In episode 72 of Mission: Impact, Carol and her guest, Lauren Brownstein discuss:
Lauren Brownstein is the author of Be Well, Do Good: Self-Care and Renewal for Nonprofit Professionals and Other Do-Gooders. She has been working in philanthropy for more than 30 years as a fundraiser, educator, program manager, and administrator. She helps nonprofit organizations, philanthropists, and grant makers achieve their goals through PITCH, LLC, her fundraising and philanthropy consulting practice. As a reflection of her commitment to philanthropy and volunteerism, Lauren has served on the boards of several nonprofits and has volunteered extensively in the community. She was a certified foster parent before adopting a child from the foster care system. She earned a Masters in Teaching in Museum Education from the George Washington University and a Bachelors with High Distinction from the University of Virginia. She lives in the Washington, DC area.
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Carol Hamilton: My guest today on Mission Impact is Lauren Brownstein. Mission Impact is the podcast for progressive nonprofit leaders who want to build a better world without becoming a martyr to the cause. I am Carol Hamilton, your podcast host and nonprofit strategic planning consultant.
Lauren and I talk about why it is so important for those in the nonprofit sector to take care of themselves while they are working towards their mission, the concept of passion exploitation, and the importance of professional boundaries
Welcome Lauren. Welcome to Mission Impact.
Lauren Brownstein: Thank you. Thank you so much for the invitation. I'm excited to have this conversation.
Carol: I always start my conversations with a question around what drew you to the work that you do. What would you describe as your why or what motivates you?
Lauren: That's such a big question and I'm laughing in part. Let's see. I started my career, started working I guess in 1992. And to be honest, I sort of fell into nonprofit work. I mean, it was like there's a recession and there's this job opportunity and fundraising, and I had a background in that work, but I always had been and continue to be Mission driven in both my personal life and my professional life. I remember when I was in college, I had to do a project about career choices. And I did something about PR, what it's like to be a PR professional, but mine was PR for a nonprofit. I couldn't even imagine not working in the nonprofit sector.
I think what's kept me in the sector is this notion of. having a work life and a personal life that align along the same values. And I certainly don't think that's exclusive to people who work in the nonprofit sector, but I think for some folks that, we live in the DC area, there's tons of lawyers, for example, and I think for some of my friends who are lawyers, Their orientation is more like, well, this is what I do to take care of my family so that I can give back to my community, et cetera, et cetera.
And I think that's great if that's the way that works for you. For me, I don't wanna feel like my life is in these two different buckets. Like, this is what I do during the day just to support myself so that I can do the things I wanna do. I like having it more. Blended and, and, more of a partnership between all those areas of my life.
And there are pros and cons, look, money wise and everything else, but I, I, I would say that's what drives me. Does that make any sense?
Carol: Totally makes sense. And, and I, I think we, we've been living parallel lives cuz I started about the same time and my very first job out of college, I was working for. A small company that helped people get on talk shows and it was so , in the realm of PR and was working with lots of publicists for self-help books from New York. But that experience cuz it was a for-profit business of doing PR for all comers. When I moved back to the Washington area it sparked me to say, if I'm doing this, who do I wanna do it for?
And so that's what prompted me to move into this sector. And , I I, I appreciate that alignment. And I also as I'm coming to the other end of my career, thinking about, a lot of people may segue into the sector at the end of their career, right? Having, having done that, Job that supports their family or whatnot and wanna give back later.
But I appreciate those of us who've been in the trenches all long.
Lauren: so Exactly. And sometimes I meet people, God bless, best of intentions, will say, well, I'm retiring and now I'm gonna be a grant writing consultant. having never written a grant in their life. So I think that the sector depends on some.
It still needs to work on helping people understand that these are professions and that there are levels of expertise, just like in any other profession.
Carol: , I would invite those folks who are thinking about that transition to come in with a little humility that they might have a little bit to learn.
That it isn't just about applying everything that they knew from their corporate or, or legal or whatnot profession.
Lauren: Or realizing that even if you've been very involved in a nonprofit as a volunteer or a board member, you don't really know the dirty, dirty of the inside probably. Unless you've actually been on the staff side of things, it's not gonna be the same.
