New (lower) price for Claxon U!

The Punch Line

The price for Claxon University’s on-line training–Words on a Mission–is now $425 if you pay up-front, or $40/month for 12 months.

The Rationale

We created Words on a Mission because we wanted as many non-profits, do-gooders, and mission-motivated trailblazers as possible to be able to learn how to create remarkable messaging.

We did it so communications conundrums could become a thing of the past.

We did it because we know that effective communications leads to engagement.

To more funds, and awareness, and good in the world.

That’s why we did it.

Claxon U “students” have knocked it out of the park when it comes to getting results. Totally awe-inspiring what they’ve accomplished.

We want those results for absolutely everyone. We want them for you.

But recently we had one of those moments. A moment when you realize if you’re going to achieve your vision, you need to course correct to get there.

At $949, Words on a Mission seemed fairly reasonably priced. It’s about $25,000 worth of consulting all wrapped up in a self-paced on-line training that anyone can do. Nifty.

But recently we did a webinar with Vu Le and the topic of professional development came up. We asked participants how much budget they had for professional development. We knew it wasn’t going to be much and–wowee– it is not a lot.

$949 isn’t doable, even for mid-size organizations. So we decided to do something about that.

We sat ourselves down and said, “If the goal is to get this into the hands of as many people as possible, how low can we go and not lose money?”

$425. That’s how low we can go.

So that’s the new price. $425 up front, or $40 per month for 12 months.

We had to trim down a few things to make this price doable. For instance, we’re no longer going to do on-line office hours. But you’ll still be able to ask questions via the private Facebook group, so you won’t ever be stuck and not have the support you need. We got your back.

If you’ve been on the fence about doing this training, hop off the fence and into the land of communications awesomeness! You know you’ve got it in you. We believe in you.

Let’s do this thing!

Stand Out: How to find your breakthrough idea [book review]

Dorie Clark

Dorie Clark is an inspiration. Insightful. No-nonsense. Encouraging. Prolific. (Does she sleep?!)

Her work is extremely relevant to those of us in the non-profit sector. The opening to her most recent book, “Stand Out: how to find your breakthrough idea” says it all:

“You have something to say to the world. You have a contribution to make.”

Indeed you do! You’re on a mission to make the world better, brighter, safer, kinder. More sustainable and equitable. Heck yeah you’ve got a contribution to make. You’re making one every day.

Dorie goes on to say:

“Yet too many of us shrink back when it comes to finding and sharing our ideas with the world.”

She kind of nailed it on the head there, didn’t she?

As non-profit and philanthropic leaders, we have been trained to not “toot our own horns”. To not draw attention to our work. To put away our soapboxes and megaphones. And, to some extent, that makes sense. It’s not about us. It’s about our mission, our work, the people we serve.

But here’s the thing: if you don’t share your ideas for how to make the world a better place, no one will know about them.

Now, I’m not a betting gal, but I’d lay money on the table that you have some good ideas about how we might do things better. Those ideas would mean fewer kids on the streets, more people fed, more acres of land protected, healthier communities, happier people, etc., etc., etc.

So I’d like to encourage you to 1) read Dorie’s book because it’s great and inspiring, and 2) to reframe how you think about “tooting your own horn”. There’s a big difference between tooting your horn and putting a breakthrough idea out into the world, especially if that idea will make the world a better place. Then you’re kind of obligated to put it out to the world. Keeping it to yourself would be downright selfish. (How’s that for a reframe?)

What’s your breakthrough idea for making the world a better place?

 

Personal Branding & Cute Little Cows

Moooooooooooooooo.

That’s what I hear in my mind when I hear the word “branding”. Cows. Wandering around the pasture. Chewing their cud. Staring off into middle distance.

They’re cute, aren’t they?

But branding isn’t about cows at all. (Yes, cows are branded, poor little things. But we’re not talking about that. Ouch!)

Personal branding is about putting your unique stamp on the world. It’s about figuring out who you are at your core. What your values are. What your personality is. What you stand for. And then infusing that throughout your personal and professional lives.

Personal branding isn’t particularly complicated. But if you’re someone driven by mission–someone like you–it’s a liiiiiiiiitle more complicated because of the whole aligning your personal values with those of the organizations for which you work.

Just like an organization or a company, you already have a brand. But are you managing it well? That’s the question. And that’s what we’re going to tackle in this month’s free webinar.

Specifically, we’ll cover:

  • Why you should actively care about your personal brand (Hint: It has to do with being happier and more successful.)
  • A super practical way to define your personal brand.
  • What your words say about your personal brand.
  • How the narrative, visual, and experiential aspects of your brand work together… and what bad things happen when they don’t.
  • How to be true to your personal brand in different contexts, including at work.

Here are the details. Hope you’ll join me! (If you can’t join live but are interested in the topic, register anyway and you’ll auto-magically get the recording.)

