In this webinar, Stefanie Krievins will give you a better understanding of why you and your team need more resiliency and focus than ever to emerge from the disaster as strong as ever.
Check out Stefanie’s 90-day sprint tool here >>
Steven: All right. Stefanie, I got 2:00 Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and get us started officially?
Stefanie: I’m ready to roll, man.
Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, good afternoon, to all of you out on the East Coast, in the middle of the country. If you’re on the West Coast, good morning. If you’re watching the recording, I hope you’re having a good day no matter where you are. We are here to talk about leadership, how to be the leader of your nonprofit needs right now, which I guess is the same as a nonprofit leader. Anyway, it’s been a long week. It’s good because it’s going to be a good session. We’re going to end the week on a high note. Thank you all for logging in. We’re going to have a fun hour here today. I’m Steven over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.
And just a couple of housekeeping items. Just real quick, want to let you all know that we are recording this session. We’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides later on today. So if you have to leave early, if you join late, you won’t be hearing this, but if you join late, don’t worry. We’ll get you the recording and the slides. If you get interrupted, don’t worry. I’ll email everything to you. Everything you hear, you’ll get your hands on later today. But most importantly, please feel free to chat in your questions and comments along the way. We’re going to try and save some time at the end for Q&A. So don’t be shy. Send in those questions or comments, introduce yourself in the chat if you haven’t already. We’d love to hear who you are, where you’re from. You can also do that on Twitter. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed, but we’d love to hear from you. So don’t be shy.
If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, just a special welcome to you folks. Like I said, we do these webinars now a couple of times a week. We love doing them. But what Bloomerang is, if you’ve never heard of Bloomerang, if you’re wondering what the heck is that, we’re provider of donor management software. So check that out. You can visit our website. There’s all kinds of videos you can watch. We’re pretty easy to find.
Don’t do that right now because you all are in for a real treat. This is a fun one because my buddy, Stefanie, you know, I’ve been doing these webinars for about eight years and I think, Stefanie, you’re the guest that I have known the longest. You and I have known each other over 10 years. We used to work together on some fundraising video projects and it’s always awesome to have you back. That is not your bio, I’m just realizing. I feel so embarrassed. That’s not your bio. So I’m going to delete that. Anyway, I usually give an off the cuff introduction anyway. But, Stefanie, how are you, first of all? Are you doing okay?
Stefanie: I’m good. I’m so excited to see you again. Friends, Steven and I, our paths cross once every two, three years. We get to do this good work together. Yeah. We met when we were young pups.
Steven: We were young pups.
Stefanie: Young pups doing much different things.
Steven: We still are. We still got some life left in us, right? You’ve made this awesome career for yourself. As a coach, you do awesome trainings, workshops. I’ve gotten to sat in on some of those as well. And did a great presentation for us last year. Hopefully, you know, this will not be the last one. I’ll definitely have you back next year if you want to. But one of my favorite people, she’s just down the street from me in Indy. An Awesome person. She’s a foster parent. I mean, you know, I could go on and on about her. But you’re going to want to get to know her after the presentation, follow her great newsletter as well. And leadership is really her thing. And you’re going to see that come across over the next hour or so. So I don’t want to take any more time away from you, Stefanie. I’m going to stop my Sharon. I’ll let you bring up your sides. It’ll be your show. See if it works.
Stefanie: All right. I feel like Zoom needs to create some kind of a transition for moments like this.
Steven: I know. It’s awkward, but it has to be done.
Stefanie: That’s all right. It works. Welcome, friends.
Steven: All right. Take it away.
Stefanie: All right. Thanks, Steven. All right. Welcome, friends. So, so glad to be with you today and to those listening in on this recording. I love sharing the lessons that I’ve learned working with my nonprofit and for-profit clients, the lessons that I’ve learned the hard way as a leader myself and to bring tried and true change management and leadership development practices to you so that you can implement them in simple ways. Doesn’t mean it’s easy, but I can make it simple. You know, too many of us, we’ve read the research. We’ve gone to the training. We’ve done the workshop and three months later nothing has changed. Well, I’m the person that helps keep the connection alive between the training and making sure you see change results through that through coaching. I’ll share with you a little bit more about my street cred in a minute.
This is what I have together for our hour together. So quick introductions and check in so you know more about me. I want to know more about you in a hot second. I want to talk about VUCA. VUCA is the formal business jargon word for hot mess. And I fixed that messes, my friends. So I want to share with you the realities and kind of clarify for you the hot mess that we’re in right now. And I find that that clarity brings a little bit of relief because I can name some of the things you’ve been feeling. Let’s talk about what does your business . . . nonprofits are a business. What does your business need during each phase of disaster recovery? So I’m going to share with you the four modalities . . . Oh, sorry, the four steps to disaster recovery.
And then how to maintain confidence, resiliency, and focus during this difficult, strenuous time where so many of us feel stressed to the max. We feel pulled in not just 1,000 directions, because as leaders we’re always pulled in 1,000 directions, it’s hard to prioritize, 2020 has brought us 2,000 directions to be stretched thin in. How do you prioritize, build resiliency for yourself and for your team and build focus so that you can keep moving forward confidently?
And then, of course, I want to leave time for your reflections, your check-in, and your questions, and we’ll wrap this up. And I have a tool to share with you that ties into this content that you can take and use, starting this afternoon, this morning. As soon as we get off this webinar, I’ll get that out. Well, as soon as I get list from Steven, you’ll get the opportunity to join the mailing list and get that tool should you choose to. It’s just an invitation. And then begin using it as soon as it drops in your inbox.
So let’s dig into getting to know each other. And, of course, I want you to use that chat functionality throughout our entire time together. I want this to be as conversational as possible. I want to hear from you. So at any point, if you have a question, feel free to use that chat functionality and I will answer them as I can. If not, Steven can help curate those for me at the end. And I just want to make sure I do have my chat functionality up before I invite you to chat. You know what, it looks like on this webinar format, I’m going to ask you to use the Q&A format, actually. And, Steven, tell me if I’m doing this wrong here.
Steven: Yeah. That’ll work. Q&A is cool too.
