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Nonprofit Radio for December 19, 2022: Grameen Team Dream


Alex CountsGrameen Team Dream

In his brand-spanking-new book, “Small Loans, Big Dreams,” Alex Counts recounts the story of Grameen Bank’s wild success moving millions of people out of poverty by elevating microfinancing for the poor. Alex tells the story and shares valuable lessons beyond economic development.



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[00:02:03.49] spk_0:
And welcome to Tony-Martignetti non profit radio big non profit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host of your favorite abdominal podcast. Oh, I’m glad you’re with me, I’d be stricken with galactose EMEA if you tried to sugarcoat the idea that you missed this week’s show, Grameen Team dream in his brand spanking new book, small loans, Big Dreams Alex Counts recounts the story of Grameen Bank’s wild success, moving millions of people out of poverty by elevating micro financing for the poor Alex tells the story and shares valuable lessons beyond economic development. tony take two take time for yourself. We’re sponsored by turn to communications pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot C O. It’s a pleasure to welcome back Alex Counts. He is the author of the book, Small loans, Big Dreams, Grameen Bank and the micro finance revolution in Bangladesh America and beyond His other books include Change the World Without losing your mind and when in doubt, ask for more which we talked about on this show. In 1997 he established Grameen Foundation with the support of nobel laureate dr Mohammed Yunus became its President and Ceo and ran the Green Foundation for its 1st 18 years now. He’s an independent consultant to nonprofits including the India philanthropy alliance and an adjunct professor at johns Hopkins University, He’s at Alex Counts and Alex counts dot com. Welcome back to the show Alex Counts. Pleasure

[00:02:11.83] spk_1:
to be here. I love what you do, tony and just so looking forward to the conversation

[00:02:16.17] spk_0:
Oh. Thank you absolutely yes, we have the hour together. My pleasure as well. Thank you, Congratulations on the book.

[00:02:23.78] spk_1:
Well, it’s it’s great to have it out there. It’s a you know, it’s a third edition um but it was so, so much needed to be out there because so much has happened since the second edition really feels like a new book and it was about quadruple the work, I thought it would be to get it out, but it was more than worth

[00:02:53.85] spk_0:
it. Absolutely more than worth it. Of course, of course. Alright, let’s start with a basic understanding what let’s acquaint folks with what microfinance is. So we know everybody’s on the same page to start. Sure,

[00:03:55.37] spk_1:
well, you know, mike as some histories of microfinance explain this, my book isn’t one of them that, you know, the, the idea of bringing financial services to people that are excluded from them as a way to help them self actualize, get out of poverty, get more control over their lives goes back Hundreds of years. People have been trying it in fact, um the pawnshop in its origins several 100 years ago was an effort to bring financial services and it kind of morphed into something that’s now kind of seedy, but in its modern incarnation, Muhammad Yunus and some other innovators in the seventies said we want to bring financial services, especially loans to people who lack collateral are illiterate. Poor women have all the disadvantages in, in country of Bangladesh where he started and we want to design a bank. Uh that is, is not just has them on a, like a kind of little charity program, but it’s actually designed especially for them and gives them financial services, things you and I take for granted alone when we needed a place to deposit our money, insurance services, makes it available to them. And what they found is

[00:04:07.05] spk_0:

[00:04:36.65] spk_1:
are so hardworking and so grateful for it that they really prioritized paying back the loans, depa visiting money when they had extra and it made for a bank that was able to sustain itself over time and help many of those women and their families get out of poverty, if not in that generation then set up their Children to get out of poverty. So, and you know, it’s it’s loans to start start or expand a small business. Um and uh is is, you know, so it’s not just loans for consumption or loans for uh some of it may go to that, but it’s mainly loans to engage in some sort of productive activity that the poor are doing already for the most part, but just do it a little more capital.

[00:05:23.14] spk_0:
You quote Mohammed Yunus uh saying that I think it’s access to capital or or access to credit is a human, right? Let’s acquaint us with Muhammad Yunus because he’s, he’s key to the, to the, well, he’s the founder, He’s key to this expansion of microfinance. I know he’s a mentor of yours, a colleague of yours, a friend of yours, acquaintance with this with this nobel laureate, you

[00:05:45.25] spk_1:
know, I’ve I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life, big and small, but one of the best was adopting him as a mentor at a time where he was willing to take on someone with, you know, only know skills, just idealism and energy. Um and I’ve adopted many more mentors, but he was he was a very good choice. Uh um and basically, when he talks about credit as human right? Just just to take that he’s, you know, people have criticized it and people who criticized him up and down. Uh and you know, that’s part of being a public figure and getting the Nobel prize and all

[00:05:53.35] spk_0:
something bold.

[00:06:58.93] spk_1:
Exactly. Um and if if you if you want to do something bold for society, you know, and you want to be successful, get ready for criticism. It’s it’s coming your way. But basically what he’s saying is, you know, and when the U. N. Says that everyone has a right to free speech or to health, health for all the way it was normally done was it was like it was the responsibility of governments to bring that to people? And he said, why don’t we give people a right to actually realize those things for themselves and and he thought that one of the key tools that people could use to actually realize their own right to food and right to shelter was to actually have the credit to be able to to be an agent of their own empowerment rather than waiting for someone else to do it. And so that’s why you said it was it was the human right that could help bring a lot of the other human rights to people who lack them. But basically he was a you know, so you know, son of a of a kind of upper middle class jeweler, not very wealthy but not poor in Bangladesh uh went off on a Fulbright fellowship like I would do to his country, but he took the full full right to the U.

[00:06:59.74] spk_0:
S. Uh

[00:07:45.46] spk_1:
got a PhD in economics at Vanderbilt. And while he was, you know, thinking about staying in the United States, he liked it here when his country fought a liberation War and became independent in 1971 he got caught up in the idealism of building a new country and he moved back to what would a country that kind of isn’t far from what Haiti is today in terms of broken down, nothing works. No, you know, just it was, and he said, well let’s just start and he started teaching. Um but but he didn’t get too far into teaching Economics at the second most prestigious university in the country um before he just started saying, gosh, you know, this seems kind of empty teaching when people are starving outside my classroom, let’s go figure out, let me get close to the problem um that and see what’s going on there and see if I can even help one person. And through through a series of hundreds and hundreds of conversations with people in the villages around his university,

[00:07:55.99] spk_0:
he he

[00:08:04.06] spk_1:
said, first of all, agriculture is important. So he started a pretty successful agricultural program, but then he said that didn’t really do it. He said that fundamentally people lack access to capital to apply their skills in the market place. Um And then he started a tiny credit program, but then he had the boldness and the and the tenacity to develop

[00:08:16.87] spk_0:
his own first with his own money.

[00:08:55.03] spk_1:
Yeah, he his 1st $27 was he just, he couldn’t, but then he said wait a second, I can only do this, I can’t do this for you know, I so then he started getting banks involved in doing it institutionally. But originally he was just he was shocked that such a small amount of money was holding people back because basically people were, you know, in the thrall of of money lenders and basically most of the profits of the work they did, they were they were quite skilled stool makers in that village. It happened uh and they were making these beautiful stools and getting a tiny fraction of the value of them because they didn’t have the money to buy the raw materials. So he just he likes $27. Will will will set you all free from almost slavery, you know, I’ll do it today, but then he said, What’s the institutional solution to this after they he saw them succeed and

[00:09:08.21] spk_0:
that and that

[00:09:09.14] spk_1:
Started what became Grameen Bank, which today serves eight million women across this country and has been a model for programs serving tens of millions more.

[00:09:23.87] spk_0:
And uh he and the bank won the Nobel peace Prize In in 2006.

[00:09:45.80] spk_1:
It was a big surprise. I mean, I I thought if he was ever gonna win, it was gonna be 2005, which was the international year of microcredit, which we a bunch of us kind of had been conniving to get the U. N. To adopt and they finally did and but and once they didn’t get it, then we thought it was lost cause and they, you know, they have oddsmakers for who’s gonna win Nobel prizes, you know, like for everything And he wasn’t even on the like the top 10. And yet he is a surprise he wanted um and it was, it was just, you know, an amazing recognition. Um it was also a double edged sword as I didn’t, as I barely understood then I should say. Um it was going to bring new resources and attention to him and his work and people that worked with him like me but would also bring new scrutiny and criticism and enemies uh and all that played out in the years after that surprise announcement.

[00:10:14.77] spk_0:
Did you go to the ceremony?

[00:10:16.60] spk_1:
I did. Um I

[00:10:18.78] spk_0:
looked okay. I looked for you in the audience. There were, there was a couple of videos, I didn’t see you. I want, I figured you were there. I looked for you.

[00:10:57.73] spk_1:
Yeah, it was, you know, it’s, it’s always you know, kind of a classic problem. You get a big honor and who travels with you and and all. But you know, I was fortunate enough to be invited. I, I sat in row 12 next to my board chair, Grameen Foundation and friend Susan Davis. Uh and uh uh and uh and it was just you know, it was, it was like this dream come true and then you go to this concert afterwards and like Lionel Richie and Sharon Stone and all these people are celebrating it just, I remember walking out of that evening and like oh my God, like everything we wanted in terms of, you know, getting people to pay attention to what Muhammad Yunus had done that we always felt was not given the attention, it deserves, its like that era is over and it was over but the year ahead

[00:11:10.10] spk_0:
was didn’t

[00:11:24.61] spk_1:
turn exactly as we thought, but but it was an amazing recognition. The Norwegians do a super classy job with it. The weather stinks of that type of year. But other than that, it’s just it’s every aspect of it is done beautifully and they’ve really the whole city, maybe the whole country, I didn’t really travel is like it’s a city designed around the concept of

[00:11:31.65] spk_0:

[00:11:32.39] spk_1:
Um and museums and everything about it is um they’ve like adopted the Nobel Peace Prize almost became their like civic religion. Uh and it’s just beautiful.

[00:11:56.01] spk_0:
You know, my work is planned giving the Nobel prizes were originally a gift in Alfred Nobel’s will to uh to I think to a university. Yeah,

[00:11:56.50] spk_1:
there’s something around that history

[00:11:58.02] spk_0:
and and

[00:11:59.12] spk_1:
then all of them are in all the mix up. The peace Prize I believe are given in Sweden. But because he believed also in Norwegian Sweden kind of solidarity, he had the peace prize done in Oslo and uh and that’s been a tradition ever since, I guess that must have been in his will as well,

[00:13:01.15] spk_0:
This idea of of $27 being transformative to to someone’s business. Um and and you know, let’s just let’s just say a little more about that. He started in Bangladesh. And then, but then, I mean the bank between the bank and the foundation, I recorded uh Philippines, Nicaragua, India Uganda Rwanda Cameroon Haiti Indonesia. Uh the us were gonna, I’d like to talk something about the US to uh where maybe $27 isn’t quite transformational, but still what we would consider small amounts of capital can be can be Transformative, but you know, talk about those opening days where and what what the lives of the women were like that, $27 could be could be so influential. So so valuable to them. Well,

[00:13:30.32] spk_1:
it’s, you know, it’s a little misleading because $27 was worth more than and the and the and the and the Bangladeshi Taco is worth more. But you know, still it’s a it’s a small amount, it’s let’s let’s say in today’s dollars, it might be uh you know, a couple $100 for 40 people. Um And we’re talking

[00:13:31.17] spk_0:
About, let me just orient folks, we’re talking about mid 70s, the bank started in 1976.

[00:16:07.80] spk_1:
Yeah, he exactly, he he had been kind of walking around the village is um basking in the glow of the successful agriculture project, but then the people who didn’t have any land were like, we didn’t really get help much. Um And so he said, well what would help you? And then basically he found that and this has become a generalized issue that, you know, as as my board chair, Susan Davis said um she said, you know, in the in in developing countries, there aren’t enough jobs, there isn’t a social safety net. So basically a lot of people, it’s You work for yourself or you starve. Now you may not be the greatest entrepreneur or you may be very good, but it’s your only choice. And so you try your best to do some sort of economic activity that you don’t need to rely on someone else to employ you or the government to give you resources, you’re on your own. And so people use, I mean some of these businesses are capitalized with the equivalent of $10 or $15. Um and and it’s very inefficient because you know, they need to go back and buy raw materials every day. And that costs money. And so, and so suddenly if you, if you have someone running a a tiny tiny business, whether it’s trading or manufacturing or services and you go from having working capital of $15 to $100 that can be revolutionary, that can bring efficiencies that can allow you to take risks that can allow you to go to scale that you wouldn’t, and then, and some people stabilize their, you know, they don’t, poverty isn’t gonna end in their generation, it may end in the next one because they use a little bit of surplus to educate their kids. But other people, you know, people that might have been Bill Gates, uh, if they lived born in different circumstances. Next thing, you know, their business is $500 of capital and $1000 and $10,000. Uh and uh, and again, people say, well not not all of the poor entrepreneurs and true, but but all poor people want to survive. And again, when they’re not jobs, there’s no social safety net, you gotta, you gotta try your best at business because that’s your only option and you’re probably gonna be more successful of two conditions. One is you get capital and two, if you, if you’re in a supportive network of people that are going to try to open doors for you throw business your way, talk you out of bad ideas and and and foolhardy risks because as I say, running nonprofits or, or you know, I would have a lot of good ideas, but one out of every three of my ideas was a bad one and I would have smart people around me to talk me out of the bad ones because I didn’t know what they were. Well, the same thing is with Grameen the ingenuity of what he said is he organized people in these support groups or solidarity groups and you couldn’t, you couldn’t borrow from the bank unless you were part of one. And those groups have incentives

[00:16:21.14] spk_0:
to be

[00:16:37.07] spk_1:
there to kind of support and oversee and help each borrower which is, you know, important for any, I mean you talk to any business man who survived or woman, they’re gonna say, you know, there were, there were moments where I almost came off the rails, but someone helped me. Um, and a family member and investor, a spouse, whatever and you’re trying to re create that supportive environment social environment through building it into the lending system. And and that meant that you didn’t even need collateral because you had that supportive network the incentive to repay. And and you know, absent short periods after a natural disaster, Grameen has had 97 98 99% repayment for its entire history.

