Tag Archives: leadership

Nonprofit Radio for March 21, 2022: Improve Your Relationship With Failure

Ashley Good: Improve Your Relationship With Failure

We all know we ought to learn from failure. But most of us don’t have that healthy relationship with failure. Ashley Good reveals the breakdowns to help us improve the relationship. Her consultancy is Fail Forward.


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mm hmm. Hello and welcome to tony-martignetti non profit radio big nonprofit ideas for the

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the other

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95%. I’m your aptly named host of your favorite abdominal podcast and oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’d suffer the effects of a tick a phobia. If you shared with me the fear that you’d miss this week’s show improve your relationship with failure. We all know we ought to learn from failure, but most of us don’t have that healthy relationship with failure. Ashley Good reveals the breakdowns

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[00:01:13.24] spk_0:
help us improve the relationship. Her consultancy is fail forward And Tony’s take two easy, comfortable donor relationships, responses 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 Ashley Good. She is founder of fail

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the world’s first failure consultancy supporting people and organizations to acknowledge,

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and evolve from

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A winner of the Harvard business review Mckinsey Innovating innovation

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fail forward helps businesses, governments and nonprofits harness their failures

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learn innovate and build resilience. The company is at fail forward dot org and at fail forward. Ashley Good. Welcome to nonprofit radio

[00:01:53.74] spk_1:
Thanks so much. It’s a pleasure to be here.

[00:01:57.74] spk_0:
My pleasure to have you. Thank you joining us from toronto I

[00:02:00.83] spk_1:
AM Yes. And you may be able to hear a little baby crying in the background. That’s my 10 month old who just woke up from his nap.

[00:02:18.44] spk_0:
There he is. Absolutely we are. We are. We’re not only family family friendly. The and anybody could be family friendly. We’re family embracing If you’re if you’re a 10 month old has to come in with

[00:02:20.50] spk_1:
you. I

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understand. We’ll,

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we’ll still be able to hear you over. No, no problem at

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[00:02:27.54] spk_0:
Uh, so welcome. Welcome from one of our northern neighbors. Glad to have you.

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Thanks for that.

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bio starts with in many ways, our relationship with failure either unlocks our full potential

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keeps us from ever realizing it.

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[00:02:50.27] spk_0:
I think that’s a great place for us to begin. Please explain that.

[00:03:50.84] spk_1:
Yeah, So I guess where that line came from is how our relationship with failure often is one that is rooted in fear. Um, at least that’s what I hear the most from my clients is they’re calling me because they feel like their fear of getting it wrong is the reason that they’re not taking the risks. They might otherwise desire to um, the fear of what might happen. Their fear of letting other people down. The fear of being seen as a failure by the folks around them, hold us back from maybe from doing a lot of the things that um, that might help us learn and grow and on the flip side of that, you know, our healthy relationship with failure is one where we feel we feel safe stepping out of our comfort zone, recognizing that that, that, that often deep discomfort we experience amidst our failure is um, really the thing that transforms us into the people that we, that we might become, you know, reaching that full potential as it were, is only possible for willing to push ourselves to the edge of what we’re capable of

[00:04:04.04] spk_0:
outside our comfort zone.

[00:04:08.04] spk_1:
Exactly. I

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do do organizations come to you when they’re in crisis

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[00:05:02.54] spk_1:
yeah, I get a little bit of both. I see too equally important sides of my work. There’s the learning component. So you’re, you’ve had a failure and often folks are not treating each other very well or they’re not communicating very well and they needed a little bit of support, um maximizing what they can learn from that event. So there’s the learning aspect of the work that I do, trying to maximize what we, what we take away and how do we move forward from our failures more wisely? Um, and then there’s what I might call like a risk taking or the innovation side, How do we create the conditions under which we can, we feel safe taking those risks where we’re confident enough to do the things that we might not know how to do yet. Um in order to push ourselves to keep up with the pace of change or are competitive pressures or whatever they might be.

[00:05:16.94] spk_0:
Mhm. I feel like the, the combination of your work and, and you’re thinking, uh, you should be, your name should be Ashley Exemplary. Okay,

[00:05:17.64] spk_1:
I don’t know about that

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because you, you want people, you want us to to to reach our full potential,

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not just be good, you want it to be, you want us to be exemplary, That’s the way I’m that’s what I’m hearing in the first few minutes. Anyway, I’m sorry for changing your name. I don’t mean to be so brash about, you know,

[00:06:11.34] spk_1:
well, and why I why I hesitate with it is because I mean, when I first started this company, I really thought I had something like I figured something out that I’m going to help people with, right? Like I’m gonna help people have a healthier relationship with failure and the more that I do this work, it’s been gosh, 11, 12 years now, the more I realized that I actually started it, because my own relationship with failure is so troubled and I probably need this more than anyone else. So um in asking people to, I kind of reached their full potential. It came from a place of actually wanting to build a healthier relationship with failure for myself as well. And um you know, tell myself it’s okay to be wrong, sometimes it’s okay to not be perfect all the time.

[00:06:17.84] spk_0:
Well, alright, I’m still gonna stick with Ashley Exemplary, but I’m sure we don’t have to go down that path.

[00:06:28.04] spk_1:
Tell a little

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about your your personal experience with failure. You you are public about that, you’re one of the things that you sent me to read in advance says, you know, you uh many of us including myself, you know, don’t have the right the right healthy relationship with failure, which we’ll be getting that we’ll talk about. But what’s a little bit of your own, your own background that I guess that led you to the you’re saying lead you to the work.

[00:10:35.74] spk_1:
Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. I could I could share that story in so many ways. Um I was inspired to work on this topic when I was working for Engineers without Borders, um working in international Development, working on an agricultural food chain project many years ago and saw lots of failures. I was working with incredible colleagues um who you know, were hand selected by the funding agency because they were exceptional. Um and yet when the when the donor came in to kind of ask about what was going right and wrong, um my exceptional colleagues, you know, didn’t didn’t necessarily share the whole truth. It didn’t lie, but but didn’t talk about the real fundamental challenges that that they were, that they were sharing. And I remember asking them afterwards, you know, why why didn’t you tell that guy what we’ve been talking about? Like he can actually change it for future projects and and it’s an oversimplification, but it was essentially like, you know, oh actually you’re so naive, like there’s no way we could do that. You know, we like, we like our jobs were great at our jobs because we can work around these things. Um, and telling that we all know, telling the donor isn’t necessarily the most advisable lot telling the donut the project was designed, it was designed incorrectly is not the most advisable thing for job longevity, shall we say. And, and I was really struck by that because it, of course they were right. Um, but it was my idealistic nature kind of held held tight and it frustrated me to no end that we can’t have those more honest conversations. Um, A a a longtime mentor, tim Brodhead described it as the dance of deceptions where um, nonprofits pretend to have the answer and the owners pretend to believe them and we just keep dancing in this dance of deception. Um, so that was really what sparked my passion for changing it. But I’d say on a, on a personal note as well, I, um, I had, I was at a very low point coming back from that experience. Um, and, and I, you know, I don’t need to describe for your listeners where we’ve all had ups and downs, especially over the last couple of years, but just in a, in a real, real pit. Um, and was, was walking, I pulled myself together was walking down the street and and realized that on the outside, you know, that the strangers that were passing me by, they’d never know how, how broken I felt inside. Um, and then, and I just had this aha moment where I realized that just like me, they, They could be suffering and I’d never know or they could be going through what I was going through or worse, 10 times worse. And I never know. And I had this moment of I’m just, I don’t, I don’t even know how to describe it, uh, clarity and I, and I, and love for these strangers. I was, I was passing on the street thinking that they could and probably would feel the suffering that, that I was in as well at some point. Um, and I, and I think that moment that made me like us a little wiser, a little more human, a little more empathetic. And, and I really held on to that belief in that moment because I think it helps me remember that those moments of suffering are what transform us and allow us to be more human. And that, that’s that those, that the hardest moments that were in, um, make us more

[00:10:51.24] spk_0:
human. That’s very at this poignant. Thank you for sharing. And you know, the, the empathy it makes me think of empathy for, for the,

[00:10:52.15] spk_1:
uh, the folks

[00:12:25.04] spk_0:
that your engineer colleagues were hiding the truth from. Uh, empathy for donors that we may conceal the truth from. Or I’ll just come right out and call it lie to about our, about our outcomes. But so empathy for those folks and, and how, how much of a disservice it is and how wrong it is to treat them that way, whether it’s a, I don’t know, it was a foundation or a government entity, whoever your engineering colleagues were talking to, you know, with billions of dollars of resources potentially. Or, you know, even if that wasn’t the case, but that could, that, that type of funder could be on one end of the spectrum, or is it a $50 donor who contributed to a larger program that I didn’t yield the outcomes that, that, that we had, we had hoped for maybe in, in, in, in any, in any kind of senate. Oh, it’s healthcare or feeding or whatever. Um, you know, the disservice we do, um, when we’re, when we’re not upfront and you know that I think it’s informed by all the talk about transparency and authenticity and honesty over the past. You know, that I guess that’s probably been 5, 7 years or so we’re supposed to be donor centric. Well, it started with donor centrism and then honesty and transparency and um, you know, we want to, we want to live the things that that were aspiring to.

[00:13:30.34] spk_1:
Absolutely. And I think we get into these patterns of interacting with each other where we feel we have to show up in a certain way. Um, and I I see, you know, we think that sharing our failures will show weakness. It will show, you know, it’ll show our incompetence, it will show that we don’t, we don’t really, you know, have it all together, we’re figuring it out as we go along. Um, and I fundamentally believe that when we share our failure as well as in we take ownership of them. We talk about what we learn, we talk about, you know, how we’re incorporating that going forward. It shows incredible strength and courage. Um, and I, the example I love to use because it’s so universal is um, is Babe Ruth, I’m famous baseball player who is famous for hitting somewhere in so many home runs, but he also held the record for the number of strikeouts for like over a decade, you know, and when he was asked about that, he said, um, well, every strike leads me closer to the next home

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[00:14:10.24] spk_1:
And I think, I mean, we could all, we could all be a little bit more like Babe, as in, you know, he’s not denying that he got those strikes, like, yeah, I struck out, you know, I made the wrong call, maybe I lost us the game, I swung at the wrong pitch. Um, but I’m going to make sure that that gets me, that experience gets me or us the team closer to the next home run and here’s how and that can show incredible strength and courage if we can share our failures in that way. Um, and yeah, and like you said, demonstrate that authenticity and perhaps that it feels incredibly vulnerable, you know, even when we have that story of what the next home run is, it still feels terrifying to share those stories, but um but it can in that sense that you’re still doing it. It shows incredible strength to those listening

[00:14:32.74] spk_0:
I’ve said many times and many guests have said to uh vulnerability is a sign of strength,

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[00:14:35.93] spk_0:
not weakness, it’s a sign of confidence, not not weakness, vulnerability, humility.

[00:14:43.04] spk_1:
Yeah, one of those things that’s so easy to say, and then when you’re in the moment, almost impossible to

[00:14:59.84] spk_0:
do, alright, uh let’s talk about the ideal relationship with with failure, we’re getting into some of your more than nuts and bolts. Uh you have, you have a pretty straightforward cycle and then and then we’ll talk about why why we go astray?

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[00:15:07.10] spk_0:
go astray from the ideal. That’s that’s your practice, the filling the void between the ideal and the and the reality.

[00:16:21.14] spk_1:
Absolutely. So the the ideal is what I refer to as intelligent failure or a healthy relationship with failure. How do we feel? Well, basically um starts with acknowledging that failure is inevitable, just uh you know, expecting it from that perspective so that we can detect it early ideally. Um and then we want, when we detect it, we want to analyze it effectively to maximize our learning after that we want to apply that learning, we want to let that lessons learned, report collect dust on a shelf, how do we apply that to actually change our behaviors. Um, do something new or try again whatever it is. Um, and then how do we let that whole experience uh, inspire us to take, continue to take risks and bold action knowing that even the things that we try that don’t work out, we are able to recognize them, learn from them and apply that learning and move forward more wisely. Um, so that opens up more room to take risks and innovate, which of course leads to more failure, but hopefully different failures the next time around the loop and you can check out. Um, so if you google intelligent failure, you’ll probably see the loop come up on google, You can see the visual there.

[00:17:53.04] spk_0:
It’s time for a break. Turn to communications the problem because of their local missions, US community foundations are largely ignored by national media. So when the media covers philanthropy and public policy, community foundations are often left out the turn to approach media relations, building relationships. You’ve heard me talk about that before with national journalists and getting local community foundations op EDS and interviews. Also owned media, creating a website and social media presence to showcase the work of community foundations and capacity building ongoing resources and training for communications teams at local community foundations. So the community foundations were not getting attention. Turn to turn that around. You don’t have to be a community foundation to have turned to turn around your absence in the media, turn to communications turn hyphen two dot c o This applies in all kinds of realms. I mean, I’ve seen it applied to software development. I mean, it certainly applies to, uh, nonprofit community.

[00:17:59.33] spk_1:

[00:18:00.16] spk_0:
just, it’s sort of universally applied, isn’t it?

[00:20:07.04] spk_1:
I mean, I think so. I think failure is a universal experience and um, and we want to react to it in that way. The, and I should stay just to give your listeners the utmost respect. Like I know they already know what I just said. Everyone already knows how we should respond to failure. We know we should, you know, detect it, acknowledge it, analyze it, change their behavior and continue to take those risks. Everyone knows that. Um, and in many ways we think we do it because we know what it is. But the reality is that almost none of us myself included are able to actually practice, um, that intelligent failure consistently when we’re in the midst of it. The great analogy that my co author Diana Kander shared with me was it’s analogous to what we do when we fall like when we, when we fall down, our instincts are to, you know, to put our arms out to brace our fall, we tight, tense up and we tend to break wrists and hips and all sorts of other things. Falling is the number one reason why people end up in the hospital. Um, and yet there’s a right way to fall. Uh and there’s there’s examples of physiotherapists and and even this 80 year old man that I read about that like practices falling well every day. And it goes around like assisted living centers teaching other generally older people how to fall well. And it’s totally different. You you let your body relax to kind of absorb more of the shock, you protect, you know, your head or your side with your arms depending on where you’re falling and kind of tuck and roll out of it. Um but that’s not what our instincts are and most people have never thought about that, right? We we don’t and the same is true with failure. We don’t think that our instincts might lead us astray. And no one, probably no one’s ever told us that our instincts might lead us astray. Um but in almost all cases, um our instincts and and often organizational norms, learned behaviors will cause us not to fill intelligently. Um and so we need to practice our tuck and roll out of our failures. Uh and and learn what that is.

[00:20:26.74] spk_0:
I just have one correction to make. Uh they they are our listeners, our listeners.

[00:20:31.14] spk_1:
Thank you. So

[00:20:52.94] spk_0:
where do we go astray? Um there there you call them exit ramps that we can uh we avail ourselves of very well as you’re saying, you know, very conveniently, but not not more than convenient instinctively. We avail ourselves of uh Mhm exiting the the ideal that ideal loop of failing intelligently.

[00:21:00.54] spk_1:
Oh, you know, it’s um how long is your podcast? Because I feel like this is the whole like I’ve been doing this work for 10 years, this is the whole reason I have a job. So I could go on for days about this. Well

[00:21:12.23] spk_0:
we have an hour,

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[00:21:14.09] spk_0:
Give us about another 40

[00:21:15.30] spk_1:
minutes. I will, I will try to but

[00:21:30.84] spk_0:
we don’t but I also would like we we need to spend some time on how to re conceive failure, you know, in your organization so that you’re avoiding some of the avoiding some of these exit ramps. So maybe maybe not every

[00:21:35.14] spk_1:

[00:21:36.22] spk_0:
every one of the the exits, but you know, there’s there’s some, there’s like like there’s some introspection involved.

[00:22:33.24] spk_1:
Yeah, I think there’s some common ones for sure. So I mean a big one folks, we tend to assume that it’s easy to detect failure. We just know when it happens. But a big challenge that I see is the is the kind of denial or escalating commitment um biases that we have that prevent us from even detecting that what we’re doing is a failure and have us keep doing the things that we probably should stop. You know, that denial comes from a place of either, we’re not getting the information that we need are asking the right folks for feedback about what’s working and what’s not um or simply confirmation bias. You know, we want to believe that things are working on are going well. So we look for information that reinforces that. Um, what about

[00:22:36.14] spk_0:
Tito, can we talk a little about personal and institutional, both on both levels? Ego.

[00:22:51.84] spk_1:
That’s interesting. I, so I’ll give you a personal example of this. Um, just before I started my company fell forward, I started a website called admitting failure And it was a place for anyone to share their stories of failure and learning, you know, never again, what a mistake he repeated because this website existed built into the database. There’s gonna be thousands, thousands of failure stories shared on this. Got a lot of attention to a lot of media interviews and you know, I, I don’t know, it’s been whatever 13 years since then. And there are 32 stories shared on that site. 32

[00:23:14.91] spk_0:
is a much more exemplary place than we realized certainly than you realize you’re just a negative, negative

[00:23:21.95] spk_1:
asking people

[00:23:23.26] spk_0:
Of humanity why why are you so harsh on humanity? There’s only, there only been 32 failures in 13 years.

[00:24:57.94] spk_1:
Exactly. Um, and, and on the other side of that, I’m totally amazed that 32 per strangers wanted to put the failures on my, but uh, and, and I had, I had some, some donor funding for that. And I remember the day very clearly when they were telling me like, no, this, this isn’t working actually. You have zero stories on this, this experiment failed, ironically the site about failure failed. You need to do something else. And I’m supposed to be great at this. You know, I’m supposed to be the one that has that healthy relationship with failure. That’s what I’m trying to help people create by building this site after all. And I’m sitting there talking to donors being like, you’re wrong, let me show you all of the reasons why this is working. And there were like a couple of indicators that it was going well, but they were right obviously, and I just, I don’t know if it, I wouldn’t call it ego so much as I loved the idea so much and I wanted it to succeed so much and and perhaps a little bit of sunk costs fallacy to like I’d sunk a lot of my time and energy into, to making it and I really wanted it to work that it was really hard for me to see that it hadn’t worked. And I had that optimism bias as well. Like I just, I thought that if we just kept at it and if I just did a few different things, we might figure it out and ultimately it wasn’t, it wasn’t gonna work if you build it, they will not share your favorite stories and just and and it was only through the process of accepting that that I was able to start fail forward and and realized what was actually needed and what I actually want to spend my time on, but but it didn’t happen immediately.

[00:25:21.84] spk_0:
Is there is there such a thing as a a final failure that that we we just it’s unreal. It’s unrecoverable. We’re going beyond, we’re getting little metaphysical, but that’s such a beautiful

[00:25:23.94] spk_1:
question. I

[00:25:32.44] spk_0:
mean, on the beyond the organization, maybe it’s an individual, you know, is there such a thing on either level as the final unrecoverable failure?

[00:27:20.54] spk_1:
And you know, I think it’s always possible that any failure will destroy us. I think it’s also always possible that any failure could transform us into something wiser if we let it, I think it has less to do about the actual facts of the event and more to do with where we’re at as as human beings, you know, do we have, Do we um do we have the resources we need uh and the support we need to actually recover and try again? Um Do people believe in us? Do we believe in ourselves? Do we have enough time to do that healing process and get enough distance from it that we can look objectively and learn the lessons that we need to do? We have the self awareness um to kind of ask ourselves the questions that we need to and bring in the people we need to to be able to maximize what we can learn from it. There’s a lot of different pieces that have to be at work there. Um but even the worst failures, I always um I always believe it is possible to use those moments uh to become more human. Vm The metaphor I love to use is the japanese art of repairing pottery with gold, I believe it’s called. Um So you take these broken pieces of pottery and you you glue them together with gold enamel and the pieces are just stunning and the art form recognizes that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. You’re not hiding it. You know, you’re not trying to put it back to just the way it was. Um you know, you’re saying like I I can be better because of this.

[00:27:29.14] spk_0:
So you don’t think there is

[00:27:30.59] spk_1:

[00:27:32.04] spk_0:
final final failure. If if you have the right support confidence resources, you know, the things that the things that you describe Alright, alright, I

[00:27:41.86] spk_1:
don’t, I don’t think any failure has to be final.

[00:27:44.08] spk_0:
I think you can mess

[00:27:45.12] spk_1:
up really, really bad and you can hurt a lot of people and and and and then it becomes even more important that you do the near impossible work of repairing with gold.

[00:28:10.04] spk_0:
Mhm. Those, you know, those resources that support even the confidence um

[00:28:11.44] spk_1:
that’s going to vary

[00:28:46.24] spk_0:
depending on your background, I’m I’m thinking of women minorities who don’t uh don’t in, in, in a lot of, a lot of situations have, you know have that even the internal the self confidence, let alone the external support and confidence resources that more privileged folks do have, that’s gonna, that’s gonna affect your your outcome from the same failure across all across all folks.

[00:30:23.44] spk_1:
I know and it is a who uh just in the injustice piled on the injustice, I guess that’s how I might describe that one that that the privileged and the ones that that have all those opportunities. Um you know, it’s it’s easy to feel it’s easy for for us to stand up and say like, yeah, feel fast, feel often go out, feel fast and break things, you know, and you put that poster up on your wall uh, when that speaks to a very small sliver of the population that can actually do that with that kind of gung ho rara Silicon Valley, um pizzas. Um it’s because, you know, they have endless resources and and uh and a and a culture that supports folks to try try again. Um, and I think, I think what’s really needed across um across those boundaries, like, you know, for for for all of us um to offer each other grace in times of failure that, you know, we all need that time and we’re all capable and and it’s always possible to um, to move forward more wisely. So how do we give each other that grace of the second chance um would be would be my invitation and not just to the to the uh, the privileged few, but to

[00:30:30.24] spk_0:
everyone interesting. Our, our conversation has taken a different turn for

[00:30:34.74] spk_1:

[00:30:35.04] spk_0:
an hour or so. But that’s fine.

[00:30:36.11] spk_1:

[00:30:37.96] spk_0:
only got to the

[00:30:38.55] spk_1:
first step around the loop and the exits. My goodness

[00:30:46.34] spk_0:
you did. I know well you’re, you’re, you’re suffering a lackluster host. You know, I, I think I digress and no etcetera. But uh,

[00:30:49.66] spk_1:

[00:30:50.03] spk_0:
I think very, very informative introspective. You know, I appreciate your sharing your not your own, not only your own stories but

[00:31:00.04] spk_1:
your thoughts.

[00:33:04.74] spk_0:
It’s time for Tony’s take two. I wish for you. Easy, comfortable donor relationships. What am I talking about? The kinds of relationships where you can pick up the phone, the person is going to take your call or if you leave a message, you’re very, very confident. There’s, there’s no question they’re gonna call you back. The kinds of relationships where you can write a quick handwritten note. It doesn’t have to be a formal letter 8.5 by 11 word document. The kinds of relationships where there’s trust. There’s and these relationships are fun. Right? Those are the kinds of relationships I hope you have with your donors planned giving donors or otherwise it doesn’t make a difference. Um, I posted about this on linkedin and Kirsten Hill suggested the word authentic to describe these relationships. Absolutely, Joanna brody also commented and reminded me that these kinds of relationships ease tension, Joanna. Absolutely right. So that if there is ever conflict, hopefully there isn’t. But you know, things happen on both sides. If there is ever a conflict it’s so much easier to resolve when you’ve got these comfortable authentic donor relationships. These are the kinds of relationships I hope you’re striving for and I hope you’re enjoying with your donors. That is Tony’s take two. We’ve got boo koo but loads more time for improve your relationship with failure with Ashley. Good. See relationships again, the relationships are ubiquitous. Let’s talk more on, on an organizational level. What, what, what kind of culture? Um, what kind of ceo do, what can a

[00:33:08.35] spk_1:

[00:33:18.14] spk_0:
of others who is not necessarily the ceo due to, to foster this. Um, intelligence failing.

