25: The Mindset, Behaviors and Self-Awareness you Need to Thrive in Nonprofit Leadership with Kishshana Palmer

25: The Mindset, Behaviors and Self-Awareness you Need to be a Thriving Nonprofit Leader with Kishshana Palmer

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“We still want to be rewarded. We still want to be acknowledged. So why would we not think that it’s our responsibility as leaders to lay track for our team members to be successful.”

– Kishshana Palmer

Episode #24


In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

Kishshana Palmer is an international speaker, trainer, and coach with a 20+ year background in fundraising, marketing, and talent management. Kishshana is an absolute trailblazer helping organizations and individuals get rid of toxic mindsets and make their missions come true. 

In this episode, Kish and I  talk the truth about martyrdom in the nonprofit sector and how it is fueled by our egos and rooted in old-school practices. Do we really need to be the person sending an email at 1:00 am to show that we care? Absolutely not. Times have changed, and our organizations need to as well.

25: The Mindset, Behaviors and Self-Awareness you Need to be a Thriving Nonprofit Leader with Kishshana Palmer
25: The Mindset, Behaviors and Self-Awareness you Need to be a Thriving Nonprofit Leader with Kishshana Palmer

Even though we talk about a lot of hard truths, this conversation is super fun. We invite you to explore some of the most toxic behaviors in the nonprofit space and what you can do to address them. Plus, you’ll learn why you need to start investing in your personal, professional, and spiritual development now (and how we do it).

You really don’t want to miss the perfect episode to launch 2022 strong!


Kishshana Palmer:


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25: The Mindset, Behaviors and Self-Awareness you Need to be a Thriving Nonprofit Leader with Kishshana Palmer
25: The Mindset, Behaviors and Self-Awareness you Need to be a Thriving Nonprofit Leader with Kishshana Palmer
25: The Mindset, Behaviors and Self-Awareness you Need to be a Thriving Nonprofit Leader with Kishshana Palmer

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I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.


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episode transcript

Mallory: All right. Welcome everyone. I could not be more excited to be here today with my friend, Kishshana  Palmer. I’m just ready for a lot of laughter and a lot of realness, and I’m just so grateful for all the time that we get to spend together. So thanks for joining me today. 

Kishshana: Oh my gosh. Thank you for having me. Thank you for hanging out with me and yeah, we get to see that we’re real friends. Y’all, we are not internet friends, we had met in real life real life. We have also gotten a little saucy.

Mallory: Yeah, I was like, it is too early for wine. It’s two 30 here, but yet… I thought about it. Okay. With just a little intro into you and your work and what brings you? 

Kishshana: Over the last 20 plus years, I have managed to build quite a career around fundraising, marketing communications policy, leading some really amazing national non-profits. More on the social venture side of the house. And so fast growth organizations really focused on doing deep impact or widespread impact depending on where I was in the country.

I have lived all over it. The only place I have not raised money yet this year in the United States, is in the Midwest and that’s just because the people there give me the job till it was too late. And then, I went to California, but I now serve as CEO of Kishshana  & Co.

My company focuses on helping everyday people who are in the trenches of making their missions happen. Live well through wellbeing, through thinking about all the ways in which to live a healthy life and lead well through authentic, inclusive, equitable, justice centered strategies, operating from a place of strength and not from a place of deficit or weakness.

Lots of my clients are folks who call me in saying “There is trouble in this house”. And then I come in, keep the door open and realize that it’s not really trouble. We just have gotten so used to being on the hamster wheel of being busy that we have not allowed ourselves to slow down to actually assess the work that we need to do as humans who spent a lot of time together.

So that is really what I do. I’m a leadership trainer, coach consultant. I do a lot of org design work, a lot of DI equity focused work. And it just so happens that I get to have some of the best clients in the world who work in the nonprofit sector and work in tech. And so that’s where I am. But you know that’s not the coolest stuff, Mallory.

Mallory: No, you’re also this amazing mother and you also are the best public speaker. I have to tell you when I watched you speak in-person publicly. I just started DM-ing all my friends in Silicon valley. I was like “If you ever need a leadership trainer, you need to look at this woman. She’s amazing”. I would hire her for anything just like your energy, your realness, the way you communicate complex and hard ideas in a way that is digestible, translatable, inclusive. I’ve never seen anything like it. So you’re the real deal. 

