Conversational Intelligence: Connect And Create Impact with Dr. Mindy Gewirtz and Vivien Hoexter

Often when we talk, we immediately think that people understand what we are saying. Most of the time the person across will connect with you at some level, but what do you do when they don’t? Dr. Mindy Gewirtz believes that you can match your intent with the other person’s impact when you use conversational intelligence. This is a neuroscience based method that aligns you with your client to make a connection and create a lasting relationship. Vivien Hoexter believes that there are seven principles for making lasting social change. The first is if you see yourself as a leader, you need to sharpen your leadership skills because the next steps will follow from the decisions you make. Learn why both Dr. Mindy Gewirtz and Vivien Hoexter believe that non-profits form the backbone of the community.


TTL 155 | Conversational Intelligence

We’ve got a very interesting show because all our guests have had experience with non-profits. First of all, we have Dr. Mindy Gewirtz, who is a co-founder of two non-profits and a for-profit company. Then we have Vivien Hoexter who has co-written a book with her partner, Linda C. Hartley. They’re the authors of Big Impact: Insights & Stories from America’s Non-Profit Leaders. We’re going to talk a little bit about non-profits, but we’re also going to talk about personality assessment, business, and leadership in all areas of it.

Listen to the podcast here

Conversational Intelligence: Connect And Create Impact with Dr. Mindy Gewirtz

I am with Dr. Mindy Gewirtz, who is the co-founder of two non-profits and for-profit companies. Her experience as Executive Team Member of a large non-profit and entrepreneurial engagements provide a framework for integrating client growth with business results. Entrepreneurship and innovation are also an active part of Mindy’s client portfolio. Mindy consulted to the CEO and became a Co-founder of 7AC, a waste heat-driven, cooling and heating clean tech firm. She has actively coached early-stage entrepreneurs. Mindy also gives back to the entrepreneurial community, having been an active member in the Babson’s MBA Program, Boston University’s MBA Kindle Business Competition, and the National Cleantech Open. It’s nice to have you, Mindy.

Thank you. It’s nice to be here.

I’m interested in your experience in neuroscience-based coaching, managing stress, conflict, decision-making and personality assessments like the Hogan Suite and MBTI and all the stuff you do because I write about personality assessments and I have dissertation on emotional intelligence and have an MBTI and all that qualification. I’m very interested in how you got into all that.

I’m currently taking a certification with Judith E. Glaser, who had written her seventh book, called Conversational Intelligence, which has been a Times best-seller book. She has been coaching coaches around the world for the last two years and certifying coaches as well. What was fascinating to me about the conversational intelligence coaching is that it’s all neuroscience-based. We now understand how the brain works and how we can help people change on the basis of the neuroscience. When I tried it with my clients, they were fascinated with the neuroscience because I work a lot with engineers and scientists, and they eat it up.

What do you mean by conversational intelligence? Maybe we should start with that because it is a fascinating thing to discuss.

It’s a methodology where people learn how to make their conversations, in a sense, match the intent with the impact. It’s very simple. Nine out of ten conversations fail to reach the intention that they had in terms of making an impact. Nine out of ten. 75 % of all the work we do is through conversations, especially in our information economy and our post-information economy. It’s all about the conversations that we have. We think that we are all talking and everybody understands what we are saying, and that they’re listening with the same ears, that we heard the same thing. I had a client who is known to be a manager of few words, as he describes himself and others describe him, somewhat affectionately, somewhat annoyingly. He said to me, “Mindy, I have to cancel our appointment that’s coming up because that time won’t work for me.” He doesn’t give me anything about, “It’s just the hour, it’s just the day.” I have to double-click on that and say to him, “Are you meaning just the hour? Are you meaning just the day? Are you meeting next week because you’re off to DC?” He writes back, “No, it’s fine. I need to do it an hour before.” That’s one of the tools that we use. It’s called double-clicking.

Do you find that people are not specific enough when they’re communicating?

