[Podcast] Adam Walker: What Makes a Great Nonprofit Website?
Most nonprofit organizations understand that a website is a key communication tool that helps them state their mission, share their successes, and keep their donors up to date. A nonprofit website is also a central tool for growing the donor base. That’s why it’s not enough to just check the box: “Yeah, we have a website.” To be the most successful in the digital age, nonprofits need to strive to develop a great website.
In this episode of our podcast, we connected with Adam Walker. He’s co-owner at Sideways8, a web design company that helps nonprofits develop websites to reach the right people, increase donations and membership, and ultimately make a bigger impact on the world.
When it comes to designing websites for nonprofit organizations, Adam is the one to talk to. So we did.
You can follow Adam on Twitter at @AJWalker and read his personal blog at AdamJWalker.com. Want to see something really cool? Check out 48 in 48, in which Adam and his team host events to build 48 nonprofit websites in 48 hours—for free.
Don’t have time to listen to the whole podcast? Here’s the TLDR:
5 Things that make a great nonprofit website:
- Validation: A website helps your potential donors understand what you do, and if you’re not a big nonprofit brand, it helps validate that what you’re doing is legit.
- Mission: Your mission is fundamentally why anyone will ever support your nonprofit. A great website communicates your mission to the public.
- Mobile-Friendly: Your donors are using their mobile phones to visit your website. If it isn’t mobile friendly, you’ll miss out on important engagement. This is a must have.
- Speed: Your site load speed needs to be up to snuff. If it’s not, your users won’t wait for it to load. And guess what? Neither will Google: site speed plays into your ability to rank in search.
- Story: Bottom line, your website needs to tell your story. And it needs to do that well.
Looking to learn more about nonprofit website best practices? Check out our post, 4 Keys to a High-Performing Giving Web Page.
Full Video Transcript:
David Cady: Hey everybody, welcome to the Modern Nonprofit Fundraiser. My name is David Cady, I’ll be your host for today. We have our special guest with us, Adam Walker. Having a lot of questions here with Adam to give some background on himself, talk about just the state of fundraising, more about what nonprofits can be doing, especially as we enter into 2019, thinking about this first year. So welcome, Adam. Thanks for hopping on today.
Adam Walker: Yeah, thanks for having me on the show, this is gonna be fun.
DC: Yes, we’re gonna keep it fun. We wanna make sure to get a lot of good information about not only yourself, but just your expertise. So why don’t we start, just tell me a little bit about yourself, and then a little bit about what you do.
AW: Oh man, let’s see, I always start my bios with husband and father of five, ’cause that probably defines me more than anything else. And aside from that, I’m also the co-founder of Sideways 8, we’re a digital marketing agency that focuses on work with a lot of larger national nonprofits. And I’m also the co-founder of 48in48, which is a nonprofit itself that hosts events to build websites for nonprofits. So we do events to build 48 nonprofit websites in 48 hours and in 2019, planning to do about 10 events.
DC: That’s great, and we’re excited to talk more about 48in48, it’s a great opportunity, especially for our listeners, to think about how they can be involved, but I’d love to hear, just how in the world did you get to be where you are today, why nonprofits, why a digital agency, what kind of sparked all of that?
AW: Accident? Providence? Depends on how you wanna look at it I suppose. So, the very very long story short, I met my current business partner, co-founder of Sideways 8, when we were actually both on staff at a church, so we both kind of have a church work background. Because church work does not exactly pay a ton of money, at the lower rungs anyway. We were always doing side projects, and one side project led to more side projects led to more side projects and the short version is that it eventually became an actual business that became an actual company.
And then once we were a company, we’re looking around, realizing, you know we really should focus on a specific industry, what industry do we know the most about, where do we want to spend our time helping people and nonprofits is a great place to spend time. Being able to help people that are helping people is rewarding in and of itself, and we have a lot of expertise in it because we’ve been there, we’ve done that, we’ve been in them, we’ve run them, the whole deal. And so it just kinda made sense to sort of go for it.
