Disrupt This

Disrupt. Leverage. Pivot.

How about we start saying what we mean?

As a fundraising consultant and teacher, I used to beat my head on my desk reviewing funding proposals loaded with every. effing. buzzword. some nonprofit thought would make them seem relevant. Commitments of sustainability and leverage. Promises to be impactful and transformational. Big words, meant to convey big ideas, but not necessarily translating to big results.

One problem is that overusing overused words tends to make one disappear into the crowd rather than stand out from it.

Standing out matters.

Charitable fundraising is a competitive blood sport. Actually, mere survival in the nonprofit sector is an endeavor not for the faint of heart. (Check out Vu Le’s analogy to The Hunger Games in his terribly named but wonderfully witty blog, Nonprofit With Balls).

Saying what you really mean, what you actually intend to do, toward what end, is so much more persuasive than squeezing in a term du jour. Your organization’s survival depends on it.

Entrepreneurs, it turns out, are just as guilty of lazy word choice.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard “disrupt” and “pivot” just in the last 30 days, I’d be able to invest in you all. Generously. If I had to give back a dollar for every time I used one of these words in the last 30 days, I’d be right back to wishing you well.

I think we use these words to build our street cred. To prove we’re reading the most important blogs and watching the right TED talks. That’s all fine and great. We’re human. We need validation now and then.

But I’m hungry to dig deeper. I am more interested in your vision and what you’re doing to advance it in the marketplace of ideas. I am intrigued by outsiders. Rule breakers. Feather rufflers. What distinguishes you from the flock?

Let’s bollix the worst of 2016 business jargon and start saying what we mean. In our own words. We have so many to choose from.

What words will you banish in 2017?

Introducing The F Bomb Breakfast Club

All the best words start with “F”. Fabulous. Ferocious. Female. Best day of the week? Friday.

If you’re launching or considering a new venture, there may be some other “F” words frequenting your vocabulary. Like… finally! Funded. For real? Or my personal favorite: Fuckety fuck fuck fuck.

Me? I just founded a little law firm, and on the side, a fledgling little idea for an app. I’m dropping “F” bombs left and right.

During Seattle Startup Week, I’ve been taking comfort in surrounding myself with fellow and future female founders. And I hope to make it a habit. So I’ve set my intention for my first 2017 resolution and you’re invited.

Introducing the F Bomb Breakfast Club:

7am on the First Friday of every month
Level Offices 600 First Avenue, Pioneer Square
FREE – RSVP to megan@doyenne-legal.com

BEGINNING FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 2017

A monthly gathering of female founders and friends in various stages of start-up to bitch, brag, cavort, and collaborate. Peer support and sounding board. Knowledge or expertise to share? Bring it. Questions or problems you need help solving? Let’s do that, too.

I’ll provide the space, coffee, and donuts. You just have to get up early.

PS – Kids, babies, dogs, totally ok.

***UPDATE: Find us on Facebook now at  https://www.facebook.com/groups/GetUpAndSwear

The Hustle

It’s Startup Week in Seattle. And since I recently started up a little law firm that, among other things, serves start ups, I’m in the hustle.

My hustle is currently meeting as many founders, funders, and dreamers as I can. Learning where they are. Gleaning their insights. Sussing out their needs. Clarifying (if only in my head) what I do and don’t have to offer in this space, with old experience and a new role.

A few early impressions:

There are a lot of great ideas bubbling in Seattle right now, for-profit and not-for-profit. It’s inspiring to witness the convergence of passion, drive, and foolishness. In need of hope for the future? Check out your local startup scene.

Entrepreneurial passion is interchangeable between the nonprofit and business sectors, and so is bad advice. There are zealots in both, certain they can lead you to success. Be wary of anyone making sweeping proclamations and speaking in absolutes.

Startups are smarter with women in the room. (<- Srsly, read this.) But men are still speaking over women, mansplaining and manspreading their expertise like cheap mayonnaise. It’s too much. Step back, brothers. Take a beat. Good things just might arise in that space when you stop filling it. And please, for the love of all things holy, as much as I love hearing women talk about the experiences of being women, let’s invite them to talk about their substantive areas of expertise, too.

I have more to offer than I thought. Technically, the legal aspects of starting a nonprofit usually aren’t too complicated. Starting a viable nonprofit that might actually accomplish what it aspires to? Strongly helped by working with someone who has been there in the trenches. Negotiating a contract? Any lawyer worth their salt can walk you through key elements of a reasonable agreement. But the ability to draw on real life examples of triumphantly successful and epically disastrous ones to help you understand the practical implications? I just may be your gal. Time to stop doubting myself.

Now, back to it. Can’t get out of the office to join me? Catch Twitter highlights at #SSW2016.