[00:33:21.34] spk_1:
Mm hmm. What

[00:33:25.04] spk_0:
do we need to encourage others to think about? What do we need to do for ourselves?

[00:33:26.95] spk_1:

[00:33:31.14] spk_0:
guess acknowledging our own failures when they, when they occur setting the

[00:34:58.54] spk_1:
example. Mm hmm. Um again, there’s many ways I can answer that question. I think there’s an there’s an individual because organizations are made up of individuals. There’s something that everyone of us as individuals can do and leaders most importantly must do if they want to see a healthy relationship with failure thrive? Uh, so there’s the individual actions. There’s also kind of the organizational structures. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna touch on the individual side first. Um, and that’s simply, I, I love to talk about four mindsets or like our ground rules that I often set when I’m facilitating groups. Um So the ground rules are blameless nous humility, empathy and curiosity. So the blameless nous is recognizing that everyone makes, no one shows up to work hoping to mess up. You know, we’re all trying to do the best job possible. So blame really doesn’t make sense. You know what you really want to be doing is figuring out how exceptional talented, hard working, intelligent people. I made the wrong call and and we ended up with the result that was that was undesirable. Um You know, how did we arrive at that conclusion? What what information was missing? How you know it’s a process vlog what how so how did that happen? Never who who doesn’t matter. Um because everyone’s trying their best. We want to know how are great people. Um You know I got to the wrong answer right?

[00:35:11.64] spk_0:
So before we move to the empathy we we can we can avoid the finger pointing. I mean maybe we do that. Maybe that we do that behind closed doors but you know to try to improve. But but there’s not there’s not a lot of value in you know who caused who caused it. Like it could be

[00:35:21.69] spk_1:
that there’s no value in it. It’s completely counterproductive

[00:35:25.94] spk_0:

[00:35:26.73] spk_1:
that blaming someone has the exact opposite impact that you want it to. So it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. Maybe they deserved to be finger pointed, who cares? Because by pointing fingers at them, you are guaranteeing that they show up even more

[00:35:41.31] spk_0:
defensive because they know

[00:35:42.75] spk_1:
that you’re blaming them and therefore the more defensive they are, the less likely they’re ever going to be to learn from that experience because you never learn if you’re stuck in that defensive position because you’re just there protecting yourself,

[00:35:55.17] spk_0:
protecting your job

[00:35:56.02] spk_1:
or you know, whatever,

[00:35:57.64] spk_0:
it’s not only them, everyone around them will see, see the, see the blame, see the injury that it causes to the blamed person or people and and react the way you’re describing. So

[00:36:21.53] spk_1:
it’s legitimate to be angry and upset that somebody did the wrong thing, I get that. So but deal with that within yourself before having the conversation with them. If you want to maximize what you can learn and move forward more wisely, I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s almost impossible,

[00:36:25.92] spk_0:
like so much of

[00:36:26.80] spk_1:
this, but but that’s the goal.

[00:36:30.18] spk_0:
Maybe it’s easier than almost impossible. Okay,

[00:36:33.90] spk_1:
depends on, it depends on the situation,

[00:36:41.33] spk_0:
reasonably likely that you can do this with some with some some of your own introspection.

[00:36:43.23] spk_1:

[00:36:44.35] spk_0:
it takes a lot

[00:37:48.03] spk_1:
of self awareness. Yeah. But yeah, that’s blameless nous right, recognizing that no matter how bad the decision the chances are that person did it with good intentions. Um the so the second and humility Um you know, so often we want to blame as opposed to looking at ourselves as I often say in groups, you know, even if the failure was 99% not your fault. What’s the 1% of things you could have done differently? What’s the 1% you did contribute or did what didn’t you do that? You might have, you know, really looking for your your own role in trying to see and own whatever piece you can the the empathy piece. I use the word empathy almost to get folks out of that tendency to judge. Obviously those judgmental thoughts are always there, especially in terms of failure when emotions are high. Um, and often the consequences are high. But really trying to get ourselves out of that tendency to judge and move into a stance of empathy, recognizing that um, you know, really putting yourselves in their shoes that you can see how they could have arrived at that conclusion or that decision, right? I understand they might have had this lens, you know, really trying to understand where they might be coming from. So even if you don’t agree, you can at least empathize with with their position. And then finally, probably the most important one.

[00:38:05.61] spk_0:
This is the second time we’ve talked about empathy.

[00:38:08.72] spk_1:
Mm hmm. It’s important that

[00:38:16.22] spk_0:
there’s a lot of a lot of that in this work because we’re talking because what we’re talking about its failure. You if you if you’re not going to have empathy for, you know earlier we were talking about the people who are mistreated,

[00:38:22.62] spk_1:
you lied

[00:38:28.72] spk_0:
to deceived, you know, whatever by errors of omission or um, You know, but now we’re talking about empathy for the folks who contributed even 1% to the failure.

[00:41:05.91] spk_1:
Yeah, often I hear when I’m facilitating in teams, you know, staff want to blame their boss, you didn’t set me up for success or the executive didn’t do this or the donor didn’t do this or whatever it is. Um, and it’s, and it’s stepping back from that that your judgments may be true, but it doesn’t matter. Can you understand where they’re coming from so that you can have a conversation with them about how you do better going forward. That’s the whole goal, right? The goal is learning moving forward more wisely. Um, anyway, the last of the four values or mindsets um, is curiosity and this is the one that I probably spend the most time on only because I think it’s, we’re so we’re such great problem solvers, especially in times of failure, we just want to identify the problem, I want to fix it and often what folks need much, much more than problem solving cause if it was easy to solve they would’ve already done it is the curiosity, you know, trying to, trying to help others deepen their learning around what around the experience and ask the curious questions to help understand their perspective. So you can get at that rich or learning to allow yourself to move forward more wisely. Um so those are those are the four mindsets that ideally, like I said, leaders exemplify, they share their own failures, they, you know, with that humility and that blameless nous. They get curious when other failures happen um and they empathize, you know, when they’re, when they’re folks maybe don’t, you know, implement their ideas as well as they could, but there uh they empathize with them and and ask how they can do better and then so that’s the, that’s the individual side and basically that’s for you, do this for your, your golden right? You might not even need the organizational side, but the reality is each individual, you know, it’s it’s a lot to put on an individual to ask them to show up with those four mindsets all the time. Um that and that our organizational structures often make that very difficult. So how do we shape our organizations? So that that’s the norm is basically the questions that I often ask, um executive teams because they’re in the position to start to shape recruitment systems and training systems and performance appraisal systems and um you know, the way stories are told and what stories get told and how people do after action reviews and do we create enough time and resources for those and basically my whole job on the organizational structure side is to make sure we’re not expecting X, but rewarding for why, as in like we’re expecting a healthy relationship with failure and people to own their failures and work together to have these conversations, but we reward people who defend themselves and throw other people under the bus and um, and prove that it wasn’t their fault. You know, we’re trying to avoid that, uh, that folly

[00:41:44.71] spk_0:
Many years ago when I was in the first year of the podcast, which is 10, this is our, this is our 10th year. So this is our 12th year. This part, this is our 12th year, 2010. Um, I had someone on from the new york times, Stephanie strom back when there was such a thing called the nonprofit beat in, in a, in a, you know, a world leader newspaper that doesn’t exist anymore. But she covered something that the World Bank ran called failure Fair

[00:41:46.41] spk_1:

[00:42:00.20] spk_0:
Fair had an E at the end F A I R E. Um, and they were, um, for listeners, this was the August 27th 2010 show. Um, the World Bank was highlighting

[00:42:01.79] spk_1:

[00:42:08.70] spk_0:
was failure Fair be out be open. Um, and you know, 12 years ago that that wasn’t such

[00:42:11.10] spk_1:
a, there

[00:42:53.50] spk_0:
was, we were in the dark ages, I’d say of, of, of intelligent failure may be failing intelligently. Probably didn’t, maybe not even even existed as a phrase, but um, it was, it was the dark ages in any case. Um, so I, I don’t, I don’t know if the World Bank continues that or did it again, but They did it in 2010 and for such a high profile organization, International Organization to do that. I thought it was exemplary. You know, it merited coverage. The new york times felt felt that. So uh of course the new york times follows non profit radio that’s how they get their ideas for for chauffeur articles is by listening to the property naturally. Um anyway, just a shout out to the World Bank and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of failure fair.

[00:43:18.60] spk_1:
Yeah, I spoke at one of my hosted the, if you excuse my language, the puck up nights in Toronto for a while. Um Knights, Knights. Yeah, they are, it’s not necessarily in the non profit world, but it’s largely entrepreneurs that get together and it’s kind of a a very authentic networking experience. Pre covid obviously, but a

[00:43:23.19] spk_0:
very good chance

[00:43:24.25] spk_1:
to come together and share share failures. Where

[00:43:26.89] spk_0:
where was that? Was that in Canada?

[00:44:00.39] spk_1:
They are in hundreds of cities all over the world now started by Leticia Gasca out of Mexico City and spread across the world. I I’m a real, I mean obviously I hosted, I’m a real fan of these events for many reasons. I think the best thing that they do is de stigmatize failure, they bring, you know, all these, all these earnest folks together and they have a couple of great speakers lined up to share their failures honestly and openly, and you just had this experience in the audience of watching these people share and you’re like, oh my gosh, like that’s a really bad failure and they’re still standing

[00:44:05.13] spk_0:

[00:44:05.37] spk_1:

[00:44:05.64] spk_0:

[00:44:07.52] spk_1:
Remember 1 1 guy,

[00:44:09.98] spk_0:
the session

[00:44:10.50] spk_1:
I was hosting, it was like millions and millions and millions of dollars, and I was like, I’m getting nervous as your host.

[00:44:17.70] spk_0:

[00:45:44.09] spk_1:
anyway, and you and you see, and you see that they that they lived through it and that they are stronger because of it, like you and you watch them and and you know, no one’s throwing tomatoes at them, you know, they really are the strong wise leaders at the front of the room still. And so there’s this real de stigmatization that happens, it allows everyone in the audience to kind of put down their usual masks that you wear when you’re at networking events and actually show up a little bit more more human as I’ve said a number of times in this interview. Um so I love them from that perspective, I think the danger in them is that we assume that if we share those failures, no one else is going to make that mistake, like that’s how we’re going to learn, and I would say they’re not a very good learning tool because it’s so rare that someone in the audience isn’t exactly the same position and needs to learn that exact same lesson. So I think it’s great from a cultural perspective. Um, and I’d say the other risk in them that I I feel really uncomfortable with them and not for profit world is the celebrating failure because those failures have real consequences on people’s livelihoods. So when you have an event and you’re making light of them, i it just it doesn’t sit well with me. I’m all for de stigmatizing failure in a healthy relationship with failure. But I can’t get behind celebrating it because you know, you’re talking about people’s livelihoods. Um, and

[00:46:01.38] spk_0:
maybe people who are impacted in other ways by by the failure. You know, if the if the project or program didn’t go well because we didn’t understand the culture in in Eritrea than than those people of you know, there may be relationships damaged there

[00:46:05.98] spk_1:

[00:46:09.68] spk_0:
where we, where we came with good intentions but uh, you know, but messed up people’s lives on the ground somewhere to

[00:46:41.88] spk_1:
Yeah, and to me that I mean that is not to be celebrated right? That is like I have a moral obligation to maximize what I learned from this experience. Like I’m allowed to get it wrong, I’m I’m not, I don’t have to be perfect, but if I do get it wrong, it is my responsibility to learn what I can from that and share that. And I think that’s more if we can come at it from that tone. It speaks a little bit more to me than I think some of these events got a little too um celebratory,

[00:46:43.07] spk_0:
celebratory. Yeah. Not

[00:46:45.22] spk_1:
to say that the lights aren’t fun. They are fun, but acronym is fun, but you know, it’s it’s from a place of recognizing how important it is that we learn from those.

[00:46:57.68] spk_0:
Wasn’t that uh the premise for your database was

[00:47:02.92] spk_1:

[00:47:04.08] spk_0:
nobody would make these mistakes again

[00:47:07.48] spk_1:
was wrong?

[00:47:24.78] spk_0:
I know I’m not I’m not I’m not I’m not blaming wright. I’m not blaming, I’m trying to I’m trying to be empathetic, but that was one of your objectives was to to prevent this from happening again. But right now, I mean the likelihood of someone being in the same circumstance, you know, a similar program, similar set of facts. Very reading

[00:47:34.54] spk_1:
that particular story on that web, particular website that they may or may not know about is that it’s pretty unlikely

[00:47:46.98] spk_0:
right? That too, Yes, they’ve got got to go to the website and read it. Yes. Um

[00:47:47.42] spk_1:
made a few mistakes in my assumptions around that project.

[00:48:00.67] spk_0:
What about a story um case um anonymized or not. I don’t, you know what, where uh an organization turned around. It’s it’s it’s thinking and maybe maybe maybe didn’t necessarily fail a second time more more intelligently,

[00:48:10.37] spk_1:
but you

[00:48:10.50] spk_0:
know, where you you saw, you saw a change

[00:48:12.86] spk_1:
in an in an organ at

[00:48:17.67] spk_0:
an organizational level that was that was going to make it more likely that in the future they would fail intelligently,

[00:49:00.97] spk_1:
You know, it’s funny, I often get asked for organizational examples like who do we look to to really um you know, be a role model for this and I shy away from it mostly because it’s not an arrival, like it’s not, you know, I have figured this out, I now have the perfect organizational structure and our leadership is exemplifying these things and we have like gold, gold star certification, we are an intelligence failure organization. It just, You know, I’ve been doing this for 10 years, I’ve worked with some incredible organizations, incredible leaders um and it’s, there is no end point in this,

[00:49:04.35] spk_0:
it’s a journey then

[00:49:23.37] spk_1:
maybe we’ll talk about it individually, it’s probably a little bit easier. I’ve been trying to promote a healthy relationship with failure for over a decade and I still struggle with my own failures and I still respond badly sometimes, you know, I’m aware of it often or probably hopefully I can recognize

[00:49:30.39] spk_0:
it in myself a little

[00:50:58.26] spk_1:
faster than most people do, but I still suck at it. So for me it is not about like this organization is totally figured it out, it’s how do we see this as a practice? Um kinda like staying in shape I guess, you know that we’re going to the gym and we’re lifting those heavy weights because we know that we have to keep doing that if we want to keep our muscle mass, like I think the same thing is true with um with a healthy relationship with failure, we want to keep pushing ourselves, keep taking those risks and seeing ourselves fall down and right, I know what I’m supposed to do when I do this, I’m supposed to own it and I’m bringing together the people that were involved to analyze it and that’s really uncomfortable and I don’t want to have that conversation, but I’m going to and I’m going to try to change my behavior and I’m going to ask for people to tell me when I make that mistake again. Um and I’m going to continue to push myself and that’s that’s kind of the the forever cycle. There isn’t necessarily an arriving um and I think there’s a lot of, a lot of groups that I’ve worked with that have taken, you know, three steps forward, two steps back, you know, another step or two for, you know, it gets a it’s hard to keep up. Um It’s hard, there, there is no example is basically my long winded way of saying that that, but there are a lot of incredible organizations who are doing incredible things with incredible leadership um really striving to make what is not instinctive work. Um

[00:51:14.36] spk_0:
Yes, counterintuitive, not right, but it’s a it’s a journey, it’s a practice. Alright, alright, you told an interesting story on another conversation with someone about um

[00:51:15.66] spk_1:

[00:51:24.96] spk_0:
Step Forward, two steps back um a an explorer in the in the North Pole. I thought that was a poignant story. Can you

[00:51:30.46] spk_1:
absolutely share

[00:51:31.94] spk_0:
That 1? You know what I’m talking about?

[00:51:39.66] spk_1:
I do. I do and you know what his name is totally escaping me. So please go back in your show notes and like reference the name. I’ll look it up after the

[00:51:41.57] spk_0:

[00:53:39.95] spk_1:
Um But it was a an explorer who an arctic explorer. So on the arctic ice sheets um And the North Pole has no no landmass, right? It’s just ice sheets that are constantly constantly moving around. He’s trying to make it to the North Pole. And you know, he’d walk and walk for hours and hours and at the end of um you know 10 12, 14 hours of walking. You have to set up camp and rest because you know, he’s still human and he said his gps and he’d wake up in the morning and would often find out that he had floated back and undid all of the work that he’d done the days before trying to make that progress. And he would still have to pack up his camp and keep marching towards that North Pole. And how um oh gosh! You can only imagine how that would feel like the futility of it, the the powerlessness in that moment of changing the directions of the ocean currents underneath you that are moving you further away from your definition? I think such a beautiful metaphor for what we often experience in our work. You know, we work so hard and toil and just the, the forces of the ocean can pull us away from that goal. And um, and he had some great wisdom to share and again, I apologize for not remembering his name, but it was basically he’d wake up and and even with that information that he had just been moved far further away from his gold while he slept, um, he’d set his sight on one ice mount, You know, whatever it was 50 ft away and say, you know what if I make it there today, that’s success and that’s that’s what he needed to pack up his gear, put back on his skis and and keep going and he gets that iceman and say, okay if I make it to that iceman today is a success and and little by little those little, those little those days, those little goals, you know, eventually, um I reached that North Pole goal

[00:53:55.35] spk_0:
mm actually, good founder of fail forward. The company is at fail forward dot org and at fell forward Ashley, thank you very much. Very stimulating, interesting conversation. Thanks thanks so much for sharing

[00:54:03.95] spk_1:
my pleasure

[00:54:07.34] spk_0:
next week. Talk about humility. I’m working on

[00:54:09.24] spk_1:

[00:54:10.14] spk_0:
If you missed any part of this week’s show, I beseech you find it at tony-martignetti dot com.

[00:54:16.44] spk_1:

[00:54:53.34] spk_0:
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. Marc Silverman is our Web guy and this music is by scott Stein. Thank you for that. Affirmation scotty be with me next week for nonprofit radio Big nonprofit ideas for the The other 95%. Go out and be great, mm hmm.

Nonprofit Radio for February 28, 2022: Founder Syndrome

Heidi Johnson: Founder Syndrome

It can severely hold back a nonprofit’s work when the organization becomes the founder. What are the symptoms and treatments? Heidi Johnson is a founder, took over leadership from a founder, and has been studying founders and their orgs for many years. She hosts the blog and podcast, Charity Matters.



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[00:00:10.24] spk_0:
Hello and welcome to

[00:01:43.04] spk_1:
tony-martignetti non profit radio Big nonprofit 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 hit with parallel alia if I had to speak the words you missed this week’s show founder syndrome, it can severely hold back a nonprofits work when the organization becomes the founder, what are the symptoms? What are the treatments? Heidi johnson is a founder, took over leadership from a founder and has been studying founders and their organs for many years. tony steak too. Spring is in the air. 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 for her debut on nonprofit radio Heidi johnson, she’s a co founder of Spiritual care guild, providing 24 7 chaplain support to Children’s hospital Los Angeles where she serves on the board of trustees. She’s the creator and founder of Charity Matters, a weekly blog and podcast that for over a decade has told the stories of nonprofit founders and their entrepreneurial journeys. It’s at charity hyphen Matters dot com and at charity matters Heidi johnson, Welcome to nonprofit radio

[00:01:48.34] spk_2:
Thank you, Tony. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

[00:01:59.34] spk_1:
I’m glad. Thank you. My pleasure as well. So you’ve been a founder. You took over from a founder. I presume that in the organization that you founded, you didn’t leave things as bad as you found them when you took over from the founder?

[00:02:07.84] spk_2:

[00:02:09.33] spk_1:

[00:02:10.24] spk_2:
I’ve gone through it all. I’ve been through it all. Let’s just put it that way. I’ve walked the walk, have walked the walk and I’m happy to share it. Let’s start

[00:02:26.34] spk_1:
the part of the journey with taking over from the founder. Uh, because that’s what we want to avoid folks having to deal with. You know, what, what did it look like? What did you have to go through? Tell us that, you know, it

[00:03:32.54] spk_2:
is, um, I refer to myself as the, the, the second life, the step mom. Um, everybody loves their mom and the step mom, you know, the person who comes in second is usually not as popular and um, and the founder is a beloved person. The founder is is so many great things and I have to say that I do think founders are some of the best humans on this planet. I mean they are, they are the charisma for the organization. They are the why they have the spark, they have the fire, they do beautiful things. The entrepreneurs like I, I have just the utmost respect for every founder I’ve ever talked to. I, I love these people. However, however, I think most founders don’t have a transition plan, a succession plan and I found myself in the predicament of having walked away from the nonprofit that I co founded with a group of people and inheriting one that was 32 years old at the time and had been founded by, um, a nun. So she was super beloved, Oh

[00:03:44.11] spk_1:

[00:03:45.12] spk_2:
Oh yeah,

[00:03:46.64] spk_1:
nobody ever wants to cross, nobody wants to cross a nun. No, you can’t, they’re gonna get their knuckles

[00:03:51.33] spk_2:
slapped with the rules, you’re going to hell,

[00:03:52.98] spk_1:
right? I mean never crossing, it’s worse than crossing a priest.

[00:05:42.04] spk_2:
Exactly. So, so I, I come in and this organization has been a youth leadership organization where these, you know, 17,000 alumni have spent their summers with this woman who was like their mother and she is beloved by all and she was ill and not well and just said to the board, I’m gonna just close the organization and the board said, oh, no, no, no, no, you don’t just shut a nonprofit because you’re leaving. Um, that’s not how that works. And so it was, it was not a smooth exit strategy because there was no succession plan. Um, there was a lot of her feelings from obviously what I would call her kids are alumni who loved her and felt like she was sick and being shoved up by the board. It was, it was a big mess and I knew none of this when I was hired, right? I knew none of them. You didn’t know the history even, I knew that she was ill and was leaving. That’s what I was told. So of course I uncovered this pretty early on into my, yeah. And um, and it, it seriously, I, I’ve never been a second wife, I think, you know, knock on wood, but I felt that, um, that disconnect from our core base. Um, the board was supportive of me, but yet the board was still made up of people that were kind of on her team and wanted to talk about what we always do it this way. This is the way we do it because this is the way we do it, not because it’s the right way because this is what we do. And, and so just the battle started from the beginning. You know, it was just, that was just, that was like, you know, the first month

[00:05:57.34] spk_1:
was their staff to or was it just the executive?

[00:06:05.54] spk_2:
Yes. So they’re very small staff couple staff, a lot of volunteers. Um, some volunteers said just point blank, I won’t even speak to you. Like I don’t want to know you. I don’t want to work with you because that harsh.

