EP 23: Neck-Down Learning: How To Lead Well From Within

June 1, 2023

Show Notes

“We don’t need more knowledge, we need more learning.” – Tucker Wannamaker

As nonprofit leaders, we’re deeply committed to our communities and the causes we serve. 

Unfortunately, the demands of our roles often leave us with little time for deep introspection and self-care. 

The journey to effective leadership begins with leading ourselves.

So how can we find balance, enhance our decision-making, and create room for growth when our schedules are bursting at the seams?

In our newest episode of THRIVERS, Tucker and Beth Roalstad, CEO of Homeward Pikes Peak, dive into the profound impact of experiential learning and the concept of “pause, notice, and choose”, a framework that promotes self-awareness and conscious decision-making.

They share their insights from the Conscious Leaders Quest in Costa Rica, discussing the transformational power of taking time for inward growth, and how this personal development positively impacts the organizations we lead.

In their conversation, they touch on key elements of conscious leadership, including:

  • Understanding and utilizing the framework of “pause, notice, and choose”
  • Creating rhythms of pause for better productivity and wellbeing
  • The impact of deep trust on team growth and development
  • The importance of carving out time for personal investment and self-nurturing

Join us for a deep conversation on self-leadership, conscious decision-making, and the transformative power of experiential learning in this episode of THRIVERS.

