Archive for November, 2013

Global Washington 2013 Conference

Global Washington 2013 Conference

You’ve just spent the last few years of your life working hard to get your non-profit up and running. You’ve invested a couple hundred dollars to attend an international conference filled with your non-profit peers. Now you’re standing up in front of hundreds of them, basically a room of strangers, and you’re told you have two minutes to tell your story.

Go.

That was the scene earlier this week when a group of nine intrepid spokespeople lined up before a luncheon crowd at the Global Washington Annual Conference at Seattle’s Bell Harbor Conference Center. It was billed as the Fast Pitch Presentations.

globalwa-banner-2012-1

Reps were there from a local micro-enterprise non-profit, a development group, a reproductive rights organization, a sustainable fishing group along with a handful of other advocates. Almost all seemed a little nervous but when each got the “go” sign … there really wasn’t time for nerves. There was just 120 seconds.

The audience felt for the plight of the group of nine who lined up near the stage, waiting for their two minutes. But the
exercise illustrates a deeper truth. Very often, you don’t have that much time to grab someone’s attention and tell your story, no matter how important you think it is. We live in a world of short attention spans.

Bell Harbor Conference Center - Seattle, WA

Bell Harbor Conference Center – Seattle, WA

Seattle’s Randi Hedin went first. Hedin is a corporate lawyer by training. Today she’s the founder for Seattle buildOn, an international nonprofit organization that runs youth service after school programs in United States high schools, and builds schools in developing nations.

photo courtesy: buildOn

photo courtesy: buildOn

Hedin volunteered, “because I’m working hard to get the word out.” She says she wasn’t nervous because she was prepared and knew her talking points. She says she didn’t feel hurried either. “I worked hard with classmates” (in a Substantive International Law masters class at the University of Washington Law School).

Randi Hedin buildOn Board Member

Randi Hedin
buildOn Board Member

Her preparation showed. She’d picked a catchy title: “Who Ate My School? The Compelling Need for Schools in Developing Countries.” In the two minutes she had, Hedin focused on the need to keep schools in the developing world from falling into such disrepair that cows would graze on the weeds and grass growing on the property. The title of the talk grabbed attention, the pitch was short and to the point. She got a big round of applause.

Was it hard to capsulize the length, breadth and mission of an international non profit in just 120 seconds? “No”, says Hedin. “I just picked a piece of the puzzle and told that part of our story.” Hedin says it was a great way to organize because it forced her to focus on the “most important messages.”

There’s a lesson in the Fast Pitch.
1. Know your story.
2. Focus on the most important points.
3. Keep your pitch short
4. Know when to get off the stage.

Sometimes all you need is two minutes to tell your story. Sometimes, that’s all you get.

Mike Gastineau

Mike Gastineau

Seattle’s Mike Gastineau remembers the date, October 7th, 2012. That’s when it came to him. He’d just seen the Seattle Sounders beat their arch-rival, the Portland Timbers along with the wildly enthusiastic Emerald City Supporters, behind the south goal at Century Link Field. After the 3-0 win, the thought followed him as he walked to his car.

“This is a great story. I have to tell it.”

Earlier that fall, Gastineau had made the decision to leave his job at Seattle’s KJR 950 AM sports radio station as an announcer. Now he was consumed with the need to tell this story. “What better way than with a book”, he thought.

A year later, the result is a new book, “Sounders FC: AUTHENTIC MASTERPIECE: The Inside Story Of The Best Launch in American Sports.”
http://www.amazon.com/Sounders-FC-AUTHENTIC-MASTERPIECE-Franchise/dp/1491068345/ref=zg_bs_16638_5

The book (Gastineau’s first, with a forward by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl) is a must for any Sounders fan who wants a behind-the-scenes look at how the Seattle Sounders have become the talk of, or some would say the envy of, the rest of Major League Soccer. “Seattle’s the New York Yankees of this league”, says Gastineau. “We’ve got the money because we draw the fans.”

That success was no accident as “Authentic Masterpiece” reveals. The secret? According to Gastineau, Sounders management knew they couldn’t rely only on Seattle’s soccer moms and dads, a rich vein by itself. Sounders research showed that, “The last thing a lot of soccer moms and dads wanted to do after watching their kid play was … watch more soccer”, says Gastineau. “What Seattle did was go to places like The Atlantic Crossing in Seattle’s U-District and Fremont’s George & Dragon Pub, places where legions of hard-core soccer fans would pack bars at 7am on a weekend morning to see English Premier League soccer.” Mike says, “That’s a hard-core, underserved fan base. They (Seattle Sounders) really focused on who were fans of the sport.”

And then that October night at CenturyLink Field came back to him. He remembered the feeling of watching a Seattle sporting event for two hours, on your feet. That revelation leads to another secret to the Sounders’ success. “It wasn’t the fact that the Sonics left town”, says Mike. “It was the Mariners’ mediocrity.” Mike Gastineau says, “If Seattle sports fans had entertaining baseball to distract them, it would have been a different story.”

And if there’s one thing a repurposed sports announcer like Mike Gastineau knows, it’s a good story. His new book tells this one with authenticity and passion, like a night behind the south goal with the Emerald City Supporters.

Emerald City Supporters

Emerald City Supporters