[00:06:15.24] spk_1:
I don’t want, I don’t want, no, I don’t want

[00:06:35.74] spk_2:
to know you at all. And that was kind of my, um, and mind you, I had been interviewing nonprofit founders um, already for probably four years, three or four years at this point. So I’ve been interviewing nonprofit founders for charity matters. And um, and loving nonprofit founders and find myself in this situation. So it was so interesting having Ben a founder, having interviewed founders and now I am the second wife and I’m trying to navigate through this muddled transition. Um,

[00:07:00.44] spk_1:
very interesting. I thought I assumed that it was joining this organization that kicked off your interest in in talking to founders and your research. And yeah, you had already been doing it. And then unknowingly you find yourself as the, as the step wife the

[00:08:15.34] spk_2:
second, the second after starting a non profit as a volunteer with a group of friends I just became fascinated with. Who are these people that do this work? This work is incredibly Hard and and why would you do this work? I really, it was just fascinated with that. I knew that I had like a backstory and a catalyst and a moment that triggered me to want to do this work. But I was like, who are these other 1.6 million people and what’s their story? And by the way, why isn’t the world talking about them? And at that time, CNN Heroes wasn’t on People magazine Heroes amongst us. There was, there was nothing 10 years ago, there was really nothing about these people that truly are my heroes. So I just started my own personal quest. Um, as I walked away from spiritual care after running it for five years, I was like, who are these people? I need to find my, my people, my tribe. And I went in search of them and started charity matters, um, to start talking to founders. And so that so midway through my journey with charity matters, you know, this other nonprofit came to me and said, will you, will you take over what

[00:08:20.47] spk_1:
was the work of that nonprofit that you took over? Was it wasn’t the camp?

[00:08:33.54] spk_2:
So it’s yeah, so it’s called Task We are a youth leadership organization, a catholic youth leadership organization. And it used to just be a summer program to teach leadership um, in catholic schools. And um, we were serving 300 kids when I took over. Um, and now we’re serving 3000 and you know, we have a staff of were small, were small nonprofit organization. Again, task Ta CSC, it’s horrible acronym. Okay,

[00:08:54.14] spk_1:
all right. So were there people who, it doesn’t matter board members, volunteers may be among the small employee staff. Were there folks that recognized that the previous leader had been holding the organization back or was there just so much love for her that there was no, everybody was blind.

[00:09:54.94] spk_2:
There was, there was mixed, there was a mixed bag, I think our biggest donor, um, who had supported the organization for a long time and was also on the board, uh, realized that the organization to be more and, and he’s an incredible leader and visionary and he, he was really the one and because he had the deep pockets too, said we need to hire someone and, and our foundation will, will support this role and he kind of lead that, um, that task pun intended. um, that task to find a new executive director. And uh, and there was people that were very non supportive of that. But since she couldn’t run it, who was going to do it? And, and, and I think people don’t think about, they just think that these founders are gonna go on forever and it doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t work that way.

[00:11:29.34] spk_1:
It’s time for a break. Turn to communications. Have you thought about thought leadership, would you like yourself or your nonprofit to be a thought leader around your work in your community? It takes time to achieve that kind of credibility, but turn to can get you there, get you to the point where your opinion is sought after, where people come to you for advice, where you’re the leader for your cause and in your community around your cause, turn to communications, your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o now back to founder syndrome. And and, and so the organization, right? So the organization was not sophisticated and here’s the biggest donor or one of the biggest donors saying, you know, my foundation will pay for it. You need to do this. So, you know, they’d be more apt to follow his lead than maybe a more sophisticated organization, but a more sophisticated organization would have had a succession plan and would have recognized years earlier that the organization was being held back, etcetera. So maybe, you know, in some respects, it helped the organization. Well, that he stepped forward and that they, well, it’s hard to say that helped them by not being more sophisticated because they could have been a lot further along than they were when you, when you joined. If

[00:11:43.24] spk_2:
you’re right. And I think just because you’re a small organization also doesn’t always mean you’re now, it’s fair to say that you’re probably not as sophisticated and you are correct in this situation. We were not that sophisticated.

[00:11:54.94] spk_1:
The try to be as light as possible. You

[00:11:57.46] spk_2:
know, the fact that the

[00:12:00.97] spk_1:
was thinking like stultifying of, you know, your fact that the founder had on the organization. That’s what I mean. I don’t mean very savvy. There are very savvy to person organizations

[00:12:17.54] spk_2:
100% well. And I think that what happens and we see this not just in nonprofits, we see this in small businesses is when the entrepreneur, which nonprofit founders at their core entrepreneurs, um, that they, they, they in the business become one, the brand becomes one and there is a blurred line. And I mean, you could use something, you know, as simple as Martha Stewart or Oprah magazine. I mean, obviously they are the brand, right? But in nonprofits, it happens. It’s the same thing happens. And where do you separate the person, the founder and the mission and it’s critical, I think for people to be aware of that in their own organizations.

[00:12:59.64] spk_1:
Yeah. So let’s talk a little more about, let’s flush out some of the symptoms sure of, you know, you’ve, you’ve mentioned, you know, the organization becomes the person, the person becomes the organization. But what does that, you know, a little more detail, what, what does that look like?

[00:14:53.44] spk_2:
Well, there’s, I think there’s a lot, a lot of things that can happen. I think, um, when 11 aboard starts, um, becoming just so dependent on the founder and so worried that the founder is everything that could be, you know, a little sign right there. I think when an organization becomes flat, I think when you don’t see a lot of growth, a lot of new work members coming, a lot of new, different people coming from different areas joining your, cause it’s kind of the same old, maybe cronies club. Um, or things get a little stagnant. There could be a sign there that we haven’t seen like new new people coming in. Oftentimes also, I think people rely on the founder as, because they bring the passion and they bring kind of the purpose and the, why people think of the founder as their, their best fundraiser. And, and it’s lots of cases they are. Um, and there the community builder, but it doesn’t mean that they’re the only person that can do that. And I think, um, it’s easy for people to kind of put all that on the founders shoulders because the founders innately exude that passion for their organization. And so I think that, that, that becomes a problem. Um, and I think that, that basically what happens is that people just start all of a sudden thinking that the founder and the organization is one and the same and they lose sight of the mission and the mission is whatever you’re setting out to do isn’t that person, you’re there as a community to serve that purpose, to serve people. And if it all becomes about that person, decisions are being made based mainly by that person, every decision has to go through that person. These are red flag warnings. Yeah,

[00:15:06.84] spk_1:
everything right. Everything has to go through them all the marketing, any language ng messaging, right, Right. Major decisions like the board is just rolling over all the time. You know, you’re not seeing ever robust discussions,

[00:15:34.64] spk_2:
right? I mean there and boards should always have, um, not healthy conflict, healthy conversation, healthy dialogue. You know, you always want that board member that kind of pushes back that kind of pushes back and says, Hey, what about this or why is this? I mean, we kind of love and hate that board member, but we need that board member, but it’s, it’s so important that you don’t become placated by just making sure everybody’s happy that that, that doesn’t make for a healthy organization necessarily.

[00:16:07.14] spk_1:
So we ought to have a succession plan. All right. So let’s let’s, let’s talk a little bit about the value of a succession plan and then, you know, what, what to do if you don’t have one. Uh, and you’re, you know, and you feel like you’re in this stultifying era with your organization and a founder, you know, how, what, what can you do? But let’s, let’s talk about the value of a succession plan. You know, what some motivation for for spending the time and money to, to create one.

[00:16:54.54] spk_2:
Absolutely. Well, I mean, every healthy organization should have a succession plan. And um, I kind of like my marriage to an entrepreneur and he says to me and his, his words are wise. He said everything you enter, but a marriage should have an exit strategy, Everything, but a marriage should have an exit strategy. So every time he starts a business or goes into business, he knows when he’s going to leave, before he starts, he knows when he’s going to leave and, and he is a consummate entrepreneur. And, and I think that that’s really sage advice now for many of these founders, it’s a little too late for that. They’re too far down the path there listening to this saying, oh my gosh, wow, I should have, I should have thought about that, but we may have boarded, but

[00:17:02.34] spk_1:
we have board members listeners to who may say, you know, we, we ought to have a succession plan because you could get ill

[00:17:52.84] spk_2:
can happen. Yeah, yeah. Anything can happen, right. Anything can happen. So every healthy organization should have a succession plan. And it minimum. I think that if people are starting to, even in the organization bring someone up underneath them, someone that they can, you know, train from within that they could promote that is even there in case of emergency that you have at least a net a person that’s a slight net underneath you in your org chart. It’s critical. It’s critical that you have that at minimum in addition to a formal succession plan, obviously. But I think that people get short sighted and founders especially get so busy wearing all the hats and doing all their things. But the last thing you’re thinking about is their own succession plan. That’s like looking at your own mortality, right? And and that’s and that’s why so many of them don’t have them because they don’t want to face the fact that there’s going to be a moment that they’re going to have to separate themselves from something that they don’t know how to separate from.

[00:18:41.94] spk_1:
Alright, what if someone is a board member or maybe even a a senior part of a staff and that, you know, there isn’t a succession plan. I mean, ideally there should be succession plans, not only for the Ceo, but for all the sea level now, you know, now we’re envisioning a bigger organization, but let’s just start with a, you know, a small, small organization, we’re talking about a succession plan for the ceo. They’re a founder. We’re a board member or a staff member. How do we raise this with? We have to start with the founder. Do we start there? Do we, do we have a coup and go to a board member,

[00:19:40.54] spk_2:
which is really not the way to? Well, I think it really, I think it really depends. I think, I think it’s always nice for, I think it’s there’s a combo between the coup and the conversation with the founder and it depends on the dynamics of your board, an organization. I think if you have a board member that has a close relationship with the founder, it’s really great to kind of tap them on the shoulder and say, hey, we talked to so and so, you know, Freddy founder about their their retirement or their plans for the future. Have they ever expressed to you how long they want to be here and start kind of getting those little seeds planted? I think that would be a really smart, delicate, healthy way to navigate and begin that conversation. Meanwhile, I think it’s important that board members on the side are saying we need our responsibility, Our responsibility as a board member is, is for the success of this organization. We have taken, you know, in lots of cases signed a legal document saying that we are going to support this organization and, and well,

[00:19:59.04] spk_1:
and even if they, even if they haven’t signed a document under under state law, they’re fiduciaries to the organization duties of loyalty.

[00:20:01.24] spk_2:

[00:20:02.38] spk_1:
loyalty obedience, which sounds bad, but it’s not

[00:20:06.35] spk_2:
Bad, but 100% there and all of our jobs,

[00:20:10.49] spk_1:
the loyalty of the organization, not to the person,

[00:20:29.14] spk_2:
it is all about the organization, is all about the organization and getting your board to row in the same direction and realize that it is all about the organization going in the same way in the same path is critical. So that might mean a a cool conversation and whatever you want to call it, a healthy dialogue with, with board members about talking about if they see these symptoms, even if they don’t see them, they should have that plan ready to go. They should have that plan at all times ready. And what does that look like? And, and and how do we do that?

[00:21:20.94] spk_1:
All right. And, and with the, with the understanding that this applies really to all organizations, whether whether you’re you’re still have the you have the founder and the ceo or not, a succession plan is worth the time that it takes. Um, it can be empowering to the folks who now know that they’re part of a leadership succession plan. So you’re more likely to retain your good talent because they know that that there is a plan for them to advance in the organization. So that’s empowering and reassuring to to people in your organization. Um, and it’s just, you know, part of the duty of care and loyalty to the organization. The organization’s future.

[00:21:34.64] spk_2:
And, and, and the irony of the whole thing is that as a founder, you know, because there is ego that is tied with it and I speak as a founder as well. I know that there’s a little piece of ego. You do want your legacy to go on. You think about your nonprofit as your child and you want that to go on and on without you. So part of you is saying, this has to go on and this is what I’m leaving behind. This is my good work on this planet that I have left behind and I have, I have started something beautiful that helps people. And then the other part of you is like, wait a minute who’s taking my child? Who am I giving my child to? That’s my child. And and so there’s, it’s, it’s complex, right? It just is complex. There’s, there’s two sides of this and you want the best for your child, but you don’t want to let your child go.

[00:25:35.94] spk_1:
It’s time for Tony’s take two. Ah Spring. The days are getting longer. In just a couple of weeks, Sunday, March 13. The days are going to get even longer. We turn the clocks forward A week from that on March 20 is the first day of spring. It’s looking like after three years, we’re going to be emerging to something pretty normal. That’s the way it looks today. The last day of february when I’m releasing this, That’s the way it looks so on the most basic and practical level. Or maybe even base level. Think about your summer. There’s gonna be a lot of, a lot of people getting out this summer that have not been able to for three years. Make your plans, get yourself sink, tup, get your reservations. It may already. It’s kind of late, I think. But you certainly got to do it now, if you haven’t already for your for your summer plans, A lot of people are gonna be out spring for me. It means more time outside. Of course, more time on the beach. I found a poem. I’m gonna try this. May I favor you with this code? It’s Emily Dickinson a light exists in spring. A light exists in spring, not present on the year at any other period when marches scarcely here, a color stands abroad on solitary fields that science cannot overtake. But human nature feels it waits upon the lawn. It shows the furthest tree upon the furthest slope. You know, it almost speaks to you then as Horizons Step or Nunes report away without the formula of sound, it passes and we stay a quality of loss affecting our content as trade had suddenly encroached upon a sacrament. I hope that’s OK. Emily Dickinson a light exists in spring. Ah spring, rejoice go out enjoy. It’s nearly here. That is Tony’s take two. We’ve got boo koo but loads more time for founder syndrome with Heidi johnson from the loftiness of Emily Dickinson to the baseness of cheap alliteration, boo koo. But loads. My goodness. So let’s shift a little. Now now we’re were in your situation at at task. You know, how do you start to win over some folks? I don’t know. Do you leverage your couple of allies or your one ally or you know, what’s what’s your advice for starting the movement beyond the sweet nun? I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine about.

[00:27:07.04] spk_2:
She’s lovely. She’s wonderful. She’s wonderful. She there’s nothing, there’s nothing bad about our founder except that she left, right? And she abandoned her Children, right? And she got sick. She there’s no she’s a wonderful woman. Um but the but how you start that transition when you come in as a second wife. Um and and mom is left and you have, you know, kids that are missing mom and don’t really know who you are. Uh for me it was the board, the board was was made up of um a group of alumni that um that in a way really. I’m the mother of three sons. Um and there were some of these board um members gentlemen who who are fantastic. But as a group, they were like a pack of of kids. They had they were alumni. They’d been to camp together. They were a little gang and they behaved like a little gang and as a mother of sons. Um, my first board meeting was a call before zoom and I listened to them beating up on this one person and I was, I was just a board member of each board member beating up verbally on one. They all picked on one board member. And I couldn’t believe what I was listening to and I remember

[00:27:11.85] spk_1:
was that board member

[00:27:57.54] spk_2:
present on the call? Yeah, everyone was still the call. And I listened to the victim was on the call, I was on the call and I um got off that call and I called each board member and said, you know and I also sit on a number of boards myself. So I do know how bored when you should be run not to mention that we teach that at task and we teach kids how to run a meeting. And um and I called each board member and I said, I don’t know what that was but that behavior is completely unacceptable. And I am not going to be part of any organization that treats its members like this. So if you don’t call that that person that you picked on in that meeting right now and apologize, I won’t be back. This is just unacceptable. And I called, oh I called for men and I told them all the same thing and they all called this person and um, and I was like, oh my gosh, I can’t even believe I had to do this. I felt like I was holding my Children right? And then, and then

[00:28:10.55] spk_1:
you have to apologize to, you

[00:30:02.14] spk_2:
have to apologize, but, but you know, you know, privately shamed publicly praised, right? So I then called um a priest who was a friend of mine who had been their principle of all of their high schools and I served on his board and I called him and I said, you know, so Father Bill, I need a little bit of help. I said, payback is a bit much. And uh, and I’ve, you know, coach here at your board for five years and I need you on my mind right now because I need to open a can of pass on this board and I need someone who’s, who’s gonna scare them and you’re the only guy I can think of that’s gonna really scare them. And so he joined the board, Principal, 50 year old boys, but principal right, put them right back in their place. And yeah, right back in their place. And then his first call, which was my second board meeting, he said, oh, Heidi, you have your work cut out for you. I said, why do you think you’re here? And so little by little, it was also try turning over the board and there was no board. Um, they had, there was no, no timeline on board commitments. We board members have been there for 12 years. Like what? So I had to create term limits bylaws had to be updated. Term limits had to be created turning over the board and getting, so the first thing I would tell a new E. D. Or who’s taking over from a founder is create a board that supports you. And at least if nothing else bringing a couple champions on your in your corner, you can’t, you can’t start that battle alone. You’ll never, you’ll never make it. Yeah,

[00:30:03.83] spk_1:
I have to ask, how do you get board members to vote for their own term limits?

[00:30:09.24] spk_2:
Well, we had the violence

[00:30:11.26] spk_1:
brand new. This is a brand new concept to them. What someday we have to leave the board.

[00:30:16.45] spk_2:
You’re, you’re, you’re

[00:30:18.57] spk_1:
as radical as, as

[00:30:27.34] spk_2:
everybody said. Yeah. Let me tell you a troublemaker. As we thought you were, there was some very unhappy people. There were some very unhappy people, but the people that had sat on other boards and that had a lot of board experience. Um, you know, I woke up and said, this is the right thing for the organization. Father Bill.

[00:30:42.36] spk_1:
Alright. Allies. You gotta, you have to have some allies.

[00:31:05.04] spk_2:
You have to have allies. You absolutely have to and anyone who does a nonprofit work. It’s all about your team and a community, right? And that’s what we do is we build community and build connection. And if you can’t do that and build that then you’re not supposed to be in this line of work. Right, That’s okay. So that’s I think that’s I think that’s number one, that would be my first.

[00:31:12.54] spk_1:
Alright. And how long did that process take in uh in sort of evolving these folks off the board. I mean did they have to remain for their term

[00:32:55.74] spk_2:
limits? So they took a little minute, it took a little minute I would say we are board was our board was functioning in a and and I do I do like healthy conflict but it was functioning within a year. Um it was not a well oiled machine. I also said to my board um early on I set really clear goals. You know, there’s there’s a lot of great books on turning organizations over and every, most of them will say it takes about five years to you know, turn an organization around two to flip an organization to get it running. And so I kind of said to the board, don’t Rome was not built in a day and I need you to know this is going to take time and you know I inherited a database with 17,000 handwritten three by five recipe cards. That was my database really, you can’t make this up index cards and beautiful non penmanship gorgeous. But yeah, her penmanship was exquisite. Beautiful, 34,000 still have them in the storage unit. Uh huh. So, so Rome was not built in a day and I inherited a heart without a skeleton without structure, a huge beating heart with people passionate for this work. Um with zero structure. And so I just said, you know, it’s going to take, it’s going to take five years and like roll up your sleeves and this is going to be, This is gonna be hard, it’s gonna be bumpy, but we’re gonna do this and um, and you know, we’re now eight years, I’m eight years in and we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary, um, this year. And, and we have just had a border treat last weekend, phenomenal, the most amazing group of people, fantastic. And, and all of our board members who sit on a lot of other boards are like, this is the best run meetings, the best run board. Like it’s just, you know, makes me feel really excited when I look back and I have these conversations with you remember where we were and, and, and where we are. So there is hope for anyone listening.

[00:33:46.24] spk_1:
So you want to die, I guess some, some advice to would be, you know, keep that, keep that goal in sight as you’re, as you’re going through these five transitional years. Absolutely. You know, I mean, you know, it’s easy for us to talk about, but you know, you lived it day after day through the board transition. There were probably employee there, there had to be an employee changes. Yeah. You know, that’s a that’s a tough haul for five years. You have to get, you gotta keep your goal in mind. And

[00:34:53.74] spk_2:
and I think setting that timeline for for me and the board, it was it me, it kept me in the race to write, because I said, I’m going to do this in five years and take five years to get this, you know, completely just, you know, running at full speed. And it’s exactly what it was exactly about, right. I mean, certainly things got better and better and better, but um, but I didn’t I think it would be easy to also quit as a new e. D. You know, if I hadn’t said that goal for myself as well, because I said to them, if this is what it’s gonna take. And I knew like, you know, and at five years I got to say, I thought, should I just put a ribbon on, it should put a big bow. But but I’ve just, you know, I I’ve loved it, but I’ve been very, very cognizant, very cognizant. And I almost, um, I don’t want to say I’m aloof um, with my with the kids, but I’m very clear that their job is to love this organization. And and it is not to love me, they it is about loving each other and this work that we do teaching leadership. Um it is not about me, it is not about me, it’s all about the organization.

[00:35:35.84] spk_1:
Alright. Um, the founders, I guess we’re taking a little step back. You know, you talked about founders having a spark, you know, or passion, just make it explicit how spark and passion aren’t sufficient, they’re necessary, but not sufficient for launching a successful company. I mean, a successful business. It’s a nonprofit corporation, but it runs like a business. It’s

[00:36:49.83] spk_2:
a business, it’s a business, why is passion? It’s a business with a horrible business models. We all know, right. A business model that relies on the kindness of others is a hard business model. It’s not the easiest business model, but it works for, You know, 1.6 million of us, we make it work every day, we get up and we do this work. So, um, so it works. I think that, um, what’s fascinating about the hundreds of nonprofit founders I’ve interviewed with charity matters in the past 10 years, is that not one of them, not one of them woke up as a child or said, I’m going to be a nonprofit founder. Not one of them intended for this work to happen. Every single one of them had a moment and something happened. They were on a very different course, every single one of them and something happened. Something dramatic, a catalyst. A really big moment happened to them or someone they loved that forever changed the trajectory of their life and, and in such a big way that they had to stop their career or whatever they were doing and knew they had to do this. And I think that that’s so um admirable and, and so, and that’s where that passion comes from because something happened to

[00:36:55.03] spk_1:
these people would give up their jobs,

[00:38:07.22] spk_2:
give up their job, give up their life, their income, everything. I mean these people are extraordinary. And when you think about it like that, just think about everyone right now as their job, they’re working, they’re paying their bills, they’re feeding their Children and something happens to someone you love something horrible or to you. And and you say, I got to walk away from everything because I need to dedicate my life to this. I mean that’s, that’s pretty remarkable when you think about it. And so to me that’s what makes these people so special and, and and their spark and passion comes from that because almost all of them um are determined if they just help one person who doesn’t have to go through what they went through. If one person doesn’t get breast cancer. If one person isn’t raped, If one person isn’t hungry, if one person isn’t homeless, they all start out with a very pure intention, they just want to make sure that they’re helping one person and before they know it, they have an organization and they’re driving and there’s a lot that goes into being an entrepreneur that a lot of them weren’t prepared for. It didn’t have the skill set and they didn’t and, and they have passion and as you say, that isn’t always enough.

