Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
The year was 1990, Vanilla Ice's hit "Ice Ice Baby" was rocking the radio waves, and the combination of neon MC Hammer pants and a Bozworth Mullet made me feel like the coolest kid in the second grade. Growing up an only child raised by a single mother, after school programs occupied the hours between school's end and the time my mom could retrieve me after a hard fought day of making a living to keep us afloat. Back then you could catch a glimpse of my 90's style on the basketball court at the Boys and Girls Club of America (BCGA), where I spent many afternoons developing the face of my future - as close to Michael Jordan as possible (tongue out and all) - through a BCGA Basketball program.
20 years later...
As I walked through the doors of the Wallingford Boys and Girls Club in the greater Seattle area, a few feet taller and with far less flamboyant style, I saw children socializing in the common areas and a few shooting hoops on the basketball court-but what stood out to me was the largest gathering of kids sitting patiently with a look of anticipation on their face. I couldn't help but wonder if they were eagerly awaiting the opening of their brand new Club Tech - that's why I was there.
I entered the room labeled Club Tech and was immediately greeted by an enthusiastic James Duffus, who I learned was a fellow representative from Microsoft and the engineer behind a system we are testing with the BCGA using Windows Multi Point server to best serve the technology needs of teachers and the children they educate.
Below is a clip I captured during the Club Tech opening party where Club Director Nita Smith introduced James Duffus and asked him to describe his team's work with the BCGA Clubs:
When Club Director Nita Smith opened the doors to the new Club Tech, the group of patient kids swiftly filed in one after another to find an empty seat and immediately logged on to the computers as if they had a magic treasure waiting inside their Windows profile. Some kids began playing games on a split screen against each other; a few others Bing'ed the stats to the previous night's Hornets vs. Celtics game. "Ray Allen dropped 20 on 'em last night, they came back from 15 down..." One kid explained to me.
Engaging with these kids and watching their actions using a state of the art technology center, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to my childhood. BCGA was there for me; teaching me skills that were then focused mainly in sports, and helping me fit in as part of a community, cultivating my future as an able member of society. I might not have become a professional basketball player, but the foundational skills that assisted me in my life leading to where I am today; I attribute 90% of this to my mom, but that 10% is a VERY important number as she could not be with me all of the time, so others had to set a good example like the BCGA.
Kids today face the expectation of being technologically literate, as a societal norm. Did you know 23% of American children do not have access to the Internet and more than 8 million American children do not have regular access to a computer? So if this has become the expectation of our society's youth, what happens to those who do not have access to technology? How will they keep up with their peers in an ever changing digital learning environment?
Enter the Boys and Girls Club of America, Microsoft, and Comcast. The Club Tech program gives children access to learn technology as a skill, a part of life, and a means of education. There are over 3800 Club Tech's in the United States providing communities with a place to learn, work, and grow in their use of technology as a tool.
At the BCGA in Wallingford, I met kids wearing this year's equivalent of hammer pants, with the same hope for the future for themselves and from their families that surrounded me growing up; I can't help but wonder who's Face of the Future looks less like Michael Jordan, and more like Bill Gates.
This week help us celebrate the Faces of the Future with the Boys and Girls Club of America, Comcast, and all of Microsoft.
You can make a difference in the digital literacy of today's youth by visiting your local BCGA, and spreading the word through Twitter and Facebook, help us tell everyone about http://www.facesofthefuture.org/ !
*Source for Stats: Source: Child Trends Databank
I'm here in Minneapolis to attend the 2011 Corporate Citizenship Conference sponsored by Boston College's Center for Corporate Citizenship. Microsoft is proud to be one of the conference sponsors again this year and I am honored to have been asked to participate on a panel today to try and answer the question: "How in the World Do You Handle Global Corporate Citizenship?" The panel was facilitated by Ron Brown, one of the Center's faculty members and I was joined l by Anne Roosevelt, my counterpart at The Boeing Company and Katherine Woerner from the global citizenship team at Abbott Laboratories.
The Center has promised conference participants four takeaways - knowledge, solutions, best practices and connections. So, in thinking about our panel conversation today I keeping those take aways in mind as we share experiences, insights and learnings.