And on the 48in48 side, sort of similar story. I became very good friends with a guy named Jeff Hilimire, and he had helped, he’d run a bunch of big agencies and had this idea for how to help non-profits, he approached me with the idea and said hey, could we build five websites in a weekend, ’cause he knew I was the website guy, right? Yeah, we can build five websites. And okay, how about 10, 20, 30, 40, he got to 50, I was like, all right, we can build 50 but we gotta stop there, like that’s gotta be the cap. He said let’s just back it off, let’s do 48 in 48.
And so I was like yeah, I’ll help you do it, we’ll figure it out. And I kind of assumed I was the first volunteer and then we had our first meeting about it and Jeff introduced me as his co-founder. So it’s like, I got upgraded that first meeting, and so ever since, I’ve been moving that ball forward as well.
So we started that nonprofit in 2015, and are entering into, I guess our fourth year now, so we started with one event in Atlanta, then we expanded to two events and then I think four, six and ten or something like that. So, we’re growing fast. Our goal for 48in48 is by 2025, to host 48 events simultaneously in one weekend across the world, each event building 48 nonprofit websites in 48 hours.
DC: Well that’s great. Since we’re on the topic, tell me a little bit more about 48in48, what is it, how did this get started and then, where can people find more info about it, even get involved?
AW: Well I’ll start with the more info, so the more info is 48in48.org, that’s 4-8-i-n-4-8 dot org, and the bottom line for all listeners is, we build free marketing websites for nonprofits, so if you are a nonprofit or you know a nonprofit that needs a website, which I think a large majority do, we’d love to have you sign up, because we always need more nonprofits to sign up to be a part of our events.
Like I mentioned before, 48in48 got started with me and Jeff really just trying to gather our friends in Atlanta together to see, can we bring enough people together, can we build the systems to build 48 websites in 48 hours. And that first weekend that we did it, we weren’t sure we could do it.
We’re getting together to try something new that’s bold and innovative, and we were able to pull it off and at the end of the event, all the volunteers were like, great, now are we doing this again next year? And Jeff and I kind of look at each other and go, yeah, we’re doing this again next year! Sure! And then the question was, okay if we can do this in Atlanta with our friends, can we do this in another city where we don’t know people, where we don’t have friends, or don’t have a lot of friends.
And so we figured we’d try out in New York City, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, as the saying goes. And sure enough, we could make it. We were able to build 48 websites in 48 hours there as well, and then the ball just keeps rolling and getting a momentum, just continued to build and build and build.
And we’ve got great sponsors, Delta has been a great sponsor, State Farm, a lot of other really amazing sponsors along the way that have helped us to grow and give us the confidence we need to sort of continue to expand nationally. And then internationally, we did our first international event last year in London, as a matter of fact.
DC: Wow, that’s great. Well, I mean, the big part is it’s fun, and you guys are making it something that seems like, everyone has to have a website right, it’s part of just the normal, how we gotta run organizations, but being able to kind of shine a light on it, make it a big fun event, you guys are doing a great job there.
AW: Right, and our goal in it too. Like you mentioned it’s a fun event, our goal is to engage professional marketers to use their skills for good. And so, it’s great because we get to do really two things in a 48in48 event. The first thing we get to do is we get to engage professional marketers sorta using their skills for good and what’s amazing about that is these are really valuable skills that have a very high billable hourly rate that they’re now using for free to help nonprofits. So we’re able to get them to use that and then we’re also able to help nonprofits look better so that they can do more good in the world.
DC: That’s a good point, too. When you guys are spending a lot of time and energy making this event a success, but you know, kind of begs the question of why is it important for a nonprofit to have a website and a good website at that? Like why spend the time doing this, what do you see as the big payoff for nonprofits?
AW: Validity is really the big payoff for nonprofits. I mean, most of the world looks at marketing materials, we look at websites, we look at these things and it’s a validation tool to determine if a nonprofit is legit, and if we want to give them our trust and by trust, I mean, do we wanna give them our time, do we wanna give them our money, do we wanna give them our resources. And we’re not gonna give our resources to a nonprofit that we don’t trust, that we don’t have faith in.
