A new life after the nonprofit sector (2 years in)

In the past year, I have had a similar conversation with numerous friends who are considering other options after working in the nonprofit sector for some time. Maybe they approached me as a trusted person, who took this step over two years ago, after over eight years of running Diabetes Hands Foundation, people open up to me and see me as a potential source of advice on this topic. So I figured I’d write a blog post about it.

  1. If you have spent any amount of time in the nonprofit sector, you likely are drawn to serve people, to do things to impact the lives of people in a positive way. It may have crossed your mind that you can only accomplish this in the nonprofit sector. I used to think so too early on, and I realized I was wrong. To consider opportunities in the for profit sector, consider companies with a strong sense of social responsibility, companies that are disrupting spaces where changes in terms of access, affordability, and impact is sorely needed. To do this, look at the mission statement of the company, talk to people that work at the company and contractors/partners of the company. You may find that mission-driven companies may very well be a great next place for you to put to use the skills you developed during your time in the nonprofit sector. That is my experience I have had at Livongo, where I have been at for two years.
  2. Consider the sector you have experienced with. You likely have worn multiple hats in one or more nonprofits within the same sector, which gave you enough experience in a variety of functions. The one likely common denominator across all responsibilities you’ve had may be the sector (health, housing, etc.) you’ve worked in. That experience can be very valuable in the private sector, as you have developed a more intimate understanding of the needs of the people that your agency served. And the flexibility that you develop when you work in a nonprofit is a highly valued quality anywhere.
  3. Depending on where you are in your life journey (single/married; with children/with parent caregiving obligations), you may have different family requirements. You may have obligations that limit your ability to move. Consider which ones are flexible and which aren’t. If your biggest constraint is the potential for uprooting yourself and your immediate family, evaluate as a family your willingness to tackle it. Sometimes there may be true gems underlying what may otherwise feel like difficult choices.

These are three high-level things for you to consider if you are exploring a life beyond the nonprofit sector. I am happy to chat if you’d like to use me as a sounding board for this.

44 years, 44 lessons

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I am turning 44 years old, tomorrow, July 15, 2016. Repurposing a theme I did when I turned 40, and adding to the list.

If you find any of these useful, please consider making a special donation on my behalf to Diabetes Hands Foundation.

Here are 44 random lessons I’ve learned, in no particular order:
1. Play peek-a-boo with crying babies in airplanes.
2. Always stay in touch with your childhood friends.
3. When you read a good book, tell others about it.
4. Share good jokes: the world needs more people smiling.
5. Adopt a dog: they are great companions.
6. Dance a lot! It’s good for your heart and your soul.
7. Gardening is good exercise and makes you love plants even more.
8. Grilled sandwiches are the best!
9. Learn to play an instrument: you will have a blast.
10. If someone compliments you, take the compliment.
11. Stare at the sky long enough to watch the clouds moving.
12. Take a deep breath… exhale. Repeat… repeat…
13. Rioja wine. Yep, that’s it.
14. Prog rock, for college years. Ambient and jazz, later in life.
15. When the opportunity opens up, travel: go places!
16. Some Sundays, wake up to baroque music.
17. A cup of black coffee in the mornings: hmmm!
18. Rogaine can help with baldness… if you put it on.
19. If your blood sugars are bad one day, try again the next day.
20. Learn a new language or two. You will discover new worlds.
21. When you travel, don’t take a tour bus: walk around the city.
22. When you are upset, get away from the keyboard, take a walk.
23. Embrace gray hairs: celebrate birthdays!
24. Go inside a photo booth and goof off with friends.
25. Buy local, even if it costs a little more.
26. Have a thick cappuccino every so often.
27. Go to Farmers Markets.
28. Praise in public. Criticize in private, one-on-one.
29. Once in a while, wander, don’t pick up a map.
30. Park as far as you can, don’t use the stairs: walk more.
31. It’s OK to feel afraid. Just don’t let fear control you.
32. Straight or gay: it’s all the same. Everyone is a person.
33. Minnesota and Venezuela are closer than you’d believe.
34. Smile when you are on the phone: other people can feel it.
35. Don’t take yourself too seriously… Seriously!
36. Give to at least one charitable cause every year.
37. Aisle is better than window by a long shot.
38. Once in a while, play a song you love real loud.
39. I have an accent, believe it or not: even in Spanish!
40. When in doubt, remember to tell people how much they rock!
41. Give surprise backrubs. People appreciate it.
42. Avocado with a touch of salt: you heard it here first. 😉
43. Read audiobooks… Or listen to them. Just do it.
44. Karaoke with friends: priceless!

Why I joined @Livongo Health

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Last Thursday was my last day at Diabetes Hands Foundation.

Friday May 1, was my first day with Livongo Health, a Digital Health start-up led by Glen Tullman, aimed at reinventing the way we manage chronic conditions (starting with diabetes) through technology, real-time information and human support to make life easier for people with chronic conditions. There, I am honored to serve as Senior Vice President, Member Experience.

Since I joined Livongo, I’ve been drinking from the proverbial firehose! And I’ve been loving it. Livongo has a lot of the qualities that I was hoping for in this next chapter in my life: being able to stay in diabetes where so much needs to be done; having peers from whom I can learn so much and with whom I can partner to do great things for the community; and doing all of this in a very nimble start-up environment.

The seven years I spent at the helm of Diabetes Hands Foundation gave me a humbling sense of how challenging diabetes can be, and how CRITICAL it is that the person living with it (and their loved ones) remain at the center of it, if we are to have any chance to tackling this epidemic.

Also, diabetes is a truly multi-dimensional problem and Livongo is aware of this. To help tackle it, Glen has put together an incredibly talented group of people! Just as important as hiring great people it is to recognize areas where you need to partner with others to bring the best member experience (and, consequently, the best possible outcomes). I am excited to see Livongo do this as well in areas where it makes more sense to partner than to go at it alone.

I can see the impact that the Livongo platform has in myself. I am testing more often than before (unlimited test strips is a pretty compelling value); and my time in range has improved too (not surprising, considering my exchanges with the Livongo CDEs have been the most time I recall having spent with a diabetes educator discussing MY diabetes in a very long time). And it’s all included within the Livongo program!

I want everyone with diabetes to enjoy these same benefits, and all the things that the platform will continue to evolve to offer.

Image credit: Mike Lawson @ Diabetes Hands Foundation