But maybe you’re not as good as you think

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Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

My predecessor is a non-profit visionary who did an excellent job as CEO. He’s also a friend.

Tom led our organization through a major crisis and, while doing so, raised our profile to an incredible degree and secured the endowment that allowed us to become a grant-maker rather than a grant-seeker.

He won the respect of both the population we serve as well as the targets of our advocacy efforts.

His hard work, dedication, and skill made us a player in our sector, and that allows us to serve our clients much better than we did before him.

Tom is also more than a decade younger than I am. …

Leaders need to help the she-cession become a she-covery

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Photo by Austrian National Library on Unsplash

Back in the previous century, just after my younger sibling started primary school, my mother approached my father with a proposition.

If he allowed — yes, “allowed” — her to go back to work, she could bring in enough money as a nurse to pay off our mortgage in half the time. She promised none of us would ever miss a home-cooked meal.

My father looked at her solemnly over his black Buddy Holly glasses. “Okay,” he said. “I’m fine with that. As long as nothing slides around here.”

Decades later, I’d cringe at the way my mother made him the hero of that story. She thought she was lucky to have found such a great husband. …

Why creativity is more important than ever

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Photo by Julie Laiymani on Unsplash

Creators create under the most challenging circumstances. Great art, writing, and music have come from poverty, tyranny and imprisonment. Shakespeare even wrote King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, and Macbeth while quarantining during the bubonic plague.

That’s what everybody was saying back in March when the pandemic began to affect my life and work. It annoyed me like crazy until about a month ago when the surge protector in my brain kicked in and moderated my fight-or-flight response. Given the hold COVID-19 has on the popular psyche, writing felt pointless, I’ve been producing more fiction than ever. …

10 tips for leadership and life

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

If you’re lucky, you don’t go through too many real crises as a leader. I haven’t been particularly fortunate in that respect myself, but the COVID-19 situation has dwarfed every other challenge I’ve faced, from terrorist attacks to lawsuits.

I’m in uncharted territory, and I know I’m not the only one.

Most of us know intuitively what makes a leader great.

At home and at the office, we look for vision, the ability to get things done, and financial smarts. …

Your home is no longer a safe haven

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Photo by Breno Assis on Unsplash

Before COVID-19, I enjoyed working from home.

It meant the luxury of being able to sleep in a bit, skip the morning commute, and spend a quiet day doing some deep thinking in the comfort of my apartment.

Some days, I’d linger in bed with a big mug of coffee on the nightstand, until nearly 1100, musing and strategizing. I’d usually be alone in my condo building, with nothing and nobody to disturb me.

Now all my neighbours are here.

They’re listening to their music, running on their treadmills, and shouting into their Zoom calls.

The man from down the hall holds his teleconferences outside my door. …

But we do

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Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Over the years, one of the things that amuse me most about International Women’s Day is how some dudes cannot stop making it about them.

It’s one day a year to celebrate the achievements of women.

Yet, there is always a plethora of men coming out of the woodwork to tell us what it takes to make us kind of woman worth celebrating.

Or the kind they want to shut up.

Some of these guys look at women who have achieved fame and success in science, politics, or any other domain and decide that their gender was irrelevant.

After all, they ask, did Marie Curie set out to be a “woman scientist”? Does the Queen seek to be a “woman monarch”? …

It’s not just about hot guys

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Photo by Alessandro De Bellis on Unsplash

My lover and I are not the only ones who have had this conversation. Many of my friends have similar stories.

We are cuddling in bed after making love. It’s a relatively new relationship, but things have reached the point when we’re starting to trust each other with the rough edges of ourselves.

We’re curious about each other, and it seems safe to open up about a few things. Like whether or not we enjoy porn and what kind.

When a woman tells a man she likes gay male porn, the response tends to be quizzical at best. “Is that a thing?” some ask. Others nod knowingly and tell you they like to watch lesbian stuff, too. …

2020 will be the year women stop giving away their support

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Photo by Artur Aldyrkhanov on Unsplash

The candle of hope I’d been carrying for Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy barely survived the first brunch of 2020.

We were five women, ranging in age from mid-thirties to early sixties, all progressive, all politically active and self-aware. Well-educated, with a mix of racial and sexual identities.

Right in Warren’s wheelhouse, in other words.

And yet.

We spent that Sunday afternoon dancing around the subject of Warren’s electability, her earnestness.

We hesitated to say she wasn’t likeable because we all knew that was a standard that no women could ever meet. …

Psychological safety is key

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Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

How to Create a Great Workplace Culture

How do leaders know if they have a negative culture in their workplaces?

There are a few obvious signs, like staff voting with their feet, managers who can’t trust anyone, and people feeling like they need to respond to e-mails 24/7.

But you can’t just treat the symptoms. You have go go deeper, and examine how your teams and the people on them collaborate and cooperate.

Or don’t.

After a year and a half of intense upheaval, my non-profit embarked on a major study to determine what kept our employees and volunteers around, and why certain teams had better outcomes than others. …

And is your leadership enabling them?

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Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

When I first got involved with my non-profit, our Executive Director seemed outstanding.

Their strategy was brilliant and insightful. Their messaging to clients and supporters was focussed and striking. The organization’s results were strong, and everyone was happy.

Or so it seemed.

The ED loved to use their corporate credit card to treat contacts, clients, and board members alike. Who doesn’t like to be wined and dined, even when you know that you’re the one providing the expense account?

Everything looked charming until the Board started to ask for a change of political direction and a more client-focused and strategic approach. …



Nonprofit CEO, innovator, internationalist, feminist, creative, hopeful romantic. Student of power. Not that kind of doctor. Smokescreen for the guilty.

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