[00:17:42.86] spk_0:
You just scratched the surface of something that I’d like to go a little deeper on our misconceptions of the poor that there that that that they’re not bright that they’re not ambitious. Uh many may in fact be illiterate, but it goes beyond, it goes beyond the the misconceptions that we have that in terms of their their innate skills and resourcefulness and desires. Talk some about what you think are misconceptions here in the US are around the poor. Yeah.

[00:18:05.26] spk_1:
And and and people tend to be particularly misconceived around the poor in their own society. You know, they might say, well the poor of Asia are hardworking maybe. But in my own environment. And because you see the way the way I see it is, you know, we have to tell ourselves stories that that we can kind of live with ourselves if we don’t live in poverty of why it’s okay that people um why there are people here that I don’t have to like, you know spend a lot of time trying to address that because if you know, if if they’re

[00:18:12.39] spk_0:
not, if

[00:18:13.44] spk_1:
they’re not bright if they’re not hard working if they’re somehow engaged in uh self destructive behavior and all of that happens sometimes. But if that’s the root cause of it, then I can kind of let myself off the

[00:18:24.12] spk_0:
hook and I can let

[00:20:14.45] spk_1:
my government off the hook, I can let my charitable work because it’s like they do it to themselves. And and yet the truth is that people that live in conditions of poverty in certain ways are more highly skilled than you and I um as one of the women and I quote in the book who ran a kind of a like a microcredit program in Connecticut, she says, you show me a woman on $600 a month on a welfare check or through a business who can like get her family through the month, month after month. Like that’s a scrambler. That’s someone who can like optimize finance more than you and I can and and so you know, we you get thrown into an environment, you and I were to get thrown into environment and let’s say the language issue wasn’t there and we had almost nothing and you know, you know, and a lot of people around us that almost nothing we would fail. And they would succeed because they know how to, they know how to kind of get the most out of a small amount of resources and you and I aren’t used to doing it’s a skill we don’t have. And so when you start and this is Mohammed Yunus is kind of brilliance and it’s really generalize Herbal outside of the financial services, is he? It’s really a strengths based approach. It’s like, let’s and and there’s a management theories like this that I’ve been exposed to a little bit, which is, they say, you know, if you’re a worker in the white collar worker and don’t spend your life trying to trying to address your weaknesses, just put yourself in a job that maximizes your strengths and forget about your weaknesses. And, you know, it it’s as good as far as it goes. But in this case he’s saying, let’s let’s look at what the poor, the mere fact that they’ve survived poverty means they must have some skills and drive and determination and tenacity. And then let’s build on that and let’s build a financial system that kind of, that draws that out rather than looking at them as a series of deficits that need to be addressed by, you know, you know, by well intentioned people that are gonna teach them something, uh you know, at the end of the day about surviving with a little the small amounts of resources, the poor have a lot to teach us.

[00:22:25.12] spk_0:
It’s time for a break turn to communications. They have their bi weekly newsletter out, they talk about sort of timeless strategies, things that they’re advising you take a look at again for the new year that they’ve talked about in the past over this past year going public with a new strategy. New strategy is only as good as your ability to explain what it aims to achieve and why it matters to your key audiences. The case for creating a PR wolfpack enlist a squad of allies to help drive your PR efforts because journalists are so overworked and burdened, it’s hard to get their attention. Are you overlooking your most important audience encouraging you to speak smartly be intentional about when you’re talking internally to your, your own teams and the power of apology saying you’re sorry and meaning it never goes out of style. Of course, there’s a link to each of these where you can read the full post in the newsletter. They just give you a little little paragraph and I reduce that to a sentence. You can get their newsletter which is called on message. If you go to turn hyphen two dot c o. Because why would you want to do that? Your story is their mission. That’s why now back to Grameen team dream. Most of these folks I think are are born into poverty. You know, so it’s it’s been generation after generation. And as you said earlier, you know, if if if they can’t get themselves out of poverty in, in their own generation, you’re you’re confident that the next generation will will be better off than than their parents. That’s

[00:22:25.43] spk_1:
right. And, you know, the research on microfinance, which is a whole controversial area that I’ve taken

[00:22:30.37] spk_0:
some, I’ve

[00:22:57.38] spk_1:
taken some stands on that been highly criticized and um and we can get into that if you want. But basically what it tends to say um is that, you know, a segment of borrowers somewhere between 10 and 25% do extremely well. Like there there again, these are these are people that might have been Bill Gates um or mike Bloomberg, if they’re born in different circumstances, you give them $100 and wake up five years later and they’re like, they’re doing great uh for that village. And uh then there’s another segment, pretty much most of the rest who are only gonna benefit modestly, like their entrepreneurial skills are limited there, they’re there and they work hard with it. Um and and people say, oh my God, only, you

[00:23:10.99] spk_0:
know, you know,

[00:24:09.40] spk_1:
Only 25% succeed. Well, the truth of the matter is 25% succeed wildly and the rest succeed modestly. But when I when I’ve gone back to visit with people who have benefited from microfinance, you know, and and some of these studies just follow them for six or 12 months and I go back like six years or 12 years or 20 years later, I see that, you know, they’re still living in conditions that maybe aren’t that much better than they lived before, but especially when you lend to the women who tend to think inter generationally have a longer term um kind of you than men do. I think on average and all the societies I know that they they took that extra money and they invested it in the nutrition of the Children so their brain development was a little better. They hired a private tutor to make sure they would pass the government exam so they could get a good job. And then you see that you know that the the educational status, the nutritional status, the ability to get a job or to create your own job. Um it’s just wildly different from one generation to the other. So if you look at that woman, did she get out of poverty in the two years since she started bothering three years? No, but did she have a plan that she was now able to put into motion so that her Children, you stop that generational cycle of poverty with her generation very frequently I saw. Yes. And and again, I don’t think the researchers have have had the patience to look at that. Look at those long term trends, but to someone who’s been around the field for 30 years, they’re very obvious to me.

[00:24:46.96] spk_0:
I’m glad you brought in women because initially the bank was lending to anyone, but women turned out to be the better credit risk. They were more reliable re payers than than the men. Can you flush that out a little more than than what you said. Just you know,

[00:25:11.00] spk_1:
this Mohammed Yunus didn’t begin as this kind of like this feminist, you know, ideal. He he just, he kind of approached it pretty and pretty simple, pragmatic way. He said the banking system as I understand it has three balls, it’s anti poor, anti women and anti illiterate.

[00:25:17.38] spk_0:

[00:27:02.17] spk_1:
I wanna I wanna bank that that you don’t need collateral, you can be poor and borrow um that you don’t have to read and write will figure that one out. So you and I want 50% of my borrowers to be women because 50% of population is women. Uh and and and those are the objectives he set for himself. Now a few years in he noticed something, he noticed that the women were very dedicated to repaying their loans absent some major tragedy. They always paid back. Men were a little more erratic. Um Men’s business were a little more profitable, but they were also but also they took more risks and and more than failed. Um And uh and they and the women really kind of that that group solidarity uh took root a lot more uh you know, being supportive of each other. Um and having that kind of conscience to say, gosh, my business is going well. But the woman in my group is struggling. Let me go see what’s how I can help her just seems to be more of a kind of a feminine characteristic. Uh And so from that point onward, he said, you know what, basically all new groups that we form, we’re gonna be women. He didn’t kick out the men. He said they came in, but we changed the rules and um and I think, you know, and what ultimately happens here now, some people criticize microfinance. Well then, you know, borrowers, the women borrowers, but they give the money to the men. Sometimes it happens, sometimes they give them part of the money and they keep part of the money for their own business. Uh There are lots of variations. But but what what what Muhammad Yunus ultimately said is we want to help poor families, but if normally the representative of the family to an institution is the father or the husband and might work in some cases, but he said, microfinance works best when we’re helping the family, but the representative of the family is the mother or the wife. Um And then she, and that gives

[00:27:08.50] spk_0:
her kind

[00:27:49.63] spk_1:
of respect in the community and within the family, it gives her some kind of leverage even if she hands over the loan to her husband. Still, it came through her. Uh And that kind of changes the way he sees her oftentimes. Um So he once, once he saw this dynamic that it worked better, especially from the perspective of reducing poverty. Um then then he said, you know, I’m just gonna go with women here. I’m not gonna ignore the men, I’m going to, you know, pay them respect. But they are the husbands of our clients, uh, and we respect them, but we don’t lend to them, We don’t do business with them, especially on the loan side. And if they want to deposit money with us fine. And And he and he advised people who took his idea forward like Grameen America, which has done it so successfully in the us for the past 12 years. Um he said start with women only. Like we we just we made a mistake early on the 5050 thing was an experiment. And but once we learned, you don’t have to do that. Just start with women and just go with it 100%.

[00:28:25.25] spk_0:
I want to shift a little bit, I guess maybe from the, from the factual to the to the more opinion, because you’ve worked in poverty alleviation for decades. What what do you what do you see as the causes of poverty? Well,

[00:30:35.60] spk_1:
I mean, the causes of poverty, I mean, you know, you go, you know, at its core, um you know, you have to look at, you know, you have to look at colonialism, you have to look at racism. You have to look at some of the, I mean, ultimately, if you if you go back before the Industrial Revolution by today’s standards, everyone was poor, like 95% of people were poor. Um, and uh, and so that was the norm. But then once, once, as we as a civilization started to kind of accumulate wealth uh um that then, you know, there were there were there were people in a position to um to kind of get benefit from that wealth um whether it was natural resources or industrialization or whatever, that um that certain people just were able to accumulate a lot of wealth and and others weren’t. And and that’s when you and and again, I look at when I think about poverty, I think much, much less about income, which can fluctuate and not be that great indicator, but assets. And one of the things you see in this country is the average african american family is many of your listeners know as about 10% of the net worth of the average white family. Um and so assets give you options, assets allow you to think, gosh, we see a business opportunity, let’s take that. Um We, you know, we, we want to, we want to kind of place a bet on our brightest kid to go to a very expensive school and when you have assets, you have options. Um and maybe people don’t always make the right decision with their options, but by having them and within a family structure where you can kind of, you know, bring in bad decisions and you know like like it is with the solidarity group. So um so I think, you know, the poverty to score is about um is ultimately about wealth and it’s about assets. It’s about productive assets who owns them. And are there ways in society um to ensure that people that don’t have access to productive assets, whether it’s an education or working capital for a business, um, if they can’t get them to the market mechanism through a pure capitalistic economy that there are other places they can go um whether it’s the state which has pros and cons or whether it’s a kind of a special purpose organization, like, I mean that there are alternatives for people that, and for those of us that have a degree of assets, we don’t need a lot of help. Um but for those that have, don’t have much in the way of assets and don’t have much in the way of options. Are there alternatives to them? And the countries that have made the most progress around poverty have created those kind of non market or quasi market alternatives. So people can accumulate wealth and and basically create options for their family that are, you know, commensurate with people that have been able to accumulate wealth one way or the other.