[00:38:18.02] spk_1:
So there’s a big spiking activity, maybe the first six months or year, right? You get family involved, you get friends involved

[00:38:21.36] spk_2:

[00:38:26.42] spk_1:
you know, now where do we go? You know, I’ve exhausted my friends and my family, you know, how do I grow this business? And

[00:39:07.42] spk_2:
exactly, and there’s that and there’s usually, if it’s something that happened to someone in their family, their community, the community usually knows about whatever this moment was in the community wants to help, right? Which is the best thing about our country. And as americans, we, we are innate helpers and we always want to help our neighbor. So everyone’s rattling around in those early days because they’re like, I’ll do whatever I can to help. But as that, as that memory lingers, as that moment is behind people, as the passion lingers in the reality of, oh my God, I’ve quit my job and I started this business and I don’t even know what to do. So it’s in, it becomes, It becomes a lot more challenging for these small nonprofit founders. 100%.

[00:39:13.02] spk_1:
And that’s what you hear from the hundreds of people you’ve interviewed

[00:39:16.44] spk_2:
that all of them

[00:39:17.21] spk_1:
are, they are a lot of them in sort of stagnating organizations leading, leading stagnating organizations?

[00:40:19.81] spk_2:
Well, I think I always ask the question I ask every single person I talked to was, you know, what is your biggest challenge? And, and I would say, you know, 85 90% of them would say fundraising, right? Which I know, you know from this is what you talk about every day with, with your guests. Um, but but they don’t have the, they don’t have the skills. They they’re just, they don’t come in with any of this, right? And so it’s, it’s the learning curve is steep. And then there’s just so many control pieces because they’re trying to do everything as all entrepreneurs do try to do everything. They’re wearing too many hats. Um, you know, you think about it there, there’s, they have so many things stacked against them. And the fact that um, that they persevere is, is remarkable because they’re the toughest group. They are not giving up, they’re not gonna give up. They are, they are going to push on, they are going to push on.

[00:40:23.91] spk_1:
Let’s talk some about the service as a leader, a leader in service to the organization.

[00:42:41.50] spk_2:
Well, I think for me, you know, uh, running a leadership organization, which is, which is what I do. We teach. We teach our kids and I think it’s important for all nonprofits to think about this as leaders and every human to think about this as a leader, we teach our kids for things um, that are important in order for you to lead. one. If you’re gonna lead, you have to have a plan and a goal. We talked about that earlier, like mine was that five year goal, you have to have a plan and a goal. You have to be able to communicate that plan on that goal. You know, what’s your mission? What’s your message? How do you communicate to donors to people to friends and neighbors to get them involved? You have to be a mentor. You have to be a lifelong mentor. And I think in nonprofit, bringing your volunteers along, bringing potentially someone in a succession plan that you’re mentoring and underneath you, being a lifelong mentor is critical in leadership because real leaders grow more leaders. Real leaders definitely grow more leaders. So mentoring is a huge part of leadership and a huge part of success for your non profit as well. And then the most important thing we teach our kids and I think that it’s a reminder for all of us is you cannot lead unless you serve and why did we get into this work in the first place? We got into this work in the first place to serve to help people, Something happened. And we wanted to help them, you know, in my case of spiritual care, we had one chaplain for 300,000 Children at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles and we wanted to provide more chaplains and we were there to serve to make that happen. And that was our mission to provide chaplains of all faiths to this hospital and, and every single day, that’s what we did. And I get up every day knowing that I’m serving thousands of kids that have potential to be the next generation of leaders and and that’s something that I carry on my back every day. I don’t go to bed thinking I didn’t make enough pencils, I go to bed thinking I have thousands of kids and I have a lot of kids that have been, you know, locked up with mask and homeschooled and you know, alienated and disconnected and suffering for mental health and they need to be connected and they need to be connected and learn to lead these kids are going to lead our future. And I go to bed at night thinking about the kids that that need to be able to have this experience. So when we’re running a nonprofit, we need to think about those that were serving every single day because that’s why we do this work, it’s not about us as the founder, it’s not about us and our ego and our brand and our name, it is about the people that we serve. That is why we do this.

[00:43:17.70] spk_1:
Howdy johnson, she’s the creator and founder of Charity Matters, the weekly blog and podcast, which is that talking about founders and their entrepreneurial journeys. It’s at charity hyphen Matters dot com and at charity underscore matters Heidi. Thank you very much. What a pleasure. Thanks for sharing. Thank

[00:43:20.77] spk_2:
you. tony

[00:43:21.47] spk_1:
especially for sharing your own story. Thank you.

[00:43:24.24] spk_2:
You are so welcome

[00:43:48.00] spk_1:
next week. Get off the recruitment merry go round. 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

[00:44:05.00] spk_0:
Meyerhoff shows social media is by Susan Chavez. Marc Silverman is our web guy and this music is by scott Stein. Thank you for that. Affirmation scotty, you’re with me next week for nonprofit radio big nonprofit ideas for the The other 95

[00:44:07.47] spk_1:
go out and be great.

Nonprofit Radio for August 2, 2021: The Surprising Gift Of Doubt

My Guest:

Marc Pitman: The Surprising Gift Of Doubt

That’s Marc Pitman’s new book. It’s stuffed with strategies to help leaders—and future leaders—lead better. Marc is founder of Concord Leadership Group.



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Board relations. Fundraising. Volunteer management. Prospect research. Legal compliance. Accounting. Finance. Investments. Donor relations. Public relations. Marketing. Technology. Social media.

Every nonprofit struggles with these issues. Big nonprofits hire experts. The other 95% listen to Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio. Trusted experts and leading thinkers join me each week to tackle the tough issues. If you have big dreams but a small budget, you have a home at Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio.

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[00:00:10.84] spk_2:
Hello and welcome to tony-martignetti non profit radio

[00:02:01.74] spk_0:
Big non profit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host of your favorite abdominal podcast and oh I’m glad you’re with me, I’d suffer with elia tibial band syndrome if you irritated me with the idea that you missed this week’s show the surprising gift of doubt. That’s Mark Pittman’s new book, it’s stuffed with strategies to help leaders and future leaders lead better. Mark is founder of Concord Leadership Group on tony state too, sharing is caring, we’re sponsored by turn to communications pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot C O and by sending blue the only all in one digital marketing platform empowering non profits to grow. tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant end in blue. Mhm It’s my pleasure to welcome marc Pittman to the show. He is founder of Concord Leadership Group, he helps leaders lead their teams with more effectiveness and less stress. His latest book is the surprising gift of doubt. Use uncertainty to become the exceptional leader you are meant to be. You may know him also as the bow tie guy, Mark has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as the chronicle of philanthropy, Al Jazeera Fox News, Success magazine and Real simple the book and the company are at concord leadership group dot com and he’s at Mark eh pittman, Mark Pittman an overdue Welcome to nonprofit radio

[00:02:05.44] spk_1:
It is an honor to be here. Thanks tony

[00:02:07.85] spk_0:
I’m not sure why you haven’t been on years ago and and many times before. So I, I feel bad about that because you’re a smart guy and you have lots of good, you have lots of good content, lots of good ideas and uh, that’s why I say long overdue.

[00:02:20.44] spk_1:
Well thank you. My head may not fit out of the office after this kind words don’t

[00:02:44.34] spk_0:
get carried away. Okay. But you do, you do have a lot of good ideas, including the ideas that are in your new book. And I want to start with having you explain how agonizing doubt can be a gift. Please help us understand

[00:04:06.44] spk_1:
That. Uh, it’s I’ve been executive coach for 18 years now and it’s one of the things that really surprises people the most is the fact that high performers, first of all don’t tend to know how to ask for help and then they get derailed when they start feeling doubt because they start feeling like there, they’re faking it, that they’re the, you know, the Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain there, look at him. Um, because they’re they’re producing results, but they’re not sure how uh and that doubt can be very destabilizing. But the gift is, it can force us to look internally for our own cues. Look to look to look in areas where we’ve been told are soft or you know, they’re they’re woo. Um look at things that make us unique and it actually clarifies our leadership because it’s very much about the the grain of our wood, the way that we put a spin on things as opposed to just doing all the best benchmarked activities that are out there. Um Yeah, so the surprising gift of that is that it can make it to me. What I’ve seen to do is instead of having that inner critic saying I must be broken, I must be just must I probably shouldn’t even be in this position. It shifts the conversation to why might I be perfect for this role? Why might my organization be exactly the voice that the sector needs to have right now?

[00:04:17.64] spk_0:
And there is a lot of introspection involved in the I guess the overall work that you’re describing and we’ll go into some detail about about. But you need to be reflective introspective,

[00:05:15.04] spk_1:
right? Which often is something that a lot of leaders don’t, there’s not a lot of there’s so much need in and organizations that there’s not often a lot of time given for professional development or leadership growth and so people don’t think of at the time as doing reflection as legit leadership work. They feel like when we’re in early in careers, were or even in school we get graded on what we accomplish. We take tests, we do tasks, we complete tasks and that becomes how we are promoted as we move into management and leadership. It’s taking that time to reflect is so incredibly important. But we haven’t seen it modeled that much. Um so there is, you’re right, Absolutely right. There’s a lot of introspection but there’s also that’s what leaders do. They no longer they provide, they no longer just making sure things get done. But they’re also looking forward to see where should we be going, where should we skating to where the puck is I guess even though I’m not a sports guy, I grew up in Maine. So there’s a lot of hockey there. Uh

[00:05:50.04] spk_0:
Thank you. Yeah. Any any sports analogy will be largely lost on me. Oh sports ball. I’m not familiar with basketball. So I wouldn’t know that skating uh metaphor now. And I want to reassure folks that this is not only material for current leaders but future emerging leaders.

[00:06:56.84] spk_1:
Absolutely. When part of what what we when we’re going through our leaders journey. If we can identify the earlier, we can identify what makes us different, what makes us unique? Where our limits, where where are we really good uh Where can we excel? It can help us position our leadership roles so that we’re not being squeezed into somebody else’s box as much as possible. The organizations are clear our artificial, they’re they’re not uh they’re not perfect. So we’re always going to have to do things that we don’t enjoy or we don’t like. But we can definitely there are things we can do in our environment and our our schedules and the people that are around us that can help us or can really hinder us. So the earlier we know, even as people are going through their own personal growth journey, uh the more that they can identify these, the uniqueness is uh that they that they bring to the table the better somebody was asking a previous podcast, can you throw these conversations? Can you throw some of the, if you’re being interviewed for something, can you just answer the questions the way that you think they want them to be answered? And you could, but you may get the job that you don’t want,

[00:07:22.64] spk_0:
right? That may not be in your best self interest or your own self interest, right. Um, you know, I can see how you, would you be soothing as a coach? Just your voice. Great. See I have that. I have that new york. I grew up in New Jersey, but close enough to new york city. Don’t throw. I got that east coast, But you have a, I mean, you’re northern. You said you grew up in Maine. Now you’re in south Carolina. You have a, have a soothing way about your voice.

[00:07:29.21] spk_1:
Well, thank you. Mark, After Dark was going to be my, uh, my DJ handle Mark

[00:07:34.67] spk_0:
after dark. Uh doing Alison steal the night bird.

[00:07:38.66] spk_1:
Then it turns out there was already a Mark after dark. So I’d have to spell dark with the C.

[00:07:42.23] spk_0:
Uh Okay, we’ll do it. Here we go. All right, claim it. Uh Just your your voice has a softening calming quality to it.

[00:08:21.24] spk_1:
I’ve been told that I’ve had some people come to me and one um they kind of want me to be there, boss. Some business owners and some non profit executives are well, I want to coach is going to tell me exactly what to do and make it, you know, make it hurt to not do it. That’s not who I am. I’m sure there are those coaches out there that are drill sergeants. But um, I believe most leaders are really hard pressed and doing the best they can. And so I like to be able to encourage them and kind of blow on the coals the fire that’s almost going out and rekindle their passion to do it themselves,

[00:08:25.30] spk_0:
coaching with compassion.

[00:08:26.94] spk_1:
Nice, wow dot com. I’ll get that coaching

[00:09:02.74] spk_0:
with compassion, the compassionate coach, the bow tie guy in the compassionate coach. I want to dive into something that very interesting to me, but you have it buried, It’s buried on page 98, Okay, it’s the Pittman family homework that you used to do. Tell me about that you you covered in just a couple of sentences. To me, it was a little bit of a gloss over because I’m very interested in what got you to where you are and what informs your coaching. And and I got to believe that the Pittman family homework is integral in

[00:10:17.04] spk_1:
here. Absolutely. As I look at my bookshelf, they many of the books are things that I grew up reading. So my family, we had schoolwork because we were students at school, but my sister and I also had homework for being pigments, so we had to read positive mental attitude books, had to listen to motivational speakers, um and we had to go to events seminars, rallies, those sort of things where people were talking about goal setting and uh living your dream and at all. Um my parents were just amazed that they hadn’t been taught this, they were learning it with us and they were shocked that they had never been taught goal setting or dreaming or leadership or people skills and they didn’t want us to be inflicted with missing that before we left the house. So um I didn’t know other people might, I thought everybody had homework because they’re in their family, but I was starting to read is I I have been reading dale Carnegie, how to, when friends and influence people, uh frank Becker’s high raised myself from failure to success in selling charlie, tremendous jones life is tremendous listening to his executor of Florence, the Tower Les Brown growing up, that part of the, part of the way you, one of our kind of traditions too was having a motivational speaker on what were in the shower, So we would always have a stack of tapes next to the next to a kind of boom box and uh, we would just put them on what we’re doing our thing and then, you know, the person is done when the tape goes off,

[00:10:35.44] spk_0:
that’s when you know your showers done. So yeah, I mean this is the days before, waterproof, uh, phones and ipods. So

[00:11:02.64] spk_1:
my wife knew that she, she said she knew she was when we were dating, she knew she was dating an entrepreneur because I had a whole bunch of tapes, she had to clear off to the passenger seat of the car. It was just so used to listening to you different tape series and uh, you know, Kiyosaki reached that port ad and all sorts of different. Yeah, always learning, trying to always the

[00:11:04.18] spk_0:
one after after Kurosawa, what did you say

[00:11:49.84] spk_1:
your sake robert? Kiyosaki wrote a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad in a series after that Dad, Poor Dad. Yeah, just different ways. People, different mindsets. People have about money and security and, and it’s really helpful and going into fundraising was really helpful to have this kind of being able to speak the language of your donors is one of the most important things um, in fundraising and having been exposed to this literature, that the other leaders were being exposed to make it a lot easier to talk to them. In fact, my first talks in, uh, first professional talks were translating marketing things in sales for fundraisers Because sales was the s word 25 years ago. And uh, so I would take like Seth Godin’s idea, virus information, marketing and make it so I fully attribute it, but I’d make it so that it was understandable to how this could work in a non profit.

[00:13:00.54] spk_0:
It’s time for a break. Turn to communications, The Chronicle of philanthropy, The new york Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today stanford Social Innovation Review, the Washington Post, The Hill Cranes, nonprofit quarterly Forbes Market Watch. That’s where turned to clients have gotten recent exposure. You want that kind of exposure for yourself, for your expertise turn to has the relationships that can make it happen. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o. Now, let’s go back to the surprising gift of doubt. So this Pittman family homework, which obviously as you’re describing, you know, evolved through the, through the decades, you’re continually continually learning even today, you say that the book a couple of places. Um, but this was an elementary school. You mean, there are, there are really considered this doctrine nation?

[00:13:43.14] spk_1:
Oh, absolutely, yeah. Looking back on it. It totally was. And when charlie, totally, well, my uh, charlie, tremendous jones became a mentor of mine, which he had been a hero of my universe because I love this book. Um, and he said, when I was looking with our kids, he said, oh, I would never do it that way with, as your parents said, I would teach, have them do stories, I’d have them, uh, have your kids read biographies and be inspired by stories as opposed to reading how to literature. But okay. I probably because of my upbringing, I love I love nonfiction. I love reading a good how to book on leadership are in goal setting or vision casting storytelling. Yeah.

[00:13:46.65] spk_0:
Credit credit department parents. Well

[00:14:08.74] spk_1:
one time Sandy Reese was interviewing me And she uh years ago and she came up with a, she catalogued all the books that I referenced in the talk uh just in a conversation because I still read 50-75 books a year. Um to and and I had to set a goal years ago to read nonfiction because that’ll make me a better storyteller. But I had to set it as a goal. Now I can fully enjoy reading nonfiction. I mean, reading fiction. Sorry. Really? Sorry. Yeah. Reading the fiction books that are enjoyable. I always thought was cheating, but now it’s a goal. So I’m okay said a certain number of goals for fiction books I want to read in the year

[00:14:27.00] spk_0:
And 50-75 a year. You still read?

[00:15:04.14] spk_1:
Yeah, I’m cranking through books this year to I don’t know why, but I love what part of it is. There’s just I want to keep fresh when I’m writing a book. I tried not to not read in the genre that I’m writing it. So I didn’t read a lot of leadership books. I was doing surprising gift of doubt because I didn’t want to um mistakenly like take over somebody else’s thoughts that should be attributed to them because I really do think crediting the source is really important um which this book even get more more to the point. The editors were even more insistent that I double and triple checked my references, which I thought was wonderful.

[00:15:04.86] spk_0:
Yes, there’s a bunch of endnotes haven’t

[00:15:07.42] spk_1:
been pushed this hard in a while, so I’m really, really pleased with the team that helped me with this one.

[00:15:18.74] spk_0:
Something you say early on is that the motivation is within you expand on that for us.

[00:15:24.84] spk_1:
Well the part of the I don’t remember exactly, I know that was part of the chapter. Sorry, you don’t have to flip through the pages, you know you write a book and then you know quiz on

[00:15:38.64] spk_0:
Page 16 or something but you talk about the motivation, motivation for leadership and and good and just good intentions is within you.

[00:17:06.04] spk_1:
Yeah, I think part of what we uh we spent so much of our life and another part of the book. I I do this map of the leaders journey where it’s a four quadrant section where we start off on the confidence scale, which is the vertical scale and we go down to ensure we’re gonna talk about the leaders journey. Okay, well that’s part of it is that we are so used to looking externally for are accused that the we forget to look internally and find out what what what what do we value? What are we passionate about? What are two things we forget. We forget to to actually give them air. And often we don’t really permit ourselves to define what we value or we hold onto because we’re looking for others uh for cues either the culture or systems. But the other thing that we somehow don’t do is we don’t credit them as being unique traits. We think everybody must be like us, you and I both wear glasses and it’s almost like we forget that we’re wearing glasses at times. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of trying to find your glasses and they’re right there on your face. They’re not even on your head, right on your face. You uh get fingerprints all over my glasses when I do that. But we often this stuff that’s within us is often the stuff that makes us unique, makes us a valued part of the team. And we just kind of write it off as a weird quirk of our own, not something that’s worth giving attention to.

[00:17:22.44] spk_0:
It’s it’s some it’s among those natural strengths. You talk about natural strengths for versus learned skills. Yeah, our natural strengths, you’re right. We I guess we we be minimized. I’m thinking of everybody, Everybody is that smart or everybody thinks about

[00:18:49.24] spk_1:
that or if I can do it quickly, then I must not be work. I remember being in a early job. I loved was fundraising for prep school and I loved it. I just loved the traveling. I loved the, you know, when I was home at the boarding school, being at the table with the 10 other students, 10 students and my, my wife and I were the faculty parents. And um, I love the kind of matching school’s mission with donors values and trying to see if there was a fit and being okay if there wasn’t, but being excited if there were that all excited me. But I didn’t think I could enjoy work that much. So I was talking with the faculty colleague and I tried to make it sound really hard, you know, because there’s a lot of stuff that is hard. The travel isn’t that inspiring, There’s delays. And also I tried to really accentuate the bad stuff and he looked over at me, he said, you love your work, don’t you? And I felt so guilty because I totally did. And then I found out he didn’t, he would never want to do what I was doing because every day was different every day I had to come up on the spot with different answers and um, and I didn’t know what, I had no idea who was going to call, what I was going to, who I was gonna see what opportunities are going to rise. He liked being in his classroom and knowing this is the curriculum and this is where I can adjust if we go too long in one area, if we go too fast on another. He, he loved that stability. Uh, and that’s where I started realizing that the stuff that I thought was just kind of, everybody would want to do this. And I, yeah, I kind of got lucky is, no, not everybody wants to do this. And any fundraisers listening to those knows that because we’re usually the oddballs out of the nonprofit, we’re the ones that are outward focused in ways that others aren’t.

[00:19:06.34] spk_0:
What do we talk about the four quadrants of your journey? Um, you have some self assessments that folks are just gonna have to buy the book to do. We’re not gonna be able to talk through the details of Okay, health assessments, but, but the leaders journey through the four, the four quadrants, I think that’s valuable. And especially moving from quadrant 2-3.

[00:21:36.94] spk_1:
Sure. So the, uh, what I loved about creating part of, I’ve been trying for 18 years to explain what I do with with as a coach. And this was the first time when I created this four quadrant methodology was the first time people repeated it back to me, they understood it, and my wife looked at and said, well this is me is learning, this isn’t just leadership, but the the axes again our confidence vertically and then inputs horizontally. Quadrant one is where your high confidence and you’re looking externally. So most leaders only get half the map, we don’t get the whole map, we only get the external half. So we we started a quadrant where we’ve seen other people lead and so we start copying them. Somebody gives us the ability to run a project or to lead a team. Um some sort of leadership and either we’re super excited because we’ve known where a leader finally somebody else sees it or were scared, but we have the confidence from the other people that they’re going to do it, that’s and that’s where we just try to do what they’ve done. Um, some of the people that I listened to growing up, some of the motivational speakers would say if, if you’re leading a team and you turn around and there’s no one behind you, you’re just out for a walk. That’s when your confidence starts going down, which I dipping into the quadrant two, which is the experiment quadrant where you start trying to figure out, okay, what worked for tony didn’t work for me. Like tony has his own way of doing things and it’s not clearly not working for me. When I say jump, people don’t say how high, what do I need, where the deficiencies and how do I fix them? And that’s where you start taking courses, you start getting certifications, reading books, going to seminars, going to conferences, listening to podcasts, so it’s people skills or um, closing on sales or fundraising, uh, anything and met most leaders kind of stay in quadrant two lurching from success to success. They have so much success that the people around them, I feel like, oh yeah, this is, they’re going to pull the rabbit out of the hat again. We know that whatever she does, she’s an amazing leader. Um, but she, the leader herself is wondering, is seeing all the deficits, all the deficiencies, all the stuff that they don’t have measured up. And that’s where the doubt builds up inside them to think, well maybe I’m not the right person if they have the opportunity, sometimes it’s just through strain and stress, Sometimes it’s through coaching to see that there’s a whole map and the other half of the map is all the internal cues. So the external cues are great because it tells us how we learn and there are good systems that we can learn from. But when we moved

[00:22:15.74] spk_0:
before, I want to just make sure folks are clear about what the, what the horizontal and please, these are labeled. So the so the vertical is confident and unsure, so confident on top, unsure at the bottom. And then the horizontal is external and internal. So when you’re in quadrant, when you’re in quadrant one, you’re observing and you’re you’re confident and that’s the confident external quadrant

[00:22:21.64] spk_1:

[00:22:22.76] spk_0:
two. That’s the unsure external

[00:22:27.40] spk_1:
and you’re trying to fix what’s wrong? Yes, we’re talking about

[00:22:29.65] spk_0:
right now. I just wanna make sure everybody’s clear

[00:22:43.34] spk_1:
and that’s the cost. So I find the magic happens at the when people are moved from quadrant, the quadrant three, which is the they’re still on the unsure half of the map, but you’re moving internally to figure out. So let me illustrate like this. Have you read getting things done by David Allen?

