Ep 52: Personal Politics vs. Public Responsibilities (with Anne Wallestad)

nonprofits are messyEvery person who joins a board comes with opinions and points of view. But what happens when your responsibility to your organization as a board member conflicts with your personal politics? Should you keep it to yourself?

A recent controversy at the American Museum of Natural History in New York has brought these questions front and center, and I found the perfect guest to bring onto the podcast to discuss this topic – Anne Wallestad, the President and CEO of BoardSource.

BoardSource is all about nonprofit governance. They’re the go to resource for 115,000 nonprofit boards and leaders to help advance public good through a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Together, we discuss the importance of strong values in leadership, and we get into how the personal views of board members (and that of its members) relate to the needs of the organization — with an important distinction between those who have a decision making role and those who do not.

We also discuss recruitment strategies and vetting processes for finding people with great leadership potential, focusing on values in the context of the organization’s mission.

About Anne Wallestad – President & CEO of BoardSource

Anne has 20 years of executive leadership experience in the nonprofit sector and was appointed President & CEO of BoardSource in 2013. BoardSource is an organization that trains and educates nonprofit leaders at the highest level – the board – providing tools, resources, and research data to increase board effectiveness and strengthen organizational impact. Under her leadership BoardSource has expanded its voice and built a scalable model of program delivery that has resulted in a more than 200 percent growth in the number of leaders served.

She played an instrumental role in the launch of several new leadership initiatives including the Stand for Your Mission campaign. Ann also has deep expertise in fundraising strategy and leveraging the board’s fundraising role.

Anne has been honored as one of The Nonprofit Times’ “Power & Influence Top 50.”

In this episode

  • Are diversity of thought, independent mindedness, and a culture of inquiry assets or liabilities on a board?
  • What a dynamic mission statement looks like and how it can help you when you are a champion of the mission but disagree with the organization’s strategy.
  • The specific difference it makes when there is clarity around decision-making power within an organization.
  • How signing up for a board makes members vocal and visible champions of the mission of the organization.
  • The board’s role in leadership, strategy, oversight, planning and prioritizing for impact
  • Should a political litmus test be something you weigh up against a donor’s contributions?
  • What is the difference between policy response and responding to a specific situation when under fire.

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Ep 51: A Symphony of Shared Leadership (with Jim Roe and Bernard Labadie)

nonprofits are messy

One of my fundamental beliefs about nonprofits is that when done right, power is shared between two co-pilots – the Executive Director and the board chair.

But there are exceptions. For example, how should power be shared at an arts organization where there is a creative director who is, perhaps, the most important leader of all?

Today, I invited Jim Roe and Bernard Labadie onto the podcast. Jim is the President and Executive Director and Bernard the Artistic Director of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. And they have a very successful shared leadership model.

The most common model at arts organizations like the Orchestra of St. Luke’s is that the staff reports to the CEO and the principal conductor has a whole lot of power through artistic leadership. However, the vision of these two co-pilots may or may not be aligned.

So, who’s in charge anyway?

My guests discuss the realities around their roles and the intersection of strategy and artistic vision. They explain where their energies should be focused, and how the synergy results in a model for shared leadership that not only really works for them, but ultimately results in a beautiful symphony.

About James Roe and Bernard Labadie

JAMES ROE, President and Executive Director

James Roe’s career spans three-decades in classical music. He joined Orchestra of St. Luke’s as President & Executive Director in November 2015, having previously served as President & CEO of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Roe enjoyed a performance career that included roles with NJSO, Zéphyros Winds, American Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s. From 1996 until 2013, Roe served as Executive and Artistic Director of the Helicon Foundation.

BERNARD LABADIE, Artistic Director

Bernard Labadie joined Orchestra of St. Luke’s as Artistic Director in 2017. He has established himself worldwide as a leading conductor of Baroque and Classical repertoire, a reputation closely tied to his work as Founding Conductor of Les Violons du Roy and La Chapelle de Québec. In 2016, Bernard Labadie received the Samuel de Champlain award in Paris. He was honored with a 2005 appointment as Officer of the Order of Canada and his home province named him a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Québec in 2006.

In this episode

  • Maintaining balance when the conductor creates art and the CEO manages the organization
  • How does an arts organization address and share strategic leadership?
  • How does the reporting structure affect governance?
  • What should the dynamic of this relationship look like at its best?
  • Who is on the board?
  • Who gets to be involved in official policy?
  • What happens when you bring in outsiders and the different energies clash?

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Ep 50: Why Bartenders Make Great Leaders (with Helen Rothberg)

nonprofits are messy

What can a bartender teach us about leadership?

Well, my guest today isn’t just a bartender, but also an acclaimed author, professor, consultant, and leadership trainer. Busy woman!

