Giving USA Report – Just Out!

Giving USA ImagePublished on LinkedIn Influencers on June 27th, 2014

It is estimated that 88% of American households give to charity annually, and with over one million non-profit organizations registered with the IRS, every dollar has unlimited choices on where to go. For nearly 60 years, Giving USA has tracked the charitable contributions of those in the US, and while the charitable sector has taken a beating in recent years due to the ongoing fallout from the 2008 Financial Crisis and subsequent recession, the latest report, released earlier this month, has good news for those working in the nonprofit sector.

In the calendar year of 2013, Americans donated a total of $335.17 billion, a number that marks a 4.4% increase from 2012, and represents the fourth straight year of growth in charitable giving. More importantly, this number is rapidly approaching the pre-recession peak of charitable giving that occurred in 2007 when Americans donated $349.5 billion, meaning that while economic recovery from the recession is still persistently slow, the spirit of giving back hasn’t been dampened and continues to grow.

These reports are issued annually by Giving USA and track the charitable giving of individuals, foundations, corporations, and bequests, and highlights from the 2013 report include the following:

  • Total giving has increased 22.0% since the official end of the recession in 2009.
  • Individual giving (both small and large gifts) has significantly increased while corporate giving has decreased.
  • International giving, is the only area that continues to decrease across all giving recipients.
  • There is a major trend to give to causes versus to institutions.
  • Millennials account for 11% of giving. However, they see advocacy, purchasing sustainable goods, and volunteering as equally important charitable action – and must have these actions in place before or while donating.

An additional notable fact is that by far, the most amount of charitable giving comes from individuals, with individual donations accounting for $240.6 billion of the total giving, or 72%. When people think of philanthropy, they often think of big foundations such as the Ford Foundation or the Gates Foundation, both of which give out hundreds of millions of dollars a year in grants, but with foundations as a whole only accounting for 15% of the total giving in the US last year, it is clear that individual giving truly does make a difference.

What are your favorite organizations and/or causes? Regardless of what they are, a big thanks for doing what you can to make a difference in the lives of others.

For more highlights from the 2013 report, please click here. To learn more about Giving USA and the work they do, please click here.

Executive Presence: Do You Need It? Do You Have It?

Published on LinkedIn Influencers on June 23rd, 2014

“Executive presence will not earn you promotion after promotion, but lack of executive presence will impede your ability to get as far as you want to go… Quite simply, promotions are not just functions of ability, values, or the numbers you hit, but also rest critically on how you are perceived.” — Sylvia Ann Hewlett

executive-presenceWe would all like to believe that if we work hard, do our best, and keep at it, success will inevitably follow, but often this is not the case. One look at the lack of diversity in corporate America suggests that certain demographics are being left behind on the corporate ladder, and in an effort to understand why this is happening, the Center for Talent Innovation undertook a nation-wide survey to examine the factors that are key to career success. The results were illuminating, and form the basis for a new book titled Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. Released earlier this month, Executive Presence argues that while merit and qualifications are important, they will only get you so far in your career. For that extra push, you need Executive Presence.

So what exactly is Executive Presence? Simply put, it’s not about whether or not you have what it takes to be a leader, but whether or not people perceive you to be leadership material. If you don’t exude leadership qualities, more often than not you’ll watch the promotion opportunities pass you by. While some people may recognize the importance of Executive Presence, just exactly how to go about achieving it is not commonly understood; something that this book directly addresses by offering a clear outline on not just how to project Executive Presence, but how to accomplish this in the most effective and impactful manner. The strategy outlined in the book is based around three keys components:

  1. Gravitas: How you act is vitally important, and in order to attain Executive Presence, you must exude confidence and poise, remain calm under pressure, and be able to prove your knowledge and expertise on the subject at hand.
  2. Communication: Equally important is how you communicate your knowledge and abilities through the use of authoritarian tones, clear and focused language, eye contact, and a firm handshake.
  3. Appearance: While the study found that appearance had the least impact on perceived leadership, survey respondents still reported that major mistakes in appearance and attire can be detrimental to a person’s career, with unkempt personal grooming and provocative or ill-fitting clothing often cited as examples.

