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Next Level Nonprofit: How to Build A Dream Team and Increase Lasting Impact

Nearly every nonprofit organization I know believes the people they serve deserve the highest level of excellence. However, the challenge is they are so focused on serving those outwardly, they don’t spend enough time, talent, and energy on their inward, internal systems that will ensure greater impact and greater reach. As a result, they cannot serve their communities at the level they want to. I lead a Detroit-based nonprofit that revitalizes neighborhoods. Our first four years were pretty messy, but then we hit our stride. Over the next eight years, our organization invested more than $43 million into Detroit neighborhoods, renovated four school buildings, mobilized more than 77,000 volunteers, and beautified over 2,000 city blocks. We’ve been recognized as one of the best-managed nonprofits and Candid and Charity Navigator have awarded us their highest possible ratings. How did we do it? By creating a system we call Next Level Nonprofit, I’m going to show listeners how to implement this practical and proven organizational operating system so they will soon be able to build the dream team they’ve been longing for… and increase lasting impact.

Dr. Chris Lambert

Dr. Chris Lambert

Dr. Chris Lambert is the author of Next Level Nonprofit and Founder/CEO of Life Remodeled. Chris originally pursued a degree in marketing at Indiana University with the hope of attending law school and launching a career as a real estate developer. A spiritual awakening during his junior year led to a passion to follow Jesus. Chris eventually followed a call to Fuller and Gordon-Conwell seminaries, where he earned his MDiv and doctorate in preaching. Moving to Liberia in 2007, he and his wife helped a village raise the necessary resources for a well, farm animals, and a new school building. Upon returning to the U.S., Chris founded a church called Ekklesia. In 2010 he started Life Remodeled, which repurposes vacant school buildings into one-stop hubs of opportunities and helps create neighborhood revitalization that lasts.

Additionally, he and his dream team built and launched the Next Level Nonprofit organizational operating system. From the TEDx stage to lists like Crain’s 40 Under 40, Building Design + Construction 40 Under 40, and SMART BUSINESS Dealmaker of the Year, Chris’ reputation precedes him. But it’s the journey ahead—and the people he’s asked to help lead the way—that excites him most.

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0:03 – Hugh Ballou Welcome to the Nonprofit Exchange. This is Hugh Ballou, founder and president of Center Vision. It’s the synergy of a common vision, what music conductors know how to do, and what leaders know how to do, especially our guests today. So on the Nonprofit Exchange, our guest today is Chris Lambert. So Chris, tell people a little bit about who you are, your background, and why you’re doing the work that you’re doing. Today’s episode is called Next Level Nonprofit. And your book also has how to build a dream team and increase lasting impact.

0:40 – Hugh Ballou I can hardly wait. Chris, tell us about who you are.

0:43 – Dr. Chris Lambert Who am I? I’m a husband. I’m a father of two amazing, wild, and crazy sons. I am a proud resident of the city of Detroit. I founded and led a nonprofit called Life Remodeled. And then I wrote the book Next Level Nonprofit and created the coaching program. And so to start off with Life Remodeled, I always like to start with why. And once we translate to Next Level Nonprofit, I’m going to do the same. But the reason why a life remodel exists in Detroit is because we’re absolutely convinced Detroiters have all the talent they need, but many don’t have access to all the opportunities they deserve.

1:19 – Dr. Chris Lambert And so what we do in response to this reality is we repurpose large vacant school buildings. Into one-stop hubs of opportunity for entire families to thrive. And then what we do is we fill these buildings with the best and brightest nonprofits who are moving the needle in three areas, youth programs, workforce development initiatives, or health and human services. And then we help these organizations collaborate to make a far greater impact together than they could ever make alone and really move the needle in an impactful way.

1:53 – Dr. Chris Lambert And I started the organization in 2010. Our first four years were very messy and very rocky. And then we created this system, and we started implementing these principles that are what we’re going to talk about today in Next Level Nonprofit. And over the next eight years, we ended up investing over $43 million into Detroit neighborhoods. We renovated four schools, mobilized 77,000 volunteers, and became widely recognized as one of the best managed Nonprofits in the state highest score you can have on Charity Navigator and Guidestar.

