Tag Archives: community

I want fries with that!

StorefrontFriend and colleague Jack Falvey is now writing daily investment tips*—I’ve mentioned that before. In today’s he describes briefly the McDonald’s success story. One sentence jumped right off the page for me. “Hunger to succeed is the kind of hunger McDonald’s satisfies.” Jack was not only talking about investor success, he went on to note, “…without federal or state funds, the most successful youth training program on earth is teaching adolescents to show up on time, wash their hands, smile, make a neat appearance, and to ask with great expectation, ‘Do you want fries with that?’”

Where Jack wrote “hunger,” I saw “passion.”

Earlier this morning another colleague and I had a short but interesting conversation about an upcoming event designed to “raise awareness” of one of the many issues our society suffers. I confessed that I’m tired of programs for causes that are focused on “raising awareness.” Too often there’s little hunger and there’s no real passion. As a result we engage in activities that allow us to feel better but accomplish very little. It’s like feeling a little bit hungry and nibbling on a cracker. Or a small order of fries.

Just tell me when do we go from being “mildly interested” and aware to being passionate? Do we truly believe putting a bumper sticker on our vehicle is going make a difference? Help me understand how changing my status on Facebook for an hour is going to help.

During my years of consulting, I was never hired by an organization to “raise awareness.” In fact, those companies were usually painfully aware—perhaps not always of the root problem, but they knew there was one. I recall one organization that was having trouble “getting people to come to work.” Absenteeism and turnover was so high entire lines could not be started in the morning.

I can assure you, I did not recommend a program to increase awareness of the problem. We did not print bumper stickers for supervisors and company vehicles saying “Help stamp out absenteeism.” It took real passion and effort and sometimes drastic measures.

See, if you’re only a little bit hungry, it doesn’t take much to satisfy that hunger. A cracker might do it.

The McDonald’s story Jack tells includes some dismal failures in the early days of the company. Jack makes it fairly easy to see that success only came after a husband and wife put their last dollar into their store. “They invested their lives.”

I would say they were pretty hungry. So hungry they didn’t peruse cookbooks or debate where to eat or change their Facebook status to “I’m a little hungry.” They literally had to eat now. It became an obsession. There was no other option.

All of this reminded me that today I’ve been nibbling around the edges of the cracker. Maybe if I stopped nibbling I’d get hungry enough to remember what I’m passionate about until I feel the pangs of hunger that drive me incessantly and almost insanely to eat a big meal—to dine on the sweet success of achieving some things I care deeply about.

And not only do I want a big meal, I also want fries with it. When we care enough to want it all we know we have to go beyond raising awareness to making something happen.

*Investor Education Briefs is an online investor education program provided by the Institute for Politics at Saint Anselm College. It goes out each business day of the year at no charge. The editorial opinions of Jack Falvey, a Fellow of the Institute and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, are provided for investor education only and are not offered as financial advice. Anyone may enter or exit the program at any time. There are no tests or academic credits involved. It is designed as a modified massive online open program which will recycle and be updated every twelve months.

Supporting a Good Friend and a Good Cause!

shrinerI’m pleased to be considered a sponsor of good cause (Springfield Massachusetts Shriners Hospital) being organized by a good friend (Susan Austin). Susan and her committee are organizing a “Trivia Night” to be held on Saturday, September 14, 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm at the Son’s of Erin at 22 Williams Street in Westfield, Massachusetts. My role and sponsorship feels pretty minimal, so I thought I’d help by giving Sue and her efforts some publicity.

If you’re from that area, you might put the event on your calendar and plan to attend… if not, you can still help. The committee has pledged that 100% of the proceeds will benefit Shriners Hospital. You can send a donation to

Susan Austin
148 Elm Street
Westfield MA 01085

Make the check payable to Springfield Shriners Hospital. I suspect it’s also not too late to be a sponsor. In additional to financial support they are looking for raffle prizes. If you’d like to help, call Sue at 413-537-5480 and tell her Mr. Boomsma sent you. (But don’t believe any stories she tells you about me when we were kids!)


