3 Lessons Learned From Workin’ In A Non Profit

Before the summer started, I was pretty bored. All I had was my weekend customer service gig. And fitness time. And this blog. I really needed somethin’ else to do.

So earlier this summer, I decided to volunteer my talents to non profits.

I lucked out with one close by me, to be a marketin’ assistant.

And the experience’s been pretty cool. I’ve haven’t done any non profit work since high school. Where I taught South African children English. And did some community service projects like planting flowers and stuff. So I thought it was gonna take some gettin’ used too. But this time that wasn’t the case…

… At this non profit, I’ve been doin’  very lil’ physical work. It’s mostly computer work (which is awesome).

I was ’round pretty like minded individuals who talk bout marketin’,  sales, as well as pr. It’s purely a start up environment.  Where everybody’s their doin’ their own projects – plannin’ events, researchin’, callin’ up sponsors, etc.

For me – I’m mostly doin’ research for them. And got to show off my actin’ skills in a video too. Which was really fun.

This experience has taught me quite a bit in terms of workin’ in different workplaces.

These are the things that I’ve learned…

Number One

Communication Is Key

This non profit is filled with marketers and pr people and actors and artists. And we’re always plannin’ new and excitin’ events. And since we’re a non profit – we’re always lookin’ for ways to get companies/people to donate. So the top skills I’ve seen bein’ worked on really hard are communication and teamwork.

Someone is always sharin’ a email. Or a spreadsheet. Or a Goggle Doc.

Someone is always on the phone, lookin’ for good way to ask someone to donate their money, energy, and time.

Communication is key. 

It’s the heart and soul of this organization. And I bet a whole lotta of others. Well, successful ones, at least.

I’ve spent years and years doin’ improv in teams, and workin’ the restaurant industry, so bein’ in a team is easy for me.  Actually I prefer it cause I’m mostly an extrovert. And like to be ’round people. But I can work lone wolf style too.

Even though I can be kinda quiet (I’m not super talkative) I seem to do well in workin’ when in teams. And teamwork makes the dream work.

Number Two

A Good Leader Helps A Whole Lot

I’ve read a good amount of books on leadership. ‘Specially Peter Drucker – whose writin’ on management is fairly good. You should check him out.

The leader/founder at my non profit is a good one. He’s pretty patient with everyone, a very skilled communicator, and is very good at assignin’ tasks to volunteers.

One interestin’ thing I’ve noticed that he does is every 20 minutes or so,  he checks in with a person or group to see the progress that they’ve made on a project.

It’s a very good way to stay on top of people. Really keeps us on our toes (since most people can slack off – no matter what their age). There’s also a no cell phone policy too. Which helps with focus.

Number Three 

Structure Is Key 

When I started workin’, I had a orientation, a rule book in the form of a PowerPoint, and a couple other forms. At first, I thought this was unnecessary, but after thinkin’ it over – it was pretty darn necessary.

Also – when I walk in, I’m usually assigned a project to work on right away. And I’m workin’ on that project for the remainder of the day. Sometimes I’m workin’ on two or three projects at a time. That was last week. That was fun.

I like structure. And multiple projects. Keeps morale way up.

Even though this is a start up environment, which is known for bein’ very loose,  that keeps the vibe is cool, but the steady stream of projects and events keep my engine runnin’. Guess that’s why I haven’t left yet, despite workin’ there for 3 months already.

All in all, I’m really happy with my summer work this year, I actually feel of use, where I can be self startin’, be a generalist – cause I have a wide skill set. And just be ’round like minded people.

Highly recommend non profit work. ‘Specially if want to be ’round people, and meaningful work.

Really nice change of pace from the for profit sector.

Later,

Jamual

 

Two BIG Lessons in Leadership From General George Patton – Ole Blood And Guts

I love leadership. I love studying it.

Watching inspiring videos on Youtube. And I love seeing how it can apply to my life. In some way shape or form.