And so what good marketing does and specifically a good website does is it allows us to build that trust, build that faith, it’s that validation tool so that people can look at it and go, oh, I understand the mission, I see these are real people, they’re doing real things. I wanna be a part of it, now let me sign up to be a part of it. Or let me give to be a part of it.
And so, we’re hoping to, or we are, I should say, increase the engagement with volunteers and with donors through better websites. That’s kind of the core, bedrock of why every nonprofit needs a solid website. There’s a whole lot more to that, of course. It gets much more complicated and nuanced and all that sort of stuff along the way, but the bottom line is it’s a validation tool.
DC: Yeah. So, you brought up the point of, having a better website. What in your opinion, you’ve seen lot of organizations, lots of websites, good bad and in between. What in your opinion makes a good website?
Nonprofit website best practices
AW: Well it’s gotta be mobile friendly, that’s a given. I mean, it’s rare that sites are not mobile friendly now, but if it’s not, that’s a really big red flag. So any nonprofit site that’s not mobile friendly I think that’s kind of priority one.
The next one is, it’s got to be fast. So if it loads slow, people are gonna just bounce right off of it. It’s gotta load really really fast and be streamlined.
And then it’s gotta tell the story well. I mean it’s remarkable to me how difficult it is for a lot of organizations and nonprofits in particular to tell their story. And so here are these organizations that are really doing a great deal of good. But when you say okay, tell me what you do, they really have trouble getting to the core of what they do and stating it in a very simple way.
And so, part of what we do at 48in48 is we help them walk through a process where we get them to tell us what they do and simplify and simplify and simplify until it’s one sentence. And that sentence then guides the rest of the building of that website. And so, ideally a good website is gonna help them to explain what they do in a simple and understandable way so that people can then get on board.
Because the worst thing you can do is be interested in a nonprofit and go to their website and then just be completely lost as to what they do and why you’re there and then you get frustrated and ten seconds later you’re off to Google, doing something else.
DC: Yeah. You know it’s interesting too, you talk about the story being simple. Are there some things that nonprofits especially should be considerate of with their website versus for profits or an informational site or e-commerce site. What makes a nonprofit website different and what are some things that they should be thinking about specifically for that group?
AW: You know I’m a big fan of the Simon Sinek talk, Start With Why. I think that probably applies to every organization to some degree. But it applies to nonprofits probably more than anyone else, right? I mean they’re in business for the why. And so, for nonprofits that sort of start their websites with here’s the list of services, that’s probably a miss, right.
We need to always start with why are you doing what you’re doing and use that why to connect to the hearts of the people that are visiting the site. And then from there you can take them on the journey of the how or the what or whatever else that happens to be. But you’ve gotta really always start with that very primal motivating why to really connect with people at a deeper level and then draw them deeper into the site.
DC: You know, it’s a great point too, what do you think about, should the website be there to facilitate fundraising more, should it facilitate a story, should it be about the donor, have you seen anyone maybe or maybe in your experience, how do you even view the website in terms of fundraising, does it exist for donations or what else should it exist for?
AW: I mean that’s a tough question, just because I think every nonprofit is a little bit different. I think there’s always a fundraising component to a website or at least should be a fundraising component to a website, because you know, I mean for me. I’ll be selfish in my own anecdotal experience, but when there is a nonprofit that I wanna support, let’s say I wanna give them some money, I mean the first thing I’m gonna do is Google them. And that’s gonna take me to a website and then I need information on that website on how to give.
And so, I think that, to me that’s the most obviously thing that we wanna make sure we emphasize on a site. And it could be that maybe it’s an organization that’s very volunteer driven so that needs to be the first level of emphasis and maybe donations is a secondary call to action. By call to action I mean an action you want the user to take when they’re on your website, so maybe the primary one is hey, volunteer today! And the secondary one is, oh and give some money! And that’s fine.
