Just for fun

August 21, 2017

Story telling … and novels

I’m always collecting quotations. I can talk about fundraising through novels and pop song lyrics.

I just finished this great novel. The Trespassers by Tana French.

Cop story. Very mysterious. Lots of twists and turns. Magnificent writing.

Which person is telling which story. And which story is real or so real or a lie or it’s my story and you begin adding to it and then it’s our story and then….

“When you were with her, you found yourself coming up with stories.”

Telling a made-up story: “It felt magical. As if the whole thing had actually happened but somehow we’d both forgotten.”

“She told me she loved bookshops. Magic, she said, specially small ones like this; you always felt like you might find the one book you’d been looking for all your life, at the back of some shelf.”

I use these kinds of quotations in articles and in the books I write. Almost mystical. So full of … feelings. Meanings. Understandings

I made up tons of stories, elaborate stories… To help me fall asleep. To mitigate the boredom in long car rides. I’d pick them up later. You know, the next chapter.

I do that now. With winning the lottery. My social justice foundation and staff. Gifts to siblings. A flat in Paris. Specific gifts to specific causes. (But damn. I keep forgetting to buy lottery tickets!)



Filed under: Just for fun

March 3, 2017

Post-mortem from the Oscars

My nephew Daniel Joyaux is a film critic. Visit Third Movies & CultureA blog about the best, most interesting, and most offensive works in film, music, & entertainment culture…. both current and classic.

Read Daniel’s Oscars post-mortem. You’ll have fun and appreciate films all the more.

He writes soooooo well. (And he’s not even biologically related to Tom Ahern!) Such great and informative insights in his blog.

Regularly, we ask Daniel about movies we’re considering: “Should we see this one? How much did you like it? Will it make me sad and today isn’t a good day for sad?”

And he explains why something is good and how it compares to other movies from long ago.

And and and and and …………

So follow Daniel on Twitter (@Thirdmanmovies)

Filed under: Just for fun

January 15, 2017

What people say…

I’ve collected quotes since I was in high school. (Hmmm…Maybe earlier?) I have volumes of them in my computer, in the  books I write, in strategic plans for clients, and on the top of my file cabinets.

Quotes help me codify my thoughts…make me cry…inspire me…give me hope or sadness.

So I think I’ll share some favorites, old and new. How might you use these? How do you feel about these? Anything you want to share right here in the blog – with me and others?

“The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” Neil Gaiman. (Thanks, #SandyRees for tweeting this!)

I read this and feel empowered. Maybe that sounds silly. But sometimes I feel like I’m too out and too candid and swear too much and rant too much and and and and …. But that is me. My voice, my mind, my story, my vision. So I’ll celebrate being me.

Filed under: Just for fun

October 5, 2016

The DNA Journey

Watch this YouTube video.

Surely this is more than “social commentary.” Surely this is leadership and the nonprofit sector and all sectors.

This is LIFE.

Lovely. Insightful. Challenging.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all do this? Would this help heal the world?

Filed under: Just for fun, Leadership

July 25, 2016

Twitter and Simone

Okay. Finally. Yes. I know.

I joined Twitter. So now I Tweet on Twitter.


John Lepp kept nagging me. Others got all excited when I joined up. Thanks, people. So there I am.

July 6, 2016

Songs, lyrics, fundraising, life and other stuff

Yes, song lyrics can provide insights to fundraising and philanthropy and strategic planning and…. well just lots of stuff. After all, Dylan is a poet. He chose to deliver his poetry via song. Lyricists are telling stories… whether you’re Springsteen or Fleetwood Mac or so many many others.

So here’s another example…

In early April, I was driving to the airport at 4:30 a.m. (Yes, 4:30 in the morning.) I was listening to the BBC, a show called Soul Music. I’d never encountered this show before.

This particular episode  focused on the Dire Straits song “Brothers in Arms”. It’s wonderful!!

The episode was an “exploration into the enduring appeal of the Dire Straits classic, Brothers in Arms.” The description goes on to say, “Although thought to have been written by Mark Knopfler in response to the Falklands war in the mid 80s, it’s a piece that people now associate with many other conflicts, both military, personal, and social.”

I love Dire Straits. And I particularly like that song…For me, it’s about Nam, the war there, my family, my first husband, the 60s and 70s.

And my favorite television show of all time, The West Wing, used Brothers in Arms in its episode Two Cathedrals.

This episode of the BBC’s Soul Music show is marvelous. A Marine chaplain talks. The Dire Straits bass player talks. And a university professor explains the musicality of the piece – and “Knopfler’s brilliant use of harmony” – that “gives the song the sense of yearning that has made it into one of the most enduring pop songs of the last century.”

Do you know the lyrics to Brothers in Arms? What stories do you tell yourself when you listen to the song?

P.S. Romance novels and spy and sci fi have great life and fundraising and planning quotes, too! Maybe these blogs  fall under the rubric of “popular culture.” Yes, popular culture.

Check out the first academic book written on the topic, The Unembarrassed Muse by MSU professor and Pulitzer Prize winner Russel B. Nye. Russ was a dear family friend. He chaired my dad’s doctoral committee and also chaired mine – before I quit pursuit of a PhD for the fun of it.

Maybe because I was my dad’s first-born, Russ gave me books at different times of my life. He gave me my first sweet sixteen novels. He introduced me to a spy author other than Ian Fleming. And a little red hard cover novel about WWII and the French resistance. I wonder where that book went?

Ah popular culture.

Watch out for more music lyrics in the future.

Filed under: Just for fun

April 15, 2016

More songs to learn from

Have you been reading (and listening!) to my series about learning from songs and their lyrics?

