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July 12, 2022

Mission Multiplier: If You’re Explaining, You’re Losing

Jane Pfeiffer

Hello. I’m Jane Pfeiffer, founder and president of Fieldtrip. And welcome back to Mission Multiplier, where you’ll get a weekly video designed to help the leaders of nonprofits and purpose-driven organizations do more with the limited resources that they have. So imagine if you had a celebrity button, not an easy button, but a celebrity button, one that would turn you into someone famous.

Imagine Ryan Reynolds entered the room. Everybody would know who he is, what he does, and how it relates to them. They wouldn’t ask those basic questions. So what’s your job? Nearly everybody in the room would know what Ryan Reynolds is about. So now I never wish to be a celebrity ever. Nor will I. But it would be nice to have an easier way to design or explain what I do on a daily basis. And if you’re a nonprofit leader, that job is even harder. So if you had the celebrity button, you could just walk in. People would automatically understand what you do, why it’s important, and how it relates to them. And then you could turn off the buttons so you could go home. You wouldn’t have problems with paparazzi. You could go to the grocery store, the movies and everybody would leave you alone.

So that’s what I mean by a celebrity button. But if you feel the need to constantly explain what you do, why it’s important and why people should care, you’ve lost the battle. If you’re explaining, you’re losing. So if you’re explaining, people aren’t making that connection – they’re looking at the details of what you do and not the impact of what you do. So let’s take this explanation. My organization can feed children breakfast. It’s a before school program. You can imagine the questions that might come next. What if instead of explaining what you do, this literal feeding breakfast to children, you instead said, well, in my organization, we nourish tomorrow’s minds. Period. You’re not explaining. You’re stopping. Think of the questions that would follow that. What do you mean by that? How do you nourish your mind? You’re still feeding children breakfast, but what you’re doing is not putting food on the table that goes in a hungry mouth. You are creating a child that is fed who can stay awake and pay attention in class. Who is going to have an easier time learning because they are fed. And then the ripple effect. And the ripple effect. You’re evoking a response and you’re inspiring people to ask much bigger questions than, well, what do you feed them? How many meals do you give them? Why do they need you to feed them in the first place?

And so, again, remember that if you’re explaining, you’re actually losing and you can stop that now. Think about how you can inspire rather than explain. And if you want more tips like this, just visit to sign up for our weekly emails and newsletters. Thank you for watching. See you next week.