2:27 – Dr. Chris Lambert And, you know, look, I have a lot of mistakes along the way, which I’m happy to share. And what I believe that we can do with next-level nonprofits is. It helps you avoid those avoidable mistakes and truly accomplish far more than you’re currently accomplishing.

2:45 – Hugh Ballou Wow, you ran a lot of amazing numbers by us. That’s pretty impressive. You said it was, how did you describe the start out? Did you say it was messy? What’d you say?

2:54 – Dr. Chris Lambert Messy, Rocky. We created a big wake of hiring people we shouldn’t hire to make a mistake, not knowing how to coach people and burn bridges, and just All with good hearts and good intent, but things that had I known then what I know now, not only would those not have happened, but we would actually have been even further along than we already are.

3:17 – Hugh Ballou I hate to tell you this never happened to anybody else.

3:22 – Dr. Chris Lambert I know I’m alone. Maybe Hugh, maybe you’ve made a mistake once or twice in this area, but Well, yeah, let’s let’s take a deep breath and recognize we’ve all been there.

3:32 – Hugh Ballou No, I was kidding. It’s it’s those are customary. And, you know, I’m an expert in these things because it’s 77. I’ve made all the mistakes. And, you know, fortunately, I’m smarter than I look, and I’ve learned from those. So those are learning opportunities. So, you know. Being very direct about no, I didn’t do everything correctly is a really good leadership trait. So being able to admit that and say that is, I commend you for that. So the nonprofit is called Life Remodel. Is that what it’s called?

4:01 – Dr. Chris Lambert Yes, it is. And I ascribe to the teaching myself. I’m a lifelong learner and I’m always about constantly improving because the people we serve deserve it.

4:11 – Hugh Ballou Yeah, so you gave us a lot of things that Life Remodeled does, but you also said there were some missteps going up. So you didn’t give up. You figured it out. You know, one of the challenges that leaders have and really motivates me is to give me a mess, I like to figure it out. So it sounds like you’re your cousin to that. You put it together. So was that the inspiration for writing your book?

4:39 – Dr. Chris Lambert Go also start with Why right? Why next-level nonprofit? Why the book? Why the coaching? And it’s really simple that we are absolutely convinced. And I actually almost every nonprofit leader I know believes that the people that we serve as nonprofit leaders deserve the highest level of excellence. We can possibly give them the challenges. Most of the nonprofit leaders I know are incredible people with huge hearts, but they don’t have a lot of experience in thriving for-profit companies or industries.

5:15 – Dr. Chris Lambert And so there’s a lot that they don’t know what they don’t know about truly creating an incredibly healthy and impactful organization. And so by not investing the time necessary on our inward internal systems, leads to us not achieving what we know we’re capable of, and in fact, in many cases, for people to burn out. And so this book in this system, it’s a blueprint for organizational operational excellence that leads to you building a dream team and therefore increasing lasting impact.

5:51 – Hugh Ballou Because our work is about impact, isn’t it?

5:54 – Dr. Chris Lambert Yes, sir. That’s why we do what we do. We’re here for people.

5:58 – Hugh Ballou Oh, hey, man, before we go on to my next question, I’m going to back up a 2nd. Use some strange words that we don’t understand. Community collaboration, which it’s amazing that those words are tossed around and people don’t really know how to do those. So. Give us a little enlightenment on why those are important. I’m sure they’re important in your world. We didn’t prep for this much, but I, I know that those are words that people need to hear from your community and collaboration.

6:29 – Hugh Ballou Would you talk about those a little bit, please?

