Ep 119: Your First 90 Days as an Executive Director (with Michael Watkins)

nonprofits are messyThe first 90 days on the job.

You might think this podcast is for someone on their very first day as a new nonprofit executive director. But I want you to think broader than that.

What steps can be taken to ensure success and begin the process of crafting your legacy as a leader, even BEFORE you take on a new role?

In this episode, Michael Watkins, author of “The First 90 Days” (named one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time!) shares key strategies to a successful transition. What are the typical pitfalls and what must a leader really get right in the first three months? Does anything change if you arrive during a crisis, like say… a global pandemic?

Learn the key principles a leader can use to help an organization succeed and thrive, and also what might thwart their success.

Michael Watkins is THE expert on this topic, and I could not be more excited to have him on the podcast.

Continue Reading

Ep. 118: The Growing Charitable Movement That’s Raised a Billion Dollars (with Sara Lomelin)

nonprofits are messyWhen one person makes a donation to a nonprofit, they can make a difference for one organization. Now imagine that you gathered with a group of friends, relatives, colleagues pooling resources, sharing ideas and expertise to make a much larger collective impact in your community.

This is called a giving circle. And it turns out that giving circles are fueling the world of modern philanthropy in a big way. Huge.

How huge? Try 1.3 billion dollars over the past 20 years. Like I said, huge.

Philanthropy Together, a national initiative with a mission to diversify and democratize philanthropy, is led by my guest, Sara Lomelin. By strengthening and scaling the power of giving circles, she and her team are working to challenge the narrative that suggests you need to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist. Each spring and fall, Philanthropy Together hosts Launchpad, a virtual, interactive leadership training program that helps launch giving circles for a diverse group of community leaders from across the country.

Are giving circles the future of philanthropy? And how can you tap into this growing movement? Let’s find out.

Continue Reading

Ep 117: The Hunt for Great Board Members (with Robert Acton and Lalita Badinehal)

nonprofits are messyHave you ever said the words, “I can’t find board members”?

Yup. I know you have. I always respond as if someone has told me they lost their keys. “OK, so where did you see them last?”

The hunt for great board members is often a big pain point. It’s not just that folks don’t recognize the joy and privilege of service but that even those who do may not arrive ready to serve. What do candidates need to understand about the commitment to serve?

You’re about to meet two people who are evangelists for excellent governance and for communicating the opportunity and privilege that comes with board service.

Robert Acton is the Principal and Founder of Cause Strategy Partners, BoardLead, and BoardLearn. Lalita Badinehal is a Corporate Citizenship, Inclusion, Diversity, and Employee Experience Executive at Credit Suisse. Our conversation today revolves around the elements in building strong boards.

BoardLead is a matchmaker. When an organization submits an application, BoardLead looks to place talented professionals with carefully vetted nonprofits by looking for community impact, strong leadership, and a commitment to deliver around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

BoardLearn is an educational platform to prepare their candidates for effective board service and to drive impact. Their approach to training new board members comes from a place of abundance, not scarcity, and includes a mix of cheerleading and scaring.

Credit Suisse partnered with BoardLead to recruit, place, train and support high impact board service. Listen to how they work together and how they measure success.

Continue Reading

Ep 116: The Most Important Piece of Diversity Work: Belonging (with Neha Sampat)

nonprofits are messyConsider two different dinner parties.

At the first you’ve got like-minded folks who know each other well. It’s comfortable. Affirming.

The second is more diverse. Age, race, politics, class, life experience, you name it. The conversation is messy, the voices raised. You don’t agree with everything but it does leave you thinking. You drive home and realize you had to confront an implicit bias.

And you know what? That second one was a great dinner party.

This is what I think of when I think of the power of diversity. Our world, my journey through it is enriched by the diversity of folks around me.

My guest today, Neha Sampat, is CEO and founder of GenLead|BelongLab where she focuses on building belonging and true inclusion.

What is belonging? Here’s a clue – it’s not just fitting in. Belonging requires being seen, understood and valued without needing to change yourself.

To foster belonging we cannot make assumptions. We need to ask the right questions and make the right efforts to build a bridge between leadership and everyone in the organization. That’s how organizations gain visibility into otherwise hidden barriers to belonging such as Imposter Syndrome and internalized bias and the daily microaggressions that the most underrepresented may experience.

