019 Perspective from a Professional Interim Executive Director – Jarrett Ransom

Aug 29, 2017

Jarrett Ransom is serving as the Interim Executive Director of the Kasem Cares Foundation. In fact, one of her roles as Founder & President of The Rayvan Group as a Professional Interim Executive Director. In this episode of Concord Leaders, Jarrett shares her perspectives on leading nonprofits in this intentionally short-term role.

You can learn more about Jarrett and her work at: http://therayvangroup.com/.

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Marc Pitman:    Welcome to the Concord leaders podcast, I’m Marc Pitman the CEO of the concord leadership group, today our guest is Jarrett Ransom, she’s serving as the executive director of the Kasem cares foundation, but, Jarrett I’m really excited to have you here, as I’m excited to have any guest here but, for you because you also, part of what you offer, a service that you offer is, you’re a professional interim executive director for other organizations too, is that right?

Jarrett Ransom:  That’s right, thank you Marc, I am also excited, we, the Rayvan Group began in 2009 and that’s the company that provides this professional interim executive director, if that’s not a mouthful….

Marc Pitman: I know (laughs)

Jarrett Ransom:  …opportunity (laughs) for organizations, so we do currently serve as executive director now for Kasem Cares Foundation, many of you I’m sure have heard of Kasey Kasem and the lawsuit, the elder abuse lawsuit that’s going on, so his daughter, Kerri founded and started Kasem Cares Foundation out of LA, a lot of advocacy work, against, obviously elder abuse, to curb elder abuse, to educate first responders as well as family members, and then here is phoenix Arizona where I reside and we are head quartered, we have served as the professional interim director for shoe box ministry, so it is something that, that we offer along with many other services, but today we’ll focus on the CEO role.

Marc: Sure well, most of the most of the guests on concord leaders are executive Director’s, serving the role, whether it’s just new to this or have been at it for decades, what I love that you have experience in seeing it from the executive director role in different organizations and as someone who’s by definition temporary, so let me ask you what I ask all our guests, what is that you really enjoy about leading?

Jarrett:  I love when a team comes together and reaches their whole potential, I love seeing a team empowered, I love seeing individuals empowered, and I just really love to see the community enrichment piece, so that’s what I love with leading and that’s what I love seeing every individual leader becoming their own form of leadership which is just so inspiring. 2:13

Marc: Now in a position like yours, that you’re talking about as a professional interim executive director, what are some of the ways you can do that knowing you are going to be there a short period of time?

Jarrett:  Marc, that is the beauty of it right?

Marc: (laughs) OK

Jarrett:   When we come in as a third party, separate perspective, right? We are not as emotionally invested in the organization as say a previous executive director or the next full time director, so we really come in and look thru the lens of the third party, we offer very critical assessments, we perform very deep audits, and share with them, them being the board of director’s, the founder whatnot, with this organization, where they are, where they need to go and we also are telling them tings that they may not have heard before because perhaps the organization and a leader or board member that the community ….

Marc: hmm

Jarrett: …  didn’t want to share with them a certain piece of news, right? So we become the bearer of the news and are able to deliver that message in a way that they can now hear it and not so emotionally invested. And you’re right it is a short term project so it can be anywhere from, you know, 60 days we served as the professional interim executive director, the PiDE, we’ll call it  PiDE, for about a year for one of our clients,until we recently hired for them a full time executive director, so short term, right? we come in down and dirty we open up their books, we open up you know really a community assessment to find out what is the community saying about this organization, how can we position and strengthen this organization (4:00) for future sustainability, and then we really come to the table with solutions, so It’s fun I, I really enjoy that piece of it.

Marc: So as you know, you talked about the person investment and all, I’m wondering without getting in the issues that other executive directors have had that you’re seeing, or the executive directors that are coming in, but for you as you’ve been in the interim role, right now and in the past, what’s a time where you actually, tried to do something leadership wise and it didn’t work the way you’d expected?

Jarrett: All the time.

(Both laugh)

Jarrett: Right? Don’t we all have grandiose ideas and if everyone were to think like us life would be so much easier?

Marc: So much easier

Jarret:  So much easier, one thing you know I could say is for the  most recent client is we, you know, we did serve as their PiDE,  professional interim executive director, we did a full community search for their full time executive director in come in place and to take over the leader ship, we probably I’m estimating because I don’t have it written down in front of me, had 150 applicants right of those, hmm, let’s say 75 percent are bogus applicants, right so we need to weed thru the bogus and then we need to pull the competent talent to the top. And, so we went thru that, we could be, the fund streaming we provided that, we did the one on one interviews with the individuals as the next round and then I could not have forecasted this, we came up with five, we called them the top five, right? The five elite, that we wanted to present to the board of directors and let the board pick the top three, I’m sorry we actually had the executive council pick from the five the top three. Those top three were to present to the full board at their next meeting.  I can’t make this up, Marc, two of those three pulled themselves out of the running.

Marc: Wow

Jarrett:  So, the last, last man standing was the one that was offered the opportunity. We could have gone back to the drawing table, but you know I coached the board that from these five we need to pick the top three, and regardless of who wins and is standing on first place at the podium, we all need to be comfortable that either of these three, any of these three can lead the organization with our full faith and trust behind them. I could not have planned that two of them those three were going to back out.

Marc: Well now that’s interesting because, you’ve just taken, usually when I think of something that goes wrong, it’s a negative, when the plan doesn’t go the way we expected it, is perceived as negative, in this case it could have been a negative because the goals is to have three, but what a great positive, because, you had three people that you really trusted.