6:31 – Dr. Chris Lambert Yeah, and what life remodel does here in Detroit is distinct from what we’re going to talk about today with next-level nonprofits, but All throughout the book in Next Level Nonprofit, you’re going to see references to Life Remodeled, real-life experiences, failures, progress, lessons learned. And back to life remodel, we repurpose vacant school buildings and fill them up with dozens and dozens of nonprofits. We help them collaborate because no one nonprofit has the solutions to all of society’s challenges.

7:04 – Dr. Chris Lambert And we’re a lot better when we work together. And look, I’ve been guilty of this. A lot of us are operating in silos. And we often think that you know, it’s a zero-sum game. But part of us does want to collaborate. And part of us just doesn’t know how. And so we figured out how to do that on a local level. And proximity really is the biggest factor, which is why we repurpose these vacant school buildings and put so many nonprofits in there. And along the way, we’ve learned a lot about nonprofits of a wide variety of sizes and shapes, and missions.

7:40 – Dr. Chris Lambert And all of that plays into us creating this system that really translates to organizations of any size. There is no nonprofit too big. You could have 10,000 staff. You could have one or anywhere in between. These principles are universal.

7:56 – Hugh Ballou So let’s go back to this a little bit. I’m just beginning to get that, you know, consider my age and mental condition here. Let me get a little more granular. You gave me a little hint there. So you’re buying, so there’s a physical property and you’re buying it and you’re actually promoting collaboration by people being together. So a little bit more about how that works, please.

8:18 – Dr. Chris Lambert All right, so when you think vacant school building, you’ve got to think Harry Potter school. We acquire gorgeous works of art school buildings that unfortunately went vacant. And I never want to see any school closed. When a school closes, that’s like a dagger to the heart of hope to communities that have experienced high levels of marginalization and oppression. And so we take this painful disinvestment And what it used to be is it used to be a beacon of hope for education and athletics, academics and social advancement.

8:50 – Dr. Chris Lambert And we turn it into an opportunity hub for all ages for entire families in all of those areas. And we find out from the community, what increased opportunities do you want. And almost every community that we engage says the same three things. We want more youth programs. We want more job opportunities that lead to real, sustainable, livable-wage jobs. And we want more health and human services. And so, instead of us creating those programs, we find who is the best at those things.

9:21 – Dr. Chris Lambert And we move them into our space. We lease Fixed office space, it’s not a coworking space. It’s fixed space. We lease it to them at cost. What it costs us to operate the building is what they pay. That means everybody wants to be located in our buildings because there is no such thing as a landlord who doesn’t want to make a profit. Well, that’s what we do. And then we’re doing more than leasing space. We get very intentional on setting extremely ambitious goals that are realistic if we work together.

9:49 – Dr. Chris Lambert And we use data to figure out if we’re actually on track to hit it or not and to pivot and to work together to achieve those outcomes.

9:58 – Hugh Ballou Amazing. Amazing and there’s more and more coworking space going up for small businesses. Actually, I heard this weekend that Verizon is putting people into these spaces. They’re spending 700. Million a month and they’re saving a lot of money on office space. So it really makes sense for big business to say, oh, we need to put together some people. So what happens on-site, is people need their private time, but there are also public places. And what you’re doing is just brilliant.

10:33 – Hugh Ballou I’m just, I’m impressed. And we’re just like 10 minutes into this interview. So now you mentioned somewhere in your book and your writings, an organizational operating system. Can you expand on that a little bit?

10:48 – Dr. Chris Lambert All right, so what Next Level Nonprofit is not, is it’s not software. But I’m going to use software as an analogy. So for you PC users, think about Windows. For your Mac users, that’s me, think about iOS or your iPhone iOS or your Android Android, right? Those are all the operating systems. Now, In my opinion, that’s the most important software on the entire device because every other program that will ever integrate with that device will integrate because of your operating system.

11:20 – Dr. Chris Lambert an operating system on the software side, takes extremely complex inputs. And makes them simple, right? And so, in many ways, that’s what an organizational operating system does. There are four key components to an excellent organizational operating system. They are, number one, team unity, number two, compelling vision, number three, the right strategy, and number four, discipline and execution. And I want all of our listeners to imagine a flywheel on a car for a minute.

