This is Response #1 in a series of posts for Three Principles practitioners who have been asking about working with organizations- business, nonprofits, schools, development agencies.

First things first-

We are all colleagues and co-learners in this. Whatever story we might tell ourselves or whomever we might compare ourselves to, the truth is, we each come equally equipped with the same kit.

This is just a watercooler

for us all to share gossip and findings

as we learn to access and express this universal resource.

Oh, and:

Let me preface this whole thing by providing some context about the purpose and objectives of this post.

The aim of this is for you to see how ordinary and varied this practice of “getting business” is.  Ordinary* because it has rarely looked like a big gung-ho exercise, instead it has been simple little things done as they occurred to me. Varied because every single one of the Principles projects I have done has been different in every single detail from approach  to documentation and programming.

The Walkthrough below is ONE example. It’s not A WAY, it’s an example. 

*This is why I’m including details, screenshots and the works- so you can see it’s not rocket science. It’s simple things you do every week- a conversation, an email, a coffee date…

Insecurity makes us make things seem a bigger deal than they are.

My Opinion

When you hear what others are doing and you’re curious, ask;

When you’re inspired, that’s great too.

But remember the key thing you must do- look INside.

Listen to YOU the same way you listen to clients when you do your best work. Ultimately whether you get a particular piece of business or not is irrelevant.

Learning to look inward not outward

for direction and clarity

is your #1 USP in the long run.


Project Walkthrough #1

It began with a conversation

Like the vast majority of my programs, this began with a conversation over coffee.

I routinely meet people who I think are up to interesting things…people whose work I’m curious about. I’ll usually ask them to join me for a meal/coffee/beers and ask them about their work, insights they’ve had about their industry etc. Mostly it’s just a chance for both of us to connect and hear more about things of common interest.

Somewhere in the conversation we started to talk about what at the time was a big national political issue in Nepal. Turned out we had some common themes we were concerned about. He mentioned his work with a handful of young people who are in the pipeline to be industry leaders for their sector and we began to talk about the internal skills of leadership- resilience, ability to bring people together, capacity to think and act in service of the whole etc.

All in all, we had an engaging, exciting, inspiring conversation.


Next Steps

Sometime in that week, I thought of a corporate program I was running at the time (on Leadership) which we had discussed during our coffee meet. “A modified version of that would be a perfect fit for this group! A young people’s version of my corporate program called TRAILBLAZERS.” So I emailed him.

Screenshot 1

Mahima Shrestha Trailblazers

That’s it. Exactly what came to mind. No bells and whistles, no program to sell. I just wrote what had occurred to me- that it would be cool to explore the possibility of a youth Trailblazers program.

His response came- let’s discuss this is person.

We fixed a date, met, talked, decide to do it.


Idea to Program

Over the course of the next few weeks, I visited their office, met the staff and the young people on their program. Just chatting, hearing more about them etc.

Then I wrote a 1-pager on program format and modules and a sheet with financials and sent it across. This was followed by a string of meetings and approvals from higher ups none of which was dramatic or high pressure. Just conversations of the everyday business bread and butter variety.

A month later we began the program. It was a mix of group, pairs and one-to-ones. Here’s two more screenshots from the final document titled “Skills for Young Leaders”




Major reminder:

I was making this up as I went based on conversations with the team and insights I had as I interacted with them and thought about the program.

As I ran the program, I had more insights and learnings which then made my next programs better.


Postscript: No Template

This is just one example. Other programs have started with a chance meeting at a party, a new acquaintance from a recent conference, a recommendation from a client or friend, a public debate on education policy. Sometimes I asked for an appointment, sometimes I asked a common friend for an introduction, other times I made a video.

…wherever my eyes and ears are, there are opportunities for engagement and conversation! 

Similarly, in terms of proposals and documentation, some have been elaborate and some brief, some very formal in language/tone and others conversational. Program delivery, same thing: some programs stayed exactly as detailed in the proposal; others changed and evolved as we went.

So there wasn’t a template I was following, I was listening and observing what their world looked like and making my communication and program appropriate and relevant to them. 

There have also been conversations which were engaging and fun and haven’t resulted in a program. Getting Principles projects is not the only goal of life 🙂

I hope this will encourage you to go your own way

and show you for.real.

we are all just engaging, proposing and serving as it occurs to us.

There is no magic formula.

Presence of Mind is our greatest ally.


PS This post is an experiment 🙂 If it’s helpful, I’ll do more. Let me know in the comments below. Direct the conversation. 


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