Nobody Warned Me About the “Executive Director 20”!

I knew what she meant the moment she hit “post.”

executive director stress

If you’re unfamiliar with the “freshman 15,” it’s all about that first year of college…. Too much pizza and beer. A lot of stress. And 15 pounds gained.

So this is the “Executive Director 20”.

Nothing in the Thriving Nonprofit Facebook group (my free Facebook group for nonprofit staff and board leaders which you can join here) has ever struck a chord quite like this. 371 likes and counting.

Plus, more than 80 folks weighed in with comments (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.) I have a feeling they’ll resonate with you.

  • “Per year?”
  • “Or the one meal per 14 hour day which may be at 9 pm and will be fast food, because it’s easy and you’re starving. The rest is sugar and caffeine.”
  • “Grrreaattt. another job perk!”
  • “It’s all the drinking”
  • “Make it 40 for me!”
  • “Totally real. I think it’s from being chained to the desk for 40+ hours per week, stress, and being to tired to cook good food when I get home. Chipotle has been very accommodating since this job started.”
  • “Don’t forget the ED blood pressure meds & antidepressant lol or is that just me?”
  • “For me, first time ED following the founder… ED 35, migraines, bronchitis, six months chronic back pain, some other stuff I can’t remember. Trying to get some sort of handle on managing the stress and pressure, and loneliness.”
  • “The comments on this thread are crazy. I really thought it was just me.”

While some of these comments illustrate the sense of humor that I really appreciate in nonprofit leaders, others border on heartbreaking. Folks are working their asses off (hope I’m not offending anyone but that feels like the real deal phrase) and working themselves into the ground.

I get it. I know I work too hard too. Just the other day I wrote the words “self care” and for some reason my iPhone autocorrected to “self scare”.

Clearly, many of you are stressed out beyond all reason. It’s not healthy and it’s not good.

But what can we do about it?

This topic is a big part of my upcoming free workshop, How to Build a Thriving Nonprofit, which starts on April 17. After all, you can’t thrive if you’re overwhelmed, stressed out, or if you feel completely alone. If you’re feeling those things, I invite you to please reserve a spot so I can help you.

I also want to say a few things about this here in the blog that I hope will help.

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Ep 54: The 15-Year-Old Nonprofit Superhero (with Kayla & Andrea Abramowitz)


Kayla Abramowitz is AMAZING. At 11 years old, she founded a nonprofit that helps sick kids feel a whole lot better. In this episode, Kayla and her CEO-mom share what they’ve learned over the last 4 years running their nonprofit, and provide some well-earned wisdom for every nonprofit founder out there.

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It’s Time to Stop Using This Word

join a board

Can I ask you to stop for just two minutes and think about something? I want you to consider joining a nonprofit board.

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Small Nonprofits Are Anything But Small

small nonprofits

Leading a small nonprofit can be especially challenging. Come join my free online workshop called “How to Build a Thriving Nonprofit” on April 17, 2018.

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Board Retreats Done Right

board retreat

Think about your last board retreat. You’ve invested all this time and money. Your board members gave up a Friday night and full day on Saturday. And yet, just months later, they can barely even remember the agenda, much less any outcomes. Wow. This is NOT OK! Here’s how to do a whole lot better.

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Ep 53: Asking for Money Isn’t Sexy… But Philanthropy Is (with Claire Axelrad)

Neuroscientists confirm that when somebody gives a donation, it lights up the same part of the brain as having sex or eating chocolate. So why does fundraising give so many adults the creeps? And how to you build a culture of philanthropy where everyone understands how they can effectively contribute?

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The Case of the Board Member Hunt

One of the most common requests I get is, “Help me find board members.” Here’s how to do that.

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