But I think every good nonprofit website should have some kind of donation component. Unless for some reason they just do not in any way care about donations, which may be the case with some nonprofits but none that I’m aware of anyway.
How is digital technology changing, and how is it affecting nonprofits?
DC: Yeah. I’m curious to see with the rate of change, how quick technology changes today, how it’s being used, new ideas are coming out. How have you seen kind of your world change with the world of nonprofit websites and fundraising since you started? What are some of those big trends you’ve seen?
AW: Well you know, they’re getting, so websites are getting easier to manage and maintain which I think is great. So, for example, all of the sites that we build either at 48in48 or with Sideways 8, we build with the nonprofit user in mind so they can manage and edit their own website so they’re not held hostage to some web developer, right? So that’s probably the best thing that’s happened is that you can produce these high quality, very amazing, graphically designed websites that are then easy for the nonprofits to manage and maintain for a long period of time. So that’s pretty great.
The other thing is I’m loving the strides that we’re seeing in some of the technology around giving. A great example is like for me, when I’m interested in giving to a nonprofit, I like the option to give on a recurring basis tied to a credit card, which you know, ten years ago would’ve never been on anybody’s radar. Like why would you ever do that?
But in my mind, that’s an easy way to support a nonprofit that I like a lot. And it’s a way for me to do it where I can set it up once and then I don’t have to worry about it long term. Or, you know, being able to give from my phone, I mean again, something that we wouldn’t have thought about ten years ago. But the ability to give quickly and easily from my phone is just a huge advantage for nonprofits now.
So I think just the ease of giving through the different platforms and mechanisms is really fantastic.
DC: Yeah so one interesting question that I actually have been hearing more about as we enter 2019. We talked about hey, it was weird to pay on a credit card ten years ago, especially recurring but now that’s commonplace. Where do you see cryptocurrency falling into this? Should websites be thinking about how to make it easy to accept cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Is that something that’s on your radar?
AW: So interestingly and I don’t know if you knew this prior to this but I also have a technology podcast called Tech Talk Y’all and we talk about cryptocurrency quite a bit actually when it was going up and up and up in astronomical value a year ago, we talked about it a lot more. And now we sort of talk about it dying off.
It’s not gonna die off, it’s not gonna go away. Cryptocurrency is in that weird early stage where … there’s fighting to be a leader in this space, right? And so eventually there is gonna be some kind of cryptocurrency or a few that emerge as sort of the victors and then will become a pretty useful form of currency in my opinion.
So I think we’re getting closer and closer to the point where nonprofits should be able to accept cryptocurrency. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all for them to be able to accept it now. It will become critical in the future. It’s just a question of when that … we’re in that transition right now. Right now it’s a good idea, later I think it’ll be critical. At what point do you cross that threshold where it becomes critical, right? I don’t know. But we’re getting closer and closer to it every day I think.
DC: Yeah, and it’s always fun to think about the future ’cause it gets here a whole heck of a lot faster than we even realize sometimes.
AW: That’s right, yeah. I mean it wasn’t long ago that websites, it was nice if they were mobile friendly. It’s like oh, well it should probably be mobile friendly and that wasn’t that many years ago. It’s probably five years ago, like yeah I mean if you wanna add on a few bucks, we’ll build you a mobile friendly site, it’ll be great. And now it’s like, you look at a website, there’s, you can’t even dream or fathom that it would not be mobile friendly. I mean of course it’s mobile friendly, it has to be. But you know, five years ago, it’s just a nice add-on. It’s like that with Bitcoin or not Bitcoin in particular but cryptocurrency in particular.
DC: Yeah, we definitely live in a mobile first world now.
AW: Oh 100%.
DC: So, it’s 2019. World is changing pretty quick and you see that, but as you start to think about 2019, looking ahead to this year, is there any kind of word of advice or what’s your kind of word or thought for 2019 for non-profits as they start the year?
