Nonprofit Radio for June 19, 2020: WOC & Life And Career Lessons

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My Guests:

Yolanda F. Johnson: WOC
Women Of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy is a new online community. Founder Yolanda F. Johnson returns to explain what it’s all about.




Alex Counts: Life And Career Lessons
Alex Counts has over 30 years in social entrepreneurship. He returns with his latest book, “When In Doubt Ask for More: And 213 Other Life & Career Lessons for the Mission-Driven Leader.”





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[00:00:11.34] spk_1:
Hello and welcome to tony-martignetti non profit radio big non profit

[00:01:30.09] spk_2:
ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host. Oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’ve suffered the effects of obliterating and daughter rightness if you inflame to me with the idea that you missed Today’s show woke W O C. Women of color in Fundraising and Philanthropy is a new online community. Founder Yolanda Johnson returns to explain what it’s all about and life and career lessons Alex Counts has over 30 years in social entrepreneurship. He returns with his latest book, Winning Doubt, Ask for More and 213 Other Life and career lessons for the mission driven Leader on tony Steak, too. Start the racism conversation were sponsored by wegner-C.P.As Guiding you beyond the numbers. Wegner-C.P.As dot com by Cougar Mountain Software Denali Fund. Is there complete accounting solution made for non profits tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant. Martin for a free 60 day trial and, by turn, to communications, PR and content for nonprofits, your story is their mission. Turn hyphen two dot ceo. My pleasure to welcome back Yolanda F. Johnson.

[00:01:32.96] spk_4:
She is president of Y F J Consulting and founder of Woke women of color in fundraising and philanthropy. Ah, brand new site. Which is what we are membership community, that we’re here to talk about. Yolanda, welcome back to the show.

[00:01:47.84] spk_5:
Thank you for having me. I’m really not to be here.

[00:01:50.58] spk_2:
Absolutely pleasure. So there’s a lot of excitement. You are launching this new

[00:01:54.58] spk_4:
membership community. Woke women of color in fundraising and philanthropy. Um, Big launched June 30th. What is vocal about?

[00:02:47.34] spk_5:
Well was created Teoh support and celebrate and champion Women of Color and fundraising and philanthropy. It’s unique in the sense that it comes at the very intersection of fundraising and philanthropy to support both could be a professional, them both up areas of, um of the good work that’s being done in our society. So those who are raising the funds, those who are giving the funds and how just toe help everyone be strong in the work that they’re doing. I am also for the first African American president of Women in Development, New York, and from that work where I launched a diversity and inclusion task force that reports coming out soon. By the way, ah, what we’ve been able to accomplish. I just started to realize that it was necessary to create the space. And over the past few days, uh, it’s that amazing feeling of validation that you get when you work so hard on something and put it out there and then suddenly just responses been overwhelmingly positive. And I’m really grateful for that. And I know for sure that it was necessary to create the space.

[00:03:22.64] spk_4:
Yeah, awesome. I want O for the first time and I’ll try to remember Say it again before we close. Let listeners know you’ll find it at W O C. Hyphen f p dot or ge right?

[00:03:22.94] spk_2:
Come dot com dot com. Okay, scratch

[00:03:25.94] spk_4:
with the scratch with the lackluster host Just said wsoc hyphen. F p dot com. Yeah, what can members expect from the community? What what’s it all about?

[00:05:18.84] spk_5:
It is about again back to that mission statement. So we’re providing high quality content from women of color for women of color who have accomplished so much just inspiring and imparting all of that sage advice and knowledge. Financial literacy is another big component of woke, because I think that’s important for both the fund raiser who is a professional, Um all those who could be underpaid as well because we’re going to talk about pay equity. Um, and then also for the philanthropists, because we want to talk about building wealth and the definition of what a philanthropist is, uh, people, a lot of women of color, especially because of some of the religious background on bonds. You know, there’s a lot of money that’s given from their annual income to maybe religious institutions. And sometimes, you know, we may not necessarily see ourselves as philanthropic, but we are so just toe disperse some of the the myths about what a philanthropist is and who’s a philanthropist on and for those who really are in the philanthropic sphere toe focus on that wealth building and for those who are on the fundraising side to really help them, Teoh navigate endemic first and foremost and then move their careers forward. So we’ve got programming never take to have in person. Evans will have those right now. We’ll have lots of virtual offerings, discounts, Teoh, exclusive discounts to brands, partner brands, Um, and in the future, we’re gonna have a mentor match program and also one for executives to have accountability partners with each other. They may not need a mentor, but they want someone to talk to about certain things. We’re also offering online resource library. That’s gonna be jam packed with findings and reports. And publications are people of color and women of color. Uh, just trying to compile a ZX much as possible in one place in addition to regular career by something that are just helpful. There’ll be a lot of anti racism tools there as well. Um, so, you know, lots of amazing things in articles. Lots of content by experts with articles

[00:05:45.04] spk_4:
for women who joined before June 30th. There’s a special career consulting, uh, session that they can have with you, right?

[00:05:56.24] spk_5:
Yes, with me. Okay. So I’ll offer that to them if then joined by. This is our launch period. Right now, we that the soft launch last Thursday. We’re continuing this whole introductory period until we celebrate on June 30th and stuff you joined in that time, I would be happy to spend 1/2 hour with you to give you some career council, especially at a time such as this. It’s a really good time to take a step back and just assess your career and where you want to be next.

[00:07:14.84] spk_4:
All right. Cool. Uh, W o c hyphen f p dot com Now you and I arranged this all before the murder of George Floyd on ah, Memorial Day, May 25th that we’re recording now, June 9th. But it was like, 10 days or two weeks before George’s murder that that your you know, you and I said, we’re gonna talk and you tell me about woke now in the wake of what’s now 15 days off protests, um, conversations about racism running much deeper than law enforcement, you know, into housing and education and health care and all kinds of bad outcomes for people of color woke seems even more relevant now what you want toe talk to the with the greater relevance that you’ve now happened on because of because of that murder, Onda, all the all the talking and the protests that have that have ensued.