Kishshana: Listen, that’s because I grew up in a very Jamaican family where I think our unwritten motto probably at the bottom of our family crest, was he who talks loudest wins.

And if you want it to be heard and you grew up in a big house, a big family too, you better not be pipsqueak in the corner. Okay. No one is paying attention to you. And my mother until I was probably in high school, we used to tease her so much that she was our human dictionary.

And so this is a proper Jamaican lady with a British accent who went to the finest boarding schools in Jamaica. And, she just carries herself with this sort of like air of you just wanting to sit up straight up from the base of your pelvis.

And so early on, I have always been chatty. I remember when I was in the seventh grade and Mr. Feldman was my social studies teacher and my homeroom teacher. And I have always had a lot to say. I’m very verbose.

And he called my mama who works at a hospital. Okay. Doing the Lord’s work, to come up to the school during the middle of our shift to talk to him about the fact that I talked to him about the fact that I talk too much. She asked him, “are her grades suffering?” He said “No, she’s a straight A’s”. “Is she distracting other students from doing their work?”, he said “Actually, no. She’s quite helpful in the classroom and helps others with their work”. “Is she causing you to not do your work?”, he said “No, it’s just that she just talks a lot. She has a lot to say. She has a lot of extra words and things”, and she leaned in and told him “Man, if you ever call me at my job again, because you need help with managing your classroom, you are not going to like the kind of visit I’m going to pay you”. And I just want y’all to know that right after that, I became the school’s morning announcer.

And so I really feel like whatever Ms. Don said to him that day, whoever was filming is right now in the world. I hope the man is happily retired. That had just left an indelible imprint on my mind, so bad. 

Mallory: Oh my gosh. I love that. That is the best story. And it’s true in my family too. My husband is an introvert from a much quieter family and he came into my family, oldest of four. We have so many interesting life similarities and he was like “How do you speak here?”. He was like, “I don’t know how to get in there”.

Tell me something that most people don’t know about you. I feel your popularity and visibility has grown so much over the last few years. And I bet there are tons of people out there that are like, “we know Kish”. What’s the thing that you feel like people don’t get to know about you, but that’s emerging in this 2022 year. 

Kishshana: I think people don’t know how funny. And I think that’s because in my career I had to really actively strike the balance between not being here for your entertainment and being entertaining because I am mostly entertaining myself.

I just want you to know if I’m up there laughing and giggling y’all I promise you it was for my own entertainment. I’ve seen something you have not seen, and I am tickled by it. And so I think now, as I’m getting older and getting more comfortable and confident, and I’m not in performance mode all the time.And performance for me doesn’t mean being on stage. Like when I’m on stage, I’m alive. I was the kid who played the scarecrow.

Let me tell you, Mallory. I learned nothing in fifth grade. I just want you to know it, but it’s this glory and smarts that got me to junior high school because my fifth grade teacher didn’t teach us Dante, but we did do the best production of the New York city public schools I had ever seen in that year. I want you to know, but my love for being on stage and love to be in front of people and to bring people just like a level of joy and knowledge and just to walk away from interactions with me, feeling there’s probably lots of careers I would have gone into if I was, maybe deeper in my faith.

I might’ve gone into ministry. If I felt called to do that or something that would have had me out in front, so it took me some time to calibrate performing. And then I was also just showing a different layer of what the kaleidoscope of Kashaya was like, and that took some time. I think what people don’t know about me now is that I will cut up.

I have a bad potty mouth, fast, dirty jokes. I am quick on the draw. I probably can do dozens of improv, like any of those things and be ready and excited about lif. And so I think that’s probably one. There’s probably lots of things, but I think if I had thought about that, that’s probably one of the things. A funder once asked me “Have you ever considered a career in comedy?”. And I was leaving to myself, “wait a minute”, because I am an amateur comedian I was like, “oh!”. I was about to jump.

Mallory: I would for sure come to your standup show. So just saying, but we’d be laughing hysterically the whole time. Okay. Something I really appreciate about your humor is I feel like it is a really important thing to have when we’re doing work that’s really big and really hard and we’re tired.

