Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
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.
In the original truck used by Padre Alberto Hurtado, the founder of Hogar de Cristo, with (left to right) Father Moreira, myself, Susana Tonda, Gerardo Villalpando, Marcelo Bahamonde
Today I had the opportunity to get out and visit some of our partners in Chile. We started about 50 kilometers south of Santiago is the small town of Paine and the community of Pintue. A massive earthquake here in this rural setting last February wrought terrible destruction. Almost half of all the structures were destroyed. As with any earthquake there was little pattern to the destruction, homes fully upright are interspersed with empty lots - the rubble has all been cleared. The school is still standing but the police station next door was completely destroyed. Between the two is a bright red container which is part of the ChileConect@Chile project undertaken by Fundacion de Vida Rural as part of their effort to bring connectivity to the affected communities following the earthquake. This organization has been setting up community technology centers in rural communities across Chile with Microsoft support since 2003.
Our visit started at the school in their computer lab where I spoke to the teacher and students. They are using the lab for learning but with limited connectivity they have to go next door to the 'container' if they need an internet connection. This is because of signal strength as the school is just a few meters too far from the antenna across the road. The students are all using the center for their homework and other activities.
When I was there the center was fully occupied with kids, women and men using the computers to look up all sorts of information and resources such as online government services. I had the opportunity to speak with a number of people in the center and I think two of their stories are a great illustration of how the center is being used.
Consuelo, a young woman who spoke English amazingly well - she taught herself - was searching the web to find information on bullying which she felt was on the rise in her community. She was very excited to talk with us and share her story. She is an aspiring writer and has written on her own challenging life experiences despite her young age. Rebecca is a middle aged lady who makes artisan soap from natural vegetables and oils and sells them in the local market. She is looking to expand her business and wants to sell her soap on-line and in shops Santiago. She was searching for information and also looking for government loans to help her business grow. She was applying for a small loan program via the internet.
In front of the ChileConect@Chile container center in Pintue, Chile, with Consuelo
The local police chief whose staff also uses the center for online training online summed up the impact of the ChileConect@Chile center as "this center has made us more cultural". What he meant was that after the earthquake this center gives them hope that with information they can rebuild their lives one meter at a time.
Our next stop was at Hogar de Christo, a major foundation that provides a comprehensive set of services to the most vulnerable in the country. They have programs across the country providing early education, elderly services to the homeless, hospice services to the mentally and physically disabled and microloans and entrepreneurial training. Started by the Jesuit priest Alberto Hurtadoin the 1940s the organization serves more than 70,000 people directly.
What makes Hogar de Christo unique is that they have integrated IT into all of their services so that they can serve the most vulnerable in society in the most effective way. As I stated in my previous blog their IT Director Marcelo Bahamonde has deployed Dynamics CRM to increase their effectiveness. He told me that nonprofits are great at getting their hands dirty and serving the community and must become equally proficient in using technology to support that work. There is just no way around this.
As we walked around the complex and visited with people being supported by Hogar de Christo the dignity, compassion and empathy of the care-givers became clear to me. I have never been received with such joy.
It was indeed a heartwarming visit. On my ride back to the airport - where I am now writing this blog - I kept thinking how just a few meters separate us from fully living our lives or being subjected to eternal struggle. How do we bridge this gap? Nonprofits try their best to do so. But it's up to all of us. We must support and partners with nonprofits, and bring our skills and resources to bear so we can all help make the lives of the most vulnerable people in our society more bearable, and hopefully more joyful. What I saw and experienced is that if applied with a human touch, technology can make a major difference and does become the bridge.
For more information check out the news published on Paine's municipal Website (in Spanish).
I am spending three days this week in and around Santiago, Chile, at the foot of the Andes with a packed schedule of meetings and events. I must say that while the wine and food are fantastic (recommendation: come to Chile on a wine tour as soon as you can), what I am really impressed with is the ongoing partnerships we have with a number of organizations in Chile, the Latin America region and globally.
This video gives more detail about what I am doing here this week.
Yesterday, we held a roundtable with our NGO partners from across Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina. Last time we had a similar meeting was in Cartagena over two years ago, so it was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues to hear what is happening in the programs they are implementing in places ranging from the most remote rural regions, to urban slums, to disaster zones.
As you might expect, we wanted to hear about how they are using technology to strengthen their organizations and achieve their missions more efficiently and effectively. I must say that I am deeply impressed and very optimistic that a new era of innovation in the NGO world is upon us. Social media serves as one example - these NGOs are using social media tools to track program impacts, reach out to new stakeholder groups and plan events. We learned about a wide range of great examples:
There's incredible optimism.
I am also meeting with several of our local NGOs independently. Our partnership with Fundacion de Vida Rural is really a great example. We met with a colleague from Vida Rural, along with other members of the partnership Entel (a local telecomm) and Olidata (a local computer manufacturer) to review the Chile Conect@Chile project. This effort has actually been in place since 2003, but the value of our long-term partnership became immediately clear on February 27th last year.
Within days of the devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake, Chile Conect@Chile delivered the first mobile Community Technology Center in the disaster zone. Since then, 16 other centers have been delivered, with three more on the way. These centers provide a vital link in the impacted communities, helping residents find lost friends and family, stay in communication, access public resources available to them, and perhaps most importantly complete skills training to help them find jobs when their former jobs have disappeared (literally, in some cases). Tomorrow, we will make a site visit to one of these communities, so stay tuned on that front.
Finally, I am attending the 3rd Global Telecentre Forum, being held at the impressive Gabriela Mistral Center in Santiago. Telecentre.org represents a group of people committed to bringing technology to underserved individuals around the world. There has been much debate about the role of community technology centers (telecenters) in the face of rapidly advancing internet connectivity even in the poorest and most remote areas of the world. I think this video created by the Telecentre Europe team tells a compelling story, highlighting that as societies we simply cannot afford to exclude people from the digital revolution, from both the social and economic perspective. The conference theme is employment, productivity and empowerment - all tangible outcomes that go well beyond simply providing access to the internet. This is another area where innovation is the name of the game - in a multitude of scenarios, these organizations are creating and providing relevant services and content to individuals and communities to facilitate creation of small business, prepare people for the workforce and give people a voice in their country and in the world. Our colleagues from Egypt are here with us and the positive role of telecenters in recent events there is undeniable.
Coming to Santiago has been an eye opener in many fronts - the beauty of the environment is there for all to see but clearly this corner of the world is at the forefront of innovation especially with regards to bringing the benefits of information technology to underserved communities. From innovation through government agencies, businesses, academia and the nonprofit sector, there is vast movement. My friend and colleague Claudio Orrego who has been at the forefront of this effort in Chile and is the Vice President of ATACH, the network of telecenters in Chile, said in his opening remarks ''information technology is here to stay and we have to make the best use of for the community at large".
Over the last two days it's become apparent that there's more to life than good wine.
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