[00:07:27.34] spk_5:
Well, I will tell you that I personally I feel restless. I feel so restless right now because I feel that because of everything that’s transpired, we’re on the cusp of possible real change, like it really could happen this time if the right steps are taken that if the dialogue continues, you know apartheid ended about three decades ago. Now, this year, and the being that special about how they handle things is that they will not stop talking about it. The dialogue has always continued because on the dialogue ceases, so does the progress. And so, Whoa, I just say now, more than ever, Teoh to come together this time, especially during an election year, just to empower ourselves, to support, to champion, to inspire, to move women of color forward in these professions because from the philanthropic area, you know there will be a very interesting time. You know, people who put their dollars behind their beliefs in a whole different way. And other people who were allies and non people of color may be more willing to invest and to learn and to use that privilege to help the cause off for the inequity. It still exists for women of color,

[00:08:30.68] spk_8:
and that’s a

[00:08:58.54] spk_4:
president that’s essentially you have to have people who have the levers of power and privilege allied with you. All right, so woke will, in part you’ve got a lot planned, but sounds like, you know, be a platform for keeping that conversation going when the cameras have focused elsewhere. Uh, you know, the memory of George Floyd’s murder will continue, but the deeper conversations and work and journey around dismantling racism and white privilege and power structures, you know that has to continue for

[00:09:03.99] spk_5:
the past.

[00:09:04.99] spk_2:
I don’t know. Decades.

[00:09:16.74] spk_4:
No. After the George Floyd murder. And so I hope what becomes, ah, platform for continuing that that important conversation. Like I said after the cameras have have looked away. So good luck. Good luck with

[00:09:18.55] spk_5:
woke. You look at

[00:09:33.43] spk_4:
Beijing on you’re gonna have an Allied membership. I look forward to being an ally of woke, uh, it’s women of color in fundraising and philanthropy. Wfc woke w e hyphen f p dot com Yes. Good luck, Yolanda. Great luck,

[00:09:35.34] spk_5:
baby. And thank you so much. Thanks for your support.

[00:09:37.76] spk_4:
My pleasure. Absolutely.

[00:09:48.71] spk_2:
It’s time for a break. Wegner-C.P.As. They can talk you through paycheck protection program. Loan forgiveness. Congress passed

[00:09:49.60] spk_4:
The P P. P Flexibility Act allows your or GE 24 weeks to spend money on forgivable expenses and increases the time to pay back what’s not forgivable

[00:10:59.24] spk_2:
it’s all explained at wegner-C.P.As dot com. Click Resource Is and Blawg. I’m very glad. Welcome back to the show Alex counts. He founded the Grameen Foundation and became its president and CEO. In 1997 he grew the foundation from its modest beginnings into a leading international humanitarian organization. Today, he’s an independent consultant to nonprofits. A professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park and then affiliated faculty of its Do Good Institute. He’s at Alex counts dot com and at Alex Counts, Alex counts. Welcome back to non profit radio. It’s great to be back. It’s a pleasure to have you. Good to see you, sir. Um, so you have this, Ah, very interesting new book. I’ll say it’s a very easy read. It’s very smooth. Read with 214 ideas that you’ve coalesce through the years. What made you sit down and collect

[00:11:58.57] spk_6:
all these? Well, you know it’s certain. Quit my career when I was having some enjoyment and success with mentoring a few young professionals in the non profit area. I figured how, how how could the things that I’ve learned often through terrible mistakes that taught me something. How could I scale it to more than a few people? I could mentor and I just started writing and I wrote 800 pages was all over the man, and one of the things I did was I just would sometimes break down 20 or 30 lessons that I was taught myself or someone taught me and it got to about 400 of them. And then with an editor, I boiled it down to the ones that were, you know, seemed to be the most relevant to the most people. That’s where I got 214. And when in doubt, ask firm or just is one of my mantra is and fundraising. So that was one of the lessons. And each lesson is described as you do so on just maybe three or four sentences. It’s a really just get to the heart of the lesson, not to adorn it with too many stories or details or footnotes or anything like that.

[00:12:05.35] spk_2:
Yeah, yeah, And there, uh, they’re categorized. The category is scattered throughout the book, so they’re not all in sections together. But you’ve got travel. You got bored. Management, fundraising, personal care. Wellness?

[00:12:20.11] spk_4:
Um, others. You got what I think. 88 or nine. Different

[00:12:25.83] spk_6:
category enactment. Public speaking.

[00:12:28.90] spk_2:
Okay, so I’m usually I take

[00:12:31.89] spk_4:
control because my show and I do whatever the hell I want on my show. But,

[00:12:35.06] spk_2:
uh, I’m turning around. I feel like, why don’t you kick us off? You You know, I have a bunch of I’d like to talk about, but, uh what what’s your favorite one or two? You know, you think tops

[00:13:37.83] spk_6:
Well, I mean, the way that I was able to, you know, I spent the first decade of my career doing a very extended a apprenticeship in Bangladesh with the future Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus. And then I set myself up to running on profit, to advance his work and his ideas. And I wouldn’t have gotten very far if I hadn’t fairly quickly understood, changed my attitude. And my techniques are on fundraising. And so some of my favorite lessons here are run fundraising. How to see fundraising not as a zero sum transaction, but as a win win. And I talk about how I was able to talk George Soros out of $10 million in a way that, uh, you know, I I kind of just saw that this would be as much a win for him and his team as it was for me and Mohammed Yunus and very tactical things. I learned that if you’re gonna be a meeting with a major donor, um, you know, one of the people who taught me fundraising said you should be preparing from 4 to 8 hours for every meeting included, not including travel time, which I thought was initially absurd. What are you going to do for eight hours to prepare for a one hour meeting? But then I learned there’s actually a lot you can do, and the quality of those contacts improves dramatically. So it’s a lot of my favorite lessons, really, is how I built myself up from a reluctant fundraiser into a very aggressive And I would say, you know, successful fundraiser, which then allowed everything else. My people management skills, public speaking. You know, when you have resource is and you can attract really successful business people of foundations behind you, then everything else opens up.