[00:22:48.64] spk_0:
Uh No, I haven’t.

[00:22:49.96] spk_1:
Okay, well it’s 13,000 listeners. They’ve heard of it. Okay. They’ve heard of it. Great.

[00:22:53.69] spk_0:
The audiences better red than the host. I. Sure.

[00:24:17.84] spk_1:
So the if you if you read a book, like getting things done is valentine management and you only implement 10% of it in quadrant two, you’re going to think, wow, I failed it. Another thing, I can only get 10% of this. The book says it changed people’s lives. It’s not changing my lives. I just write lists. That’s all I got out of this Quadrant three is where you shift the question too. Huh? I wonder what either. I wonder why that didn’t work for me. What is it, what is it about the book or? It’s shifting the focus to, wow, I got 10% that 10% is really helpful. This writing list things with the next action item really actually is really helpful. And as one of my mentors said years ago, eat the chicken, spit out the bones. All right. The chicken for me and getting things done is writing lists. I don’t have to do the whole reviews and the files cabinets and all this other stuff that has helped other people. It’s not gonna help me. And as you start building in quadrant three, we’re looking at your hard wiring, looking at your stories, you tell yourself, looking at your goal, setting your mission, your your values, your personal style. It starts building up your confidence again because we’re in quadrant two, you’re just seeing all your what you lack in that you’re afraid somebody’s going to figure out that you’re really just faking it In quadrant three. You start seeing why some of the things work the way they do for you, um why your organization doesn’t necessarily do whatever all the other organizations are doing, but you don’t have it just a it’s not just a whim or feeling, it’s you start being able to have the language to be able to express what why you do what you do and that builds your confidence back up to Quadrant four, which is a focused leader. Quadrant

[00:24:39.24] spk_0:
Okay, Before you go to four, Yeah, A lot of people get stuck in in the second quadrant. absolutely. And the transition from 2-3, you find a lot of people in your practice and generalized beyond that stuck in that second quadrant what we’re working, we’re working with external systems that are not not being rewarded or

[00:24:48.50] spk_1:
not looking for the next guru, looking for the next framework.

[00:24:51.29] spk_0:
Why is it why is why are so many people stuck into looking for this external help? That’s it’s routinely not not fulfilling for them.

[00:26:11.14] spk_1:
I think part of it is because we were raised that way. We look for parents for cues, we look for coaches for cues, we look forward to look to externally to teachers, to grade our work bosses, to give us uh you know, performance reviews, and I think we’re taught probably at least in the cultures that I work into not really trust ourselves, do not trust the inner voice, the nudges that we’re getting, because those are soft, we should look for hard data, we should look for benchmarking, we should we should see what others are doing. Um There there are good things with looking at others, but it’s just not the complete picture, I think it really needs, it’s like an introvert that is trying to copy of extroverts boss. So the extroverts uh mentor walks around the office, talks to people, gets energized by doing that, has a high level of energy with the personal relationships. Um, an introvert boss, this introvert that’s trying to be, you know, an emerging leader, maybe we’ll get drained from that. It’s not that they can’t be social and be engaging, but it’s it’s not energizing for them. So they’ll need to take a lot of time to recharge their batteries, but they won’t necessarily give them the, if they don’t look internally to realize, oh, I’m wired differently. They’ll try to keep forcing themselves into somebody else’s mold. Um, you know, the, the, the proverbial square peg in a round hole,

[00:26:14.64] spk_0:
Okay, somebody else’s mold being based on the way we grew up, Like you’re saying

[00:26:18.87] spk_1:
the external, Yeah. Teachers,

[00:26:20.19] spk_0:
parents, bosses trying to fit into. We’re accustomed to trying to fit their molds

[00:26:58.04] spk_1:
well and think about it. Non profits to, yeah, boards, Every board member seems to come in with their own kind of mold for how a nonprofit should work or how leaders should work or how something should get done. And what is incumbent on us as bored as nonprofits to help with the boards is to onboard them to train them to. This is how our, our nonprofit works. These are our values as a non profit. This is how we do things. The communication styles will have, we will not go back behind each other’s back in gossip. That is not how we operate here. Um, but that often dad on boarding and board, uh, board orientation often doesn’t happen. So you’re stuck with a bunch of people that have these external moles that they want to try to force the leaders and the staff and the nonprofit into that aren’t necessarily helpful or in line with what the nonprofits therefore

[00:30:19.54] spk_0:
or even worse than not helpful. Yeah, thank you. Detrimental, hazardous oxygen you know, It’s time for Tony’s take two, sharing is caring who do you know that you can share? non profit radio with please. I know you’ve got lots of folks, But let’s just focus on one out of all your circles, all your spheres of influence your networks, your friends, lovers loved ones, hope lovers, our loved ones. Well not necessarily right. No, I take that back. That’s not necessary. I mean eventually, but maybe not necessarily now husbands, wives, Children, grandchildren, ex husbands, ex wives, ex partners, ex boyfriend’s ex girlfriends. Maybe maybe among all these exes, maybe you’re trying to get back together. non profit radio could be the conduit, the method that opens that door. Look, I’ve been thinking about you in very, very special ways. You need to start listening to nonprofit radio Mhm I realize now you’re the light and the love of my life. Please start listening to nonprofit radio it’ll help your career and then when we get back together it’ll bring you and us to retirement security, what better what better way to get back together than income and retirement security? non profit radio is the conduit for your long term security as you’re getting back with your ex non profit radio Look please who can you share? non profit radio with who’s going to benefit? They don’t have to work for a nonprofit, you know, board members, board members are great listeners to nonprofit radio so give it some thought among all your spheres and all your contacts and and okay influence. Who could you share? non profit radio with I’d be grateful. Let them know about the show. I’m not gonna pitch it to you. You you already know what the show is That is Tony’s take two now back to the surprising gift of doubt. So they’re moving from 2-3. I know you I know you already did this, but because you are ready to go from 3-4. But uh, you know, for it, this is great. You’re suffering a lackluster host. So I’m just processing and you’ve been thinking about this for decades. Yeah, but I’m still, I’m still processing. So The moving from 2-3, I kind of saw that as as a synthesis of

[00:30:21.85] spk_1:

[00:30:22.37] spk_0:
these different systems that you don’t call it. Synthesis.

[00:30:24.91] spk_1:
No, I know that

[00:30:59.24] spk_0:
you’re doing all your work. You can think about it for decades. You call it analyzed, I call it synthesis. I like it. You’re free to call it analyzed Of course. I I thought of it as a synthesis of all the things that you attempted in, in these external systems, the books, the webinars, the weeklong leadership conferences, whatever they were that were only partially or maybe not at all helping you, but you extract out what does, what does have value you and and you make sense of it and you emerge in a better place. And that’s to me that was the synthesis of I

[00:31:42.84] spk_1:
like that you’re the next quadrant and you also learn some of the some of the patterns that you fall fall into. You start reflecting enough to say, oh wait, I’m doing that again. Does that mean I’m stressed or? Um there’s one of the assessments of Hollande’s ability battery, uh which tests you on how you actually perform on things. It’s not how do you feel about, would you rather read a book or go to a movie? It’s not questions like that, but it’s do this task under time pressure and it shows what comes quickly to you. One of the things that came out for me early in my career was rhythm memory, which is a kinesthetic type of learning. Um it’s and it’s also tied to a desire to move around. So I’ve always looked for jobs that involved moving around because I knew that that would be more life giving and energizing for me. What that meant was that I never liked your

[00:31:45.89] spk_0:
work at the, at the prep school. Right. Exactly,

[00:32:35.84] spk_1:
Absolutely right. But that also changed my career trajectory because I realized many of the major gift fundraisers that I’d seen that went into management became very frustrated because they had to manage other people that were doing the work and they actually wanted to do the work. So I I took some ownership of my own career path and moved into positions that um allowed me to still have that kind of external. I’m an extrovert, you know, movement. So that kind of synthesis is also the internal synthesis of this is my way of operating in the world. And I want to try to put myself as much as possible in ways that work with that. Um not that I don’t want to grow, not that I don’t want to be stretched or challenged, but I also don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m just going to languish, although that’s sometimes what the right career path should be when the headhunters call, they want to see a paper career path of associate to manager to director to senior VP or something. Which may not be the way that is realistic for for people.

[00:32:53.24] spk_0:
Alright, so now

[00:32:54.72] spk_1:
move talking from

[00:33:35.24] spk_0:
experience. Well you at least you at least have you at least would would be uh would look good on paper and do look good on paper. I I would I would never be, I can’t be an employee. I would I would fail the, I would fail the screening interview with With the headhunter assistant assistant. I won’t even get to the associate level. I remember the managing director, I don’t know how I get the headhunter cause I’d be 20 minutes late just because II felt like why should I be on time for you? And then if I ever made it to the, if I ever made it to the interview, which I never would. But if I met, if I met a principal in the organization, I’d be sure I’d show up late, I’d be in sneakers. No, I just, I was unemployable. Everything I could because I know I’d be, I’d be a shitty employee. I just don’t fit them up. So I would I be doing them a favor by wasting their time.

[00:33:52.14] spk_1:
That’s awesome. Yeah.

[00:33:54.04] spk_0:
So move us into the fourth for those, for those who are more suited to, uh, working in organization, you’re moving to a level of you mentioned at one point, Grace, you’re leading with grace and finesse. I think you say

[00:34:34.94] spk_1:
right? And, and there’s a, it’s because you’ve got the kind of confidence in the peace of mind of knowing why you’re doing things differently. So instead of just thinking about, I must be so bad because I can’t get energized. I don’t like going all the social events night after night. Um you start realizing why what fills you up and what fills your organization, your team, your whatever your organization is. Uh and that grows your confidence to that fourth quadrant, which I called focused, but I don’t want to make it sound like it’s nirvana, it’s not all blissful because we’re still dealing with human beings and we’re one ourselves. Um Leadership

[00:34:45.12] spk_0:
is still a challenge and Absolutely yeah,

[00:35:39.54] spk_1:
but you now have a much, you have the full map, you can look at and look at, do I need to find somebody to copy? Do I need to learn skills from people? Do I need to uh go to a class or get a podcast or read a book or do I need to actually figure out what, what the synthesizing? Do I need to analyze what I’ve consumed already or are organisations consume to figure out why are we doing it differently? Um One of the things I also want to be clear on is that the data can be helpful, so I don’t want to discredit external stuff uh with fundraising in particular, uh, when fundraising letters, we know if they’re chatty er and they use you, they get better response than if there uh, boring things that essays that would get a high school, a grade A from high school teacher, um, we know that we know that and there are some non profits that might be tempted to say we don’t we want to be more business like. Um and so it’s not just throwing out all the data that’s out there, but synthesizing it. I’m really stuck on that word. Thank you for that.

[00:36:27.53] spk_0:
Third quadrant synthesis. Yeah, that’s the way I’m one reader. Just one reader. That’s that’s the way I conceived of it. All right, So All right. So we got these quadrants of sort of progression out of the four corners. Sound like something out of the Matrix, but I didn’t watch much of that series so I can’t go beyond that. Uh, so let’s leave it there, analogy. Um, you talk about, you mentioned earlier earlier storytelling and you talk a good bit about different stories. Stories that we tell ourselves stories about the organization. Talk talk some about the stories we tell ourselves.

[00:37:49.53] spk_1:
That’s one of the things that I think a lot of us don’t reflect on is the kind of self talk that’s going on in our head all the time. Um, the two that I talked about that are the comstock stories there either the ones that you tell people when you’re meeting them for the first time. So we often have kind of go to stories where it helps position, helps people position us in their mind. Um, so maybe some people like laugh lines, some people like uh you know what their education history is or their career history. There’s certain things we go to because we start paying attention to those, we can start seeing if they really reflect what we’re trying to do. Often we get stuck in these from a different time in our life and we just kind of tell the same stories because we think we’re gonna get the same response. The one that the other type of stock story that that happens is um with Jessica Sharp here in Greenville is really cattle. It has her clients whose catalogue the self talk going through and just for a day or a couple of days listing all the different things that enter your head and that takes some discipline, especially doing non judgmentally, but things like I always fail, I always mess that up, but I can’t, I’m never good at that. Um, writing them down on a piece of paper and then after your time holding that paper up and just asking a little reviewing them and then she asks her clients to say, would you talk to a friend like this? And oftentimes our thoughts are so toxic, were actually filling and polluting our heads because we’re so hard on ourselves.

[00:37:56.74] spk_0:
We’re saying to ourselves that we wouldn’t even say to others right? Or placing ourselves with them,

[00:38:07.92] spk_1:
right? Exactly. So her invitations, why don’t you become a better friend of yourself? Which I think it’s really, I don’t know if you’ve experienced to tell you, but it’s very hard sometimes when, when you’re used to being hard on yourself to loosen up, lighten up because it feels like you might just, I, I feel like I might just go off the rails if I’m too kind to myself. I need to be really hard, you know, and just like

[00:38:30.72] spk_0:
you need to be a little stricter, otherwise I’m gonna get reckless, right? You know, if, if I, if I loosen up and you know, something, something, something careless, I’ll do something careless or something along those lines.

[00:38:38.96] spk_1:
I’m self employed. But I often joke that my boss is kind of a jerk.

[00:38:43.82] spk_0:
Uh, I am too, but I, I don’t have a good joke like that. My wife had the lackluster host.

[00:38:48.97] spk_1:
You stand there you go. My wife, my wife reminds me that I am the boss is so I can,

[00:39:30.92] spk_0:
you know, you listened as a coach, you listen to a lot of, a lot of people who are stuck in quadrant two, uh beating themselves up and whatever they are and they might even be in there might even be in the grace and finesse quadrant quadrant four, but they’re still, they’re still hard on themselves or the, or the work is hard on them. How does it, how do you not generalize all coaches? How do you as a coach keep uh stay positive? Like go from one coaching session to the next to the next to the next in a day or even if there’s a couple of days, I mean how do you continue to relate as a positive human being when you’re hearing tough story after tough story after, you know, maybe insurmountable challenge? Uh

[00:40:54.41] spk_1:
people incredibly, that’s a great question. I find people incredibly fascinating and um I am a glass is always full kind of guy, not half full or half empty, it’s always full of water or air. So uh there’s a strong, strong sense of optimism that I, I bring to the table and resiliency I guess because even people that are going through hard things, it’s one of one of the postcards I carry in my bag when I trapped when I used to travel and hopefully start again uh says just when the caterpillar thought his life was over, he became a beautiful butterfly. Um and so there’s that sense of, even the ends are often beginnings for people. Uh there’s definitely times where I have to do some, some of my own stuff like um center, you know, some meditation practices and other things just exercise to keep the headset. But um I’ve seen so many people transform themselves into people that they wanted to be, but they weren’t really sure they could be. That gives me the hope as I keep going from call to call. And sometimes it doesn’t seem like the calls gang up time when toxicity to another toxicity. Um,

[00:40:55.18] spk_0:
I mean you need your own, you need self care. Well,

[00:41:53.21] spk_1:
yeah. And I also, one of the things the privilege of being a coach is that you get to not be in the hiring and firing space with these people. So you get to be with them. And it’s, it’s almost, I’ve heard this, I haven’t experienced this, but I’ve heard in the midwest they used to have blizzards where you couldn’t back in the day when you needed to walk to the barn and milk the cows that you could get lost on the way back to the house because the blizzard was so, so, um, so cover, you know, covering or uh severe maybe. Okay, great. So you needed a rope between the two buildings And sometimes I feel like as a coach, I’m the one that’s either the rope or I’m able to connect between calls say, hey, but remember just three calls ago, you you already talked about that and this is what you’re gonna do. Oh, that’s right. I forget, I forgot I did that. That’s super okay. And just kind of get pointing the way pointing some of the rocks on the path for people to take. And that’s that’s incredibly uh life giving. For sure,

[00:42:11.70] spk_0:
blinding, blinding. The blizzard was blinding. Thank you. That’s what we wanted. Uh We’re both 50 plus are blinding. Yes, that’s what you want. Um Yeah, right. I said you’re you’re the you’re the red back. That’s I like that quite a metaphor. Good one.

[00:43:12.90] spk_1:
And it’s because yeah, the demands of life can really be blinding to this. That uh people were there. So the Center for Creative Leadership tried to figure out like the one thing was for business leaders that would be the most stressful. And it turns out there are four. And they’re all as when somebody else pointed out to me, there are people, peers, colleagues, customers and supervisors or bosses. Uh, and the nonprofits, it’s often boards, donors, staff and, and uh, and the clients, those are all pulling people apart. So it’s really easy to lose our way and to have somebody that’s, that’s sole job. Is there to be there to help you be better? Um, that I became a coach because in my experience, I grew more through talking to coaches, uh, than I did, consultants are great. They have a, they have a blueprint that they were hired them to to put onto the organization. But talking to a coach that didn’t even know my work, helped me to grow as an individual and I could figure out how to do be a better individual in my job when I understood a little bit more about myself

[00:43:15.80] spk_0:
and I love you also have the voice so well

[00:43:18.71] spk_1:
there we go because it is mostly by phones.

[00:44:29.99] spk_0:
Yeah, you were destined. It’s time for a break. Send in blue. It’s an all in one digital marketing platform with tools to help build end, end digital campaigns that look professional are affordable and keep you organized. They do digital campaign marketing. Most marketing software designed for big companies has the enterprise level price tag, not so sending blue priced for nonprofits, it’s an easy to use marketing platform that walks you through the steps of building a campaign. You want to try out to send him blue and get the free month, go to the listener landing page at tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant in blue. We’ve got boo koo but loads more time for the surprising gift of doubt some more. A little more about stories made a little bit. But you talk about the future eulogy, this is this is other stories that other people would say would tell about you. How do you, you know, influence your future history and talk about the future eulogy and that kind of storytelling.

[00:46:50.88] spk_1:
Sure, Well and stories because our phones may have an android or IOS operating system, some people may sell blackberry, I don’t know, but are as human beings. It’s uh, story is our operating system and one of the ways we can program that is by figuring out what’s the story we want to be living uh, for me and for many people because if you google your eulogy, you’ll find this as a coaching practice that’s been well used is too think about at your funeral, what will people say about you is what will your closest people, maybe your family, uh community members, colleagues, what are they gonna say? Um and some of us that’s a little bit too hypothetical. So it’s uh the other way to look at it is if you were to die today, what would they say about you today? And writing it down, even in bullet points doesn’t have to be complete sentences. Can bring some clarity to how they perceive you or how you think you’re being perceived versus how you want to be. Had one leader that was we before the pandemic had quadrant three leadership days where we do, people would fly into Greenville and we’d hold the whole day and we’d kind of work together as a group through some of these exercises and when the uh um, the kind of the story that she wanted for her department and she realized, terrified that her stuff never know that she wanted it to be a joyful place because she was so focused on policies and procedures and tightening, you know, routines that had been really lax and not non existent. Um, but she said now I have an opportunity to live into this story that I’ve written. And it was sort of like for her, it was a history of the future, It wasn’t a eulogy, but thinking about that kind of final beginning with the end in mind, franklin Covey’s habit too can be very helpful for us. Uh my example was when I did this in my twenties, I realized I want my kids to know I love them, but going away to work didn’t necessarily communicate that love. So it allowed me to be, I wasn’t gonna stop going away to work because that providing for my family was something that was pretty important to me. But I was able to then figure out what are other ways that we can, I can communicate that love so that they know that I love them despite my going away.

[00:46:53.48] spk_0:
Just buy them things when you go away. Sense

[00:46:55.54] spk_1:
that could definitely be part of it. Yeah. Until my wife said palpable items, No more stuffed animals. I used to get one and every place I was going and she’s like that’s enough. They have enough stuffed animals.

[00:47:13.48] spk_0:
I would just, I just reduce it to the tangible goods. Just send, just send presents. We know love is equivalent to tangible tangible items. The more

[00:47:16.53] spk_1:
and the shot glasses in the airport stores were a little bit confusing to kids like why are this is a doll cup? What is this? Shot

[00:47:23.00] spk_0:
glasses? Yeah, I heart new york shot glasses. Right. Just send things, sending things that’s equivalent to love if you’re going to be away, replace yourself with items with items gift.

[00:47:35.71] spk_1:

[00:47:41.78] spk_0:
I thought that was very interesting. The future eulogy. Uh

[00:47:42.55] spk_1:
have you ever done an exercise like that?

[00:47:47.28] spk_0:
No, no, I haven’t. Or or what even even making it simpler what folks would say about you now?

[00:47:54.68] spk_1:
Yeah, it’s very clarifying and a little chilling for some

[00:48:41.67] spk_0:
people. Uh huh. Let’s talk a little bit. Uh so just the listeners know, see we’re bouncing around on different things that that I think are interesting because you know, you we can’t really do the self assessments that are that are part of Mark’s book. You just gotta you gotta get the damn book surprising gift of doubt. Mark eh Pittman, you gotta get the book to do the self assessments to move yourself from the quadrant to you may be stuck in or to move yourself from whatever quadrant urine to advance your current leadership effectiveness or your future leadership. We’re all potentially future leaders, even those of us who don’t work in an organization. We’re still leading. I lied. I lied folks. Absolutely. I just they’re not on my payroll, but they were not an organization payroll that I that I am leading, but I’m leading them. So leadership still applies even if you’re an entrepreneur solo preneurs, however you want to call yourself.

[00:49:02.57] spk_1:
Well, I’m really glad you said that because I think a lot of people think leaders, uh, is a title which that is a form of leadership. Like you’re saying it’s influencing others and as human beings, we’re always influencing other people and that is a form of leadership. And so I try to take the broadest view. Absolutely,

[00:50:05.86] spk_0:
and I find it, you know, all right, my synesthesia is kicked in. I just got a chill, because I’m thinking about times when I’ve been able to influence someone, I’m not gonna can’t divulge any details, but influence someone through a way of thinking that I’m that I’m that I saw that they didn’t and I’ve moved there, you can move people thinking, and it’s not it’s not conniving or anything, it’s just it’s moving, it’s just consensus building. But so and I’m not saying I’m successful at every time, you know? But when you when you when you’re successful at helping people see things in a different way, you know, whether it’s, I don’t know, uh it’s a concept or it’s money, or it’s a it’s a path forward to in a relationship to bring it to fundraising. Um, it’s very, very gratifying, I mean, it’s giving the Children a couple of instances where, where it’s happened. So that’s all to me. That’s all leadership.

[00:50:09.06] spk_1:
Yes, absolutely. I firmly agree. Yes.

[00:50:37.76] spk_0:
Okay. Otherwise we’re shutting you off 46 minutes, that’s the end. That’s the end of the show. I figured you would, of course. Um, so, you know, we’re moving around to different things that we can help you help you understand the self assessments, help you move your leadership forward. And another one that Mark talks about in the book is is goal setting, different types of goals. Very important goal setting. Yes. Well,

[00:51:15.56] spk_1:
So one of the things that we do with, there’s a lot of books written on goal setting. So this was the third of the three major areas that I focused on. But what I did was I took about 18 years ago, 17 years ago, I took all the different goal setting things. Not only did I study as a kid growing up in my family, but I also have a program in college that actually required me to get a lower grade because I was supposed to take leadership and learned goal setting as an extracurricular, not just as part of my course of study, but I also my masters in organizational leadership. So I’ve had these all sorts of formal education on goal setting as well. As you just

[00:51:18.36] spk_0:
said something of course required you to get a lower grade. What?