Neha suggests we start by shifting our perspective from believing we are do-gooders to accepting that even good people have biases.

About Neha Sampat

Neha Sampat, Esq. is CEO and founder of GenLead|BelongLab, where she focuses on building belonging and true inclusion. Through consulting, training, speaking, and writing, she helps organizations create peak‐performance, inclusive teams by addressing hidden barriers to belonging, such as Imposter Syndrome and internalized bias, unconscious bias, generational diversity, distrust in teams, and wellness challenges. She is a nationally sought-after expert on disrupting Imposter Syndrome and internalized bias and runs the top-rated “Owning Your Value” online course to develop inclusive leadership.

In her work, Neha leverages her experience working as an attorney at both large and boutique law firms as well as her tenure as dean of students and leadership professor. Neha’s insights have been featured in Time Magazine, ABA Journal, Attorney at Work, ABA Law Practice Today, Thrive Global, News India Times, the Heels of Justice podcast, the Resilient Lawyer podcast, the GenWhy Lawyer podcast, the Leaders Love Company podcast, Talent Think Tank, and other professional publications. Neha holds BAs in Sociology and Political Science from University of Illinois at Urbana‐ Champaign, obtained her JD from UC Berkeley School of Law, received her Certificate in Graduate Applied Psychology from Golden Gate University, and is certified in Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI), Hogan Development Survey (HDS), and Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory (MVPI). Neha works across industry, from Pixar to Perkins Coie LLP, and UC Berkeley to City of San Leandro. You can read more of Neha’s insights at blog.genlead.co, follow her on TW/IG/FB at @belonglab, and reach her directly at neha@genlead.co

Continue Reading

Ep 115: Taking Nonprofits From Good to Great – Part 2 (with Jim Collins)

nonprofits are messyWelcome to part II of my two part conversation with Jim Collins. In this second part, we discuss how to navigate uncertainty, disruption and chaos. Pretty timely, no?

We continue to explore the question of why some organizations thrive in uncertainty and chaos and others do not, using the research and principles in the book Great by Choice.

Jim and I talk about The Terra Nova Expedition, a story of two teams of polar explorers who in 1910-1913 went to Antarctica to reach the South Pole. Both were under the same harsh conditions. One team never made it back. Why? Collins contends that the successful team employed key leadership behaviors and approaches, and they map perfectly to what a modern day organization needs to do to survive and thrive. Lots to learn here.

If you are hungry to change the world it just might be you need a healthy dose of fanatical discipline, empirical creativity and productive paranoia. “What’s all that about?” you ask. Jim will tell you all about that and why you need to create a “do NOT do” list.

About Jim Collins

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. He has authored or coauthored six books that have together sold 10+ million copies worldwide, including Good to Great, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall, Great by Choice, and his most recent work Turning the Flywheel published in February 2019.
Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. In 2017, Forbes selected Jim as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds. Jim, an avid rock climber for more than forty years, has completed single-day ascents of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite Valley.

Continue Reading

Ep 114: What If Fundraising De-Emphasized the Donor? (with Vu Le and Michelle Muri)

nonprofits are messyThere are those who believe that the donor-centric fundraising model may be perpetuating the very inequity we seek to address in the nonprofit sector.

One such person is Vu Le, writer, speaker, and former Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice. He believes there’s a better way – community-centric fundraising.

Vu is joined on today’s podcast by Michelle Shireen Muri, strategic advisor and consulting coach who co-chairs The Council for Community-Centric Fundraising, a movement founded on the belief that fundraising should be first and foremost grounded in race, equity and social justice.

This podcast will challenge you to examine and think deeply about your relationship with donors and will define and elaborate on the principles of community-centric fundraising.

About Vu Le

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and was the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. Known for his no-BS approach, irreverent sense of humor, and love of unicorns, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts at NonprofitAF.com, formerly nonprofitwithballs.com. Vu does keynotes, panels, and other speaking gigs and can talk about a variety of subjects: funding dynamics, cultural competency, self-care, unicorns, and what Game of Thrones can teach us about the nonprofit field. Has a spouse and 2 kids. Stepped down from Rainier Valley Corps to focus on writing. Stepped down as ED in December because of burnout and desire to spend more time with family and other endeavors. Maintains an active blog at Nonprofit AF.

