This most recent episode of the Start Up podcast struck a chord. Technically, it's not about nonprofit work. But the tension the CEO/ founder describes between what he loves to do (make podcasts) and what his job is (to make the company that makes the podcasts) so perfectly describes a classic nonprofit Executive Director dilemma.
I know several EDs who have left their jobs over the years because they don't get to do the work that drew them into the sector in the first place. For most people, it's the issues that make them want to work for a nonprofit. They want to deliver the programs or services, lead the advocacy charge, and think the ideas that will change the world. And when they find themselves mired in budget reviews, vacation time approvals, or buried in grant reports, they decide to move on. Or, they become phenomenally successful. But they always change.
I liked this episode. I'm not sure if I've ever had a conversation so deep about someone's parents, and I'm not sure if I've ever witnessed quite so many tears, but the overall conflict plays out all the time. I think some ED colleagues will enjoy it. And any founder definitely will.
Here's a snippet from the show:
ALEX: No I think… No, I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s, um… It’s just, um … What morning and evening routines will support me in being more prepared for the meetings I have scheduled each day, is like… I’m not disciplined, in that way. Like, it’s clear that I have to get good at certain things that I’m not good at. And it makes me worried that I will have to become a kind of person that I’m not, and I’m not sure I wanna be? I guess, basically, all these things are like… The thing that’s not reflected is that I love what I’m doing right now and I love being involved in all these things, it’s really fun. And it feels like that is, it’s really fun to be really good at something. And that’s what I feel like I am right now. And I feel like a little bit what’s being told is you have to stop doing the thing that you love and you’re good at and get good at something else. You know?