He thought that he was very clear in his communication to me, but I had no clue what he was specifically referring to. In a mouse, we double-click so something can be really made clear. It’s the same way here. The way we could make something clear is to double-click and to ask. I help my clients to use this double-clicking terminology. I thought people would find it provocative or not comfortable to use and instead, I found it gives legitimacy to it. It’s better than saying, “Tell me more about what you mean by that.” What we have discovered is that we have six brains. We always knew about the prefrontal cortex, and the prefrontal cortex is where all of our thinking happens. All of our analytical thinking, that’s a baby brain, an infant, in comparison to the other brains that we have. The other brains that we have that people aren’t familiar with is the amygdala. The amygdala is where we have all our emotions. That’s where the term Amygdala Hijack that Goleman had helped make it famous in emotional intelligence. That’s where our emotions take over. What I love to say is that when our primitive brain takes over together with our amygdala, they totally eat the prefrontal cortex for lunch, because they are the old timers who have been around for millions of years longer than the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex doesn’t have a chance at all to be able to work. What we have to do is see if we can find the triggers in the Amygdala Hijack situation, but with that 0.7 seconds. That’s it. That’s not a lot of time.

How do we do that then?

What we used to think is that we have willpower and we would do stuff like that. It’s not true. Once we have an understanding of what our triggers are, for example, when my boss yells at me in front of other people in the office, my first reaction is to yell at him back. We don’t have power in that situation. It becomes a yelling match, and that doesn’t work. If you know what your trigger is, then what you can do is say, “He’s going to trigger me again.” Now, you can’t stop the trigger from happening. All you can do is stop how you react to it. The way you stop and react to it is say, “This is my trigger and I choose to count to ten and by the time I count to ten, take a few deep breaths,” anything that gets you beyond that 0.7 seconds so that your prefrontal cortex can kick in and you can make some sense of it and not fight back in the way that was presented to you. That power that you have totally dissipates the fuel from the other side because they’re waiting for the fuel from your side to continue to fight. It’s no fun if only one person is playing with the fight.

I know a lot of people that if you engage them at all, that’s exactly what they’re looking for. They want to fight is the way to put it. Do these people usually come back with additional ways to try to provoke you or does that completely diffuse the situation?

No, it doesn’t completely diffuse the situation at all because very often people like that are what we call addicted to being right. It’s either my way or the highway. They have a very hard time understanding that there’s any other way than their way. We can work with them separately, but if it’s someone that we are working with who has to deal with a boss like that, then the other strategies that we work with them is try to get them out of that position where they’re constantly being confronted by this person. Once they know that person’s triggers, and once they know their own triggers, then we have another tool for them. The tool is called, beautifully enough, the Ladder of Conclusions. We all have mind movies of our own worlds, and they’re not necessarily the worlds of other people. When I get triggered by conversations, I have bio reactions. Very often, the stomach feels it first. “I feel it in my gut. There he goes again.” I have feelings about that. “I can’t stand it. He’s always hurting my feelings.” Then I have thoughts about that. “Maybe I should quit this place.” The beliefs about that and interpretations and assumptions that I’m making about it, “He’s a horrible person. He’s a terrible person.” The conclusion is, “Maybe I should just get out of here,” but at the other time, “I’m being paid well. I love my job. Where am I going to find another job?” We are going up this ladder of conclusions. The first part of the ladder of conclusions is the bio reaction. We get hit in the gut, we know it, something’s going on. Then come our feelings about, “I’m always so hurt when he does it. I turn red. I feel hot. I feel like my whole life has been disrupted by this boss of mine.” It’s part of the movie we make up.

I’ve met a lot of people who feel that way and it’s very frustrating for them.

Our thoughts start to kick in. Our thoughts do something like this. “He’s a narcissist. He’s a terrible person. Why am I even staying in this job? I’m the stupid one for staying in this job.” Then you start beating yourself up for why you’re staying in this job. You have all sorts of beliefs now about yourself, like no sane person would stay in this job and you start making all sorts of assumptions. He’s got the power and you have no power here. The conclusion is you’ve got to go. On the other hand, you love your job. It’s a well-paying job. You absolutely adore the actual work that you’re doing. The question is, “Can you step down the ladder? Can you, with the other person, sit down and share your story and he shares his story? Can you understand each other’s story and come up and appreciate and expand and share that story so that the two of you come up perhaps with a different story?”