About Michelle Shireen Muri

Michelle Shireen Muri is a strategic advisor, collaborator, fundraiser and coach at Freedom Conspiracy, Co-Chair of The Council for Community-Centric Fundraising and host of The Ethical Rainmaker, a new podcast, coming soon!

Ignited by a beautiful volunteer experience, Michelle has crafted her career through 15 years of resource generation through social justice movements. Her successes and tenure at Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, now the largest immigrant rights org in the nation, gave her a critical lens towards fundraising and a deep love of community solidarity.

She believes there is deep power and personal healing in the work of generating resources from a values-aligned space.

Credentials: Board Member, Sexual Violence Law Center, Fellow, Sergeant Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Washington Equal Justice Community Leadership Academy, Fellow, NYU Wagner School of Public Service Women of Color Lead The Way Fellowship

Continue Reading

Ep 113: Taking Nonprofits From Good to Great – Part 1 (with Jim Collins)

nonprofits are messyMy guest today, best selling author Jim Collins, literally wrote the book on how to navigate a path from good to great and I could not be more excited to have him on the podcast!

In fact, I believe that Jim’s monograph, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, should be put in the hands of every new executive director and board chair.

I talk about this short book all the time in the Nonprofit Leadership Lab, my online education and community portal for leaders of smaller nonprofits, and it’s required reading for my class at The Annenberg School at UPenn in Nonprofit Communications Strategy. I make sure all of my clients read it too.

Jim joins me today to explain the principles of greatness and what’s unique about them in social sector organizations. His stance on creating a culture of discipline is truly transformational. Crisis can bring an organization together and create focus on what matters – or it can bring doom and gloom. Which camp does your organization fall into?

What choices would a nonprofit need to make, and what kind of leadership would it demand, to emerge from this crisis stronger?

You won’t want to miss this podcast to ignite your mission flame.

About Jim Collins

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. He has authored or coauthored six books that have together sold 10+ million copies worldwide, including Good to Great, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall, Great by Choice, and his most recent work Turning the Flywheel published in February 2019.
Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. In 2017, Forbes selected Jim as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds. Jim, an avid rock climber for more than forty years, has completed single-day ascents of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite Valley.

Continue Reading

Ep 112: What Foundations Are Thinking Right Now (with Caryl M. Stern)

nonprofits are messyYou know that old saying, “May you live in interesting times”?

Yeah, about that….

The times have been terrifying and surreal. In particular for those of us that fall into the category of “older Americans with underlying conditions.” Yeah, people like me.

But hope is medicine. And I find hope in the work of the nonprofit leaders I am privileged to serve. The juxtaposition of your immense struggles (read: funding, resources) and the exponential need for your work is like nothing I have ever seen.

I could tell stories for days of small and mighty nonprofits that are delivering against all odds – with resilience, creativity, collaboration and sheer grit.

That said, I get it. So many of you are struggling. Facing crises that are existential. Will we make it?

I wanted to know what funders, especially foundations, are thinking at this time. I’m imagining program officers inundated with requests for emergency grants.

And so I spoke with the Executive Director of the Walton Family Foundation, Caryl Stern. In 2018 this foundation awarded nearly $600 million(!) in grants with a focus on the environment, K-12 education and the place the Waltons call home, Northwest Arkansas. The foundation invests around the world, on farms and back yards, and in the kids who are the future.

For all of you nonprofit superheroes with tattered capes, this conversation is for you.

About Caryl M. Stern

Caryl M. Stern is the executive director of the Walton Family Foundation. Previously, she was president and CEO of UNICEF USA. A dynamic change-maker, Caryl has dedicated her career to helping others through education, compassion, advocacy and rolling up her sleeves. For 12 years, she served as president and CEO of UNICEF USA, an organization that supports UNICEF’s lifesaving work to put children first.

Caryl has traveled to more than 30 countries in support of UNICEF’s work and has spearheaded UNICEF USA’s emergency relief efforts for children affected by disasters, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 East Africa drought, the Ebola and Zika epidemics and the ongoing global refugee and migrant crisis.

