Medici Magic

Jul 06, 2022

Last week I my blog was called, Hate the Weeds, but Love the Flowers. If you missed it, check it out. So much good info and inspo out there for anyone in the nonprofit sector. I chose to highlight the topics of leadership and creativity because I had just spoken at an event called Bloom in my hometown. What I didn’t have room to write about last week, though, was the third element of my talk at BloomThe Medici Effect.

In my best Sophia Patrillo voice from The Golden Girls, “Picture it. Italy, 15th Century”. There existed a Florentine banking family, the Medicis, who rose to prominence in Florence in the 15th century and who used their great wealth, in part, to act as donors to a wide range of artists, thinkers, architects, philosophers, and other intellectuals. Think Medieval co-working space! The assertion was that by bringing together such a wide and diverse range of skilled and curious people that they sparked a flurry of innovation that manifested into the Italian Renaissance. The Italian Flippin’ Renaissance, people! Remarkable! The Medici Effect, by author Frans Johansson, was inspired by this family and the name given to the idea that increased creativity and innovation occurs through diversity.

In The Medici Effect,  Johansson based his findings on interviews with people doing highly creative work in many fields and discovered that innovation is more likely to arise because of intersectionality. In other words, to creatively solve problems, you need to diversify the people you collaborate with, become inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural, and work with individuals who have backgrounds, educations, beliefs and values different to your own. It is at these “intersections” of thinking that you increase the likelihood of intellectual cross-pollination and through this, great leaps in innovation.

In other words, it’s no longer asking if people are smart, but asking how people are smart. Because we’re all smart in different ways and together, we’re creatively unstoppable. Einstein understood this well, which is why he said, Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

This, not surprisingly, is highly apropos to the work we do in philanthropic fundraising.

Left Brain Marketing Methods: If we can really embrace the fact that we are all different, then it’s not difficult to jump to the realization that one-size-does-not-fit-all. Leveraging the talents of your entire team can make you better across the board. But, you have to do this intentionally.  Luckily, there are tools out there to help you!

Right Brain Marketing Moxie: You have both left brain and right brain talent on your team, we all do. But do you leverage all those ideas to make sure your right brain moxie is fun without being frivolous—there’s a fine line. If you Medici it (yes, I used that as a verb!) you can walk this line easily and do it well.

The Medici Effect…Let’s do this. 

Left Brain Marketing Methods: So, I’ve warned you before, I’m not sporty. Heck, I’m not even coordinated. Therefore, I don’t claim to be an expert on anything athletic but I do know a couple of elementary facts. And this I know for sure, there is no NFL football team out there that recruits an entire team of Quarterbacks! As much as I love(d) Peyton Manning (he’s as athletic as he is philanthropic), they didn’t fill the Colts bench with 53 QB’s. (No shame, I admit that I just had to Google how many people are on a professional football team.) That just wouldn’t make sense, they wouldn’t win, and no one would buy the jersey.

Same holds true for our office teams. Not only should we not want to hire people who are exactly like us, but we are far stronger if we collaborate with people who are different—that’s the power of the Medici Effect.

But it’s one thing to know that the innovative potential of the Medici Effect is proven but that doesn’t make it any easier to work with people who aren’t like you—unless we understand exactly how our different personalities are likely to work well together. That’s when the Medici Magic happens!

So, last year one of my faves, Organizational Phychologist Adam Grant partnered with economist Ray Dalio, to smoosh the many past personality tests into one—it’s called PrinciplesYou. Like most tests, it shows your main Archetypes, but it has a Magical Medici superpower to it that sets it apart. With PrinciplesYou, you can invite friends, colleagues, your spouse, or anyone else in your life, to also take the free test, and the software will compare your results with theirs. It will describe your relationship and what you will encounter in that relationship. Instead of pigeon-holing you into specific categories, it shows your strengths and how you might work with others who have varied strengths to make for the strongest problem-solving teams. It takes our diversity of thoughts, experiences, skills, race, ethnicity, sex, age, geography, DiSC, Myers Briggs, Enneagram—all of it—and shows how we are truly better together. 

In the nonprofit sector, even when we do it scared, we rarely do it once and seldom do it alone. So, find out how your teams are smart--yes, that could even include your Board Members. Then leverage that the same way the best NFL team do—using their diverse talents to create the winningest team possible.

Turns out fundraising is not just a verb, it’s also a team sport.

Right Brain Marketing Moxie: You know how a flower doesn’t think of competing against the flower next to it, it just blooms? We have the same power in our offices, with our teams, and on our Boards. One is not better than the other, in fact, together powerful.

And this is an important fact to know when executing your right brain moxie. You know what moxie means right? It's a force of character, determination, and nerve. Just as much as left brain thinkers want to use the facts and figures, right brain thinkers what to push that creative envelope--and they can be a force to be reckoned with. Nothing wrong with that—that’s how they are smart. And it’s also how you can get people to open your mail. But when you take that left brain logic and marry it with the right brain moxie, it’s a match made in heaven.

In fact, it might be good practice to get your left brain thinkers involved in the creative side of your implementation. I know, wild thought, right?! Maybe they aren’t in the room brainstorming the creative ideas, but they can be brought in to garner their input before the right brainers go too overboard and pole vault over the line of fun into the territory of frivolous.

It’s our like our own fundraising NFL team, sometimes you need to bring the special teams into get their specific job done. That’s how you win games and raise money.

Our team likes to create the ideas and then allow each team member to modify them to their own personality, audience, and comfort. It must sound like it’s coming from the person who send the letter after all. That's one way to practice the Medici Effect.

Some of the most successful teams and companies in the world leverage The Medici Effect. Just because we’re small nonprofits doesn’t mean we can’t learn from those big orgs who have budgets beyond our belief who can afford six-figure consultants and have an R & D budget that would make you blush. So, let’s learn from the best. Today that’s the 15th Century Medici family and apparently, as much as I hate to say it, sports. Besides, even though I’m not athletic, I’m competitive. And in the nonprofit world you win when you raise money that creates results for your clients. #winning

All My Best,

[email protected]
dawn brown creative, llc.

P.S. Fundraising is hard, even though you make it look
oh-so easy! ♥

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