First, let me say, global corporate citizenship is an art - not a science! Having said that, there are a number of key things we have learned in building a global Citizenship program:
1) One size does not fit all. To be effective, a company's global citizenship program must provide local flexibility to ensure that the strategy reflects cultural norms and addresses local social and economic priorities. While my team and I are responsible for developing Microsoft's annual global corporate citizenship strategy, that strategy is localized by our Citizenship teams in our over 100 subsidiaries worldwide.
2) Focus, focus, focus. Don't try to boil the ocean. It is about the quality of the program outcomes, not the quantity of random programs.
3) Empower and support your colleagues on the front lines. Those of us with corporate jobs should be focused on providing our colleagues in the field with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs and then get out of their way!
I also shared a few other Microsoft citizenship best practices - including our quarterly citizenship business review calls; our monthly global citizenship connection calls; and the annual gathering of our global citizenship community.
Microsoft is all about bringing the benefits of technology to people around the world and that is what we have done in the area of global corporate citizenship. From our Microsoft Local Impact Map that provides rich visualization of the outcomes our citizenship work has in individual countries, to a range of tools we use internally to support our global colleagues. We are using technology solutions to communicate, inform, empower and manage.
Once again this year the BCCCC conference presents rich opportunities for best practice sharing. This conference and our work in Citizenship is all about connections. My team and I get a great opportunity to connect with our colleagues and we learn together. We exchange knowledge and share best practices. A large part of my job is also about connecting externally - connecting with stakeholders - including industry partners, shareholders, advocacy groups, and non-profits.
Having just attended an array of sessions today, I can say with 100% certainly - the Center is delivering on its "take aways" promise.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with an incredible group of smart, creative students who are here in Redmond competing at the U.S. finals of the Imagine Cup. I shared with them my view that passion is simply not enough to succeed.
Every day at least one person tells me about their passion to make a difference. I have always been confused about why people feel passion is such a critical component for them. Why do they need to feel passionate about the work they do, or that they must have some passion in their life? Students are taught to talk and write about their passion. When we go for a job interview we talk about our passion. It seems that passion is an overused and overrated word. Now don't get me wrong, I too exude passion when I talk about the work I do. But passion alone is just not enough.
When people come to see me seeking to join my team, I don't ask them how passionate they are about making a difference, instead I ask them to share with me any difference they may have already made, however small or insignificant it might be. This is a far more insightful way to discover their strengths and weaknesses.
I believe that success in any career is dependent on more than passion.
If you are serious about making a difference I recommend that you focus on what I call the 5 Cs: Conviction, Capability, Capacity, Commitment and Compassion. This may not be as sexy as passion but I guarantee you it will drive a greater and more lasting impact.
Let me elucidate a bit.
To make an impact in anything, whether starting a lemonade stand or deciding to give up all your possessions and move to another country to work in a rural environment, one must first and foremost have conviction - a belief in an idea, a product or a service that you are willing to focus on.
Most of us have a new idea every minute but it's conviction that allows us to sieve through these ideas and settle on one that we are willing to pursue; one that is well thought out.
Once you have 'the idea' you then need to have the capability and the right skills to take that idea further. For example: you may have an idea to develop a system for water purification but unless you have some knowledge of the issue or the willingness to put in the time to acquire the expertise, the idea will not progress. Deep knowledge and skills are critical before embarking on implementing 'the idea'.
Once you know you have the skills to take your idea further you then need the capacity and the ability to put your ideas and skills to work - this means you have now taken the hard step of figuring out a plan of action and have the capacity to put that plan into practice.
The fourth 4 C is, in my opinion, is often the hardest to undertake and sustain - commitment. You must combine the ability to take the plan and make it work with the strength and resolve needed to stay the course. There will always be obstacles and setbacks to overcome. This is where most give up. But to succeed you must make a commitment to stay the course, not fear failure, and learn from your mistakes - which are an inevitable part of making a difference. With commitment you will try new avenues no matter what. There are no short cuts.