A sought-after public speaker on the topics of Kids Helping Kids, children and philanthropy, anti-bullying and international development, Caryl was invited to present at the White House’s inaugural summit on The United State of Women and was named one of “25 Women Changing the World in 2017” by People Magazine, “20 Most Influential Moms of 2017” by Family Circle, “25 Moms We Love” by Working Mother Magazine and “Ten Women to Watch” by Jewish Women International.

She serves on the boards of directors of The Container Store and the We Are Family Foundation. In addition, Caryl is a member of the Advisory Board of Chime for Change and a trustee of The World’s Big Sleep Out. Prior to joining UNICEF USA, Caryl was an executive at the Anti-Defamation League, the founding director of it’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute, and the Dean of Students at Polytechnic University.

Caryl is an activist, author, executive, public speaker, mother of three and grandmother of two.

Continue Reading

Ep 111: Once Upon a Time There Was a Fundraiser Who… (with Dan Portnoy)

nonprofits are messyJust for a moment, imagine what it would mean for your organization if you could double your online fundraising next year. I’m thinking it would increase your impact for sure. Sounds pretty great.

So how do you do that?

My guest, Dan Portnoy, says you start with a good story. Dan is the author of The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World and is the founder of Portnoy Media Group.

In the episode, Dan teaches us how to effectively use the framework of the hero’s journey to achieve phenomenal fundraising results.

If you want to improve your fundraising over the next year, you’ll want to pay attention.

About Dan Portnoy

Dan is the founder of Portnoy Media Group and the author of The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World. For over two decades, Dan has worked with the toughest outposts of Fortune 500 companies to get them back on track with big results. He is a sought after to help flesh out ideas, coach teams, and lead senior staff through the digital age. He is a story expert and builds narratives that remove the barriers between traditional cultivation and acquisition.

Continue Reading

Ep 110: How to Have Difficult Conversations – Part 2 (with Sheila Heen)

nonprofits are messyThere sure are a lot of difficult conversations happening right now. All over the place. We learned all about how to approach them in part 1 of this 2-part episode.

Today, we’ll dig deeper into a critical component of a productive difficult conversation. Receiving feedback.

Receiving feedback can be especially difficult, particularly when you think it’s not deserved. Not needed. Not wanted.

But if you won’t listen, nothing will change. And conversely, if you’re the one giving the feedback, your listener won’t be open to what you’re saying if they’re feeling judged. If you don’t approach it the right way.

Remember, the goal in these conversations isn’t to “be right”. It’s to affect change in some way. To improve something that’s been going on.

My guest, consultant and author Sheila Heen, discusses three triggers that can help us process feedback productively, even when it feels “off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood”.

About Sheila Heen

Sheila is a Founder of Triad Consulting Group and has been on the Harvard Law School faculty since 1995. Sheila’s corporate clients include Pixar, Hugo Boss, the NBA, the Federal Reserve Bank, Ford, Novartis, AT&T and numerous family businesses. She often works with executive teams, helping them to work through conflict, repair working relationships, and make sound decisions together.

In the public sector she has also provided training for the New England Organ Bank, the Singapore Supreme Court, the Obama White House, and theologians struggling with disagreement over the nature of truth and God. Sheila has spent more than twenty years with the Harvard Negotiation Project, developing negotiation theory and practice. She specializes in particularly difficult negotiations – where emotions run high and relationships become strained.

Sheila is co-author of two New York Times bestsellers: Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (Penguin 2nd ed 2010), and the recently released Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Even When It’s Off Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood) (Penguin 2014).

She has written for the Harvard Business Review, for the New York Times as a guest expert and as a Modern Love writer. Sheila has appeared on shows as diverse as Oprah and the G. Gordon Liddy show, NPR, Fox News, and CNBC’s Power Lunch. She has spoken at the Global Leadership Summit, Nordic Business Forum, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Harvard Negotiation Journal, and Real Simple.

Sheila is a graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles, and Harvard Law School. She is schooled in negotiation daily by her three children.

In this Podcast:

  • I am so skillful in giving feedback, why can’t you hear me?
  • Is feedback always judgmental?
  • What are the three triggers and why does it matter to recognize them?
  • Three different types of feedback with distinct purposes
  • What if the person evaluating me doesn’t know me well enough?
  • What if as an E.D. I am not crushing my job because I have a weak board chair?Continue Reading