11:55 – Dr. Chris Lambert Use this analogy, whether you’re in the motor city and, you know, cars, or you don’t know anything about cars. In essence, the faster the flywheel goes, the faster the vehicle goes. These 4 components are not strictly achieved in a linear fashion. But every time you improve these four components, your organization is going to go to the next level and the next level after that. And so you’re constantly building all four of these components. It’s not as if Today we say, all right, we’re going to build a dream team over the next month.

12:28 – Dr. Chris Lambert And then once we do that, we’ll come up with a compelling vision. And then we’ll discover the right strategy. You’re really doing all these things at once. And the reality is the stronger your organization becomes, you’re going to have access to higher levels of talent. If you’re just starting up today, or you’re two or three years in, there’s only a certain level of talent you’re likely to recruit for your organization. But we can help you recruit the absolute best that you’re capable of And sometimes you can out-punt your coverage.

12:56 – Dr. Chris Lambert I mean, that happens every now and then, right? But the foundation of all of it is the right people in the right seats. And then we teach you how to do the right strategic planning, how to actually or how to operationalize your plan down to every single day, and all the actions that we take.

13:16 – Hugh Ballou You know that in my 35 years of doing this, my uniqueness is integrating strategy into performance. So I know that in that journey, that’s where 90% of the failure is exactly what you described in the plan. And there’s so many that don’t, but when you finish it, it’s a piece of paper. So without what you do, there’s no teeth to it. So that’s, that’s, and you’ve learned this from the school of hard knocks plus. You’ve had a lot of formal education. So, you know, my education is in musical conducting, but I’ve moved it around to conducting a transformation in business.

13:57 – Hugh Ballou And nonprofit is a business. So, you know, we have to install what you’re talking about. These are business operational principles. So let’s go back to your four principles.

14:05 – Dr. Chris Lambert Can I say something about nonprofits and business for a minute? Yes, sir. So I am absolutely convinced that leading a nonprofit is far more complex than leading a business. So if you take two organizations, one’s a for-profit, one’s a nonprofit, let’s say they’re both doing about the same size of annual revenue, because you got to compare apples to apples, right? Running the nonprofit is way more difficult, and here’s why. In the for-profit world, your customers are paying market value for your goods or services.

14:35 – Dr. Chris Lambert You keep them happy. You win, right? You’re good. In the nonprofit world, your customers are not paying for your goods or services, or if they are, they’re not paying market value. So you’ve got to keep them happy, which is why we do the work we do. But you’ve got to keep your donors happy. You’ve got to keep your volunteers happy. You’ve got to keep your board happy. And they all have different agendas perspectives and desires, right? We have to operate under financial constraints.

15:02 – Dr. Chris Lambert We can’t pay our staff the level that for-profit, you know, the for-profit world can, so we’re under those constraints. We have two bottom lines, a financial bottom line and a social impact bottom line. Our work is very emotionally taxing, and I’m just scratching the surface here, right, which is all the more reason that running an organization well is so critical, but it’s where so many of us just don’t know what we don’t know.

15:32 – Hugh Ballou And we’re so aligned in that, so perfectly put. And it’s like you say, you just tip the iceberg. First and foremost, it’s a lot more rules for running a nonprofit with IRS and states and whatnot. So yes, I’m fully on board with that. I actually call it not a for-profit business, it’s a for-purpose business. In this tax-exempt business. So there are some values, because you got the V word, the volunteers, but, you know, they can be good and they can be bad. It’s down to what you talk about.

16:04 – Hugh Ballou And the team is the secret. And having been a conductor for many, most of my life, you know, if you don’t have strong team members, you’re going to have a poor performance. And just realizing that and you said, and when you talked about your setup, that you had some wrong people. So, that’s a big mistake we made, but let’s go to the 1st that you mentioned the 4 components. The 1st, 1 is team unity and you say, look for a reindeer. Why do you do that? And how do you know if they’re on your team?

