Archive | April 2014


It’s milestone time (again), friends! As many of you know, I was in Hong Kong earlier this month at the CASE Asia Pacific Advancement Conference. What an amazing experience and a whirlwind of a trip. A ton of amazing things happened and I can’t wait to write about it all here, but first things first:


Hong Kong is a looooooooooong ways from DC. 8300 miles and 12 hours ahead, to be exact. I did NOT adjust well. For the majority of my four day stay, I. Was. Sleepy. I was ready for bed every night by 8pm, and I couldn’t shake the feeling each day by 4pm that I pulled an all nighter. Frequent world travelers: you have my deep appreciation. Please drop me a note and teach me your secrets.

So now I’ve given the caveat that I sleepwalked through my entire HK trip, here’s some of the awesome stuff that happened:

I was raised on a capella music and sang throughout high school and college. Imagine my delight to see an a capella group at the opening ceremony of the conference! The Acapelicans from University of Sydney were on an Asian tour, and they stopped in to serenade us. It was such a treat! Here they are:

Fundraising Frontiers
On the other side of the world, our colleagues in advancement are breaking new ground. The collaboration at this conference was a breath of fresh air. Not that we don’t have collaboration at conferences in the States, but it’s different. Consider the facts. In the US, we’re all operating from a common playbook. Tax laws here are the same. The culture of philanthropy is shared. Privacy laws are relatively laid back. Fundraising professionals in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia face basic challenges around many of the factors that are business as usual in our world in the States.

Here’s an example by way of illustration:

1. Let’s say you’re the director of development at a secondary school in Australia. You’re planning a trip to Hong Kong (for the CASE Asia Pacific Conference, of course), and you need to locate your alumni living in the area to invite to a dinner while you’re in town.

2. You might start by pulling a list that includes: alumni who went on to attend colleges in Hong Kong, alumni whose last known address (business or home) is in Hong Kong, alumni who may live in Macau or another area that isn’t too far of a drive/ferry trip from Hong Kong. Locating updated addresses on individuals will be quite a challenge, especially considering how many countries you may have to include in your search.

3. Once they are found, how do you identify which alumni have the greatest potential to be major supporters of the school? Capacity information is hard to locate due to privacy laws, so you’ll probably want to mine your database for internal clues, or you’ll just send out a blanket invitation to all contactable alumni that were on your list in step 2.

4. Let’s skip ahead. You had a small but mighty turn out for your event, and you are strategizing next steps for the attendees. How do you motivate this select group to stay involved and eventually donate? There aren’t tax laws incentivizing them to support you. How do you keep in touch when you’re navigating so many different countries, laws, languages, and customs?

That was just one example, but it gives you an idea of how hands-on and practical this conference is. Attendees were excited to be there and were looking for concrete takeaways to implement in their shops. I got emails following the conference from a few individuals who attended my session and were able to implement some takeaways from the ideas I presented. I am thrilled to know that I was able to provide useful, tactical information, and I definitely got some great information out of the sessions I attended.

The Peak
By Friday afternoon, the bulk of the conference was over, my jetlag had mostly faded, and it was sunny for the first time since I arrived. I decided to seize the moment and take a trip up to the Peak. The Peak is a tourist destination/ sightseeing spot in Hong Kong. You have to take this tram up a really steep incline to get there, so steep that it makes you feel like the whole tram might topple over if someone onboard sneezes too forcefully. And you have to wait in line forever for the tram. But once you get there, you are on top of the world. It is so beautiful! Hong Kong is surrounded by water, so it looks like a private oasis when you look at it from the sky:
HK Peak cityscape

I passed a few milestones this trip that I’m excited to share.

Passport ready: This was my first international work trip and my first time in Asia. While I could have navigated the jetlag better, I really enjoyed my stay and learned a lot about the challenges of fundraising in other countries.

Status: Several things make the life of a frequent traveler easier. Among them: TSA precheck, luggage with four wheels, and upgraded airline status. This trip got me to MileagePlus Premier Silver Status on United. I haven’t flown with United since then, but when I do, I’ll be sure to report back on whatever magic I experience by being bumped up one tier. I’ve still got a ways to go before I make it into the “drop everything, Bond is on this flight” category (I realize it has an official name like diamond or eternity, but isn’t mine better?).

Batter-up: BWF has a tradition of giving all new employees a baseball bat with your name on it when you start at the firm. I was due to receive mine at our all-firm meeting in January, but the horrible winter took its toll and the bats weren’t yet ready. My first day back in the office after returning from CASE Asia Pacific I found this waiting for me:

BWF bat

Now I’m officially part of the team!


Covering Ground

Friends, it is celebration time! This week, I earned some significant consultant airport cred. Since beginning this job at the end of September, I have cleared the 50,000 miles flown mark! Check out my Vital Stats page to see the exact number.

