How to be a Leader in your Community

Jimmy Lustig Community Leadership

Being involved in your community is a great way to give back. It helps you feel more connected to the place you live, and can also help you meet other, like-minded individuals. If you’re looking to take your community involvement, consider adopting a leadership role.


Why should you be a community leader?

There are many benefits that come with being a leader in your community. People will look up to you as a reliable figure who cares about their community. Being a leader in your community gives you the chance to make a difference. You get to see the impact you are having on others with the programs you help to support.


Leadership gives you an opportunity to grow. Leading groups of people can be very challenging and requires strong people skills and confidence in your abilities. Becoming a leader in your community will help you develop your leadership skills which will benefit you in other areas of your life.


One of the strongest reasons for becoming a community leader is because they’re needed. The more people who take on leadership roles, the more problems that can be solved. Community leaders help to tackle issues such as youth development, crime, and economic development, among others.


How do you become a leader?

Most people aren’t born natural leaders. Instead, they learn how to become strong leaders.


Listen to the people in your community and learn what’s important to them. They want to feel that their thoughts and input are valued. If they feel that they’re being listened to, they will trust your leadership and in turn, become more engaged with their community.


Most likely, no one is going to approach you about taking on a leadership role. You need to put yourself into that role. Understand that you have valuable things to offer and put yourself in the position to showcase those. Put yourself in a place where you are able to step out as a leader. Attend town hall meetings and speak up and share your thoughts.


Set goals that you would like your community to meet. Then, decide what meeting those goals in the short- and long-term will look like, and how you can make that happen. Come up with an action plan for making your community a better place, and follow through with it.


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Charity versus Philanthropy: What’s the Difference?

Jimmy Lustig Charity vs Philanthropy

Often, the words charity and philanthropy are used interchangeably. Both have to do with giving and helping others, so it’s easy to conflate the meaning of the two words. But, the two words have distinct meanings and deal with different areas of world change. To put it in simple terms, charity is giving, while philanthropy is doing.


Charity is a short-term response focused on relief and rescue. It addresses an immediate need for a community or a cause, such as food, shelter and medical care. Giving a meal or a coat to a homeless person would be charity, not philanthropy. While it’s addressing a need and is necessary, it doesn’t tackle the root issue.


Philanthropy focuses on finding a long-term solution to a problem. Philanthropy aims to solve problems, instead of providing temporary fixes to them. Philanthropy is a more strategic plan of giving that’s built around past success and has a strong focus on the community. While charity often only benefits one or a few people, philanthropy aims to reach a much broader group of people. By tackling the societal roots of these problems, philanthropy seeks to change the world in the long-term.


Another common misconception is that only the rich can be philanthropists. While those with money can tackle larger humanitarian issues, like donating money to build a new hospital wing, everyone can be a philanthropist. Everyone can make changes in small ways with some planning. Speak to the people in your community and learn what their needs are. Then, learn how to use the skills and resources you have to contribute to a solution to those needs.


This is not to say that charity is useless or should be done away with; it solves a purpose and gives us a chance to make small impacts on others. Both charity and philanthropy are necessary, and one isn’t better than the other. Another way to look at it is that philanthropy and charity are two different approaches to solving the same problem. They’re overlapping strategies that both are vital to the nonprofit sector. The two work in tandem with each other and the hope is that the practice of philanthropy eventually eliminates the need for charity.


An example of how the two work together can be seen in dealing with addiction. Philanthropy may fund a study that looks into risk factors of addiction or provides preventative education that works to prevent people from becoming addicts in the first place. These are long-term strategies, and ones that may take years to make any difference in addiction rates. A charitable organization would deal with the right-now of drug addiction, perhaps in the form of starting a detox center, to handle the immediate need.


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Nonprofit Spotlight: The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes

Jimmy Lustig Barbara Davis Center

The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes is one of the largest diabetes institutions in the world. Located in Aurora, Colorado, the Center specializes in type 1 diabetes research for both children and adults. Through the Center, treatment is provided to pediatric and adult patients through the use of clinics.


The Center also focuses on educating families and patients about type 1 diabetes and its treatment. The center also focuses on education for medical professionals. Physician assistants and medical students can choose elective rotations at the Center.