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Tucker: Hello, welcome to THRIVERS: Nonprofit Leadership for the Next Normal. I’m your host, Tucker Wannamaker, the CEO of Thrive Impact, and our mission is to solve nonprofit leader burnout. Burnout is the enemy of creating positive change, and we want to connect you with impactful mission-driven leaders and ideas so that you can learn to thrive in today’s nonprofit landscape.
And I’m joined today by a dear friend of mine, a woman who has been a part of our THRIVER community. We have a community called THRIVERS. And you’re one of the original, one of the OGs of sorts in our THRIVER community, which is a community of nonprofit leaders who are learning and growing and connecting with each other.
I’m so excited to have you here. Let me introduce you. This is Beth Roalstad. She is the executive director, or has been the executive director for the last six and a half years of a great organization in Colorado Springs called Homeward Pikes Peak. Coming… this is a little, what’s coming up here in the podcast is there’s a little bit of a title change coming up Beth?
That’s what I hear. A little bit of a title change, and that’s part of gonna, that’s gonna be part of what we’re gonna be talking about here today. But Beth, you’re a master of social work. I know your work at Homeward Pikes Peak is to really help people to recover from homelessness and addiction.
And I know one of your recent big projects and as a part of your organization is the Bloom House, which is to help mothers and mothers-to-be. To be able to recover from addiction in a space of community and learning so that they can truly recover in a way that’s beneficial not just for them, but also for their children too.
And so I just, Beth, it’s really been an honor to be able to be with you in our THRIVER community for so long. And we wanna unpack a little bit of a journey that you and I recently went on together. Which was going to Costa Rica for a conscious leadership retreat. And that’s what we’re gonna hop into, but a little bit of all the story that’s revolved around that whole situation and how things went about.
But that being said, Beth it is so nice to be on the podcast with you here today. Thanks for joining me.
Beth Roalstad: Thank you, Tucker. I’m excited to share a little bit about what I do for a living, but how I live as a person and the integration of that and some of my beautiful takeaways from participating in the leadership retreat, the Conscious Leaders Quest has changed my life and I’m thrilled that I was able to go.
Tucker: Oh, that’s so great. Beth, I’m curious just to hear for context for our listeners, again, you’ve been a part of a leadership development program with us for quite a while. That’s the THRIVERS community. It’s a community driven leadership program. It’s you’ve been a part of a cohort of EDs for the most part for the last couple years.
I know we’re gonna be working with you on some organizational work here, coming up here pretty… actually right now. We just kicked it off the other day. But there was this opportunity that came up and that came up for me. And because this THRIVER community, our mission is to solve nonprofit leader burnout and this community model is really the future of our work in particular. I had this opportunity to go on a conscious leadership retreat down in Costa Rica, and I said to the guys who are putting this on, and by the way, I just wanna give a shout-out to Peter Katz, Michael Diettrich-Chastain, and Ron Hill for your incredible thoughtfulness and leadership around putting this whole thing together in the first place.
And we’ll put the link to the show notes if you wanna learn a little bit more about the Conscious Leaders Quest and all that. Which is literally what we’re about to talk about. But Beth, I know that this was an opportunity that came to me and I kinda went to those guys and said, “Hey…”—they’ve actually been donors of ours to support THRIVERS as well.—I said, “Hey, can we sponsor one of our nonprofit leaders in THRIVERS because that’s really important.” And so I got… I said, “Hey, what would it take for that to happen?” Their generosity and their capability where they’re able to help make some of those pieces happen. And I extended that invite to you, Beth, and you did a lot of things to make stuff work.
So I wanted to unpack a little bit about your journey before you got there. But the journey of like, “Is this okay?” I know that you and I talked a lot about things like the guilt that you and I both were going through. But tell us a little bit about, from the point that I shot you, that message.
And just your process and what you were going through and wrestling through, and the time that this was for your organization, which I know is a really important time right now that you were in. So just want to hear a little bit about what was that process leading up to actually deciding to come.
Beth: Yeah, thanks for asking. Well, Homeward Pikes Peak has had incredible growth over the last two years, and to anyone who knows business, growth means hard work. And that has been exciting for us, but it has definitely led to burnout that I have experienced. And actually I think some of my staff have, and we’ve been managing to support staff through, taking sick time or leave or just taking their vacation.
But I don’t know, maybe I have a martyr complex. I know I don’t take as much time off as I need. And I am a workaholic, and I definitely have been feeling burned out. And I think in the winter, I think many of us who live in cold climates with a lot of snow, dream about, I need to be somewhere warm.
I need to decompress. And I love a beach. And in March I was feeling particularly crispy, particularly burned out, and I just was dreaming if I could only go away, I would feel better. And then you sent me a text message on a Thursday morning and it was like, “Hey, you wanna go to Costa Rica and go to a leadership retreat?”
