This year brings a significant and exciting change for me as I pivot into a new position at the Director of Foundation Relations for Penn State. It’s not a complete 180 because I have served as a director of corporate and foundation relations for two different institutions. That said there will be new things to learn given that I’ll be working in a much larger, complex university.
I relish in the opportunity to learn about and remain connected to the academic enterprise. I am honored and thrilled to join the top-notch team of five: Adrienne, Alan, Holly, Stephanie, and Ronda and to work with Rob Jackson and others in Principal Gifts.
I also look forward to rejoining Penn State’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations. If you are looking for a new opportunity this is a high-performing organization and State College is a wonderful place to live.
In preparation for this shift I’ve been reading The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael D. Watkins. Watkins provide sage wisdom in this updated version such as:
- Make a mental break from the past. I took several weeks off between positions and, as a result, feel refreshed and ready to move forward.
- Don’t assume that what has worked in the past will work again. I would add, do not say “when I was with XYZ organization we did it this way and it worked.” I have learned from making moves over the years and from consulting that one size fits all solutions do not exist in fundraising. What’s more, saying this is off-putting to those who have skill and knowledge gained in the organization that you are joining.
- Prepare to listen and learn. As suggested in item two, the experts about the organization are those around and above you. Take time to hear them and to gain knowledge about what is done, by whom, how, when, and most importantly why. I would add learn not just the to-dos but about the culture.
There is much more but the final key point is to have a plan, a thoughtful plan, one that you map out. Watkins offers a number of charts and graphs to help you begin to formulate a plan. My only wish is that the book included an online or a paper workbook where I could work in a larger and easier format.
I hope to continue to find time to write and to connect not because I believe that I have some great wisdom to share. Rather I write because it has enabled me to raise a topic, ask a question, and to learn from all of you who read these missives. Here’s my question for this week:
If you recently made or have made a transition what helped you the most during the first 90 days?