Once put together, these components create a dynamic mix of qualities that create Executive Presence. While some of the points listed may seem fairly obvious, a whooping 81% of women surveyed reported being unclear about how to attain Executive Presence, saying that the feedback they have received in the past is often contradictory and/or confusing. However, it is not just women who struggle, and everyone can benefit from the strategies outlined in this book, which include guidelines for how to remain likeable while being strong and forceful in your leadership, how to solicit honest feedback from your higher ups, how to strengthen your speaking skills to be as concise and compelling as possible, and how to maintain your authenticity while trying to fit in. The last point was a big one for me being one of the few women on the trading floor of Goldman Sachs.

I have personally known Sylvia for over a decade, and I was honored to serve on the board of The Center for Talent Innovation prior to moving to Utah. I can tell you from experience that Sylvia radiates Executive Presence and is therefore the perfect person to be writing this book. I am always asked to share career advice and though I certainly have tips of my own, few people have done the research that Sylvia and her team have. When this woman speaks, I listen.

Sylvia’s prior works include Forget A Mentor, Find A Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track Your Career and Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success, but she is best known for her first book, Creating a Life: What Every Women Needs To Know About Having a Baby and a Career, which I give to every young women seeking advice on how to navigate family and career. I would highly suggest adding all of the above to your summer reading list.




How to be a Power Connector

20110123steinem27Published on LinkedIn Influencers on June 6, 2014.

Everyone has heard the old adage that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I happen to think it is a combination of both, and that combination is indeed powerful. Networking is critical to getting ahead and building your career, but what is the best way to go about this vital component of your career and business development? How do you make the most of your network, and more importantly, how do you know if you even have the right network? Enter Judy Robinett, known as the woman with the titanium digital Rolodex, whose book, How to Be a Power Connector, was recently released, and which endeavors to answer those questions and many more.

Judy has over 30 years experience in the corporate world, and has previously served as the CEO of private and public companies, as well as management positions within Fortune 500 companies. She has also served on many advisory boards for venture capital firms, accelerators, and startups, and throughout all of these experiences, Judy has come to realize that “everything is connection.” Every idea needs people to make it a reality. However, as Judy made her way through the corporate world, she often found that traditional means of networking were often ineffective, and simply handing out business cards rarely led anywhere productive. It troubled Judy to know that there were people out there who had the knowledge, the intellect, and the ideas to potentially change the world, but because of their lack of connections, or more importantly, their fear of making them, these people would never have the chance to do so. However, if people could learn how to network strategically, the possibilities are endless.

2011-sundanceparty and 165Dunbar’s number postulates that people are only able to maintain a maximum of 150 stable social relationships at one time, and this is a theory to which Judy subscribes and utilized in her book. She believes that it is possible to solve every difficult problem through networking, but only if you take the time to invest in these relationships and add value to them at every interaction. With only 150 slots available for these important relationships, Judy’s book outlines how to take a strategic approach to building up your network, and how to make sure that not only are you making the right connections, but that you are also nurturing and cultivating them properly, so that when you need them, your networks will work for you and not against you.

Robinett9780071830737-3D-1-e1400185399113How to Be a Power Connector is filled with tips, strategies, and advice on how to create the best network you can for your business, including how to overcome aversions to striking up conversations with strangers, knowing when and where to invest your time, and most importantly, how to increase your network’s value by becoming a facilitator of connections.

I met Judy in that very way, when she helped to facilitate many of the important connections I made with others upon my arrival in Park City, and she has been a wonderful friend ever since. Every single time I see Judy she is ready to make a connection for me to help advance my efforts.  While her book is filled with great advice, I’ll leave you with Judy’s two golden questions for networking. At the end of any conversation with someone new, always be sure to ask them: 1) What other ideas do you have for me? and 2) Who else do you know I should talk to? According to Judy, those questions led her to President Obama, President Clinton, and Oprah. Imagine where they could take you.


(Photos of Judy Robinett, Geena Davis, Gloria Steinem and Jacki Zehner are from the 1st Annual Women at Sundance Party in 2011)