Whether you are a veteran, active duty, or never served in the military, this episode has something for every nonprofit professional. Those who never served will enjoy a crash course in military leadership and explore possible biases about veterans as employees (or bosses). Veterans and active duty listeners will gain valuable insight about transitioning into the nonprofit sector.
More than 100,000 Americans leave the military every year, and they represent a broad swathe of Americans. Some made a career of military service, rising through the ranks. Others served a just a few years and left for civilian life. But all of them left with the benefits from military: leadership skills, occupation training, and physical fitness.
When most people transition to civilian life, they have to look for meaningful work – often for the first time in their adult life. While the transition can be daunting, veterans wanting to work in the nonprofit sector offer a lot of transferable skills, as well as a few unique challenges.
This week on the podcast, we spoke with Retired Colonel Lora L. Tucker. Lora enlisted in the Army as a young person and was quickly identified for Officer Candidate School. Her military career spanned interesting and challenging assignments, and she retired with a strong desire to use her talents in the nonprofit sector.
She successfully transitioned into nonprofit leadership, and has served as CEO of two different nonprofits. Currently the CEO of CenterLink, a national organization for LGBTQ Centers, Lora shared her thoughts and strategies for a successful transition for those leaving the military.
Our conversation included a deep dive on building organizational culture and leadership to help nonprofits thrive.
You can reach Lora at CenterLink: www.lgbtcenters.org
(4:39): How Lora decided to join the military
(6:00): A brief description of Lora’s military training (basic training, air traffic control school, OCS, air assault course, etc).
(9:03) Lora’s leadership journey as an officer in the military
(11:17): The importance of looking for leadership opportunities opportunity and being willing to ask for the chance to lead
(15:55): The importance of mentors at all levels of an organization
(16:38): Why veterans would consider the nonprofit sector instead of working with the government or a for profit company
(17:35): How Lora transitioned into the nonprofit sector
(18:30): Learning how to look for a job (because career military don’t need to have this skill)
(19:00): The bias that veterans often face when looking for work in the nonprofit sector.
(21:20): The transition training the military offers to those leaving the service
(23:35): The deep dive on building a nonprofit culture embodying the virtues of selfless service, duty, and loyalty (if your organization culture doesn’t already reflect these virtues).
(37:75): Advice Lora would give to her active-duty self
(39:30): Advice to CEO’s and board chairs about recruiting and onboarding veterans
(40:05): How your organization can adapt and grow in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world.
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Have you spent the better part of an hour looking for a document? Of course, we always seem unable to find that important document at just the worst moment (like when the board chair asks for it or three hours before the big grant proposal is due).
For some of us, losing an important document is just an occasional occurrence, while for others it happens every day. According to Forbes, the average worker uses 150 hours each year searching for lost information. Since this is the average, it means a large percentage of our coworkers spend significantly more than 150 hours each year looking for lost documents.
You know the telltale signs of a colleague or board member who isn’t organized: voicemails and emails go unanswered; paper documents pile up and get lost; their computer desktop is filled with hastily saved files, while reports, books, and professional journals are scattered everywhere. In short, their computers, their desks, and their offices are just messy.
When nonprofits are unorganized, their missions suffers. Every hour we spend looking a document, is an hour we aren’t writing a grant proposal, soliciting a donor, or recruiting a new board member. Every email or voicemail we don’t return in a timely manner, damages our organization’s reputation – as well as our own professional reputation.
Regardless of where you fall on the organized to disorganized spectrum, this episode is designed to help all of us become just a bit more organized. Our extended conversation with professional organizer Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton shares lots of insight on keeping our computers, our desks, and our offices organized.
Our guest Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton had a dream: to make the world a more organized, better place. Chris started Organizing Maniacs, professional organizing company in 2007, and her Ashburn, Virginia based organizing company has grown to eight professional organizers and specializes in both home and corporate organizing projects.
(7:19) How to encourage someone to get organized if they are generally resistant to change
(12:45) How to tame the paper tiger in your office
(13:26) How you can cut the paperwork on your desk in half
(19:20) Why time-blocking is important for your productivity
(24:28) Why you should have really descriptive terminology when saving a file
(26:15) The importance of creating a naming structure for your digital files
(32:40) How to keep those shared spaces organized (like office supply closets, storage rooms, and break rooms).