And so all the things you do, I feel like it’s this really incredible skill balance actually to bring some lightness, increase the energy in a room when you’re talking about heavy things or leading an organization through heavy things. But you’re also in so many ways, like throughout your career, you have strengthened, grown, supported organizations to do all of these things. And I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of patterns of behavior in that work. And you do a ton of work around leadership development and how leaders are managing their teams and all these things. What’s the biggest leadership no-no that you are just real tired of hearing about in our sector. 

Kishshana: I just want to lean in and tell all you folks who are like extra narcissistic, but nobody has told you yet. Because people really don’t like you, they’re not afraid of you, They don’t want to bury you because they think they’re going to get caught. If they couldn’t get caught, you’d be gone. 

I just want you to know, but this idea that things are about me and about my ascension  to a leadership post. Like that ‘being in that spot’, whatever that is, is the goal, I think, has gotten folks into all manner of relationship kerfuffle and some of the relationship for kerfuffles that I’m talking about are really using folks and then saying things like “You knew it wasn’t personal Mallory”, mostly like me as a person, but you stepped on my neck professionally. You feel like I’m gonna see you in the parking lot. 

Or same as saying that you’re leveraging talent would really, you are ringing them dry and then hanging them out to dry. Or that you were chasing the best, but you are neither developing yourself and your skills because we all at each season of our life are at the lowest level of competence for that new level.

But so you want the best, but you’re not investing in yourself. You’re not getting a coach. You’re not joining the mastermind. You’re not going to the next level conference. You’re not spending time reading, et cetera, so that you continue to best yourself because you can attract folks who also want that type of visioning and that type of energy push for themselves.

So I see a lot of selfish behavior hidden under the following. “I’m just here for the work”, “because at the end of the day”, “it’s all about our mission”. “It’s really about our fill-in-the-blank mission, kids, the babies, the schools…”. Is it though, or is it about your ego?”. And so there’s a lot of ego driven us activity, wonderfully wrapped in other things that I think continues to persist is one of the reasons why we’re stepping into a decade upcoming were about 80,000 folks are going to be retiring from leadership roles across our sector.

And the reality is we probably have been saying that for the last 10 years, what are y’all leaving? Have you done the work to ensure that your faith isn’t the one who’s next in line, but that you have really identified what needs to be true for the organization to move to its next level of durability and sustainability.

And have you gotten the necessary types of input that are actionable across your stakeholder audience. That’s everybody from the receptionist to the senior VP of HR, so that you’re able to make really great strategic bets and then put folks in position to be able to carry those things out. 

So the largest piece of it is that we had a lot of ego. And your ego is designed to protect you Mallory, but it’ll fuel all manner of toxic behavior. And so what we’re seeing right now, we’ve seen this a lot in the last 20 months is the bubbling up of a lot of latent toxicity in the work that we’re doing now. So that’s what I would say. The ego masking, toxic behaviors, developing all types of unhealthy relationships, not creating pathways for sustainability and durability for organizations overtime.

Mallory: I love what you’re saying and I think this thing of masking the ego is this helper martyr that the nonprofit sector allows us. Perhaps in a stronger way than in other sectors to hide behind, do-gooding and to be like “I’m having this impact or this thing is good”. And so we aren’t the one being called out for that type of behavior and we’re not looking at it or taking any ownership about it.

Kishshana: So I talked a lot about martyritst. And martyritis  are a kissing cousin to being a workaholic. And so when you think about martyritis, it’s the disease of wanting to be seen as lane myself across streets before my mission. And everybody must know how hard I’ve worked and I’ve told her, and if I wasn’t here, the work just wouldn’t get done because Shauna, let me give you 9,245 examples.

When the reality is that for many of us, particularly who sit in leadership seats, and I don’t mean necessarily just ed CEOs. I mean VPs, managing directors and frankly you can lead by influence and by title. And even if you’re not in the position where you’re in the executive room, making decisions, you have a level of autonomy and decision-making that is within your grasp thereby making you a leader, you’re a CEO.

And so oftentimes I see the effects of folks who have just let it go too far, because they’ve been sold this idea that you’ve got a flogging your guts out to do this work. So people just will know how much you believe for the mission. That is not the way work is designed to be, not anymore.

It’s not supposed to be. And so the martyritst shows up when not only do you do that and behave in that way, but you want to make it public. “Look at me at 11, o’clock turning out the lights. Let me be the last one to send an email at 1:00 AM. Just so you know, I was up late”. No, get better working habits and behaviors. Let’s have a conversation about your time management and about responsibility and about being able to delegate effectively. A different conversation. 

