We all love pulling our new phone out of its box, feeling the radiant glow as it turns on for the first time. Over time, we develop an intimate relationship with it; we give it plenty of attention, and, in return, it gets to know us so well it begins to predict our behavior. Sometimes we take for granted how much an electronic device knows us better than some friends or family members.
But how did its producers know what we needed? How did smart phone gets so smart? How could its designers make a product that meets our needs so well?
The answer is: because they asked us.Read more
I recently read an article on LinkedIn by Justin Bariso about the downside of being called a leader. At first glance, I thought this was totally counterintuitive. We've all heard the phrase, "Be a leader, not a follower," right? Exactly.
But once I actually read the post, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I agreed with his insight. And a big reason why comes from a resource one of my first bosses shared with me to help us identify how to work well together: StrengthsFinder.Read more
Applications for the YNPN Twin Cities Board of Directors opened on September 8th—we are on the lookout for awesome people to join us! I thought I would write a blog post describing my experience as a board member after nearly one year and hopefully inspire some of you to apply and help shape our beloved organization.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I will say this about my decision to go for the YNPN Board – it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It has given me an incredible opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. I’ve been able to meet and get to know other amazing nonprofit professionals and develop leadership skills I didn’t know I had. Being on the board is so much more than that though.Read more
Picture a leader you admire. What do you think makes her/him tick?
One of my most admired leaders has always been Martin Luther King, Jr. Here’s the problem: I’ve often thought of him as kind of a saint. I have forgotten that he had everyday, mundane decisions to make – small things that added up to the sum total of his life. He ate three meals a day, needed sleep, and had a family. He was just like you and me – except for how he managed to transcend the everyday mundane details, to strive for his highest ideals.Read more
Think of a leader you admire. Do you appreciate their ability to share thoughtful insights based on their experiences and perspectives? To listen with openness and the intent to truly understand? To develop ideas and solutions relying on their instincts and intuition? To be motivated by their personal passions and own visions of what’s possible? To be truly and consistently themselves in whatever settings they find themselves?
That leader you’re thinking of – is it you?Read more
Pressed shoulder to shoulder in a conference room, folders and chairs scuttled to the middle of the circle, we were asked a deceptively simple question; “What are you personally, and professionally, interested in?” Starting with the first brave soul who was (and presumably still is) interested in sustainable transportation, they were handed the end of a spool of yarn. The follow-up, “Alright, who else is interested in sustainable transportation?” was met with a smattering of raised hands. The yarn made its way to a second person, and then a third. Church planting, podcasting, travel in New Zealand, mining in central Minnesota. A yarn web (a yeb?) was forming, giving real-time credence to the statement: There is no substitute for being in a room full people all saying “I need something.”Read more
The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Leadership 2025 conference was my third attempt at live-tweeting an event. This means I have only sent 95 tweets out into the world (does that disqualify me as a millennial?). I’m often still confused on this particular social media platform and sometimes unsure if I’m doing “The Twitter” right. Thus, one of the big conference highlights for me was when The Theater of Public Policy used one of my tweets in a short sketch during their lunch performance.Read more
The cohort model of learning is based on the importance of community in education. Human behavior suggests that people learn better when they are learning in a collective of peers. EPIP-YNPN’s Leadership Institute takes this idea a step further and tests the assumption that rather than learning mainly from a consumption- or lecture-based style, that co-creating a learning experience with peers encourages mutual creativity, networking, and encourages progress.Read more
A year and a half into working for a big nonprofit that deals with complex community issues, I was struggling to get outside of my networking silo. It was taking enough time and energy to build rapport with people inside of (and working in partnership with) my organization, so I rarely had the energy to network outside (with the occasional exception of some people connected to my work).Read more
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ideation and implementation. Based on the ways I’ve heard nonprofiteers talk about these two concepts, it seems we’ve created a false dichotomy. How many times have you heard phrases like:
- “I’m no good at details. I’m more of an idea person.”
- “He focuses on details and doesn’t see the big picture.”
To me, being a strategic, big picture thinker does not preclude you also being a project manager who tracks details like a boss. In fact, I often find that those with boots-on-the-ground implementation experience have better ideas. They are closer to the challenges and opportunities that are ripe for innovation.Read more