AW: … the way that I think of nonprofits in particular, and of course I think about nonprofit marketing more than anything so I’ll answer it from a marketing perspective. And I should also mention in have a nonprofit marketing podcast, I don’t know if I mentioned that earlier either but it’s called Good People Good Marketing.
And so, one of the things I talk about a lot on that, when I’m interviewing top level nonprofit marketers is that, with marketing we can be very iterative in our approach. And what I find is that a lot of nonprofits don’t realize how easy it is to iterate and find what works and then modify and modify and modify and get better.
And so what I mean by that is, nonprofits for very little money, can let’s say, stand up a landing page with some information about their nonprofit and can use Google Grants or paid ads or whatever they want to to drive traffic to that landing page and then they can spend very little money to drive traffic and then make minor tweaks along the way to see what works in terms of gaining followers or funders or volunteers or whatever, and really get a lot of bang for that buck if they’re willing to iterate on that thing over and over and over again to make it better and better.
So, I think my advice to all nonprofits in 2019 is sort of, be ready to try new things and to iterate on those things, so don’t just try something and then scrap it because it didn’t work. Instead, try it and then when it doesn’t work, because it never works the first time, of course. So try it and then iterate and change it and see if it works then and then tweak it and see if it works then and tweak it again and again and again and again and again until it finally begins to work for you and then it’ll work better than you ever could’ve imagined.
DC: Yeah, well, and I love that you’re talking about tweaking, optimizing. It’s one of the things too that we’re really passionate about is test and optimize everything, right? If there was a silver bullet that existed, everyone would be using it. So, how do you even, maybe just simple ways, what would you give as advice for folks to start testing. How do you even approach that? Is there a best medium to start with? You know, you test in your direct mail, your email, your website. What are some simple ways that you’ve found to say hey, this is a great way to test and optimize to make some simple tweaks?
AW: Well, I mean, so from a marketing perspective I’ll give you a couple of ideas. The first is it’s usually really easy to test emails, email newsletters. So I would start with testing subject lines and a lot of, I’d say most of the best email newsletter companies will have an AB testing option for that and so you can say test one. You can say you have a list of 1000, it’ll send 500 one email with one subject line and 500 an email with a different subject line and begin seeing which one gets you the most opens and the most engagement. Yeah, that’s a pretty easy test to begin with.
Another one would be thinking about some types of A/B testing on your website itself. Optimizely.com is a really good platform to use for this. It’s pretty cheap, I think it’s like 50 bucks a month or something like that. It’s pretty easy to set up. And then you can do neat little things where you say okay, on the homepage for the donate button, I want, for 50% of the time I want it to be red and for 50% of the time I want it to be green and then you can see which one actually gets the most engagement. And then you can change it to that permanently. And so I mean it’s just a really easy way to begin to see small improvements but if you think about it, small improvements over thousands of visits can make a huge difference in your marketing.
And so I think those are two really ways to get started.
DC: Yeah, no that’s great. And even just, as you mentioned, those small changes right now the road, every time a donor comes to your website or anyone’s looking for more information they’re making lots of little choices, right? Do I click here, do I go to the next page, do I click to advance, do I give a donation? And lots of ways to think about that journey, so that’s great.
AW: Exactly. And the more we can tweak and learn, the better we can be.
DC: Absolutely. So what do you, there are obviously lots of individual ways that organizations can tweak and every organization is unique. Every donor base they have is very unique, but what do you kind of see as maybe some large trends that people should be aware of entering 2019 as you kind of look at the state of fundraising, of nonprofit marketing into 2019. What do you kind of see coming into the horizon in 2019.
AW: Well, I see a lot of nonprofits that are working hard on audience segmentation, so you know, that’s saying okay, I’ve got a newsletter of a thousand people and instead of sending out the exact same thing to all thousand people, they break down those thousand people into say groups of 200 with specific interests and so maybe one of the groups is very interested about volunteer opportunities maybe another group is very interested about community engagement.
Another group’s very interested about fundraising. And they begin to send more specified and customized newsletters to each segment. And that increases the engagement for each segment in the group overall.