Stefanie: Okay. Yeah. Q&A, So on our end, unfortunately, it’s slightly different than chat. So just use that chat function . . . Oh, sorry. Use the Q&A so I can see your responses. So as I’m sharing about myself and my experience and what brought us together today, I’d love for you to use your use the Q&A to answer for me, what role do you have in your organization and how long have you been in that role or at your organization? So your tenure at your organization. So I’d just love to get a sense of what leadership types do we have in this room.
All right. And, Steven. Oh, I see. Folks coming in. Love it. Love it. Love it. Okay. Thank you for being here. All right. I see folks coming in on chat too. Fantastic. So, friends, I want to back up for you. Oh, my gosh. Two thousand and five. And if you all will remember Hurricane Katrina, it was one of the most devastating and still one of the most devastating hurricanes that has hit our country and many other places in this globe. I had a job offer from Catholic Charities here in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to be a marketing person for them. So I was supposed to work with seven different Catholic charity agencies within one diocese. And a diocese is a fancy Catholic word for region. Catholics love to use all different fancy words to mean simple things like diocese equals region. And I make fun because I am Catholic, right? So bear with me.
All right. So my future boss, so I wasn’t supposed to start for another week and a half, calls me super panicked. And I knew him well enough to know this guy doesn’t get rattled easily. What is going on? And so what had happened was Hurricane Katrina had made landfall and it had passed over the United States, it had devastated parts of the Gulf Coast and continued to wreak havoc through flooding and levees breaking, especially in New Orleans. And it was devastating as you can imagine, for a lot of families, a lot of communities.
The ripple effect across the country was that then the federal Homeland Security Disaster Recovery decided to fly evacuees to cities, to get them physically out of New Orleans, get them out of high water and dangerous areas just in the meantime because they just didn’t know what to do. There were enough hotel rooms in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi to house these folks. They didn’t know what to do. So state Department of Homeland Security started coordinating.
So he’s calling me, they’re evacuees from the Superdome on their way to the State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. We had Catholics who are extremely generous with their time, talent, and treasure calling Catholic Charities saying, “What do we do? How do we help? What do we do? How do we help?” We had an owner of an airline call my boss and say, “I’ve got private planes. How do we help with our private plane fleet?” We’re like, “We don’t know what to do.” So he calls me in a panic saying, “Stefanie, I need you in here. I need you to coordinate. I need you to organize this for me and communicate.”
And so the next day I was in the office and we’re putting together communications and we’re trying to figure out what do evacuees need? How can Catholic Charities help? Meanwhile, within a few short months, we had our parishioners donate close to a million dollars and funds for this. And we also did . . . what do you do with a million dollars and not direct people to help? Because within a few short months, people either had been resettled in Indianapolis almost like a refugee would be or they had gone back to begin rebuilding their lives.
And through the help of multiple volunteer groups, we created priorities for the millions of dollars . . . Oh, sorry, for the million dollars. We organized the request for help. We organized the requests to help and we were able to create a very organized effort. My boss and I learned a ton about disaster response in a few short weeks and it was super fun and we got to know each other. And we worked together very well. And the rest is history, as you would say.
So fast forward to the flooding in Columbus, Indiana that devastated an entire community, fast forward another two years to hurricane to a tornado wiping out an entire town here in Indiana, I have lived through multiple disaster responses from the perspective of communication, coordinating help, and coordinating the delivery of help. And so I come to share this information with you being on the ground with a lot of folks that do the direct help.
There are things that happen behind the scenes with the disasters. It’s always a hot mess. It’s always organized chaos that you never hear about until you’re directly in it. And so that was my first real job experience coming out of grad school. I have a master’s degree in nonprofit management from SPEA Indiana University. After I left Catholic Charities, I went to work for an HR consulting company where I learned how to do performance management systems, how to develop a compensation strategy, how to implement training and development programs to make it more likely that the learning will stick and got introduced to coaching.
From there, I went to work for a national nonprofit based out of Louisville, Kentucky, and we did Christian social justice education. So it was an extension of both of those previous two experiences. It was very nichey training and development work, working, in particular, with Christian churches across the country to help educate Christians on the realities of domestic and global poverty.
You can imagine how much fun my small talk was at parties given a career like that, right? “Oh, what do you do? “Oh, I educate people on the realities of poverty across the globe.” No one wanted to talk to me. I don’t know why. You may have similar experiences.
I digress, but anyway, so from there, I had an experience at that organization where frankly, my soul threatened to jump out of its body. I hated my job. I hated everything I was doing and I couldn’t figure out why. I went to go see a neighbor who was a life coach. And I say it that way because I didn’t know what coaching was at the time. I just knew I needed help. Like I hated my job and I couldn’t figure out how to get out of it. And if I were to get out of it, where would I even go?
And so within three sessions, he helped me be brave enough to say, “I never want to work for anyone ever again. I have a vision and I have a mission on this planet and I want to make it happen as the leader of an organization.” Now, seven years ago, I didn’t know what that meant. Now I know what it means. I’ll share that with you in a second. But I knew I had something inside of me that I needed to bring to this world. Second. I am not a team player. No one says that out loud. You’re probably like, “What? What is wrong with her?”
Here’s the deal, my friends. This notion of politicking and, you know, not being direct in the workplace, I don’t know how to do that. And frankly, I learned through coaching that I refuse to learn. And so now as a coach, I get to equip people to have radically candid conversations. If any of you have read “Radical Candor,” it’s a book that’s changed my life, but this is what I get to help people do, is be direct with feedback, guide toward the goals that are important for a team, and care personally about that human being on the other side of the table. In too many of our organizations, politicking, speaking around things rather than speaking about the thing or to the person is what is normal. And I find that unacceptable. So now I get to equip leaders to be direct, and caring, and compassionate, and guide towards the right results in their business and their nonprofits.
And then the third thing I learned from coaching was that I need to turn the gift of saying what everyone’s thinking at the staff table but no one else will say out loud into something someone actually wants to pay me for. And what that means is I see myself as almost a bridge between different perspectives and I see myself as a truth teller. And so if someone is feeling something, I feel like it needs to be set out loud so that we can air it and we can talk about it. Now, since then, I’ve become much more adept at being diplomatic in how I say things as a coach and as a consultant, but those were the three truths that emerged for me through coaching.