16:36 – Dr. Chris Lambert So, there’s a saying that’s often used in the for-profit venture capitalist world, but I’ve even heard in the nonprofit world, sometimes when we say we’re looking for a new team member for a new job description we’ve created, we finish creating this job description and we say, wow, we’re looking for a unicorn. And when we say that, part of us maybe believes that this person doesn’t exist, or another part of us believes, well, maybe they do exist, but they’re never gonna wanna come and work for our team, right?

17:07 – Dr. Chris Lambert Well, I was five years old when I first discovered Santa Claus, spoiler alert, by the way, I discovered Santa Claus was not real. And this same day, I also came to the conclusion that reindeer weren’t real either, because, in my mind, they’re one in the same, right? And the cartoons and so on and so forth. And it wasn’t until I became a teenager that someone informed me about these creatures called reindeer. And I learned they were actually almost magical in their own right. I recommend you Google reindeer if you don’t already know about just how incredible creatures they really are.

17:42 – Dr. Chris Lambert And so when we say we’re looking for team members, we say we’re looking for reindeer. Other terms you might have heard of are A players, and rock stars, right? The top recruits or whatever you want to say. These are the top 10% of people in the pool who might look at your job description. These are the people you want to land for your organization. And there are some general principles to recruiting, retaining, and developing Reindeer. One of the places that we started is we created a tool that helps you understand, do you have Reindeer on your team right now?

18:19 – Dr. Chris Lambert Because here’s one of the rules of Reindeer. Reindeer will not stay in organizations that tolerate non-Reindeer continuing to work. They don’t want to work on teams with low performers, B players, C players, D players, right? And so even if you can recruit a Reindeer, if you don’t keep only Reindeer in your organization, you’re eventually going to lose all of them. And other people, when they’re searching for jobs, they’re doing research on you as an employer. They’re finding out what kind of culture is this.

18:53 – Dr. Chris Lambert What kind of team members are there? Great leaders, they’re not going to teams that don’t already have other great leaders. So it’s essential that we only have reindeer on our team and we get everyone off the bus who’s not a reindeer. And so we created a tool for that.

19:14 – Hugh Ballou Awesome, awesome, awesome. So we need to motivate all of our team, and one of the hardest ones is the board. And so let’s go to strategy. Now, I shared with you, that I’m a musical conductor, and when I’m on the podium, on my music stand is the score, the musical score. And so, Everybody knows what to do because they’ve all got their part. So all the action plans are already distributed. So when I drop the baton, people, it’s part of the team building is people know what they’re supposed to do.

19:51 – Hugh Ballou So talk about strategy. I mean, we just met. We’re so aligned. I’m just really thrilled. So why is it the courier system? And what’s different about the way you do strategy? Because, you know, a lot of people, oh, yeah, we got it here somewhere and they dust it off. That’s no good.

20:08 – Dr. Chris Lambert All right, well, you stole my thunder here and I’m going to build on that because you’re absolutely right. I have seen dozens and dozens and really hundreds of nonprofits because of the work that we do and my friendships. I love nonprofit leaders. I love nonprofit organizations. I’ve discovered two extremes. Extreme number one is the nonprofit that doesn’t have a strategic plan, typically smaller nonprofits, right? That’s actually common. Or maybe they came up with one, but in reality, they know it’s not, you know, it’s not a strategic plan.

20:40 – Dr. Chris Lambert The other extreme is the nonprofit that hired a consultant who was happy to collect tens of thousands of dollars and produce a beautiful, 20-page-plus plan that’s doing a remarkable job sitting on your shelf collecting dust. And when a funder comes by, we pull it off, we dust it off before they get there, and we say, oh, you got to see this. This is our strategic plan, right? But here’s the problem. Nobody in the organization knows what’s in there. Not only was that a grand waste of time, it actually caused more harm than good.

