About this site

I’m creating this website and blog because so many of us are out there acting on a calling to serve others, to make the world a better place--and along the way we are feeling like all the pieces aren’t adding up.  We know that no matter how outwardly successful or celebrated we may be, we are not delivering on our true potential for impact as change agents. 

We feel our calling  so deeply that we can’t imagine setting it aside.  And yet we are not experiencing fulfillment--rather we are getting worn down and frustrated.   Something has to give. 

A big reason so many of us with a calling to make the world a better place are feeling unfulfilled and out of alignment  is that we have been powering our calling with energy rooted in fear.  The answer is to add joy into the mix, to switch the power source we are using. This site is about that journey from powering your calling with fear to powering it with joy. 

This is the journey of joyful impact. 


About Alex

Let me tell you a bit about who I am, and why I'm so passionate about helping change agents make the most of their potential.  My own journey as someone with a calling to make the world a better place brings together three distinct worlds. 

  • The world of personal development (over the past four years in my own growth journey I have read over 200 books and completed more than 20 trainings)
  • The world of entrepreneurial social change (I have played founding roles in two social enterprises, one a non profit advocacy organization and one a for-profit philanthropic advising practice; I serve on governing and advisory boards for another half dozen social ventures and I am a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization)
  • The world of philanthropy (nine years ago I founded Building Impact, a philanthropic advising practice, and since then our firm has helped clients give away over half a billion dollars to help create change on pressing social challenges from protecting democracy to education and social enterprise).  

I have also played leadership roles in the public sector, from Director of Operations at a Housing Authority to school board member.  And at the center of it all, I am a husband of 15 years and a father of three boys under the age of 10.

I share all this because I also want you to know that for most of the time I was doing all this I was not feeling a sense of joy in my work, nor did I feel like I was really hitting my full potential for impact serving my calling.   I feel moved to share what I’ve learned during the past four years of intense exploration and self-development because of how stuck I felt in the twenty years prior, before I began synthesizing these three fields into a system of “joyful impact” that I have since used to guide my own life and to help the philanthropists and social entrepreneurs that I coach and advise. 

So here's a bit more backstory.    9 years ago, when I started Impact for Education—which is now called Building Impact, I had a general sense of the mission I was on, but the details weren’t yet fully in focus.  It took a couple years, and teaming up with my amazing partners beginning with Danielle Allen and then Mike Wang,  to really figure out what our mission was going to be.  And once that mission and vision was clear, that we were all about working with forward thinking philanthropists and change agents and helping them maximize their potential to help solve some of our world’s toughest challenges I was inspired and excited—I could spend lots of time with the vision and get myself excited about it.  But here’s what happened—I still went for years without really taking clear, decisive action to go after that vision full bore.  And that whole time I felt a constant low-level sense of anxiety and lack of satisfaction.  It didn’t matter that in outward terms other people would have said I was doing just fine—I knew that I wasn’t in full alignment with my best self and my biggest vision for making a difference in the world.  The insidious thing was, it was kind of a vague feeling, and I was really good at hiding from it, distracting myself, staying busy.  That made it easy to just keep on keeping on, all the while not really making anything like the progress I wanted to and knew that I could on that vision.

Why did I stay stuck for so long?  I was afraid—but I was also lacking clarity about exactly what steps I needed to take, and I didn’t have all the tools, techniques, systems that I needed to really take my game to the next level and drive big results for myself and Building Impact's mission.  What's more—this was true for me not just professionally, but personally too.  I had this sense that I could be doing better in almost all of the key roles in my life, from father, to husband to son, to friend.  
The good news is that several years ago I found a path forward, a way to get unstuck.  The path I’ve taken wasn’t laid out in advance.  My own journey to Joyful Impact has been a slow build through an ongoing, self-guided, DIY approach.  It has been a combination of personal exploration, working with a coach and working with some amazing groups of peers. Not to mention all kinds of reading and trainings. 
A lot of this growth is on the inside—but it also shines through to the outside, allowing me to show up in new and different ways with my family and in my mission out there in the world.  I can tell you for sure that I wouldn’t be here sharing this website if it weren’t for that journey!  
I am still working hard every day to grow myself personally and professionally, and to maximize my ability to making the world a better place.  As part of this journey I'm finding that I just can't help myself from sharing what I am learning.  There is a whole world of tools, techniques and learning about human excellence and high performance that you just don’t get taught in school, no matter how many advanced degrees you go after.  That’s kind of crazy, because this stuff is truly transformative.  Sometimes I can’t believe it took me all the way up to the midpoint of my life to find out about so much of this, and that I ended up doing so much of this through a process of individual exploration and trial and error. 
So that’s a big reason I’m reaching out with this website, the blog and the book project--because I want to share with everyone else who has that calling to make the world a better place what I've been learning in my own journey.   And I want to save you the time and trouble of having to delve into every corner of the self-development world and sort through all the hokey stuff to find the best, most useful tools to help you on your way as someone with a calling to make the world a better place.
The world has never been more in need of a new, greatest generation of forward thinking change agents committed to tackling our toughest challenges.  It's my hope that through the materials you find here you get both information and inspiration to help you lean into your dream.  


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