So seven years I became a trained coach out of an organization, actually out of Vancouver for my friends in the Vancouver and Victoria area. But I became a trained coach and since then my business has evolved into creating pro troublemakers in organizations. And what that means, a pro troublemaker is a change maker that people actually want to work with. It’s the opposite of the devil’s advocate. It is the person that is mission-focused, optimistic, joyful, focused, and adaptable yet keeps their eye on that prize, right? Because we have to hit our fundraising goals, we have to hit our program outcomes, and we have to do that with other people. None of this work happens alone.
So that’s how I’ve come to be with you all today. I never in a million years thought that my disaster response work would be something I’d get to educate people on in combination with my coaching work and then 2020 hit. So I love hearing more about you all. I’ve been watching your comments come in, who you are, where you’re from, how long you’ve been there. Super helpful for me as I adapt to this content as we keep going through.
Now, I will say, with the slides that you have, if anybody printed those early on, I did switch up a couple of slides in the latter third of it. Steven will make sure you get this most updated version. It’s very minor from a learning perspective right now, but he’ll get the content to you. There’s a quote that I just have to share with you today.
So one more invitation to participate before we dig into some content. What has been the most surprising thing to learn about your own leadership style so far in 2020? I’d love to hear your answers in the Q&A or the chat functionality. What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself as a leader with everything you and your team has gone through this year so far? And I’m going to look at these response. And I’ll read some of these out loud.
Let’s see here. Frustration with those who fear change. Yes. I feel you, Zoe. Laura, “I actually know what I’m doing.” I love your confidence. Yes. You do know what you’re doing. The ability to be calm, try and keep focus on the big things. Avoid the rabbit holes. Unless I get an absolute yes, I should say no. Sonya says, “I am resilient. I am adaptable.” I believe you, Sonya. Continual communication challenges. Yes. Barbara, it feels like as leaders, the more we communicate, the more we get the complaint that you’re not communicating enough, which I know is unbelievably frustrating, that we’re able to stay nimble and continue to be innovative.
Great team in place. I love it. Those organizations where you saw your team step up and serve in new ways and do what was necessary through this time. That makes my heart so warm. Let’s see. Deb, “Stay focused, be nimble in order to pivot, worry about really matters. Let go of the other stuff.” Yes. What is it about a focus . . . Oh, sorry, what is it about a crisis that really gets us laser-focused and remembering what’s truly important to our organization’s mission?
What breaks my heart is that so many of us spend our days in the Pareto principle, which is 80% of what we do doesn’t move any of the work. It’s 20% of our work that actually is impactful. And something about a crisis reminds us to truly get back to that 20%. And I think coming out of 2020, I want you to remember how important the 20% is and stay focused on that. Don’t fill your plate with the busy work that doesn’t matter.
Oh, Sarah, “Finally learning it’s okay to ask for help, especially when you don’t know the answer.” Oh, yes. I have a high need for control, and so asking for help and not knowing the answers are something that causes me a great deal of stress. So I empathize with you, Sarah. But yes, we have to ask for help.
Sue says, “More patience and resilient than I expected to deal with constant change, but hard to manage high stress from staff with each other.” Oh yes, yes, yes. As leaders, we get that kind of energy directed at us from all levels. And it’s hard to deal with that, to manage that, and manage our own emotions and show up authentically without some kind of support in place. So that’s why support groups, peer groups, individual coaching, peer coaching support, even a mastermind that’s informally organized, that’s why those are so important now more than ever.
So let’s talk about everything that has happened so far in 2020. And good Lord up above only knows what else we got left for the rest of the year, right? It is not over. I think so many of us are at the point where like, “I’m just going to lay low until 2021 comes.” And that is just not how it works, my friend.
So, VUCA, this is from my business jargon friends over at Forbes. And it was coined about, I want to say 15, 20 years ago now. And man, I’ve been talking about it a lot this year. It is the ultimate hot mess. So VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. And 2020 has brought us all of that in our organizations, in our teams, in our world, in our community through multiple facets, right? The COVID-19 situation has impacted our economy in inconsistent ways. I will tell you, my friends, it has not been devastating to all industries. And, in fact, in some industries, it has been a gold mine of success. And I don’t know what your nonprofit is experiencing, but there’s volatility in terms of everyone, I think, expected to be hit really hard with this. And that is just simply not true. It’s not all bad news in the economy by any stretch of the imagination.
We’re unsure of how and when COVID-19 will spike again, right? What’s going to happen this winter? Are we going to be shut down again? What does that mean for us, for how we keep our doors open, for how we serve our clients?
The reemergence of the voice around social unrest in a very large scale way again. I don’t want to pretend that it ever went away, but it certainly has reemerged itself and become a different kind of voice in, especially businesses, you know, the response from businesses and their expectations have been wildly different than in previous years. And I don’t know if your nonprofit has experienced that as well. And what I mean by that is there’s been a lot of pressure on organizations to respond publicly to the Black Lives Matter movement and that pressure has not been as high as in years past. So what has that meant for your organization?
There’s a lot of uncertainty, right? The plans to reopen the economy, especially if you serve folks from multiple states, you have multiple scenarios to plan for. If you have . . . your major donor is in an industry that’s dying right now, that means something very different to you than if another organization, their major donor is an IT company who they are excelling right now, they are needed now more than ever so their revenue is through the roof for a lot of companies.
We’re not sure who to trust for information. We don’t know how many of our clients or donors will come back, or if they’ll leave, or what’s going to happen. You know, not only with our fundraising plans, but also with our programmatic outcomes. Are your programmatic outcomes even relevant right now? Who knows? I’m sure those got turned upside down.
The complexity of the situation. Not knowing how to personally, or professionally, or organizationally respond to social unrest. Again, if you have an organizational presence in multiple states with multiple governor policies, government policies, then that certainly impacts how you have to run your business.
And then the ambiguity. I use the word little precedent for this. There’s actually no modern precedent for how to deal with this in the United States. The global pandemic, the flu situation of 1918, but that was a completely different world. So there are certainly some public health lessons that can be learned, but very little workplace or team culture lessons that carry into 2020.
And then, of course, you know, just the uncertainty around the disease, how will it evolve? Will it evolve? What will happen? When will the vaccine? Will there be in a vaccine, right? There will be. But it’s a matter of when, obviously. And we just continue to don’t know how the changes will unfold in our society and impact them.