Using a leadership model conveyed around the acronym ADVICE, Dr. Helen Rothberg, Professor, Marist School of Management and Author of The Perfect Mix: Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned as a Bartender teaches us how leaders can inspire others (hint: it starts by looking inward.)

Based on the lessons she learned from working as a bartender while pursuing degrees in business and behavioral science, Dr. Rothberg identifies leaders by a cocktail of choices they make. We discuss the difference between being a manager and being a leader.

Some of those choices also happen behind a bar; such as how to approach obstacles, the tone set in ones work environment, facilitating groups and connections, managing conflict, adapting to current realities, and much, much more.

I found our conversation helped me look at leadership in a brand new way.

About Helen Rothberg

Helen bartended in New York City throughout her academic career and her unique brand of training is rooted in that experience. Today, she is a leadership trainer at Fortune 500 companies, small technology start-ups, and nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Rothberg has a dual-degree in business and behavioral science, and is professor of strategy at the School of Management at Marist College, senior faculty at the Academy of Competitive Intelligence, and president of consulting firm HNR Associates.

She lives in Orange County, NY, with her husband, dog, cat, and several part-time goats. She still makes a mean cocktail. Not coincidentally, she is the author of The Perfect Mix: Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned As A Bartender.

In this episode:

  • The “cocktail of leadership”
  • Helen uses the acronym ADVICE to easily remember the key attributes of a great leader. We discuss what that means and how to use it.
  • The ways a bartender’s “barback” is a lot like a nonprofit leadership support staff
  • How the best way to lead others is to first learn how to lead yourself

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Ep 49: How To Make 2018 a Whole Lot Better

nonprofits are messy

Good riddance, 2017!

For many of us, this past year was challenging. I myself faced personal and professional challenges that I would have never seen coming including, but not limited to, my wife’s emergency plastic surgery at Dilworth Facial Plastic Surgery center.

But now it’s time to think ahead to 2018. What can we do to make this year a whole lot better? What is within our control (and what do we need to relinquish control of) to become more well rounded people, more effective and empathetic leaders who empower others to also be their best selves.

This podcast is about resolving to bounce back – victories and challenges notwithstanding. It’s about living in a world of unease while keeping your passion and desire to improve it — alive and well.

In this episode, I share, not resolutions but, “15 things worth a shot in 2018”. These non-resolutions have three things in common. They are doable, universal, and meaningful.

In this episode:

  • Why you should listen to people you disagree with
  • A great way to get more buy-in
  • Are you guilty of lateral violence?
  • How can you use data to guide your decisions?
  • Why Elsa, the princess in Frozen, had it right
  • Why I just can’t get enough of Kermit the Frog

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Ep 48: Building a Culture of Gratitude

nonprofits are messy

Expressing gratitude is something that many people only do at certain times a year (if it gets done at all.)

A strong leader builds an organizational culture of gratitude. But how? And when?

In this episode, six Executive Directors – each of them leaders of small-to-midsize organizations and members of the Nonprofit Leadership Lab – highlight the importance of expressing appreciation year round and offer examples of how to do just that.

About My Guests

Debra Porta is Executive Director of Pride Northwest in Portland, Oregon.  Their mission is to encourage and celebrate the positive diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans communities, and to assist in the education of all people through the development of activities that showcase the history, accomplishments, and talents of these communities.

Hermione Malone (PRONOUNCED: her-me-on) serves as Executive Director for Good Work Network, a New Orleans-based small business development and technical assistance provider with a mission of serving as a catalyst for women- and minority-owned business success. Hermione has also worked as a professional journalist for numerous U.S.-based newspapers. The mission of Good Work Network is to serve as a catalyst for minority- and women-owned business success. They help entrepreneurs start, grow and succeed.

Laurie Rovin is Executive Director of A Child’s Haven in Greenville, South Carolina. She was born and raised in Maryland and relocated to Greenville SC in 1992. A Child’s Haven’s mission is to provide treatment to children with developmental delays and behavioral challenges AND support to their families.  

Mary Jacob is Executive Director of Families Helping Families of Jefferson is located in Harahan, Louisiana. Families Helping Families of Jefferson is a family directed resource center connecting and educating parents of children with disabilities and adults with disabilities.  Free of charge, they  teach parents and adults with disabilities how to advocate, navigate support systems, and find joy, hope, and success in spite of challenges.

Kevin Gibbons is the Executive Director and Cofounder of Health Access Connect. He is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Philippines, 2004-07). Health Access Connect links Ugandans in remote areas with healthcare. They use micro-financed motorcycle taxis to set up monthly one-day clinics in remote villages. It’s their way of providing healthcare while also helping someone to start a small business.