Finally, it is about compassion. You need to develop your ability to think beyond a narrow impact into a realm where you think beyond yourself and immediate context. Now you are becoming conscious of the community around you and the impact your work will have - both good and bad. You are focused on developing insight into any potential unintended consequences of your actions.
When you combine the 5 Cs you have the opportunity to drive sustainable, real, positive change. Passion is a personal pursuit, it is important but the combination of Conviction, Capability, Capacity, Commitment and Compassion are the essential elements to getting real results.
When you understand and accept these demands you will be in a far better position to succeed in what you do, enjoy what you do and have a fulfilling experience at the same time. If that is your definition of passion then so be it.
Twin sisters Jean and Jane, loading meals. Both have worked with the Senior Services for South Sound Nutrition program for years, as cooks and as delivery drivers for Meals on Wheels (Photo Credit: Senior Services for South Sound)
Guest post by: TechSoup Global
Based in Olympia, Washington Senior Services for South Sound is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating life with seniors and their families and supporting them so they can maintain their independence.
With the population of people aged 65 and older expected to increase 194% in Thurston County by 2015, Senior Services has their hands full. They feed, care for and assist hundreds of seniors every day. In 2008, they served more than 130,000 meals to seniors with the help and coordination of 98 staff and 150 volunteers. Needless to say, that requires flawless coordination, or as Dawn Warren, Development Director for Senior Services, says, “Our agency is like an octopus; we have a central mission and vision, but seven different programs going in seven different directions.”
Enter Microsoft and TechSoup Global, who provided Senior Services with the donated software they needed to help tame the octopus. Chances are that many seniors aren’t using Microsoft Excel or Access on a daily basis. Yet, there’s also a good chance that they may benefit from the way Senior Services uses those products to help them achieve their mission. Using Microsoft Office —specifically Excel, Access and Outlook – Senior Services is better able to track meal deliveries, coordinate volunteer activity, and stay on top of its clients’ ever-changing needs.
“It’s not just software to us, it’s the thing that makes all of this caring possible, and we are truly thankful for it. A good example of how we use these programs is our meal tracking system. Our drivers, coordinators, and kitchen staff are able to easily see what food went where, and if there is a glitch in delivery, it is visible because of the easy to use spreadsheets we have created,” says Warren.
Microsoft has a long standing commitment to provide nonprofit organizations with the technology they need to serve their communities. For more information about resources for nonprofits, please visit www.microsoft.com/nonprofit.
Yesterday Microsoft Community Affairs, NPower Northwest, and NPower Pennsylvania, hosted a webinar on how nonprofits can use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage massive data sets for customers, or otherwise donors, members, and volunteers. Communicating with these constituents while keeping accurate and accessible records is critical; a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution can make that possible.
If you Bing "CRM" you'll see an overwhelming number of articles espousing it as "a widely-implemented strategy to manage an organization's customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes". It's often referred to as Constituent Relationship Management by nonprofits, the right CRM solution can help you be more effective and efficient simplifying the management of your contacts and information related to donations, grants, events, memberships, etc. It can also boost efficiency and strengthen relationships. Microsoft's Dynamics CRM Online, specifically, utilizes Cloud Computing making it convenient and cost effective - a nonprofit can get the benefit of a robust CRM system without having to manage and maintain it on their own computer servers.
The webinar, which is now available to watch online, provides a 101 guide to CRM and using Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Nonprofits. It includes a complete overview of features, core functionality, and examples from nonprofits who are using it now to better connect with constituents. Both "on-premise" and online versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM are discussed, including what's available for donation or charity discount to eligible nonprofits.
If you're thinking of moving beyond the rolodexes, spreadsheets, file cabinets, and the like, visit our Windows Live SkyDrive to download the recorded webinar, view the webinar slides, and find links to help you learn more and get started on managing to maximize the impact of your relationships.
The next webinar, "4 Collaboration & Connection Tools in Office 2010 Your Org Will Dig" is April 27th. As always, it's free, but you will need to pre-register. Mark your calendars! Be sure to check our website http://www.microsoft.com/nonprofit and follow @msftcitizenship on Twitter for details and updates.
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