I usually take what I learn and run with it for a couple days, months, or even years. Using a quote, or tactic as a good way to deal with something in my life. Such as the quote, “Don’t Think.”

This is a quote from my improv days. Which helps you stop thinkin’. Stop bein’ perfect. And helps you make split second decisions when a crisis happens. Excellent for problem solving.

I, especially, need this skill when workin’ at the bars I work at. Cause everything moves uber – uber fast. And problems arise quickly. And I gotta fix ’em just as quickly.

I’m really grateful for this skill cause before improv, I would over think every little thing I would do. From liftin’ weights, making food, or setting up plans to meet a friend.

Nowadays, I’m different – I overthink a lot less. Do stuff without hesitating. And this makes me overall more happy. And takes away a great deal of stress.

So, the latest legendary leader that I’ve been studying is George Patton. I’ve read two quick books on him, seen a documentary, and watched, Patton, the movie. Which you should see. It’s an amazin’ performance by George C Scott. Which gets you into his leadership style.

Here’s what I learned –

Number One – Be Bold

Patton was a tough, tough, tough guy. Probably as tough as they come. When he first appears in the movie to meet a new round of soldiers – they were shakin’ in their boots.

Why?

He’s blunt, crass, cusses and treats every person like a soldier (even if their not one). In one scene in Patton, the super blunt general told a guy (who’s not a solider) that he will fight when the time is right. The poor guy look super scared! And he should be cause in Patton’s world, everybody fights!

That’s the big thing I like ’bout Patton – he’s not afraid to be bold. Make statements. Take charge and go.

Really reminds me of Trump vs media this year. Actually, in the 2nd debate, Trump cited Patton as a reference. I geeked out when I heard him mention Patton. Kinda explains why he’s so wild, right?

There’s also another cool scene – where enemies are attacking from the sky. And Patton was with his troops inside. And instead of staying inside, Patton takes out his pistol, climbs to the roof, jumps on top of a truck and blasts back!

Crazy, right?

Super bold, huh?

What a leader.

To me, that’s a real leader. Has no fear.

Just super bold, bold, bold.

Number Two – Attack, Attack, Attack!

Patton was a offensive player.

He was famous for the blitzkrieg – a style of military strategy. Where you focus all your attacks on one area. Which lessens the amount lives lost. And puts your enemy on the defense.

Patton was a master of this. And was called upon to help defeat the Germans with his techniques. And experience.

So, now, I’m not fightin’ Germans. But I do use this method in my daily life.

How – you ask?

Well, I just do what Patton does – I stay on the offense.

Meaning with my writing – I write daily. Everyday. Why? Cause this is my # 1 passion. And it’s all I think ’bout. All I wanna get better at. It’s an obsession.

Hell, even if I don’t post on my blog, I still have a journal I write on daily. Or I type wonderful Tweets on Twitter. I still write daily. It’s my first attack. I’m still on the offensive.

My second attack is my health. I usually grab a kombucha, carrot juice, or coffy to start my day. Since that’s very important to me – I keep on top of it. These two things are my American Blitzkrieg. These two these things have helped me attack life as much as humanly possible.

Cause if you don’t attack, attack, attack – you’ll get super stale, rusty. And you don’t wanna get rusty, do ya?

So, overall, I really love Patton. He, like Trump, turned himself into a blunt, fearless character. And super good general of war. With a butt ton of courage.

That anyone can learn from. Even if they aren’t fightin’ Germans! He was THE best!

Courage is fear holding on a minute longer – Ole Blood & Guts (Aka Patton)
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The openin’ scene of Patton!

Watch It! Good Movie!

3 Benefits Of Improv Comedy

Improv Comedy’s fun. Really fun.

And has given me a lot in life.

Besides hitting on girls in train stations — nothing can compare to it.

Nothing. 