[00:31:29.57] spk_0:
I feel like it’s time for a story because the book is replete with stories of people succeeding some different degrees as you’ve suggested to different degrees, but um I don’t, you know, you pick one maybe a story about one of the solidarity groups or an individual give us uh give us a make this personal yeah,

[00:31:33.61] spk_1:
so you know, so first of all, you know I

[00:31:35.17] spk_0:
had before

[00:32:38.86] spk_1:
I was really qualified to do this book, the Bangladesh side, I needed to learn the language, I needed to do my homework in terms of the culture um and uh and yet to be able to, you know, it helped being an american to tell it to a global audience um but I really need to immerse myself. And one of the, one of the people I got to know um was a woman named non sometimes go by Nani um and she was from a hindu family, this is a majority muslim village, majority muslim country, but up until fairly recently the religious minorities were fairly well treated in Bangladesh, one of the, you know the good things, many good things about the society and so she and you know her her hindu caste was typically involved in somehow kind of making sweets and out of, you know, cottage cheese is the raw material of most indian sweets and desserts, you know, and uh and so she, her family through a series of things, you know, stupid lawsuits from one family to another, which is, you know, which happens in this country in every country and and some more natural disasters. They’re they’re basically they’re working capital to do their business that they knew very well was depleted and so ultimately they just had nowhere else to turn but to have the men in the family,

[00:32:50.92] spk_0:
you know

[00:34:36.60] spk_1:
Hire themselves out as day laborers for wealthy farmers and that was it and their skills kind of start to erode and when grooming came, in they lent you know $80 was the first loan uh and nobody’s like we’re back in business and she started slowly, you know, being to buy milk, turning into cottage cheese, sell the cottage cheese, turned the cottage cheese into sweets um and then started to trade, you know, so slowly slowly it took three or four years. Um you know, they kind of revived a dormant skill and one of the things that you know, I you know and got the whole family involved after school, the kids would go home and they would help with their piece. Um and because she was very entrepreneurial but if you looked at her pre grammy and you just say oh this is some sort of uneducated family, the women are kind of lazy, they’re just sitting around the men work in the fields when they can get work otherwise they just sit around and they must have no skills and they were highly skilled but lacking capital lacking, you know that that they basically their skills were just not being used and then the, and I used to sit around, I watched them turn, you know gallons and gallons and gallons of milk into basically like usually like a duffel bag full of cottage cheese or sometimes two or three of them. And it was, you know, using very, what we call primitive thing, uh, tools that would have been, you know, would have been well recognized in the 18 thirties here in the US. Uh, and they still work. Um, and so, but one of the most interesting is at 1.1 of their breakthroughs and there were a series of breakthroughs and setbacks, like any businesses, they got a contract with a, with a, with a shop in the capital, uh, to supply them with cottage cheese that the shop would then turn into sweets according to their own cooking method and baking method. And

[00:34:36.83] spk_0:
so, so

[00:34:38.06] spk_1:
it was a great contract. And what would happen is they would bring in like imagine a duffel bag stuffed with cottage cheese or two or three and they would deliver it, they would take it on bicycles, 10 miles to the bus stop, they would get on a bus, go to Daka, deliver it and then the store owner would say, okay tomorrow, we need to, to um, duffel bags full like one today, but we need more tomorrow. And so, and then they would just have to deliver whatever the, whatever they asked

[00:35:05.21] spk_0:
for. So

[00:35:53.34] spk_1:
that’s a, that’s a lot of work to do that. And then they had, you know, two men in the household would then again bike with like, you know, £80 of cottage cheese on their crossbar and then get on a bus and go there, come back. So at one point, there was a major transit strike um, and, and non evil is very, very compelling person in her group, but I’m going to talk about the men for a second in the family because she kind of put them to work and they’re like, once they got this, they were never gonna let it go. So there was a transport strike, 14 days, the busses were not running in the country, I was stuck in the capital, and I was like, what? And I finally got back, the strike was over and I said, did you lose the contract? Because the deal was, if they ever don’t deliver what they’ve asked for the previous night, the contract is null and void, that was the, that was the deal. So they said, oh no, no, what everything was fine, what do you mean, everything fine? Um, you know, said,

[00:35:56.01] spk_0:
well, instead of

[00:36:57.80] spk_1:
only biking 10 miles to the bus stop and getting on a bus and going 40 miles to um, the capital, we just biked the whole 50 miles and then we would turn around the next morning and bike back and we did that 14 days in a row, um, you know, because that’s what you need to do to keep this, um, and uh, and you know, tony who is really like the mother hand of the whole family and frankly the mother had of the whole group of borrowers in that in that village. Um you know, she just insisted on it and uh and so you had this family that was just you know, was was that kind of so passionate about their business would never let this contract go. And then she was also very kind to other people like she was the one who would insist on a very poor woman who want to join grameen that people kind of have doubts about. She’d say let her in, I’ll guarantee her loan like like if she doesn’t pay like you know, she knew how to kind of pay it forward, give back, you know, she, she knew that had that $80 loan set her free, let her recover her past glory. Her family as a, as a sweet making cottage cheese making family and she was willing to pay it forward. So just uh you know, remarkable kind of woman was, was not educated herself, but all of her Children were getting educated. That’s where a lot of her profits went to. And you know, I just got to meet and get intimate with the people, Some were not as nearly as successful as she were, but they revealed things about themselves and

[00:37:16.40] spk_0:
then I was, I

[00:37:17.59] spk_1:
followed a bunch of women who were borrowing from microcredit program modeled on on the south side of

[00:37:23.24] spk_0:

[00:37:47.41] spk_1:
and they also let me into their lives in a in a surprising degree. Uh but you know, I stuck around for two years. So they didn’t do it on day one and I just got to see how it could be applied, okay, not with an $80 loan, but maybe with $1000 loan that could grow to be 34, 5000 if they paid back over time. And I saw the same dynamic in a in a in a in a in a really poor neighborhood in Chicago that I saw in rural Bangladesh and just got to know and be friends with, you know, about a half dozen women. Both really get to know them very well. Uh intimate details about their histories about when they’ve been going through the worst thing in their life and the best things. And uh and they gave me permission to write about all of it in the book to give people a sense of that. You know, poor people are not hopeless people, poor people are not um

[00:38:16.24] spk_0:

[00:38:16.65] spk_1:
people, you know,

[00:38:17.30] spk_0:
just lack a

[00:38:36.28] spk_1:
few things um in order to kind of get back on track and they wanted that story to be told. And I told it the best that I could. But you know, the original edition suffered from some of the maturities that I had in my late twenties when I wrote it. And it was a good writer. But I wasn’t like I wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t as um just sensitive to the things I should have been. And so this book, I was able to really take all the great writing of the first edition, but also take out all the things that weren’t quite right. Uh, and uh, and this is the book it always meant to be that came out, you know,

[00:39:53.15] spk_0:
two months ago, non ease story is going to resonate with any entrepreneur or ceo, you know, you do what you have to do when, when cash flow is poor and payroll is due in a couple of days. You do what you have to do. Whether that means tap the credit line or get a credit line approach, fundraiser, approach donors in a way that you wouldn’t, wouldn’t like to, but go without yourself. You know, you do what you do what you have to do. And by the way, the couple of things I mentioned first were access to capital. You know, you get a credit line or tap a credit line or go to fundraiser. Sorry, go to donors. Well, those are, those are three sources of two. Those are two different sources of access to capital that Nonnie and the millions of other women in poverty, you know, didn’t have before before Grameen, but do what you have to do. I mean, everybody’s everybody’s been there who’s in charge of something. Yeah,

[00:39:53.53] spk_1:
I mean, and you know, and, and I mean, I think I was probably channeling her when, you know, in Year two of Grameen Foundation, when we were, we had a, you know, first of a couple of financial

[00:40:02.53] spk_0:

[00:40:31.26] spk_1:
Um and uh and I just said, well I’m gonna go off salary for three months to conserve our cash so that my my employees get paid and uh, and we, you know, we don’t run out of cash and I did that and do that again a year later and I never had to do it again after that. But I realized that, you know, I’m not, I have a little bit of a safety net. My wife had a decent job and uh, I could, you know, turn to my family if I needed to and you know, that had everyone else appreciate that I sacrificed. Um and uh and they just kind of dug in and and uh, and shared my, you know, deep in their commitment to the mission of the organization which was spreading women around the world. It was a very noble thing that we’re trying to do uh take a success

[00:40:44.21] spk_0:

[00:41:18.57] spk_1:
uh that uh and and bring it to its full expression globally. And so and we pulled through both of those crises and grew to become a pretty good sized organization. And without without that you no willingness to just do what it takes in that moment. Maybe that organization just kind of dies an early death. Uh and uh, and I wasn’t gonna let that happen, nor was she. And so the tenacity to to to build a micro businesses a large business and nonprofit. It’s, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s similar. Um, and and, and as you know, i in my, my other book, changing the world with losing your mind, I try to talk about that’s important, but it’s also important for you to take care of yourself to to, you know, you can work intensively and sacrifice for short bursts, but then you need to replenish yourself. Um and uh, and that’s, that’s another important part of it all. But yeah, there are times where you just need to do whatever it takes. Uh and uh, and then you have your war stories to tell your kids and grandkids at some point.

[00:43:44.10] spk_0:
Yeah, when you look back, it’s so much less painful when you’re looking back, of course It’s time for Tony Take two, please, over these next couple of weeks, take time for yourself. And that doesn’t necessarily mean be by yourself, although it might whatever it is that lifts you up. If that’s being with certain people who energize you and lift you make you feel good, bring out your best spend time with those folks as much as you can. Uh and that may, or that may not be family. I realize that hopefully it is, that would be very nice. But in a lot of cases, that’s not always family. I understand, believe me, I understand, uh, without getting into a therapy session. So, but we all have obligations? Of course you got to fulfill those, that’s what they are. But beyond that, what is it that lifts you up? Maybe it’s weightlifting. I don’t know, whatever it is that juices, you take time to do it. If it’s with other folks, please seek them out. If it’s by yourself, please make that time too. And you got to make that time, you’re never gonna find it, you have to make it all. This is to remind you that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. And there’s a good fresh New Year coming. You’re gonna be taking care of a lot of other folks. Take care of yourself first. That is Tony’s take two for these next few weeks, enjoy, we’ve got boo koo, but loads more time for the Grameen Team dream with Alex counts. Are these loans in part grants of pride? I see it as boosting people up just because you know, they can build something that that that they can point to and they have people who believe in them. So I saw this as sort of a pride, a pride boost. It’s

[00:43:59.42] spk_1:
it’s, you know what it is, is in a way that it might be more dramatic than these some of these people have ever had in their lives. It’s a vote of confidence.

[00:44:08.64] spk_0:

[00:44:35.95] spk_1:
like you can do this. Um we’re gonna put we’re gonna put our money, we’re a big institution in your hands, we trust you. Um Again, trust you because you convinced some other women in the village that your business plan made sense and they’re gonna be there for you, but we trust you. And what often happens with the first loan, not so much, no money was like off to the races that, you know, within months, but a lot of women who maybe have more modest entrepreneurial ability, like

[00:44:36.71] spk_0:
they, that

[00:44:37.38] spk_1:
first year they’re, they’re like really nervous.

[00:44:39.77] spk_0:

[00:44:40.69] spk_1:
you know, they make a make a business decision that isn’t that smart and they just kind of scrape by at the end of the year, they pay off their loan and like there’s, there’s not a lot of surplus there, but they pay it off and they like are so relieved. Um, and

[00:44:56.18] spk_0:
but then they’re

[00:44:56.85] spk_1:
like, wait, this isn’t that hard,

[00:44:59.24] spk_0:

[00:45:11.14] spk_1:
I paid back a loan that was more, I got more money as a loan that I never held in my hand in my whole life and I invested it and it didn’t go perfectly, but like I can do this. And so I always think of the first loan is like a starter loan. It’s like the preseason, you know, in baseball or football where it’s like, you, you just, you know, you’re just trying to get your sea legs um, to mix metaphors I suppose and

[00:45:23.41] spk_0:
I don’t know much about sports to begin with,

[00:45:35.22] spk_1:
but, but it’s like you, you know, you, you get to do a trial run. Um and yet someone trusted you and you and you didn’t let them down and you’re like you know what, this is that hard

[00:45:37.67] spk_0:
like I just need to

[00:46:06.35] spk_1:
Relax like I’m like I’m actually worthy and these women are here to help me and then from the second loan which normally they’ll allow you to take if you want to maybe 50% more than you took the first year. So you go from a $50 loan to $75 loan. And that first loan is that it’s really a confidence building loan. It’s people discovering their capabilities as a market actor and as and as someone in their family and in their communities. Um And one of the things they looked at is um there’s a study, a study done in Bangladesh and I wish there had been more studies of microfinance in Bangladesh. But the ones that were there were very and they said that you know, a woman, a woman who borrows from Grameen, they defined what empowered person was about how influential she is in her family and in her society and whether she, you know, whether she can make large purchases on her own without her spouse’s permission and they

[00:46:29.50] spk_0:
Just you know 10

[00:46:32.23] spk_1:
different indicators and and a woman who is borrowing from Grameen was eight times more likely to be empowered with really mean, which means she has some, some real say about what happens in her life and she’s she’s an agent, not just just someone who waits for things to happen. She makes things happen. And then they found that actually

[00:46:50.53] spk_0:

[00:47:58.80] spk_1:
who saw other Grameen women work, but they didn’t themselves join Grameen. They were 2.5 times more likely to be empowered than people who are not in Grameen in a non Grameen village. So empowerment was almost contained contagious. Um and and that first loan um which, you know, people, I mean, I watched it, this is not exaggerate, people’s hands are shaking when they get the money. It’s just it’s a it’s a vote of confidence beyond which people um think that they were ever going to get in their lives. And while they may stumble a little bit and they, you know, in being nervous, um you know, because they, you know, they, once they get the hang of it, uh they’re very grateful to the organization, they never want to let it down. And they start discovering capabilities that they had that they didn’t know they had before. And it’s and it’s, you know, it’s whether, you know, a lot of people have this experience in school where a teacher saw potential in them, gave them a vote of confidence that they discovered their intellectual abilities and I certainly had that in school. And uh and in this case it’s really just almost basic level of being a human being and an economic actor in a in a culture where again jobs and safety nets aren’t present, everyone is on their own and here you’re saying, you know you you in this market economy you can make it work and I’m gonna I’m gonna put a bet on you and if and if you know, and then go for it and it just it’s like it’s transformational in the sense of a vote of confidence amount of money isn’t that big, but what it signals to the person, the community is huge.