Laura Jaworski is Executive Director of the House of Hope Community Development Corporation in Warwick, Rhode Island. In November 2016, Laura was appointed the second-ever executive director. House of Hope Community Development Corporation  is a non-profit affordable housing and homeless services provider. Founded in 1989 in Warwick, Rhode Island, their mission is to end the personal and social trauma of homelessness.

In this episode:

  • Creating a culture of celebration, communication, gratitude, and appreciation
  • Building non-transactional relationships with donors
  • Acknowledging volunteers by being genuine and prompt
  • Providing tools for colleagues to visibly and pictorially show recognition to each other on a daily basis
  • Providing time off when monetary compensation is limited
  • Sending handwritten notes in addition to electronic thank yous
  • Sharing data with donors to express how meaningful their contributions are
  • Meeting with big donors and staff personally whenever possible
  • Using social media not only to raise funds but to show gratitude and share stories
  • Asking for advice as a means to show gratitude
  • Showing appreciation by being prepared, honest and present
  • Saying something appreciative to each person directly

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Ep 47: How to Engage Millennials (with Abra Annes)

nonprofits are messy

Donor bases are aging and anyone who’s had any contact with the next generation knows they do everything differently. They call for rides with apps, find roommates through online services, order coffee with their phones. It’s a different world.

So how do we engage millennials and get them to support causes we care about, and that we hope they care about too? The good news: these young people really do care… and it’s possible to reach them without spending a great deal of money.

About Abra Annes

My guest today is not only a millennial herself; she is also the founder of Generosity Auctions and one of the top female charity auctioneers in the business.

Abra Annes has raised over $100 million for nonprofits nationwide and has served on numerous boards, but her real passion is getting nonprofits and boards to make the changes necessary to engage millennials and bring them into their organizations. I’ll give you a hint: it involves technology.

Hear what Abra has to say about how to reach out to the next generation of nonprofit leaders and givers.

In this episode:

  • Four strategies that work to engage millennials
  • The best ways to use social media
  • How to get interaction on media platforms
  • The importance of linking up with influencers
  • Video is the most important of all media – use it!
  • Smart technology and virtual reality
  • How the technology can pay for itself… yes, really!!

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Ep 46: Strategic Program Design (with Lindsay Hoffman)

nonprofits are messy

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome, or “BSOS.” Ever experience it?

When it comes to programs, BSOS is when nonprofits neglect their current (probably underfunded) programming because they are distracted by the newest and shiniest programming. And when that happens, big opportunities can be missed.

Today we’re going to talk about strategic program design with Lindsay Hoffman.

About Lindsay Hoffman

Lindsay is a nonprofit consultant with a 14-year background helping organizations with strategic planning, program design and planning, and fund development.

Lindsay spent 5 years as a Senior Vice President of Program Development at Seedco and was Managing Director of Institutional Development at GMHC. She has designed programs and then found funding for them.

Lindsay has directly secured over $145 million for nonprofit causes. I think she has the perfect balance of knowledge to guide us through this topic. Don’t listen to this one while driving — you’ll want to take notes.

In this episode:

  • How to keep focus and avoid Bright Shiny Object Syndrome
  • How to evaluate if ideas are actually GOOD ideas
  • Whose responsibility is it to put the meat on the bones of a program?
  • Lindsay’s “Quick Win” to turn an idea into something tangible for a potential funder on short notice
  • Building “Human-centered” program design into your ongoing work
  • The benefits of starting small

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Ep 45: The Final 60 Days of the Year (with Seth Rosen)

nonprofits are messy

Where has the year gone?!

With October now in the rear view mirror, most nonprofit board members, Executive Directors and (especially) development staff are facing down the barrel of (less than) the final 60 days remaining to raise funds before the year is over.

That can be daunting, I know. But I’ve got someone on today’s podcast who will help you sort it out and make the most of these 2 months… and maybe set you up for the upcoming year too!

About Seth Rosen

My guest is fundraising expert, Seth Rosen. Seth is a development guru, former client, and colleague. He is an attorney and currently works in development for Lambda Legal.

Seth has raised millions of dollars both domestically and internationally, so he knows what he’s talking about. He has decades of experience working for a law school, he’s raised money to end malaria, and was the development director for the oldest and largest organization fighting HIV and AIDS, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

If anyone knows the pressure you’re under as you approach year’s end, it’s Seth. And he’s here to help.

In this episode:

  • What you should have already done by now
  • The 2 most important things you need to start doing today
  • Who’s really on your team and what are their roles during this time of year?
  • What to do even if the seeds haven’t been planted over the last 10 months
  • How to make the most of year-end fundraising if your organization has little (or no) development staff
  • What about Giving Tuesday?
  • How to get board members more involved in the final 60 days

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Ep 44: The Executive Director With No Staff (with Sarah Audet)

nonprofits are messy

Nonprofit leaders struggle constantly with getting it all done.