(35:20) The value of a label maker and organizing boxes
(40:20) How to help people emotionally let go of outdated printing materials cluttering your office
This episode offers a featured conversation with Dr. Jeff Thompson, a pediatrician, author, sought-after speaker, and CEO Emeritus of Gundersen Health System in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Dr. Thompson is author of the recently published book Lead True and his perspective shines throughout the book: when others are afraid of the risk, the timing, or the possible failure, true leaders step forward to meet a need.
As most listeners know, healthcare systems often represent the largest, most complex nonprofit organizations – perhaps second only to colleges and universities.
During his successful CEO tenure at Gundersen, Dr. Thompson not only improved health outcomes but also used hospital resources to serve as a catalyst for rebuilding the surrounding community, helped patients die with dignity (even though it wasn’t in the organization’s financial best interest), and become a green organization while dramatically curtailing the rising cost of providing healthcare.
And he did all this while protecting the financial well-being of hospital employees, patients, and the community. True to his ethos, Dr. Thompson is donating his proceeds from this book to the Gundersen Foundation Leadership Development Fund!
A few time-stamped highlights from our conversation included:
(4:11) The difference between respect for employees and reverence for employees
(6:10) How to maintain a sense of reverence when your organization’s financial position is weak and strained
(9:58) How to convince your board to support long-term growth strategies during crisis
(14:15) How to deal with staff who are going to war with each other instead of working together to achieve the mission
(17:03) The importance of quickly addressing behavior and performance issues with upper management.
(18:20) Using HR to stop be a people-buildter instead of a rules police.
(18:38) The importance of leaders being responsible for their team members’ success (and that being more important that simply holding people accountable)
(21:10) How to challenge the employee who’s performance is “just good enough” but is cruising along at 80% of their potential.
(24:20) Why leaders need “durability” in order to succeed
(28:03) How leaders can make better decisions during times of great difficulty
(31:20) A real life example of “making the right decision” even though it would decrease revenue
(42:09) Why your nonprofit organization should consider taking your fund balance out of savings to invest in green initiatives, local businesses, and partner nonprofits.
(48:43) The value of “learning journeys” to educate and build your board.
We’ve all encountered a schmuck at work, and I’d be willing to bet that we’ve all been the schmuck at least once or twice in our lives. Nonprofits can be messy workplaces with people like Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep’s character from The Devil Wears Prada).
Of course, in the nonprofit sector, the schmuck might not be a staff member. The schmuck can also be a board member, a key volunteer, or an organizational partner. And a schmuck in any of these roles can dramatically derail your organization’s ability to meet its mission and suck the fun out of your relationship with the organizastion.
In today’s episode, we’ll talk with psychiatrists Dr. Jody Foster and Dr. Michelle Joy about their new book “The Schmuck In My Office: How to deal effectively with difficult people at work”.
During this episode, you’ll gain insight and ideas for dealing with the schmuck at your nonprofit.
Link: The Schmuck In My Office
The nonprofit sector is known for long work hours, where our passion and excitement for the mission sustains us through the difficult times. But failing to care of ourselves eventually takes a toll on our passion and every other aspect of our lives.
Imagine if it was possible to have an impact without burnout? On this episode of the Successful Nonprofits Podcast, we speak with Beth Kanter, co-author of The Happy Health Nonprofit about how organizations can actually achieve both impact and happy employees who balance work and personal lives.
We recorded this conversation when I was sick and at the end of an unusually busy 24-hour period. In fact, I allowed far more on my calendar than usual the day of the interview, and I was feeling stressed out with a lack of sleep and down time.
I’m normally very good about setting and enforcing good boundaries, but somehow this day got away from me. And if every day was like this, I honestly think I would be burned out in two weeks. So I took this conversation with Beth to heart, as she shared
Contact Beth Kanter:
Buy Beth Kanter’s Book The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact Without Burnout by clicking the book cover to the right:
About Successful Nonprofits Host Dolph Ward Goldenburg
Our parents taught us about the birds and the bees, but most parents rarely teach children a much less natural part of life: negotiating salaries. Additionally, colleges and graduate schools typically don’t offer courses in negotiating salaries. Consequently, we’re far too often thrust into the professional world with limited experience and tools to negotiate our salaries.
For folks who only change jobs every 5 or 6 years, it can take decades to figure out how to negotiate salaries in an effective and productive way. As an example, I’ve had five professional jobs since graduating from college (not counting my consulting firm) and, in retrospect, each transition helped form these “contemplations on compensation”
I hope these four contemplations on compensation help you earn the highest possible salary for the contributions you make to your organization.