In 1978, the center was funded by Marvin Davis and opened in 1980 in Denver. The center is supported by the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, which was founded in 1977 by Barbara and Marvin Davis. In 1980, the Center opened at the Ninth Avenue campus in Denver and moved in 2005 to the Anschutz Medical Campus, where it’s still located.


Barbara and Marvin Davis were inspired to start the Foundation and Center after their daughter Dana was diagnosed with diabetes when she was seven years old. Though the Davis’ had the money to get the proper care for their daughter, there was no way to cure her disease. After seeing how diabetes affected Dana, Barbara wanted to create a center where no one would be denied care.


The Center provides care to 80 percent of children in Colorado with type 1 diabetes, and 2000 adults living in the Rocky Mountain Region. Since it was founded, the Foundation has raised almost $100 million to support diabetic research and treatment.


Donations to the Foundation go directly to supporting care and research at the Center. Currently, the Center is working on 81 research projects that are aimed at increasing knowledge about diabetes and its effect on the body.


One current research project at the Center is stem cell researchers making insulin-producing beta cells that are derived from human stem cells. The Center is one of only a few labs in the world that are capable of this.


One of the Foundation’s largest fundraisers is the biennial Carousel of Hope Ball. Founded in 1978, the event is black-tie and invitation-only. In 2017, the 31st Ball was held and raised $1.65 million and featured a performance by Lenny Kravitz.


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Four of the Best Books for Leaders

Jimmy Lustig Foster Leadership Books

Most great leaders aren’t born knowing how to lead others. Leadership is a skill that can be taught, and one that should continually be worked on. No one will never know everything there is to know; it’s a constant process of improving and being better. While there are thousands of books on leadership, and each serves a purpose, these four should be required reading for everyone currently holding a leadership role, or those looking to step into a higher position.


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

In Drive, Pink examines the most common form of motivation used by leaders, incentives, and why it isn’t the most effective. Instead, he proposes that people respond best to being given a purpose. The best motivation is feeling like you’re working towards something, whether it’s learning something new or improving the world. He uses four decades of scientific research into motivation to illustrate how businesses have been approaching motivation wrong for years.


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: The Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

In this book, Lencioni dives into teams and how to successfully lead one. A good team leader has to learn how to get the most out of each team member, which begins with trust. It outlines the cause of five common problems that occur when working in team settings and provides practical advice for solving them.


The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

Stanier has made a career out of teaching leadership skills to over 10,000 managers, making him the perfect person to write a leadership book. In this book, he takes essential leadership skills and applies them to seven core questions. With these seven questions, he demonstrates how to unlock people’s potential by saying less and asking more.


Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke

Very rarely does a leader have all of the information when making crucial decisions. A former World Series of Poker champion and current business consultant, Duke teaches the key to long-term success is to think in terms of making bets. By using examples from business, politics, sports and poker, she illustrates that great decisions don’t necessarily lead to great outcomes, and a bad decision doesn’t mean a bad outcome.


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How to Foster a Strong Company Culture


Company culture is often a deciding factor for people when considering what types of positions to apply for and accept. Employees want to come to work and feel welcomed and appreciated in their work environment. In order to retain and recruit better employees, creating a strong culture is vital. Here are five areas to focus on when building a culture.


Develop a core mission

The first part of building a strong culture is having a strong mission statement. Your employees should come to work every day knowing exactly what they’re working towards accomplishing. In addition to developing a mission, establish core values that every team member should strive to embrace. Look for these values during the hiring process, in order to staff your company with people that represent that mission.


Communicate clearly

Communication is the most important factor in making your employees feel valued and a part of your company. If you don’t have open lines of communications, your company culture will suffer. Employees should feel comfortable approaching others with questions or concerns.


Encourage breaks

Don’t create an atmosphere where employees are expected to work through lunches and stay late every single day. Understand that your employees have lives outside of work, and give them the opportunity to live them. Encourage employees to use their vacation time, and don’t expect them to work while on that vacation.


Foster innovation

Most of your employees have ideas about things that could make the company run better and more effectively. They probably see many places where there could be improvements from doing the work every day. Listen to their ideas. Don’t take it as a slight towards the current management; they wouldn’t offer ideas if they didn’t care about the company. Reward new and innovative ideas and let employees know their suggestions are valuable to the organization.