This week represented one of the crazier ones I’ve had since starting this job, so I figured I’d devote this post to describing a “week in the life.” Here are some of the highlights of my week (Sunday, March 23-Saturday, March 29):


7: Illinois, Missouri, Virginia, New York, North Carolina*, Arizona, Texas*

*Didn’t leave the airport

Time Zones:

3: Central Time, Eastern Time, Pacific Standard Time*

*Arizona doesn’t fall back/spring forward; it’s in the Mountain Standard Time zone. From November until March, Arizona is in the same time as its mountain state friends like Utah and Colorado. From March until November, Arizona is hanging out with California and Washington, who are in Pacific Daylight Time.

Work Life Balance:

In the consulting world, it can be hard to find time for a personal life. This week, I got to see family and a good friend during my travels. My client on Monday was in St. Louis, which is only about three hours from my home town of Bloomington/Normal, Illinois. I flew in on Saturday morning and drove up to Bloomington for a visit. I stayed with my mom:


I also got to see my brother and his family. It was a quick trip, but I’m so grateful I got a chance to spend some time with them during an otherwise hectic time.

My client on Friday was in Phoenix, which is only a couple hours from Tucson, where a good friend of mine lives. Once I was done on Friday, I hopped on the Arizona shuttle service to go from Phoenix to Tucson. The shuttle is very convenient, and it was great to be able to see the beautiful scenery in Arizona along the way. I enjoyed a great dinner in downtown Tucson with my friend and a great breakfast the next morning before heading to the airport to get home. Again, it was a very quick trip, but it’s a trip I wouldn’t have made were it not for this job and my client in Phoenix.

The (Mis) Adventures of a Consultant:

When you travel a lot, crazy things happen that are hard to predict. They keep life interesting and make for good stories. Here are a handful of stories from this week:

  • Bathroom break: (This actually happened at the end of last week, but it’s a good story so I’m promoting it to inclusion this week) Beware the bathroom doors on tiny planes! On my flight to St. Louis, I sat in the back of a tiny plane with only one restroom on board. Thirty minutes before we landed, I went into the restroom and locked the door. When I tried to leave, I couldn’t get out! The door was partially jammed at the bottom. I tried for about five minutes to free myself and then I pressed the attendant call button (I guess they put these in the bathrooms for a reason). The flight attendant came with some sort of apparatus and managed to pry the door open. Clearly this wasn’t the first time she’s rescued someone.
  • Presidential crasher: I began my misadventures in true rock star fashion on Monday. My client was a relatively small school about 30 minutes outside of St. Louis. The Alumni Relations and Development Department is housed within Alumni House, which looks a lot like a regular house. I have been there once before, but it was a couple months ago, so I was fuzzy on the details. I walked up to the house and it didn’t quite look right, but I remember walking up to the first house after the street I parked on, so I kept going. I was right in the middle of campus, so if it isn’t Alumni House, I’d know the minute I opened the door. At worst, it was some other campus facility and I could ask for directions. I opened the door and found…a dining room. And pictures on the wall. Uh oh. This wasn’t a campus house. This was a private residence. A curiously open private residence, but someone’s home nonetheless. I immediately walked away and headed towards the next house I saw. Within 30 seconds, an alarm started going off. I told my clients about my accidental trespassing when I got to the actual Alumni House and they informed me it was the President’s house. Good thing he wasn’t home!
  • Things they shouldn’t fry: Once I settled into my hotel in Rochester, New York, it was dinner time. I perused the menu and saw something called a Xango. Here is the description: “deep fried cheesecake served with vanilla ice cream and fresh berries.” Is this a New York thing? Can anyone enlighten me? Here’s what it looked like:


While bananas don’t exactly qualify as a berry, and it was more like a cheese blintze/eggroll fushion, it was delicious. Thank you Rochester for giving me something totally unexpected.

  • Pet adoption center: My Friday client is in the animal welfare world. On our lunch break, we toured a local pet adoption center. There were so many adorable and sweet animals there. My own cats are shelter pets, so this is a cause with which I identify. In case you were wondering (I’m almost sure you weren’t), here are my cats, Data and Lore:


  • Too close: Saturday my journey ended and I headed to the Tucson airport. I saw what is now becoming a familiar message: flight delayed. I had a 45 minute layover to transfer planes in Houston, and the delay was 30 minutes. I didn’t like my chances of sprinting through the Houston airport, so I asked the gate agents to reserve me a spot on a later flight. Once I landed, I checked the board – final call for the earlier flight. I booked it and got to the gate as the agent was checking in the (second-to-) last passenger. I looked for my phone to show her my mobile boarding pass, and couldn’t find it in my purse. Panic! Did I drop my phone during my sprint? The gate agent asked for my name and was aggressively ushering me in before the door closed. I knew I had a seat on the later flight, and I definitely didn’t want to leave without my phone. Should I stay or should I go? I emptied the contents of my purse and found my phone. Phew! I loaded everything back in and walked down the jetway. A few minutes later, the gate agent appeared. What had I done wrong this time? I looked down. She was holding my wallet. Gulp. As bad as losing my phone would have been, leaving my wallet in the Houston airport two days before an international trip would have been worse. The next day, I bought a purse with a dedicated phone holder and a full zipper at the top.

Next week: Hong Kong!