Media Relations Class in Dexter

"Hey, I didn't know..."
“Hey, I didn’t know…”

No News Is Not Good News: media relations for the nonprofessional

Make friends when you don’t need them so that you will have them when you do need them.

 Lyndon Johnson

You may be making news, but is it news if nobody knows about it? This class will explore the basics of “getting the word out” through approaches that work for small businesses and non-profit organizations. Participants will learn the how’s and why’s of getting a story in print or on television and take home samples of formats as well as a number of tip for maximizing their business or organization’s exposure in the press. Class will be held at Dexter Regional High School on Tuesday, April 9th starting at 6 PM. Register by calling PVAEC at 564-6525 or visiting: http://pvaec.maineadulted.org/courses/course/no_news_is_not_good_news__media_relations_for_non_professionals

One Human Interaction at a Time…

I already know the problem you’ll have after watching this video. You’ll think you can’t do it. But if you listen all the way to the end, you’ll hear the key and discover that you actually can. Let me explain.

Dave Eggers is an incredibly passionate, creative, and energetic guy. I don’t want to spoil this video, but you should know his day job involves writing. “Once upon a school” is spoken, but it’s an incredible story with some both inspiring and funny examples of what happens when you create a mixture that includes passion, kids and learning.

For a few years now, I’ve considered myself a bit of advocate for kids, teachers, and schools. This guy could become my hero because he’s done something that’s all too rare. He’s created a wildly successful (and fairly large) program without losing sight of the most important truth. Ultimately, the most effective advocacy is about one human interaction at a time. 

So watch this, but don’t leave it thinking you can’t do it or that you are inadequate. Figure out some way — not necessarily as big and bold as Egger’s — to get together with a kid and have one human interaction.

There’s an incredibly important statistic early on in the video–studies have shown that just 30-40 hours per year of individual attention and instruction can advance a student one grade level. You don’t have to be real good at math. Three hours per month does it. Spend it listening to and encouraging a kid–your own or somebody else’s.

Get A Kid Going!

Give to Public Schools in Need! - Go to DonorsChoose.orgWhat a great resource this is… for teachers, kids, and anyone who wants to help them! DonorsChoose has been around for over ten years and is all about making it easy for folks to help classrooms in need. Teachers post classroom requests which “range from pencils for poetry to microscopes for mitochondria.” Supporters can give as little as $1 in support of the project of choice. You can truly give to a specific classroom. Projects are vetted and there’s tons of transparency and accountability, providing assurance that any donation made is a good investment in our kids’ education.

The project is nation-wide, but potential donors can search by state, town, and school. When I looked this morning there were 115 open projects in Maine–the closest to me right in Dover Foxcroft where the teacher is looking for help with securing an “incubator and humidity control system will allow my young scientists to explore embryology, life cycles and reproduction.” Current donations total just about half what’s needed, so they are well on their way!

Let’s set aside politics and the fact that we all are paying too much in taxes to consider what’s happening here… we have some teachers with a true passion for teaching and a need for a tool that we can provide fairly painlessly–remember, you can donate as little as a dollar. Unlike taxes, any contribution goes right to the project and classroom you choose and you have assurance your dollar(s) is well spent. Teachers aren’t paid to do this sort of fundraising–they do it because they love your kids and want them to learn.

A teacher in Milo is looking for some help with a digital player and dock so she can reel in some “reluctant readers” with a simple but effective incentive program.

The biggest problem you’ll have when you visit DonorsChoose.org is selecting which kids and teachers you want to support. Even if you can’t support them all, you’ll leave the site with a deeper appreciation for what is happening in our schools and what some teachers are trying to do.

My personal theme for this year is: “It is easier to build strong children than to fix broken adults.” Here’s a way to do just that. Teachers can also help by getting your need posted on the site. Let’s work together to get some kids going!