[00:50:18.66] spk_0:
So so your vote of confidence, so empowering, empowering. Um I want to move to the Foundation because that that brings us to the U. S. And south side of Chicago. But I want folks to know there’s so much more about the history of Grameen in the book. You know, there was a crisis in late 2010, 2011 and a front page Wall Street Journal article. You know, you gotta you gotta get the book for the for this rich history. Um So all right, but I would like to I’d like to talk with the talk about the foundation. You let it for the 1st 18 years. Uh it came 21 years after the beginning of the bank. If I had my years right, it was it was 1997 and the foundation, I’m sorry, on the bank was 76. And the other thing I want to say about the bank, you gotta understand this was a bank with branches. There were there were hundreds of branches throughout Bangladesh and in other countries. And then they and then in the branches uh some of them had a health Grameen Health Grameen education. And then you can read about Grameenphone and Grameen telecom all empowering. I mean these were not you know, these were not like telecom companies that are that are to uh to spread telecommunications about the country. This is well it does but it does it through individual entrepreneurs, you know, buying a phone or renting a phone and and sharing time a couple of minutes, everybody in the village gets two minutes or something to to check the market price for their for their commodity. So, you know, it’s just I mean this is this is not just like some office in the capital in Dhaka. There’s branches throughout the country and in other countries, branches of a bank. It was it was a bank Grameen bank. So All right, that’s uh that’s the bank. We gotta we gotta but we only got so much time. So we gotta move to the foundation. So you gotta get the book to read more about the bank. The Foundation um 1997. You were you were charged just kicked off with $6,000 and a desire to expand this work to to the poor in in the US you

[00:52:05.37] spk_1:
know my original vision when I wrote to Muhammad Yunus to ask him to host me as a Fulbright scholar was I said um You know with a lot of naivete and that you would have when you’re 19 years old but I said your work should be expanded around the world and I want to help you do it. Uh it shouldn’t just be a solution for your country and you know he was already thinking about that, but he really, it took until 97 when I kind of proved my loyalty to him and my my understanding of what he was doing, he said he said we all these people say to us you know we want to help you take your model global Alex, why don’t you set up an office in the US and try to kind of like mobilize all these people to take make this a global movement um and there were already some small beginnings but take it bigger and so of course I felt totally unprepared to do that and untrained and but I just said you know, yes sir, I’m gonna give it my best shot. And he gave me $6000 which by the way is not a lot of money to start an organization with uh but I didn’t know that and I didn’t care, I just wanted the chance and so we basically just tried to um not really knowing what we were doing, trying to kind of harness all this energy about Grameen in Bangladesh could be a model for many other countries and we were like without a lot of resources in the start let’s let’s let’s try to make that happen um and uh and just one of our early things wins and we had some setbacks and things that you know didn’t go well of course, but there were there were three social entrepreneurs in India who said we we want to take a mean to big scale in India and we’ve got

[00:52:06.40] spk_0:

[00:54:30.80] spk_1:
we now collectively reach 46,000 women which was a lot for the time and we want to grow that to 164,000 women basically triple quadruple outreach and we can do it in, we can do it in 30 months but we need and we need $8 million but all we need from you Alex is a million dollars upfront. Uh and we can use that to attract other money within India and I was like game on and I got named steven Rockefeller nelson Rockefeller’s grandson, a great guy, I just bumped into a reception, you know this is you need to just be working networking every way and he just helped me raise a million dollars in like six weeks in the spring of 2000 and then these we happened to choose the right people to bet on in India because they met their goal of quadrupling outreach of two women in India and by the way they at one point they said, microfinance will never work in India, the caste system, you know, it’ll just, it’s only Bangladesh, it’ll never work in India, but these, these were the guys and when they, when we gave them that million dollars and that and that gave us a kind of a calling card, we said listen, we know how to pick the winners, we know how to get them the early money that unlocks more money and so we just designed all sorts of programs to help in Nigeria and East africa and Philippines and Haiti um you know that we, we just were able to spot people who had that kind of entrepreneur spark, but that also that ethical compass of Muhammad Yunus and bet on them, give them attention, give them money, give them a loan guarantees and and some of them just really hit it out of the ballpark in terms of becoming the Muhammad Yunus of their country. Um and uh and that it just felt great, right, that vision I had at 19 when I wrote this member to, you know this letter to Professor Yunus and despite all of my inadequacies as a leader, especially in the early years uh to be able to attract the money and talent to uh to basically kind of stake people who wanted to apply unisys insight in their countries and let them do that, I just got the biography of a guy who, it was kind of the Muhammad Yunus of Nigeria, which is not an easy country to work in. As as most of your listeners probably know uh it’s more a place where you get, you know, scam solicitations to, you know, to give over your bank account numbers, but there are some very ethical social entrepreneurs and this one guy, Godwin, he just needed just like a start and an ally. And uh and he and during Covid he wrote his memoir and uh and and and sent me a copy. And while, you know, the editing wasn’t done quite as like as well as it should have been all that, you know, to read things and to say like repeatedly like Alex counts and his team

[00:54:45.58] spk_0:

[00:55:21.35] spk_1:
helped us at a critical moment, otherwise this thing could have just collapsed or this thing could have just you know, or I might have collapsed and and to know that he’s not alone in that and I give I give 99% of the credit to him, but to have been an ally to people that were trying to uh take this, take this microfinance revolution and concept to some really hard countries where there’s deep poverty um you know, that’s enormously satisfying and uh and and it was and we had a great time doing it. And then uh and then, you know, the other thing that we may not have much time to talk about, but the Early Grameen lending in Chicago That I mentioned earlier

[00:55:22.98] spk_0:
that a team

[00:55:47.37] spk_1:
Of Bangladesh’s took that and have grown that in the US to an amazing degree in the last 10 years. And finally we can say that microfinance not only works in in the us, but it might even work better than it does in Bangladesh. Uh and it’s just so satisfying to see that. And I had very little role in that. Um but it kind of helped bring some sensitivity to the potential of grameen here. And then a team of Bangladeshis and americans under the leadership of Andrew Young. The former Ceo of Avon have just hit that one out of the park. And it’s just amazing to see

[00:56:14.78] spk_0:
Talk, let’s talk something about Chicago. I understand you that’s not well that wasn’t within your 18 years. You you you were limited, you know, you can only do so much in 18 years. You know, don’t be too don’t be too hard on yourself. Um What what what have we seen in in the US in in helping helping the poor uh emerge.

[00:56:22.06] spk_1:
So, so, you know, again,

[00:56:23.79] spk_0:
I prior

[00:56:46.01] spk_1:
to starting Grameen Foundation when I did the research for this book in Chicago. Um I saw that small loans on a small scale could really help people. But what they didn’t do in Chicago, this program called the women’s self employment program. They didn’t figure out how to kind of systematize the lending process so that it can be done highly efficiently in a large scale but on a small scale I saw Grameen works but the system of massif eyeing it didn’t exist and so I went off to do Grameen and I tried to

[00:56:56.88] spk_0:

[00:56:57.71] spk_1:
people who were doing microfinance in the U. S. Didn’t really go anywhere. And then Mohammad Yunus got kind of frustrated with you know those people like me who were trying to apply a smile in the US and he sent he sent a Bangladeshi guy who had done some consulting for us in the Dominican republic. So he knew some spanish

[00:57:14.21] spk_0:

[00:57:14.51] spk_1:
he just said like start knocking on doors in like Brooklyn and queens and most of them slammed in your face but just ask them like imagine you were in a Bangladeshi village and just ask them like would you be interested in alone for starting your expanding a small business. And like most people slam doors in his face but some of them said I’d be I mean I’m sure you can’t deliver that you’re probably a scam artist but if you ask yes I could use $600 to start a business but you’re never and he would like note them down

[00:57:41.30] spk_0:

[00:57:41.69] spk_1:
Basically they started lending in 2008 like the global financial crisis is whatever and they’re like let’s let’s do this and 2009 they start to get a couple 100 borrowers in New York City, the first branch um and

[00:57:56.23] spk_0:

[00:57:57.14] spk_1:
Forward 14 years and they’re about to lend their $3 billion dollar

[00:58:01.01] spk_0:

[00:59:03.65] spk_1:
Amounts averaging 2000 A 99% repayment. Um and and they have and the research which was done on their Jersey City branch intensively for three years shows that asset accumulation credit scores increasing many social and economic indicators are going in the right direction there. So it’s just it took time um and to get the model right. But but people trained by Yunus again, I I can say that what I did is I really took the model from the U. S. Base and help it grow to other developing countries and uh and you know I’ll forever be proud of my work and that but other people it’s also inspired by Eunice um said we’re gonna we’re gonna figure out this U. S. Market uh And it’s mainly been kind of latino women um though they’re increasing their numbers of african americans and other minorities and and caucasian entrepreneurs but it’s mostly Latina women who kind of come from countries where this kind of entrepreneurship at the grassroots level is more common. Uh So they went with the thing they started with what was likely to work but they’ve just done a bang up job and shown that microfinance uh can work in one of the poorest countries in the world, can work in one of the

[00:59:14.92] spk_0:

[00:59:15.78] spk_1:
Um And And it’s all inspired by a soft spoken Bangladeshi economist who just wandered outside of his classroom and said how can I help

[00:59:43.70] spk_0:
When you say 99% repayment rates? I mean that that’s a triple a. Plus plus, you know, portfolio of of borrowers. I mean the the commitment that they have, it’s it’s remarkable what what kinds of businesses just generally, you know, did you see clusters of types of businesses in here in the U. S.

[00:59:47.00] spk_1:
Sure a lot of them have to do in both Bangladesh and here uh with food um So selling trading food whole, you know buying it wholesale, selling at retail or opening up like a hot dog stand or Tamale

[01:00:01.33] spk_0:
stand. Uh

[01:00:43.19] spk_1:
some of it is catering business, some of it is opening up a little coffee shop, also car detailing, car maintenance, lawns care. A lot of people doing the opening up a little beauty salon or just or just something as simple as getting a chair in someone else’s, you know, kind of you know, manicure pedicure, you know, kind of a thing uh services um selling machine to make clothes. Um And uh and and all sorts of you know just very creative things. One woman going back to the, when I was involved in this um kind of prior to growing America, there was a woman very smart, she wanted money for a camera and what she did is she would go through neighborhoods in in uh poor neighborhood in

[01:00:47.96] spk_0:

[01:00:48.75] spk_1:
in Brooklyn. And she would woman would come out of a beauty shop and said you want me to take your

[01:00:54.14] spk_0:
picture. Um

[01:01:03.91] spk_1:
And this was before cell phones and picture and and like you know for $15 you can get a picture of yourself like looking at your absolute best. Um and uh and she made a business out of that like she, you know, and uh and she would you know get the person’s address and mail it to them because again this is kind of you know little the technology wasn’t as advanced and like people

[01:01:15.59] spk_0:
had ideas.

[01:02:37.50] spk_1:
Um And and so you you think of all of those um um you know, a laundry business, a cleaning business, I mean all that that again sometimes people either can’t do it on the scale that they need to or they can’t do it all without a you know, a few $100 of alone. And again the vote of confidence is critical in the US. Uh and and this comes through in the stories I tell in the book. The vote of confidence that having a supportive group of other women to be there for you is as important is the money. Um And uh and Andrea Young with Grameen America like Professor Yunus, he started experimenting with, okay, what else could we do to support these people educational scholarships, student loans, um giving them good high quality vegetable seeds to grow vegetables um etcetera etcetera. And uh and once you’ve got that economic engine where you lend to the poor, they pay you back with enough interest to pay the costs of the lending operation. Then you can kind of on top of that start a health clinic as you mentioned, which they did in Bangladesh start a rural a solar energy company to bring them solar panels. Um A lot becomes possible once you have that basic lending operation that is you know, break even slightly profitable and bringing that vote of confidence in that capital to to people who who lacked it. We’re often you know, just shocked that anyone would would think about them as a potential lender and

[01:02:42.12] spk_0:
would invest in them. Yeah, you cite someone in the book who says there’s a fortune to be made working at the bottom of the economic pyramid. And that’s that’s where Grameen worked and they did make a they did make a modest profit as you described um Would in the U. S. Was it’s was it mostly women also did that, did that part translate also?

[01:03:05.53] spk_1:
Yes. Uh you know, there are variations on microcredit and Grameen but the people that have kind of been most directly inspired by Mohammad Yunus. They took his advice and they just made it on all women operation from day one. Again does it doesn’t mean that the husbands and the and the kids get involved in the business, like a lot of family businesses. But the woman is the one who um is the liaison from the, from the lender to the family and that’s and that’s worked. Well,

[01:03:43.83] spk_0:
all right Alex Grameen Bank Grameen Foundation, all these decades, you’ve you’ve worked with Muhammad Yunus, what what do you want to, what do you want folks to take away from the Grameen experience?

[01:03:48.75] spk_1:
Well, I think I just, I think that

[01:03:50.59] spk_0:
it’s um

[01:05:18.56] spk_1:
you know, next time you pass a small business and you’re thinking of, oh, I’ll just look in the window and then I’ll buy on amazon what they’re, what they’re carrying, you know, as you use your market power. Um you know, think about the little guy think about the micro entrepreneur who may or may not be getting a micro loan, but they’re still struggling and and use your economic power. Um find mentors like I found Mohammad Yunus to to let you think about, you know, you’re you’re not, you’re nonprofit, you know, the people who listen to your radio program obviously have a lot of idealism and I just think the right mentor at the right time, you know, you can take your idealism and your work ethic and just take it to a whole new level if you’re willing to trust in a mentor and let them guide you, that’s that’s a lesson and that, you know that and that poverty doesn’t really need to exist poverty is a construct based on I think a lack of imagination um and it’s a and it’s a, it’s a construct based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what, because we we we we we create barriers between ourselves and poor people, right? Uh and between and people of other races uh many and we just, we don’t really understand what they’re capable of and Muhammad Yunus figure that out and and once you, once you figure that out, a lot of things become possible and you can really see it in the, in the, in the kind of in the distance, as he would say, a poverty free world, there’ll always be inequality. Um but there doesn’t always have to be poverty and the key insight there is the potential of the world’s poor women, They can be the engine of eliminating poverty if they’re just given the chance, the tools and the votes of confidence and Mohammad Yunus was a shining example of that and I was privileged to play a small role in what he did

[01:05:38.71] spk_0:
Alex counts. The book is small loans, big dreams, Grameen Bank and the micro finance revolution in Bangladesh, America and beyond. You can get the book at Alex counts dot com Alex, thank you so much. Thank

[01:05:56.16] spk_1:
you Tony loved being on your program.

