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.
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.