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UPDATE: We wrote this email before the assault on the U.S. Capitol and its democracy, so a pre-amble seemed in order. In addition to the six suggestions for starting off the new year right that follow, we offer one more:

Stay positive. Democracy still stands and the truth still prevails, albeit with far more struggle than we might wish. If anything, what happened yesterday is an unfortunate reminder that neither democracy nor the truth can exist on their own unprotected. Stay positive by committing to standing up for the truth and pushing back on hearsay. We will not only survive, but together we will thrive.

Starting the new year right is probably more important this year than ever before. After all, 2020 was one of the most annus horribiles of the last century, and its aftermath continues to make its presence known. Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to push the reset button and embrace the new year. Here are some ideas for starting 2021 off with renewed focus and clarity.

Faded focus has real costs, such as inefficiencies, lost opportunities, under-met needs, and misunderstandings

Reaffirm your purpose. When change is as constant and intense as it has been, it’s easy for any organization to lose its focus and muddle its message. That has real costs, such as inefficiencies, lost opportunities, under-met needs, and misunderstandings that can damage even the strongest working relationships. Take a minute to reassess what you do best relative to what’s needed most and reaffirm your focus on it. For example, you may have taken on meeting a need that someone else is already addressing. If it’s not your core competency, move it off your plate and onto theirs.

Messaging on a Mission launches Today!

Today is the day!

Today our podcast, Messaging on a Mission, launches! As our first guest, we’re thrilled to have Grace Moreno, executive director of the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce. When Grace was recruited to lead and create the Chamber, the group’s messaging was anything but clear. In the inaugural episode of Messaging on a Mission, we hear about the Chamber’s journey from possibility to powerhouse.

We have three more episodes in the works, covering topics like employee communications, launching an environmental social enterprise, and updating your messaging strategy on the fly to address changing needs and changing audiences!

If you like Messaging on a Mission, please remember to rate it, leave a review, and subscribe!


In this recurring feature of Focal Point, we profile people and organizations on a mission! If you have someone to suggest, let us know!

More than 1.7 billion people around the world are unbanked and can’t access the financial services they need. Kiva is an international nonprofit, founded in 2005 in San Francisco, with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive.

Kiva crowdfunds loans to unlock capital for the underserved, improving the quality and cost of financial services, and addressing the underlying barriers to financial access around the world. Through Kiva’s work, students can pay for tuition, women can start businesses, farmers are able to invest in equipment and families can afford needed emergency care.

Focal Pointing

Focal Pointing shares some of the books, podcasts, and emails that are helping us learn, create, and grow.

Have one to share? Please do!

Ashoka, living encyclopedia of social innovation

Impact Boom

Under Currents by Steve Davis

Well Said

“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are an excellent leader.”

—Dolly Parton

Born this month in 1946, Dolly Parton is an American singer, songwriter, actress, author, and businesswoman. Known primarily for her work in country music and other forms of entertainment, she is also a humanitarian and the driving force behind a number of mission-driven organizations and movements. For example, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has mailed more than 150 million books to children around the world.

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