Being a lay leader and being a staff person are not gonna be the same. There's gonna be things that are better, but there are gonna be things that are different.
Carol: Definitely lots of things that are gonna be different.. So you, you've, you've been in the, in the realm of, of fundraising for a long time and in the sector and, but you recently wrote a book Be Well, do Good Self-Care and Renewal for nonprofit professionals and other do-gooders.
And since my tagline for this podcast is that it's a podcast for progressive nonprofit leaders who wanna build a better world without becoming a martyr to cause Yes. When I saw it, I was like, oh my goodness, I need to talk to Lauren. So, what inspired you to write this?
Lauren: Well and remind me to talk about passion exploitation.
Oh, because please, your tagline reminds me of that. But in terms of the inspiration for the book, I mean, to be honest, I never really, although I write a ton for my consulting work's, one of the main things I do, I never really thought I had a book in me. I never do it for plenty of people. That's a dream and something they work on for years, it wasn't really on my radar.
It wasn’t. Something I had written, written off, pun intended, but it wasn't really on my radar. As the conversations around burnout were becoming even more accelerated during the pandemic, I turned more of my attention to that. And on a personal level, I've been a student far from a master, but a student of various.
Wellness practices and approaches for decades, whether that's meditation, yoga, my therapy is crafting like crocheting and, and turning everything in my home into an art project, et cetera, et cetera. So I, I. Had realized that I had been writing about this for years in my blog and in other settings and talking about it.
And I had a collection of thoughts and tactics and micro steps that I had assembled over the years. And as a consultant, maybe you can relate to this too, I've both been a full-time staff person at nonprofits and been a consultant for 19 years. What makes that, it provides a unique perspective because I've seen how so many different nonprofits treat their staff, approach their work, take care of themselves, take care of others.
So to make a long and rambling story short, I realized that I had the makings of a book that had evolved naturally and organically. So then I sat down to create something that looked and felt like me, and Reflected my unique perspective. I used a bunch of things I'd written over the years, but also added some additional content, particularly in the area of there's a section of the book called, whose Job is It Anyway, where I talk about how staying well and strong and resilient as a nonprofit professional should not just be on the shoulders of the individual professionals, but.
Nonprofits themselves, the leadership of these organizations have a responsibility to create a culture that honors wellness. So I added some new content about that. I also added some worksheets and checklists and things like that. I do a lot of training as well in my consulting practice and my training based on I have a masters in teaching in museum education, which is very interactive.
So my training is very interactive. People are talking, they're writing, they're working. So I knew I didn't wanna have a book that was just Words on a page. I wanted to create something that could be that everyone could customize for themselves, as their own personalized guidebook towards wellness.
So I think that answers your question. Those are the things that moved me to do this and, and in short, realizing that. At the same time, there was this conversation bubbling up in the zeitgeist, in the nonprofit world. It was also so much a part of who I am and what I'd been talking about and thinking about for years.
Carol: I mean the, the, the challenge of burnout of unhealthy cultures within organizations have, have, have been there for years. And then I think we're just amplified and. . I guess amplified by, by the pandemic and all the changes and the, multi, multiple stressors that were going on. I, I say that in the past tense as, as if it's over, but that, that hap , that have been happening.
And so, and, and at the same time there's been so much conversation about that and, the, the many, many. it's in, in the news all the time around wellness and, and self care. And I feel like especially in the nonprofit sector, there's a lot of skepticism about it. How do we have time for it?
And, and what, what are some of the approaches that you've found possible to really integrate into your routine or found particularly
Lauren: helpful? you mean on a personal level? Just keeping myself the
Carol: We start at the personal level and then we can, move from there.
Lauren: I have always been good at professional boundaries.
So , when I worked in organizations, for example, I left the office at. five 30 ish every day, which is pretty unusual in the DC area. But I also, when I work, work very intensively, so I'm not somebody who spends half their day hanging out at the water cooler. When I work, I really have my head down to work.
On some level, there's a price to pay for that in organizations, in terms of personal relationships or whatever. Not that any of my personal relationships were bad, but it's sort of the same thing as , when women don't go out and play golf on the golf course with the CEO, there's missed opportunities.