So, I’m seeing, as I’m talking to marketers I’m seeing a lot of that happening. I think one of the other things to look out for in 2019 is gonna be just, better analytics all around. What’s interesting about analytics is that we get these numbers and we don’t really know what they mean and we get numbers from Facebook and then we get different numbers from Google and then different numbers from LinkedIn.
There’s all these analytics just everywhere and eventually a platform’s gonna emerge that’s gonna help tie all those together and really help us to understand how they all interact and work together. I have yet to see that platform yet. I wish I could create it, ’cause I think there’s a big market there. But I think it will be coming to the nonprofit space or the smaller business even space in the relatively near future. Possibly in 2019, we’ll find out.
DC: Yeah. You know you mentioned segmentation and starting to look at your audience, how would you even instruct people to start that process, how do you think about segmenting, not even donors but just anyone who’s engaged with you. What tools or strategies do you talk though to help people think about starting that segmentation?
AW: Well I think you have to look at how you attain that person’s contact information to begin with. And so somebody that comes to your website and signs up for a newsletter has sort of a very general interest about your organization versus somebody that comes to your website and signs up to be a volunteer, but then somebody that comes to your website and signs up as a donor has a completely different association, a completely different sort of view of your organization.
And so, when we begin to talk to all three of those parties exactly the same way, we really lose a lot of effectiveness. And so what I think nonprofits should do say okay, well … who signed up this way? Who signed up through this path? What are the different paths that people signed up through and then try to understand what was motivating them when they signed up through that path. And the volunteers, obviously what was motivating them was doing good in the world through volunteerism. The donors, they wanna do good in the world through the use of their funds and their money.
And so, you have to begin engaging people on that level. Instead of just sort of engaging them at a generic level. So I think yeah, I think just looking at the paths they used to come into the system is really important. And then from there you can begin to kind of talk to each of them very specifically.
DC: Yeah, that’s great. So we talked about there not being such a thing as a silver bullet, but we’re gonna break our own rule and I wanna ask you a question to say, you know, if you could give or you know nonprofits to say, hey here’s one thing that you can change about your website or your marketing strategy that we’ve seen could have a big lift or impact. Or maybe you know, even the first thing that you look at when you’re talking with the organizations. What’s one thing that you would say hey, do this, make sure you’re doing this thing?
AW: So let me answer that with a story that’ll sort of circle back to something I think I said earlier but I think it’s important to illustrate it this way. So I was, a couple years ago, I was volunteering at a large nonprofit in my hometown. And I’ve known about this nonprofit literally since I was in middle school, and I’d volunteered with them for about a year.
I was sitting in the office of the head of marketing at the time and I said okay, listen. I don’t mean to be dumb here, I don’t know what you do. Like I’m here supporting you, I’m on a volunteer committee. I’ve been involved peripherally with this organization for many years, I don’t understand what you do, walk me through it. And the head of marketing spent 10 minutes walking me through it on a board and explaining everything and at the end of it I walked out of the office and I still had no idea what they did.
And so, my recommendation is never ever ever let that happen to anyone, ever again with your nonprofit. I think the most important thing, the first thing that I look for when I look at any nonprofit’s material of any kind is that one to two sentence, I’d probably say that ten word description at the very top of their website that tells me what they do and why I should care.
And if you do not have that, if that’s not just so clear that a middle schooler can read it and fully understand what the nonprofit does and why they should care, I’d say that’s the first thing to fix, today, right now. Because it loses so many people because they just get lost in the shuffle of all the craziness on the websites.
DC: Yeah, you know and it’s true, I think we all kind of can fall to that, because when we’re working day in and day out, the organizations, we feel like hey, we know that. We know our mission. But is that properly represented on the outside, do our volunteers know that, has to be all on the same page and consistent with that. And making it simple to understand is a big piece of that. That’s great advice.