All too often, a new executive director runs from their job screaming (or with the board screaming at them).
In fact, I’ve actually been known to congratulate executive directors who reach their two year anniversary by saying, “In my experience, those E.D.’s who last two years often enjoy successful tenures of 5 – 10 years.”
There are many reasons why some executive directors don’t succeed during their initial two years. And an unsuccessful executive director is never the fault of just the unfortunate person who takes a job only to leave it 15 months later.
To help understand how organizations can ensure a successful executive transition, we spoke with Kim Powell. Kim, who is with ghSmart, is a consultant and career coach who has advised CEOs and senior managers of Fortune 500 companies seeing transformational change through their corporate strategies.
A few of the highlights from our conversation include:
Kim Powell’s Contact Information:
About Successful Nonprofits Host Dolph Ward Goldenburg
It's the week between Christmas and New Year, and this is our 25th episode. At this time of year we often get to enjoy some well-deserved "down time" after the presents are opened, the leftovers are stored, and all the candy has been eaten. Many people use this down time to determine their New Years resolutions, and many resolutions relate to finding or being better at the work we love.
For this reason, we combined our two most popular conversations about career building into one great episode. The first conversation in this double-feature is with Gary Hines, and it originally aired on the very first episode. Gary shares advice for people who want to transition into the nonprofit sector from the for profit workforce. Of course, much of his advice is pertinent to job seekers regardless of where they currently work.
The second conversation is with search consultant Kevin Chase. The original puprose of the featured conversation with Kevin was to help nonprofit organizations better understand how to recruit their next CEO, CFO, or CDO. When this episode originally aired in September, many listeners felt it also provided them with incredible career advice.
The links listed in the original show notes are below:
About Successful Nonprofits Host Dolph Ward Goldenburg
We spoke with nonprofit consultant Eleanor Boyd this week about the first two stages of the nonprofit lifecycle: infancy and adolescence. We discussed not just the key characteristics of infant (or start-up) organizations, but also the strategic steps organizations can take to transform themselves into more stable adolescent organizations.
This is a "must listen" for any start up organization wanting to get to the next level.
Boyd also shared some excellent resources for small nonprofits who cannot afford to hire a consultant. Specifically, she recommended finding your statewide nonprofit association, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and several additional online resources:
You can contact Eleanor Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As an executive search and transition consultant specializing in C-level nonprofit executives, Kevin Chase gives us a unique view of the search process. When I first booked Kevin for the podcast, I thought the conversation would be a great resource for nonprofits that might be seeking an executive director or development director.
But once our conversation began to unfold, I realized that this conversation was essential listening for those seeking executive level positions and those who aspire to be an executive director one day. For the prospective executive, Kevin shares incredible advice on interviewing, providing references, and being authentic throughout the process.
His advice for organizations included:
Kevin also offered advice for potential executives by sharing how candidates are vetted by search professionals. Some of this advice included:
Contact information for Kevin Chase
This episode includes a featured conversation with nationally nationally renowned HR expert Gary Wheeler.
Many people would rather be doused by a bucket of ice water than talk about HR regulations, but there’s an upcoming change to the overtime rules that will impact many nonprofit organizations. In today's episode, Gary shares information about upcoming changes to overtime rules and how they may impact nonprofits across the country.
• Virtual HR Director:
• Gary Wheeler’s Contact Information:
Article of the Week
The New Yorker magazine opinion piece titled “Philanthropic Fads” by James Surowiecki does a great job of assessing the long-term impact of the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Do you remember when the ice bucket challenge went viral back in 2014? According to the ALS Association, over 17 million people uploaded their ice bucket challenge videos. You probably recall seeing new videos appear in your facebook feed every day. From your old high school friends, your organization’s CEO, and Hollywood’s biggest stars. You may have even taken the challenge yourself.
In just a six-week period, that first challenge unexpectedly flooded the ALS Association with over $115 million in donations. At the time the organization’s annual budget was only about $20 million, so this was a huge boost.
When the challenge went viral, many nonprofit leaders found fault with it. This great article addresses many of the criticisms by describing what actually happened in the two years since the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral.
• Philanthropic Fads in The New Yorker
• ALS Ice Bucket Challenge infographic:
• Dolph’s favorite ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with Patrick Stewart:
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