[00:14:20.73] spk_2:
All right. Since you teased us on, we’ve got a good amount of time together. Take a take a little time. Tell that George Soros story.

[00:14:57.54] spk_6:
Sure. You know, I was I was just weeks into the growing foundation journey. But Mohammad Yunus sees you. He’s made a career out of asking people for big things. And so he asked me to raise $10 million for a project in Bangladesh that was end of being a huge success. But at that point, he needed, you know, you ate figure kind of money Teoh to move it forward. So I found myself sitting in front of our entire who is the newly appointed head of George Soros is fairly new foundation. And I sat with him and I explained the project, which I really didn’t know that well, but I just was, you know, kind of fake it till you make it, you know? Yeah,

[00:15:06.02] spk_4:
Or you took your own advice about spending 48 hours to prepare

[00:17:27.41] spk_6:
for. Yeah, I didn’t really I was I was just, you know, I read a little brief about it, and also, the Internet was still quite news. Like getting a whole briefing for Bangladesh would take, you know, 10 days and d h l and all that. I have that time. So anyway, I sat with him and I started just described the project and he was very impassive looking, and at one point he asked me something. He asked me how much money was needed. I’ve been really hadn’t divulged that yet. And I was terrified because I thought that to ask someone for 10 million in the first meeting my broach, some philanthropic etiquette that I barely understood and that he might call security on me and I was just terrified. And so I every bone in my body wanted to answer him in a kind of very hesitant way, almost apologizing for such a such an aggressive ask and some part of me I wasn’t get a good fundraiser in the preparation everything, but I just I followed my instincts, and I just answer his question as simply as possible. It said $10.6 million he wrote it down, asked me a few more questions left, left the room, said, I don’t think George is gonna go for this, but I’ll tell him about it anyway. So he’s setting expectations. Game of philanthropy we know so well and then and then fast forward a year. We got our 10 million. His wife was the vice chair of my board. Aryan Iris wife. They began making a, uh, a kn annual donation of £10.5000 dollars, which George Stars triple matched. And honestly, if I had one of my lessons in the book is I never asked for money, apologetically or hesitantly. If you’re doing that, there’s some. Go back and do some work on who you’re asking for, what and why. Because otherwise, if you’re coming from a place where I’m asking for money to do something good in the world that I think is going to serve the donor to, So why would I be apologetic or hesitant about the amount or any aspect of it so on and so that you know, that huge fundraising win early in my career on getting the other you know, things of their personal support are you and you, Yvette Dyer. You just propelled us in a big direction at night, and I maintained tony that if I had answered his question about how much I meant how much we wanted, you know, in a hesitant or apologetic way, none of those results happen. Dismissed is an amateur who doesn’t really even believe in what I’m asking for and I never hear from him again.

[00:17:55.72] spk_2:
That’s the key right there. If you come across is not having full faith and confidence in your own your own. Ask your own program that you’re seeking money for and what kind of faith and confidence so you’re gonna get from from outsiders were looking in and no considerably less about it than you do expert on it. And you’re not confident. What do you gonna get back, what you gonna get from others?

[00:18:26.67] spk_6:
And and that hesitancy, I think, comes from a lot of people feel that fundraising is this kind of zero sum transaction where I’m trying to manipulate you into losing, giving me money or on, and yet it doesn’t all have to be that way. That’s that’s what I learned. But this is why so many volunteers over the years have told me is that I will do anything to support your organization, anything at all. Except please don’t ask me to fundraise. It’s rooted in that idea that I need to kind of manipulate someone to lose a transaction rather than to enter into a partnership with me where both parties come out ahead.

[00:18:34.44] spk_2:
What else? Um, keep it to you. What else? Around fundraising. Some of your 214 ideas. What else?

[00:19:27.68] spk_6:
One of the things that you know. I start by really good fundraiser Cedric Richmond, who I met through my board, share One of the things he just explained to me that we went through a major gift boot camp, and and he wasn’t big into doing simulate missions, but occasionally he would. But he put himself in the in the hot seat as the fundraiser where they learn when you ask someone for money. Yeah, and do it directly. Ask someone for a specific purpose in a specific amount. Don’t beat around the bush, and then you’re the one thing you have to do at that point is shut up. Is that Let them speak and maybe they’re gonna need 10 seconds to think about it. But to try to fill that awkward, what might feel like an awkward silence with some sort of nattering whatever your again, that’s another way of undercutting your ask on dso. So that was the on in a solicitation meeting I usually make me ask with the specific dollar amount in the 1st 10 to 15 minutes of the meeting, and then you just when you made the ask, it’s their turn, and they could say Yes, no, maybe ask questions, but give them that moment. Don’t feel like a silence is something to be avoided. It’s You got to give them time to think cause you’ve made a serious request of them and they mean you think before they make a serious response

[00:19:59.47] spk_2:
in that same sort of vein. I don’t know if you have this categorised under fundraising, but you like to spend, uh, spend time, you say, at least every three weeks with your major donors.

[00:21:32.60] spk_6:
Well, listen, people, um, people who could be a major donors and that and that’s the definition of that varies by organization. But where means organization? You have to know that there are other organizations after their money all the time knocking on their door, and some of them will tell them that they do what you do, what your non profit does. They just do it better. Um, And so, by taking donors for granted, which is one of the major kind of pitfalls of fundraising where you made an annual donation that you’re like, Let’s just leave him alone because something can go wrong. But when you when you let you know more than 34 weeks go by without hearing from, you know, they start to feel taken for granted and in many cases, other nonprofits air beating on their doors, saying that they’re more responsive, better, you know, better run, and you’re slowly going to lose them so it doesn’t have to. You know what you do to contact them every three weeks or have someone another board member do it for, Say, it should be tailored to that donors preferences and how they like to communicate. But, boy, you know, a little iron rule that one fundraising workshop told me is, don’t the three week rule. Don’t let three weeks go by without a donor hearing from you in some way. I adopted that, and I’m very few cases where I’ve regretted that people, people feel like you’re important to them. They’re important to you, and you’re always gonna there was going to give you the benefit of the doubt and not be taken for granted.