And I think I said “Yes!” Maybe even, “Hell yes!” before I asked for more information. And then I did several things to see if that was gonna be feasible. But honestly, I’ve never said, “Yes” so fast to leave the country on a short notice ever in my life. And I think that’s one reminder for all people is always have your passport available.
Tucker: Good learning. Good learning. Yeah.
Beth: But I have a little theory that I’ve been using for the last 20 years and it’s: “Say ‘yes’ until you have to say ‘no.’” And that has opened me up to possibilities. And so when you offered this opportunity, I asked for some more information. I checked out the website, of course I was concerned about cost and then I called the people in my life that I need to help manage, like my partner and my daughter’s father and, had some logistics I had to clear. But it was all doable. And and then I talked to our host, Peter, Michael, and Ron. Within 24 hours I said yes, because I knew deeply in my soul that I needed this or else I was concerned about my longevity in this field. And I love what I do. I love my organization, but the pace that I’ve been keeping isn’t sustainable.
I checked in with two key staff members here. And they said, “Trust me, I’ve got it. I can do it. You can step away.” But yet I had this sense of guilt. But I just trusted that I needed to do this. And yeah, I just kept saying yes and it all worked out. I am so grateful that I went.
It was truly life-changing.
Tucker: Yeah. Now, just to speak to the reality of it, there were some finances that you needed to figure out within your organization. We were able to support some from our THRIVER donations, and Peter, and Michael and Ron all supported subsidizing some of it, so it was, so there was a working out of finances quite literally.
I know you went to your board chair and was like, “Hey. What are we, what can we do about this?” And so it was like the, from a logistics, financial specifics perspective, you had to figure it out too. It wasn’t just like a, it wasn’t an easy, there wasn’t necessarily quite an easy button per se.
In terms of make it happen.
Beth: And it, in Homeward, Pikes Peak does have funds for professional development. But normally it does not contain an international leadership retreat for an executive director. And so, I also recognize that this was deeply valuable to me. So I put in some of my own funds, the organization is gonna put in some funds.
THRIVERS has put in some funds, and, I’m benefiting from everyone investing a little bit. And I think that’s another lesson to take away from this is: When something’s meaningful, the resources show up.
Tucker: Beth, I’m glad you’re sharing that because what’s interesting for me, being, frankly, I’m in kind of both spaces.
I’m in this business world and I’m in this nonprofit world. And I’ve noticed, that in the business world, there’s this whole almost expectation. Of why aren’t you a part of three mastermind communities or there’s it is. It’s almost this you need to be a part of something or be in something or be professionally developing.
We see this from the data, right? For-profits spend four times. More on leadership development than nonprofits do as an example. And so we see that, and I’ve seen that when I’ve gone to and helped to facilitate business masterminds and things like that. Like again, there’s almost like I ask them how many masterminds these people are a part of, and it’s two or three.
It’s like this expectation, but in the nonprofit space, it’s like almost the exact opposite. It’s quite literally… It feels like the exact opposite. I’m curious if that’s what you’ve noticed is if I invest in myself or if I invest in my own leadership, I’m actually stealing from something.
I’m curious your perspective on that.
Beth: We might be a little bit different because we are in direct services to others as an addictions treatment program and we have social workers that have licenses and so we have to do continuing education credits for our staff. So we do value professional development deeply, but it is hard to set aside appropriate funding in a budget that most of your grants pay for direct services to clients or client need, in air quotes and not necessarily capacity building.
That is usually a separate bucket of funding. There are only a few funders that do capacity building grants and do client services or program grants. So you have to choose, do I wanna go to Foundation X for client services, or do I wanna go to Foundation X for capacity building? And that’s a conscious choice that you have to make professional development resources are limited in nonprofit organizations. Because it’s difficult to fund that activity, not that it’s not valued by leadership. So that’s a challenge I think that I would love to correct in our sector because investing in our team is critical to the health of my team and the quality of the services that we deliver in a community.
I happen to have lunch today with a funder. And I was sharing about this amazing experience and I said, “If I only had a hundred thousand dollars so that every one of my staff could go on this kind of a retreat, imagine the morale we would have and imagine the quality of services that we could, have as well.”
Dream big. You never know what’s gonna happen.
Tucker: Beth, I’m so glad that you’re hitting on this because like I was saying, In the business world, there’s almost this expectation and this investment directly because of the understanding and the belief and the data suggests this for sure too, is that when we invest in leadership in leaders… Which by the way, our perspective of leaders is not just the ED, it’s the whole organization.
It’s people have, who have influence over the organization, which is literally everybody in your organization. So in growing the people in our organization, And when we do that, it has direct implications for usually for the positive towards things like greater impact, greater revenue, greater whatever the things that we’re measuring.
And it’s interesting just to hear your perspective on this of… You have to almost choose between, do I want to develop professionally our organization and the leaders in there, or have this go directly towards… The fact that it’s even a choice, or that has to be a choice is an injustice against nonprofit leaders.
