what’s he up to now?!

Present and Recent Projects and What I’m Learning from Them

I just finished a big project for a Christian foundation that is looking into making some big moves. They commissioned me to write a research report on “moonshots” – enormously-ambitious goals, to help guide their thinking, understanding, and planning. Most people think the term “moonshot” comes from President Kennedy and the goal to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade, which happened, and which was maybe the greatest achievement in the history of human exploration. In fact, it was a baseball term before that. If you’re an informed fan, you know.

A lot of what’s written in the world today about moonshots comes from X, a company that, like Google, is a part of Alphabet. X is also known as “the moonshot factory.” It’s led by a wild genius named Astro Teller. Yes. You can’t make these things up. So X does indeed take on moonshot-sized goals, like figuring out how to generate electricity from seawater, or provide high-speed Internet to everyone on earth using big balloons. The difference between X and the rest of us is, X has pretty much unlimited money.

So my research paper, among other things, did a deep dive into some moonshot-sized goals and initiatives in the nonprofit world over the past few decades. Some of them were little more than grand slogans. Others accomplished great things. All were global in scope. My deep dive included not just a lot of online research, ordering of books, and reading, but a series of thorough, intense interviews with key players. I learned a lot.

A few things stand out. First, if you’re serious about pursuing a grand, moonshot-sized goal, it’s going to take a lot of money. Second, you’re going to need to hire a lot of people – a lot of very smart, very gifted, very exceptional people. Third, if it’s a global goal, you’ll need to set up offices in several global regions. Much more could be said, but those three items are a good starting place to separate the mere-slogan moonshots from the high-achievement ones.

That might all seem mundane, but believe me, moonshots are exciting. It takes a certain kind of leader to lead a moonshot – or even to propose one – and any leader who takes on a moonshot becomes a different person from that day forward. Also, moonshots require highly-skilled, very bright people but they also attract highly-skilled, very bright people, and draw they best from them.

Enough on that. If you want to know more, ask.

I got myself overbooked and worked in extra-hours mode most of February-March-April, which for me means working through evenings and weekends, and skipping workouts. Now that those projects are out the door I’m taking some days off to catch up on home and garden things, and then will be working on some marketing efforts.

Speaking of the garden, these are days of glory. Irises, azaleas, rhododendrons, and lilacs are all blooming like crazy in our Oregon garden. If you want to see a selection of jaw-dropping photos, find “Michael Jaffarian” on Facebook and ask to be a friend. It’s a weak wisteria year since I had to give it a tremendous pruning last fall. It was so big and heavy it was pulling down the fence. My son and I built a proper trellis for our seedless eating grape vines, which gives me a huge feeling of satisfaction. Part of the lumber for that project came from the massive reduction of our massive holly grove last December. I’ll be putting little plants into the veg beds on 10 May. Last year was a great kale year, and my first very good cucumber year. I’ve yet to get my abundant tomato year. Maybe 2021? I get tomatoes, sure, but not like my mom, who just plants the things, does nothing, and finds them packed with the juicy red orbs.

love, joy, peace … Michael

www.michaeljaffarian.com. Michael is a freelance consultant to nonprofits, with an emphasis on research. Contact him for a free, one-hour consultation. emichaeljaffarian@gmail.com.

Vol. 1 No. 20