[01:06:03.63] spk_0:
The book is a delight and the stories, Rich, congratulations again, thank

[01:06:04.08] spk_1:
you so much.

[01:06:59.27] spk_0:
Next week, there ain’t no show. Same for the week after. We’ll be back on nine January with Gene Takagi and Amy Sample Ward together. Let’s hear what’s on their minds, respectively. And collectively for 2023, I hope you enjoy your holiday season. Please do take time for yourself. Take care of yourself so you can help the others. If you missed any part of this week’s show, I beseech you find it at tony-martignetti dot com. We’re sponsored by turn to communications pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o. Our creative producer is Claire Meyerhoff shows, social media is by Susan Chavez. Mark Silverman is our web guy and this music is by scott Steiner Brooklyn. Thank you for that. Affirmation Scotty B with me next week for nonprofit radio big nonprofit ideas for the other 95% go out and be great.

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

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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.




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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.

Nonprofit Radio for January 31, 2020: CEO/Chair Relationship

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Alex Counts: CEO/Chair RelationshipYour CEO and board chair need to forge and maintain a strong partnership. Alex Counts shows us how. He’s a consultant, and founder of Grameen Foundation.



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[00:00:14.14] spk_2:
Hello and welcome to tony-martignetti non profit

[00:00:16.74] spk_0:
radio big non profit ideas for the

[00:00:19.67] spk_2:
other 95%.

[00:00:44.44] spk_0:
I’m your aptly named host. Oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’d be thrown in taquito amino acid E mia If you brought me down with the sappy idea that you missed today’s show CEO chair relationship, your CEO and board chair need to forge and maintain a strong partnership. Alex Counts shows us how he’s a consultant and founder of Grameen Foundation on

[00:00:48.09] spk_2:
Tony’s Take. Two planned giving for the decade were sponsored by wegner-C.P.As. Guiding you beyond the numbers wegner-C.P.As dot com by Cougar Mountain Software Denali

[00:01:18.14] spk_0:
Fund Is there complete accounting solution made for nonprofits tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant er Mountain for a free 60 day trial and by turned to communications, PR and content for nonprofits, your story is their mission. Turn hyphen to dot CEO. Now let’s, uh, meet Alex counts Pleasure to welcome him. He’s adjunct professor of public policy at the University of Maryland and a non profit consultant. He’s founder of Grameen Foundation, which has grown to become a leading international humanitarian

[00:01:31.93] spk_2:
organization. He’s got a book Changing

[00:01:41.95] spk_0:
the World Without Losing Your Mind. Leadership lessons from three decades of social entrepreneurship, which is a chronicle of philanthropy. Editor’s pick. He’s at Alex counts dot

[00:01:47.38] spk_2:
com and at Alex counts. What was your name again? Alex counts. Thank

[00:01:49.06] spk_4:
you. It’s great to be here.

[00:01:53.22] spk_2:
Pleasure. Thank you for coming into the city on the studio. Um, tell us about the founding

[00:01:58.65] spk_0:
of Grameen Foundation. Interesting roots in Bangladesh.

[00:02:00.69] spk_4:
Yeah, I was is a college student. I was taken with the work Mohammad Yunus was doing to empower the destitute women of Bangladesh through micro credit, and he would go on to win the Nobel Prize. But I kind of it was Grameen Bank. That was Grameen Bank. And I had this vision in college of If we could take his model and exported to other countries where there is poverty, that would be could be a real breakthrough. It was simplistic, but and I But it was basically a good idea. And so I went in, apprenticed with him for about a decade in Bangladesh, and then I Then I said at one point, it’s time to start kind of an international hub for helping people apply the Grameen Bank ideas to other countries. And so he said, Well, here’s $6000 which I thought was a lot of money to start an organization with. It wasn’t but we were just kind of on a wing and a prayer started What became growing foundation in 97 on Guy was completely unprepared and all sorts of ways to run a non profit and start one. But we went forward and it worked out.

[00:03:07.30] spk_0:
You you say sort of hastily because you’ve got a lot going on. You had a lot going on 10 years living in Bangladesh. You fluent in de she Bengali Bangla. Is it Bangalore? Bengali? Is it? It’s It’s

[00:03:11.32] spk_4:
Bengali and English. It’s Bangla in being Ali.

[00:03:14.13] spk_3:
Okay, Um,

[00:03:15.10] spk_2:
I’ve been

[00:03:21.23] spk_0:
there. I spent I spent two weeks between Bangladesh just in Dhaka and Sir Lanka, which is also a beautiful country. Yeah,

[00:03:23.50] spk_2:
my sense of Bangladesh

[00:03:24.46] spk_0:
was ah, lot of poverty and a lot of very hardworking people. Thes tiny businesses in the micro stalls is I’m thinking of old DACA, but people working hard and you know, whatever their niche was, uh I

[00:03:39.12] spk_2:
saw a lot of hard working, dedicated people,

[00:04:10.25] spk_4:
Absolutely both in the cities and in the rural countryside where I spent a lot of my time and learn. That’s why I really learned Bengali well, but it is my mentor and board chair, Susan Davis. So I met in Bangladesh. She was a Ford Foundation representative and I was, Ah, Fulbright scholar initially, and she said, Listen, Alex, she’s a lot of these pithy statement She said, In a country that doesn’t have enough jobs, by far doesn’t have a social safety net. You have two choices. You work for yourself tiny undercapitalized business in most cases or you starve. And so people, whether they’re intramural ability, is robust or more limited. Starvation is not a great option. So people try to start these tiny businesses.

[00:04:22.68] spk_0:
That’s when I saw yeah, s O. That’s the micro micro lending. And then Mohammed as and all I can imagine, what someone could do with it isn’t even $1000. Is that too much?

[00:05:00.83] spk_4:
So the loans for the first decade of Grameen were typical. Loan was about $70. So your way you’re buying, you know, five chickens and you know you know how to raise chickens. But you never had more money to have more than one u five chickens. You sell the eggs, you pay off the loan with the sales of the eggs. And at the end of the year, you have five chickens that air your asset maybe more assets than you’ve ever had a productive assets you’ve ever had in your life. And Mohammad Yunus is in sight. Was but build a banking system that can actually be viable through making $70 loans and then $100 loans if they pay back and later, larger amounts on and and And that was the essence of his brilliant innovation.

[00:05:15.94] spk_0:
And you were, You were how many years that Green Foundation as founder and CEO

[00:05:21.27] spk_4:
18 years s. I ran it for its 1st 18 years. It was a It was a fantastic ride. And again when we finally started, get some headway is when I realized that a couple things that I need to be fundraiser in chief. That wasn’t something I could delegate and that I needed to craft a very important relationship with my board share.

[00:05:40.90] spk_2:
And those

[00:05:42.86] spk_4:
two insights probably where the, you know, helped us reach kind of escape velocity and get it to erase 10 $2025 million in the year, as opposed to remain a little tiny, non

[00:05:51.46] spk_0:
profit. What a skilled guest you bring in the board. The board chair relationship so smoothly. So not like the boorish host of the show. We’re just abruptly changed course.

[00:06:04.48] spk_2:
All right, so, uh, yeah, so we’re here to talk about Well, you know, we’ll shout

[00:06:08.30] spk_0:
out your book a couple times, uh, changing the world without losing your mind. But

[00:06:12.67] spk_2:
we want to focus

[00:06:23.81] spk_0:
on something that I saw an article that you had written in The Chronicle of Philanthropy about the CEO board chair relationship. Susan Davis was one of your one of your chair. Was she your first? She’s my

[00:06:28.99] spk_4:
third chair. But when we finally I finally got the relationship right was with her, and I give her most of the credit for that. I kind of fumbled it with the 1st 2 board chairs, mainly my fault on dhe. She helped me kind of figure out how to make that just a magical relationship

[00:06:43.90] spk_0:
on dhe critical to the success of an organization you saw Grameen on. You felt it. You saw it and felt it in your relationship with Susan. You saw the organization benefiting and you felt it personally.

[00:07:44.00] spk_4:
I had an ally. I wasn’t so alone. She gained my trust on She would sometimes, you know, step in and do things that I was either incapable of doing or just didn’t have the skills. I mean, it’s just a perfect relationship on. And, you know, she wasn’t the prototypical white male businessman in their sixties with a lot of money, but she brought other assets, and and then, you know, we were ableto have a more traditional board chairs coming after her. But she was in the roll for six and 1/2 years, and she, you know, the the article you mentioned in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The origin of that was I was giving a talk at The Chronicle about my book and about how I went from a completely underprepared non profit executive director, succeeding on some level. And I just kept coming back to my relation with Susan on then the couple of four chairs that followed her, and they said, Would you write an article on that on that you you mentioned so many times you’re talking? I said I’d be thrilled to, and It was a pretty narrow topic, but it got a good response and got me here to be talking with you.

[00:08:10.38] spk_0:
Your life has led you to this moment. All points of it’s all downhill from here. Pretty much non profit radio. I feel bad after our lunch, then

[00:08:11.79] spk_4:
downwardly mobile life.

[00:08:13.24] spk_0:
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Uh,

[00:08:19.52] spk_2:
all right. So let’s talk about, um Well, the let’s get into some of your some

[00:08:22.27] spk_0:
of your advice around this around this relationship, you siphoned it down into 10. I don’t know if we’ll get time for 10 because we want to talk a little about Cem Cem, General governance. But

[00:08:32.03] spk_2:
why don’t we, uh why don’t we just

[00:08:39.14] spk_0:
tease the 1st 1? We got a minute before before first break about, um, respect the chair needs to earn respect if that the

[00:09:14.59] spk_4:
chair is seen is just a kind of a defender of the CEO, uhm, and someone who’s just tryingto make his or her life easy and keep the bored out of their hair or in any other way doesn’t really have the respect to the board. Then his or her job is much harder because the board chair is kind of a liaison between the staff and the executive director and the rest of the board. And that board share has to earn the respect of both parties in order. Play that bridging role effectively. And Susan did it. Sometimes people do it by writing $1,000,000 checks, but Susan didn’t have that at her disposal of time. So she did it in other ways but was able to get earn the respect of me and the staff. But very importantly, the the rest of the board.

[00:09:24.62] spk_0:
All right, I’ve seen board chairs that were wealthy and wrote big checks and still didn’t have the respect of the board. So if there’s respect based on that, I think it’s kind of shallow and it doesn’t necessarily follow even. Okay, let’s take our first

[00:09:38.40] spk_2:
break wegner-C.P.As They go beyond the numbers. They’ve got videos, effective governance.

[00:09:43.61] spk_0:
For starters. We’re gonna talk a little about that toward the end of the show. Um,

[00:09:47.70] spk_2:
also i nine

[00:09:51.74] spk_0:
tips. If you happen to have immigrant employees, they’ve also got a video on high impact grant

[00:09:53.83] spk_2:
proposals, sexual harassment awareness, way beyond the numbers. This is not just

[00:10:16.94] spk_0:
your average accountancy, for God’s sake, on other videos, you gotta wegner-C.P.As dot com, Click Resource Is and recorded events. I just got late breaking news that Amy Sample Ward will be calling in around the bottom of the hour. Onda will spend about five minutes talking about 20 NTC, the 2020 non profit technology conference, which is in coming up in March in Baltimore. So I know you wanna hear her at the bottom of the hour. Um, in the meantime, let’s go back to ah CEO chair relationship.

[00:10:33.01] spk_2:
Yes. Oh, I don’t I don’t think

[00:10:40.81] spk_0:
money first necessarily creates respect, And if it does, I think it’s a kind of a shallow Well, it’s one

[00:10:42.10] spk_4:
thing to earn. The respect is the board share. You have to show that you’re invested. Ah, and so Susan would show that by showing up prepared by doing her homework. Talking with Helio money and writing a check that is meaningful for someone and meaningful for the organization is another way. But you’re right. It’s no way incomplete. You need to be a fair minded. You need to kind of promote the right kind of dialogue of the board level craft agendas that makes sense that you know, Don’t don’t let the board becoming their micromanaging or rubber stamp, but occupy that really nice middle ground. Yeah, it’s All I’m saying is, is that it’s possible to earn the respect of the board, even with bored with some wealthy people. If you’re yourself aren’t personally wealthy by doing other things on that, some people I think some people just regard it is you know you need the board. Share is just absolute mandatory to be made your wealthiest person, the board and I might have thought that. But I saw that. It doesn’t need to be.

[00:11:38.93] spk_0:
Yeah, I would reject

[00:11:42.13] spk_3:
that. Um, by

[00:11:42.47] spk_0:
the same token, you do want the board chair tohave the back of the CEO in times of crisis. Well,

[00:11:56.76] spk_4:
right? I mean, people, you know, have all non profit CEOs if, unless they’re completely risk of hers, make mistakes, mismanaged things mismanage external relationships on dhe, you know, it’s it’s, I think when our new chairs in place, how they react to the first time that happens on whether they both publicly and privately support the CEO on dhe make them feel secure in the aftermath of their bungle eyes. Probably a lot will determine. A lot of everything will go after that on Susan. You know, a time would come maybe six months later, where Susan would talk with me and her successors, who are also very good and say, you know, that thing that you did in six months ago? They didn’t work out, you know? What did you learn from it? Andi? Are we Do we have things in place to prevent that from happening again? But at the time when you’re at your low point and at risk of making further poor decisions in the aftermath of trying to cover up or deal with one bad decision, having the board share be empathetic and supportive and not pointing a finger is I found a central

[00:12:54.10] spk_0:
is the board is looking to them for leadership. You know howto way still behind this CEO or are we not?