That’s a lot of external environmental pressure on your organization. In addition to, many of you serve the hungriest, the neediest, the frailest of our society. And now you’re trying to keep your organization together and serve those that need our help now more than ever. And food banks who have had to ramp up from serving 1,000 pounds of food a week, I’m making up these numbers, my friends, bear with me. They’ve gone from serving 1,000 pounds of food a week to 5,000, 10,000, 25,000 pounds of food. Those are operational nightmares and opportunities. And because I live with joy and optimism, I do believe every problem has a solution. Every challenge is an opportunity for us to step up our game.
And so it’s easy to get mired and the uncertainty and the negativity of the situation. And today I want to invite you back into optimism, joy, the honor to serve in the way that you do by equipping you in a new way, and maybe some clarity as to how to get through the rest of this disaster recovery phase that we’re now in for the next 18 to 24 months, but then also give you some hope and some tools for how you can continue to demonstrate resiliency and focus for yourself and your team.
So I want to check in on the chat. I saw a few things coming up as I was talking. As I do that, I want to hear from you now in Q&A or chat, what are three ways you must adapt moving forward? Give me three quick hits of things that are relevant for you now that you know will continue to change for your organization. And if you only got one, that’s fine too. I would love to hear from you. What adaptations do you know must happen in the next future? Sorry, friends. Let me drink some more of my afternoon coffee. In the near term future events.
Ooh. Yes. Messaging. Mm-hmm. Explain how people can contribute in safe ways. Adopting technology, looking at new innovation, new revenue streams, updated value prop. Yes. Our planning has to be different. My, friends, here’s a quick tip. You will not be able to do a strategic plan for the next two years. This is Stefanie opinion. You will not be able to do a strategic plan for the next two years because there’s too much uncertainty in the external environment, your organization has been stretched in new ways, and chances are it created new pressures on your organization that you haven’t experienced before.
Now, I’m not going to say you can’t plan. And I’m not going to say you can’t make decisions. I’m saying from creating true strategy, you need a disaster recovery plan. You don’t need a strategic plan for the next two years. And we’ll dig into that in a minute.
Delay professional staffing expectations. Cultivate more partnerships. Yes. Because none of us do this work alone. More online programming. Yes. So I work with some fraternities at a headquarter level. And so for the fraternities who have been looking at online learning management systems or software for the past two, three, five years, when COVID hit their homes and their fraternity houses had to be shut down suddenly and their students were sent home in most cases, the folks that had already invested and implemented LMS were light years ahead of those that hadn’t even purchased their LMS yet, or didn’t have a plan to, or didn’t even know what instructional design was. And so that very decision to invest three years ago versus July 2020 is going to make or break some of these fraternities. And I know the same as for you, you’re either in front of the eight ball or behind the eight ball, depending on your investment in technology up to this point.
I guess to adapt to engagement, new ways to innovate. Mm-hmm. Hold those plans loosely. Yes. And I’m going to clarify that, Lisa. I say, stay committed to the goal, hold on to the tactics that it takes to get to the goal loosely. But stay committed to that future vision. Revision of programs and services. Continual communication challenges. Always, always, always.
Good stuff, my friends. This is so helpful. Thank you. So to frame up what you’re experiencing and, I don’t . . . You know, raise your hand, tell me like, “Stefanie, I already knew this. I got this covered.” What I wanted to share with you today and educate you on are the four phases of disaster and emergency management. This is not something I learned until I was knee deep in designing an access database to track all the requests to help and all the requests for help at Catholic Charities way back in 2005.
And so what happens is, is a disaster will hit us. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hurricane, a tornado, a global health pandemic like COVID-19, which then has economic disaster implications in the future, right? So this was both an economic and a public health disaster that has hit us simultaneously in 2020. Most of us think about this one phase and we think about responding to the crisis. And actually, proper disaster management has four thorough processes that keeps you better prepared and better able to be more proactive when we get to phase three.
So let’s dig into phase one, my friends. Mitigation, you will get to be back in this phase in 18 to 24 months. Right now we are in phase four, spoiler alert. Here’s what happens in phase one. This is when you have the benefit of both hindsight and foresight because you’re not in the middle of crisis. You get to think about risk management from a detached perspective because you’re not in the middle of putting those dumpster fires out. You get to think about the human resource implications of what just happened and what needs to happen next time. You need to rethink your insurance coverage and reevaluate that, and bring in new tools that maybe will evolve because as many of you have experienced as an organization, existing insurance hasn’t been adequate during this global pandemic. My guess is that there will be something that comes into play in the future that might be more relevant to a global health pandemic, right? That was redundant, my bad. A global pandemic.
You need a coordinator. You need someone to spearhead your business continuity plan and your disaster plan, who is that person? Who’s best equipped to do it? It is not the person that when disaster strikes they’re running around like the hair got caught on fire. You need someone who is calm under pressure to be your disaster coordinator and someone who’s proactive and will run active. And this doesn’t just apply to a global pandemic. They’re the folks that are planning out your fire drills for your building. They’re the person that’s planning out your active shooter drills for your building, which just breaks my heart, that we have to plan for those now. That’s the state of our world in some ways of thinking.
You need someone who will spearhead your business continuity plan and design that relationship, or approval, whatever that needs to be between the staff and the board on that continuity plan. You need a media strategy to communicate with your various stakeholders so that if services get disrupted, you know how to communicate with your stakeholders with traditional media, social media, your traditional marketing and communication tools, etc. Get that all down on paper, get it in a binder book, digitally and in paper so that if you don’t have access to your files, you still got it somewhere and it’s always updated, right?
Determine your best sources of information in times of crisis and establish those communication channels. So just as you might need to rethink supplier relationships during this mitigation phase, you also need to rethink media relationships, you need to think about information sources, who are your go-tos for that? A lot of organizations were relying on different sources of information as the world was kind of being quarantined from mid-March through mid-May and it wreaked havoc because there was inconsistent information.