January 25, 2017
1-2pm Pacific


Announcing: Personal Branding, The Non-profit Edition [Webinar]

While we’re running around making sure our non-profit’s image stays in check, it’s easy to forget about something a bit more personal. I’ll give you a hint. It’s something Kim Kardashian has mastered, and arguably, made millions of $$ from doing so well.

I’m talking about creating a solid personal brand, and whether you know it or not, you have one. You may scoff: I’m not even 100% sure what a “personal brand” is, how can I have one?

Do a google search of your name (with your organization/ location, if you have a Jenn Jones-type of name.) What comes up? This is part of your personal brand. What does your cover photo look like on Twitter? What expression are you donning in your LinkedIn profile photo? These are also part of your personal brand.

It applies offline, too. What do your coworkers think when they think of [insert your name here]?

The good news? You’re not powerless when it comes to defining your personal brand. With just a little care, your personal brand can help you achieve your goals and be your happiest, most fulfilled self. If you’re in a public-facing role at your non-profit, it can also help you achieve your non-profit’s goals.

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve got your back here at Claxon. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to find the inner rock star we both know is inside of you. That’s why we’re offering a free webinar all about personal branding. And we’re doing it exclusively for non-profit professionals such as yourself.

When: January 25, 2017, 1-2 p.m PT/ 4-5 p.m. ET/ 3-4 p.m CT


Presented by: Erica Mills, Claxon’s CEO


Who Should Attend: Non-profit executive directors, communications staff, and other non-profit professionals who are either new to personal branding, or want to improve their personal brand.


What You’ll Learn:

  • Why you should actively care about your personal brand.
  • A super practical way to define your personal brand.
  • What your words say about your personal brand.
  • How the narrative, visual, and experiential aspects of your brand work together…and what bad things happen when they don’t.
  • How to be true to your personal brand in different contexts, including at work.

If you want 2017 to be a ridiculously successful year for you, join us for this webinar. By the end, Kim Kardashian will have nothing on you!

Disclaimer: We’re not necessarily huge fans of Kim Kardashian. In fact, we have some issues with her, to be honest. But the girl has nailed the personal branding thing. Plus, for better or worse, you likely know who she is. So we can reference her and most everyone will get the reference, which is harder to do than you might think.

I want to register!

FREE WEBINAR: Put your Words on a Mission

Claxon University is hosting our first-ever FREE webinar on August 24 at 1pm PST. Will you join me? I’d love that.

If you’ll be on vacation that day, don’t sweat it. Enjoy it! Sign up today, and you can listen to the recording when you’re back…refreshed, reinvigorated, and ready to get your communications in tip-top shape.

Now, what will you learn in this webinar that you might not already know?

  • The biggest messaging mistakes I see nonprofits make again and again. And then I’m going to tell you how to avoid and/or fix them.
  • How to make simple tweaks to your writing that’ll make people go, “Woah, wait. What are you doing? I want in on that!”
  • How to get into the minds, and hearts, of your most important audiences. Think donors and staff and board members and volunteers. (And then think about donors again because, well, they’re important.)
  • Etc, etc, etc.

This won’t be an “oh let me just turn this on and listen in the background” webinar. This is going to be a “oh let me have both hands free so I can take copious notes” type of thing. There will be time for Q&A, so you will also be able to get your burning questions answered on the spot.

Whether you join me live on August 24 at 1pm PST, or via recording post-vacay, I really encourage you to sign up for this webinar. It’s free. So pretty much a no-risk proposition. And you’ll learn a ton. The Claxon Team has continued to do research, and find out new things, and by August 24, we’ll be ready to share all our newfound knowledge with YOU.

 

You are more effective than you think you are!

[The Language Lab makes it easy for you to put research to work for you and your mission. Each installment gives you research-backed intel on one specific way you can work happier, smarter, and more effectively. To stay in the know, sign up to get Language Lab missives delivered directly to your inbox.]

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Remember the little boy and the starfish story from the last Language Lab?

That story is largely about how we humans (irrationally) discount the good we do when faced with other problems we can’t solve.

While we were researching this phenomenon, we learned a new word: pseudoinefficacy.  Oooooooh. Aaaaaaaah. #ShinyNewWord

If you’ve been following Claxon for any time at all, you know how much we love discovering new words. Gets us all giddy. This one is no exception. Not that pseudoinefficacy is a good thing. (It isn’t.) But it is super great to find a new word that sums up such a big problem.

Okay, so, what does pseudoinefficacy mean? Thought you’d never ask.

It is the false (pseudo) belief that you are ineffective when, in fact, you are effective.

We’ve been looking at why it is so extra special important to focus on the Story of One (here and here). Pseudoinefficacy explains why stories of one make a difference in your donations. If supporters feel like the problem is so big that it can’t be solved, they may stop paying attention to the good they can do.