[00:13:19.11] spk_4:
How do we digest this, right? And then that’s where the board chair’s leadership did not gloss over. It does not say this mistake was meaningless, but also not to say panic, but to say I’m on top of this. I’m gonna disclose to you the board what’s going on in a level appropriate to your role. I’m working with the E D. And

[00:13:19.32] spk_2:
now if it’s

[00:13:19.72] spk_4:
a life endangering mistake for the organization that it might go under,

[00:13:24.10] spk_2:
then I think

[00:14:07.87] spk_4:
you need to take a little different tact. But if it’s just a setback and embarrassing though it may be, you know you need to really inspire confidence in everyone. But also just, you know, to get the best out of the CEO of the executive director. You know, first and foremost is have them feel like you’re their ally, not someone who’s trying to, you know, embarrassed. And I’ve seen this. I’ve served on boards for all you have and others listeners have board shares to whatever. There’s a mistake. They feel it’s kind of a public embarrassment for them, and their job is to avoid blame themselves. Maybe they have public standing, and then that that has on and particularly that could kind of poison the relationship with the E D. You know, nothing flat. Yeah.

[00:14:09.12] spk_2:
Do you? You have a

[00:14:20.00] spk_0:
preference for executive director versus CEO? I’ve had guests prefer the CEO. Others say it doesn’t really matter much. Do you have ah preference, you

[00:15:06.71] spk_4:
know, in the organization’s I’ve served in. It’s been I’ve been the president and CEO. There’s some executive directors that aren’t the chief executive officer that sometimes is the chair in executive chair. That’s interesting. So Esso and again I’m not. I’m not a super techno person on this, but I think smaller nonprofits tend to be. You talk about AIDS on, and sometimes they don’t have a vote at the board level, whereas in large organizations, that tends to be a president CEO with a non executive chair. And I’m just, you know, and even when grooming Foundation was small, somehow we adopted that nomenclature, which at the time I didn’t care about or think it all about. I was just trying to raise enough money to pay this, you know, costs the next month. But anyway, that’s that. That’s what we adopted. Yeah,

[00:15:10.49] spk_2:
okay, but now you have the

[00:15:13.66] spk_0:
luxury of looking back and snickering. That’s right! And admitting that the first to board chairs the relationships warrant as robust, as supportive as they could have been made

[00:15:22.92] spk_2:
at the time,

[00:15:26.10] spk_4:
I viewed the board and managing my relation with the chair, and fundraising is kind of necessary. Evils not, is not as something to be the cornerstone of building the organization. That was That was my fundamental mistake until I finally got it right.

[00:15:37.80] spk_2:
Let’s talk a little about

[00:15:46.84] spk_0:
selection of, ah, board chair. Do you like to see it come from? The board would like to see. I’ve seen organizations that have a assistant assistant chair, rice chair, vice chair, executive vice chair, and then it’s presumed that they’re gonna move into the chair. You like to see that kind of

[00:15:56.58] spk_2:
ladder? Well, first,

[00:16:44.61] spk_4:
I think every rule in terms of building aboard you should be, you know, willing almost every really should be willing to break. So one point. We had a very well known, very wealthy person joining our board, and we thought about installing them his chair for more or less the moment that joined the board. And that might have worked. But we didn’t didn’t come to pass, but in general I think you want someone of your chair who served on your board with distinction for, you know, three or four years at least. I like the idea of a vice chair, but I’m a little out made out of the mainstream on this I don’t think that vice chair should necessarily be the chair elect. I’d like to see a vice chair in that role really perform so that they earn the chair. Roll a za po. And that’s why sometimes having to vice chairs, I’ve seen that work nicely. But oftentimes the vice chair is

[00:16:47.08] spk_0:
the two vice chairs are sort of competing to be that really like we friendly competition for the chair shit. German ship.

[00:16:53.76] spk_6:
It’s a

[00:16:56.00] spk_4:
secondary aspect. Yeah, it’s Ah, a TTE The point We had our vice chair on the West Coast and I thought that having a second vice chair who was quite busy when entered a And

[00:17:05.04] spk_5:
that’s what one

[00:17:05.41] spk_4:
things that happens. You can’t predict a vice Jared chair can enter the role in a semi retirement, have a lot of time to put in. And next thing you know, they’re appointed as happened to me, a CZ the as the CEO of a publicly traded company and their ability to put time in is changed. So we we had a vice chair who was the dean of ah of a university in a university on the West Coast. I said, Well, what if we had a vice chair on the East Coast also to kind of cover this part of the country and on. So that worked.

[00:17:34.62] spk_2:
But in another way, was

[00:17:35.89] spk_4:
a kind of let’s, let’s see, between the two of them, which one of them, you know, is it inspires the confidence of the board on shows the commitment that would make them the ideal. You know, successor chair.

[00:17:48.14] spk_2:
How do you like to

[00:18:10.16] spk_0:
break in? I think my voice just crack. How’d you? 14. Huh? How? Let’s give some authoritative. Ah, tony. Er, how do you like to, uh ah, inaugurate the relationship? New chair? You presumably. As you’re suggesting. You know, if you worked with him 3 to 4 years, So the non new person to you. But I knew in that relationship. You in that position.

[00:18:12.91] spk_2:
How do you like to

[00:18:13.67] spk_0:
kick off the that new relationship? Well,

[00:18:17.02] spk_4:
in an ideal world and running a nonprofit where you never have enough resource is and you’re always trying to cram 14 months of work into 12 months and you can always do this.

[00:18:26.54] spk_2:
But an ideal

[00:18:26.99] spk_4:
world. I’d like to spend a good kind of a good day with the person you know, both with a structured agenda and somewhat unstructured, maybe going to a baseball game together just to really get to know them and bond with them, if that’s possible. On

[00:18:39.97] spk_2:
the other

[00:18:40.21] spk_4:
thing that kind of evolved. This is, you know, I’m thinking back what work is that each board share wanted gonna put their stamp on the their leadership not to not to just contradict or do something different than what the prior wanted done, but

[00:18:55.72] spk_2:
something that

[00:18:56.11] spk_4:
they had seen. Maybe work in another non profit or in the corporate sector. And

[00:18:59.91] spk_2:
I would just

[00:20:59.49] spk_4:
say, unless it didn’t make any sense to me. I said, Let’s let’s do that Let’s you know this person didn’t kind of imposed this idea when they were, say, vice chair, just to give you two examples. You Bob bike Feld, who succeeded Susan in the role he thought that it was. It was a very important from a governess perspective to gather a couple board leaders and the head and our general counsel on me every six months to basically evaluate the performance of each and every board member in person and on, and so and you know when people were doing really well. So well, let’s let’s prepare a resolution commending them at the next meeting. Will we draft that if the person wasn’t referring? Well, well, who’s gonna take them aside? We’ve never done that before. But it was just something he thought you know would work. And I just said, You know, you want to bring that in. This is gonna be one of your signature things that comes in your first year. I’m totally behind it. Let’s make it happen. Or another thing he wanted is for me to bring in that. Susan wasn’t kind of didn’t That wasn’t her style, but it’s like let let Bob lead the way he wants to. And let me not just grudgingly say, OK, I’ll do that if you want, But I think this could be a great idea. And you, Bob also pushed me to write for the first time emergency succession plan, which I embarrassed to say that, you know, 10 years in the Grameen Foundation, I had never even know what that was. But and he said, you know, write, write up a memo for those of your listeners and aren’t aware you know, what should we do if you’re suddenly incapacitated or killed? And and so I put it off for a while, it was more confronting than I thought, but I finally did get it done. And that was something he achieved in his first year. Um, and again I was I was just kind of trusted that that was something of useful. And I put my full attention to kind of implementing a couple of ideas that he had and and when every new board chair came in, they kind of had a few ideas. And I would just unless they sound crazy to me and I I need to get the convinced I would just, you know, not just back from kind of half heartedly, but fully

[00:21:01.64] spk_2:
say some more about

[00:21:02.28] spk_0:
the semi annual board evaluate individual board member evaluation process.

[00:21:07.64] spk_2:
Well, you know,

[00:21:19.90] spk_4:
we would gather on a table. I think we did it a few times. That can recall, and it was no one ever called in. Our vice chair flew in from San Diego for it. We did it in Washington and literally, you know, it was just it was sickness. See,

[00:21:22.95] spk_2:
one of the

[00:21:23.40] spk_4:
things I’ve come to believe that came from Susan. The Before Bob is that term limits are

[00:21:29.14] spk_2:
kind of

[00:21:31.76] spk_4:
a quick fix kind of mandate, and that really what you want board members to do is to is to kind of go through their orientation and

[00:21:37.70] spk_2:
then to go

[00:22:09.31] spk_4:
into a period of what I call High Performance is a board member where they’re giving it their all their money, their time, their reputation, their con connections, etcetera. And then ultimately, all board members, I think, ultimately go into what is called coasting, where they’re just they’re not really giving their all because their interest is in another organization. And so Bob’s this term limits air saying, Well, most people go to coasting after six years, so let them just term out at six years. But the truth is, some people term out. Some people go into that mode after 18 months, and some are going strong in 18 years. So this was a mechanism to just evaluate the kind of the wherein the life cycle was each individual on the board where what should they be commended for? On what should they maybe be taken aside and said, you know, board member ex. You know, if you could get back to performing like you did four years ago in terms of showing up prepared, participating discussions, your committee assignments, raising money, giving money, You know, we think you should re up for the board when your turn comes up. But if not you, maybe not. Ah, and that can’t be done. The blunt instrument of term limits or other things. This

[00:22:42.14] spk_2:
is this. We would

[00:23:01.77] spk_4:
spend 34 hours together evaluating every single person aboard. And how might we support them better. But how might we ask them to support us more? And you can’t? You can’t take a cookie cutter to that. And so it was. It was a pretty rigorous process, but it was. It worked, and it made the team that was at the table. They’re just feel like they were in a position to, and it had them participate differently. This is the vice chair chair of the Governance Committee and the general counsel me in the chair. You know, we would then pay attention. More panel, evaluating each number individually, correct. And

[00:23:17.25] spk_2:
and then once you start

[00:23:54.67] spk_4:
that, then you know, you kind of observe the board in a different way. When you know you’re gonna be six months later doing that again and you start to think, Gosh, might I pull this board member aside even now and commend them or redirect them a little bit even if I’m not the chair? Because I know that this evaluation and it creates a kind of accountability because we told the board that we were doing this. It wasn’t done in secret eso it was rather than have ah, this kind of straitjacket of term limits. We created this kind of culture of accountability, of board that just brought out the best in people. And when their interests moved on, they kind of voluntarily said, You know, this will be my final term and thank you all for whether I served for three years or 13 years on it. Just for me. It worked a lot better.

[00:24:20.39] spk_0:
Your ah contrary and in terms of the mainstream, thinking about board term limits, yes, but you have this important semi annual evaluation as well, so that a CZ your nerves, you said people will either recognize that they’re not performing, or they’ll bluntly be told that they’re not performing TX stations,

[00:24:27.96] spk_4:
right? That’s and it takes effort on

[00:24:29.76] spk_2:
because this is a lot of time

[00:24:30.60] spk_0:
commitment. How big? I’m sure the Grameen board grew over time when you left. How many people, you

[00:24:36.52] spk_6:
know, I like

[00:24:37.33] spk_0:
value waiting. Yeah, I’ve heard of much

[00:25:10.86] spk_4:
smaller and much larger board’s working, although I’m not quite sure how. But I think the optimal number aboard if they’re one of the responsibilities is raising money. The optimal number is between 15 and 20 and that’s what it was for almost the entirety of my time there, I think over 20 you get some negative dynamics, including, you know, people don’t show up. They’re not even noticed because the numbers are too big. And if you get under 15 you know, you really need a lot more fundraising muscle than you unless you just have a bunch of billionaires on the board. And so it was always. It was always in the high teens on, though I gave myself authority to have up to 25 on the bylaws, but gave us authority. But we never we will always, always between 15 and 20 right?