So phase two is preparedness. This is where you practice your plans. You stress test your IT capabilities by sending people home suddenly and abruptly, right? So it’s, they walk in the office at 8:05, IT stress test today, head on home. We’re going to work from home and see what happens. Now, a lot of you have those kinks worked out because you had to in mid-March or earlier for those of us in the LA and Seattle area or California and Oregon and Washington area, but for us here in the Midwest, it really hit us in a big way between the dates of March 13th and March 16th. I will share with that. Those four days, and it was over a weekend, countless offices shut down drastically in response to COVID-19. So that’s not quite the issue. Hopefully, you’ve got those kinks worked out.
You have to review those insurance policies, keep those up-to-date. So you may have purchased a new product, but review that annually to make sure that that is exactly what you need should a variety of disasters strike. Stress test your plans. Like I said, run those scenario plannings for workshops, for disaster, and emergency possibilities.
So what happens in 2022, and all of a sudden your donor revenue is cut by 50%. Run through those scenarios in a workshop and just get some big . . . You don’t have to design all of the tactics here, but get some of those big ideas, big action steps down on paper so that people aren’t left kind of floundering in the moment with what to do. You have at least got the first three, five steps articulated to begin moving forward when disaster does strike.
You know, let’s say your office gets flooded, let’s say there’s a fire in your office. Gosh, I mean, there’s a million things that could go wrong that, you know, no one had a global pandemic in their strategic plan for 2020. Now we know that that needs to be on our radar for future situations. Think through that, not in a morbid kind of way, but think through that in a proactive planning kind of way.
I see some questions coming in. Let me see what I got going on here before I get to the next slide. Paul says, “Managing reflex tasking in a disaster recovery while honoring your purpose, values, vision, and mission.” Mm-hmm. And maybe I’m a little behind, Paul. Tell me if I am. I want to make sure I capture some of these thoughts because they see them coming in now. All right. I think I’m up-to-date. Thank you for sharing, all.
So this is step two. We oftentimes, what I found in organizations that I work with, we think about step two and we think about step three when we’re in the moment because we’re forced to. Now, when a disaster strikes, it creates a high level of urgency for change. I worked with an organization, so I worked with a director of operations. He had been asking his accounting department to figure out a digital way to process all of their expenses and revenue. It’s actually a government organization and they have a lot of money that comes in from a variety of sources and a lot of money that goes out from a variety of sources and the folks that they pay money to also pay them through subcontracted relationships and service agreements.
He had been asking, asking, asking accounting department, “We need a lockbox system. We need a digital way to process this money, both in and out. I want you to get that set up.” And the accounting manager never had time make it happen. Guess what the director of operations was doing on March 14th? He was simultaneously equipping his IT people to get people to work from home and creating a process to process revenue and expenses, the money coming in and out from a digital perspective in a way that did not rely on someone coming into the office because that wasn’t the safe response to do. And here in Indiana, our governor sent all of our state employees home.
He got that done. He got that accounting process set up in a week and a half. Was it ideal? No. Was it perfect? No. Did it do the job? Yes. Did it add an income incredibly high amount of stress to his life? Yes. When his accounting manager had three years to make it happen and she never had time to do it. That’s unacceptable, my friends. But this is what disaster does to us, is it creates a high need for urgency for the most pressing issues. And so it got done, and I’m guessing it works even better now than it did back in March, but this is what disaster does. And so during a disaster, and you all have lived through this, so I’m probably telling you lessons, you’ve already had to learn the hard way earlier this year, right? You’ve got to triage the most pressing issues, and that includes your team’s emotional health, your own emotional health, and those that you serve.
And I’m not saying give into hysteria, I’m saying create space for an emotional response because we’re human beings. We’re going to have feelings. Make sure that those people that are putting in 12 hours a day every single day for weeks on end get a day off at some point. Make sure that that person that’s just coming into your office just bawling in tears, get her set up with your EAP so she can process that somewhere. Tend to your emotional health needs. And that doesn’t mean you have to, because, you know, I get a lot of helpers on this call in the nonprofit world. It doesn’t mean that you have to tend to their emotional needs. It means as a leader, you’ve got to equip them to attend to their emotional needs.
Communicate regularly with your key constituencies. So what I mean by regularly is probably . . . what makes sense is a one time a week email with updates for what’s happened and what you think is going to happen in the week ahead.
A lot of times folks are frustrated that there’s not enough communication. They’re frustrated, actually, that there’s not enough consistent communication. When they’re left hanging week by week or day by day and don’t know when to expect a message from you, that’s when they get frustrated. So the easiest thing you can do is say, you know, when you’re in the thick of the response,” Every day at 9:00 a.m., you can expect this email from me. Here’s what I’m going to tell you about.” And then you can eventually move to a once a week framework.
All right. So implement that business continuity plan. You’ve done all the planning. You’re ready to go. You’re ready to try it out. You’ve got to reconfigure staffing needs. You’ve got to analyze those budget implications and create contingency plans. You are doing the work that you have been planned for. That is the response. Right now, my friends, we are in recovery mode. We are rebuilding. We are rethinking. We are adapting. So you might have to reevaluate your model. Someone said reevaluate their value prop right now. Yes. You’ve got to reevaluate your supply chain if that’s relevant to you and your subcontractor availability. You’ve got to adapt your strategic plan. You’ve got to address organizational and talent weaknesses that revealed itself during the crisis. So a lot of the organizations that I was meeting with really saw the rock stars step up and shine and they saw their C players become F players and almost like hold back the organization.
Now, my friends, is the time to deal with that. Maybe the folks that went from C to F are paralyzed by fear and they need some kind of mental health support. This is worth a conversation with them right now. And only by working out the conversation will you figure out what they really need, they probably don’t know what they need, but it’s unacceptable that the way that they’re contributing to the organization right now is going from a C player to an F player.
As a leader, I’m going to challenge you to address this by the end of the year. And it might mean more resources for that person and that might mean that person needs to find a new culture. Only you two will figure out that answer, but it’s unacceptable because too many of my leaders are holding onto the responsibility of keeping the doors open right now for their organization and fighting every single day to do their best work. You’ve got to demand that of the people around you. Your missions are too critical to not have folks playing at their A game right now or getting the resources to play at their A game.