A big part of having empathy is being able to put yourself in somebody else’s position and understand how they’re feeling, right?

Yes. Part of the way we do this is we set up a time that you do this in private. You create a safe environment. This for me, as having been a clinician for twenty years, is very helpful. You want to be clear and I’m clear, I do coaching, not therapy anymore. It does in a sense help me with that. Be clear on what the outcome is. The outcome is not to have a dumping session about everything. The outcome is, “You know I’m a good worker. I know you want to keep me. I want to be here. How can the two of us move forward so that my intention and your intention match the impact that we both have?” You’re aligned. If he’s not aligned and he doesn’t want to keep you, forget it. You’re at the end of your story. If the two of you are aligned around that and it’s just the behavior you can’t deal with, then that’s what you can do. When you do the connection and you stay connected to the process of the situation so you’re able to have a healthy situation, then maybe what’s happening is you let the person know that what you want is very simple. You want to end up with stronger a relationship, so you share each other’s stories and how it impacts you. You let him go up his ladder of conclusions, and you go up your ladder of conclusions and you share with each other the impact that it has. The impact that it has, for example, what triggers the yelling for him? What makes him go around that corner with the yelling? You both listen without judgment. You both listen about the situation with the facts, the feelings, the thoughts, but no judgment. That’s the big piece. That is the secret to all of this.

I’m curious with all this research that you’re doing and understanding of all these different personality assessments and things, do you think that something like this would work with somebody like maybe Steve Jobs who was infamous for his personality issues?

When they say, “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer is one, but the light bulb has to want to change. My sense of Steve Jobs is he had no interest in changing.

What is interesting about him is so many people putting up with that. Why do you think people put up with that type of personality? Is it just the desire to be on something big because they know he’s a genius and it’s worth that or is it something else?

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Conversational Intelligence: Listen about the situation with the facts, the feelings, the thoughts but no judgment.

Aside from the masochists among us who don’t mind that, people recognize when someone is such a genius on such a different level. Especially techies, who the people side of things don’t come to them so naturally. It’s easier to get away in that environment. However, it wouldn’t be so easy with today’s millennials.

It would be interesting to see the difference. He did learn a hard lesson. He got kicked out of his company. Coming back, he learned some lessons and we use his case study a lot in the courses I teach because I still do quite a bit of teaching. A lot of the college students look at him for personality issues in terms of emotional intelligence and other things. That’s why I brought him up, and since you’re an expert in a lot of this, I thought you’d find that something interesting. I’m curious about your work with the Hogan Suite. I’ve never worked with that. What is that exactly?

The Hogan Suite is very fascinating. The reason it’s fascinating is because we have personality structures that we use 95% of the time, and we call that our sunny personality. 5% of the time, we have what we call derailers. The derailers are the ones that have a tremendous impact. You always want to look at the things that derail a person from whatever it is that they are in for a job for. If you see someone at a high risk for a particular behavior, then you know that means that person can, in a stressful situation, show up with that high level of risk, then you have to know what you’re getting yourself into around that. Some people, for example, are so reserved. You can be an introvert and a fabulous leader but some people are absolutely so reserved and isolated and don’t want social contact, they cringe from that. That’s hard for a leader as opposed to someone who may be reserved and may like to take a book home instead of going out there, but he’ll send out his extrovert and he’ll do it and he’ll be okay. Just something simple like that. Learning to see where those high risk places are important, and also the one on values. We very often don’t look at the values that leaders hold if it’s a good fit in terms of value.

I was working with a client and his value was commerce, not one stitch around people, just all through commerce. When I said that to him, he goes, “Yeah.” That is his value and it’s good up to a point. It was a huge derailer to only be about commerce. It highlights things in particular when it’s on an extreme place. The sunny side of the situation is nice, that’s the HPI. The HDS in terms of the derailers is illuminating and I find that the values part which gets the littlest play, is the most valuable. You see how the values play out across the HPI and the HDS, and you see how they’re a match, how people play out their values inside all of that. That’s important. I like to use also the MBTI.