[00:25:23.08] spk_2:
So this is a big time

[00:25:23.82] spk_0:
commitment because Now you’re doing between 30 and 40 evaluations per year because you’re evaluating each person semi annually and several hours devoted to, ah, a conversation with each one twice a

[00:25:46.59] spk_4:
year. And the follow up that you promise, saying they’re there that after each board member would just say so what feedback or what? Commendation or accolade or redirection, Do we need to give this board member based on our discussion and that that would mostly fall to the five of us in the room

[00:26:01.15] spk_0:
and there was implicit in that s o. Some board members are getting commended on brothers or not, but we all know that we’re all being evaluated. So when it comes time for commendations, some names air left out, that’s where it was only,

[00:26:06.05] spk_4:
um, you know, it was

[00:26:06.63] spk_6:
only twice

[00:26:55.17] spk_4:
in our history where we actually had to take a board member side and urged them, not Thio run for re election. So if when this works well, it’s really becomes an informal accountability process where people opt out before they have to be kind of pushed out. And, uh um, and yet you need to be willing to do that if the time comes, and in one case, you know, way took a board member aside and we just said, It’s you know, it’s time for you to step aside and is interesting He said it that years later he told me he said, Well, as mad as hell at the time, but you and the chair were right. I just couldn’t see it then. And eso it’s that magical thing where people basically, whenever there flames, starts to be not so bright for in terms of the, you know, being a champion of the board, they just they know it and they and everyone knows it. And they just say again, Allah, I’ll serve out my term and I’ll step down and again whether that’s three years into their service or 15 years, it’s just based on. Are they giving it their best? And

[00:27:10.43] spk_2:

[00:27:10.61] spk_4:
everyone you know people’s interests move on. I mean, it’s a natural human phenomenon. Yeah,

[00:27:17.33] spk_0:
yeah. Very interesting. Interesting process. You mentioned election of board re election of board members. That was that not managed by an executive committee just deciding whether someone would remain Who were the electors, the whole board, the

[00:28:36.84] spk_4:
whole the whole board Now there’s a nominating what we close it in our model. We had both the governance committee that worked on our kind of internal governance, and the nominating committee was merged in the same committee and another boards I’ve been on Those are two separate things and on and, you know, when you only have 15 18 members. There are only so many committees you can have when your larger boards could have more. But yeah, it, in this case, the default was when someone’s three year term came up. Um, you think the default is that they’re gonna be reelected if they want to be. But there is a process that again the governance committee chair is part of that group that is, that meets every six months on day would take what are our discussions and bring them into the governance committee. Um, but Maur, I think that committee was more about adding new people to the board more of the nominating committee, but But ultimately every board meeting or every other board meeting, if someone’s three year term was up, they would be reelected or more than likely, or they would prior to that announced that they weren’t seeking re election and it would be handled that way. Okay.

[00:28:38.92] spk_3:
Okay. Um,

[00:28:40.17] spk_2:
let’s ah, let’s take,

[00:29:30.12] spk_0:
uh, let’s take this break. And, uh, if you wanna you got a little longer in this break, And now we’re gonna talk to Amy Sample Ward as well. So, uh, stand by. Don’t go anywhere, though, Okay? You don’t have time to go to the bathroom. Just drink water, bathroom breaks or later, uh, his break quote. We’ve been very happy with Cougar Mountain. It’s rare to encounter a problem with the software, but they’re always there to help walk. Help me walk through it. End Quote that Sally Hancock in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Maur raves about the Cougar Mountain customer service. Cougar Mountain has a free 60 day trial, which is on the listener landing page, which is at now time for Tony’s Take two. Your decade plan for planned giving. Um, this is not only the beginning of a new year, which is now close to 1/12 over already, but that means that we’re nearly 1 144th of the way into the new decade. So my, uh, belief is my It’s more than a belief. It’s almost Fact,

[00:29:49.25] spk_2:
if you start

[00:30:01.17] spk_0:
your planned giving program this year, you are gonna be astronomically ahead, and you’re gonna be you’re gonna be shocked at where you are by the year 2029. Those 10 years

[00:30:07.79] spk_2:
you’ll be you’ll be at

[00:30:21.72] spk_0:
a point where you can be projecting planned giving revenue for future years based on the revenue that you will have had in like years. 6789 That’s how far ahead you will be in plant giving and you think plan giving that. You know, people die. The gifts come, but we don’t know when those when those episodes air gonna happen. Yeah, but once your file is large enough, once you have enough planned giving donors in your file, you’re gonna start to see trends. And of course, you can’t predict to the dollar amount.

[00:30:46.78] spk_2:
But you can give yourself some comfort with a range that you expect to receive in cash each year,

[00:31:22.81] spk_0:
going forward from really like your 789 and forward, but certainly from your 10 on. So my urging is that you if you are not doing plan giving fundraising 2020 is the year to start the beginning of the decade. I say a lot more about this in a video, which is your decade plan for playing, giving. I lay out the plan. I don’t just say where you’re gonna be in a decade. I show you how to get there step year by year in the video, which is at tony-martignetti dot com. And that is tony. Take two now. Uh, late breaking. Let’s bring in Amy Sample Ward. She’s the CEO of and 10 and our social media and technology contributor. And

[00:31:44.64] spk_2:
we’re going to spend a few minutes talking about what’s coming up at 20 NTC. The 2020 non profit Technology conference. Welcome back, Amy. Sample Ward

[00:31:46.85] spk_7:
Bake. I’m happy to be on happy 2020.

[00:32:02.29] spk_2:
Thank you very much. Yes, indeed. First time we’ve talked this year. Um, it’s not too late to say Happy New Year because we know each other so well. And, uh, I haven’t seen you Haven’t talked to you since January 1st. So happy New Year. Happy, happy, Happy decade as well.

[00:32:05.44] spk_7:
Well, And where we’ve just started the Chinese New Year. So

[00:32:10.41] spk_0:
indeed, Yes, Yes, indeed. Balloon. You’re here. Um,

[00:32:13.04] spk_2:
so we’ve got this little thing coming up. It’s not

[00:32:24.41] spk_0:
so little, um, being snarky. It’s in Baltimore in March 2020. Non profit technology conference hosted by and 10 non profit radio will be there on the exhibit

[00:32:29.49] spk_2:
floor. But before we get to that, you tell us what? What? Why should

[00:32:31.89] spk_0:
we be attending?

[00:33:07.15] spk_7:
Oh, my gosh. I am really excited for this year because I think, as you know, you’ve You’ve been a handful of times now, so you can probably speak to this yourself too. But every year we’re always trying to make it better than it was, of course, the year before. And each year we feel like, Okay, this is the best we’ve ever done it. But how could we make it better? And I think we’ve got some really good plans this year that do that. Of course we have. You know, this is a big three day conference there, 2200 plus people altogether. And it doesn’t have to be, you know, just one type of non profit or one type of job in an organization. If you are listening to this, you are welcome at the number of

[00:33:17.73] spk_2:

[00:33:18.57] spk_7:
that you could learn and do there

[00:33:19.84] spk_0:
It is not only for technologists, not only for technologists,

[00:35:24.80] spk_7:
right? Well, I mean, it’s 2020. Everyone in a non profit is using technology, right? Like it doesn’t. It doesn’t really matter how what your job titles has on your business card. There’s pieces of technology you need to use or make decisions about to be effective in your job on. There’s folks from every job title and people who have been in the sector for a year, and people have been in it for 40 years. You know, it’s it’s really like a cross section of everybody, Um, and we have over 150 sessions, so plenty of opportunity to go learn. But outside of that, something that we feel makes the NTC really specialists. How many opportunities there are for you to meet other people and share ideas or come to the conference of that one burning question like you just wish you could find somebody that’s figured out a way to get mail chimp to do that One thing you know, like we want to make sure you really do find that one other person. So we have a lot of kind of community based programs that happen as part of the agenda, and we have even more of them this year. We’ve We’ve always had what we call birds of a feather. So you know, funny things like people will do. You know, people who love watching a certain TV show or something as a table topic at lunch. But other people will do things like, you know, they use a certain tool or something so they can all meet each other and chat. But in the afternoons we’ve started this year what we’re calling knowledge swaps where they’re Maur intentional. They are about, you know, something work related, something you want to do something You’re having a challenge with, something that you just did really well And you want to make sure you can share that knowledge with other people so folks can sign up to basically, like, find other folks and hosted a conversation together on the topics a little bit easier than saying you want to present for 75 minutes for a session, right? Like maybe you just want to find four other folks and share ideas. So we built that into the agenda each day on and we’ve also expanded our career center. That isn’t just for people looking for jobs. A really big part of the community of the career center is mentorship. So being able to sit down with somebody for happen our and share feedback, whether it’s about their resume or it’s about, you know, the evolution in your own career. So what? Whatever side of that coin that you would be on the career center has lost of opportunities for you, um, and would love for folks to be a part of that.

[00:35:51.11] spk_0:
Okay, um, we just have, like, a minute in a minute or so left, so details of registration. Where do we

[00:35:58.54] spk_2:
go with the dates? Radio? Don’t even say the day everything. But the date is today.

[00:36:10.72] spk_7:
Yes, the dates are March 24th 26 it’s in Baltimore. At the convention center. There’s hotels of all the various price points, whatever place you have, a membership number two, whatever, all around the convention center, and you can go toe intend that orc Slash and T. C. You can see the full agenda. You can review some of those community programs I was talking about. We’ve got Rachel Affinity Spaces support for folks who want prayer room, meditation spaces, lactation access. All of those things are part of our conference. So we really want it to be something that folks are ready to learn and meet other people and talk. This is a resource for you. And if there’s a way we can make it easier support you being able to participate, we will do everything we can to do that. So please Goto intend that work slash NPC. Check it out. If you need anything, let us know. But hopefully we see you in March.

[00:37:05.76] spk_0:
This is an excellent conference. Yeah, I’ve been there. I think this is the sixth year.

[00:37:10.06] spk_2:
Do you think I think it’s the 60

[00:37:20.04] spk_0:
year I’ve brought the show, so we will be on the exhibit floor where were sponsored by Cougar Mountain Software at the conference. So we’ll be side by side. We’ll be getting. I’ll be getting 30 plus interviews. Last year I got 32 interviews in two and 1/2 days, and then we air them. That

[00:37:28.44] spk_7:
must have been a record. 30.

[00:37:45.78] spk_0:
32 is the is the largest I’ve gotten. Yeah, it had been like 25 27 or so, but so were booked up. Eso. When you’re at the conference, come on the exhibit floor. I believe you’ll see us in boots 5 10 and 5 12 On DDE comes he’s come Say hello will be the noisy one with probably with spotlights, because we might shoot video. So but very smart, very smart speakers in lots of different topics around technology. And Amy’s Point is, I want to drive home. We’re all technologists. It regardless of what it says on your business card, you’re no longer using index cards and transparencies. You know, the overhead projectors. They’re gone. We’re all using technology, and this conference is for people at all different levels. Whether it’s on your in your job title as C I O. Or You’re just a user of technology

[00:38:22.71] spk_2:
and you have to say good bye. Thank you very much.

[00:38:24.45] spk_7:
Okay, thank you so much. And I will see what your booth. Because I always loved getting to do an interview with you.

[00:38:29.16] spk_2:
Absolutely. It’s our only time to go face to face. Yes, we’ll see you. I’ll see you in Baltimore.

[00:38:36.00] spk_0:
All right. Thank you for that indulgence. Alex Count. It’s usually

[00:38:38.44] spk_4:
a great conference or close to where I live. Yeah, it is fabulous. Maybe I’ll see you. There is

[00:38:49.80] spk_0:
really a very smart place. Hundreds of brilliance because I wish I could interview more than the 32 or so whatever I’ll get. Um so just remind listeners Alex counts. Ah, consultant, founder of Grameen Foundation. And his book is Changing the World without Losing your mind. Leadership lessons from three decades of social entrepreneurship. We’re just scratching the surface. You know, where we’re We’re focused on the CEO chair relationship today, but obviously the book goes way beyond

[00:39:11.33] spk_3:
that. Uh,

[00:39:24.52] spk_2:
lots of lessons in 30 years. Now it’s Ah, you got a good You got a young face. You got a baby face. Check out, check out his, uh, check out his headshot tony-martignetti dot com’s gonna baby face. Um, So let’s, uh we divert a little bit, but these are all valuable topics.

[00:39:28.92] spk_0:
I mean, this board evaluation process is semi annual thing is really very interesting. I hadn’t heard anything

[00:39:35.22] spk_3:
like that. Um,

[00:39:36.96] spk_2:
let’s talk Thio. Let’s talk to

[00:39:43.47] spk_0:
communications. You like you like frequent regular communications between the CEO and the chair.

[00:40:28.73] spk_4:
Yes. I mean, there’s no. You know, when you when you talk with someone, you come in. Mike, come on with an agenda of what you think is going on the organization, but especially if you’re not rushed on your in person, where that’s possible, you know, you stumble upon in the process of just kind of ruminating on what’s going on the organization, some opportunities and assets and some kind of dangers and risks that you didn’t even go in thinking about because you’re you know, you’re with someone who’s also internalized. The organization is smart, is committed on DSO. I always, you know, I would wouldn’t want to talk with Susan or Bob or Palm or it’s, you know, have have kind of regular calls, you know, maybe two or three a month, but also in with a strict agenda but also sometimes has really unstructured. You know, it’s been a long dinner with them and, ah, a mixture of bonding and just kind of, you know, thinking out loud brainstorming and and just really kind of creative ideas can come up there. And if you’re I did tell a story. One of my board shares went from being semi retired of a very demanding job three years into his role. And while he did stick with it for another two years, which surprised me my ability to spend time with him, quality unstructured on rushed time was compromised. And and that was and I missed that. And our partnership suffered a little bit. As a result, he was still very good and because of his job, had more money to put into the organization. But his ability to kind of have that Maur kind of on structure brainstorming time was severely constrained.

[00:41:16.49] spk_0:
Yeah, Yeah, it was more just a formal time together. Yeah.

[00:41:21.06] spk_2:
And you think about think about friends, you, How much just happens

[00:41:28.85] spk_0:
in free conversation over over a meal in a glass of wine. You

[00:41:47.13] spk_4:
think of some something to do together that just you hadn’t even thought of and just being in their presence. You’re like, Well, why don’t we try that, um and and so that that time together again, so many of these things Fundraising, managing board relationships. They’re very time consuming. But when you do them well and invest the time, it’s just they pay back many, many times, but you need to be able to kind of spend the time on what you know, my wife and I call the important but not urgent on If you invest in that, just magical things can happen.