Mallory: Yeah. How do you think about this when you think about it in terms of a sector wide challenge? So a lot of the work I can imagine that you’re doing, going into these organizations, helping them flush this out, right?

Cure this disease within their organization. But one thing I’m thinking about is how much turnover or transition we see inside the sector. In general, I talk about this a lot as a fundraiser. I hated fundraising for so many years, I was convinced that it was either me, that I was a bad fundraiser or that it was my organization, that it would feel different somewhere else.

So I kept bouncing around, blaming it on these like situational experiences or, oh, I just don’t know the secret to fundraising that everybody else does. So what is necessary to raise the consciousness of the sector to be like “listen, yeah, we can solve this problem over here and solve this problem over here…”, but what will it take for us all to take the step back and be like, “we all need to take some responsibility for this right now”?

The reality is that we, particularly if you’re a professional fundraiser listening to this, whether you have bought into it consciously or subconsciously this idea that we’re not professionals, we say we are though, we have conferences certifications designations, but you continue to treat team members whose job is to bring transformative resources into your organization to action your mission, and to keep it a whole thousand, to make sure that everybody in the building gets paid on the 15th and 30th, but you don’t want to train folks?

My brother right now is in pharma sales for most of his adult career. And he’s going into a new role at a new company and he is well-experienced. And let me tell you what he’s about to be in for the next month: training every day, because in order for him to understand the product, in order for him to understand his customer, in order for him to understand policy, procedure, and practice, in order for him to start to understand nuance market, et cetera, he’s got to study, because he’s charged with bringing in millions.

Why do we expect our professionals to not behave in a transactional way, which is what you do when you do not have new awkward context or depth of relationship to be successful. If we’re not giving them a place or space or resourcing them to study, there’s no wonder. You and I are in the same boat, 

I always look at my career and I look at the organizations I directed and then how much money they raised the year I left in the two years that I left. If an organization is doubling or tripling their revenue the year after I left baby I want y’all to know it wasn’t because of the new people, because in order to be able to get folks together, you have to understand how to lay track.

Mallory, I had to learn what onboarding looks like for my people. What are realistic goals? What are the small wins? Remember, when you would share with your little one, if you do any kind of the holiday things, when you got to bury things in the grass, when the children got to go on a scavenger hunt. You make it easy for the babies.

You don’t bury it half a mile out when you have a three-year-old on the foot, like that’s just not the idea. You put it right at the front door and they get excited and they go, and then they go look for the next thing and the next thing, and it’ll keep venturing further out. So y’all feel like we’re not still in kindergarten as we always want.

We are still looking to be seen, heard and validated. We still want to be rewarded. We still want to be acknowledged. So why would we not think that it’s our responsibility as leaders to lay track for our team members to be successful? 

Mallory: Okay. So I want to say something that I’m sure for some folks it’s gonna rub them the wrong way, but I feel like in addition to perhaps the avoidance of even thinking about these things or taking that step back or asking ourselves these questions.

I also feel like one of the things that’s tied to this riotous is almost this, like what I had to suffer. Like that I had to create the HR plan when I was hired. And then I had to create this when I was hired. And then I had to create this when I was hired. So why shouldn’t they have to? I feel it’s so much with women on women dynamics.

Kishshana: Yeah. So here’s the thing. Let me say something. I want folks to consider it, Mallory, that I know you’ll go along with this one. If you plant in the soil. A lot of us became plant mamas, the whole gardens over the pandemic. First of all, my thumb is still brown as hell y’all I got blue lights, misters. Okay.

It was the same. I killed every tree. That’s it. That’s not my ministry, but I did try. But the analogy still holds. If you were the one to create the policy seed plant, if you were the one to create the documents, seed plant, if you were the first one to go with and set the standards, set the pace on how gifts are raised, that’s a standard operating procedure that you should have written down. 

So if you were the one that literally got it out, the dirt, if you planted good seed and you fertilized it and you watered it and you made sure the conditions were good, it should be able to read. If you are really about your identity at first, then you should be proud to watch your work blossom and grow and watch other professionals step in and then go.

Now, I need you to propagate that thing and plant it over here so that we can make sure that we’re able to not be spread too thin. And we don’t overrun this process. We don’t overrun this particular strategy. 