You’ve got to emerge from that triage decision-making. So the problem is in disaster response, we get so used to making decisions on the fly rapidly with little information, we try to carry that into disaster recovery. You can now slow down some of your decision-making. You can now bring in more voices, you can now bring in more resources, you can now bring in more information to make a decision. We have to get off that kind of hamster wheel of decision-making that happens in response and step into longer-term decision-making. And now is the time to also look at revising both staff and board policies and procedures based on what happened earlier this year to better mitigate future problems and disasters. Excuse me, as they happen again. Because, unfortunately, a global pandemic will happen again. Another hurricane will wreck the Gulf Coast. These things are now patterns in our world culture.
All right. And so now is the time to begin addressing some of the weaknesses that were revealed in your organization during disaster response. So before I transition to talking about resiliency and focus, and I can answer your questions about the four phases in a minute. I wanted to pair these two topics together for you to give you an understand of both what you’ve been through and what additional work might be on your plate as a leader from an organizational perspective to be better prepared for disaster recovery as it unfolds now and when it happens again.
And now I want to transition to talking about resiliency and focus. I’d love to hear from you. Q&A or chat, how are you feeling as a leader right now? Do you feel confident? Do you feel, you know, one person said, “I got this.” I believe you, you’ve got this. Do you feel insecure? Do you feel like, “Woo. I’ve just been ran through the ringer,” overwhelmed, inadequate, exhausted. Overwhelmed and encouraged. I love it. Sounds totally fair. Okay. “This is my opportunity for me to show my value.” Absolutely. Absolutely, Amy. Exhausted. Totally get it.
Energized because some of those back burners are coming back into the spotlight. Yeah. That makes sense to me. Fearful about money. Inadequate, not listened to. Yes. One person said, “I’ve realized I don’t have as much influence as I would like.” Yes. This is what disasters do. They reveal the worst and the best of our organizations, of ourselves, of others. And now is the time when we can consciously choose to address that. And I think the lesson that needs to be learned right now by a lot of folks is that resiliency is the thing that’s going to get us through this.
And, friends, I will share with you. So those of you who are on here a bit earlier, you heard Steven and I talking about me being a foster parent. So I had foster children for close to two years. They actually left to go live with their birth mother two years ago, this past July. It was an extremely traumatic situation to . . . I will sum it up this way, watch my children die but not die. And that was 2018. It was unbelievably hurtful. And I grieved for a long time . . . like I actively grieved for a good year and a half. And I can say now I feel like I’m in a place of healing from that.
2020 and a global pandemic was not my year to be in the grief cycle. It was not my year to feel the overwhelm and the stress from it because I had built up a high level of resiliency from the situation that I went through as a foster parent, both my husband and I. And actually, my husband runs the COVID-19 testing response for the state of Indiana’s health department. So in many ways, this is our time to be there as support to other people. And so I bring up resiliency now. I believe it’s crucial now. And I hope that you understand, I say this from a place of empathy and a place of I’ve been through the dark muckety muck and now I’m on the other side where I can see the light, and the hope, and the optimism for the future, and the humanity. And I want to invite you to look into that too. So that’s the perspective that I bring this from.
There is a woman that I follow, her name is Cy Wakeman and I think the world of her. She talks a lot about true accountability, shared accountability in organizations. If you don’t follow her on LinkedIn, I highly encourage you to do that. Cy Wakeman, C-Y, and then Wakeman, just like it sounds. I follow her on LinkedIn. I’m sure she’s got all the places. But she says, “Our circumstances aren’t the reasons we can’t succeed. They are the circumstances in which we must succeed.”
Friends, we cannot use COVID-19 as all of the excuses this year. These are problems that we must learn to face and deal with. And, you know, I’m not going to minimize any of the external environments that does create a ton of pressure on our organizations. I’m not saying that. I’m not saying to dismiss that. What I’m saying is that we’ve got to look at these as problems and challenges that we can overcome and not continue to blame for why we stay paralyzed, why we don’t make decisions, why we don’t move forward.
And so this is why resiliency is so important. And, you know, resiliency is not about pushing through. Resiliency is not about powering through at all costs. What it’s about is this understanding that there are things you can’t control, things you cannot control. There are areas of your work that you have confidence. There are areas of your work that you don’t, but you can learn. Resiliency is about proper coping mechanisms. Resiliency is about developing true connection with other people, having character, which is being centered around your values, contributing, and having confidence. One of the things that makes people confidence is that they know they can figure it out. Not that they have all the answers, but they know they can get the right answer.
All right. I see a hand being raised. Let me see if I can figure out how to see the hand. Go ahead and put that question in the chat, if you will, when you’re raising your hand or Q&A. We’ll get to it. So that’s the perspective I want to bring to you, friends, about resiliency. Don’t power through but don’t shut down. We’ve got to find the right self-care mechanisms to continue to gracefully move through this disaster recovery. Frankly, we don’t always have to be graceful about it either. So don’t put that pressure on yourself.
In my research in preparing this presentation, I found this quote that I think is really powerful. “This is the ultimate test of your leadership and an opportunity for you to show your employees what you’re made of. And in turn, you can model for them the resiliency and focus that they need to have right now.”
So as a leader, and again, my friends, use this slide deck as a workbook. We’ll get the updated version to you afterwards. As a leader, make sure you’re living from a place of your values consistently. That’s going to keep you on the upright so when the days really hard and really long, tap into who you are and what values you want to bring to the world. Maintain your confidence, stay centered and grounded. Not that you have to know it all, but know that you can figure it out with other people, with their help.
Make sure you take care of your own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs, whatever that looks like for you. And I’m going to add this caveat, scrolling through social media, watching TV, drinking a glass of wine, those are numbing activities. That is not self-care. I’m not saying don’t do them. I’m not saying they don’t have their place. I’m saying that’s not self-care. Self-care is alone time to think, being out in nature, silence, calmness, that’s self-care. Whatever that looks like to you, you need more of that in your life, especially right now.
Make bold decisions and know that they’re the right choices. We’re not going to have all the information. We’re not going to know what’s going to happen in 2021, but make the decision and move forward anyway, because it’s that action that will get you to the right result. It’s not paralysis. It’s not sitting and thinking about doing something, it’s about doing something. The right answer will emerge.