[00:51:49.76] spk_1:
Yeah, there was a there was a scholarship at the Underground college I went to that required me to get, I had a lower not required. I shouldn’t say that that there was a lower great expectation because there was an expectation that you’re gonna be all in on the leadership in student activities. And part of that was having a mentor with the staff member and having regular meetings with them, teaching you goal setting and teaching you how to do mission statements and how to create strategic plans and that sort of thing. And that was all sort of extra curricular.

[00:51:53.54] spk_0:
You got to higher grade. Is that what happened?

[00:51:55.78] spk_1:
No no no. Unfortunately they let my high grade still stands okay. But there are other some of my other friends who had a different scholarship had to keep a higher G. P. A. I didn’t have the pressure of having to keep it G. P. A. To keep the scholarship I had.

[00:52:09.75] spk_0:
So. Okay. Yeah. Alright so goal setting

[00:52:45.85] spk_1:
anyway so so what I did was I tried to take a bunch of the parts that I didn’t realize I was doing quadrant three work at the time, but I tried to take a bunch of different parts that I liked and this, this system that I use, um, I submit to, it’s in the book. I used my clients. Uh, it isn’t the end all be all, but it’s a good one To try. The first step you do is write a list of 100 things to accomplish in the next year or in your life. Um, it’s, uh, and why 100 for me is because it forces you to get silly and it forces you to think creatively because at some point you’re just trying to fill lions. Um, What most people that I’ve done this with, they get 10 pretty quickly because it’s job-related. Probably things that are going to be on the performance review, 10

[00:52:53.25] spk_0:
goals in a lifetime or even in a year. Yeah, I

[00:55:13.74] spk_1:
Know. But then the next 10 become really hard. And when we were doing these uh intensive zero in Greenville, people would call me over to the table said, Mark, can I, huh? This, can I put this this goal on my list? It’s like plenty of garden. I want to plant a garden. Can I put that on my list? Check? Of course. Again, it’s your list and that’s the point. Um, it gets the personal and the professional together. And what I have found with so many leaders is that they get so fragmented in their life. They have the professional side, they have their family side. They have different sides that when they’re looking at their goals comprehensively and they’re listening at 100 forces you to do that in some way. Um it, the amount of um centering that, that brings to human beings, the energy in the room invariably goes up because people see themselves their full selves represented there. And it’s not like you’re gonna necessarily share your board or your boss that you’re doing a garden goal, but it’s your life. So you get to set the goals for that you want to have. Um, So the first step is that is writing the 100. The second step is then the history of the future, which is you read through all of them and it will take days usually to do the 100 read through the read through them and then just project forward. What does it look like? 12 months from now? If you’ve accomplished everything on that list, even the most far out crazy ones, what are people saying about you, what awards you have, what degrees you have? What, how are you feeling about yourself and then let that sit. Um, If you did nothing else, you’d be shocked in 12 months. How many of those things you get accomplished? I’ve tested this with groups and it’s fascinating. But then you then you can map them out, you go back over the list and um, look for two different types of goals. Either the ones that make sense, like planting a garden that if you’ve also to fill in 100 lines, you also to plant carrots, plant cabbage, playing potatoes, planting a garden well kind of scoop up a bunch of those others, other goals, the smaller goals in it. So you could use that one type of magnet goal, the other ones or something that just kind of pop off the page or you kind of get a little kind of jolts of joy. There’s, there’s, it’s not really rational why some of those are there. But paying attention to those and and trying to call the list down to about 3-5 of the rational goals in the irrational goals. Um, and then plotting those out and focusing on those. Um, some people get it done in a quarter. I usually have to take the full year for each of those goals, but

[00:55:25.74] spk_0:
and one of your bookshelves behind you, you have a license plate that says gold guy. And

[00:55:29.82] spk_1:
that’s because of this process to

[00:55:31.58] spk_0:
basketball again.

[00:56:24.93] spk_1:
No, it’s not. It was my, my first ever training was with equine vet. And my second training was because of his referral was with physical therapy practice who was but they were owned by physicians and they wanted to prove that they needed an admin help To do the building so they could keep doing more care of patients. So we set up, we broke down their goals over the course of a year, what their revenue had to be with, how they were going to communicate it to the people that are on the practice, all the different things. 12 months of them we worked also how they can operate, operationalize their their strength. So the people, what did people like doing, what they like doing? They’ve never asked them, they just did the work that was in front of them. They found that one person who loves knees, somebody else loved ankles and they started shifting the workloads. They could do better at a higher quality. Um Within four months of that training they’d hit their annual goals With the 12-month goals they had accomplished in four months. And so I saw this uh Pippi, I saw her at a store and she said that’s the goal guy, that’s the guy I was telling you about pointing at me. So I got a license plate. This big old guy. That

[00:56:46.13] spk_0:
was pretty cool. The equine veterinary practice. You could have been the full guy. Hey, that’s cons are always the worst unless you think of them first.

[00:56:49.93] spk_1:
Alright. Getting a in there, but it wasn’t working.

[00:57:03.93] spk_0:
All right. All right. Mark, leave us with some some market. Pittman, surprising gift of doubt wisdom. And uh and and we’ll leave it there please. Yeah.

[00:58:04.02] spk_1:
Well, thanks so much for having me on the show. And one of the things that I think is really important. But there’s two things I’d like to end with. One is is that we’ve hinted that assessments if you’re doing assessments as part of your team work, part of your own personal growth. I love them. Don’t let them confine you, they’re not they’re meant to help you grow in grace and understanding of other people. Not to slap labels on people and pigeonholed them. So I’ll just, that’s one thing that’s a big, big acts. I like to grind. But I think going forward just people leaving, you know, listening this. Um, as you work through the whatever the days are ahead of you and you find yourself asking, you know, criticizing yourself being really hard on yourself. Try to pause and just say, well, what if this is exactly the gift that I have for the sector? What if what if this limitation is actually the strength and the unique bend that I give because I feel like when you’re, I feel like you’re broken, you may be, but you could be on the verge of greatness.

[00:58:24.42] spk_0:
The gold guy. The book is the surprising gift of doubt. Use uncertainty to become the exceptional leader. You are meant to be get the book, do the assessments, don’t let them pigeonholed you, Mark Bittman, you’ll find him and his company at concord leadership group dot com and he’s at Mark eh Pittman, Thank you again. Mark Real pleasure.

[00:58:36.22] spk_1:
Thank you

[00:59:06.22] spk_0:
next week, heather burr right with performance improvement. 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. And by sending blue the only all in one digital marketing platform empowering non profits to grow. tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant send in Blue.

[00:59:26.82] spk_2:
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 Stein, thank you for that information scotty you with me next week for nonprofit radio Big non profit ideas for the Other 95%. Go out and be great.

Nonprofit Radio for March 1, 2021: Leadership For Strategic Execution

My Guest:

Joe Pajer: Leadership For Strategic Execution


There’s lots of talk about strategic planning. Lots of time and money devoted to ambitious plans—which often sit on a shelf. It takes leadership to drive strategic execution. What does that leadership look like? Joe Pajer walks us through, with his experience from the corporate sector.



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[00:01:56.64] spk_1:
Yeah. Hello 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 bear the pain of a chroma top CIA if I saw that you missed this week’s show Leadership for Strategic Execution. There’s lots of talk about strategic planning, lots of time and money devoted to ambitious plans, which often sit on a shelf. It takes leadership to drive strategic execution. What does that leadership look like? Joe Pager walks us through with his experience from the corporate sector. Antonis. Take two podcast pleasantries. 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 my pleasure to welcome Joe pager to nonprofit radio. He retired from the corporate CEO office. He grew revenues, profits, customers and employees at three companies for private equity investors. He’s been on the boards of the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and in Pittsburgh, it’s Carnegie, not Carnegie. Now he’s a board member for the ST James School in Hagerstown, Maryland, and the Trinity School for ministry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was my fraternity pledge trainer at Pi Kappa Alpha at Carnegie Mellon University. Back then, he was zip. You’ll find him on LinkedIn. He’s retired in a board member. Doesn’t need to be anywhere else. Welcome to nonprofit radio zip.

[00:02:01.24] spk_0:
Thanks, tony. Good to have you. Real pleasure. Thank you. Glad to be here. I’m

[00:02:05.74] spk_1:
glad. Tell us. Tell me about this private equity investment firm work. What does that look like?

[00:03:22.24] spk_0:
Sure, that came in the latter half of my career. Before that, I was an executive at larger companies. But you know what private equity is all about? There’s many different models, but the particular group of investors I worked for, um, they by businesses and they grow them, and then they sell right. So, um, typically, we buy it from a founder, right? Someone who founded the business, he was ready to retire and would like to make some money off of the business. And they usually their businesses that these were technology businesses that that we could see tremendous upside to. Right. So we do a lot of searching for those with tremendous upside. You know, founders are good guys, but they often our unit dimensional. So we could add things like professional sales or new strategies, etcetera and or maybe even combine them with other companies and grow them. So that’s what I did for the last 12 to 15 years. Is, um, three different companies sequentially, We bought them. We grew them, as you said in terms of revenue customers, number of people. Um, and then we sold them to larger companies for a nice profit. And it’s very fun, Very fun. You got to walk in every couple of years to a brand new business, try to figure out the market in the business and figure out how to grow it.

[00:03:29.24] spk_1:
So were there, uh, potentials to make money that you’re not sharing with your with your friend tony-martignetti at the time? Was there like insider information? You could have. You could have snuck to me. Was there a way for me to make some money off these three?

[00:03:53.44] spk_0:
All of the information is inside because they’re private companies. So there’s no there’s no public listing of the companies that are strictly privately held, their owned entirely by the investors. So yeah, there was no opportunity for you to make money unless you’d come and work for us. In which case, then, Yeah, you could have made some money.

[00:04:51.44] spk_1:
Okay, We’re going to find out what that would look like if I had, indeed been working with you. Um all right, so you’ve got some You got some ideas. And, you know, we’ve shared some concerns about, uh, as I said in the intro Strategic plans. Lots of resources going to ambitious. Uh, maybe grandiose plans will just will be kind and say ambitious, but execution, Uh, I think. And you’ve you’ve heard stories, and I think you’ve seen some, too. Um, and even in the corporate sector, um, not not not executed. Just kind of sitting around and not really seeing the change that was envisioned by the by the ambitious plan. So I’m guessing, you know, I mean, we should start with, like, vision and goals, and right before we were gonna have a We got a vision to this before we can start to do the execution part.

[00:08:10.14] spk_0:
That’s right. That’s right. Listen, we’ve all we’ve all seen organizations, companies, nonprofits, maybe our own households. Who knows that, uh, well laid plans that never happened, right? They just never happened. Um, and you know, I learned this early in my career. I was once asked by a nine year old hockey player that I was coaching. He said, Coach winded. When did you decide that you wanted to be our CEO? And I thought about it for a few minutes, and I said might have been the first business meeting I ever sat in because I knew what we were talking about wasn’t gonna get done. It drove me out of my mind. Right? So, look, we’ve all been there. It starts, though. Obviously it starts with having a good plan, a plan that you believe in before you ever get to the execution part. So, you know, just real briefly, I’m sure you have plenty of shows on how to build a strategy and a plan, and there’s plenty of people out there doing that. Are we have, yes, but a couple of criteria. One you ought to be able to answer for me really quickly. What you want that business, what you want your organization to look like three years from now, and you ought to be able to do that in three bullet points. I’ll give you five if you go to seven. The last two better be really interesting. 85. So you know you have that vision and that’s a vision. All right. You know you can have visions that are this. That the other thing? No, no. Just tell me if I show up three years from now. What’s going to be different about this place, right? And look, that’s not easy. You got to think about it. You’ve got to work hard on it. It’s another job, necessarily just for the CEO. It’s also a job for the board in a non profit. They need to share that vision responsibility and then then below that. Okay, that’s the vision. That’s what we’re going to look like at three years from now. What are the 5 to 7 things we need to do? Those are the strategic initiatives. Alright. Now here the board has less of a role in my opinion, and the CEO or the director in a non profit has a very large piece here. All right. They need to know their organization where they need to take it. Um, and then a 3rd 3rd point, you know. So if you can if you can clearly show me that Hey, we’re going to do this and that’s going to lead us to that. Well, then you’ve got a good strategy, or at least a good strategic plan. There’s another piece to it, too, though, which is, and this is the tricky question that sometimes people trip up on. Tell me what you’re not going to do. Tell me what people around here have been saying we ought to do, and you’ve decided I’m not doing that. All right, We’re not going down that path. So if you don’t do that, you’re going to run into problems with resource allocation and focus and people’s commitment and engagement. So a really good strategy will tell you what you’re not going to do. All right, so, you know, that’s all I’ll say about strategic planning right now Is the output of that has to has to fit those three criteria,

[00:08:35.24] spk_1:
you emphasis believing in the plan because because later on we’re gonna talk about allocating resources around the plan to the plan taking resources away from those things were not going to do anymore and putting them towards what we are going to do. So if you’re going to do that with confidence, you’ve got to believe in where you’re headed.

[00:09:42.54] spk_0:
Let me touch on that really quickly. It’s a great point. I hear from people we don’t have the money to invest in this. Well, that either means that your plan is garbage. All right, that it doesn’t really work mathematically. So you haven’t really worked hard enough on your plan. I got an idea, right? I got an idea. And if we go do it will grow our organization in this way. All right. Well, if you grow your organization in that way, you’ll have the money to fund, you know? So either you don’t believe that’s actually going to happen, right? Or you don’t actually buy into the idea. So you know, when you come when somebody comes back to me and says we don’t have enough money to do this initiative, right? And you thought This is where I want to be in three years? This is critical to doing it. I’ve done the math. If I invest in it, it will happen. And it will benefit the organization if you come back so we don’t have the money to do it. I’m just saying you don’t understand the plan or you don’t buy into it one or the other. Right now, it could be that the plan is wrong. In which case, sharpen your pencil, Go back to work.

[00:09:48.34] spk_1:
Maybe you have something to talk about, but right, it’s either a belief in the plan or or you or you believe in the plan or you or you or you don’t.

[00:10:06.94] spk_0:
Yeah, you’re either resisting it or yeah, but the plan says that will accomplish. That’s the key. The plan says it will accomplish your goal. So how can you not find the investment? To do that, you must write, all right, or you haven’t worked out. Point

[00:10:35.94] spk_1:
is either got the wrong plan or you don’t believe in what you the plan that you have. Okay, what about the board? You mentioned the board’s role in the vision, but not so much in the the, uh, tactics are going to use to get there. What about the interfering board, or or even board member or a couple of members? Maybe it’s not the full board, but a lot of times it doesn’t matter. What about those? Those interloping interfering board members who do get involved in the tactics, the methods we’re gonna we’re gonna use to execute.

[00:10:40.14] spk_0:
Yeah. So, um, for the record, very clearly, I’ve been on four very good boards for perfect

[00:10:46.11] spk_1:
boards. And

[00:12:24.54] spk_0:
we don’t have this. We don’t have that issue anywhere. Um, look aboard. Um, a board of trustees for a school or a private private education institutions. They are responsible for preserving the vision and the values defining the vision and the values of that school. That’s what they’re there for, right? Um, they’re responsible for hiring the person to get them to that vision. Um, that person needs to create the strategy with a lot of good input from the board, but it’s their responsibility. Whoever that leader is of the organization. CEO, headmaster, director, whatever their title, um, they’re responsible for that. That’s their job. That’s what you should have hired. Alright, if somebody, because the board will never have the day to day feel for the business that that person does, right, because they only meet quarterly. Um, So if you have an interfering board member, I would argue that you have a governance problem and a strategic problem. Um, not necessarily a person problem, although it may well be a person problem as well. And I’d recommend that you go by any number of good books of how to set up good boards and go fix your board. Right? All right, you cannot. Now listen. There’s people who can help, right? There’s people with contacts. There’s people with experience. There’s an absolutely, you know, tap into them. But ultimately, the head of that organization is responsible for running that organization.

[00:12:29.35] spk_1:
It’s got to be the CEO

[00:12:31.17] spk_0:
got to be. Yeah,

[00:12:53.04] spk_1:
all right. You got some, uh, sort of steps or, you know, some. Yeah, a pathway. The pathway to, uh, to strategic execution and not surprising. Uh, lots of folks say this. We’re starting with what we’re gonna measure. Yeah, metrics. What’s your what’s your What’s your advice around here?

[00:13:10.64] spk_0:
So, a couple of things, um, let me start. Let me let me back up just a half a step and talk about something that’s, uh, near and dear to my heart called. Um, I’m stealing this from I was trained as a Baldridge examiner. That term probably doesn’t mean many too many things to people.

[00:13:16.86] spk_1:
We got jargon jail on nonprofit radio. Yeah. Just committed an offense. Baldridge Examiner

[00:13:48.34] spk_0:
folks that are younger than you and I would never would never even have heard of it. But it’s an old quality thing, Sort of like Six Sigma. And the idea was, it was run by the U. S. Federal government was quite a good program, and there was a set of criteria for a business. And you would examine the business against these criteria. And you could potentially win a Baldridge Award, which was a very big deal. Um, companies like Motorola paved. Malcolm

[00:13:52.14] spk_1:
Malcolm. Malcolm Baldrige.

[00:14:04.54] spk_0:
Absolutely. Malcolm was the cabinet with the secretary of Commerce under Ronald Reagan. Believe he died in a horse accident. Um, and they named this thing after all. Right, So

[00:14:07.51] spk_1:
Congress, A bizarre polo accident.

[00:16:09.14] spk_0:
Yeah. No, it was more like Western rodeo stuff. He was a tough guy. So civilized. The horse was tougher in any case, so it’s named after him. He was part of the driving force, and and his death actually helped get passed in any case. Long story. They had this method of when you examine a business you find out, right? Do they have a plan? Right. What result is it that they’re trying to improve? Let’s say they’re trying to improve market share, right? Do they have a plan to improve market share? Right. And you say Look at their plans. They have to produce one. And if they had a plan, they would get sort of a 10% of the total score. Right? Um and then you would look at how do you measure it? And they look at the result. And if you were measuring the result, you might get another 20% mhm. But 70% of the score on that was associated with proved to me you’re actually executing the plan. Show me that you’ve actually done it. All right, because so many people will use the sporting analogy here. So many so many companies and so many organizations have the plan, and they look at the results. And if the results go bad, they go. The plan was wrong. They never checked to see whether they actually implemented the plan correctly. So, you know, sporting analogy, a team goes out, hockey team goes out to play on the ice. Um and and the coaches say This is the system we’re going to use and they go out and they lose the game. And of course, winning or losing was the metric and come back in and say we lost. We’re changing our system. No one would ever do that. They go, let’s look at the video and see whether we actually use the system. Right? And this is a big This is a big thing that happens. Um, in businesses and other organizations, that middle step is what I call strategic execution. And I’m telling you, it is it is more rare than you think. Right?

[00:16:11.14] spk_1:
And you’ve seen this on the corporate side as well. This is absolutely for some revolution revelation that you’ve only seen on the on the not for profit side. Yeah,

[00:16:19.64] spk_0:
over and over again. The execution

[00:16:29.34] spk_1:
all right. And that, you know, we were talking earlier, and you’ve made the point that, um that leads a lot. A lot of CEOs to create reorganization

[00:16:33.93] spk_0:

[00:16:35.29] spk_1:
that they can They can say they’ve done something. I mean, they’re linked in profile is now more robust. They reorganized around something.

[00:17:12.04] spk_0:
Yeah, You see it a lot I don’t mean to bash large companies, but because large companies are much more difficult beasts, right. But very large companies do this all the time. They say that their strategy is to reorganize them. And yes, it makes them feel good because they can check off a box that they indeed reorganized. They laid off some people here. They put somebody new in charge here. They restructured, etcetera, etcetera. Um, I don’t want to be too negative, but golly, I don’t know what that gets done, and I work.

[00:17:14.41] spk_1:
There’s a lot of wasted, a lot of wasted reorganization

[00:18:28.84] spk_0:
and the issues, the things that need to be changed, the things that need to be executed, no pun intended right are or what you’re doing right. And where you’re focused, right? It’s not who’s leading it. And I mean it is who’s leading it, but it’s not entirely who’s leading it, and it’s yeah, so it’s just to avoid Listen, all of this is hard to work, right? Um, the reason the reason I did it was because if I did and I’d lose my job, these investors, you know, they weren’t interested in people who weren’t actually growing the company, right? I mean, you could have as many board meetings where you said all the right things and pretty slides as you wanted. If the company wasn’t growing, it wasn’t your job anymore, right? And by the way, very, very few people in my position work for the same investors twice. They usually do one, and then they find a different set. And I’m the only person who’s worked for this set of investors three times, okay, on three different companies. So it’s all about finding that thing that has to happen to grow the company and then making sure it gets executed. That’s why I have sort of a particular affinity or sensitivity to this issue.

[00:19:12.14] spk_1:
But so much of this is moving people. You know, people people don’t like change. I don’t care how much they’re paid. They’re still human beings. I don’t care how long they’ve been there, you know? Of course, the longer the maybe the more difficult to change. But, you know, people are resistant to change. You talk about the family, you know, people don’t like to move. People don’t like to change jobs. People don’t like change within their jobs. People don’t like to have to go to a different supermarket in the middle of a pandemic. People don’t like not being able to go out and have dinner with friends in a pandemic. People don’t like change, but so much of what we’re talking about is driving change. Yeah, you’re driving change in a company that’s driving change among a bunch of people.

[00:19:17.14] spk_0:

[00:19:32.44] spk_1:
what the company is made of. It’s, uh, it’s it’s got, It’s got assets, got hard assets, It’s got people. The the Howard assets are easy to move around. You can ship those, you can sell these, you can acquire some. But moving the freaking people, that’s that’s what we’re talking about. Moving people to change that they don’t like

[00:19:59.14] spk_0:
it is. And I would imagine that it’s more difficult in the nonprofit sector than it is in the corporate sector. And the reason I would say that is because in the corporate sector there is a big forcing function called competition right and investors, and you have to make the numbers, so if you don’t change, you know, you go away quickly and and so let me let me talk a little bit. Then about about what I see about how you do strategic execution. Because it is exactly that. It’s about changing the people.

[00:21:03.94] spk_1:
It’s time for a break turn to communications. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times You want to be in papers like that? What about CBS Market Watch? The Chronicle of Philanthropy turn to has the relationships with these outlets and lots of others like them. They’re known in the industry so that when the outlets are looking for experts on charitable giving or non profit trends or philanthropy, they call turn to turn to calls. You. You know that because you’re their client, they’re going to call you. They can help you get the exposure. The media that you’re looking for relationships, right? It’s all about leveraging relationships. They’ve got them. Turn hyphen two dot c O. Now back to leadership for strategic execution. All right? Yeah, because, yeah, I’m gonna I’m gonna rant here about

[00:21:09.41] spk_0:

[00:21:19.44] spk_1:
before we get to metrics and resources. You know, you got to move people. You got to motivate people positively or negatively, I suppose. But you got to move people and you get people to do things that they don’t want to do.