21:16 – Dr. Chris Lambert Because of that process, you were really excited about it. You obviously put a lot of funding behind it, and I’m glad you prioritized strategic planning, but because you didn’t actualize what you created, you’ve actually taught everyone in the organization that we don’t actually mean what we say, right? And so there’s this principle in strategic planning that great companies have been doing for decades, and it’s creating a two-page plan. Page one answers the question, where are we going?

21:46 – Dr. Chris Lambert Page two answers the question, how do we get there? And by distilling it down to two pages, you create something that you can disseminate throughout the entire organization, where they can actually get really excited about where you’re going, and they can have a very concrete vision of exactly how you’re gonna get there. And it starts with you creating a 10-year moonshot, I’ll explain that, and then you break it down all the way to 90-day quarterly priorities. And you revisit this every 90 days.

22:16 – Dr. Chris Lambert You reflect on your past quarter. You plan out your next quarter. At the end of the year, you spend two days reflecting on your last year. You plan out your next year. But the 10-year moonshot comes from Former President Kennedy in 1961, he said, and I won’t quote him verbatim, but we all know the gist of the quote, that before the decade’s out, we’re going to put a man on the moon. I mean, he should have said person, but that’s where we were at the time. We’re going to put a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth.

22:44 – Dr. Chris Lambert Now, for those of us who grew up later than 1961, maybe we don’t realize that was a ludicrous statement for several reasons. One, the technology did not exist. Number two, we didn’t even know the math of how to effectively get that ship back to Earth. But what we did was we did more than just say something crazy. We put a plan in place to discover the technology, which we did, to learn the math, which we did, and we achieved that mission in 1969. Now, I got to just take a side note for a second.

23:20 – Dr. Chris Lambert I got to tell you, Hugh, and maybe we’ll diverge here, but I cannot stand it when nonprofits make aspirational vision statements that go something like this. We envision a world by the year 2040 where no child is hungry. And here’s why that really angers me. If you have a plan to achieve that, please show it to me right away. I’m going to become your number-one supporter overnight, right? If you don’t have a plan to actually achieve that, never say that again. Because you’re telling your team members, I’m gonna fill you full of hot air and not actually hold you accountable to anything.

24:01 – Dr. Chris Lambert You’re telling your donors, I’m gonna lie to you, all right, to make you feel good about what you’re doing. But at the end of the day, I’m not gonna produce anywhere near what I’m telling you, right? So stop talking like that. Instead, set a very ambitious goal. Okay, if President Kennedy had said, we’re gonna go to Mars and back, that would have not been impossible at the time. Now, we could say that today. If he would have said, my son actually said this, one of my sons, well, we should try to go to the sun and back.

24:31 – Dr. Chris Lambert Okay, okay, son, let me talk a little bit about what that would look like, right? I’m not talking about setting impossible goals. I’m not talking about setting stretch goals. I’m talking about setting something that’s truly remarkable. That actually can be done. And then we will work backward from that plan all the way down to 90-day chunks to where eventually everyone in the organization is going to have 3 to 7 quarterly priorities. Everyone, the custodian, the front desk person, the CEO, the chief advancement are everybody, right?

25:05 – Dr. Chris Lambert And all of them are going to see very clearly exactly what their responsibilities are. Tie into that moonshot. Then there are the three-year picture, there are one-year goals. And now all of a sudden, everybody is on the same page. They’re excited and their jobs have meaning. And at the center of it all is your why. At the top of your page goes, why? Why do we exist? And you’re constantly infusing your team with great vision and the right strategy.

25:35 – Hugh Ballou You heard it here, why? People don’t care what till they know why. Come on. Hey, Chris, this is super. We’re at our usual end time, but if you have a little more time, people will kill me for quitting so early. Can we go a little longer?

25:52 – Dr. Chris Lambert I’m down. Yeah, I’m, I’m really enjoying listening to you actually. So go ahead and take it away.