[00:22:01.34] spk_2:
that could be a simple is leaving a message. Yeah, I was dropping an email thinking about U S. So a bit of news made me think about you, whether it’s related to your organization or not. You know, it’s just simple, you know, just courtesy and relationships. Yeah, it’s just I hadn’t seen it, you know, every three weeks or so, but, uh, yeah, for your major donors, I mean, it makes a lot of sense. These people are investors with you, Uh, you want to keep them, you want to keep them close, and you want to know that you want them to know that you’re thinking about them. It’s more than just a transaction for

[00:22:08.84] spk_6:
you. That’s right. There is. When my borders said that, You know, I like nonprofits that don’t regard me as an a t. M. And they realized that I have I have a brain on dhe feelings and connections their assets as long as well, in addition to my bank account. And yes, I think some contacts could be very slight. You know, we had a success here. I wanted to share with you, especially if it’s personalized in some way. I know you have a particular interest in our work in the Philippines, so I wanted to share this other times you should be more substantive, and I find one of the things that builds bridges with donor many donors the most is to ask them for advice on things that you’re struggling with. And you don’t have to do it in a way that your seeding, the decision making to them. That’s when a lot of non profit leaders feel. I just want your view and get in the end. I’m gonna make the decision, but you may be able to help me think it through. You may have faced a similar issue in another non profit. That you were involved in a war in your business on DSO asked him for advice. It shows humility. It shows respect for what they know on it just draws them in closer

[00:23:13.10] spk_2:
to your mission. What about you have advice around responding to your critics, and I think a corollary to that is everybody has critics. It’s OK. It’s OK to have critics.

[00:23:21.97] spk_4:
If you’re making an impact, you’re gonna offend some people or but bother. However you want a category call it, but, you know, piss some people off, whatever it is responding, responding to critics.

[00:24:56.26] spk_6:
Well, there either. Couple of related things here. I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to, but they’re all I. One of my rules in this 214 is is don’t be afraid to make a few enemies, you know, Don’t rob yourself of spontaneity trying to everyone. And I would if I were to write the book again, I would almost amend that. It’s all I would say Talk about counterintuitive. It’s OK to burn a few bridges if you’re doing it truly out of on an issue of principle. I once was forced to resign from aboard because I stood up for good governance principles. On the way out, I sent a letter to some of the major donors saying that I think you should look into this and I didn’t make many friends on the people left on the board. But I checked back two years. They actually fixed a lot of they’re not all that’s a lot of their board dysfunction. So with the hand I somebody Sadio, I engaged. I was encouraged people to engage in the big debates in their fields and to do it not too carefully to do it in a pretty outspoken way once they have a point of view, even if it’s a minority point of view and then interview questions. This was I learned from a head of HR Grameen Foundation. One of the great question interview questions I’ve learned is I asked people, Teoh take kind of two to think about who they worked with. Are there kind of critics on dhe? Not the ones that were hopelessly biased against them, for some reason. But the thoughtful critics and what they have to say and what do you have to stay back to them,

[00:25:16.91] spk_2:
right? Right. Yeah, that’s one of yours. Um, let’s talk about some of your, uh, some of your self self care self care

[00:25:18.72] spk_4:
ideas. What do you like there? What’s

[00:27:28.84] spk_6:
your guy? I began my my book that came out before this one with the story of, ah, iconic homeless activists who I talked to for the one and only time in my life. And then he killed himself like the following day. And it was front page news guy by the name Mitch Snider. And and yet a decade later. Here I was three years into my dream job and I was gaining weight. I was irritable with everyone. I was I was on that same slippery slope to self destruction, and I I just said I got to turn this around. I’m not, uh, not that good at what I do that if I I’m I’m unwell that I can really perform the way I need to. So I do. You know, all sorts of things, but probably about 1/4 of the lessons this book around self care in one way or another. And it sounds indulging to some non profit leaders, one of which just became maniacal about about aerobic exercise because it relaxed me and relieved my stress and anxiety. And when I’m anxious, I make decisions that are really often quite poor, so exercise helps me be less anxious. Uh, on the other hand, I learned a quirky, funny thing that I kind of tap into a more more playful, less self important part of myself. If I’m always doing something in, uh, that I’m a novice at that. I’m a beginner at that. I’m bad at news. Someone said something to be once recently said, having the courage to suck it something, Um, and a lot of us as we get into our forties, fifties and sixties, we do very little that we’re not silly, semi competent at, because you make a says look foolish in I just found that to be such a gift. Teoh do that. And it just it makes that self importance that self kind of complacency. But you get it just it brings it out of your whole life because you’re just in that one domain. You’re a novice, and you just can’t help but laugh at yourself and not take yourself so seriously. So right now I was cooking was my was the thing I was a novice at. But I’ve actually got, like to an intermediate cook in the last, you know, maybe 6 to 12 months. So the latest thing I picked up is meditation, and I’m terrible at it. Oh, horrible, Andi. I may try to meditate after we do this show, and I just in my mind will launder, but you know, But it it just reminds me that there’s lots of things I have to learn.

[00:27:42.74] spk_2:
There’s plenty to suck out, we need to take a break. Cougar Mountain Software. Their accounting product Denali, is made

[00:27:59.64] spk_4:
for non profits from the ground up so that you get an application that supports the way you work that has the features you need and the exemplary support that understands you. They have a

[00:28:09.74] spk_2:
free 60 day trial on a listener landing page at tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant. Now time for Tony’s Take two Start

[00:28:40.99] spk_4:
the racism conversation. That’s our latest special episode. My guest is Case Suarez, executive director of Equity in the Center. This is one of those moments where you can be the change you wish to see in the world. Ending institutional racism can start with each of us. If we’re each willing to take the needed action, you can start in your office by opening the conversation about race. This show will help you. It’s out in podcast. If you prefer video, it’s on my YouTube channel in the racism and white privilege playlist

[00:28:51.85] spk_2:
that is Tony’s Take two. Let’s go back to life and career lessons with Alex Counts. We’re talking about his book winning doubt. Ask

[00:28:58.36] spk_4:
for More and 213 other life and career lessons for the mission driven leader.

