Non-profit leaders – R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

To be clear, I don’t consider myself a non-profit leader.

Frankly, I don’t consider myself a leader at all. At best, I’m a foot soldier for literacy.

Leadership of any kind is challenging.

As a quick aside, I find it fascinating the volume of information out there, especially today, which prescribe how leaders should lead – it seems everyone has an opinion. Does make me wonder though, how many of these folks have ever successfully led and/or successfully followed.

NOW, if leading in anyway is challenging, I’d classify leading a non-profit as extremely difficult.

Non-profits are expected to solve the world’s biggest problems, which impact us all: with the least amount of money, least amount of time, least amount of talent, and for goodness sake, don’t take any risks – interesting paradox, isn’t it? Makes me sometimes believe we don't, and society really doesn’t, want to solve these problems at all. Otherwise, we’d take them more seriously, like the missions really matter.

That’s a topic for another day but relevant to non-profit leadership who must effectively and graciously navigate obstacles such as…

Do it on a shoestring.

Show us impact immediately.

No idea can fail.

Everyone wears multiple hats.

Revenue uncertainty.

Philanthropic cynicism.

Competition for donors, team members, quality board members and attention.

Everyone knows better.

As such, when I think of “stars” or folks I admire, I don’t think of athletes, I don’t think of entertainers, I don’t think of politicians, I think about non-profit leaders.


Because they are willing to lead others to do hard things, on behalf of others.

Do you know a non-profit leader?

I’d ask you to reach out to them in some way.

Show them you appreciate them, encourage them.

Here’s one if you don’t know one, Darrin Utynek, CEO of Bernie’s Book Bank:


WOTW – ok maybe it’s a PHRASE

What do we remember most, our experiences or our stuff?

Recently, I was in a conversation where the phrase experience economy came up. I love it.

An economy driven by unique and memorable experiences.

These experiences can be somewhat small but super memorable just the same, like apple picking.

Or something big and extravagant, like a family trip to Europe.

Experiences aren’t things you “own,” they are meaningful times you share with others.

Might I suggest that volunteerism is a part of the experience economy as well, and costs you nothing but a little bit of time.

As the holiday season is fast approaching, affording you more time off from work, I’d encourage you to make volunteering at a local non-profit one of your holiday activities. I can say with confidence, it will make everything more “rich”, and more full.


Carve a pumpkin – what?

Is this the weekend you are carving pumpkins for Halloween?

Step back a few steps, isn’t carving a pumpkin a little odd?

Carving pumpkins has become an American tradition; but who ever thought to take a fruit, yes, pumpkins are fruit, scrape all the seeds out; then carve a face in it; then grace it with a candle – and oh, put it out in front of your house?

Wait, come to think of it, carving pumpkins is part of the experience economy.

But who do we have to thank?

Any guesses?

The practice of decorating jack-o’-lanterns originated in Ireland, where they used large turnips, potatoes, or beets. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of our Halloween festivities.

Thank you Irish, we’re lucky to know you!

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