In the first place, right?
Beth: I think that injustice happens a lot in this profession. One of the things that I have been working on for my six years here is to ensure that I pay a professional wage for everyone who works for me, so that if they left my nonprofit organization and they went to a for-profit that delivered healthcare, their salaries would be very close.
Because it’s really important to me that we do not make staff who work in nonprofit organizations, slaves to the organization. That they are choosing this work. But that does not mean that they have to choose to live in poverty. They don’t have to choose to need subsidies so that they can do important work in the community.
So since I’ve been here, we’ve given every staff member, we’ve just elevated every classification to pay the highest we can. In our nonprofit sector to be equitable to a for-profit business. That’s been really hard. It has put more pressure on our fundraising, but to me, again, it helps me retain really good staff and attract new staff who wanna work here.
Tucker: Wow. Wow. This is a whole topic that I think for us is front and center around our work overall, which is investing in leadership development. And especially in a community type of way, is a direct investment into the impact. And that’s where I realize it’s almost like people who are funding nonprofits are like shooting themselves in the foot by not investing in leadership development.
Because to your point, burnout is the enemy of creating positive change. What are funders investing in? I’m guessing positive change. AKA impact. But yet again why is it there that we… That society almost scrutinizes a nonprofit for spending too much in overhead or things like, leadership development and anyway, that’s a big topic. How do we help strengthen and undergird the very foundation of nonprofits so that way they can have the impact that our communities need from them?
Beth: Yeah. I would love to work with you on that continuously.
Tucker: Yeah. Let’s dive into the experience itself.
I think a lot of nonprofit leaders have similar experiences to what we just talked about making decisions around things. But you were able to get to that point. And I’m so glad you did. I’m so glad that this was able to work out the way it was for so many reasons, but, let’s talk about it, right?
We went to Costa Rica. It was down in an area called Nosara, which is in a blue zone, I’ve learned, which is where the most concentration of centenarians, is that how you say it? Centenarian… Basically, people who live beyond a hundred. And there’s seven of them in the world or something like that.
So we were down in Nosara part of this, as you said, the Conscious Leaders Quest which people can find it, I think it’s consciousleadersquest.com. And we were there, we were literally in Costa Rica for five full days with travel days on either end. Let’s unpack this a little bit of what was it like, what were some of the things that you went through that it was very experiential.
I know that. I was a full participant too. So yeah, just take us through what your experience was as a part of that.
Beth: I’d like to credit our facilitators for recognizing that personal change and deep change happen best when you’re taken out of your own environment. Honestly, if I had gone to a five-day leadership retreat in the state of Colorado, I would not have disconnected from my organization or my life as much as I did by traveling a great distance and kind of feeling like it is so lucky to be here. I am fortunate to be investing in myself to do that. So that’s like the first compliment, to the organizers. And then for me personally, I don’t know if I was born a mermaid or a fish, but I love the ocean, and being near water has always helped me decompress and feel more relaxed and, there’s positive ions that kick off of salt water that, has a physiological impact on people. And so I went for a walk on the beach every single morning, and that’s just my jam. I hike in the forest every day in Colorado, so I just transferred that love to going to the beach, and that was a beautiful way for me to start the day.
The sunrise is a very important part of my day as a way to remind me that there’s a new day every day. I’m lucky to be here and to do the work and to live. And gosh, to do that in Costa Rica was beautiful.
Tucker: Yeah. That’s great. Yeah, I didn’t even think about that. Personal and deep change takes you like getting as much fully out of your context as you possibly can so that you can understand it more and have a better or different perspective on it.
What else? What else, Beth what things emerged for you in terms of the. Activities the, I like to say the neck down learning that happens, that we then reflected back and I think helped make sense of it. In neck up. But tell us a little bit about, more about what really impacted you.
Beth: I really like the themes that the retreat focused on connection, adventure. Oh, help me out. There were two other pillars. Of the retreat, and I might cheat and look at my notes. But every day had many components. There was movement, there was reflection, there was there was, some theory and some concepts that were discussed and shared.
But then we always had time for integration. And I think that is a powerful leading teaching tool. Let’s see, I got the four pillars of the retreat.
Tucker: Yeah. I think it was wisdom and ritual, wasn’t it?
Beth: Yes. Connection, adventure, ritual and wisdom. Yeah. We did some things that I don’t normally do and some things that I’ve promised myself I should do and never have done.
So I’ve been doing yoga for 23 years, but I don’t do it every day. And I know I feel better when I do. So we did yoga every day. Meditation. We did a concentrated meditation session every morning, but we had little bursts of it throughout the day. Opportunities to reflect, quiet the mind think about what we were learning and just take it in.
And so every day since I’ve been home, since from the retreat, I’ve been doing a morning meditation and feeling more grounded. We also, Did things that you weren’t sure were gonna translate to, an intellectual gain, but totally do. We did a Tai Chi practice where we did that push hands.
