We recently had the honor of having Buddy Teaster, the CEO of Soles4Souls, on the Another Way Podcast (if you haven’t heard, The A Group has a podcast- check it out). Soles4Souls creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world.

Since October 2012, Buddy has been president & CEO of Soles4Souls. In the last few years, he, along with an amazing team, have rebuilt the board, expanded partnerships and global reach all while doubling down on “disrupting the cycle of poverty.” Combining entrepreneurship, for-profit and nonprofit experience, his passion for philanthropy and global change led him to take on the role of leading the largest social enterprise provider of shoes to those in need around the world.

He’s an amazing leader and an all around great guy. He’s also done something nobody I’ve ever met has come close to doing. BUT...you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out what that is.

We talked about a lot of interesting things, one of which was the debate that continues to occur over whether nonprofits should create their own income streams. We also talked about three things for-profits could actually learn from nonprofits. Here’s a quick summary of what Buddy had to say, but you’ll want to listen to the podcast to get the details and hear his amazing perspective and experience.

3 Things For-Profits Can Learn from Nonprofits:

1. Storytelling

Buddy said that good nonprofits know how to tell really good stories because they have always had to be able to effectively communicate their mission for people to support them. For the most part, telling good “stories” is the most important marketing element nonprofits have. For-profits need to continue to sharpen their own “storytelling” techniques by watching the nonprofit world.

2. Purpose

In the for-profit world, generally speaking, money is seen as the greatest motivator. When it comes to nonprofits, they usually don’t have the same resources and ultimately have had to learn to motivate with purpose. And guess what? It works. While nobody is going into the nonprofit world for the money, there are still people lining up to be a part, and it’s often for one reason: purpose. For-profits can learn a lot from nonprofits when it comes to learning how to weave purpose into what their employees do besides clocking in and clocking out every day.

3. Practice influence

In for-profit organizations, power is generally very clean and it almost always follows the org chart. If you’re on top of the org chart, people do what you say because well, they kinda have to. And while it may work, that power is still somewhat limited. In the nonprofit world, while there is still some power, they have to rely often on influence. Take for instance the president of a nonprofit who has six CEO’s sitting on their board. He or she has to find a way to lead those CEO’s- and guess what? It won’t be through the power that comes through a title. They all have the same title. They’re not impressed. That’s when and where influence comes into play.  Buddy said, “Influence may take a long time to build, but once you have it, it’s hard to lose. Power can shift quick.”


So, there’s a quick overview of just a few of the things I learned from our conversation with Buddy Teaster. I’d encourage you to go to anotherwaypodcast.com or iTunes and listen to the entire thing!

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