This past weekend my wife and I were co-chairs for our high school’s annual fund raising event. The whole process was one where committees and teams were formed under the direction of a leader and her leadership team. The event was a very successful one and it really opened my eyes as to the power of different teams coming together to make a difference for a whole school. All of the teams understood their roles, but ultimately we needed people, (clients) to make it happen. Some of these people were return attendees and others were new attendees, (new parents with their new students attending the school)
During this event, many new processes were implemented: entertainment during dinner, new technology, new theme, different decorations. In addition, many obstacles were also faced: new leaders, Home Husker Game, More parent expenses with student iPad purchase, current economy.
One of the best examples that came to fruition the night of the event was the introduction of a new technology, Text-To-Bid. People would have to use their own phone devices to bid on items during the silent auction. No paper sheets were available. Now, thinking this through as a marketer made little sense to me at first. The majority of the money that was raised from this event were from people over the age of 60. How many 60 year olds do you know that text? The leader of this group assured me that we would have a successful event. He had worked with this technology in the past and had seen some great results. I was skeptical. The night of the event, the leader of this group gathered his team together of about 25 people and made sure everyone in the group knew how to get the technology working on a cell phone, smartphone or tablet device. I actually thought the group looked like a little prayer group. Once the final training was over and people started coming in, the team disbursed and made themselves available to the attendees. Students wearing specialized shirts were instructed to work specifically with older adults in helping them submit their bids. The whole team, worked very hard to make the night a successful experience. People of all ages had fun submitting bids, receiving messages that they had been outbid and ultimately learning they had won or lost items they had bid on.
I asked a number of attendees after the silent auction had closed what they thought about the experience they had just gone through and almost all of them pointed back to the fact that it was a fun experience and that people were so helpful in making it a successful bidding process. Technology is only as good as the people working with it.
This small example helped me look at projects from a different standpoint.
- How many times do we get so caught up with fear that we spend our time being naysayers instead of looking for ways to make something really work?
- People are the key. If you have the right team, you will be able to overcome obstacles.
- If you think of the experience from the client side, you will ultimately be able to show them value.
- We must always be teachers and learners.
- If you want to solve problems – seek out the right team players first.
If you ever want to grow as a leader or a team player, consider volunteering for a local fund-raising project in your area. You will learn a lot about what it takes to run a successful event. It is a great experience to connect with others in your community and it will leave you humbled and amazed at what people can do when they work together for a common cause.
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