What’s your personality type on MBTI?

I’m a very strong E. I’m a very strong N. It’s fascinating by the T and the F. I’m in the middle. Whenever you’re in the middle, you’re an F.

Why is that?

That’s how they market. If you’re right on the edge there, then they consider you an F. Over time, I have moved more to the T side. As I’ve left my clinical work, as I’ve left my leadership and not-for-profit management, as I’ve gone into the entrepreneurial world and into the executive coaching world, I have gotten to be more of a T.

How about your J and P? What did you end up on that?

It’s a J.

I’m a J too. When you’re talking about the TF part on the scale, I had zero F. I’ve never seen that.

Are you an EFTJ?

I’m an ESTJ.

ESTJ’s are wonderful. They are real doers.

It was good going through the Myers-Briggs training because they made us appreciate what you’re imposing, the dichotomy of things. For me, understanding why people want to bring me cookies and do the things that the Fs like to do was helpful to me because I’m like, “I don’t want cookies,” but for them it makes them feel good to have somebody give them cookies or whatever the thing was that we were talking about in the training.

The J in me has to have everything very structured. I am not very spontaneous, I have to admit. This has been so fascinating and it’s so nice talking to you, Mindy. A lot of people would like to know more about how they can reach you and learn more about what you’re doing. Can you share your websites or contact information?

My website is They can reach me by email at I have a Facebook page, I have a LinkedIn page so they can follow me there as well. I’ve become a partner in an entrepreneurial venture called Fresh Biz. What they do is they have a gaming-based entrepreneurial game board that is transformational for people and helps them. I use that in conjunction with the CIQ, because it open people’s minds. it creates a mind shift that you can be someone else and do what it is you want to do in your life and career, which is my goal, is to help people live the life and career that they want in their way. I’ll give you one simple message to leave you with. Think about a glass Hellmann’s mayonnaise jar, put a bunch of flies in it, and cover the jar with little holes so they can breathe. Close it up to 72 hours and they don’t fly out. They stay there forever. What happens is that their mindset stays there and that’s very much the same thing for us.

I appreciate that you were able to share that. Thank you, Mindy, for coming on the show. We’ll have to follow up with what you’re working on.

You’re very welcome. It’s a pleasure meeting you, Diane.

Conversational Intelligence: Connect And Create Impact with Vivien Hoexter

I am with Vivien Hoexter, who co-authored a book with Linda C. Hartley, and the book’s called Big Impact: Insights & Stories from America’s Non-Profit Leaders. Vivien is the Principal of H2Growth Strategies LLC which helps organizations create actionable strategic plans, build strong boards, and increases revenue to generate greater impact. This is going to be an interesting show, so I’m looking forward to talking to you, Vivien. Welcome.

TTL 155 | Conversational Intelligence
Conversational Intelligence: Big Impact: Insights & Stories from America’s Non-Profit Leaders

It’s wonderful to be here. Thank you for having me on.

I’m fascinated with your book because I don’t get a lot of non-profit discussions on this show. I work on a board of advisors for a non-profit and it’s for LeaderKid Academy. I’m interested in what generated your and Linda’s interest in writing a book where you interview a bunch of non-profit leaders.

Linda and I have spent much of our careers in the non-profit sector, although we both have MBAs, mine in marketing and hers in management. We formed our company, H2Growth Strategies, a little over two years ago. When we did that, we decided we wanted to do a big project to announce the creation of the firm. We worked with many non-profit leaders during our careers, and we were really impressed by their wisdom and also by the fact that there didn’t seem to be many books about non-profit leadership as told by the non-profit leaders themselves. You’ve got scores of books on corporate leadership, hundreds, probably thousands, but very few on non-profit leadership. There are many principles of non-profit leadership that are the same or similar to the principles of for-profit leadership, but there are a few that are very different.

We wanted to highlight those and also to amplify the voices of the leaders that we interviewed because not only are there not a lot of books about non-profit leadership, but because non-profits don’t have the marketing and advertising budgets of large corporations, the stories of their successes are often not as well-known as they should be.

