A few of the places we've been this year: Baltimore, Orlando, Aruba, Vietnam, Nepal, and Mexico. We've traveled more this year than we ever have before, and we love the results we're seeing! Every time our fundraisers get on the road, we see heightened energy, a renewed sense of purpose, and huge growth in our fundraising performance.
What is it about traveling that helps fundraisers grow? I asked our Regional Training Manager, Nicholas Mirsky. Nick has been with us for six years, and he's seen it all. He's trained fundraisers from sea to shining sea, in Portland, Boston, San Francisco, New York City, and many cities in between. I wanted Nick's insight on how traveling expands a fundraiser's horizons and capabilities, and he shared his thoughts. Take a look!
There and Back Again: A Fundraiser's Tale By Nicholas Mirsky
I began my experience with DialogueDirect almost 6 years ago to the day. Over the years, I have had so many wonderful opportunities to see this amazing country, and on a few occasions I’ve even been given the chance to explore different continents as an ambassador for our company. I’ve been asked to share a few of my experiences and any sagely advice I might possess. I'll frame this with a few quotes from a sage I love, J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord Of The Rings.
I came to DialogueDirect because I needed to work, and I, like every other 20-something-year-old, had no idea what I wanted to do, or who I wanted to be. The only thing I knew about myself, entering this company, was that I wanted to make a difference and I wanted see more of the world.
My first opportunity for travel came when my city coordinator asked me if I wanted to go to DC the following week. Someone had dropped out of the scheduled trip, and I jumped at the chance. I learned on my first day of the trip that traveling can be very scary. My first couple of hours in DC were tough; the objections were much harder, nobody seemed to have enough money, or time, or empathy, or trust, and I felt out of my element. Going into lunch on zero donors, while traveling for the first time ever, gave me a sinking feeling. A quick pep talk from my Team Leader and taking a mental reset of lunch, helped me turn it around and I got on board. By the end of the day, I got four kids sponsored and by the end of the week I had a personal best of twenty donors in a week.
When I stopped thinking negatively, I realized that people everywhere are basically the same. Ultimately, traveling early in my career with DialogueDirect taught me to take personal accountability and to practice positive belief. After all, if people everywhere are the same, then I can succeed anywhere.
Between my first trip to DC and my three-year anniversary, I consistently traveled every few months. These trips helped me build better relationships with my team and colleagues in other markets, but most importantly they helped me feel more confident. When I was promoted to Campaign Coordinator, I had a wealth of successful trips under my belt and this helped me feel like I could accomplish anything. When it came time to run my own market, I was left with limited options because New York City, the greatest city ever built (in my incredibly biased opinion), already had a City Coordinator, and my unwillingness to move meant I was stuck. Self-imposed limits, geographic ones especially for the aspiring City Coordinator, are barriers that we create for ourselves. That's when Mike Wakeland, our CEO, leader and friend, asked me to move to Chicago to take on a leadership role there, and help the campaign during what would become the coldest winter ever (seriously, look it up.)
I had mixed feelings to say the least. I knew I wanted to grow, and that in Chicago I would be given the chance, even if it meant picking up my life in NYC and moving. Ultimately, my desire to grow accepted the frigid cold of polar vortex Chicago. I spent three months in Chicago helping them build followed by two months in Houston helping them build followed by a rotating roll between Boston and New York helping my teams in both markets build. All the while each experience helped me grow as a leader, manager, and person. I spent the better part of 9 months traveling, not sleeping in my own bed, and forming the foundation of some meaningful and lasting friendships. Three years into the job, all I knew was that I wanted to grow, and after four years I knew that it was exposure through travel that allowed for me to develop personally and professionally.
Fast forward to the present. Tonight I sleep in my own bed but soon I will venture out west for a three-week road trip, followed by another excursion to Florida, and I know more travel will follow shortly in 2017. My current role as Regional Trainer has me on the road a lot but I would trade the comfort of my own bed for the wealth of my experience any day. In six years’ time traveling for DialogueDirect, I am lucky enough to have:
• Eaten deep dish in Chicago • Walked over the Brooklyn Bridge • Seen the monuments of our nation’s capital • Swam along Miami beach • Eaten Texas BBQ in Houston • Eaten fried plantains on the Colombian Caribbean coast • Visited a Leinster Rugby match in Dublin, Ireland • Fundraised on Paul Revere’s Freedom Trail in Boston
The first and only time I traveled to Connecticut (my home state) for work, Andreas Leitner, the original face-to-face fundraiser and founder of DialogueDirect, told our group of budding managers that dialoguing changed him. It made him better, smarter, and kinder. Dialoguing has also changed me in my short six years in the business. Travel has opened my eyes to the world, and I am a better, and more understanding person because of it.
In summary, my only piece of advice, is to remove self-imposed barriers, get out there, and say yes when someone offers you the chance to travel (and don't forget to crush your goals on your trip). We never know who we will become after spending time away, but every new experience gives us the opportunity to grow. So get out there, see what Dialogue Direct has to offer, make a meaningful impact and build real relationships along the way.