Where there’s a little bit of tension and with another person and you have to give and take and the goal was to stay balanced and how give and take is a process and it’s a relationship. And if you can give and take, you can stay in relationships. So that was a beautiful physical practice that we then debriefed and unpacked.
Tucker: Beth, just to speak to that one. That was one that was really impactful to me too, and I literally used that because I feel like I had this physical learning of it. That’s that neck down. In a moment of tension yesterday with one of our team members at THRIVE IMPACT, I was literally thinking of the, yield assert, and you were you were saying it was give and take and I was literally feeling my arms and visualizing that.
I feel like I had a deeper learning that I was then able to intellectualize to your point but by my body understanding it and I was able to bring that in. And take that learning and apply it directly to an experience I had just yesterday and I yielded some. And almost paused a little bit and then figured out where was it appropriate and supportive of the whole environment and that relationship to where to yield and where to assert and where to give and where to take. And yeah, to that point, that was a really helpful one for me that I’ve already literally used this week that it was really helpful.
Beth: Yeah. The other fun thing that we did was a surf lesson, and that is definitely unique to Costa Rica and even to the region we were in.
What can you learn from surfing? Like any physical challenge, you’re learning a new skill. You get to practice and hopefully, perfect or do the task, but it’s hard. Surfing’s really hard. And I’m a swimmer and I like to think of myself as athletic and, I didn’t stand up as many times as I hoped I would, but the teacher in the water with us, he was like, Don’t worry, this is not your wave.
There’s another wave. There’s always another wave. And I loved when we debrief that exercise. That it is such a powerful reminder that opportunities are always coming, change is constant, and some opportunities aren’t for you and wait for your opportunity to come. And again, that’s another powerful takeaway.
That I will always remember, I have written down some notes from that experience, and “There’s always another wave” is a mantra that I’m going to hold forever.
Tucker: Yeah. Yeah. Beth, that was similar to what you just shared. That was similarly really helpful for me. I remember not getting up on the board and I remember looking to Andrew, who was the surf instructor.
And he was full of grace and he just pointed to the next wave, to your point. And he is he was such a helpful coach and a teacher. Because he is just like with a smile on his face pointing to the next wave. And then and I think to your point around there’s always this next wave is man the ocean is such an example of abundance.
And we deal with a lot in scarcity inside of nonprofits. And I think it’s more of a mindset than it is a reality. Many times it can feel like a reality. But to your point, I was noticing that even when we’re going through financial struggles or that there’s, there is that next wave wait for your opportunity.
Keep going. Find that next wave. And actually, even also not just look for that next opportunity, but sometimes even… I was realizing this. We do work around being a learning organization. And what I loved about what Andrew was teaching us was, you’re gonna learn from that next one.
Just keep learning. Don’t sit around and mull over why you didn’t get up on your board this last time. He just kept pointing to the wave. And to me that was like, keep learning. You had a really crappy weekly staff meeting. That’s right. You got next week.
Keep learning. It’s all learning really. That’s what I was taking out of it, don’t stop. Don’t sit around and like mull over why I didn’t get up on that board. Keep learning.
Beth: Yep. Keep trying. I love that. I forgot to mention something about what was powerful about the combination of meditation and yoga for me, and I think this speaks to some of my burnout.
At the beginning of the week, I realized that I was unable to take a full deep breath, with the guided process we were going through. I just had a really shallow breath and literally, my lungs felt constricted. But on the last day, after five days of Kundalini yoga and a lot of amazing work, I was able to sit on the mat and breathe so fully that I really felt like my chest had expanded, that my lungs were free.
And I have been able to maintain that since coming home and there could be a lot of other physiological reasons why that happened. I’m not stooped over a computer desk all day, and so my shoulders are back and I’m upright more. Maybe it was good sleep, maybe it was just stepping away from work.
So many things contributed to my ability to breathe deeply. And that is a gift that I hope to maintain because that shortness of breath. Can also make you feel weak and powerless, and that’s not who I am. I’m a strong, vibrant person and I have to breathe fully.
Tucker: Yeah. Yeah. I want to hit on the Kundalini yoga and particularly the instructor. Her name was Angela. And shout out to you, Angela. I don’t know your last name, but I’m excited to bring you out here in the Zooma sphere with your incredible yoga practice because I think, the way that she did things was… it hit so many different senses.
She incorporated music in a very beautiful, powerful, and all kinds of different music too. It wasn’t just like your typical yoga music, it was all kinds of different types. Eye of The Tiger came on once if I remember right.
Beth: We went from spa instrumental to like heavy metal, I think.
Tucker: Yeah.
It was so great. But the one thing that she kept saying, and her voice was so piercing in such a really powerful way was, “Pay attention.” And it was particularly, “Pay attention to what’s going on inside.” And she would speak to the wisdom that you have already that’s already there. And I just wanna do a full circle to: Way to pay attention to your own inner wisdom before in choosing to come by the way, just want to throw that out there.