[00:22:38.34] spk_0:
I used to tell this story really, in big, big, setting, small settings everywhere. I said, You know, you get on the airplane, you read in the airplane magazine and they’re interviewing some executive and a question answered thing and you’re going through it. And at some point they go, What’s the secret? And the executive goes, It’s all about the people and you go, Oh, crap. Like everybody gives that answer really again. And then I thought about it for a while, and I’m like, Gosh, it really is all about the people. It’s right. It’s a boring answer and it is the answer. Listen, here’s how you get people to change. Yeah, One of the things I loved about my career was I would walk into a company that had not accomplished something for a long time, and they had many things in front of them that they could accomplish, and we would go accomplish it and people would go. How did that happen? And they feel good about it, and they’d have a I used to say, I want to give them a story to tell their grandkids when they’re sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. Right about business. Most people go through their business careers going. Yeah, there’s that over there. And then all the stuff I like over here. And I want to have something they like from their job. So, look, how do you change? How do you get people

[00:22:55.14] spk_1:
before the first? Okay. Before the first milestone, right before the first home run. This company has now achieved something that it could have achieved 10 years earlier. But, you know, there’s a bit of a founder syndrome, and they were unit dimensional, as you said. And so how

[00:22:55.34] spk_0:
do you get them bought in

[00:22:56.38] spk_1:
before that first home run? How do you get some momentum going And you get interest?

[00:23:30.84] spk_0:
Exactly. So look, um, what do you say? Well, what you do is this. First you got to find that strategy that’s all important. And you got to find the planets, and then you must communicate very clearly. Okay, You must communicate. And look, there’s some pieces to that communication. First of all, I heard a long time ago and always strive to do this. You should speak at an eighth grade level. Okay? You have to understand How can

[00:23:32.74] spk_1:
do a bunch of engineers at a tech company M B A s your CFO?

[00:23:55.24] spk_0:
Yeah. Your operations team who are hourly workers. Right. Um, so you’ve got a range. You’ve got a range in there. Speak at the eighth grade club. Secondly, make sure what you’re saying is a story. All right? I’ll go back to coaching little kids in hockey. I could go up

[00:24:20.74] spk_1:
hockey. It’s about your your affinity for hockey’s obviously coming out. Yes, I want I want you to know, uh, for for listeners because you won’t be able to see video. This is the sound of this. That’s me, uh, flipping pages through my pi Kappa Alpha Pledge book. So there’s there’s lots of there’s lots of history in these pages. Joseph Steven, pager from Meriden, Connecticut.

[00:24:23.68] spk_0:
There you go.

[00:24:24.74] spk_1:
Uh, and hockey is. Hockey is prominent on your page,

[00:24:28.21] spk_0:
and it remains. This would

[00:24:30.22] spk_1:
be from 1980. I still have this from 1980

[00:25:59.04] spk_0:
throughout my career. Uh, but here’s Here’s the deal. I can sit in front of a group of 15 year olds, and I could show them all the exes and ohs on the whiteboard and say This is what we’re gonna do today. That’s what we’re gonna do today. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And they’d all be fidgeting and not paying attention. Or, like 15 year olds do. They’ll be staring at the floor, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, then But if I if I came in and said, Let me tell you about a game I played in college and what happened? Their eyes are beyond me. They’d be lifted up from the floor. We respond to stories, Okay? People learn from stories. They don’t learn from textbooks, right? They learn from stories. This is what you must do as a leader. You must tell the future story. Okay? You must say, here are the great things were going to do for our community in our space. Here’s what we’re doing today. Here’s how that’s going to change and be even better three years from now. Yeah. How are we going to get there? We’re going to do these three things, okay? It’s going to feel a little different to you, but we’re going to do these three things. And do you know how many people are going to buy into that? the first time you tell them. Two. There’s if there’s 50 people in the room. Three

[00:26:03.21] spk_1:
allies you’ve got to allies you can leverage.

[00:29:09.74] spk_0:
So what do you got to do? You’ve got to tell them that same story over and over again and person by person as they ask questions. And your job is over the next 6 to 9 months to reduce it to the impact on them as an individual and how they can contribute and how they can be a piece of a piece of it. This communication aspect is very important. What I see, what I see executives do is they think, what I said that last time. I’m going to change it this time. No, no, you don’t understand. Just because they heard it once from your lips, they don’t believe it, and they probably don’t remember it. You’ve got to keep saying you got to keep saying it. Then of course, you’ve got to lead by example. Right now, you’re in a position this will go back sort of into metrics and resource allocation. You’re in a position to make a bunch of decisions and to make them in front of everybody. They have to be consistent with that vision you’re describing. So you might decide to move resources from a status quo kind of a project to the new project, and you would explain it that way. Even if they’re upset, you might decide to set certain metrics and review those metrics on a monthly or quarterly basis. Really, the metrics that you set and everybody knows there’s a billion metrics for everything. You got to pick the two or three that make a difference to your strategy and just work on those If somebody wants to know some other thing, here’s an example. Software company, last software company, Iran. We would sell the software. Then we would install it for the customer and run it for them. We call that activating it, and then we would, um, run it for them. And if they were satisfied all the time, we would make a lot of money because they would never leave us, right? So the sale part we call booking the middle part we call activating the third part we call just satisfying. And I just reduced it to that. We only have one mission here. Book activates, satisfied all of you are involved in one of those three. Okay, Now, let’s talk about how you’re involved and what you can do and get the managers in. They’re talking. This is 400 people. But that became, You know, that became our mantra. Book activates satisfied? Well, where’s gross margin in that? Where’s cost savings loses. Where is entering a new market? Well, we have stuff to do there, too. That’s it Was secondary to those three things. If you did those three things, you didn’t have to know what I used to say. If you do those three things, don’t you worry about profitability? Like a knife through butter will be profitable, I guarantee it. Right. And you don’t even need to see the profitability. So you got to make it simple. You gotta make it pity. You gotta make it catching. You’ve got to say it over and over and over again. And if you do that for six months of those 50 people in your organization, you’ll have 48 of them. And then there’s going to be too

[00:29:11.74] spk_1:
right. The recalcitrance.

[00:31:31.04] spk_0:
Yeah. They’re not going to go. You I need to go have a conversation. You need to do your job as a leader. And look, the conversations not mean the conversation is this. We’re a team. Everybody always says I’m all in. It’s all about team. Well, we’re a team. And now we’re gonna put our money where our mouth is, right? The team has decided to go in this direction. I understand that you’ve been here for a long time and that you did things a certain way and all that stuff. I get it, I get it and it’s all valid. And it was We’ve heard it, but we’ve decided as a team to go in another direction. I need you to come back and see me tomorrow. Come back tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon. Stop by my office. Just tell me, can you come with us? And if you can’t And let’s talk about how to how to separate our pads gracefully, right, it’s not a threat, you know, it’s but it is a it is necessary. You can’t have one guy on a professional sports team saying I don’t agree with the system. You just can’t. You’re never gonna win anything, right. And this is a very reasonable approach. I mean, and quite frankly, every time I’ve had this conversation, they’ve come the next morning and said, I’m in now. Some of them might have come and said, Well, I’m scared now. And so I’m in others. Might others, I think, really went home. And when? What am I doing? Why? Why am I so against this? Why can’t go along with it, right? And and they jump in and they become productive that afternoon. Right? Um, and in a couple of cases, they’ve come back and said, You know what? I really like the company that was here before you got here, Joe. And I’m not bought into this one. So how can How can we? How can I leave gracefully? Can I have a month to find? You know, you can absolutely just you say nice things about me. I’ll say nice things about you. Um, and let’s do it. So So that’s, uh, and by the way, it’s good. It’s too recalcitrance is what you call

[00:31:33.39] spk_1:
them. Yeah,

[00:31:44.14] spk_0:
they can be a huge issue, so if they exist, you must take action or you’re not going to get there because they will continue. Two needle.

[00:31:45.06] spk_1:
They’re like a cancer they’re they’re growing. They’re they’re trying to find their trying to grow their tribe right there, trying to grow their anti team.

[00:32:07.24] spk_0:
But you do it. You do it with complete and genuine respect. They have an opinion. You have an opinion. You don’t agree. There’s no reason to be, um, Washington. Ask with each other. I think I

[00:32:36.54] spk_1:
know you said gracefully, No, I mean, you’re professionals and you’re right. You don’t agree. You don’t agree on the future of the company that the team has that has a team has elected to pursue. There’s no point in, you know, there’s no point you’re hanging around your your unhappy. It’s going to hurt the team. That’s right. Let’s separate gracefully. I like gracefully. You don’t hear that in business to it gracefully. Let’s do it gracefully. Yeah, Joe, let me ask you, Do you have interest in helping nonprofits with all this leadership and strategic execution that we’re talking about?

[00:32:57.54] spk_0:
Sure, absolutely. If a nonprofit is interested in learning more about this, I can certainly help them on a consulting basis, help them get set up and help them get executing on their initiatives. I could even help them develop the initiatives, if that’s what they so desire. But yeah. No, I I very much would be interested in helping nonprofits achieve their results. Basically.

[00:33:04.04] spk_1:
Yeah. Okay. And so folks can get you on linked in

[00:33:07.34] spk_0:
Absolutely. Yeah. Just look me up on LinkedIn. Last name is spelled P a J e r.

[00:33:16.64] spk_1:
You, uh, you have a little story about sales compensation.

[00:33:19.44] spk_0:
It relates

[00:33:20.82] spk_1:
to relates to metrics. But before we before we move on from metrics where we, you know, we digress, But we’re moving around. This is good. This is excellent. This is not just good. This is excellent leadership advice. Uh, you got the sales comp story?

[00:36:18.83] spk_0:
Yeah. Yes. So one of the aspects of metrics of choosing the proper metrics is that, you know, you actually have to be able to measure the thing, right? So if you say I want to measure, I want to measure, um you know, let’s say I’m a food bank and I want to measure somebody’s improving nutrition as a result of my efforts. Well, that’s probably not measurable. Okay? I mean, maybe it is, but, you know, it’s probably difficult to track that person The individual that you gave the food to and and even more so I would question your statistics is whether you could actually correlate your effort to his improving nutrition if it improved. But that’s something that’s sort of undoable. There’s others, though, that you want to measure how many new people you reached through a program, and people say, Well, we don’t track that, So you can’t use that as a metric. Yeah, you know, So every company I’ve gone into the sales, the sales compensation plan, right? We believe that sales people are motivated by making more money. Yet many executives I know have no idea what they’re Salesforce’s, how they’re Salesforce’s compensation plan works. That’s crazy, right? So every company and of course, what we care about is growing. So, of course, it’s important to us to have the right sales compensation plant so that we can drive the growth. So every company I’ve gone in and redesigned the sales compensation plan, it’s actually something that I’ve gotten quite good at it, Um, you know, it’s it’s an area of expertise and I’ve done it pretty much myself, right. Um and every time finances told me we could never track this. We could never do this. We could never. This is just what we’ve never. And in two of the three cases I got up. After about an hour’s worth of discussion, I got up. I said, I hear everything you’re saying. You must make it happen. We’ll talk again when you have a plan to make it happen. Not before. Okay, basically, I said, do it right and you just have to because they’ll find a million reasons not to. Right? So So that is my sales compensation story. So, um, you have to sometimes sometimes you and sometimes in that conversation on metrics. By the way, what they’re really saying is it’s not automated. They’re saying it’s not automated. It’s

[00:36:22.41] spk_1:
gonna be hard for us to achieve it hard for us to measure it. Not impossible. It’s just it’s just hard.

[00:36:54.13] spk_0:
And this is another little thing that I’ve learned. Some of the people who work for me called these patriotism is, but, um, if you want to get something automated, make people do it manually. You know they’ll find a way to automated, and it has the benefit of automating it correctly, because if they start out with automation. They don’t really know what they want yet, right? They don’t know the ins and outs of what they’re doing, so yeah, Okay.

[00:36:55.53] spk_1:
You say the number one resource number one job of a chief executive is resource allocation. We

[00:37:03.09] spk_0:
were touching on this

[00:37:28.03] spk_1:
before moving things away from what you don’t want to be and into what you do want to be. What else? What else? You know, again, You’re moving people. Now, this is This is some of that change Some people are gonna be into, uh, you know, whatever different team, a different activity, a different way of doing their old activity. That’s more of the change. So, you know, we talked. We talked something about that. But what? What’s your advice around Moving resources around?

[00:39:22.02] spk_0:
Well, I think look, resource allocation is fundamentally getting the right people number one and the right number of people number two. And this can be very tricky, especially with new what I’ll call new growth initiatives to the company. So in all three companies, we expanded globally, right? So we didn’t have anybody, so we had to get the right people in each country a long way away. to to do this correctly. We needed the right number of people in each of those countries, so expanding globally is one way. But another way might be to expand in non profit terms. Expand your services right? Say, I don’t want to do just this. I can also do this while I have the client in front of me so I can do even more good for the client by expanding my services as well. Do you have anybody in your organization who understands that new service the way they need to? Right. And if not, you need to go outside the organization. Do you have the right number of people to expand that new service? Okay, do I have the right number of people offering the current service? Because there’s a you know, it’s a it’s a little bit of a hill, and then and then it flattens out after there’s a peak and then a flattened out thing. When you introduce something new, so you maybe you may have introduced a new service three years ago, and you may still be staffed at your peak, and you don’t need to be right. You could reallocate some of those resources, Um, to the new service. These are the key discussions. You have to have the big one for me. Did we We talked about believing in the plan?

[00:39:25.48] spk_1:
Yeah. Yeah, that’s wrapped up in that. If you’re going to move, Yeah. So resources around you got to believe in what you’re moving them toward,

[00:41:23.31] spk_0:
right? You just have to believe that that plan is going to work, right? And then you’ll be willing to commit, Um, you know, take, take another example. Um, this is a So you’re a nonprofit and you decide the development is critical to you. Okay, let’s say you’re a small educational facility, and you just gotta build the endowment, right? Or, you know, what’s happening to small private schools is going to happen to you. You’re not going to have the funds to build out the right buildings, etcetera. So you’ve got to build the endowment, and your three year plan is to add $10 million for the endowment, right? And look, you’ve had this development guy. He knows everybody, but it hasn’t really grown anything in years. Okay. All right. So you you decide. Okay. Well, maybe I move him someplace Maybe he’s going to retire. Maybe I just need a new development person, okay? And he’s got to go away. Fine. You go out to get the new development person and and you say, Well, I don’t want to spend more than $50,000 a year on this person, right? And somebody who’s 75,000 comes along right, but at a much higher skill set. No, I didn’t say 150,000, but 75,000? Well, you ought to do the work rather than just say that we’re all about saving money because we’re trying to help our clients. You ought to do the work to say, What would what would this guy get me that the other guy wouldn’t get? Me and I And how quickly will I get that $25,000 a year back, right? I mean, you know, it can’t always be about being the lowest cost provider of these services. You may well find that if if you hire and spend that extra 25,000, you’re going to grow your endowment by even more right and you’ll be able to provide even more dormitories or even better, etcetera. etcetera,

[00:41:42.91] spk_1:
and this goes back again, believing in the plan. And if, and as you said earlier, you said early on, if you don’t have the money for the plan, then then you haven’t thought through your plan adequately because you you picked an aspirational plan that you can’t afford to execute. And you can’t even do the fundraising to raise the extra money because it’s too astronomical. So you’ve got the wrong plan.

[00:42:43.70] spk_0:
That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. You know where this comes up. A lot is in building buildings. It’s almost always the case that that, you know, you think a building costs less than what it’s going to cost. And it actually you think it will deliver less value than it actually delivers, right? Certain buildings. I mean, you know, if you’re building an administration building right but a new SportsCenter on a at a boarding school or a or a conference center at a place like the Trinity School for Ministry, these things these things are going to have much more impact and what you’re projecting, So think about them carefully and take the risk. I think the risk

[00:45:56.79] spk_1:
it’s time for Tony, take two podcast Pleasantries. You remember those? The podcast audience? Oh, my, uh, so loyal. Um, you’ve been If you’ve been listening for a while, you’ll remember that I used to do live listener love affiliate affections and podcast pleasantries. Well, the first of those two go away was the affiliate affections. When I ended the affiliate program, that was, uh, we had a family of, uh, about 15, maybe 20 am and FM stations throughout the country that we’re carrying non profit radio and there’s weekly schedules, but it wasn’t really scaling. And it constrained us in terms of how exactly minutes and seconds how long a show needed to be. So I ended that and the live audience, the live listener love. You know, that ended with the pandemic. I no longer go to the New York City studio no longer with Sam. Sam is still there at and y. You know, talk talk radio dot N y c. That’s him. That’s that’s that network talk radio dot N.Y.C.. It’s talking alternative, so Sam is still there. But I ended with him because of the pandemic. So of course, no more live listener love. And now working through Zoom and audacity. It’s the podcast audience. The pleasantries go out, you’re you’re the last remaining audience. When I If I cast you off, that’s the, uh, what do you call a podcast so that nobody listens to a guy talking to himself in a closet? A guy whispering to himself. Um, now So the pleasantries go out. The pleasantries remain. The podcast pleasantries. Whatever time you’re listening, however we fit. Whether you’re painting your house, doing the dishes, commuting, there’s less commuting going on. I realized that, but there’s still some commuting going on. Maybe you’re driving to, uh, you’re driving to the store. Who knows? However, non profit radio fits into your schedule. Maybe binge watching binge listening on Sundays. Who knows, However, it fits in. The pleasantries go out to you are loyal podcast audience still there over 13,000 each week. Pleasantries, pleasantries to you podcaster, podcast, listener pleasantries. And that is Tony’s Take two we’ve got but loads or boo coo. That’s what we’ve got. We’ve got Boo Koo, but loads more time for leadership for strategic execution with Joe pager and communications, you already said, speaking an eighth grade level. I guess this is another plagiarism about the number of times you should communicate and how many people are going to reach.

[00:46:32.58] spk_0:
Yeah. So, uh, yeah, if you want to reach people, communicate four times as much as you think you need to and you’ll get to half the people you hoped. So just I I cannot stress it enough like consistency. Eighth grade level, frequency walk, you know, walk the talk. Just listen. The people are going to deliver the plant. You’ve just got to change them as

[00:46:47.08] spk_1:
the work is getting done. You know, now you’re looking over everybody’s shoulders. You’re talking about a 400 person organization. Okay, If it’s a four or eight person organization, the work is still getting done. While the CEO is not looking right there off somewhere,

[00:47:05.68] spk_0:
that’s and that’s another. I’m glad you brought that up. That is another very important part of communication. I’ll do it in an engineering way for you. Okay. Engineers, software engineers particularly, you know, they work in the dark and they work late at night, and they work alone,

[00:47:24.58] spk_1:
like the nerds that we knew at Carnegie Mellon. You get either one of us was in computer science, but we we saw them that in the winter they were walking barefoot or in flip flops. They’re always there. Always a couple of steps out of sync. But, you know, they’re They’re now leading professors at M I T. Or their founders of Google or Amazon from the 19 eighties. Yeah, they

[00:47:55.28] spk_0:
prefer to work alone. They prefer to work in the dark. Okay, great. That’s an over generalization. All my software friends. But you probably agree the so and their programming. They’re building your product, right? So now how do you guide their innovation? They’re making decisions alone in the dark at 3 a.m. In the morning.

[00:47:56.73] spk_1:

[00:50:01.16] spk_0:
well, how do you guide their decision? Well, it’s gonna be It’s gonna come down to two. Did I give them a vision that they can work with him, right. So book activates. Satisfied? Right? I said satisfy. Right. And we’ve had discussions. So with book activates satisfy, you might, you might hold after you announce the grand theme, you might hold a session just on book just on activate. Just unsatisfied, right to explore it an even greater depth. Eventually, this this guy figures out because we’re talking about satisfying so much right that when a client using his software puts the wrong inventory in or when the inventory isn’t up to date, the software doesn’t work as well, and it doesn’t create as much value as the customer would like. And he comes up with a way to automatically grab their in their inventory at 3 a.m. When no one else is around. But he wouldn’t have known him. If you hadn’t have done all that work communicating right, he might have come up with a way to make it cost less right, which might have been welcome. Might be welcome. When you’re growing a company, I never worry about the cost. It’s like if the growth plans work, the cost will never catch up. All right, we’ll be growing too fast. So you know, that’s that’s the difference is what are these people thinking when they’re on the front line and a nonprofit example? Right? Let’s say you’re a food bank that wants to work more with partnerships, okay? And your local church has a has a food bank that could partner with the big food bank. Right? Um, but you know that in that food bank, the intention of forming those partnerships is to reach people. You’re not currently reaching right, which is very different than an intent of to reach people more effectively using a local organization more efficiently, right?

[00:50:06.06] spk_1:
Yeah. You’re talking about a new market.

[00:50:34.86] spk_0:
Yeah. Those are the two reasons you might do it. Well, if you’re if you know this person who runs a food bank at your church, you can you would now ask them. Well, who are you reaching and see if you know it’s the same person already, right? Or etcetera, etcetera. So you can make a more intelligent decision at your level because you understand the vision, the strategy, what’s important, what’s being measured. And it’s going over and over and over again. Yeah, yeah.

[00:50:48.86] spk_1:
Let’s talk about holding individuals accountable through the review. Um, looking at the challenges that they’re facing, what their personal plans are. Let’s talk about that whole accountability review.

[00:52:23.45] spk_0:
So, um, couple of things one As the leader, you must be personally involved in the review and in the details, and you must personally know the progress that’s being made. Okay, Um, so you need to establish the metrics. Well, first of all, you need to do this in a regular timing kind of way. So you need a cadence What I would call a management cadence. Now, with each initiative, there’s a couple of choices you could decide I’m going to meet Weekly. All right, so now you have a weekly meeting, that sort of independent of the nature of the initiative. But weekly, we’re getting together and we’re talking about it. Okay, that’s that’s one way to do it. And for some initiatives, that’s really good. Other initiatives are a little bit weirder ago, right? Some actions like the first actions might take a week. The next action might take a month, right? For two months. So you might want to have meeting the first week and the meeting the next week to make sure you did everything from the first week. You might want to delay it for another three weeks. So there’s something needy in the meeting. Right? Something’s changed. Now, Um, I believe that, uh um I have so many quotes from this. This guy I used to work with, Um, but one of them was personal embarrassment. Is that the number one driver of human behavior now we should not abuse

[00:52:25.31] spk_1:
that management by fear

[00:53:46.15] spk_0:
we should not have embarrassment. But another way, if you flip that to the positive personal recognition is also the number one driver of human behavior. So I believe in team meetings with everybody is involved. All right, so that we can look at the metrics. What are the results? Okay, those are the results. That’s five minutes. All right. Next most important question is on this initiative. Last week, we said we were gonna do this. This and this last meeting. We said we’re gonna do this, this and this. We’re gonna go around the room. Did you do it? That’s the first question. Yes or no? Okay. Yes or no? I also have this page tourism that we are not trying to be. Washington here. We are not trying to create a culture of blame. Okay? Because it’s useless. And you can see that, right? The You know, we’re not just trying to figure out who the millennium? No, we’re trying to understand, So if you didn’t do it, just say you didn’t do it. Now, if you didn’t do it for six weeks, you’re You know, I never yelled and I never saw in any meetings. But I’ve been told that I could make the air feel very heavy. So a little bit of tension is a good thing for the whole team. And if the person continues to not deliver, well, then it’s a private conversation. You’re

[00:53:50.07] spk_1:
going to have that conversation,

[00:54:01.84] spk_0:
but it really isn’t it much better for them to feel accountable in front of the team and just accountable to you, right and and like and have the teams say, Come on, we gotta get this done.

