For years I thought I should be a free spirit, ready to go where the breezes pushed me, where the weather suited my clothes, where the party was. I told myself that one day I would love big crowds, last minute surprises, jack in the boxes, and…clowns.
If you’ve ever met me, you know that’s some Olympic level delusion.
However, I am quick to recognize a surprisingly wonderful idea presented by an incredible person. So, one day in 2017 over a delicious lunch of endless iced tea and onion rings, I said “YES” to co-hosting a podcast with Amanda Day.
Fundraising HayDay debuted in November 2018, and it has been a stone-cold blast ever since. We just wrapped Season 6 and five years of podcasting with a look back on Top 10 favorite episodes. As another year approaches, I am in a reflective mood.
What have I learned about life from making that impulsive decision to start something I knew nothing about?
- Do It for the Fun of It: Grant writing, fundraising, and non-profit work overall can feel overwhelming serious. If you don’t get the money, communities don’t get resources, people can lose their jobs, things will get worse. That was my mindset for years. But podcasting is fun—even if the topics are deep. Sure, the listeners and numbers matter, but I genuinely enjoy the process. Find something that makes you smile and do it. Doomscrolling Tik Tok or You Tube for stress relief is not the same thing. Ask me how I know…
- Face Down Failure: Every goof, every tech glitch, every inadvertent snorty laugh and every offkey cheesy sound effect are all part of the journey. As a die-hard perfectionist, I wouldn’t say I can freely embrace failure. But it’s not the end of the world if you find out you’re not talking into the business end of a microphone; it’s just a funny little detour.
- Just Ask! Whether it’s asking for advice, reaching out to potential guests, or seeking collaborations and sponsorships, I’ve learned not to let fear hold me back. Asking and following up has landed me dream interviews and connected me with amazing people all over the world.
Because we cannot celebrate five years without a list of five lessons we learned from starting and continuing the Fundraising HayDay Podcast, I’ll add two more to Kimberly’s incredible list.
- Learn Something New: Kimberly and I knew NOTHING about podcasting when we started this experiment. Sure, we could talk grants and fundraising all day long, but what tech would we need, how do we record, what platform do we use to share with the world, how do we edit our recordings, and other unknowns could have kept us from even beginning. But we learned to divide and conquer, and we both learned new skills. Will I ever need to upload podcasts in a future job? Probably not. But when I’m interviewing for a new job one day and am asked how I tackle something new, boy do I have a compelling answer.
- Make a New Bestie For life: Sure, Kimberly and I were friends before the podcast. And I have no doubt we would have continued the occasional lunch to catch up, but the podcast grew into a business and countless hours together dreaming, planning, working and laughing together. This venture has guaranteed a connection that will tie us together forever. I have a new partner in crime whom I wouldn’t trade for the world!
If you’re ever presented with the idea of starting a new venture, think long and hard before you turn it down. Especially if fear is what’s holding you back. You never know when a new idea will grow into something more. Or bring you joy. Or teach you a new skill. Adventure awaits, and I cannot wait to see what the next year and Season 7 of Fundraising HayDay brings us all!
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