Engage your talent

While money is an important factor when applying to jobs, passion is more important. People are motivated by their passion to grow in their position and produce work they’re happy with. Give your employees a reason to feel passionate about their work. Offer them opportunities for growth and incentives for performance.

Also, provide your employees with ways to bond with each other, both inside and outside of the office. Having close friendships with co-workers leads to happier and more productive employees.

While developing a strong culture will take some work and won’t happen overnight, it’s crucial to the happiness of your employees and your company will benefit in the long run.


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How to Get Involved in Your Community

Jimmy Lustig _ How to Get Involved in Your Community

If you’ve just moved to a new area, or maybe lived there forever but want to meet some new people, the best thing you can do is to become involved. There are many ways to get involved in your community, whether it’s through volunteering or attending local events. Here are five simple ways you can become more involved with your community and feel more connected to the place you live.


Get to know your neighbors

Getting to know your neighbors is one of the best ways to get involved in your community. If you’re new to the area, go to your neighbor’s house and introduce yourself. Tell them a little about yourself, like how you ended up in this area, and they may open up to you as well. Then, follow-up with the relationship. If you see them out in their yard, take the time to say hello and ask them about their day. You may hit it off and become great friends, or you may just stay friendly with each other. Either way, they’ll recognize you as a familiar face.


Look for local events

Stay up-to-date on all of the events happening in your community. Check the calendars for your local library or community center and make a point of attending any event that sounds interesting to you. By attending these events, you’ll be able to connect with like-minded people and also learn about even more upcoming events.


Shop locally

Supporting local businesses is a great way to be involved with your community. When you shop locally, the money you spend is put directly back into your community. You’re helping to keep your town a fun place to live by ensuring the shops you like stay open. In addition to benefiting your community, you’re also more likely to get a higher quality product than what you’d get buying from a large retailer.


Join a class

Look into what classes or groups your community has to offer. It may be a sewing class or a group for people who love to run. Not only will you get to learn or improve a skill, but you’ll also get to spend time with people who have similar interests. Often, classes need a certain number of registrants to continue being offered, so by signing up for a class, you’ll be helping to keep the option open for others.


Support local sports teams

Athletes play because they love the sport, but having supporters in the audience make it that much more satisfying. Look what local teams your community has. If you live near a college or high school, look into their sports schedule and make it a point to attend games for the sports you enjoy to watch. You’ll get to witness a sport you like played by enthusiastic individuals, and give back to your community through the purchase of a ticket or snacks at the concession stand.


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Benefits of Community Involvement for Businesses


Consumers expect more out of the companies they do business with today than ever. Customers want to feel that they’re helping to make the world a better place. Supporting a business that gives back is one way they can do that.

Companies that have community involvement programs have happier employees and more loyal customers. 88 percentof consumers feel a duty to purchase products they feel are environmentally and socially responsible.

The most important cause to consumers is economic development, with 38 percent saying it’s the one issue they want companies to address. Other issues consumers care about is the environment, poverty and hunger, and human rights.

When developing a giving plan for your organization, there are three important factors to consider: your community, the strengths of your organization, and letting others know of your involvement.


Look to your community

If you want to get your business involved in a corporate social responsibility program, first look to your own backyard. Your involvement will have more impact if you’re giving back to your own community. Form relationships with your customers and find out what causes are important to them and where the need in your community is. While all causes are worthy, supporting the ones that mean the most to your customers and your community will have the most benefits for your business.


Cater to your strengths

Try finding a way to give back that also falls in line with your business. If you’re a restaurant owner, cater an animal shelter’s open adoption event. If you run an accounting firm, help nonprofit organizations do their taxes. Evaluate the strengths of your employees and find a way to incorporate those into your volunteer plan. Not every organization needs to give back in the same way. Find what works best for you.


Spread the good news

Let your customers know how you’re giving back. Add a “Giving Back” or otherwise titled page to your website and share how your organization is helping the community. Use your social media accounts to share pictures of your employees at their latest volunteer events. Consumers want to see the impact you’re making on those around you.


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