[00:54:44.54] spk_1:
Yeah, yeah, I can see your part that’s going to bring a team together If if folks are folks are willing to open up and say, you know, we’re not on radio so I can say no, I fucked up. I just I told you two weeks ago this was a priority, and I haven’t made it a priority and and I will in the next two weeks. You know, if somebody I think if somebody can say that openly to their to their to their CEO and to their team, maybe even more more so to the team, then you know, then there’s Then there’s that. Then it is a team, okay? This guy didn’t pull his weight. She come a little short. We can, you know, next week. It might be me, but it’s an environment that that supports us and isn’t beating us down now. But you like, you know, you say if it’s six months or you know, whatever you know, then then we have to go a different

[00:54:53.97] spk_0:
strategy. But

[00:54:55.41] spk_1:
that can bring a team together. That kind of opened this. I think

[00:57:37.23] spk_0:
you You are 100% correct, and the rest of the team appreciates it. Right? So another important part of this cadence meeting is that you set the example for this. That you’re you’re inquisitive. You want to understand the problem. You want to help. You’re not there to go. You didn’t do it. I move you to this side of my ledger. When you do it, you go back to the other side. No, I mean, that’s fine. And then the other thing that’s popular today is the stand up meeting. We’re going to do this all in five minutes. Yeah, you know, do you You don’t understand anything in five minutes. That’s appropriate for some meetings, but on this. What you’re trying to find out is what’s holding me back. If you’re If you’re leading an organization like I was leaving, we’re If the company didn’t grow, it was me. I was done right? You very quickly. If you have half a brain at all, you’re walking around every day trying to figure out what’s what’s going to prevent you from growing. Okay, that’s all you care about, right? You’re like and every issue a people issue, customer issue operations issue, it all gets reduced to. Is it going to prevent me from making my plan? And if it is, how are we going to solve it quickly so that it accelerates me towards that plan? Right. Um so So that’s that’s what you want, Everybody. You want everybody understanding your behavior and your questions in those terms and that we’re all on the same team trying to do this and what happens is you’re right. The team gels the people who people want to finish by the meeting. You have to have the meetings that are forcing function people most of their work the night before the meeting. That’s okay with me. Okay? Right. And yeah, you keep them open. And let me tell you the people you have all kinds of levels of people in this meeting. Anyone who can affect this is in this meeting. Okay? And what happens over time if you set the right example? Number one, the people at the bottom will come to you. And they say I so appreciate being in that meeting with you and watching you think through these problems. Mm hmm. Your direct reports. The people report directly to you that those people report to They’ll start jumping into the meeting, doing the same thing. So so And so, Joe Joe down at a low level, says I tried to get it done, but I couldn’t. Because of this. Right? In the first meeting, I’ll go. Okay. Well, how are we going to fix that? In the third or fourth meeting? The person who reports to me will go Joe right after this meeting, come to see me. We’re going to fix that. And now I’m now I’m not on cruise control, but we’re all together. We’re all together, just trying to make this happen.

[00:57:48.53] spk_1:
Not all plans are gonna work, right?

[00:58:53.72] spk_0:
No, no, Absolutely not. I’m telling you that, uh, tell you two things. One. I never walked into a company and said, You doofus, is you didn’t know you should be doing this. Never, never found, never walked in and created a new plan. Okay, what I did was I walked in, Um, and there’s this guy can itchy. Oh, my is a Japanese guy who wrote something called the Mind of the Strategist. And I’d look at the situation and I try to break it into pieces, okay into the logical pieces and then work on each piece to see how I could make it better and then put them back together. Not all of them came back together. Some we put to the side others we made. In any case, that’s a little bit material. But the the plans that we followed always existed in the business before I got there. But with some modifications, we you know, we have adopt them with some modifications, and then we’d execute.

[00:58:55.82] spk_1:
But you think the plans were already there?

[00:58:57.82] spk_0:
Sure. The ideas were already there. The idea of the middle

[00:59:00.49] spk_1:
step middle step wasn’t getting done. The execution

[01:00:23.51] spk_0:
first company I went to had a product that they were going to introduce that they’ve been talking about for five years. We introduced it in 13 months. I sat in the music, we had to introduce it. We had we had a new market we wanted to enter, and they they just went round and round and round on whether it was the right market to enter. You can always find a reason not to do something. It’s a lot easier to find reasons not to do something than it is to find reasons to. There’s almost this, Uh, there’s almost this mindset like, Well, we got to find something that no one in the industry has ever thought of. Well, that’s Yeah, good luck with that. That this never happens, right? No, you got to execute better than other company. So, you know, we had this market we wanted to enter, and everybody was disproving why we could enter it. And at some point I just said, No, I think we can do it. Let’s try it and we went after it. And that company is thriving in that market today. Alright, the last software company that I ran. Same thing. There’s a new market. We went after it. We’re leading in it right now, right? Um, but it was an idea that had been around forever. There was another market to where they actually convinced themselves there was no way to make any money in it. And we will. It’s that it’s

[01:00:38.01] spk_1:
avoiding that scarcity mentality and that, you know, it’s a focus on how we can, instead of why we can’t because it is always easier, much, much easier to find reasons why you can’t do something to evaluating and execute on a plan to do something. So I always say, Let’s look at how we can instead of why we can’t

[01:01:23.11] spk_0:
that that market that’s an interesting one, that market. I won’t tell you to many of the details because it’s active right now. But it’s about half of their new business right now. Okay? And and I had to move 30% of the engineering resources in that company to focus on that new market, and they were already booked, you know, they would have told you they’re booked 150% alright. So and did some things fall off the table and the status quo? You bet they did. We lived with it. We found ways around it, right? I mean, that’s But that’s the point where you see as the leader, I can’t walk away and say Figure it

[01:01:23.90] spk_1:
out. Well, that’s the belief in the plan.

[01:02:06.20] spk_0:
I’ve got to be part of the team that figures it out, right? Yes. I’m still the leader. I’m not. I’m not coming up with the solutions, but I’m asking the questions. Right. What can we do? How can we do? Tell me what we could, you know. Okay. Well, I moved. Oh, I moved 35 people over there, and you need one of them back, or you can’t get this done. So what you’re telling me? Yeah. Move them this afternoon. You know, I moved 35. Guess where I got that number? Yeah. You know, out of the air. Right. But but in some companies, that question never get out. Joe moved. Joe moved them. Can’t move them back. Okay.

[01:03:34.60] spk_1:
All right, Joe. Thank you, Joe. Pager. A reminder that Joe pager is available to consult with your non profit on everything we talked about. Strategic execution change management, leadership, fraternity, pledge training. You can reach him on LinkedIn. Remember, it’s P A J E r. Joe. Thank you very much. Good to have this conversation. You shared some excellent ideas. Appreciate your wisdom. Thanks a lot. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Pleasure. Next week, corporate funding. If you missed any part of this week’s show, I beseech you find it at tony-martignetti dot com. We’re sponsored by turning 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. Thank you for that information. Scotty, you’re with me next week for nonprofit radio. Big non profit ideas for the other 95% Go out and be great. Mm hmm. Mhm. Yeah.

Nonprofit Radio for September 21, 2020: Your Leadership Pipeline & True Consultant Love

My Guests:

Dennis Miller: Your Leadership Pipeline

Dennis Miller returns to encourage you to identify and develop future leaders in your nonprofit. He explains what goes into your leadership development plan. He’s president of Dennis C. Miller Associates.



Loree Lipstein & Tracy Shaw: True Consultant Love

If your leadership pipeline is lackluster, you’ll have to hire outside talent. Our 20NTC panel helps you pick the right match for a great consulting relationship. They’re Loree Lipstein and Tracy Shaw from thread strategies.

Loree Lipstein Tracy Shaw





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[00:00:33.94] spk_1:
Hello and welcome to tony-martignetti non profit radio big non profit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host. Oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’d be forced to endure the pain of declare veins if you inflamed me with the idea that you missed today’s show Your leadership pipeline. Dennis Miller returns to encourage you to identify and develop future leaders in your non profit.

[00:00:40.74] spk_0:

[00:02:08.74] spk_1:
explains what goes into your leadership development plan. He’s president of Dennis C. Miller Associates and true consultant Love. If your leadership pipeline is lackluster, you’ll have to hire outside talent. Our 20 NTC panel helps you pick the right match for a great consulting relationship. There are Laurie Lips Teen and Tracy Shaw from Thread Strategies. Antonis. Take two. A change to plan giving accelerator response erred by turn to communications, PR and content for nonprofits, your story is their mission. Turn hyphen two dot ceo and by dot drives, raise more money changed more lives. Tony dot Emma slash dot for a free demo and a free month. I’m very pleased to welcome Dennis Miller back to the show. He is a nationally recognized expert in non profit leadership, executive search, strategic planning and board and leadership performance coaching with more than 35 years experience. Once upon a time, he was president and CEO of Somerset Medical Center and Foundation in New Jersey. Now he’s president of Dennis C. Miller Associates. He’s at Dennis c. Miller dot com. Welcome back then. It’s similar,

[00:02:10.84] spk_0:
All right. Great to be back. It feels like being back home. It’s great.

[00:02:14.60] spk_1:
Back home. Good

[00:02:16.44] spk_0:
a long time. I’ve always, you see since grammar school because distinguished myself

[00:02:20.35] spk_1:
from the that from that comic Dennis.

[00:02:24.23] spk_0:
And I just tell people I’m actually funny today. It’s so that’s right from

[00:02:27.57] spk_1:
the fraud. Yeah, he’s the fraudster. You’re the original. All right. Dennis Charles.

[00:02:32.68] spk_0:
His mother gave him my name. Put it that way.

[00:02:36.04] spk_1:
Yeah, very good. Alright, alright. So leadership are non profits. Not doing a good job bringing up talent from their ranks. What are you seeing, Dennis?

[00:03:07.04] spk_0:
What’s not necessarily that they’re not doing a good job. I just think there’s not a focus that they need tohave here. I mean, I tony, I tell a lot of people that typically today with, you know, Kobe 19 this is the time to do a number of key things. Shopping up your vision, shopping up your board, shopping up your branding flans me. But really, a lot of tension has to be paid to assess your leadership talent from within new organization. I mean, you know this quite well. I’m sure your listeners to is that the thing that makes an organization successful is not the bricks and mortar it’s of people. And we need to invest as much as our in our own people as we possibly can, because there are our future leaders. So it’s really crucial that we take a step up and invest in our leadership development.

[00:03:31.01] spk_1:
How do we distinguish between folks who have leadership potential on dhe? Those who don’t

[00:03:56.64] spk_0:
well, a couple things first and organization really should do is think about what its overall strategic goals or for an organization, and then looking at every position they have in the table of organization as any level of management, whatever one of the conferences that one needs toe have to succeed in that job, particularly if that job becomes available. What we do is that we do an assessment of each leadership person and When I say leadership, I’m not talking about the top level

[00:04:03.53] spk_1:
people. This is not only for CEO. Yeah,

[00:04:48.94] spk_0:
this is for everybody that has a title of supervisor, part time, weekend outreach coordinator. Whatever this is, the leadership of support term for us is the kind of we do an assessment of them to our farm to Alexis. And it really kind of measures core attributes. Um core attributes the things along, the lines of reasoning, ability of people contact their attitude, their sense of urgency will take charge. There’s things like that. They’re competitive. So once you assess their core traits, not court aptitudes core traits, you can then put together a development plan for those core traits and kind of move people on which I’ll happy to explain. But it’s really assessing where someone is and give me a plan of action to develop. So they become for productive and more forceful as a leader going forward.

[00:04:53.54] spk_1:
Do you feel that anybody has leadership potential if they’re if they’re brought along the right way? Or they’re just some folks that are not are not meant to be leaders.

[00:05:03.04] spk_0:
Yeah, Well, listen, you know, there are people I think you can learn to be a leader. I think that I think I learned to be a leader. I think there’s some people that certainly are born probably with certain attributes or genetics that predisposed them towards a leadership position, something sometimes. But I clearly think people can can learn to be a leader and certainly buy things in their environment or things in their life that they have to make choices on. So I think people can develop if they want to. But here’s Brian saying Everybody you have to choose and decide You wanna be a leader And I think there’s a lot of ways of helping people become leadership. But it’s a question, if you wanna, you wanna be a leader. If you wanna be a leader, you wanna be one. Yeah,

[00:05:42.56] spk_1:
all right, that’s true. A lot of folks may not aspire to that. They’re just absolutely don’t know. They don’t want to supervise other people and,

[00:05:49.84] spk_0:
well, you know. And there’s a

[00:05:52.27] spk_1:
place for them as well. Of

[00:05:55.14] spk_0:
course it you and I know that the future and even today I mean we need leadership we need. Teoh is a people business. We’re in and so we need to develop or potential. Those are assets.

[00:06:05.64] spk_1:
Well, I know you chose to be a leader because one of your books is mopping floors to CEO. Yeah, I know you’re you’re chuckling, but that’s your book title.

[00:06:53.64] spk_0:
Yeah. What is it? You know, I I’ve had a successful 35 40 year career, but I started out really difficult challenges. And I did actually my floors when I was, you know, young man and was sort of homeless and went to a very difficult time in life, and and I chose to become a leader, and I ended up becoming a, you know, CEO and had a long term career of 25 years of medical, business and corporate executive and CEO of two hospitals. And I had my own business for 16 years, so I chose to be a leader. Absolutely. But, um, you know, I think that we need to sort of, you know, uh, the issue was also about, um, confidence and developing self confidence to people that they can be leader. And I think you know, most people somewhat lack some level of self conference. Some people, as you know, have too much self confidence and probably not riel, but I think tony to a lot of people. Given the opportunity to experience that chance, I think people will grow with it. I mean, no one gets to be a major league baseball player without starting with Tebow or literally. So. I think that, um, but I just to me is really important. It’s not not something we could do tomorrow. We don’t You could do this without any, almost without any dollar investment. But if we don’t invest in our people and training our people give people a chance to grow and develop. No one stays in a job forever, and it’s really crucial, particularly in any sector. But it’s not public sector, which is really the glue that keeps our communities together through these difficult times. And this is the worst time I can in 100 years, at least for this country, for the world leadership of development. And so what is the what are the benefits? When you tell people that you’ve been selected to be part of a leadership development program, it inspires enthusiasm. The morale goes up, retention goes up. People feel a sense of future

[00:08:11.34] spk_1:
I was just gonna ask you, Do you tell folks that they’re in a leadership pipeline? Leadership will tell someone Way leadership potential in you.

[00:10:00.34] spk_0:
Yeah, I think One of the ways way. Do it. Twofold. One is to start with, just, you know, hopefully everybody has some form of performance evaluation system. So to evaluate people, how they’re performing on those, whatever they might be a those top 20% performers, whatever they have earned the chance to be in sort of. What do you want to call your own organizational, leadership, academy or institute? Whether you have 50 people working with you or 500 people working, too, you want to kind of identify those people based on their performance. Then those people have not made the grade. You could explain to him what you need to do to make the great so you could motivate them to say, Listen, you need to beam or focus on working with others. Well, not just yourself, so you can point out the thing that they need to do to get into that leadership club here. It’s a huge reward to do that, and then obviously there’s a lot of things that one can dio and the types of courses one can take online courses using your own staff as mentors. There’s a whole range of things to focus in on, but clearly there’s a lot of leadership conferences today that we need to use to successfully leader organization. But we didn’t use yesterday, so I’ll give you a couple examples you clearly today more than before, visionary thinking is crucial. Compensate. That has to have, I mean, mission support. Mission focused is crucial but visionary thinking. It’s important relationship building. It’s a simple thing, but clearly how well you can earn people’s trust. Respect your passion for the organization, Emotional intelligence is a huge issue to be able to be able to identify and grow. Used to be I Q. Now it’s like you entrepreneurial spirit, having the ability to understand that today you know most of our funding is not going to come from public sources, and most of our, uh, you know, funding, particularly with Kobe. 19. This the federal government statement cameras. We’re running out of money so don’t dependent on public funding together. But on tomorrow, Spirit Mayor convinced people to invest in your success. That’s it’s fun. You issue of collaboration wth issue of being a motivational leader of vision will be able to be successful succession planner s. So there’s a lot of conferences that people need tohave today and the skills that need to have going forward and not necessarily the skills that led people to success in the past. So today there’s new companies that needed, and we need to encourage people to develop those.

[00:10:47.67] spk_1:
All right, so you can you identify these? I mean, you’re not gonna find somebody who’s got all these competencies? I don’t think, but you’re you want toe identify people who have potential, right? I mean, maybe they they think they think broader, you know, they think market wise. So that gives them a broader a broader perspective. So that’s that’s encouraging on. Maybe they’re on top of that. They work well with others, but you’re not gonna find somebody’s got all these, you know, 68 competencies. Right? But you’re looking for you’re looking for potential in folks, right?

[00:12:29.76] spk_0:
Yeah. Nobody is perfect. Nobody has everything myself included. Clearly what you want to do is focus on where people are at today. So what are their best attributes today and give people enough because there’s thousands and thousands of people every day who are visionary thinkers in our own communities, but give people an opportunity to be exposed to it. So let him explain What? What does it mean to be emotionally intelligent? What does it mean to be able to regulate your own emotions? What does it mean to be able to identify the emotions of others, to make sure that your own emotions are causing, uh, friction within other people? So how do you respond to people’s emotions? So there’s a lot of things one can learn what can learn about governance, what can learn about flan to be what can learn AA lot of things, how to develop goals and follow through and give people an opportunity to it. But if we don’t sort of seed if we don’t seek ways of training, are currently has become better and are potential leaders become even better emerging leaders, we’re gonna be on the show. So we have to focus on as much as we can developing people.

[00:12:32.87] spk_1:
All right, we’ve identified these people, by the way you might hear some background noise. I have some work going on on my deck up above me. So in case you here’s some background sawing or pulling boards up or anything, that’s what’s going on.

[00:12:49.07] spk_0:

[00:13:07.64] spk_1:
z unavoidable. So all right, way to identify these people? How do we invest in them in their futures? Or do we? Is it a matter of sending them toe professional development courses? Is it giving them mentors? Is it broadening their responsibilities in the organization? How do we develop these, these folks?

[00:13:45.84] spk_0:
What’s a couple of things and your questions right on the money. So it’s a every organization. Just as you have a strategic plan and you have a business plan and operating budget plan, you should have a leadership development plan. And what does that mean? Just what you said here. So sometimes you wanna be able to, uh, creators and met the ship. So who would The organization would be a good mentor, Somebody else’s to identify your mentors. Mentors and coaches here identify potentially some their courses or topics that one can teach about sort of through a lunch and learn. Uh, there are. We are firm. We have online courses. We have an online course called How to become a high performing, non profit executive leadership team. A CEO’s guide. The organizational success So you could take this course relative very inexpensive, a tw home in your office on your mobile app. And so there’s ability to interact with that. There are certainly a books one take their certainly things on the website. You can think so, But if you wanna let people put somebody in charge of your leadership development for maybe or HR executive, maybe you’re Cielo. But anybody here? So you want to stop. Wish more of a formal leadership development program, just as you would with anything else here, just as you wouldn’t and you’ve developed. You have a development plan, a fundraising. But how do we get more donors dollars? There’s an effort put into that right. You hire someone, you have a program. We have a plan. You might bring an outside consultant. Focus in on your leadership development the same way here. I think that you can clearly think about this. If you’ve been identified as a potential method that makes you feel good. Also, to know that you’ve been recognized as someone who could be a mentor here, So this has a really, really positive feature here. So if you assess people’s talent, you do have to assess people’s talents based upon their performance and again people our farm. We have something called Alexis, which we measure people’s core attributes and things like that, but certainly, um, development program.

[00:16:02.84] spk_1:
It’s time for a break turn to communications. The world runs on relationships we know this turn to is led by former journalists so that you get help building relationships with journalists when you wanna be heard because there’s breaking news and you wanna show yourself as a thought leader in your field, those relationships are going to help you get heard because journalists are gonna take your calls because they already know you turn to specializes. In working with nonprofits, they understand the community. One of the partners was an editor at The Chronicle of Philanthropy. They’re at turn hyphen two dot c o. Now back to your leadership pipeline with Dennis Miller. Is this a program that’s for individuals? It’s individually tailored or it’s a It’s a leadership or professional development program that is universal for for all all the potential talent we

[00:17:24.24] spk_0:
see, I think as an organization, I think you should have overall organizational, um uh, leadership development plan, just as you would in order overall organization plans. We plan. So overall one. Now, just as you have a plan for annual giving and playing, giving and major gifts and grants things like that and then each person that was that in your employment, each person that’s part of your team should have their own individual sort of plan assessment based upon their own personal. That’s what they need to do. So example here, if they’re assessing, they find that their you know their their reasoning ability as well. They enjoy people contact, but maybe do not take charge. So now you have to find a way to help them build their self conference so they could take charge so each each other, assess each person individually at the same time having any part of the group here. That’s how it works. It’s like coaching sports team. You have a team, you know, whether the Yankees or the Mets or the Dodgers. Whatever. You have a team out there players, but each person is also coach in your position, so that’s how you do it. You

[00:17:24.48] spk_1:
mentioned mentoring could be could be valuable, say a little more about that. I feel like there’s not enough. I feel like it’s not enough attention paid

[00:17:31.90] spk_0:
Thio your your friend or family next, tony. But I think I look at myself here. I mean, telling yourself here, I asked, You know, your listeners, Has anybody ever meant that you have? You had a mentor and I’ve had a number of mentors and they’re just people toe the surrogates and supporters, people that maybe there were role model to you. So someone, you know, that’s that’s probably the best thing if there’s anything that you kind of listen come away from today is is is you know, think about the idea of mentorship just where your organization can. You have people become, you know, become a member.

[00:18:16.94] spk_1:
Let’s let’s talk. Let’s drill down because I’ve had other guests, you know, talk about the value of mentoring. But but and you’ve said you’ve had many mentors, what does it look like? Do you schedule a bi weekly or a monthly? Our together

[00:18:21.86] spk_0:

[00:18:22.22] spk_1:
there’s some banging going on. By the way, you might hear our radio to my my contractor likes, uh, music of the sixties and seventies.

[00:18:32.57] spk_0:
So outside my office to say,

[00:18:33.76] spk_1:
Okay, you got recycling. All right, well, you might hear some credence. Clearwater Revival. Um, hey, if you can hear his music, that’s the There you go here that there you go, pulling that, pulling those deck boards off. All right. So mentoring the details of mentoring. What? How does it work? Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of a strong mentoring relationship, like in your own. In your own example,

[00:18:59.84] spk_0:
I It’s an excellent question, I think. A couple of things here. Thanks. You certainly can. And as an individual, be seeking a mentor. So try to identify someone maybe in your and your neighborhood, maybe in your organization, maybe in your church.

[00:19:17.84] spk_1:
All right.