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May 25, 2022

Mission Multiplier: Bouncing Back From No

Jane Pfeiffer

Hello. I’m Jane Pfeiffer, founder and president of Fieldtrip. Welcome to Mission Multiplier. This is a weekly video series where we speak to nonprofit and purpose driven organizations to help them close the gap between the people that they serve and the people that they need help and support from. When you close that gap, you have what we call the mission multiplier. So speaking of opportunities and getting support from those that you need. Have you ever seen an opportunity that you know is just perfect? It aligns with your mission, your organizational goals, your growth goals. Perhaps it’s a strategic partnership or an extension of services or a corporate sponsor that you’re trying to sell. You can see the potential that nobody else does, and all you need is permission to begin. Well, the opportunity may be of, you know, many different types and varieties, but you’re confident that this connection will be a win-win, both immediately and long-term is palpable. You can, you just know it and you’ve presented your case. And so now you just sit back and wait for the answer so you can begin the work. And then the answer comes and it’s no. It’s not what you expect. Personally, when this happens, it’s a mental and physical reaction, an immediate one for me. My mind begins to get stuck in a loop of “What did I miss? Where did I go wrong, what did I forget to do?” It’s self reflection because I know the opportunity is right. So what did I do wrong? And physically, my heart rate slows. The world seems to just stop and it takes a while, candidly, for me to come out of it. Now, that’s also a lesson in how I get personally wrapped up in what I do, and that’s a story for another day. But, you know, it’s unrealistic to think that we will secure every opportunity or even deserve it or even qualify for it. Even those that do seem just like connecting the dots that have been there all along and just bringing them together. In these situations, I’ve told myself that hearing a no isn’t a complete loss. As long as I can learn something from it that I can apply to future situations, either with that partner or in another situation. So I always ask for that. I ask for fearless feedback. Those words specifically fearless feedback in a way that doesn’t sound like a complaint or like I’m going to protest their decision, but then I’m truly looking to grow from the negative answer, hearing the no. But you know, what happens most often is I get a polite answer or a soft compliment. A “Well, it was a really tough decision and we liked you guys. But here or the CEO has a connection and he was more comfortable working there.” It’s that’s even more frustrating because we did put good work and our passion and our belief behind it. And I can’t even learn from it. I don’t know what to do differently next time. But I recognize that every decision we make, every one of them begins in an emotional state and ends in an emotional state. We just use rational thinking in the beginning. Most people use it to justify their gut instinct, and some of us use it to override that gut instinct. But that emotional beginning and end is always there in every type of decision, even the most complex business and organizational decisions. So the next time that perfect opportunity presents itself. Get excited, but then put your emotions aside. Make sure you get the right people in the right room and lead with the effect of what you do. We often fall into the trap of explaining what we do and why that’s important when all we need to talk about is the impact of what we do. It matters not that Fieldtrip creates award winning websites and brands and advertising plans and strategy. What matters is that we leave the organizations we work with in a better place, and we empower them to continue that work with or without a continuing relationship with us. So again, in the future, get the right people involved, lead with the impact of what you’re doing, and also ask for clear and candid feedback at every step of the conversation. And that clear and candid feedback is what we’ll be talking about next week. Thanks for watching.