifted this from the APRA-MN Facebook page):
- Minnesota Women’s Consortium friend raiser. My friend Jenny is on the board of this small but mighty organization, and she invited me to join her at a fundraiser/friend raiser since I was in town. I met a lot of great women and was motivated by the grassroots feel of this nonprofit (click here to go to their website). Apparently, Minnesota is the only state to have an organization devoted to gathering all sorts of partner organizations statewide in order to advance equality for women. Another victory by the great state of Minnesota!
- My first client engagement. This week I was honored and beyond excited to participate in my first client engagement at Concordia St. Paul. This may have been my favorite part of my time in MN (I suppose that’s a good thing, since its my job). I spent two days with Matt Hewitt and Ryan Marshall, two Concordia alums, and we walked through all sorts of research resources and methodologies. I learned something, hopefully they learned something, and it was a nice reminder of how you can do more with less. Small shops are forced to be creative about how to find information that larger shops take for granted, and I’m happy to say that we were able to get to everything we needed. Thanks to both of these guys for making my first gig so much fun!
Water is all the rage in prospecting these days. I didn’t realize how en vogue it was, but we were all about looking for “water” prospects at U of C (if you want to know why, click here). Upon starting at BWF, I discovered that University of Chicago wasn’t the first nonprofit to enter the water game. Turns out that the scarcity of water, and natural resources in general, is a hot-ticket item for private philanthropists to get behind.
Not to take the scarcity of water worldwide lightly, but you’d never know this was the case if you were in DC this past week. Here’s what was sitting on top of DC all week:
Welcome to our nation’s capital to me! However, since this is likely the only week between now and the end of the year that I’ll be in town for a full work week, I made the most of it. On Wednesday, I met a high school friend of mine (her name is Monica and she’s kind of awesome. Click here to see a bunch of stories she’s written for the Washington Post) for dinner after work. This was my first adventure on the Metro since I moved here, and I was proud of myself for navigating a half-mile of indoor walkways through Crystal City to get to the Metro. We had a delightful dinner (did I mention how cool my friend Monica is? She wrote a book too! Click here to take a look.), and afterwards, I headed back to the Metro stop to hop on the yellow line back to my office, where my car was parked. I navigated the Metro without incident, and even managed retracing my steps through the Crystal City walkways until I got to a door leading to the building my office is in (I think it might be Century One or Two in case you get the reference). I went to open the door, and it was locked.
I’ve only ever gotten to the garage from my office’s elevator lobby, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to figure out how to get to the parking garage from an outside entrance (also, see the picture above. It was pouring down rain). I walked into the lobby of a private residence next door that shares the parking garage with my office. I asked the attendant how to get to the parking garage, and she directed me down a set of stairs in the residence’s lobby. I went down to the level where my car was parked, but the residential parking area was caged off. I guess they don’t want the commercial riff-raff polluting the esteemed parking spaces of the private residences at The Buchanan. Yes, very fancy, I know. I saw a stairwell in the distance and headed towards it as fast as I could in heels. As I got closer, all I could think of was how damp and musty the parking garage was, how loud my shoes were, and how I was sure to meet my fate at the hands of The Parking Garage Killer! Of course, I was overreacting, and of course, I made it to the stairwell fine. I walked up a level and saw a sign that said “Ground,” and another sign that said “Exit at Lobby Level.” Since the sign didn’t say “Lobby,” and “Exit Here to Escape Certain Death,” I rounded the corner to head up another flight of stairs in search of the elusive “Lobby” level.
Who did I see once I turned the corner? A homeless man trying to catch some sleep. Crisis! What do I do? Our conversation went something like this:
Me: “Oh, sorry!” (Presumably for invading his space?)
Him (groggily): “It’s okay. Hi. How are you?” (Certainly a reasonable opener.)
Me: “I’m fine. How are you?” (Clearly, things could be better since he’s sleeping in a concrete stairwell, but what else should I say?)
Him: “I’m good.” (Lady, you’re in my space and I want to go to bed. Please leave.)
Me: “I was just trying to find the lobby level.” (I was just trying to find the lobby level.)
Him: “I think you just passed it.” (Duh.)
Me: “Oh. Okay — thanks!” (I briefly debated pointing out the inconsistency in the sign one floor below – if I’m supposed to exit here, why not just call it the lobby level???, but ultimately I decided to save that point for this blog.)
I made it to my car, about 30 minutes past when I initially projected making it there, and drove home. In the rain. The whole way.
Thanks for a great first week, DC!
Welcome to week one of my blog, Research in Motion. If you don’t know me, my name is Bond, and I just started a new job that will have me traveling all over the country, working with all sorts of great nonprofits on questions, challenges, and opportunities related to prospect development. If you don’t know what that is, you can read more about what I’ll be doing by clicking here. Or see more about what prospect development is by clicking here. (disclaimer: that last link is to my boss, Josh Birkholz’s blog. I did a quick online search to just find a definition of prospect development and didn’t find anything else that really looked helpful; drop me a note if you’ve got other links to share).
My plan with this blog is to post my observations related to prospect research and/or development, or interesting travel stories since I’ll be going all over the place. Sometimes these two topics will intersect; sometimes I’ll post about one or the other.
As with the first week of any new job, I learned a lot. I met a ton of great people, and had a chance to catch up with some old friends. I went to North Park University, a school that is physically located in Chicago but might as well be in Minnesota since so many of the students grew up there. I digress. Anyway, the most interesting thing I learned this week was from a training I sat in on today. My firm does a training the first Friday of every month (creatively called First Fridays) for all new employees. Today’s topic was on effective presentations. We watched some examples of great presenters, and the most compelling one, hands down, was the clip below from Hans Rosling. Dr. Rosling is a Swedish (appropriate given my previous North Park observation) doctor/statistician. Yeah, I know, he can’t just be brilliant about one thing, right? Anyway, he did this amazing presentation where he does a real-space animation of life expectancy and wealth over the course of 200 years. I don’t want to give anything else away, but if you like social sciences, charts, Swedish accents, or just being intrigued in general, you need to watch this… Fascinating, right?!