[00:29:05.64] spk_2:
What was there something in particular that triggered you at that time of life? To realize that

[00:29:13.96] spk_4:
you are on a downward trajectory? You said you were gaining weight and stressed and not eating right. Was there Was there an episode that made you realize it wasn’t

[00:31:06.62] spk_6:
sustainable? Yeah, um, there was It was It was it was just kind of a slow downward trajectory. In many ways, on dso is having some professional success, but I was deeply unhappy again, gaining weight £30 heavier than I am today, irritable with my wife curable with my staff. They knew it. They were complaining to the board. And then just one time, we had a We had a a Christmas party, and for some reason, and it was just they they some someone with the contract with the restaurant that hosted it. We paid way too much for the bar bill. Um, and so we like got a huge amount of liquor that we’ve already paid for. Um, at least you know, And so I we just all started drinking. And for the one the only times 1000 college, I actually ended up that night basically getting sick from drinking too much. And one of the people most admiring the world happen to be staying with us that night. You didn’t come to the party, but we met up with him. I was so ashamed. T see me like that and I just said something’s gotta change on When I was in a gym a few weeks later, I weighed myself. I saw a number I’d never seen before. I’m like, this is we’re gonna change this and then it I wish I could tell you and your listeners that it was, you know, one magic idea that changed me. But it was just literally hundreds of things that I started experiment with to make sure that every year I was a little bit healthier mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. That I was the year before and the ones that worked I kept doing. And the ones that didn’t I didn’t do. But it was. I wasn’t willing to follow that non profit strapping him works. I saw her. I was going following perhaps Mitch Snider. Sadly, I didn’t want to go. That it was almost my personal on wellness was a badge of honor. Is a non profit leader when it’s for so many. I said, I’m getting off that treadmill and I’m just gonna try new stuff and just keep doing the stuff that works. Even if I’m a little not is prepared for a meeting, even if I’m not as prepared for a board meeting, that’s a cost. If this is a marathon, not a sprint, that’s a cost that could bear.

[00:32:05.44] spk_2:
You mentioned may be sacrificing on an hour of sleep. You know, to exercise that Maybe you mentioned that one of your travel tips something, but you know, it’s it’s This is not at all self indulgent, you know, there it’s wrongheaded thinking to be wearing your self sacrifice as a badge of honor. The way you say it, you if you don’t, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anybody else. Whether it’s a spouse, your staff, your organization, you have to take care of yourself. You have to love yourself enough to care for and love others, whether those people or institutions. Otherwise, you don’t you don’t have it in you. If you don’t have an interview for yourself, you’re not gonna find it for others?

[00:32:17.89] spk_6:
No, but there. But there is this. I mean, the some of the dysfunction of the non profit leadership culture that you know I still get sucked into on occasion is, you know, people say, Well, I’ve been taking a vacation six months. I haven’t taken a vacation in two years. That’s how dedicated I am Or don’t

[00:32:26.79] spk_2:
blame. May I hear? You know that’s not my fault,

[00:32:47.81] spk_6:
right? And, you know, and so different strokes for different folks. But, you know, I always When I was running Grameen Foundation, I worked. I worked plenty hard, but I’m rarely carried over a vacation day from one year the next cause I used it all up. I had a blast. I went down to Qs Florida, where I have a lot of friends and just would party like I was, you know, you know, 25 years old, and then I’d come back and refreshed and that’s indulgent than you know. So be it. But it helped keep me help keep my kind of equanimity through some very tough times because I had that I gave myself permission to enjoy things like that

[00:33:08.90] spk_2:
you mentioned in the book that Key West Florida is a very special place for you. Ah, place where you can act differently. Then you need to act. And the other 90 98% of your time,

[00:33:58.50] spk_6:
I kind of slipped into a different persona. I mean, I don’t hide what I do, but a lot of people that know me there just know me as someone who is a kind of a group B for some of the local bands there. And and you know, when I get out, get out on the dance floor, kind of make a fool of myself, You know, if the slightest provocation and, uh on all and you know, if they and many of them I’ve known them for years, they never asked me what I did, or if they did, they didn’t understand it. They just never asked again. So I get to slip into the different persona and on have some deep friendships that are based on what my my professional accomplishments were failing or training. It’s just a human being, and, uh, who just enjoys that on it was just, you know, is a particularly for a 10 year period, very intense, work wise that having that outlet was so important and that the things going back to the thing about being a novice, it’s something I got so entranced by one band that I volunteered to be their fan club manager because they didn’t have didn’t have a fan club and I was so bad at it. I mean, I didn’t understand their genre of music, the music business. I mean, I was I was terrible, but I had a blast. It was so much fun. And I just you know, I’d be around musicians and there

[00:34:30.27] spk_2:
was something else something else for you to suck out. That’s right. That was

[00:34:53.14] spk_6:
the original one. It was it was in describing that to someone else that I kind of tripped upon that were generalized lesson there because I ultimately got good at being their fan club president. But I found it important to find something else that I was terrible at and joy didn’t want to be good at, and I’ve always you know, I’ve always had something that I’ve been doing to this. This is 12 years later, 13 years later,

[00:34:56.94] spk_2:
you still get the Key West every year. Do you treat yourself

[00:35:43.00] spk_6:
I do, I dio In fact, I was gonna do event for this book. Uh, when in doubt, ask for more and it got canceled because of Cove in 19 and it’s gonna be rescheduled, hopefully for December. But unfortunately, Key West is starting to suffer the effects of climate change. And otherwise I might be scheming to buy a place there. And that’s, Ah, an issue that I come to care about. They talked about in Key West. Ah, high tide flooding in a lot of places. And it’s like, you know, this is this Israel, folks, but I get down there at this point right 2 to 3 times a year, and I just I just love it on. I just love the kind of person I could become there. That that is just a lot less serious than the one that’s up here in the mid Atlantic.

