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Author: Leah York, CAE; President of Talbott Talent

At the end of our conversation today, a woman I had just met said, "Thanks for the therapy." She was kidding, of course (sort of), but I hear this just about every day. I'm that person people overshare with. Regularly. It usually starts with, "I don't know why I'm telling you this." Then I say, "That's OK; everyone does it." And the conversation continues.

Image: Charles M. Schulz Museum

There are some things...thoughts...

ideas...fears...that are not appropriate for a nonprofit CEO to share with the organization's board or staff. But these things do need to be shared with someone - to say them out loud, laugh at them, cry about them, question them, affirm them, discard them, organize them, and decide what on earth to do next with them!

If you're leading an organization, find that person - a coach, a mentor, a therapist (!), another nonprofit leader - and get all those crazy, wonderful, scary, innovative, ridiculous, inspirational things out of your head and into the open.

Along these lines, one of the best pieces of advice I've been given is, "Every day, talk with someone who knows WHO you are, WHAT you're about, and WHERE you're going." In other words, find a cheerleader - an encourager - who, when you feel like quitting (and if you're trying to do anything of any significance, you will feel like quitting!) you can call them and say, "Remind me again why I'm doing this."

I have at least three of those people in my life. None of them have any financial interest in my business - none of them even work in the same field - but they know me and I trust them and I can call them and say, "Hey, does this sound crazy to you..."

I'm grateful I'm able to be that person for others and that I have become - not without many mistakes along the way - the kind of woman who is trusted by the people she admires the most.

Author: Leah York, CAE; President of Talbott Talent

Give and Take, by Adam Grant, is among the books I recommend most often. So what’s the difference between givers and takers? And which one do you identify with more?

My favorite quotes from the book:

“When givers succeed they create a ripple effect for others to succeed.” -Adam Grant

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

BONUS CONTENT: Listen to Adam Grant interview Malcolm Gladwell.

Updated: Jun 30

Authors: Leah York, CAE, President of Talbott Talent; Erica Poff, CAE, PMP, IOM, VP of Talbott Talent; and Heather Hunter, Marketing Associate

In 2015, Greg Boyce needed a break. Since 1996, he’d been the pastor of a growing church. His pastoral duties had expanded over time to include administrative work, facilities, budgeting, compliance, and staff management. While it was rewarding, Boyce felt that his time in the role was coming to an end. "A lot of things were going on in my personal life, and professionally I was working 70-80 hours a week. I hit a wall,” he explained. After 19 years of service, he took a leap of faith and resigned.

Boyce, who holds a master's degree, had a brief stint as a mental health counselor - "I was probably more opinionated than most therapists are," he laughed. “I knew it wasn’t something that was going to be a career for me long-term" - before landing in student life. "For the first time in my life, I was lost,” he admitted. “I was going through significant depression. It felt like I'd lost my identity.” Although he liked the school and its students, he still struggled to feel fulfilled. “I just wanted to do something more, using the skills I’d acquired as a leader.”

In 2016, Boyce was a top candidate for a nonprofit CEO search conducted by Leah York, president of Talbott Talent. During his interviews, Boyce talked extensively with York about his professional background, journey, and goals. Right away, York saw Boyce’s potential. “His past experiences managing staff, developing and overseeing large budgets, and leading projects would translate really well into nonprofit executive leadership,” said York.

“When you’ve been working with nonprofit leaders for as long as I have, you can quickly spot a person whose strengths lend themselves to an executive role. Sometimes, they need a little help to see that,” she explained. “By gaining a full understanding of our candidates’ transferrable skills, I can identify whose expertise fits an organization’s specific mission and needs – and it’s not always someone the board would have selected.”

Talking with Leah was an ah-ha moment for Boyce, sparking his desire to look specifically for work as a nonprofit executive. “It was already what I had been doing for the first 19 years, just under a different name,” Boyce recalled.

Boyce was hopeful that this interview would end his long, arduous job search, but the position went to another candidate. Deeply frustrated, Boyce went back to square one. This time, though, he had a recruiter looking out for him. “You don’t quickly forget about a top candidate like Greg,” said York. “Supporting candidates after a loss means giving them encouragement, offering feedback for future interviews, and suggesting professional development resources. At the same time, I’m constantly scanning for opportunities where our candidates will be a good match. A skilled recruiter leverages technology and other tools to keeps candidates top-of-mind as we’re making connections.”

In 2017, York called Boyce with some important news: she thought he would be a great candidate for an executive director position at the Autism Society of Indiana, where Talbott Talent had been retained to conduct the search. “When I came to meet with the board and the staff, I knew it was the right fit,” he said. He’s been with them – and much happier – ever since.

What’s the best part of his role? Empowering leaders within his organization, he says. “I thought I had this leadership thing figured out until I actually came to the Autism Society [of Indiana],” he admitted. “The generation before mine sold me on the idea that there are types of leadership – relational, results-oriented. I pride myself on being dynamic and not stuck in one leadership style. I have to approach each individual differently and understand what [style] they respond to.”

“I believe in being a servant leader and serving my employees to help them be successful. [As Executive Director], I’m able to see the big picture of how my work allows other people to use their abilities and gifts to serve families. Good leaders can give direction, but great leaders are able to invest in individuals and help them be the best that they can be.”

Throughout the two years and nine months of his search, Boyce drew strength from his family and friends. “It’s about having support,” he said. “I had a great support network... it was very important to me to lean on that.” He also stresses the importance of perseverance in job-seeking. “Sometimes, we give up too early. I would have hated to give up a month before finding this job.”

“And find a coach! I don’t think I will ever do another job search without having a recruiter,” he added. “Through the [job search] process, having someone to advocate for me was huge. I don’t ever want to look for another job without a coach – specifically Leah – beside me. She’s been so influential in my life and in my journey.”

Job searching? Talk to Leah: Leah@TalbottTalent.com