There are some times where, particularly if you’re coming into a new way of being that there’s a difference between having exposure, having experience and having expertise, true time on tasks that allowed you to learn from your mistakes, allowed you to pivot, allowed you to refine, allowed you to get your lumps in your bumps.

So if you are in the expertise seat, And you see a younger professional and particularly another woman who was in the exposure seat, but she’s acting brand new, like she’s an expertise seat. That’s the moment to pull her right up and say “Hey, let me share with you some ways that have worked in the past, maybe take these ways and try them the first time”. 

And that since times have shifted and changed, you’ll be able to refine a little bit differently so that you can make your own. And then when you’re in that expertise seat, helping younger professionals or less seasoned professionals move from exposure to experience to expertise, then you get the credit for knowing how to build up professionals.

But we don’t get focused on that. Mallory, when we’re thinking about that, we get into the, if somebody’s going to be real mad, a lot of us as women and particularly as white women. What we really want to do is get close to white men’s power and money. And you can say that across any sector, because any of them, and there’s thousands of academicians who have studies and books and tomes and Ted talks about that very topic. So y’all, if y’all don’t believe me, just type that, what I just said in.

But the reality is many of us don’t actively realize that’s what’s happening. So you have to be present and conscious, and then you have to decide. To make different decisions. What do you think about that, Mallory? 

Mallory: One of the first conversations you and I ever had. I admitted to exactly that when I was in a leadership role of an organization with an all white board, primarily men, and I did not have the consciousness to recognize what was happening.

And I don’t think that excuses my behavior or the opportunities that I lost to elevate my staff or transfer power to them when it was really important to do and I think, it’s interesting for me, As someone who did it. Yeah. Having an organization that invests in my professional development or any of those things, I want a long time without really getting professionalized in the sector.

And what changed it for me was going through executive coach training, which was my own investment in my own leadership and in my own career. And as I got certified as an executive coach, I started to really deconstruct some of the thoughts, beliefs, habits I had formed. Just all of my subconscious, I started to see pockets everywhere of “Oh wait, why did I do that? Why didn’t I stand up there?”. And I think, one of the conversations we had, like I explained how I’m one of these boards, I felt like I was getting gas split all the time and I was way underpaid. I think I really was a total martyritst. I had clinical martyr martyritst.

And so I really talk about it from a place of “I get it”. And if you’re listening to this conversation right now, this is your prompt to start to look at all of this. And I wish I’d had this. 13 years ago. And so I feel like the thing I stay committed to here is know better, do better and be honest. It’s not easy for me to share stories about things that I’m not proud of, or that I feel ashamed about, like previous leadership roles.

And I also think. I feel like the first time you and I had that conversation, it was recorded and it was going to be put out to a bunch of people. And I had a few people being like “Are you sure you don’t want to edit that out?”. And I was like “Yeah, I am”. And you and I have talked about this in other ways, too, that I feel like the conversation is changing around the role that like capitalism plays, white supremacy plays in the sector. But so often we talk about it at this high level.

Kishshana: Yeah. Yeah. And the reality is Mallory. Like I want folks to know that just because I’m a black woman does not mean I am immune from the level of ignorance, nor does it mean that I have not benefited from white normative practices in organizations I’ve been in.

I am quiet the first time I walked into one of my roles. Now, mind you, I am chief external affairs officer. I have a staff of 26. Okay. Across multiple time zones, but around the country. And the very first time I walked into my office and I did not have, and I said, y’all my bundles. 

I had my Afro out and my hair curly. I had my hand on that door knob to open up that door into the office for a good five minutes. So long that one of my team members was leaving to go to the bathroom and they popped the door open. It scared the mess out of me. So to think that I have not been able to benefit from acting would be a lie, but I also looked up and realized I don’t have a lot of black professional friends. What the heck? 

So everybody has to start somewhere. If you choose to, some folk don’t want to, and I don’t want you, I just want you to know, we don’t need to be friends, my life will be okay.

But for lots of us who are really interested in the human connection right here all the time “Kishshana is really about love and it’s about people”. You’re damn right. And I don’t know any of y’all have been in a family where you want to cuff that uncle you had or right out, or a cousin to had a job in feud since y’all were playing Nintendo. ..