Let me tell you a quick story —

For 4 years straight, I was obsessed with it. On weekends it was all I did — attending classes, doing jams (performing in front of others), and watching comedy shows.

Some days I would hit all the well-known theaters (UCB, Magnet, and the Pit). And just perform.

In my afternoon screenwriting class, I would stare at the clock until it hit 6 PM.

At 6, I would race outta there in order to make it to the 3 hour class at 7 in Manhattan.

I caught the performing bug and it wouldn’t leave my body.

It was my passion (which has now switched to writing), obsession, and first lesson in self-development.

Without further ado, here are the top benefits of being a improviser.

Number 1 — Social Skills 

Job interviews make you nervous?

Business meetings, presentations for school?

Wanna talk to random strangers — just for the heck of it?

How bout that crush of yours?

Cat got your tongue when talking to them?

Solution: Improv.

After four years of this stuff, I can tell you that giving presentations are easy for me. I can talk to anybody I want on the street and don’t feel any social anxiety. Especially on job interviews.

If you do some Improv — you won’t either. I promise you.

Do enough classes, enough scenes, and enough performances — your charisma will increase.

Also, one of the big principles in Improv is active listening – which means actually listening to people, shutting the hell up and letting someone speak for once.

This will help strengthen your interpersonal relationships.

Why?

Because most people, you and I, don’t get heard — at all.

People are always talking over us and not hearing us out (our loved ones, friends, and bosses).

So by using active listening, you’ll learn to hear people out — which will make you more empathetic in business, at home and in the streets.

Is this you when presenting?

Do improv!!!

Number 2 — Creativity  

So, I’ve always been a creative guy. Used to play the keyboard and draw a lot when I was younger. And I used to get a lot of creative blocks, getting stuck for weeks on a project.

This happens to you a lot?

Then Improv will help.

You know all those comedy actors/ writers on TV — like Tina Fey and Will Ferrell.

They make tons of funny shows… And get paid a bunch of $$$ …

How do they come up with that?

Well, they put in 10,000 hours of improv practice — thus making them funny “creative geniuses.”

You may not wanna become a famous entertainer, but you may wanna be able to create more ideas or increase your problem solving skills.

After an prolonged exposure to Improv — you’ll sprout ideas like a fountain.

You’ll become adaptable — which is a needed for future business leaders. Or anyone interested in self development.

The way Improv helps you do this is through — Yes and…

This principle is easy to understand.

Basically, when you have an idea, don’t negate it! Instead add to it, build it up. Ask yourself, “What if.” Don’t edit yourself.

This is the basis of idea generation  — I use this to make loglines for stories (I can create 10 ideas in about 5 minutes).

Try spitting out 10 ideas in 5 minutes. It’s harder than it seems. But will increase your problem solving skills tenfold!

The best fiction writers and Ad – men/women do this effortlessly everyday.

Did you know Ferrell was a Ad Man?

Number 3 — Fun

If your life needs a little shaking up, sign up for a class.

You’ll meet a wide range of people.

I’ve met actors, actresses, programmers, small business owners, comedians and many others through this stuff.

I’ve drank and partied with a wide variety of them too. Now, I have strong, personal memories that I’ll never forget.

After you go through 3 hours of performing (a super emotional experience) you’ll feel so close to your scene partners — that’ll feel like you’ve known them forever.

Weird, huh?

That’s the power of improv!

Annual Festival at the UCB!

***** Disclaimer *****

Just more thing… Improv isn’t magic.

It takes months years of consistent practice to get good.

You’re not gonna get socially confident after one class.

Honestly, it didn’t click for me until my second year of doing this stuff…

I highly recommend it though — especially if your social skills are non existent.

I truly love it.

If I didn’t do four years of improv, I wouldn’t have gotten the job I have now,  obtained a bunch of friends or written 3 feature scripts (more on that later)…

Now, find your local theater, sign up for a class & go make somebody laugh!!

Perform your booty off!

— Jamual