Because I think that was you living into that before you even had that whole experience. But, I actually took a lot of what I learned from that and I had a coaching session earlier this week with a CEO of a pretty substantial community foundation in the country. And, I had asked this person, “What do you wanna be celebrating?”—This is the kickoff of our coaching relationship—”What do you wanna be celebrating after three months?” And then after that a lot of his answers were great. They were… they made sense, they were logical. And then I asked them the question, “But why are we here?” And I don’t want you to think about it.
I want you to ask your inner wisdom. And a lot of that for me was taken from what Angela was doing with us, which is we don’t pause enough to just listen to what’s actually going on. We’re not connected to our bodies. You even mentioned this about some of the work that you even do with women who are recovering from addiction.
That there’s such a disconnect to our bodies and a disconnect to the, frankly, the wisdom that’s there. That I just really appreciated how she invited us to really pay attention. To what is that wisdom inside?
Beth: I think that is ancient wisdom that we tend to ignore in modern society.
That we hold the knowledge in our own bodies for what’s best for us, if we can, to use Dr. Danny’s words. “Pause, notice and choose” and that is another mantra that I’m taking away from the week and really integrating into my life. It was… you’ve shared that with us through THRIVERS, but spending a lot of time on that work on the retreat has really made an impact on me.
And I’ve shared it with a couple of people already, and just slowing down the pace of meetings, of decisions, of taking action I think will serve me greatly. In my personal life and in my work life.
Tucker: I… and for those who are listening if you’ve not heard of who she’s talking about, Dr. Daniel Friedland was a dear mentor of ours. I met him through a wonderful community called XCHANGE, which is where I know Peter, Ron, and Michael. He wrote a book called Leading Well from Within. And so much of his work was around, if we wanna lead well in the world, the first place we need to lead well is within ourselves.
And that was one of his main frames around mindfulness in particular, which was, “Pause, notice, and choose.” We’ll have the link for his book in the show notes as well for you all to check it out because it’s very worthwhile. It’s an accessible book. But he did, he, what I love about what you just shared is it was… that’s accessible language.
I can pause, I can notice, and then I can choose. And I appreciate you bringing that up because that’s been instrumental for me as well over the years of since knowing Danny and then having this deeper pause. Literally one of my themes for the whole week, last week that emerged from my, the wisdom within was I need to have rhythms of pause.
Rhythms of pause and that’s everything from that… I’m still working it out, but I’m co-creating that with our team. Around we may even move to a possible four-day work week for those who are full-time. We’re looking at 50-minute meetings instead of 60-minute meetings, as an example. I’m looking at how do I have space that a couple of days a week, I don’t have any meetings before 10, because of the incredible importance of having that space. And I’m curious to see what happens that, how much more, I don’t wanna use the word productive, but I will. How much more productive will I actually be able to be?
Because I’ve been able to have that space of pause and I’m connected in,
Beth: Yeah. Where I think the “Pause, notice, choose” framework will help me, is to make better decisions and not to have to rework. I notice in myself that I’m so busy with running eight programs and doubling the size of my staff and tripling the size of my budget that I have a lot of demands on my time and a lot of decisions to make.
And sometimes I make them too quickly. And then I get feedback and I’m like, oh, we have to think that through we’re going to make a new decision and maybe undo something we already did. And if you think of productivity, That’s a lot of wasted time and energy and money. And so if I can pause a day, an hour a week, whatever it takes to get to the better decision, it is better for me, for my staff, and my organization.
Tucker: Beth, anything else that comes up? We got about five more minutes left on this podcast, and I want to get into just, one last question, but is anything else that comes up, for you around just some of your deeper experiential takeaways that have been applied?
Beth: I think stepping away for a week on short notice really helped me show my team a higher level of trust than maybe they thought was there before.
And I even, like in reflection, came up with a little saying for myself, is: “By me letting go, I help them grow.” So I change that to: “Let go, let grow.” And that has been really valuable for me in a lot of different ways. Of course, I have a management team and they’re quite competent, but we bounce ideas off of each other all the time, and then they feel empowered to go do the work.
But while I was gone, they just did the work. And they told me about it and I was like their cheerleader. “Great job. You didn’t need me.” And I’m glad that there’s this level of trust there that they could be empowered. And I’m gonna try to remember that moving forward too, that on a regular basis, I need to show my team that we have a high level of trust, that I believe in them, and that I can let go of tasks that are not essential for a CEO and I can focus on activities that are not in their role and responsibility but fit squarely in mine. And then maybe that will help Homeward Pikes Peak grow.
Tucker: Yeah. I love that. Let go and let grow. Fantastic. You’re great at these like small little snippets. It’s so good. And speaking of you just said CEO. I know I mentioned this at the very beginning of the story.