So even within your own family that you share blood and DNA, you can’t talk it up to just being human and people that love each other. No, you have to find your way to and through difficult conversations and relationships. And so what we’re seeing right now, Mallory, to me in real time, I’m excited when you and I get to have conversations like this.

Because it’s going to do several things for both of us who like to go deep in our friendships. We found so much connective tissue every week. The reality is that when you are thinking about relationships, because that’s the work that you do, particularly if you are in seat, whether you have your eye on a leadership seat or you are in one, is your responsibility to take a step back and really learn and understand and participate in the messy beauty of relationships. And so it can seem overwhelming Mallory, cause I know it wants to me, where do I start? Like how black do I need to be like, oh my God, I am a Caribbean American woman. Like I did not realize until I got to college and I was actually an American and I was like “Oh hell I guess this blue passport really is a thing”.

I know my parents didn’t make a big deal of it at home. Growing up in the islands, they focused on class. Not as much on racism and race doesn’t exist. That’d be a lie, but classes in different parts of the world have to be the thing that people hang on. 

My mom’s super light. And so she has a lot of light-skinned privilege. Her family came from money, so they have that privilege, but I did not miss the hard lessons of being reminded “Oh, babyebé you are very much a black woman”. So the amount of money that I’m responsible for raising. The window that I need to raise it in is a third of my peers, but the goal is bigger, but the donor pool is smaller.

I don’t get access to the founder’s list of people, but the head of finances is having lunch? Does the finance person have to close this gift? Cause I’m just wondering, I’m concerned. Every time I leave an organization, my job gets split into two or three. All of a sudden magically we have to reassess.

So even though there are ways in which I benefit. There are definitely ways in which I was reminded. If we are to talk about the human condition and if we are really in the business of building relationships, it’s being able to understand that in order to be able to lead effectively, you have got to be able to, at minimum, have a sympathetic position around the fabric of your team members and your partners, and your colleagues. Try to place yourself in that situation and try to imagine, and then multiply that by a hundred and then go get yourself accordingly.

Mallory: I think what’s so important about these conversations is that when we stay in the meta space, particularly around equity, people continue to deflect responsibility because they don’t understand exactly what that might look like for them.

I think this is all about looking at our own ego. Can we separate inner safety from ego? Like I think the thing I focus on a lot is inner safety. I know who I am, what my values are, what I stand for. Do I always act in integrity with those things? No, because sometimes I don’t even realize that action was out of integrity.

The way you and I became close so fast is because you lovingly called me out on some stuff like on our first phone call, you were like “By the way, just so you know, that business practice might have a negative effect on black and brown leaders in our space”. And I was like “Oh, okay. Thank you for telling me that”.

And then I could change, and it was like, I didn’t get into “But I’m such a good person and I’m doing all this good stuff”, it was like “Oh my gosh, thank you for opening my eyes to that”. And I think because I have a level of inner safety and in self-knowing, that’s also really rooted in growing and learning and recognizing that I will never see the world exactly through other people’s eyes. I can continue to build my empathy, to build my learning, to build my relationships, but I’m never going to see it all. And so I’m gonna make mistakes. And the best thing I can do in those moments is to say, all right, tell me about it and let me do better.

Kishshana: And I think to myself, that is the moment that I want to make sure that folks don’t miss. And it’s the reason that I spend so much time working with women and women identifying folk, because it is critical that we do our own housekeeping. And the reason I say it’s critical is because a lot of times, you see this across so many different cultures, globally, women put ourselves last.

We get to everybody else in our family at work, in our social fabric. There’s always the queen bee and what I would like us to try. Is to understand that you can actually do so much more when you put yourself first, but not when you’re exhausted. What I want us to do is to really start from a place of true grounding. I call it 10 toes down. What does it mean for you to be really grounded in yourself? That self identity, that self-expression, that self safe? And if you got the prayed away, heal it away, therapy in a way retreated away, dancing will keep going Mallory. Okay. Whatever you have to do all of them allow some.

Whatever the combination that is necessary to fill you at this season of your life, because some of us are still living in the past. Mallory. When I was in high school, I was such a whoop you better stop that, you do not look the same, Ma’am.

And so that means that what you needed for a different particular point of your life and what you need now to get to a similar center has shifted. So are you present for yourself in your own life before you start talking about anybody else? Are you working on the relationship with yourself?

