Monthly Archives: May 2013

“Yes, but!” Is it bad for audience development (and life in general)?

I am slowly resurfacing with hopes that a new direction will be firmly formed in the next couple of months.  As I mentioned before, I am speaking with a variety of people to gain perspective, and I thank each and every person that has taken the time to talk with me.

During a few of these chats, I have come across the “yes, but” mentality.  Why do people say “yes, but?”  On the one hand, I realize that it is used to evaluate and think through an idea. It is also used as a way to share prior experience to help others to not make the same mistakes.

On the other hand, it negates the positive energy that someone is putting forward.

When it comes to building an audience and working with other people to come up with ideas, perhaps we need to consider the “yes, but” a little more closely.  Does this phrase ultimately help or harm?  Does it make us feel energized with the feeling of wanting to move forward in a positive direction?  Does it help us reach a better conclusion (the conclusion for us to not act at all)?  Does it make the person that you are saying this to feel better or worse?  Is “yes, but” an idea creation killer?

The “yes, but” albeit said with good intentions, with the desire to help think through an idea, process or project, can still be quite the buzz killer.  There are times when an idea may not be fully sound, yet, there must be a better way of sharing our wisdom about someone’s idea without killing their spirits.  Let’s figure out a better way to brainstorm and evaluate so the energy remains positive.

I’m starting to see the other camp of people that do not use “yes, but.”  Instead they attempt to make the idea better instead of knocking the idea down.  There is a way to give feedback that actually builds up the idea and adds to it, even if you see some of the challenges involved.

I am also happy to say that I see the people that go against the “yes, but” completely and find a way to build their idea anyway.  What’s interesting is that while others are saying “yes, but,” these people are saying “yes, I did it!”

Audience development involves working as a team, and I believe that “yes, but” is not a team building technique.  Some people like the alternative “yes, and” instead.

What would you suggest?  Thoughts?

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Filed under arts management, Audience Development

Clear as mud!

Today I woke up in a different mindset.  I am still hopeful that my direction will be defined soon, but at the present moment, it is clear as mud.

I’m starting to miss writing blog posts and tweeting information to my tweeps.  I think what I sincerely miss is being a part of the team for advancing audience development (audience building, engagement) for the arts.  However, as clear as I am about what I like to do and what I would love to accomplish, I am still not clear on what direction to take that will ultimately benefit everyone involved.

I had a client that I started with 3 years ago that only had about 69 people in their audience.  The powerful, joyous feeling of looking around the audience a few years later, now at 250-500 depending on the program, is what I love to feel.  The building of an audience for a well deserved arts organization is what I love to do and what I want to accomplish.  This organization has also doubled their funding over this time period.

So, how can I continue to have these powerful, joyous feelings, doing what I love to do and what I want to accomplish?  More successes for the arts world is the ultimate high for me.

As mentioned previously, I have had thoughts about turning ADS into a membership society.  However, through advice and thoughts of my colleagues, selling memberships might be just as daunting as selling services.

The main challenge I keep coming back to is how I can be paid for my time and talents and still serve the arts community.  I was considering fundraising for either my salary or for specific projects, but then, wouldn’t I be working double time in order to get paid?  I am also considering a pay per view subscription in order to continue offering content that would be valuable.  Are people willing to pay for advice and education from me if they might be able to find freebies elsewhere?  I definitely do not want to reinvent a wheel either.

It’s been a strange journey.  I feel that I am valued, but I am also needing to be paid what I am worth.  If any of you have suggestions or advice, or stories from your own experiences, I would love to hear from you.  I just finished reading Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.  The end result is (not really a spoiler since it the journey of this book that matters more) that we tend to not choose to consider others’ experiences when we have the option of figuring it out for ourselves.  Yet, having the experience of others leads to a better decision.  So, if you have something to share, we can all benefit, and please do comment.

I am weighing all my options and looking at all the opportunities that are out there.  Perhaps making mud pies would be a good alternative, at least for now!



Filed under Audience Development

Update for ADS

For my email subscribers, you will need to go to the actual blog to listen to my update.  Happy weekend to you all!


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Rebooting and gifting

I have been reading a book by Catherine Allen called Reboot Your Life.  Apparently, I am not taking time off the right way.  She suggests that we go through 4 phases in order to guarantee we gain from our sabbatical.  Here are the 4 phases:

Phase 1: Clearing out – Take time to clean your life from all the physical, mental and emotional clutter that has accumulated over the years.

Phase 2: Reconnecting – Reconnect with yourself and others to discover who you are at this moment in time.

Phase 3: Exploring – Take time to research and explore all the different possibilities for your next chapter in life.

Phase 4: Re-entering – This is the transition phase back into the mainstream.  Tasks like sprucing up your resume and focusing, planning your next goal to make it happen.

I have been officially off since April 13th.  In this time, I went from phase 1 to phase 2 and 3 and back again to phase 1 instead of allowing myself to naturally go through each phase.  I think I have flunked out of sabbatical school!  Seriously though, it has been challenging for me to let go in order to have the time needed to recharge and regroup.  I still feel a little burnt out despite my one month off, and probably because I’m not allowing enough time off before getting back to it.

Right now I am researching and exploring other business options, but after a conversation with my new friend, Ron Evans, I think I may need to start researching for what is going to make me happy and fulfilled.  I have been getting this piece of advice in different forms.  “Think of yourself first this time.” or “Think about what you want to have happen to make yourself happy.”  The advice is all coming from a place I am not very familiar with.  Most of my life has been spent helping others achieve their goals.  Taking time to explore what I want and need?  Well, easier said than done, but well worth shifting to this way of thinking if I can.

So, yes, this month I have discovered that I am a little out of balance at the moment.  There has been too much giving and not enough receiving.  The good news is that I have been working on the receiving part of the equation through a strangely, oddly, never would have thought about it exercise.  I have been reading the book 29 Gifts by Cami Walker and started my own round of giving for 29 Days.  For someone who naturally gives, I don’t have a problem with coming up with gifts.  Often, I can simply record what I already do during my normal days.  What this exercise is doing for me, it is making me focus on my gifts to acknowledge that what I give is a gift.  It is also teaching me gift giving boundaries.

GiftFlowersThe book mentions that the Universe will provide and you will start receiving during this process.  I can happily say that I have been receiving in weird and wonderful ways.  Gifts of advice from others have popped into my life.  We received a free dumping fee at the waste disposal depot since they forgot to weigh us at the initial weighing station (should have just said it was a free dump which I happily yelled during the fact, “We got a free dump!”).  I was gifted a free plant at my favorite garden nursery.  I also am realizing how much giving my friends and family naturally do too. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the month.  I am half way through this round.

What this all comes down to, after giving myself to the arts my entire life, maybe I need to focus on the arts giving back to me and take time to recharge through my own artistic goals and plans as well as partaking in arts events without any work objective.

I sometimes write about how we get hung up on the negatives and forget how lucky we are to have all the positives in our lives.  One post in particular comes to mind about losing and gaining our passion.  We can all stand to enjoy ourselves more and focus on the positives in our lives by stepping back and giving ourselves time to recharge, rethink and to find our current passions.

The one decision I have confirmed is I no longer want to be a consultant in the same sense as before.  This means that ADS will be different or replaced by another business, job, or path.  As I mentioned to Ron in my conversation, I will always be an advocate for the arts, but I now know that I have to be more of an advocate for myself.

Time off will continue with spotty posts for a little while longer.  I’m allowing everything to unfold in due time.  Thanks for listening, and I know you, dear reader, are a gift as well.


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Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development