[00:35:57.66] spk_2:
No, you also talk about in the book. You suggest learning a new language, every body. I don’t know. We just 10 5 or 10 or 15 years or something that you okay, something to indulge in, learn a skill and and be a novice at.

[00:37:06.00] spk_6:
That’s right. I mean, languages. So and it’s, you know, it’s especially when you to learn your first foreign language as I did in my twenties is is hard and humbling. But I mean it does so much re wires your brain. I think it puts you through the humbling process of being around fluent speakers when you’re not and you’re so self conscious and you bust through that and also languages. Such a such a gift to be brought up with English is the world’s business language is your native language. You don’t really have to learn, uh, foreign language, but if you do, it could be a huge built bridge builder with people from other cultures to feel forced to learn English. But for you to make the attempts to breach the language gap in the other direction by so many Bangladeshis were just stunned that I put in that effort to learn Bengali on dyuh, and it was because again I cared. I wanted to. I want to make them comfortable in our communications on. I put a hell of a lot of work into it, and the trust that was came out of that was huge. Let’s

[00:37:17.83] spk_2:
talk about some of your travel tips. I like, uh, like a bunch of those. Um, make sure you exercise. We talked about being indulgent to yourself while you’re traveling. Be a grateful tipper. You

[00:38:10.46] spk_6:
know, I early I was in my twenties and teens. I don’t know why. It’s not really how my father brought me up on my parents, but I was You know, I was always, uh, very frugal, you know, how little can I tip on? Guy was I was very frugal with praise of people. Afraid it makes them, you know, complacent. And I just learned that by being generous with people, the service industries, If I think you just feel better about yourself, you feel like a generous person. You feel like, and I just I swear that travel God’s pay you back. You know, if you tip on a trip, the likelihood that your plane is delayed coming back, I think, goes dramatically down. I can’t prove it. There’s there’s no logic to it. But just the travel gods are look out for you. If you just push yourself to be at least is generous if not more than local custom dictates. Also,

[00:39:22.77] spk_2:
when you run into trouble. You know, if your if your flight is canceled delayed, you’ve lost. You missed our connection. You know, whatever it is, if you if you approach the customer service person, whether it’s on the phone or you’re standing in a line, Actually, I like to stand online and call at the same time. So if I get one of the other windows lines along, But, um, you know, if you approach them humanely, you know, not pissed off. I think you get I think you get a better outcome. You know, like you. You know, I can’t prove it. But there are. There are often things that people on the other other side of that on the customer service side that can do for you that they may not They’re not gonna be so willing to do if you’re not thoughtful and kind. And, you know, they know that you’re I know you’re upset, but you know, they’ve got a job to do, too, and they’re trying to help, you know, they want they don’t want the 400 people calling you from the flight that just got just got canceled. No. Didn’t want it any more than you do? If you approach them humanely, I think you get a better result. Plus, you’re just going to feel better about yourself. After the transaction is over, we’re going up the phone. You’re not gonna feel like the asshole. But aside from that I think you get I think you get more out

[00:39:24.67] spk_4:
of people when you approach them. You know, with honey rather than vinegar that old that old

[00:39:33.71] spk_6:
so and I always have just found. You know, if if you want something from an airline or ah, or rental car agency or whatever a hotel you know without any sense of entitlement, ask him for it. Working in a nice way and you’ll be surprised how often they’ll give it to you or looking you something like it. Now, if you ask with that sense of, you know, anger, entitlement will, probably even if they can give it to you, they might not

[00:40:44.81] spk_2:
feel that they have a lot of discretion about things like that. Yes, yes. And they’ll exercise their discretion in your favor. If you’re I think if you’re just a thoughtful, decent person, I like there’s something I have a little thing I make a point of saying hello to the bathroom attendants in airports because everybody, everybody in an airport wants to be somewhere else. They’re either their toe leave or they’ve just arrived and they got to get to their hotel and they’re worried about where they’re going to get. Get a car. We’re gonna make the meeting on time. They just arrived or they’re gonna make their flight. Is the flight delayed? If they’re leaving that looking, everybody in an airport wants to be somewhere else. So I I just have recognized that probably the least appreciated people are bathroom attendants in airports. So I always make an effort. I tip them if there If there’s a typical tight, you know, sometimes there is a glass there or something, and, uh and I But I will at least always say hello. Thank you. You know, how are you? Have a good day?

[00:41:00.07] spk_6:
Well, acknowledging people’s existence while you’re traveling, which is something that falls by the wayside. Even people that begged for me. I don’t rarely give to beggars on the street, but almost always acknowledge their existence in the fact that they’ve asked me for something. I say, you know, sorry, I can’t today and kiss that human element. It takes a little effort, but I just think again the travel God’s just look out for you. If you do those those little things is you rush from place to place.

[00:41:23.66] spk_2:
You got some ideas about using sleeplessness on during travel to your advantage.

[00:42:12.30] spk_6:
Well, two things one is I used to in my twenties whenever I just had this. Like, I had this idea that if I lost the night of sleep, if I took a red eye, I was gonna be a wreck, and I just It was just all mental. It was like 80% mental. And so I just realized that you know every so often, if you do a red eye, if you don’t talk yourself into being a wreck, you won’t be. And I don’t do it two nights in a row on DSO sleeplessness When it’s just part of, um, just rushing around, if you don’t occasionally, I’ve done it even now in my fifties, and as long as I only do it once every month or two, it’s fine. I can function well if I just don’t get myself into that. But I also felt if your jet lag if you goto other continents, if I’m rolling around in bed at three AM, it’s like Forget it. I’m not sleeping tonight. Get some work done. Read a book. If it’s open, go to the gym on. Don’t just sit there, you know, kind of gnashing your teeth about nothing. Asleep used the time to do something productive.