That must have been interesting trying to find the people for your book then. Did you have any difficulty finding people who wanted to share their stories?

No. One of the most surprising things was how easy it was to persuade these leaders, some of whom are very busy and very high-powered, like Stephen Heintz of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Larry Kramer of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, how easy it was to convince them to speak to us. We interviewed nearly 50 leaders and we only had one or two say that they couldn’t do it. That was because they were too busy. It was very affirming to have them say yes.

How long did you spend with these interviews? Was it a one-day thing? Did you talk to them on the phone? I’m curious because it’s a different format.

We started in November of 2016 at a conference called the Independent Sector. Independent Sector is an association of non-profits and foundations. We were able to talk with a number of leaders there in person and some of the ones who were in New York, we also talked to in person because we’re based in New York. A lot of them we did on the phone, and they last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on how much time the person had or how many words they used. We have all of this wonderful material and we only were able to showcase 21 of the 50 in the book.

That’s got to be hard to pick who to leave in, because I’m sure they all had great content. I’m sure some of them probably had different things that kept them up at night that might have been a good thing to share. Was there any threaded ideas that they all had that you go, “I’m seeing a real trend here with things that maybe keeps them up at night?”

Because of the work that they do and the fact that it was right after the 2016 election, a lot of them were very concerned about the state of our democracy and the kinds of social programs that their clients benefit from. That was one theme, another was fundraising. We interviewed both leaders of foundations and leaders of public charities. The leaders of public charities, like Goodwill Industries International, Share Our Strength, I don’t know any non-profit leader who’s not concerned about fundraising. That was another theme.

Who would you even think this book is for? Is it just for non-profit leaders or can for-profit leaders get something from this book?

Our primary audience is non-profit and foundation leaders, but absolutely we think that most people can get something from this book because most people are either volunteers in non-profits or donors to non-profits, who are very generous people or they serve on the boards of non-profits as you do. Non-profits, in many places, the churches, the synagogues or whatever, form the backbone of the community, with their soup kitchens and training programs. Non-profits are integrated into the lives of our communities. We think most anyone who is interested in the health of their community and who wants even possibly to make social change themselves, would benefit from the book. There’s a lot of wisdom in this book that is universal.

What do you think was the most interesting thing you learned? What would you want to share with everybody about your findings? Is there anything that stood out in your mind?

There are many things but one is particularly interesting to us. The level of emotional intelligence of the leaders is truly remarkable. If I had to say what’s the one thing that distinguishes these folks, it is their level of emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Often, and this is another surprising thing, that emotional intelligence grew out of some tragedy in childhood, whether that was the early death of a parent or in one case, a sister who has intellectual challenges or intellectual disabilities or someone who was a foster child until she was adopted. Almost 25% of the leaders we interviewed had something like that occur in their childhoods or relatively early in their lives. To some extent, they credit those tragedies with directing their life’s course in terms of the work that they chose to do. The woman who was a foster child now runs the National Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, which appoints and trains volunteers to advocate for foster children in court. That stood out to us.

That’s interesting, the emotional intelligence aspect, because the company where I sit on the board is an emotional intelligence training company for K-12 kids. That’s a double whammy there and that’s good. The head of it is a husband and wife team and they have great interest in helping give back, and I could see why that would be a common theme as well. I am curious about the challenges you’ve faced. How hard was it to do this when you’re writing this book? Is this your first book or do you have other books?

This is our first book and it may be our last book. If you’d told us beforehand how much work it was going to be, I don’t know that we would’ve done it, but we’re happy that we did. It took about almost two years, which I understand is not that long. I was pretty much tied to my desk for a good part.

It’s almost like starting a company. If people told you what you’d have to go through, you’d never do it. It’s a good-sized book and you’ve got quite a few stories in here. Is this something that someone’s going to read more than once? Is it a reference or is this a one-time read for you?