Using our starfish example: if donors start looking at all the starfish on the shore rather than the one starfish they can save, pseudoinefficacy can kick in and drain their motivation to donate. #SadStarfish

Guess what? Your supporters aren’t the only ones susceptible to the scourge of pseudoinefficacy. You may be suffering from it as well.

Yeah, let’s talk about you for a minute, shall we?

The work you do is hard. The problems you are trying to solve are BIG. Your to-do list is looooooooooooooooooong. If you focus on all the things you haven’t done – all of the things you may never get done – you’re likely to stop celebrating all of the ways in which you have kicked ass and taken names.

This is so sad. You deserve to be celebrated. And yet, rather than feeling joyful, you feel like a deflated balloon after a birthday blowout. Sad and droopy and all alone in the corner. Like Baby. Forlornly watching from a distance.

But no one puts Baby in the corner. Nope, no one.

How do you pick yourself up and do your equivalent of the Big Final Leap with everyone looking on in celebratory awe, i.e. how do you kick pseudoinefficacy to the curb?

Good news: the things that work on your donors can also work on you.

  1.  Remind yourself that you are being irrational. Simply remembering that it is silly to not value the good you do can be enough to snap you out of it. (Warning: Donors don’t really like to be told that they’re being irrational. So tread lightly.)
  2. Take time to focus on the ways you, and/or your organization, are effective. Find a Story of One and meditate on it. (Or better yet, meet a beneficiary in person. In one study, this increased donations by 171%.) Then share the story with your supporters. Doesn’t need to be a big ol’ spread in the annual report (although those are super fab). Post it on Facebook. Or Instagram. Or wherever. Sharing it will reinvigorate you.
  3. Celebrate your effectiveness to boost your motivation so you can get back to feeling awesome. Because you–and your donors–are exactly that. A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

Deeper Dive
Want more on how to snap out of sad starfish mode, and turn on Super Star Mode at full force? Here you go.

 

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Countdown to Fall Quarter at Claxon University is on: only 67 days left. Unleash your awesome this fall! (These fine folks did. You can, too.)

 

Totally Irrational

[The Language Lab makes it easy for you to put research to work for you and your mission. Each installment gives you research-backed intel on one specific way you can work happier, smarter, and more effectively. To stay in the know, sign up to get Language Lab missives delivered directly to your inbox.]

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The one thing you need to know: 

Don’t mention all the people/puppies/trees that someone’s donation will fall short of helping. Focus on what it will help.

So, what’s the deal?

We’re totally irrational about our charitable giving. We like to think we’re rational. But when it comes down to it, we’re just not. (My fave piece on this is Homer Simpson for Nonprofits.)

This plays out in a bunch of different ways. But one specific way has to do with how you frame your stories. Per the last Language Lab post, you’re writing stories that shine a bright light on one super amazing person (or puppy…I’ll stop with the puppies now) that a donor could help, right? Right.

It’s oh-so-tempting to mention that there are other people who also need help. Big, epic social issues generally involve more than one person. Feels weird not to mention the other people. But do so at your own peril. Because as soon as you mention all the others–zap!–all the magic disappears.

The donor is now focused on the unmet need. They get sad and unhappy. They feel like their donation couldn’t possibly make a difference so what’s the point? Instead of making a donation, they drag themselves to the nearest Starbucks and drown their charitable sorrows in a double tall, split shot vanilla latte made with organic, wholesome milk.

For the same price that they just spent on their latte, the donor could’ve made a difference in someone’s life. But they no longer felt like they could.

Hot Tips

  • If you’re going to mention more than one person, adhere to WJ Lecky’s idea of an expanding circle. It starts with the individual and then goes to the family then the community, etc. Unify more people together into one as you go.
  • Harken back to what you learned about unit-asking. If you need to show the larger context, ask your supporter to think about what they would give to help one person first. Then–and only then–expand to more people.
  • Riff on the Starfish & the Boy story. (The little boy sure teaches the sourpuss man a thing or two, doesn’t he?)
  • Or riff on: “To the world, you may be but one person. But to one person, you may be the world.”

P.S. Countdown to Fall Quarter at Claxon University is on: only 76 days left. Unleash your awesome this fall! (These fine folks did. You can, too.)

The Story of One. And Only One.

[The Language Lab makes it easy for you to put research to work for you and your mission. Each installment gives you research-backed intel on one specific way you can work happier, smarter, and more effectively. To stay in the know, sign up to get Language Lab missives delivered directly to your inbox.]

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In the last Language Lab, we talked about how oxytocin and dopamine generate generosity. I said there was more to say about oxytocin and storytelling. Here’s the more.

The One Thing You Need to Know: Tell stories about one person. Not thousands of people. Or hundreds of people. Or even two people. One person. Singular.