But for me it was worth it. I was just telling someone the story of when I used to work in this office . I like to, before I leave every day, clean off my desk, sort of put my papers and files and make my desk look neat cuz I didn't like coming into a messy office. And one of my colleagues said to me, you really shouldn't do that because people aren't gonna think you're busy.
So I would purposefully leave a mess. And then you have to sort of step back and. What is wrong with us, is that this is the culture that we've created. So back to your original question: yes, I have always been good at boundaries. I also observe the Jewish Sabbath, which is from sundown Friday, the sundown Saturday, and I don't work then.
So, That has always been a boundary that's been really helpful for me to, like, I, I know there's gonna be 24 hours when I don't work, and people who work with me know that. I just had a client the other day who asked me to do something very last minute, and I literally sent it to her at like 4 45 on Friday, something I was writing, and then she was gonna work on it over the weekend and she wrote back and said, oh, so were you available to work on this on the weekend or not until Monday? And I said not until Monday, and I didn't need to give her a big speech about why the answer was not until Monday.
So I think part of it is setting some clear boundaries and knowing that if I don't do that, my work is going to suffer. I also sort of do as I say, not as I do, or that whole, like the cobbler has no shoes.
I was feeling pretty overwhelmed about two weeks ago. A lot of professional and personal stuff going on, and then I said to myself, wait a minute, when's the last time I did my gratitude writing? When's the last time I sat down to work on a crocheting project? When's the last time I went for a walk in the middle of the day?
And I realized that even after just one day of doing a couple of those things, not all of them, that I did feel better. Sometimes I worry that all of these practices become a big to-do list, right? And then they become a burden and a stressor. So I have to give myself permission to pick and choose. So I have figured out things over the years.
Center me, calm me, make me feel good, and help give me the mental clarity that I need to do my work. And it's okay not to do all of them. Like it's okay if I just go for a walk today. It's okay for me, and not everybody has this freedom, but it's okay for me to take a 30 minute work break. and crochet because it really calms me and relaxes me and slows down my central nervous system.
And if that means I work a little later in the evening, so be it. So those are a few of the, a few of the things that I do. And I also think I, I wonder if you find this too, at this point in my career, it's different from what I was earlier in my life. If I have a difficult conversation with a client or if someone critiques my work or just does something that annoys me, I'm able to separate that from who I am.
What am I saying? So I think there was a time where, if I wrote a proposal for someone and then they sent it back to me and said, oh, I don't really like this. I don't really like that. Let's scratch this, let's scratch that. I would get really bent out of shape about it. Not to them, but like, the cartoon bubble over my head
And, and now I just, oh, well that's my work. That's not. But that I think is, some people maybe are naturally like that, but I think that comes with time. What about you? What are your, do you have strategies around this?
Carol: , I mean, one you mentioned was the, the gratitude practice, and a couple years ago I started using a, a daily planner that's, I think, I don't know, the company's like best self or something.
And I've since adapted it and, and just use a blank one to, to to do the same thing. But I do always find that my days are better if I start with that. It takes. 10 minutes. . One step is just taking a look at the schedule. What have you got on setting your goals? Like what are the top three things you're gonna try to get done today, but then also what are three things that you're grateful for?
And in reading your book, I appreciated that you went too much. You get much more in depth of your gratitude. Sometimes I'm just like sunshine, a really good cup of coffee and good sleep. And that's all I write.
Lauren: I think you just hit my top three actually. Oh, add chocolate. Then we'd hit there.
Carol: I think it's been easier to integrate some of these things since I've been outside of organizations.
But even when I was working inside organizations and even early in my career, like the first 15 years of my career when I was a single mom, I mean, one of the things I would do was I was a very early bike commuter because it was a cheap form of transportation. Mm-hmm. It provided me with exercise.
and it provided me with some, a little bit of alone time and like a transition from work, right? Mm-hmm. And luckily I've never had an accident since. There was no bike infrastructure at that time. Back in the nineties
Lauren: I hope you were wearing a helmet at least.
Carol: Oh, of course I was. Yes, I was doing that.
But even then, just, just prioritizing. So for me, some form of exercise, some form of mindfulness, doing some meditation, even if it's just I take a, after my shower laying down for five minutes and just breathing. Mm-hmm. And then with a little more flexibility of being able to manage my own schedule I've just become much more mindful about different things. About what energy level I need for different activity levels, different activities, right. And trying to structure my time around that. I think there's a little bit of an illusion that when you work for yourself, you have complete control, but you don't,
Lauren: no. It's like you have 10 bosses.
