Screw resolutions


This was one of the best email subject lines I received this week:

SCREW Resolutions … Our New Year REVOLUTION is Back!

It was from Todd Cambio, a Rhode Island-based obstacle course racing coach and personal trainer.

My wife and I have been asked countless times in the last week what resolutions we are making for the new year.


We never do.

We're both in pretty decent shape, we eat well and healthy and we have recently succeeded in getting more sleep. Our family is happy and business is growing.

We do, however, set goals and strategies — targets we want to shoot for in the coming years (yes, long term!).

So as you enter 2014, don't focus on the short-term changes that will likely go bye-bye in short order. Instead, focus on making the adjustments that will have lasting, systemic changes and that target a goal somewhere over the horizon.

It's now the Year of the Horse — ride well!


Hold a contest, build your community

Everyone likes to win something.

And even when you don't win, you probably like to play (think sweepstakes, PowerBall and trivia nights).

Now a new study from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation shows how contests can actually improve philanthropy — and expand your community.

Knight President & CEO Alberto Ibarguën says:

Contests are a wonderful device for engaging the imagination of communities.

Knight offers six lessons about how contests can boost your "community:"

  1. "Contests bring in new blood and new ideas" by exposing your organization to new people and new thinking.
  2. "Contests create value beyond the winners." Most people will never enter a contest, but Knight suggests that just by holding the contest — and having people experience it, even from the sidelines — non-profits can engender more engagement and, ultimately, support.
  3. "Contests help you spot emerging trends." One example is the emergence of data journalism and the importance of mobile apps, which came from Knight's News Challenge.
  4. "Contests will change your routine" by looking beyond traditional audiences and funding sources and allowing you to "experiment" with your brand.
  5. "Contests go hand in glove with existing program strategies" by building on existing community priorities and even kickstarting areas where your traditional efforts have fallen flat.
  6. "Contests should thoughtfully engage the community." This is probably the most important because you can engage your community to judge your contest — and that is both empowering and engaging!

But remember, as with everything, don't just do it to try something new — make sure it is part of a broad and well-considered strategy. 

Knight's best advice:

Foundations shouldn’t undertake a contest as a lark or a just-for-the-heck-of-it enterprise. The most successful are embedded in existing program strategies. They are simply a different way to tackle a foundation’s key areas of focus. 

Download and read the study: "Why Contests Improve Philanthropy: Six Lessons on Designing Public Prizes for Impact.”


Don't lose your Twitter voice

Image courtesy of Tom Fishburne.  Learn more here.

Image courtesy of Tom Fishburne. Learn more here.

It's your voice. Don't let someone else speak for you.

Too many health systems (especially smaller ones) outsource their social media voices, usually to those who don't know their organizations or who can't speak in their institutional voice.

Getting help with strategy and content development is fine. 

But take internal control of your social voice — and especially how you interact with and respond to your patients, community and customers.

Social media is about building relationships and, ultimately, trust and loyalty. That comes with knowing your audience and participating in genuine conversations. Too many organizations fail to engage with their customers — patients and families and public — thereby squandering opportunities to begin a dialogue with someone who is actively reaching out.

So take control of your Twitter account. And your Facebook account. And Pinterest, Google+ and every other new network that is sure to follow.