Interview with Tom Schweizer
How long have you been doing what you do and how did you get to be a Not-for-Profit Guru?
To best answer the question, I should share with you a little bit of my background and how I got to where I am today, coaching not-for-profit leaders to improve results and build capacity in their organizations and personal lives.
As a teenager, I worked as a summer camp counselor. The camp director became my mentor and I always found myself turning to him for guidance and advice as I progressed through life. The lessons I learned from him included the importance of good planning and goal setting.
I went off to college with the intent of getting a business degree. Going to school in the “turbulent 60s” was quite an experience and I began to explore careers in social services. After my junior year in college, I became a VISTA Volunteer and had my first experience with community organization, working with volunteers, fund raising, and proposal writing.
After returning to college and graduating with my business degree, I entered the retail business and spent 17 years learning the ins and out of running a business. Yet, deep in my heart, I yearned to be in the not-for-profit world, making a difference in my community and the lives of others.
With a giant, and I mean giant, leap of faith at the age of 40, I closed our business and took an entry-level job with a local not-for-profit civic organization. The organization was in severe debt ($800,000) and close to collapse for a variety of internal and external factors. It just so happened that my mentor from my teen years was the executive director who hired me. Over the next 10 years, I rose to the assistant executive director position, all the while learning everything I could about not-for-profit leadership.
In 2000 I accepted the position of executive director with a social services organization. I was in heaven. I was able to use all of my skills and knowledge gained from my business and not-for-profit backgrounds to take the organization to new heights, raising more money, creating a viable, committed, and active board, and developing staff and programs. Executive Directors and board members from other organizations would often call to ask how I had turned around that organization.
So with another giant leap of faith, I left that position to become a coach for not-for-profit organization. Since that time I have coached, written articles, and a book, spoken before many groups, and found renewed passion doing the type of work I enjoy.
Who are your clients?
I work with a variety of not-for-profit leaders. Some are executive directors, managers, development directors, etc. Some are Board Chairs. Often it is a combined group of staff and board members. In every case they have realized the transition from “good to great” will only be achieved by developing new attitudes, skills, and knowledge.
How are you different from other consultants?
That is an easy one. I am a coach, not I consultant. I work with you to build on your strengths to develop what works best for you.
What exactly do we do when we work together?
Depending on the program we choose, we will work together to identify what improved results you want in your organization and/or life. Next, we will examine the behavioral changes you or others may need to achieve those changes. Then we set goals. SMARTY Goals.
Goals that are:
To help you achieve those goals we will look at the skills and knowledge you have. If there are areas in which you are lacking, we will explore ways to gain those skills and knowledge. I might be the one to help you or there may be other sources.
In addition, most importantly, we look at your attitudes. If you do not think you can reach your desired outcomes, chances are you will not. I believe that attitudes can be either a major roadblock, or one of the keys to success. Imagine what happens if you think you can’t or you are surrounded by staff and volunteers who repeatedly comment “that’s not how we do it,” “we tried it and it didn’t work!” or “we’re too small to do that!”
Does this really work?
Darn right it does. Take a look at the testimonials on my website.
What results can I expect?
The easy answer is…what would you like. Each program is specifically tailored to help you and your organization achieve what is most important to them.
Clients frequently report:
Do you guarantee that I will achieve my goals?
Of course I do, if you are willing to put in the time and effort to work the process I present. If for some reason you are not happy with the coaching I provide you, I will happily refund your investment, minus the cost of the materials we use.