Why One Works
You’ve likely heard the saying: “One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” (Who said this first is up for debate, by the way.) These are words to live by if you’re looking to get people jazzed about your world-changing work.

But why? The arithmetic of compassion. That’s why.

Watch this:

  • Visualize one puppy
  • Now visualize 1,000 puppies

Which visual was stronger? Likely the one of the one puppy. Your brain could fill in all the adorable details–her brown eyes, her black, twitching nose, her cinnamon colored, white speckled ears. Oooooooohhhh. Adorbs!

What about the image of the 1000 puppies? Still cute. Cuz they’re puppies. But fuzzy. Lacking details. Just a mass of puppiness.

Fuzzy masses aren’t compelling.

Bonus Bit: Not only do people respond more to one person/puppy, they feel better when they’ve helped that one person/puppy. So by telling the Story of One, you not only grab people’s attention more easily, but–if it comes to pass that they donate–they feel better about their donation. (Can you say “win/win”?)

Important Stuff

Countdown to Fall Quarter at Claxon University has begun: only 88 days left. Unleash your awesome this fall! (These fine folks did. You can, too.)

Love Drug or Moral Molecule?

[The Language Lab makes it easy for you to put research to work for you and your mission. Each installment gives you research-backed intel on one specific way you can work happier, smarter, and more effectively. To stay in the know, sign up to get Language Lab missives delivered directly to your inbox.]

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The One Thing You Need to Know: You will be more successful if you create trust with your donors/supporters/other important people in your life by avoiding jargon and using easy-to-understand language.

RELEASE THE DRUGS*

Look at this picture. Soak it in.

Look at those two. Cute, right? Want to know something neat? That mum’s brain is awash in a chemical called ‘oxytocin’. Mmmmmm….oxytocin. Frequently referred to as the Love Drug, oxytocin makes us feel happy, nice, and generous.

But here’s the really important thing about oxytocin as it relates specifically to doing more good in the world: oxytocin it’s not just the Love Drug, it’s the Moral Molecule.

You see, we get all those happy, snuggly, generous feelings when social bonding occurs. Super smartie Paul Zak’s coined the term, “The Moral Molecule”. He wrote a book by the same name. In it, he explains that social bonding occurs when you trust someone. The person on the receiving end of a trust-inducing gesture reciprocates trust and also pays it forward. And–voila–you have a generosity fueling trust-fest. See how that could be useful for you?!

Neat news: you can initiate feelings of trust by doing exactly the same things I recommended you do not seem like a fraud. To review:

There’s actually another cool thing to know about oxytocin and its (practically) magical ability to get people psyched about your work. Oxytocin explains why telling a story that focuses on one person in need, vs. lots o’ people in need, works so well. But I think we’ve covered enough for today. We’ll cover the Story of One research in the next Language Lab, okay?

Want a deeper dive?

Check out Paul Zak’s piece on what narrative exposure (yes, that’s an actual term) has to do with charitable giving.

Also think about signing up for Claxon University–home of clear and compelling communication that raises awareness, increases, and does more good in the world. Fall Quarter registration is now open!

*Technically, a drug is a foreign substance that you introduce into the body. So, if you make it yourself it isn’t a drug. It’s a chemical. But “Release the Chemicals” wasn’t as zippy. And hey, check you out. Reading the fine print. Way to go, word nerd!

Don’t be a fraud

[The Language Lab makes it easy for you to put research to work for you and your mission. Each installment gives you research-backed intel on one specific way you can work happier, smarter, and more effectively. To stay in the know, sign up to get Language Lab missives delivered directly to your inbox.]

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The One Thing You Need to Know:
Avoid jargon and keep readability high if you want to avoid coming off as deceptive and, in turn, turning off your supporters.

What’s all this about being a fraud?
When you’re communicating, you want people to trust you, right? You don’t want them wondering if you’re legit.Turns out, there are specific cues that send a “I’m not being straight with you” message, including:

  • Using longer words
  • Using fewer unique words
  • Using lots of punctuation
  • Having lower readability
  • Being full of jargon

Are you making matters worse?
Based on research done by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, we know that one in three Americans lack faith in charities. What if you’re sending out those “I’m not being straight with you” cues without even knowing it?

From the Wordifier research, we know one thing that’s definitely making matters worse: on average nonprofits only use 810 unique words on their websites. That’s a mere .03% of the words available in the English language. Does the miniscule number of words nonprofits use reinforce mistrust?  As a sector, could we increase donors’ faith in charities by increasing the number of unique words we use?

So what can you do to increase trust?

Want a deeper dive?
Check out this report and this one for text analysis of fraudulent writing.

Also think about signing up for Claxon University–home of clear and compelling communication that raises awareness, increases donations, and does more good in the world!