Fundraising. Managing boards. Wrangling volunteers. Keeping an eye on cash flow. Hiring and managing staff. Recruiting new board members. And, oh yeah, maybe we’ll throw strategic planning in on top of that.

Let’s face it – these jobs can feel completely undoable. Everyone is overworked and stretched too thin.

Now I want you to think about all that work and I want you to imagine that you actually have to do it all by yourself. Imagine that you are the only staff person in your organization. What would that look like? I wanted to know.

And so I invited Sarah Audet onto the podcast. Sarah is the Executive Director of Dinners With Love and the only staff member. She’s also one of the charter members of the Nonprofit Leadership Lab, my online community, support, and education portal designed especially to help smaller nonprofits.

We talk about how exactly she manages this, how she plans to grow, the difference the Nonprofit Leadership Lab has made for her personally and for her organization, and so much more.

About Sarah Audet

Sarah Audet is the Executive Director of Dinners With Love, an organization that partners hospice agencies with local restaurants to care for hospice patients and their families by providing free, delivered meals.

For many years prior to joining Dinners With Love in 2015, Sarah worked in higher education, assisting administrators with research, communications, and project management. She has worked on projects addressing a broad spectrum of social and educational issues, including sustainable living and diversity & inclusion. In addition to serving as Dinners With Love’s Executive Director, Sarah is a nonprofit communications and board development consultant. She is a graduate of Middlebury College and earned her Master of Education at Northeastern University. Originally from Maine, Sarah is now a Vermonter-for-life in Bridport with her husband Nathan, their daughter Margo, and a herd of dairy cows.

In this episode:

  • How to craft a “home run” elevator pitch
  • A day in the life of a “no-staff” Executive Director
  • Can it actually be easier to not have any staff?
  • At single-staff nonprofits, is the role of the board any different?
  • The key to successful engagement and management of volunteers
  • What does it take for a solo-staff nonprofit to grow?
  • The value of joining the Nonprofit Leadership Lab
  • Why it’s so important to follow the Lab’s “Nonprofit Success Path”
  • What Sarah has implemented from the Nonprofit Leadership Lab
  • Sarah’s feelings about being a member of the Lab

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Ep 43: Nonprofits, Storytelling, and ‘This American Life’ (with Alex Blumberg)

nonprofits are messy

In this episode, I’m honored and excited to have the opportunity to interview Alex Blumberg, a former producer of the uber-popular public radio show, This American Life and the founder of Gimlet Media. The main topic of our conversation? Storytelling.

Stories are core to what make us human. Mastering storytelling is certainly a primary key to becoming a successful nonprofit. And yet, when doing the research for my book, I discovered that the topic of storytelling was largely missing from most other books on nonprofit leadership.

I think that’s a mistake. So I decided to write an entire chapter on the subject.

And so it was terrific to have an opportunity to discuss the power of stories with one of the great storytellers of our time. We discussed how important it is to be able to tell the story of your nonprofit in a compelling way that brings it to life for potential donors, advocates, and your own staff and board members.

About Alex Blumberg

Alex Blumberg is the CEO and co-founder of Gimlet Media. Blumberg is an award-winning radio journalist known for his work as a producer on the wildly popular podcasts This American Life and Planet Money. Blumberg was a co-founder of Planet Money and hosted the first season of the podcast Startup.

Prior to Gimlet, Alex had a long career in public radio where he learned the ins and outs of the nonprofit world.

Blumberg’s work has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including the Polk, the duPont-Columbia and the Peabody. His award-winning documentary on the housing crisis, The Giant Pool of Money, which he co-reported and produced with Adam Davidson, was named one of the last decade’s top ten works of journalism by the Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism and New York University.

Blumberg co-founded Planet Money with Adam Davidson. Through podcasts, radio stories, documentaries, and blog posts, Planet Money delivers economic journalism in a fresh, accessible, humorous and yet hard-hitting way. Blumberg executive produced the interactive project Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt, which won almost every major online award including an Emmy.

Blumberg also served as executive producer on the television version of This American Life, which aired on the Showtime network. The show earned rave reviews from almost every major market television critic. It won three Emmy Awards, including the award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series.

Throughout his extensive career in audio journalism, Blumberg has done radio documentaries covering such diverse topics as life aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier, teenage Steve Forbes supporters and prisoners staging a production of Hamlet. Blumberg has been a featured guest on Meet the Press and other television programs. He lives with his wife and two children in Brooklyn, New York.

In this episode:

  • The key elements of a good story
  • The poison of jargon
  • Typical mistakes we all make when we try to tell a story
  • How to really bring your nonprofit work to life
  • What leadership looks like at a thriving organization – nonprofit or for-profit
  • How nonprofits and startups are similar

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