Mallory: What you just said. I would like bolding and underlining and like it, I will be pulling out of this episode because I hear from women all the time “My capacity has decreased”. And I’m like “You had a baby you’re six years older than you were in this situation. You’re comparing yourself to a bunch of other data about your life has totally changed. And so the work that you need to do to even access your capacity is different”. And sometimes one of the things I hate hearing about motherhood is like “Your capacity just grows”.

I think about these stories that were told and the patterns that they lead us to and the way they just spin us around and around. It’s actually just, okay that you have less capacity now, or maybe you do have the same capacity, but it’s like water and it’s spread across a lot of different glasses.

And so it’s never going to feel like the glasses are full and perhaps that’s. Okay. And what does it look like to take care of those glasses and just stop shouting all over ourselves? That we should be something that we’re not. 

Kishshana: It’s so true. And listen, if you’re the kind of person that you see fives this way, you come to my house right now, will you see my office? I’ve been staring at this one little hole. I took the TV off my office wall and I was like “Why did I not repair that?”. So if you’re like me and you’re like, oh, this Gloria in his office, and you’re looking at the one little hole, somebody is come on, where’s Waldo. Do you see it? Do you see it? Do you see it?

But if you, the idea of 10 glasses with a quarter inch of water, over your kitchen, counter your living room, your dining room table in the bedroom. If that makes you want to run screaming for the Hills that you therefore my friend, can I have that kind of life either? Which means no is going to be your dishwasher, poured water into the other cup.

Come on you. Cause you’re not designed to be spread that thin. And so where you’re going to have to re anchor is around what is most important for me at this moment? In the season now. And am I putting myself with dribs and drabs of water? This. So first start with yourself. If you need to move your body every day, there’ll be a nicer person at work. And you haven’t seen your Palatine, your rower, you haven’t put all your foot on the pavement. You haven’t stretched yoga Pilates or you haven’t served friends… That means you’re not setting yourself up for the life that you say you want, and therefore you’re not actually setting yourself up to have the kind of impact that you’re designed to and purpose to have.

And so to your point, now, being able to say, my capacity is lower. That means you’re exhausted, or you may not be as long as you are full of energy. And just over it, you’re just some relationships right now, Mallory, that I’m not interested in having any more, but people who I’ve had them with for 14 years.

And I realized “you know what, I don’t really like you”. Why are we in constant communication? This field, every time I want to call you, if you have to decide deeply every time you have to pick up the phone to call a person or do a thing, or you see an email come in and your whole insides and knots, that’s an indication your body does not lie.

Your feelings will lie. Your body does not lie. And it’s your body telling you to “run”? So that capacity thing that your clients and folks are talking to you about Mallory to me is your body literally saying to you, if you don’t go sit down somewhere and relax, if you call, walk away, put it down, or you have to make fresh meals for you because every day? You do not.

If it was 1956, maybe, but no. Now there are lots of convenience foods across every dietary wish that there could be. And if the baby is having one pre-packaged thing that gives you an extra 20 minutes to put your feet up and read three pages in that novel that you’ve been nursing for a week. You better give them that darn food and relax yourself. They’ll be fine.

Mallory: And I wish we could also just be more honest about some of that stuff. Honestly, people tell me all the time, they’re like, Emmy’s so advanced. What are you doing? And I’m like “Oh my gosh, you guys, I love Elmo. Can we talk about Elmo?”. And the amount of frozen cauliflower crust Costco pizza I have eaten in the last two years. Like I’m tired of this. How do you do it all? And this piece though, that I think is really, I’m curious what you think about this.

I will say that some of my self discovery around what allows me to feel like I’m at my best or close to my best has come through exploration and coaching and working with folks. And some of it has come by really Learning the hard way, by being like, I think I want that saying, I think I want that life. I think I want to try to do all those things and then I’m like “oh man, here I am totally burnt out. Totally wiped again”. Okay. I guess I was wrong about that. So what’s the pivot. What’s the change? And so also to say to folks that if you’re sitting there, I’m not totally sure what my cup balance looks like.

It’s okay. to try something and play around with it, but be introspective throughout the process, ideally work with a coach or work with kids to help you figure out, like, how do you calibrate throughout that learning process so that you are ultimately designing the life That’s going to create the leader you want to be.