25:58 – Hugh Ballou I mean, we can talk all day, but we want to leave people recently. Go get your book and go to your website. But I’m going to ask about those 2. But before that. Yeah, I studied facilitation very seriously and I run meetings because I’m a conductor. You know, we got two hours, you’re hiring a professional orchestra, you’re paying a lot of money, you got to get it done. So meetings are a passion of mine, but I want to hear your take on it. You know, you run different meetings differently and, you know, bad meetings.

26:26 – Hugh Ballou If we have a bad rehearsal, we’re going to have a bad concert, but people want to have bad meetings and expect good results anyway. So talk about meetings and why are yours different.

26:35 – Dr. Chris Lambert Patrick Lencioni wrote one of my favorite books called Death by Meeting. Have you read it, Hugh?

26:40 – Hugh Ballou Yep.

26:42 – Dr. Chris Lambert You’ll know at the center of his conclusion is what makes for a great meeting is appropriate levels of conflict. Now, that word scares a lot of people, right? I have become a big fan of healthy conflict and it all starts with vulnerability. So, we teach a framework for a 90-minute executive leadership team every single week. It has to start on time. It has to end on time. It has to take play in the same, takes place on the same day at the same time every single week. And I can tell you this, every leader that does this comes to the same conclusion.

27:21 – Dr. Chris Lambert These are the most effective, engaging, and really exciting meetings I’ve ever experienced in my life. And it’s 90 minutes, and there’s a lot of things going on in that 90 minutes. And the first 30 minutes is moving through your scoreboard, which are your metrics, and your quarterly priorities, and your highs, and your lows, and your checking in, and all these things. And you’re actually accomplishing team building. You’re accomplishing being informed, and what information do we need to cascade, and so on and so forth.

27:52 – Dr. Chris Lambert And in the last 60 minutes, our spin on what we call Opportunities and next steps. This is where you’re leaning into the most pressing issues of the organization and you’re driving toward the next steps. So, 1 of the reasons people hate meetings is because. Oftentimes, they don’t really lead with a clear agenda, or they don’t lead. They don’t end with clear next steps. One of the reasons that happens, is you got people driving for perfection instead of just driving for at least 80% confidence that we need to make a decision, this is the right decision, let’s go.

28:29 – Dr. Chris Lambert Our meeting structure creates such high levels of accountability that even if you can make a wrong decision, you’re going to evaluate that so quickly and you’re gonna pivot so quickly, you’re going to then arrive at the right decision more quickly than you ever would have before. Also, because these are such action-oriented meetings, people want to show up and give their full selves and their full transparency, and vulnerability, because we help you create an environment where everyone begins to realize, that my voice matters.

29:04 – Dr. Chris Lambert If you don’t hear from me, my voice is reflective of literally thousands of people. We’re gonna make a decision that’s absent of important information and important emotion and important feelings. And so just like a conductor, which I love what you do, we’re engaging people in a way where they may be all playing different instruments and different so on and so forth, but at the end of the day, we’re walking out of that meeting in unity Producing an incredible final product. It’s far greater than it ever would have been in a traditional meeting.

29:37 – Hugh Ballou Oh, my word, we’re on the same page with slightly different methodology, but, you know, we’re all different and that’s music. Pardon me music to my ears. So, Chris,, the website is in coaching. Is that it?

29:55 – Hugh Ballou Nln, what does that stand for?

29:58 – Dr. Chris Lambert Next Level Nonprofit,

30:02 – Hugh Ballou Now, if people are watching the video, they can see it. If they’re on the podcast, they don’t see it. So when they go there, ah, there’s a book. So tell us about the book and then tell us about what people will find on your website.

30:13 – Dr. Chris Lambert This book is available on Amazon. It’s also available anywhere you can find audiobooks, and it is completely open-source. Literally, everything in the entire model is in this book. You can read it. You can self-implement it anywhere in the country, in the world. I’m also going to tell you that this is not a sales pitch. This is an absolute fact proven inside and out. You’re only going to go so far if you self-implement it. By bringing in a coach, it is absolutely game-changing. And this same thing is true.

