Team Tom Wheeler

Advancement Dec 19, 2013 Team Tom Wheeler

Julie Anstine, senior director of donor experience, writes about the group that came together to promote an alum's newsworthy visit to Ohio State.

It started something like this:

This process for managing project requests sounds great, but how do we deal with the urgent things that just hit us? Like the Tom Wheeler thing, for example.

The what? Who is Tom Wheeler?

Tom Wheeler, newly appointed chairman of the FCC, Ohio State alum and supporter. Apparently he wants to come to Ohio State on December 2 and it could be BIG.

I have been trying to keep it simple as we think about the experiences we provide to our donors, alumni and friends: we should delight them.

Visit for what? Wait, when? December 2?!?! (Silence for mental calculations of the number of business days between November 12 and December 2, with Thanksgiving and the Michigan game in between.)

Our newly appointed federal official determined the best place to deliver his first major policy address as chairman of the FCC was his alma mater, and while he was here he wanted to connect--most importantly with students.

Step one - The goal: maximize this visit for Tom Wheeler and for Ohio State.

Step two: Identify who might have an interest, know something about Tom Wheeler, and/or help figure this out… Government Affairs, FCOB, Glenn School, prospect manager, University Communications, Student Life, Alumni Association, Advancement Events…

Step three: Convene whoever can show up or call-in, share the key facts we have (Wheeler, December 2, policy address, students, maximize!) and throw it on the table for discussion. And away we go.

By the end of the first meeting we had gathered some additional information about Tom – his interests, connections and engagement with Ohio State – and outlined our ideal “Day with Tom Wheeler” (nine business days at this point, including the Wednesday before Thanksgiving).

Tom Wheeler

Over the course of our planning and implementation of Tom’s visit, I was reminded that some of the best collaboration happens organically, as conversations evolve, additional partners join the team, and people get clear about their interests and take ownership of their pieces of the puzzle.

We pushed ahead with the information we had. Chairman Wheeler’s staff entered the conversation and we learned more about his interests. We held conference calls for any of the team available, and most joined. Plans changed, the team adjusted, more change, more communicating and adjusting…right up through Thanksgiving.

In my new role, I have been trying to keep it simple as we think about the experiences we provide to our donors, alumni and friends: we should delight them. We must get some small things just right, and show our good friends that we know them and care about them. We all have to own the experiences we create for our donors, alumni and friends.

December 2 was designed to be the best possible for Mr. Wheeler, and it was a great day for Ohio State. The policy address and conversation was streamed live to a national audience and the auditorium was full of nearly 200 students, faculty, alumni, donors, local broadcasters and industry leaders, along with some of Chairman Wheeler’s closest friends, fraternity brothers and mentors. He connected with them and many others during the reception. The New York Times and The Washington Post covered the address given at Ohio State. I heard Mr. Wheeler has already talked of coming back to visit us again.

Tom Wheeler

In one of his Monday messages, Mike Eicher encouraged us to “trust the team.” In planning for Tom Wheeler’s visit, we did and it paid off. We had a common goal, and a time constraint that helped us stay focused. The only way to achieve a full and fruitful day was to make it happen together. While we each had different perspectives and specific interests, we all ultimately wanted to make it a successful visit for our friend. We depended on each other and everyone involved did their part. Together, we exceeded expectations.

What’s next? Planning to make the most of a bowl trip…welcoming a new president…what in your work lends itself to a team game?

About the author

Julie Anstine -
Senior director of donor experience
Julie Anstine

Julie leads Ohio State's central donor relations and advancement events teams, and partners with others to deliver exceptional experiences for our donors, alumni and friends. She previously managed the president's office.

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