[00:42:29.13] spk_2:
Time for our last break turn to

[00:42:59.20] spk_4:
communications relationships. The world runs on them. We all know that turned to is led by former journalists so that you get help building relationships with journalists. Those relationships will help you when you need to be heard. So people know you’re a thought leader in your field and they specialize in working with nonprofits. They’re a turn hyphen two dot ceo. We’ve got, but loads more time for life and career lessons.

[00:43:03.40] spk_2:
Some of your board advice you talk about diversity board diversity. That’s obviously Ah, very rich topic in the U. S. Well in the world right now, but you But you talk about beyond just gender and race

[00:44:04.17] spk_6:
Well and as important as gender and race are and how you handle gender and racial diversity, is one of my friends said. You know, if you’re trying to diversify your board on those lines, you know one person is a token to people, is a kabbalah and three people is of a certain gender race. That’s when you get real representation. So you didn’t follow through. But one of the things I learned is this just, you know, is diversity in terms of age, in terms of industry, in terms of wealth, in terms of profession, in terms of work style. I found I was on a board where the people from the East Coast on the West Coast really operated differently. And and And the only way was gonna work is if they just accepted the fact that the West Coast folks kind of participated meetings a little differently. The East Coast folks. And that was okay, um, and, uh and so that’s diversity. Just I came to think of it in so many different dimension. It’s not just race and gender is as important as those are.

[00:44:21.53] spk_2:
And you want those different perspectives. Not everyone professions, you know, on account in is gonna look at the financials very differently than marketing. Ah, marketing professional

[00:44:47.18] spk_6:
But I have had many people say to me, You know, you need to have people, Whatever you need to have everyone having wealth over X on the boards, you just basically get you get a bunch of, you know, white man in their fifties and sixties for the most part, a few women equally wealthy on this. Okay, if you want to throw in one other person who takes all the other boxes and that’s where you get the tokenism, Yeah, I’m like, No, you need to have a certain number of people who have a certain wealth profile that can help you in that way. But, uh, but you also you mix it up with some people from the nonprofit sector, academia, government, um, other, you know, other professions. And it’s great to have a CFO of another non profit on your board. Who can demystify non profit fundraising to your board members from corporate America because they get totally confused and they don’t believe you if you say it. But if appear says that they believe it.

[00:45:34.49] spk_4:
Oh, interesting. Yeah, that’ll that’s right. I remember that That’ll save you always having toe hire an outside consultant to validate what you know to be true, but your board members are skeptical about. Yep.

[00:45:40.19] spk_2:
You have some advice around, Um, a dysfunctional boards. Well, myself enough time to cover.

[00:49:07.25] spk_6:
Yeah. I mean, first of all, I think that of the four words I’ve encounter, I’d say 70 80% of the U s or dysfunctional when 11 type of dysfunction another. And so if you have a dysfunctional board, you’re not alone. But the thing that I learned is is that just a lot of people look a dysfunctional board, let’s say they could hire is an executive director, and they and they say, first, I want to turn around this board, um, in 90 days and boards of directors do not. Groups of that size do not change their operating style in 90 days and you don’t even try. But if you really want to go for it, it can happen in 3 to 5 years, and I But then the other thing I say, if you want to get there in 3 to 5 years, the way a lot of executive director sabotage themselves, they have another rule, which is I practice this really micro so I’m gonna start really investing in my board members, treating them exceptionally well and having their journey to the organization be well curated. But I’ll do that when they deserve it when they start producing. Problem is, they’re never going to start producing unless I do that first, unless I start unless I treat them is the word I want them to become and I treat them is if they’re already that board and it’s not gonna happen overnight. But over a course of years, if you start treating them exception like their high performing board, they’ll become a high performing board. But it’s one of my mentors said. It’s it’s is one new member. It’s one good meeting. It’s one good agenda item a time you build it brick by brick on dhe. If you do it long enough, you build something special. But if you’re if you’re looking for a quick fix, don’t even bother. What’s the balkanized board? Well, some boards. I’d say this is a relatively benign dysfunction, but it can get it can become serious. Even that is, you have some people join the board to like look after their donation. Let’s say they’re putting in one million out of $6 million in the organization. They’re opening up a new branch of your homeless shelter or there have you bring your social innovation to Latin America has never been before, and the problem is now a donor who’s doing that has every right to as a donor. But if a donor sits on a board and expresses no interest or commitment to the other 5/6 of the organization that they’re not funding, they just go to sleep when they’re talking about anything other than what they’re interested in, um, venue. Have aboard were No. One on the board or at least some people on the board, and it tends to kind of aboards get constructed this way. It’s not just one person where no one is owning the totality of the organization and how all the pieces fit together because everyone is just focused on their peace. And I say that whenever brings one on the board, I said you can you could be focused on Lee. A slice of the organization is a donor or volunteer, but on the board to get your card punched. To do that, you need to buy into every last piece of the organization. Be curious about it. Look for ways to support it. Learn more about it. Otherwise, get aboard Isn’t the right place for you. If you’re just only interested in a part of the organization, Uh, wards can’t survive that way. If just maybe the board share and the CEO can see the whole picture and care about the whole picture. That board, it can kind of lumber along for a while, it going limp along and do OK, but when crisis strikes, then it’s then it could get very messy.

[00:49:09.95] spk_4:
They’re not working together. They’re working in their little Balkan

[00:49:15.49] spk_2:
states together. And you have a corollary to that, Which is that being on the board is not about loyalty.