Right, right, right.
Carol: You're working with lots of people and their expectations and, and all of that. But, those are some of the things that work for me.
Lauren: , what you're reminding me of also, and I wonder if you found this to be true. I don't like to talk about pandemic silver linings because the pandemic is tragic.
But one change in my work life that I appreciate is I feel like per, maybe particularly in fundraising it's become a little less performative. In other words, when you talked about energy, how much energy to devote to things, you were reminding me of this. I don't feel like I have to be on as much.
And I think the pandemic did that because everyone was at home on Zoom and you would hear things, like, oh, sorry, my baby's crying. My cat just jumped on me. My, there's a, someone at the door, my internet's not working. Well, whatever the case may be. I. I think that people have given each other a little more grace and don't feel like they have to put on quite as much of a show, but I, I don't know, maybe that's just my experience.
Carol: I think that's definitely the case. It's just the, a little more acknowledgement that as you said at the very beginning, that you wanted your personal life and your work life to align that, that everybody has. and that they aren't as quite as neat and separate as we might have tried to pretend before.
Lauren: . I was listening to a podcast yesterday. It was an interview with Natasha Leon, who's an actress, and she was saying that as she gets older, she realizes we're all just a bunch of buffoons on the bus. you get, you don't get as mad anymore when other people don't do things perfectly because we're all just a bunch of buffoons on the bus.
We're all just trying to figure it out, for goodness sake.
Carol: Absolutely. I remember when I was managing younger staff and, and I think coming out of the education system has become more and more and more structured and there's more and more support, scaffolding and rubrics and all these things.
There was an expectation of like, well, the work world should be like that too, and I know we're, or, or what are the best practices? And , sure, you wanna learn those. You wanna learn from others and at the same time, Honestly, we're all making this up every day. We get up and, and live
Lauren: get some stuff done. Oh,
Carol: That's what's happening. That's all, it's a constant improv, right? I mean, that's essentially what life is. Oh
Lauren: my gosh, that's such a good quote. It's constant improv. It really is. It
Carol: really is. So one of the things you talked about that I'd love to go back to is the idea of passion exploitation.
Lauren: Oof. I just heard this term for the first time I don't know, maybe a month ago or six weeks ago. And again, it feels like all these conversations are just in the zeitgeist right now. So, I don't know. Maybe I have good timing for the first time in my life, but it's this idea. Oh, you're working for a nonprofit, so you shouldn't mind if you're not paid well, you're working for a nonprofit, so you shouldn't mind if you're, overworked and you don't have enough staff people to do this job that you've been told to do, and the expectations are really unfair, and you haven't taken a day off in a month.
You are getting to live your passion, so you shouldn't mind about these things. The broken
Carol: chair, the computer, that doesn't work
Lauren: a hundred percent and it is so exploitative and manipulative and I think people are pushing back. But I do, as much as I, as a Gen Xer, have issues with millennials, and, and younger, I think they are the ones who are standing up and saying, Uhuh, that's, this is not okay.
Carol: I'd have to give it to my, my daughter's generation and, and my nieces and nephew's, generation Millennials and, and gen Z . Gen Z of . We're not, we're not gonna take this anymore
Lauren: and appreciate, and the words of Quiet was that Quiet Riot or Twisted Sister. We're not gonna take this anymore.
And there's just. Patience for this stuff. And I think that as people become more aware of systemic inequities, particularly over the last couple of years with the Black Lives Matters movement, even #MeToo, to a degree, there's also a recognition of. How much of that nonsense is tied up in systemic inequities and people who have always had to fight these battles of, of, of exploit.
We understand more about what exploitation is and the forms, the insidious sort of gaslighting forms that it can take.
Carol: I feel like I'm seeing that across many, many helping professions. there's so many pieces of systemic inequity that are built into how all of those systems work.
Mm-hmm. Whether it's teachers or nurses, social workers, folks in the nonprofit sector the expectation that because you're helping people and because there's that inherent What is the word I'm looking for? Not validation, but gratification. She'll feel good about it. . .