Well I think the more uniform a nonprofit can be in their messaging, and not just on their website, but on social media, to their volunteers. The more they can repeat that very simple statement about what they are about and why they’re doing it, the more it becomes ingrained in their culture, the more it becomes ingrained in their DNA and the DNA of their volunteers and the DNA of their teams. And the clearer it becomes, so that when people do wanna support that nonprofit, it’s extraordinarily clear what they’re doing and why they should support.
DC: Yep. Yep. All great words there, Adam. Curious to see, looking ahead this year, what are you excited about? What’s getting you, when you wake up in the morning, what are you thinking about, what are you excited about as you kind of look at where you’re at in the world?
AW: Man that’s a really interesting question. So, a lot of things, right? I mean I’m excited about the 48in48 events that are coming up. I’m also kind of excited about kind of my own personal networking plan for the year. And so I’m about to sit down, actually one of my plans for this week is to kind of write out what is my personal networking plan in terms of how I’m gonna grow my own network and influence in order to better serve both of the organizations that I help to lead.
And it’s interesting I mean, networking, it’s kind of always about who you know. And what I begin to realize is that I know a lot of great people that also know a lot of great people. And so, I’m always trying to figure out, now okay, how can I leverage that to do more good in the world and to grow these organizations that help to do more good in the world.
So, I’m pretty excited about that in particular, trying to think if there’s anything else. That’s the main one right now, that’s got my attention. And by the way there’s an interesting tool for that for anybody that might wanna check it out called Contactually. It’s a good like little personal CRM networking sort of tool that I use for that, it’s a pretty interesting tool.
DC: Yeah, no I love that and I love that you say that because you know, the more and more you network the more and more you talk to other people, the more you realize that people do just love to help. And sometimes we just have to ask and intentional about that, I think it’s a great thing to be thinking about as we look at 2019, but just for personal professional reasons, for anyone’s organization, just being kind, asking for help and seeking that intentionally I think is great.
AW: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, and I think people are more willing to do, people are willing to do more for us than we often realize. If we’ll just ask smart questions. You know, one of my, so I’ve got a theme for this year. I decided 2019 I was gonna give myself a theme. And so my theme is to slow down and simplify.
And so, because what I realize is in this age of very quick communication and text messages back and forth and really communication is very hard and it’s very complex and we take it too lightly.
And so I’m trying to slow down and really look at myself, look at my people, look at my friends and just, who do I need to connect with, who is important for me to connect with, for themselves or for their benefit or for mine. And then you know, what do their networks look like? And how can I connect with them? And how can I interact with these people? And I wanna be very thoughtful about that rather than quick about it. I think that’s the difference. I’m trying to slow down and be thoughtful.
DC: Yeah and I think having that mindset of it is about how I can help as well, right, kind of just for the greater good, and making that a very like you said intentional thing, a human thing. It goes a long way.
DC: So we’re gonna see some kinda fun questions now, grab bag stuff, just to get you on your toes.
AW: All right, all right.
DC: All right, first one here. Room, desk, or car? Which of these would you clean first? Think about your office desk, your work desk, your room or your car, what do you clean first? What do you keep clean?
AW: Well I would love to say that I keep all of them clean but I’m not sure that’s actually true, I’m gonna go with desk, because desk is where I’m gonna spend my time and being productive. I need cleanliness to be productive, though it does at times become a mess. But I’m gonna go with desk.
DC: All right yeah. We won’t read into anything but desk is the answer. I love it. So if you could be any other profession other than what you’re doing now, anything that you could do, what would you like to attempt?
AW: Oh man. I would love to have a startup company with a product. You know right now I’m a, so I run kind of two service based companies. I mean, Sideways 8 is a digital agency, it’s very service based, 48in48 is very service based in terms of events. I’d love to actually create a product, digital or otherwise and then grow it and mature it and whatever else, I’m very interested in products right now. Though I have not come up with one that I think is worthwhile at all, so maybe one day.
DC: Yep. Why products specifically now? Curious, what?