[00:50:44.26] spk_6:
Well, right. I mean, I I served served on board that, uh where you know, when people would go around the room and introduced themselves into retreat, they would say that, You know, I’m I’m I’m loyal to, um you know, I’m loyal to the founder. I’m loyal to the CEO, pledged their loyalty, and I’m like, who is loyal to the mission of the organization. What happens when the founder of the CEO, go off the reservation and take the organization in a dangerous direction. You know, it sounds like you’re gonna side with them, not with the mission. And I had 11 board, one member on that board, who whenever anyone criticized the executive director, you could just set your watch by a millisecond after the person was done speaking, he would basically in a kind of a friendly way. And assertive wasn’t a mean way. But he would just with a laugh. You just say that idea is completely wrong. We don’t need that without even taking a second to kind of think about it. Yeah, is there some validity there? So if any board member is reflexively either attacking or defending a person or part of the organization without consideration, it’s really a political thing, and they’re not really trying toe. They’re not taking the mission to heart. They’re trying to express their loyalty to some thing that is, to me, subsidiary to the mission. You

[00:50:54.33] spk_2:
also have advice about spending time with board members extra time more than you think. You should extra time with board members that we talked about it for donors. But you say like spend 2 to 3 times the amount you think you should spend with board members with board members.

[00:52:53.14] spk_6:
Yeah, well, you know that the reality is tony, that I think a lot of people executive directors who are in your 95% probably because they didn’t have someone to mentor them, and I didn’t immediately either. You think of fundraising is a necessary evil and board management board. Lee is honest, a necessary evil on. Do you know you’re putting yourself where you’re kind of You’re feeling invulnerable, independent? Whether this person is they’re gonna write a check, you extend my contract. Eso you often do as little as possible and delegate where you can. And I said, No, you just need to turn the tables there on Make your board members feel special, have every contact they have of the organization be it will be a high quality contact, whether it’s me involved or someone else, so that they just feel good about their participation. They feel that they’re not being, you know, that dealing with them isn’t a necessary evil to be done every six months, but it’s something that nurturing their full commitment to the organization on that become a part of their life that they talk about, you know, throughout the rest of their life. This is one of most meaningful things I did, and that’s partly the nature of the work. And it’s partly the way they’re treated on DSO. So yeah, I’m always there. Just what’s the next thing that create? This board member experience of the organization is something deeply meaningful for them and that they want to do anything that they could help to support. And that takes a lot of thought. It takes effort. It takes being in front of them on. It also takes This is another lesson is when a mistake is made with the donor. So many people just blame the donor or the board member or just act as if it didn’t happen. And I just think it’s a great opportunity to humble yourself to show that you learned from it on. You can actually build a better relationship, but it takes time when a mistake is made, is they inevitably are Onda. And so I’ve had many such cases. I gala go completely south with top donors chairing it on. I thought they’d never talked to us again. But in fact, they end up giving 37 figure gifts after that, just because we showed that we cared about them and that we learned from our mistake and wouldn’t make it again.

[00:53:17.93] spk_2:
There’s something called the service recovery paradox. Do you know it?

[00:53:19.09] spk_6:
I’m not. I’m not heard about it.

[00:53:37.40] spk_2:
Is that people who have been wronged by an institution, whether it’s a non profit or a company and and feel that that wrong has been remedied, that they were heard that there was a solution putting place, that the solution was implemented? Those people will feel stronger closer to the institution than those who never felt a wrong against them.

[00:53:54.95] spk_6:
I know my experience bears that out, but it just I find so many people overworked executive directors. I don’t want to be a mode blaming them where they just think these, even if they see that the work, the potential of that, it just looks like more work. And frankly, right now, with Kobe 19 there’s so many stressed out executive directors that putting in that you know that playing the long game with the donor of board members seems like a luxury, but I think it’s I think it’s even more important than ever is as hard as that may be, toe to swallow for people that feel under a lot of pressure right now.

[00:54:17.14] spk_2:
Yeah, yeah, and at all

[00:54:18.79] spk_4:
times, not only not only in the midst of, ah, recession and a pandemic and a deep conversation about race at

[00:54:31.82] spk_2:
all times and these air not necessary evils spending time with donors and board members. We just have about a minute left or so and I want to. I want to finish with your suggestion that you be a lifelong learner.

[00:55:07.78] spk_6:
Well, I just again this this goes to the goes back to some of my lessons around being a novice around being curious rather than being someone who’s, you know, kind of self satisfied with. What they learn is is just, you know, as much as you know that’s relevant to well being or your profession or your non profit area. You know, if you get if you feel like you’ve learned enough, you learned all you need to know. Right now, you just need to go give speeches and write papers and lost people around, and you’re gonna lose something very important, Which is that curiosity? The humility on? I learned it partly from a guy who was a publisher of The Miami Herald, and he just I met him in his seventies that he was. He’d been reading a book a week for 30 years and you’re still doing it. When I ran into him, he was reading a book. He told me about this and he said, You know, your lifelong learning like David Lauren, 70 lord Enough. But when you lose that desire, learn and self improve and humble yourself and be a novice in in the area that I think you’re just your ability to be productive and effective goes, goes dramatically down.

[00:56:01.62] spk_2:
Alex Counts, author of the book. Just Get the Book. It’s not only an easy read, it’s a valuable read winning doubt. Ask for more and 213 other life and career lessons for the mission driven leader. Alex, Thank you very much. Thanks for sharing. Thank you, tony. Next week, More tech goodness from 20 and TC interviews. If you missed any part of today’s show, I beseech you, find it on tony-martignetti dot com were sponsored by wegner-C.P.As guiding you beyond the numbers. Wegner-C.P.As dot com by Cougar mapped in Software Denali Fund Is there complete accounting solution made for nonprofits tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant Mountain for a free 60 day trial and by turn, to communications, PR and content for nonprofits, your story is their mission. Turn hyphen two dot ceo.

[00:57:17.81] spk_1:
A creative producer is clear. Meyerhoff. Sam Liebowitz Managed stream shows Social Media is by Susan Chavez. Mark Silverman is our Web guy. Miss Music is by Scots You with me next week for non profit radio. Big non profit ideas for the other 95% Go out and be great great stuff talking alternative radio 24 hours a day.

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