That, that, that you also then don't actually need to be paid. We only need to pay the people whose life, whose work is. Sucking the life outta them.
Lauren:. Right. And I think that's really backwards. Yes. I write about this in the book too, that, yes, when you decide to work in nonprofits, I mean there's an understanding you're gonna make less money than some other people, but there's, there should not be an implicit understanding that you can't pay your kids' tuition, you can't go on a vacation, you can't buy a cute pair of shoes or get a massage.
You should be able, you certainly should be able to do the basics and you should be able to do a little more than the basics, particularly if you've been in this, in your career path for a while. I think where people get a little annoyed maybe with some younger generations is when they ex, when they expect this stuff without putting in the time.
I once read something about sort of millennials versus Gen X, which is me and maybe you that there is this assumption around. More vacation time, job titles, things like that. The Gen Xers in this study had more expectation around having to earn that over, bec through work result time, whatever the case may be.
Whereas millennials maybe came in with more of that expectation. But in any event, You shouldn't have to give up a good life to work for a good cause. Right. And I also, something else I write about in the book is that I think the donors should care about this because if donors are supporting a nonprofit, and that nonprofit is churning through workers.
The workers are overwhelmed, stressed out, quitting, quiet, quitting. Another term I heard recently was, I think it was minimum effort Monday or something like that. If this is what's going on at the nonprofits you're supporting, you should be concerned about that. And I think as organizations, I think organizations can't really say that they're being the most responsible steward.
of donors' funds if they're not taking care of their staff, because by taking STA care of the staff, they are maximizing those donations.
Carol: . It really goes to that overhead myth. An organization is more effective if. almost all of its funds are going directly into program, not recognizing what it actually takes to create the and support those programs
Lauren:.I've seen that turnaround somewhat in among foundations over the last decade or so. I don't know about that turnaround, I don't know if it's happening among individuals. I was having a conversation with a foundation officer just yesterday. And they were telling me about an organization.
I don't know anything about them. I'm not endorsing them. I've never spoken to them, but I think it's called Fund the People. And it's about spreading this message of making sure you're investing in the staff because the staff are the ones who are making it happen.
Carol: . We talked about our individual approaches to self-care and, and prioritizing that. But as you mentioned at the beginning, it's not just the job of the individual, even though in. Us individualistic culture, we often have the solutions trickle down to the poor individual to take care of it all. But , I, I've heard it framed as organizations need to, there's personal boundaries that you need to set, but then organizations need to set what this personnel find their, their name called guardrails that That support those personal boundaries so that it is the norm that you're not working over the weekend or that, There's not an expectation that you're answering emails after hours or, those kinds of things, or that, the organization is investing in people's skill building, professional development taking time together to do learning and, and reflection.
Lauren: . To be honest with you, I haven't seen a lot of nonprofits that do that. Well, I'd love to hear about more of them that do that. Well, one thing I think I say in the book is, Fri, it's not just Friday yoga. Like it's not enough to just slap Friday Yoga into the schedule and say, well, we're done with wellness.
Not that Friday. Yoga isn't great. I love Friday Yoga, and I'm just picking on Friday yoga at the moment. But the idea is it has to be, Part of the culture. I think that the leadership, the C-suite, however your organization is organized, has to lead the way on that, as does the board. So the C-Suite has to be committed to not.
Working on the weekends also. And that's not easy for a lot of people at that level. And sometimes it's not realistic. It's sort of a chicken of the egg. Like I don't have enough people on staff to not work on the weekends, but I wanna not work on the weekends, so my staff doesn't feel like they have to do that.
So I understand that it's easier said than done. One thing I also talk about in the book is, and I guess it's related to the passion exploitation piece too. When you're working at a nonprofit, sometimes you can feel pretty far removed from the actual work depending on what your job is. And you need to stay connected to the cause, the work, the clients, the people.
So for example, when I worked at the Holocaust Museum, People the US Holocaust Memorial Museum here in DC people used to say to me, oh gosh, isn't it a hard place to work? It must be so hard. And I would say, it's an office. We talk about recipes and share about our weekends. I'm not, my desk is not in the middle of the permanent exhibition.
