So often in development or advancement meetings, whether with staff or volunteers, we spend so much time outlining the optimum cultivation strategy with the perfect moves involving just the right committee members. Our Herculean efforts sometimes have the feeling of pushing the stars to align them according to our will. We think through every word that should be said, all the right collateral and even the order of speakers. Hours and days are used to “operationalize” our masterfully designed strategy. So often, progress is slowed by weeks and even months as elements of our strategy push out of alignment and we have to stop for a proper adjustment to the plan. Perhaps, a mantra that could help us to be more effective, efficient and relational is – “Every call and every visit is a learning experience.” More important than any staged cultivation is a genuine conversation with prospects about what they value, what they know, what engages their hearts and minds and what we are attempting to accomplish as an institution. If this is true, then with every visit or every call, we do indeed learn how to better state our case, further engage our prospective donors and make the best possible ask. So the next time your strategy is holding you up too long, think, “Every call and every visit is a learning opportunity!” Then, just pick up the phone and set that next meeting.