We think it’s a reference, although some people have read it straight through and said that they enjoyed it. It’s clear to me that someone’s not going to be able to read the whole book at one sitting. Depending on who the person is, I’ll often say, “I think you should read the Stephen Heintz interview or the Brian McLaren interview.” Even though we shouldn’t have favorite ones, we do. If you want to be a social activist, you should read Evan Wolfson, the Founder and President of Freedom to Marry. He’s absolutely brilliant. He spent 32 years working on gay marriage, starting with his law school thesis and he lays out the steps that he had to take first at Lambda Legal, where they were litigating and then he left Lambda Legal. It’s a lesson in how to make social change. People who have different interests will be interested in different stories.

How do they use those stories to make a bigger impact?

We discovered seven principles of making social change by doing the interviews. Those principles have chapters that frame the book. The first is sharpen your leadership skills. The second, ensure your own house is in order. The third, be crystal clear about your goal, articulate it persuasively. The fourth, campaign on many fronts. The fifth, build broad-based coalitions. The sixth, persist. The seventh, leverage your success. Based on our research, these are the steps we think are necessary for making lasting social change. They start with the individual and work outward from the individual to the individual’s organization and then to the social sector and then to society as a whole. That’s the way they’re ordered.

The first one is obvious. If you’re going to be a leader, you need to sharpen your leadership skills, whether that’s seeking out mentors or building emotional intelligence or in some cases, working in direct service as a way to understand what’s happening on the ground. Then the second, we say ensure your own house is in order, but what we mean by that is make sure your organization is as functional as it can be. That includes things like recruiting talented, passionate employees and giving them autonomy in decision-making, surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you are. Here’s one that is maybe unique to the non-profit sector, invest time in managing your board, because a non-profit is going to have a board that’s generally much larger than a corporate board. Most non-profit leaders, the good ones understand that they have to spend probably at least 10% of their time managing their boards, and that will make the rest of their job easier, but often it’s hard to find that time. The third, be crystal clear about your goal, articulate it persuasively. If you want to make change, you’ve got to define the outcome specifically, and then frame it in a way that people can hear it and resonate with it. As an example, we’ll take Share Our Strength, which many people have not heard of, but they’ve probably heard about No Kid Hungry, which is Share Our Strength’s campaign to end childhood hunger in the US, and which is within a decade of achievement, believe it or not. It’s specific, it’s memorable, our goal is No Kid Hungry.

TTL 155 | Conversational Intelligence
Conversational Intelligence: If you want to make change, you’ve got to define the outcome specifically.

The fourth and fifth are related. The fourth is campaign on many fronts. The fifth is build broad-based coalitions. Campaigning on many fronts, I alluded to this when I was talking about Evan Wolfson and the campaign for gay marriage because litigation is one tool but it’s not the only tool. You have to find common ground. In many cases, you have to change social norms to make real lasting change. In the case of Freedom to Marry, the messaging went from, “It’s about rights,” to, “It’s about love.” It’s about people being free to love the person they want to love, and that resonated much more with the public than the idea of rights when it came to love. Advocacy is a huge part of making social change in pretty much any situation. In building broad-based coalitions, non-profits are often quite isolated and they tend to look inward, but the most successful ones are seeking partnerships of all kinds. I sometimes talk about how the non-profit sector, it employs about 10% of the US workforce so it’s not an insignificant percentage, but the rest is government and the private sector. To make real social change, non-profits have to eventually turn over or they’d have to work with the government and private sectors to have broad-based adoption of their causes, and so partnerships are critical. Including communities of faith is critical. I talked about how in some small towns, communities of faith are the largest non-profits, so it’s very important to include those in most campaigns to create change.

The sixth is one of my favorites: persist. Evan Wolfson persisted for 32 years, and it took a lot longer than that. Suffrage for women took a lot longer than 32 years. Pretty much anything that’s worth doing in this arena is going to take time. One of my favorite ideas or things that we learned is winning is better than losing obviously, but you have to accept that you can’t win everything. When you lose, you try to lose forward. If you know that your issue is not going to be popular in a particular area of the country, and you ignore that area because you know you can’t win there, that’s not a good idea. Even if you can’t “win,” you can make some headway. That’s what we mean by lose forward and that’s a very important premise of making change, is that you have to not just focus on the places where you can win.