Jarrett: That’s right, and that was the goal, right? and I said, any of these five if you do not have faith that they can lead this organization, they do not need to go to the top three, because of regardless of who, you know ultimate wins the top three we need to have full faith and trust that they could lead the organization. If you don’t right now as the executive team, trust any of these individuals, don’t put them in the top three. (laughs)

Marc: Wow

Jarrett: So, I, you know that’s, that’s time that this client had invested in us, that’s a lot of energy and money, financial resources, so, we definitely don’t take the CEO position lightly, it is a big role to lead the mission, so, there’s grandiose ideas that are just flushed down the toilet at any given moment. (laughs)

Marc: So I know, part, some of the listeners are probably dying when I said well, not talking about what are the biggest mistakes you see from other, coming in to fill the seat after other executive directors, or what are the things that people aren’t telling their board that you get to be the bearer of bad news,  and we’ve heard from some other leaders that be hired to positions then found out there was no cash to fund the position, in our previous episodes but, are there some just kind of overarching things that executive director’s listening to this right now should be aware of because they’re common things that you see as you do this PiDE, professional interim director position?

Jarrett: Right, the thing I would share is to have very clear outline as to what is the CEO’s role, and that title changes, right? It could be, executive director it could be CEO, it could be president but whatever, (8:19) that CEO role is, especially for nonprofits, what is your expectation as CEO versus the board of directors, in particular the board president.

Marc: mmmmm

Jarrett:  And to really have clear outlined responsibilities, clear outlined expectations, and I’m going to add a third one clear outlined, oh gosh I had the brilliant third one,

Marc: (laughs)

Jarrett: I can’t (laughs), well, apparently, it’s not that great, no, its boundaries, you really need to have set boundaries, right? So, what is it that you do as a CEO, what is it your board president does, your nonprofit you know, full board and what those boundaries, accountability, and you know, expectations.

Marc: Wow, that is that makes so much sense, because often we don’t know the boundaries until we cross them, if there not clearly laid out.

Jarrett: Oh yeah, yeah, it’s a fine line in the sand and, you know, I also live my life, personally with clear boundaries, I have actually fired clients for crossing boundaries whether its, you know calling me at 9 o’clock at night or expecting me to work on a Saturday that’s not an event, you know, it’s hey come in and let’s talk about this on a Saturday,   no.   That’s not me.

Marc: I was just, one of my coaching clients is an executive director and I was just encouraging him to firing a donor. Because ..

Jarrett: Oh yeah.

Marc: …the amount of time and effort and bandwidth with this donor was taking, belligerently taking was disproportionate to the amount of giving that he was  sporadically doing, and so just having him, just tasking this executive director, what’s your family life work? What’s you, I mean your family life, your work, your peace of mind, how, this guy is impacting all of that, is it really worth your…

Jarrett:  Right.

Marc: …your investment in this or are you over reacting? Do you need to chill out and, and stop reacting with this so much? It was a very productive conversation, jury’s still out about whether he’ll have the guts to fire the guy but…

Jarrett: Right.

Marc: ….that would be in his best interest to cut loose (laughs)

Jarrett: Well it comes down to the ROI, right? And sometimes the ROI for personal matters you can’t monetize those, so when it comes to being actively involved with your family, I was just guilty, I went on vacation this summer, (10:30) and someone kept messaging me and I just happened t say, Oh I just got back from the beach, and he goes, stop messaging me back, I had no idea you were gone, I’m so sorry…

Marc: (laughs)

Jarrett: ….and even for him to give me that accountability check it was like, wow, thank you, I really appreciated this, because I was fine talking with him, he did not know where I was, so it was me engaging in conversation, but once he actually knew where I was, he set the boundary for me to say I’m not talking to you until you’re back on the clock (laughs)

Marc: That is awesome, that’s great,

Jarrett: It was.

Marc: Well you know, we’ve done it again, come to the end of an episode of concord leaders, and I’ve learned a lot, one of the things that I’m still reveling over is the choosing the three, and having it automatically, because other people opting out, having the one, so the small term it looks like it didn’t work, we wanted three to present and (11:22) and it didn’t work, but when you take a step back to the big term, oh wait, the big goal was to get the one executive director, and we got it.

Jarrett: That’s right.

Marc: So, I loved your perspective shift of sometimes when it’s a bump in the road it actually can be a blessing, or moving us to the goal just in a way we didn’t see. Again, I have a page of notes here that   but what are, if there were one thing that listeners were to do after listening to this. What would you recommend.

Jarrett: I would say really get clear with yourself, I’m going to go back to the boundaries, mainly because I forgot what that third amazing tip was, but it is definitely boundaries, and knowing, you know, professional as well and personal, what are those boundaries and sending out clear expectations and, and holding yourself to them. To having an accountability partner that helps you. Hold yourself to them, but really setting boundaries and knowing what those are.

Marc: That is awesome. Jarrett, I’m so glad you were a guest today, where can people find out more about you and what you do?

Jarrett: Thank you Marc, again the Rayvan group is the best place, so it’s the Rayvan group, T, H, E, R, A, Y, V as in victor, A, N as in Nancy group dot com. We are based in Phoenix, Arizona but we work internationally, so we have a client in New York, we have  a client in LA, we have a client in Dominican Republic, but we do reside here in Phoenix, Arizona, so it’s the Rayvan group dot com

Marc: Well wonderful, thanks so much, I know people are going to want to listen to this episode again and again and this as well as all the episodes of the concord leaders podcast can be found at concord leadership group dot com slash podcasts, until next time, remember that healthy nonprofits start with healthy leaders.

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