And, and so we worked in a separate office building than the museum, and sometimes it did feel disconnected, so I started volunteering as a tour guide at the museum. There are certain groups, like school groups and, and police groups that would get tours and it, I didn't have to take time. I didn't have to make up the time with my job.
I did it. I wanna say I gave tours maybe twice a month or something, but it was during my workday and there was no problem with that. I think that was a good example. So for example, I think if, let's say a nonprofit is some sort of environmental group, I don't think it's enough for the executive director to say, To staff.
Oh . You should make the time, like once a month to go and see this watershed that we're working on. It's really inspiring. No, the director and the COO or whatever should be doing that on the regular. They should be making time in the regular workday for the staff to go do that. They should be facilitating it.
Carol: There's so many benefits of that. It's not only, if you do it together it's not only reconnecting or connecting people really directly to the mission, but , it can also serve as, as team building it. it gets people.
Interacting in a different way. maybe bringing some cross-functional groups together to do something like that. But I think that modeling is so important. So, I mean, I think Friday, Friday yoga or Wednesday Lunch yoga is a great place to start. . As long as when , there was one organization where I was working where they did have that and they collaborated with a couple different organizations in the same building to sponsor it.
So staff from all sorts of different groups were coming down, and doing it. But every once in a while you'd, you'd come back and, Have to go to the bathroom to change out of your yoga clothes. And then Right. The, senior leader would look at you like, where have few been?
And I'm like, okay, that's not healthy
Lauren:. Oh, I thought you were gonna talk about how you don't want your colleagues to see you in yoga pants, which I also completely understand. Well, there is that , not you particular, I mean, anybody, I. Gym is in the office. I don't want anyone to see me showering, after I go to the gym with colleagues.
And you remind me of another point that makes this I think, I hate to say it makes it tricky cuz I don't wanna make it sound harder than it is. But it's something to keep in mind. For some people the last thing they wanna do is yoga with a colleague, the last thing they wanna do is participate in a brown bag.
Lunch. Lunch is their sacred time. They want to eat quietly at their desk and read their book and that's okay. So there has to be some flexibility. and understanding that what fills up one person drains another person. And, either it needs to be okay for people to participate, not participate, or participate in a way that makes sense for them, and that feels good for them.
Carol: , for sure. And, and, but as, as you said, it's also important to . I think that the the place where people get frustrated when they see these, top 10 lists of the things to do for self-care and, and, the eye roll start is one more thing to do, one more thing to do, or, or the creating the impression that that, that this is easy and it isn't.
But I think the investment and the intention around it can really pay off in a. really important ways. . For the overall effectiveness and mission of the organization.
Lauren: . I mean, my hope is with the book and just in general, that even if it doesn't feel easy to figure out how to start doing these things or to get in the habit of making time for it, it can still be done with ease.
, that it doesn't feel like a burden and something else you have to do. It doesn't feel like a struggle. And what you are doing to feel. If it doesn't feel like you can do it with ease, I would suggest that maybe you could find something else.
Carol: , and I think that's an important one because it's not something that is much valued in our culture.
I feel like the first time I've even. interacted with the notion of having ease in, in, in anything was was in doing. And I'm not, like, people would not look at me and say, oh, I, I'll bet she does yoga. No, yoga or, or meditation where that sense of just giving yourself grace and, and, and not pushing, not you.
Jane Fonda approach to . . Exercise . . . But approaching things with ease.
Lauren: , . Ease. What's that? I mean, we're not, we're not conditioned to believe that that's okay. And also it gets back to nonprofit culture. ? I think there's this notion of, it's, it's really like the passion exploitation conversation.
Like it shouldn't be easy. I mean, you are working on really difficult things. I'm not. That you don't work hard at whatever you're doing, but can you find a sense of ease in what you're doing, whether it's a wellness practice or just work in general? Like it, it doesn't have to be, and it shouldn't have to be torturous, and we shouldn't have a culture where we're saying, if you're not running yourself into the ground, you're not doing it right.
If your desk doesn't look messy, you're not doing it right. I mean, that's the culture we need to have.
Carol: , absolutely. Well, at the end of each episode, I like to play a game where I ask one random icebreaker question from a box of icebreaker questions that I have. So you literally have a box right there.