[00:42:01.10] spk_2:
And then this kind

[00:42:01.89] spk_0:
of thing you have to make time for you aren’t gonna find the time when I when I find the time will, will have an unstructured meeting. But today we’re having an agenda. When I find the time when we find the time to get

[00:42:12.38] spk_2:
time is not gonna tap you on the shoulder and make itself apparent that you have to make the time. There’s never gonna come in timers. I’ve got two free hours today. Let’s have a meeting with meeting with. I’ll have a call with my board chair. It’s not gonna happen. You have to make the time consciously

[00:43:04.04] spk_4:
and you know, and it’s also becomes something, if you know is it can’t became with each my board shares, particularly Bob like Failed and Susan, where I just enjoyed being around them. They had a lot of grace for me when I made mistakes. They kind of puffed up my ego. When I was doing well, we found common interests or developed them on. They never took cheap shots at me, even in private. If they were going to be constructive, they tried the most sensitive way to do it. That didn’t deflate me. And so it just it ends up being. Gosh, I went. When do I get my next time with Susan? Tony Learn Thio kind of, you know, to commiserated, to celebrate. It’s just always like a special thing. And so you know, they make more time for it, and you developing that personal chemistry. Even if you’re very different people like we were, you could develop it, but it it it needs to be a, you know, a high priority

[00:43:19.30] spk_0:
on. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the C e o chair relationship. Like any relationship, let me take this last break and we’ll come back to Gilling with tension points.

[00:43:31.35] spk_2:
Turn to communications. Do you find yourself scratching

[00:43:39.57] spk_0:
your head, wondering how some nonprofits always seem to get mentioned in the news? It’s not because they’re big here. We are talking about relationships. It’s because they have relationships with journalists when they don’t want to be quoted, they just have

[00:43:48.44] spk_2:
a relation. They’re not looking for something they have a relationship

[00:43:59.65] spk_0:
of standing relationship with journalists turn to can help you do that. Their former journalists, including from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. So you want to build those relationships in advance. So when the news breaks and you can contribute to it and want to be seen on an issue, you’ve got the standing relationship. Your call, most likely more likely than not, will be taken over not having that standing relationship. They return hyphen to dot CEO.

[00:45:00.25] spk_2:
Let’s do the live listener love and there’s quite a bit of it we are in. Ah, it’s the start. Domestic Woodbridge, New Jersey Tampa, Florida New York New York multiple. Glad to see you. Thank you very much. New York, um, live love to each of those cities as well. A Seattle, Washington in Chicago, Illinois, um, as well as Lincoln’s in North Carolina. Well, cool North Carolina. I’m in Emerald Isle, not today, but, uh, live love. I’ve loved to each of our domestic live listeners. Now let’s go abroad. Seoul, South Korea. Always so loyal. I’m always so grateful. Seoul, South Korea Multiple listeners Annual Hasso comes a ham Nida Woodbridge, New Jersey

[00:45:05.27] spk_0:
No, I’m sorry. That’s not fair. Not that’s That’s, uh that’s not foreign. That’s not very funny.

[00:45:07.74] spk_2:
I’m from New

[00:45:08.17] spk_0:
Jersey. So you know, I’m from I grew up in Rutherford Multiple,

[00:45:44.57] spk_2:
Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Japan. Often we have Japanese listeners. Thank you, Japan. Konnichi wa um Chapultepec de Chapultepec Day. Hinojosa, Mexico When I started this when you start this France Rahm bouquet that was the same city was with us last week as well. Rambo. Yea. And I apologize if I’m not pronouncing it right. But live love Thio out to our for listeners officers in France, um, Oxford in the United Kingdom and also in Korea Sue on Oh, someone else. Besides, uh um besides soul thank you. Live love out to you. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Moscow. We’re, uh not quite Everyone say every hemisphere I mean every continent, but we’re close live love

[00:46:45.55] spk_0:
to each of our live listeners. Thank you so much for being with us and the podcast pleasantries toward over 13,000 listeners. In the podcast Pleasantries to you. I thank you for being with us week after week, whether you binge it all and listen to eight episodes on a weekend or you’re spreading it out. Pleasantries to our podcast listeners. Um, that was our Ah, live. Listen, love in the podcast pleasantries. And now back to, uh, CEO chair relationship, which we’ve got butt loads more time for. Ah, and Alex counts. Okay, Moments of tension. They’re gonna crop up

[00:47:51.47] spk_4:
inevitable in a certain way. Healthy. I remember. And in the article I talked just referenced in passing that, you know, one time I had some tension with Susan Davis and I went to the vice chair kind of probably overreacting to that and wanted to try play Mommy off against Daddy or something, you know. And Yvette Dyer, who is our vice chair at the time, said very profound and basically said, You know, the tension is an inbuilt part of that relationship, even when it’s the healthiest. And as I thought about that more I thought about you know, your non profit executive directors. Sometimes they’re too aggressive, they need to be reined in, and the board feels it. But it’s really the responsibility that share to give that feedback. On the other hand, some this wasn’t so much my fault, but some executive directors and CEOs are too cautious. I need to be pushed to be more aggressive and had Ah, And again that will come, uh, probably is the sense of the board, but often best conveyed by the chair. And initially, that may not be that well received, um, and and may create some tension. But again, there’s in all healthy relationships, especially this one. That’s that’s one of the aspects of it. And once I realized that and you see, I had the benefit when I was working with Susan, that I’d already been the chair of another non profit board. She had previously been the executive director of a nonprofit, so we kind of understood you

[00:48:12.53] spk_0:
had been in each other’s roles. Very important, always

[00:48:15.15] spk_4:
possible. But but but actually quite it valuable it You’ve kind of sat in that person’s, you know, chair and and you can understand a little bit more why they’re doing what they’re doing on DDE. And so that that tension just was, you know, was really part and parcel of a healthy relationship. Is, as I came to see, not didn’t see that you immediately

[00:48:36.62] spk_2:
too timid sometimes CEOs in what respect? Not aggressive. Just

[00:50:05.15] spk_4:
say, you know whether it’s setting their annual goals for, you know, whatever societal positive impact they want. Or some CEOs want a stockpile money rather than spend it on their programs of their team star of the organization. Just because they just they’re always worried about running out of money. So or sometimes it’s about, for example, keeping it a non performing employees on giving them one more chance that could go on for four or five years and on. And, you know, there was one case where I probably stuck with it. A chief operating officer longer than I should and a board chair came in and said, You know, when you’re gonna ease him out. You know, he’s creating a lot of dissension in the organization. Even that was raging, reaching the level of the board. And I needed to be pushed Thio to recognize that this person wasn’t performing and so get my errors would tend to be more about being too aggressive, too much of a risk taker, and I would need to be reined in. But like I had my examples where I was foot dragging and on the board. If the board doesn’t tell you that your your staff probably won’t directly on dhe. You know they’re the ones that to be a kind of observe your performance and push you. And of course, ultimate decision usually remains yours. But if you don’t follow that enough, you’ll find yourself out of a job at some point. And so if there’s a there’s a kind of a creative tension there,

[00:50:06.72] spk_0:
particularly staff won’t tell you if it’s the c 00 that we’re talking about. Yep, that’s the source.

[00:50:13.58] spk_2:
You liketo have staff participate, attend

[00:50:21.06] spk_0:
and participate board inboard means and not just the C suite. Yeah, that’s what

[00:50:21.61] spk_4:
I did something that people who it

[00:50:24.35] spk_2:
kind of

[00:50:51.40] spk_4:
naturally evolved in Grameen Foundation, where from when we had a very small staff initially is you know, I would have some staff that would present to the board. Maybe they weren’t as good at presenting his. I was. Maybe they were better, but but to give them that experience, to demystify what the board is by having them, and the board could see the quality of staff I had, whether it was, hopefully they were impressed. Sometimes they’re, like, you know, realize that you had why I had to step in and do this, but I ultimately not only had the senior staff as we grew, you know, sit around the board table and either present or observed, but I would say any available staff member quite radical. Could you sit in an outer ring and observe? And it just it had this kind of ability to demystify the board where a lot of non profit employees like

[00:51:08.63] spk_2:
What is

[00:52:23.45] spk_4:
the board do and they’re not doing enough. And what’s their role? And why do we have to work so hard to prepare these board meetings and when they can actually sit there and observe the board deliberating and we would we would go one step further, which is where a t end of the board meeting the board would all leave board members except for the chair, and I would facilitate a debrief with all the staff who were present. Summons might be 2025 staff members, and they could all say, I thought the board had a really intelligent conversation about that. I thought that they totally avoided this topic and had a really, you know, bad discussion about it, and we would just we wouldn’t try to argue them. And so it because a lot of people came to work for me, as I learned is that the board was this mysterious thing where the CEO would go off in a room and maybe the CFO would make a 45 minute presentation and then be ushered out of the room. And it just felt like a this kind of secret society that was making decisions about them that they had no visibility into. And I kind of went the other way of just absolute transparency, including sometimes the board. My staff would see the board grilling me, and they would see me sometimes perform well and defend their interests. You know, some board member wants a new program that made no sense, and I would say, No, we’re not gonna do that makes no sense. And sometimes they’d see me stumble. But again, it just made it more of a human, just just just a group of people trying to help us in a different type of role than you have and let them watch you at times and you get to watch them perform and evaluated and and so it just took all that mysteriousness out of it, and I thought was healthy. Now, at times, you know, I did. I have an occasional board member say, Well, what

[00:52:43.95] spk_2:
if we What if

[00:52:47.15] spk_4:
we close down this whole project? You know, maybe that would be a good idea. And then the people running that project sitting in the background Does it cause anxiety that you need to manage? Yes, there were. There were problems with that. But the benefits way far outweigh the costs in my mind.

[00:53:01.32] spk_0:
Okay. Interesting. Yeah, The typical is staff member of presents, and then is, as you said, ushered out. Yeah.

[00:53:12.65] spk_2:
All right. Awesome. Opening our minds. Um, you have some thoughts

[00:53:13.51] spk_0:
about upgrading aboard where we have, like, two minutes or so left or something. So

[00:53:18.60] spk_2:
we got a good

[00:53:19.21] spk_0:
Okay, we have about three minutes left up the timeto upgrade first. What do you mean by upgrading aboard? Well,

[00:54:16.61] spk_4:
I I believe that I’ve studied it. That about 80% of non profit boards in this country or some version of dysfunctional either micromanaging or only 80 or well, you think that low occasionally I say that I ask people who challenge me and more often it’s that they think it It’s more than that. But whatever most up a solid majority and the reason s O I. What I say is, Is that it? You know, if you’re upgrading, I’m saying, if you want to take a dysfunctional board to mediocre or a mediocre board too high performing it could be done. But you need to do a couple things. One. Is there no quick fixes? If anyone tells you they can turn a board materially increase their performance in 90 days, adopting you know, four techniques. It’s not gonna happen if if you want to increase the quality aboard materially, significantly mark your calendar 3 to 5 years in the future. And one of the things I most often hear from executive directors is, Well, I’m gonna wait for my board to start performing, and then I’ll really engage them on and support them. But they need to prove to me, and I said, No, that’s the wrong way. Look at it. You need to start treating them now. Whoever is on that treat them now is if they’re high performing, bored, invest in them that way and then given a couple years of lag time, they’ll emerge to be the board that you deserve. But you need to treat them now like they’re the board that you deserve, even though they’re not yet, um, and so

[00:54:47.20] spk_2:
that may just

[00:54:47.78] spk_4:
spending intensive time, helping to create real wins for them and a great experience of being on the board, which is gonna be different for each board member

[00:54:55.99] spk_0:
and challenging them to spend more time to get more responsibility.

[00:54:59.46] spk_2:
That’s right, but also

[00:55:00.20] spk_4:
making it making it pleasurable and enjoyable for them to do so not because their guilt or manipulation, but just out of a sense of opportunity. So again I go into in the book, I talk about how once that once I kind of got that at the care and feeding of board members. I think most executive directors and CEO spend probably could spend 3 to 4 times Maur of their time and effort in cultivating these board members. And the payback is immeasurable. But it’s it’s not gonna happen 90 days if if you’re if you’re gonna just read an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, apply a few techniques and then you know are they performing better in 90 days. It’s just not. That’s not how groups evolve and function. But if you do it over an extended period aboard, and then you just add one good new member a year. Ah, and they raised the level of everyone a little bit, and that’s that’s how this goes. But if you stick with it for a couple of years, it could be miraculous.

[00:55:59.64] spk_0:
We’re gonna leave it there. That’s outstanding. Is Alex counts his book again, changing the world without Losing your mind? Leadership lessons from three decades of social entrepreneurship. You’ll find him at Alex counts dot com and at Alex,

[00:56:14.52] spk_2:
counts. Thanks so much, Thank you Pleasure. Next week, our Innovators,

[00:56:30.41] spk_0:
Siri’s continues with the return of Peter Shankman on neuro Diversity. What that means for you as an employer and for your employees, the those who are New road divergent. 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

[00:56:41.16] spk_2:
by Cougar Mountain Software Denali Fund. Is

[00:56:59.82] spk_0:
there complete accounting solution made for nonprofits tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant Mountain for a free 60 day trial and by turned to communications, PR and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission. Turn hyphen to dot CEO. Our creative

[00:57:00.60] spk_2:
producer is Claire Meyerhoff.

[00:57:41.08] spk_5:
Sam Liebowitz is the line producer on the board shows. Social Media is by Susan Chavez. Mark Silverman is our Web guy, and this music is by Scott Stein of Brooklyn, New York, with me next week for non profit radio Big non profit ideas for the other 95% Go out and be great talking alternative radio 24 hours a day.