30:43 – Dr. Chris Lambert The most popular book in the for-profit world that’s very similar to these ideas is called Traction. So some of our listeners are very familiar with EOS, scaling up, or Rockefeller Habits. The same thing applies. There are books out there. You can read them. But when you bring in that outside individual to lead your executive leadership team through this system, you’re going to go way faster, way further. But I would encourage you to at least start with implementing what’s in this book today.

31:10 – Dr. Chris Lambert And you definitely will gain strides from that.

31:13 – Hugh Ballou And somebody that’s not part of your team brings in different eyeballs, different systems, and your team acts differently. You know what? That’s what we do. So what are the barriers in the way for people moving forward?

31:27 – Dr. Chris Lambert Well, you’ve got a lack of clarity in internal communication, and that’s something that I think all of us have heard multiple times. If our team members are brave enough to tell us how they really feel, right? You’ve got team members who aren’t accountable. Now, usually, they won’t self-voluntarily tell you that, but balls are just dropping in the organization. And in this system, it becomes so clear what everyone’s responsible for, that it’s actually impossible to hide. And this isn’t about trying to find people to throw under the bus, but this is about just getting a grip on what’s going on in your organization so that when somebody does drop the ball, you can help them pick it back up if they want to.

32:09 – Dr. Chris Lambert Now, if they don’t want to, then you got a problem. That goes back to the reindeer standard. And the third piece is another barrier is just, I think all of us, this is really on our minds, even now more than ever, post-COVID, recruiting, developing, and retaining the top talent. Because you can come up with the best strategy in the world, and you can even have the most compelling visionary on earth. But if you don’t have the right people in the right seats implementing that vision, it will never be achieved.

32:37 – Hugh Ballou My goodness, I hope. Listeners, viewers, I hope you’re satisfied. There’s a whole lot of stuff. A whole lot of stuff, sound bites, and explanations that you can think about in this short time we were together today. So I encourage you to go to, get the Next Level Leadership, a nonprofit book, and reach out to Chris because he’s a thought leader with really good thoughts. And I got to tell you, having lived and worked in the sector for a long time, he’s spot on. So Chris, We also.

33:12 – Dr. Chris Lambert It is it is ln coaching dot org.

33:15 – Hugh Ballou I’m sorry, I’m sorry. You’re good, you’re good. Thank you for fixing it, dot o-r-g. You can find this episode on, and this is one of many episodes, and of course, it’ll be at the top when you look at it, and this’ll be content, I don’t know what part of history you’ll be looking, we’re recording this toward the end of two thousand twenty-three two, but these are timeless principles that people ignore, or like Chris pointed out, don’t know about. So Chris, just a quick commercial here.

33:48 – Hugh Ballou We have a community, And you’re invited to come on and sound your voice about things., that’s a public, free community. And if you like it and you like us, there’s a paid part where you got a whole lot more content stuff like he’s talking about. So we got to post some of your stuff in there. And certainly we publish a magazine called nonprofit updates, leadership updates. So send us an article. We’ll share it with the rest of the world.

34:13 – Hugh Ballou So, if folks, you want to check out. Talking to people, and this podcast is posted in the community as well. It’ll be there Thursday. So this is Tuesday, Thursday things happen. So Chris, as we leave this really great interview, what do you want to leave people with? A thought, a challenge, a tip? What do you want to leave people with?

34:34 – Dr. Chris Lambert I want to reinforce this idea that I have to remind myself of this every day. Who is greater than how? We can build incredibly dynamic teams. It does take a lot of intentionality. And each and every time we do it, though, we reflect on where we came from and we’re reminded just how much more joyful it is to work with the right people in the right seats. And so I just want to say I’m encouraged by every one of you doing the work that you’re doing. And I am on your side. I am cheerleading with you.

35:10 – Dr. Chris Lambert And the future is bright.

35:13 – Hugh Ballou Chris Lambert, wise words. Thank you for being our guest today on the nonprofit exchange.

35:19 – Dr. Chris Lambert Thank you, brother.

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