AW: I love the idea, I mean it’s kind of an iterative thing, right? Like with a product you create something and there becomes a demand for it, but then you get to just make it better and better and better and better and learn from it and learn from the users and I love that idea of this kind of one thing that just continues to evolve and become better and better and better over time. And ideally you know for me it would be some kind of product that helps people or helps them be productive or manage their time better. I don’t know, something like that.
I love the concept of that, like pouring all of my attention into this thing that I can continually look at and just make better. Because right now I’ve got like a million projects and I know with product you still have a million projects but it’s a million projects surrounding one central project. I really like the idea of that.
DC: Yeah, always fun to see what you start with and then where you end up and then the path that leads you there and generally unexpected a lot of times.
AW: That’s right, yeah. Very unexpected. I mean some of the best products that I’ve seen have, like they didn’t start there. They started with one product and they had to shift to a whole different product and now that’s incredibly successful and that’s great, you know, I’d be happy to do that too. But it’s an interesting learning process, I think.
DC: Yeah and I think it’s good advice too just for all of our listeners or for anyone, right? We start with an idea, right, we start with a concept and I think being open to learning, changing, getting feedback and constantly iterating, it changes and morphs into something that maybe is even better than we initially had thought.
AW: Oh yeah, I mean well you know, I did have a similar experience to that with 48in48, where you know, originally my intention was that every site would be completely custom designed, custom built, which would’ve just been completely impossible, right. Anybody that knows web development would know that 48 sites custom designed and custom built over a weekend is just complete insanity.
And so, instead we ended up doing it in a more templated sort of fashion, which still has worked out great, ’cause they’re highly customizable. But I had to be willing to listen to feedback from people that were really smart and shift that process or we never would’ve made 48 the first year and then we’d never be doing what we’re doing now because of that. So, you have to be ready to listen to reason and shift what we’re doing based on that. Even if it’s a fundamental type thing.
DC: Yeah and just seeing 48in48 grow and the impact it’s having, right. That’s due to the fact that you guys are able to shift and be open to feedback.
AW: Exactly. And we’re still doing that, we’re still learning, we’re still growing, still trying to make improvements and do things better.
DC: Awesome. So, last question. What is your favorite word? Word of the year or your favorite word?
AW: Man! Yeah, I mean, I guess I gotta go with the word of the year, and I guess I’d go with slow and I say that just because I’m a bit of a productivity junkie, which means that I’m always moving maybe a hair too fast, and I’m realizing that that can often make me move past people more quickly than I should and I wanna slow down, I wanna value the people that are in my life, I wanna give them my full attention instead of being on a call and taking notes somewhere else about something else or checking emails.
You know, whatever other million things I’m wanting to do. I wanna slow down. I guess, I gotta go with slow on that one.
DC: Love it. So, Adam, that’s it for today. I’d love for you, though, to let people know how they can get a hold of you. And any other info, websites as well, for folks to check you out.
AW: Yeah, I’m gonna hit you with a whole bunch of information here. The first is I do have a blog. My blog is AdamJWalker.com On that blog you can link to my podcasts, I’ll just give you that, that will give you the podcasts. But on the blog I do talk about leadership, productivity, the craziness of having five kids, which I do, and all kinds of other crazy things. I did my most recent post I think was about my theme for the year and why it’s my theme and what I wanna do with that so.
The other links I’ll give you is Sideways 8, that’s my digital agency. And 48in48, if you are a part of or know or have a friend or even have a Facebook account or a Twitter account and think that there may be a nonprofit person on there, I would love for you to post about 48in48, because we need nonprofits to sign up all the time. We’re always running short on nonprofits that we can help, surprisingly, and we need more to sign up, so 48in48.org, 4-8-I-n-4-8 dot org. And we’d love to have people sign up there.
DC: That’s great.
AW: Also on Twitter, @AJWalker on Twitter. Sorry, I’ll say that. That’s it.
DC: So for all who didn’t hear, 48in48, we need more folks to sign up. Definitely get involved in that. So Adam thank you so much for coming on today. Really appreciate your insights. Thank you guys for listening, and we’ll catch you on the next episode. Thanks everybody!