So here’s a suggestion from David Kravinchuck, the chief Advice Dispenser at Fundraising Pharmacy. Such a cool company name! (And David is planned the new Western Canada Fundraising Conference!)

Here’s what David says about the lyrics: “It’s a lament that so many donors could be sharing with the charities they give to. ‘When you’ve laid your hands upon me and told me who you are…’ is just about the perfect way to describe most of the … communications sooo many orgs STILL use.”

I very much agree with David!

Here are some of the most hard-hitting lyrics … for the donor (or lover!)

How does it feel
To treat me like you do
When you’ve laid laid your hands upon me
And told me who you are

I thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me how do I feel
Tell me now how do I feel


I thought I told you to leave me
While I walked down to the beach
Tell me how does it feel
When your heart grows cold
(grows cold, grows cold, grows cold)

January 28, 2016

Extraordinary experiences…an example

The reminder: Remember that donor-centered means customer-centered means client-centered. Centered on the other, not you or your organization or your needs or whatever.

The story: Toronto Deborah sent me caramels. Special lovely caramels from “Good Karmal” (with a cute little Buddha on the wrapping), located in Bozeman, Montana. Deborah learned about these luscious caramels while in Minnesota last summer. Montana Emily gave me Bozeman caramels for my birthday there on campus at Saint Mary’s University. Apparently I offered some of the caramels to a few other students. That’s how Deborah learned about the Good Karmal caramels. Deborah was a first-year student, Cohort 25. Emily was a second-year student, Cohort 24. 

Did you follow that convoluted story? Because it get’s even more complicated.

Toronto Deborah was sending me a thank-you gift for something which didn’t require a thank-you gift. Not only didn’t require a thank-you gift, what I did was something I’m expected to do. But Deborah thought I’d done a special job. Furthermore, why would Toronto Deborah even remember that I liked caramels since we only spent about 10 days together and had only just met?

For that matter, why would Montana Emily bring caramels to Minnesota for my birthday? Emily and I had only met the year before. There was no reason for her to remember my birthday while we’re all working away on campus. But she did. I don’t remember talking about caramels that first year with Emily. But maybe we did. Or maybe Emily just knows that the Bozeman Good Karmal caramels are pretty extraordinary.

Memories from childhood and family: I don’t remember if I told Montana Emily my history with caramels. Whether I did or not, Emily’s caramel gift linked to wonderful childhood memories. On my family’s regular trips to France, we went to Normandie. We’d visit Bob Lebrec and his family at their dairy farm overlooking Omaha Beach. Bob came to MSU just like my dad did…from France after WWII. My dad stayed in the U.S. and Bob went home to France.

The dairy farm sold its milk to the Isigny cooperative. Isigny made butter, cream and milk, cheese and caramels. And we went to the caramel factory at Isigny and oh my oh wow. (I just learned something about Isigny on wikipedia: The Disney surname (Yes, that Disney) services from the little area called “Isigny.” D’Isigny … Of Isigny. And you don’t sound the “g.”)

Just think, Toronto Deborah, you connected with all that with your gift to me! And it all started with Montana Emily. Then I went down the rabbit chute to wikipedia and ended up in Disneyland.

Okay…. now back to extraordinary experiences.

My postscript: How often do we see this extraordinary behavior in our own personal lives? Within organizations where we’re donors? Within fundraising and fundraisers and…..

How often does any of us give someone else an extraordinary experience to enjoy?

All this thoughtfulness. All this extra care.

And genuine. Honest and truthful and kind and caring.

And unexpected. The whole convoluted story. Unexpected.

Merci beaucoup, Montana Emily and Toronto Deborah. Over and over. Unexpected and meaningful.



January 15, 2016

Happy anniversary, Simone!

“Happy anniversary to me, happy anniversary to me, happy anniversary, dear Simone…happy anniversary to me.” This can be sung in a lilting voice, as a rap song, or go for the rock version.

On January 15, 1988, I began my consulting practice. I partnered with a colleague who suggested that I might want to try consulting. Without her suggestion, I might never have had the courage. So thanks, Jane.

Of course, I wasn’t sure that I would like consulting. I’d always been committed to a particular mission. I wasn’t sure that “general consulting” would work for me.

That was 29 years ago! Today, Friday, January 15, 2016, I’m beginning my 29th year as a full-time consultant. I like it. I like it lots!

I like to work with organizations committed to change. I’m lucky that I get to pick my clients. I make sure that I show prospects my true colors: Candid. Change agent. Truth teller. Provocative. Helpful and caring and tough, too. I’m interviewing prospective clients just like they’re interviewing me. I have my test questions and my stories and and and …

How fortunate I am.

This is my life’s work. This is why I’m here.

Wow. I can’t believe that I’m starting my 29th year in business today.

Thank you to all the nonprofits who gave me the privilege of working with them. Thank you to all the conference audiences and my book readers. Thank you to the donors and volunteers and staff who labor in the nonprofit sector – who kick butt and make change and save lives and create joy. And and and….


Filed under: Just for fun

January 9, 2016

Digital mania, addiction, and what else?

Yes. Sure. Okay. I get it. Hell…I’m even tweeting now.

But balance is good.

Begin 2016 with a reading of Andrew Sullivan’s marvelous article “I Used to Be a Human Being.” Andrew Sullivan is a writer, editor, blogger. His blog The Daily Dish began in late 2000 and one the 2008 Weblog Award for Best Blog.

Sullivan is a major major major player in digital stuff. MAJOR! Tons of awards for blogging.

And then he wrote “I Used to Be a Human Being…” “An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too.

Read this piece before you break.



Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, is an internationally recognized expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management.

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