Finally, the seventh is leverage your success. Train others and work toward organizational sustainability. If you’re lucky enough to achieve your goal, then what’s the next challenge? In the case of Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry, the leader of Share Our Strength, Billy Shore, is already thinking about what Share Our Strength will do after it’s ended childhood hunger in the US. Will it go overseas and try to work overseas, recognizing that that’s much more complicated? He’s not sure yet, but he’s already thinking about what the next challenge should be for his organization. I went through them fast, but that’s a little about the principles. What we learned in the largest sense was, “Here’s what successful change makers are doing, and here’s how you can learn from them and here’s what you can learn.”

It’s a little reminiscent of Covey’s habits, being proactive and sharpening your saw. Did you feel that you were hearing those kinds of things?

Yes. I love Covey but Covey is more about the individual, Covey is not about making social change. He’s about being a more effective and happier person and leader. I can’t say we weren’t influenced by him, because even after 25 years, it’s one of my favorite books in the self-help arena. We’re taking it in a different direction a little bit.

A lot of those principles guide the directions of overall groups like the company. What’s the biggest misconceptions about non-profits? Are there any?

There are a lot. One of the biggest misconceptions has to do with the worth of non-profit employees and how they’re paid. You may be familiar with Dan Pallotta. He has this great TED talk about how the work that people in the non-profit sector do is valuable. If you want smart people to work on our biggest social problems, you have to pay them fairly, and how the way in general that non-profit employees are paid is not sustainable and will not retain the best talent. There’s a misconception that if you want to do good, you have to suffer. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions. Another has to do with fundraising. I and my partner have spent our whole careers pretty much fundraising. One of the biggest misconceptions is that you can go out and ask a wealthy person who’s never heard of your organization until now, for $1 million in the first meeting and get it.

How often does that happen?

I can’t say it never happened but it certainly doesn’t happen often. Fundraisers often get a bad rap if they join an organization and don’t raise $1 million in the first six months. Fundraising is sales. If you’re talking about a big ticket item, you have to build a relationship with your prospect and you have to bring them to you. If you have a school or a soup kitchen or whatever, you have to bring them there. If they don’t have the time to come, you have to take your clients to them and you have to maybe invite them to events and have them meet multiple people from the organization and give you advice, because asking for advice is one of the best ways to raise money. It could take a while if you’re talking about a large gift. I think people don’t appreciate that. Not all but many people just don’t understand

It is very challenging and it seems like you have addressed so many great topics in this book. There are a lot of people who would like to know more because we don’t get a lot of non-profit discussions here. This was timely and a good overall look at everything. If you could share with how people can find your book and reach you, that would be wonderful.

The best way is to go to our website, which is That’s the best way to find out all about us and the book.

Thank you so much, Vivien. It’s so nice to have you on the show. I wish we could’ve had Linda too, maybe next time, but it was so wonderful.

Thank you so much to my guests, Mindy and Vivien. Please join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

About Dr. Mindy Gewirtz


TTL 155 | Conversational IntelligenceDr. Mindy Gewirtz is a co-founder of two nonprofits and for-profit companies. Her experience as Executive Team member of a large nonprofit, and entrepreneurial engagements provide a framework for integrating client growth with business results. Entrepreneurship and innovation are also an active part of Mindy’s client portfolio. Mindy consulted to the CEO and became a co-founder of 7AC, a waste heat driven cooling and heating Cleantech firm. She has actively coached early-stage entrepreneurs in Boston’s thriving entrepreneurship community. Mindy also gives back to the entrepreneurial community, having been an active mentor in the Babson’s MBA program, Boston University’s, MBA Kindle Business Competition, and the National Cleantech Open.

About Vivien Hoexter

TTL 155 | Conversational IntelligenceVivien Hoexter is the co-author of Big Impact: Insights and Stories from America’s Non-Profit Leaders. Vivien Hoexter is Principal of H2Growth Strategies LLC, which helps organizations create actionable strategic plans, build strong boards and increase revenue to generate greater impact. Her co-author, Linda C. Hartley (MBA-Stern NYU), is Principal of H2Growth Strategies LLC, which has helped over 100 organizations raise over $1.5 billion.

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