Kishshana: And to be clear friends. I have my own set of coaches. I have a care team because what ends up happening too. When we first started talking to her about being on big stages, et cetera, you don’t get all this Kish just because I’m magic and prayer. No, I have to get my cup filled in a different way. And so I have a care team.

My folks who work on my physical with me, my folks who work on my mental, my folks who work on my emotional, my folks who work on my spiritual with me, I wouldn’t be the kind of cultural trainer that I’m able to be. I wouldn’t be able to leave it all on the court. If I did not put together the type of team that I can navigate as I’m shifting and moving, and my energy is shifting and moving in places.

And so I think a lot of times when we think about coaching and we think of particularly the coaching industry now, depending on what part of the internet you’re on, if you pick the right type of coach, it’s different between a coach and somebody telling you what to do. A good coach is going to help unlock you. You’re going to feel seen, you’re going to feel like you have a battery pack. You’re going to feel like all of your hair has been ripped from your scalp.

Some days you’re going to want to fight your coach. Like I’m, don’t call me anymore. I’ve got to go. I’ve got to get off the phone immediately because that’s how you will feel. And that investment does not have to be at the hands of your employer. Why? Because you get to decide, you get to make a decision about how you want to govern your life. I think it’s really important that we start to normalize getting our care team, getting our support team.

Mallory: Oh my God. Yes. I always say I’m being coached. I have my own care team. The best coaches are all being coached because we all need to be filled up in different ways. We all have our blind spots too, and we need our accountability partners. I do think that we can adapt and innovate as leaders faster than the sector as a whole.

So maybe don’t waste your time going to your board to get approval. Maybe take the reins and say, all right, 2022, this is the year where I’m really going to invest in myself. I’m really going to invest in my leadership and I’m ready to figure it out. 

I also think when I think about the integrity of coaching it is like that a coach trusts that you really do have the answers and it is the art of the guidance and the questions that get you there. We all have access to deeper knowing than we give ourselves credit for. And it is an art and a practice and time. And you’re right. Not a DIY course to tap into, to be guided into what we really know about ourselves. 

Kishshana: Yeah, so good. And I’ve learned that the hard way, like I was one of those folks that was like, you want me to pay for what is my job not paying for that? You want me to go to Congress? Wait a minute. So y’all, don’t even give me any money.

And then I realized “Oh, my professional development is hinged on somebody else deciding that I’m worthy of investing? No, I know I’m worthy of it. I’m gonna figure this out”. 

Mallory: I feel like this is absolute. I did not realize we were going to talk about this, but I feel like this is the best happy new year episode ever, because we are kicking off 2022. So tell folks all the ways they can find you work with you. What are some of your favorite ways to work with them? 

Kishshana: So my favorite way is to work with folks. Oh, there’s so many, but this year, my favorite ways are going to be just in three simple ways. One, if I work with your organization, particularly your executive leadership on your talent management, or your team management.

So I do trainings, my team comes in, we do facilitations, we do retreats. We get folks together and get them moving toward and beyond their goals. So that’s number one. The second way is spending the morning or afternoon with me one-on-one and a VIP session. So that’s really focused on actioning your strategy, putting together your strategy if you need one. And because all of my work is around people and talent and organizational development. When it comes to the operating engine of your organization, spending the morning with me in a one-on-one session will catapult you to your goals. And so if you’re an executive director or CEO or VP, you’re like “Oh, let me talk to her”.

And then lastly, after five years of folks asking me for this, I am finally going to be rolling out a group coaching and leadership program for women. It’s so delicious. I can’t even help myself. And it’s just going to be the thing that I think is going to really continue to elevate the work that we’ve been talking about, this whole conversation and really embolding women and folks to see themselves differently and not just to see it, but to decide to do something about it.

Mallory: I love it. I love it. I’m so excited for that program. I’m so excited for 2022 with you, my friend. So thank you. Thank you for kicking off this season with me and just for everything that you do to elevate the sector and show up for everyone really, it’s such a privilege and an honor to be in your orbit. So thank you. 

Kishshana: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. You are such a gift and I just know this year it’s going to beat. Okay. Come on, get into it. 

Mallory: Alright, bye everyone. Have a wonderful day.

25: The Mindset, Behaviors and Self-Awareness you Need to be a Thriving Nonprofit Leader with Kishshana Palmer

leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership leadership

22: Doing Anti-Racism and Social Change Work from Inside and Outside the System with Nicole Parker
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