Get to know yourself and your stress response. And you probably have good awareness about that already, but make sure you own how do you tend to show up when you’re stressed out, create that respite for yourself as a counter measure. You’ve got to know the difference between pre-living and coping ahead. And so, again, I learned this in my research about resiliency to bring this to you. Pre-living is that ruminating. It’s when that thought is just going on a cycle in your brain and won’t turn off. “What if this happens? What if this happens?” And, “Oh, my gosh, what if this happens.” Pre-living is that thing that keeps you up in the middle of the night. Coping ahead is that contingency planning, so what will I do when this happens? What will I do when this happens? Who will I be? Who will I show up when all of a sudden these three people quit their job? Or whatever that is, whatever that stressful scenario is. So don’t ruminate, but do do healthy coping ahead or contingency planning, both for yourself, for your team, for your organization.
For your team, here are some tips that I have for you. Communicate both pragmatism and hope. Friends, our donations are down 50%. Here’s what we’re going to do to fix it. Here’s what I need you to do. Here’s best-case scenario. Here’s realistic scenario. Here’s worst-case scenario. A lot of leaders that I work with are overly optimistic and kind of portray this, the sun will come out tomorrow. Oh, sorry for singing. I should not do that in public. But they kind of communicate this over-optimism. And for your more pragmatic team members, they’re not going to get on board because they’re like, “That’s not going to happen.” So make sure you’re both pragmatic and hopeful.
Use the 90-day sprint tool to remain nimble and engage team in the goals. And so for those of you . . . I’ll send you an invitation to sign up if you would like it. Awesome. if you’re not familiar with the 90-day sprint tool, it’s a way to name your goals for 90 days, name the tactics for those 90 days, yet stay flexible for one whole quarter to achieve something longer term. Right now I’m not advocating that we do annual plans because of the uncertainty in the world, but a 90-day sprint equips you and your team to agree on the work for the next quarter to keep you focused. So I’ll share that tool with you if you are interested.
I want you, leader, right now to continue to ask for high expectations, ask for accountability in every part of your business because we’ve got to share the burden. We’ve got to share the load. Now is not the time to shift blame to anywhere else but COVID. We’ve got to take responsibility. We’ve got to control what we can control. And I want you to share that accountability with everyone on your team. Don’t hold it all yourself, which is what a lot of overachievers do. We’ve got to share those high expectations.
Oh, yes. High expectations and high amount of grace. I love it, Maya. Agree completely. And yes, of course, give grace because we’re all human beings trying to figure it out.
Get your team members mental health support as they need it. I just wrapped up an amazing project with a statewide nonprofit here in Indiana. I was able to provide coaching to about 60 of their 250 employees and it was life and career coaching for stress management. It was an amazing project. It was a way to equip them with the resiliency that they need now without putting all that pressure on the managers. And so I brought in my team of coaches to work with these 60 staff people on an individual basis to really help them better understand stress and create strategies to fight the overwhelm that we all need right now.
And then what times like this call us for is to rethink transparency. The definition of transparency in an organization between a baby boomer and a millennial is completely different. And right now I want you to rethink, what is your internal communication transparency strategy? What information do you share? Don’t you share, will you share, won’t you share, is not appropriate for all levels, is appropriate for all levels, balancing, pragmatism and hope. Would love to help you think through that further, but at a broad stroke level, that’s I think what this disaster is calling us to, is to rethink transparency for internal communications as well as external communications.
Friends, that is what I have for you today. Thank you for listening. I would love to hear your questions. I know I saw some come in and out, so, Steven, if you want to help me curate these, you know, highlight ones that you think are most important, I’d appreciate that help. And we’ll go from there.
Steven: Yeah. That was awesome. First, Stefanie, thank you for doing this. I just love listening to you every time you come on here because it’s always a good pep talk. I love it. And the VUCA, I had never heard of that. That’s a new one to me, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. I don’t know that much, but this was cool. I learned a lot. I was just sitting here, you know, thinking about some of my own leadership quirks and where they can be improved. So thank you. It was awesome. Sorry that I did such a terrible job introducing you. So I’m glad you talked about your . . . speaking of hot messes. As soon as you said hot mess, I was like, “Yup. That’s me. That’s okay.” So, yeah.
Stefanie: That’s all of us, if we’re honest. It’s okay. Yeah.
Steven: We got a lot of people saying they loved it. And don’t worry, folks. We will send in the slides and the emails. Mental health, you know, can we pull on that thread a little bit? Stefanie, you know, I just kind of noticed a lot of people in the chat saying, you know, they’re burned out. They’re feeling, you know, kind of run down. What do you recommend for people there? Is it . . . I think I’m bad at taking PTO. I mean, maybe I’m not the only one, but what do you say to all those folks? It just kind of struck me.
Stefanie: Yeah. There’s a lot to this. So let me offer up a couple of different scenarios for where people might be coming from. So we all know that we cannot . . . I don’t like this cliché, but it works. We have to put on our own oxygen mask before we put on others. And for my friends in the nonprofit world, we’re going to put on five people’s oxygen masks before we put on our own because we’re helpers and we’re servers and we want to do good in the world.
And so you’ve got to find ways to create daily respite, and that could be a 15-minute meditation that you listen to on YouTube. It could be a hot bath that you take at the end of the day. It could be every other hour laying on your office floor on your back, because what you’re doing is then you’re engaging your spine to send more of the good stress hormone to your body by straightening out your spine because we spend too much time being hunched over and actually creates more cortisol and stress hormone in our brains. So laying on your floor every other hour for 10 minutes and just not listening to anything and just zoning out for 10 minutes will do wonders for your day and your energy level. So that’s a small thing you can do.
On kind of bigger picture timeline, if you will, I want you to think about taking an entire weekend off. Don’t even bring home your laptop. Don’t even check your email. You know, I mean, we’ve just completely over-indexed on 24/7 communication and we’re human beings that aren’t built for that. So stop doing that. Like for the love of God, just stopped doing that. And so we’ve got to do that, which means reframing your work so that you can do it in 40, 50, 55 hours, not 65, 85.
But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and burnout, I need you to pause. I need you to pause, do something you personally love that’s only for you and do that a few times until the right answer emerges for how you’ll get out of overwhelm. Because for everybody it’s different. For some people, they might want a new project because they need more variety in their lives because they’re just bored with their current work. For some people they’re just completely over the role and it just is no longer for them and they need a new role, they need a new culture. For some people, they need a month’s sabbatical. For some people, they need a week’s vacation on the beach. You know, there’s no one right answer there, except for you need to pause and reflect on what you truly need.