What was–and I want to ask this question. I know that this is a title change for you–Why is this important for you? In that, you are now the CEO. Literally as of this week at Homeward Pikes Peak. Why is this important to you and why was this experience in Costa Rica helpful for you to get to that place?
Beth: I think some of it comes to a self-identity and I didn’t ever picture myself as a CEO, when I was dreaming about my future CEO was not a word that came to mind. So it’s a role that has been a little uncomfortable for me to own. And yet, like I shared, I’m running a business.
Yes, we are a nonprofit organization, but we are a huge impact organization. We are almost a $5 million organization, and I have 41 staff members. That is a significant size organization. And a year ago, my board offered me the title, of CEO. It was voted on in a board meeting, and yet I still use the term executive director all of these months because I felt uncomfortable with that title.
It just didn’t seem to fit. But when I was on the retreat and I was talking to other people who were not in my sector and not in my community, they reflected back to me. You’re running a business, you’re running a huge organization and a huge impact. Why aren’t you called CEO? And I’d have to explain.
And they’re like, “That’s silly. Own it.” And so I shared that I would own it and came back on Monday and I changed my email signature to Chief Executive Officer on Tuesday at a very public event. I introduced myself as a CEO and I didn’t choke on the words and I’ve owned it. And it feels good, and I don’t know why I was so nervous about it, but I’m stepping into, my own power.
And I think that just believing in myself raises my self-confidence and opens doors that need to be opened.
Tucker: Yeah. Wow. And Beth, I wanted to speak to something that. I was talking to Peter towards the end of this, and I was asking in our space of nonprofits, many times we hear the phrase, “If a nonprofit just acted more like a business.” As if that’s the only way that learning needs to happen.
But I think that businesses need to act more like nonprofits in many ways too. How do we we measure impact? How do we take a dollar further than it ever was meant to go perhaps? What are other forms of currency that help to create value exchanges within organizations? There’s a variety of things, but it was great to ask Peter about what was it like to have a nonprofit leader like Beth there in this space of business leaders as full participants.
Everybody was a full participant. It didn’t matter where you came from, you were all full participants. And I know that in the nonprofit space, sometimes we show up to business things and it’s almost like we’re considered like on the JV team or something, and they’re… but business, that’s success.
That’s varsity team, which I think is basically a bunch of crap. And I just want to acknowledge and appreciate, what Peter said, the impact for him as a business leader himself in a space of business leaders that you brought a depth of meaning and purpose that he felt this reverence for, to make his work that much more like it, it felt that much more important for him. He said, “Because Beth is here as a nonprofit leader, we are having a multiplier effect. And not just her and her staff, but then in their community in a deep way.” And it just amplified, and you could feel it from him. You could see it on his face, this amplification of purpose that was really meaningful.
And then on top of just the wisdom that you were able to share from your perspective to all these other business leaders. Of which many came up to me and just shared some of their appreciations. And so Beth, I just wanna appreciate you for showing up fully as a strong nonprofit leader that you are and owning your space in that space because it’s needed.
And I think business leaders have so much to learn from people like you and nonprofit leaders because there is a lot to learn. And I’m hoping that we continue to make more of these cycles of giving and receiving that it’s not always businesses giving and nonprofits receiving. But it’s actually the other around.
It’s totally reciprocal as it should be. Because that’s what makes a great relationship at the end of the day. And there’s real value on the nonprofit side as well. So I just wanted to speak to that as you owning your space. And it was felt too in the room as well. Well Beth, I know you gotta get going and is there one, one practical step?
Or maybe two things you would tell nonprofit leaders, literally in your space as they’re looking at their budget, as they’re figuring out professional development, as they have an opportunity to go on a retreat to Costa Rica. Maybe, probably not, but maybe. But what would you tell a nonprofit leader of a practical step that they can take in order to move forward in this?

Beth: Yeah, I would say carve out time as a leader every year to invest in yourself deeply. That’s my first piece of advice. And my second is to do something every day that nurtures yourself. It might be meditation, it might be personal exercise, but the gift of taking time during the day to slow down is what I’m gonna do, so that I come into every exchange with people more thoughtfully.
So I encourage other leaders to walk into their next meeting. Taking a couple of deep breaths and be fully present and you’ll be more successful.
Tucker: Ooh, love it. Beth, I appreciate you and I am, I’m really deeply honored to be your friend, and be in this struggle many times with you.
And just so glad to have been able to have this opportunity with you. So thanks for being on the podcast and for sharing your experience.
Beth: Totally appreciate it. Thank you for inviting me, and I love the THRIVERS. I’m an evangelist for you and I’m so happy that we could talk today.
Tucker: Thanks. I love it.
Oh, thanks Beth. For all of you who are listening in we have a variety of things in the show notes. We’ll put also the link to Homeward Pikes Peak. You can learn a little bit more about Beth’s work. But otherwise, we’ll see you on the next episode of THRIVERS: Nonprofit Leadership for the Next Normal.
Thanks everyone. Bye.