I literally have a box. Yep. I love it. So what important truth do very people very few people agree with you on what, what would be an important truth that few people agree with
Lauren: you? Orange juice is gross. I don't like pulp . Nobody agrees with me on that. I know it's very un-American to not like orange juice. But what can I tell you? I don't. What is something more important or valuable that other people don't agree with me on? Oh my gosh. It's hard for me to think of something cuz I unfortunately surround myself with a lot of people who tend to agree with my general outlook on life.
what? I love crappy tv. I love reality tv. I love watching The Real Housewives and seeing those dingbats argue with each other about stupid. Makes me feel better about my problems, and I think some people say, oh, just rot your brain. It's the worst. You should throw your TV out the window. God, I, I just, I love it.
I really do. I love it. And that is okay, and I should not have to feel ashamed about that. And I, it's also, I can love the Real Housewives and all that other junk, and I can still read really great books and go to museums and do beautiful things. In fact, my daughter and I are bringing this new show.
It's not new, new to us right now called Married At First Sight. Like on some level after I watch it, I feel like I have to take a shower. Like it's unbelievable that we're watching this show, but there is something about just looking at it and, and it prompts conversations between me and my daughter. And so much of it is silly and cringey.
And if that releases me from my day-to-day worries, then so be it.
Carol: , it gives you a, gives you a little sense of ease, I would say. . And, and that idea that, I mean, especially in DC we can take ourselves way too seriously. So, no, no. The idea that highbrow and lowbrow culture can, can coexist in one person.
I love that
Lauren:. Oh, I love me some lowbrow. Love it.
Carol: So what's coming up in your work? What's emerging?
Lauren: Good stuff actually. I've been asked to do a bunch of training virtually with some, virtually some in person. But, the pandemic really opened a lot of virtual opportunities for me, so that's good.
And talking about the book, doing some interviews around that and just lots of writing, which I love. I love doing the writing, whether it's grant writing or case statement writing or just, general. Organizational writing needs. I love all of that. So that's the latest, really.
Carol: Well, thank you so much. Thank you for coming on the podcast.
Lauren: Thank you. I loved our conversation. I'm so grateful that you invited me and included me among all your great guests. So thanks so much.
Carol: I appreciated Lauren’s point around self care and wellness not just being the responsibility of the individual staff person or volunteer – it is on the organization and the organization’s leadership to create a culture that values wellness. And this can be such a challenge because it is often leaders who are modeling over work and always being on. And even if they are setting up policies to support wellness and are saying to staff – take care of yourselves. If leadership does not do it themselves, all that is for naught. We explore this dynamic from multiple angles in my two part episode series on creating healthy organizational cultures – episodes 62 and 63.
I also appreciated Lauren’s explanation of the concept of passion exploitation. That we should feel lucky to work in a sector where we get to work towards our passion – where as Lauren described – her values in her personal life and work life can align. [And that] because of that we should be willing to put up with low pay, poor working conditions, and unreasonable expectations. The broken office chair and hand me down computers. Thinking about this dynamic and the fact that 75% of nonprofit workers are women. There are so many assumptions built into the sector that start with its origins. Many helping professions started with the wives of middle class and wealthy men who wanted to contribute outside the home – yet did not need to be comparably compensated for their labor since their material needs were already taken care of. This was never fully the case as Dr. Orletta Caldwell pointed out on our last episode – episode 71 – but I do believe it informs structures and assumptions that got built into the beginnings that we are still living with today. Another precursor could also be the vow of poverty many in religious orders that served the poor made as part of their religious life. The cultural assumption that money is somehow immoral and to do go, you cannot include money colors our current struggles around paying people living wages and more, in the sector.
Thank you for listening to this episode. I really appreciate the time you spend with me and my guests. You can find out how to connect with Lauren Brownstein, her full bio, the full transcript of our conversation, as well as any links and resources mentioned during the show in the show notes at missionimpactpodcast.com/shownotes. I want to thank Isabelle Strauss-Riggs for her support in editing and production as well as Cindy Riveria Graze of 100 Ninjas for her production support. And until next time, thank you for everything you do to contribute and make an impact. We want to hear from you! Take a minute to give us feedback or ask a question at missionimpactpodcast.com/feedback. And until next time, thank you for everything you do to contribute and make an impact.
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