Steven: I love it.
Stefanie: Yeah. And the pace that you need to have self-care. So like for my husband, my husband needs to zone out on Sundays and chill on the couch. And when it’s football season, that really works for him. And like that’s his zone out. That’s how he creates stability in his life. For me, I need three big vacations a year. And in between the vacations I drive, drive, drive, drive, drive. That’s my pace. I’m a sprinter, he’s a marathoner, right? So we all just have different paces that we work at. But if you want to find the answer to how to fight your overwhelm, you need to pause.
Steven: I love it. Good advice. You mentioned generations earlier and we were talking before we started. A couple of people that have asked, you know, maybe if you’ve seen any differences between how we should approach these things with maybe different generations on our team. Right. You’ve got any perspective. You’re Gen X. Hope you don’t mind me saying.
Stefanie: Proud Gen X. So just turned 40, baby.
Steven: I’m 36, so I’m close. I’ve got a little bit of a Gen X and millennial. And it seems like Gen X gets a little ignored, right? It’s always the millennials and the boomers fighting. What have you seen? Right. You got an interesting perspective there. Are there really big differences or is it more personality?
Stefanie: You know, I am seeing some significant generational differences with the caveat of, I hate talking in stereotypes. So we got to take this with a grain of salt. But what I do know is, so baby boomers have had two jobs since the age of 12. They have been through many iterations of both local and global and domestic disasters. The Cuban missile crisis, the economic recession of the late ’70s, early ’80s. They have been through multiple iterations of this and so their tolerance for the change that it creates is much higher because they know and they’ve lived, “Oh, there’s always something on the other side, we’ll get there. We just got to get through it.”
And there’s, you know, I would also say in some of the baby boomers that I interact with, their fear of getting it is much lower because of their place in life, which seems counterintuitive, but that seems to be . . . the thing it’s like, “Well, all right, the good Lord up above is going to take me when he takes me. Let’s see what happens.” And I don’t mean that flippantly, it’s just a perspective that I think is a bit higher than other folks.
And so with Gen Xers or, you know, we were coming of age when there was the dotcom boom 9/11, and moving into leadership positions in 2008 as the economy was tanking. So, again, we’ve been through this and we’ve been working since high school and so we have a different connection to work and we’ve been through a lot more, and so we have . . . And we were independent-thinking problem-solvers that were latchkey kids that had to figure out how to get our homework done and play by ourselves. Yeah. Like we’ve been doing this for a very long time. And so it’s, you know, this situation gives us a different perspective because we we’ve been through a couple economic disasters and we see the things that can happen through it and on either side.
Millennials, because they were raised in an over-scheduled and environment, and some of the research even points to the fact that millennials might have PTSD from their lack of uncoordinated time, which just breaks my heart. I read that in New York Times article. They don’t yet have the emotional resiliency, one because of their age. They just haven’t been through enough of life yet.
And two, because of the way that they were raised by baby boomers, might I add, just to throw that in there. They don’t have the emotional coping mechanisms because they didn’t have to problem-solve a lot on their own. They had a lot of adult guidance and school taught them how to get the A. Their career has nothing to do with how to get the A and then you throw in the chaos. And a lot of millennials are in the stage of family planning where they have toddlers at home or, you know, elementary students that need a lot of guidance through e-learning. And so they’re just in a really tough spot as well, socially. So that’s what I’m seeing. No judgments on any of those sides, but that’s what I’m seeing about the reaction as it tends to be.
Steven: Yeah. That seemed to pin it down. And I know it’s general, like you said, but I’ve seen everything you’ve talked about. So wow. This is fun. I know we’re a little bit over time, but Stefanie, how can people get a hold of you if we didn’t get to their question? I know there’s a lot of cool things in here, but people can reach out? Is that cool with you?
Stefanie: Oh, of course. Please do. You know, so what will happen here is Steven will send me the email list. I will send you a list saying, “Hey, if you would like on my list and you’d like this 90-day sprint tool, please sign up.” I will ask you twice. You’re not on the list just for being here. Don’t worry. But yeah, reach out and you can press Reply on that email. Let me know if you have a question. You see my email right here. You know, let me know if there’s an organizational need that you to walk through this. Some of it might be some quick advice and some of it might be, I think you need some coaching here. So I I’d love to talk to folks about their needs from a variety of perspectives. You know, there’s no easy fix, but if I can give you some advice, get you some resources, get you going, I’d love to do that. But yeah, these are hard times and I want to be supportive to you all and help in the way that makes the best sense in the long run too.
Steven: I love it. Reach out. Stefanie’s awesome. You’ve already seen that, but I think she can continue helping you if you reach out and take advantage of it. So thanks for doing this, Stefanie, this is cool. It’s nice to have a local on with me, finally. But it’s good to see you and hear your voice again.
Stefanie: Yeah. Ditto, ditto, ditto. I love it.
Steven: And thanks to all of you for hanging out. I know it’s a busy time of year, but it was cool to see a full room here, for 200 people, I think. I saw at the height of, so. Yeah. Wow. This is awesome.
Stefanie: Oh, my gosh. Fantastic.
Steven: Good group. I told you, they’re awesome. The Bloomerang crew, they’re good.
Stefanie: I love it. New friends. I always love new friends.
Steven: Absolutely. And speaking of, we got some webinars coming up next week. We’ve got a big one on Tuesday, data privacy, donor data security. It’s in the news. Maybe you’ve seen that. I think I need to tell you what I’m talking about, but Tuesday, we got some advice from here for you from some experts on the matter Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. Same time, same place. Free. It’s going to be a good one. We’re going to record it if you can’t make it. And we have a session on Thursday as well on cultural competencies for nonprofits. So if you’re interested in DEI, diversity, equity, inclusion work, that’s going to be a good one as well. Excited for next week.
But, Stefanie, a great way to end the week here, at least the webinar week. So thank you. And thanks to all of you for hanging out. I’ll send you the recording, the slides. You’ll get follow-up from Stefanie as well with some goodies, and hopefully we’ll talk to you again next week. So have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend. Stay safe, stay healthy. We need you out there, and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye now.