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23: Meet Mallory’s #1 Power Partner: Her Husband, Ryan Erickson

23: Meet Mallory’s #1 Power Partner: Her Husband, Ryan Erickson

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“I can just see that passion, and that to me it is just incredible. Of course I want to be supportive of that. I want to enable you to be the best you that I can.”

– Ryan Erickson

Episode #23

Overview

In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

I talk to my amazing life partner, best friend, counselor, and co-parent, my husband Ryan Erickson. In this episode, Ryan and I discuss his experience being the partner of a busy nonprofit leader, me! While we make a terrific team, it hasn’t always been an easy ride. Early in our relationship, I became the Executive Director of an organization I worked for in the middle of a massive crisis. 

Years later, during the pandemic, I decided to launch my own business while raising our 8-month-old. Tune in and learn what it is like to be the supporting partner in times of crisis, the hardest parts of our relationship, and how we’ve made it work through the years. Plus, we talk about Ryan’s giving and there are some super interesting takeaways from his lens as a donor!

 
23: Meet Mallory’s #1 Power Partner: Her Husband, Ryan Erickson
23: Meet Mallory’s #1 Power Partner: Her Husband, Ryan Erickson

This conversation brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of how truly lucky I am to have such a support system in life. 

Plus, I thought telling you a bit more about how we’ve made things work might help some of you out there struggling to keep a work-life balance or figure out how to navigate partnership in the middle of running an organization. It hasn’t always been easy but I hope some of our learnings support others in the sector too. 

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23: Meet Mallory’s #1 Power Partner: Her Husband, Ryan Erickson
23: Meet Mallory’s #1 Power Partner: Her Husband, Ryan Erickson
23: Meet Mallory’s #1 Power Partner: Her Husband, Ryan Erickson

Tips and Tools to Implement Today

Ryan’s advice for supportive partners of busy leaders!

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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.

MALLORY ERICKSON

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episode transcript

Mallory: Welcome everyone. I am so excited to have you joining me today. I am here with my power partner, Ryan Erickson and whether or not you follow me on any other platform, you might not realize that it is not actually an accident that we have the same last name. This is actually my husband. And I’m really thrilled to have him here for this podcast episode, because the thing I’ve just learned over and over again is how important it is to folks to get peaks inside my life and business.

I work with so many of you in different ways through Power Partners and through my one-on-one services. So this is just an opportunity for you to get to know my person. And also, because I’m going to ask you Ryan, some questions about what things were like when I was an Executive Director and Managing Director and what it was like to support me during that as well, because I think there are a lot of people listening whose partners probably go through a lot of the same things that you went through or in their partnership they go through things like that together. So hopefully we’re just creating a space for conversation around what it’s like to be in partnership and doing work like this. So thanks for talking with me today about this. 

Ryan: Anytime. 

Mallory: You’re like “I had no choice, but okay.” 

Ryan: I’m happy to be here and excited to chat and see where the conversation takes us. 

Mallory: So why don’t you first just tell folks a little bit about you and what you do and who you are just so they get a little sense for the wonderful human that I married. 

Ryan: Oh, I am, by training, a chemical engineer, and I have lived in several parts of the world, Mexico and Switzerland, along the way, and was a teacher as a part of that.

And so teaching and learning and all of that has been a really big foundation of who I am. And so that cascades into today, in my current role. I’m in a large biotech company and we have to face a lot of challenges. We’re constantly having to adapt to new processes, new products. The best approaches for the right audience and how to navigate change as well as manage the projects and critical stakeholders.

All of this is a learning journey that I’ve enjoyed and obviously you have helped me learn a lot of the things and oftentimes at night we will bounce ideas off of each other and our interpretations about things. And that’s always fun. The different perspectives are often very helpful for figuring out new ways to look at a challenge and move forward.

Mallory: Did you ever think, maybe before, even my current role running this business, but did you ever think that you would end up with or marry a nonprofit leader? 

Ryan: I can’t say that was like the checkbox on my list, nonprofit leader. I’m not surprised that I had, because I think a lot of the values that people who work in the non profit sector carry are values that I align with as well.

And it just doesn’t surprise me. When being stalked on LinkedIn early on, and the appearance of a nonprofit professional appeared, I somehow knew who it was. 

Mallory: Oh, my God. Okay. So we have to give a tiny little intro into how we met and then what Ryan is referencing right now, which is my very poor online stalking skills, or actually my good online stalking skills and bad cover ups skills.

So when Ryan and I met, I was in this really interesting phase of my life, where I was trying to figure out who the right type of partner was for me. I had had a past relationship and in a fiery ball of mess. And I was taking a step back to say “what does it look like for me to have and build healthy partnership? Who’s the right type of person for me to end up with?”. I went online and I had heard that the algorithm on OkCupid was really good. So I went on OkCupid only, and I decided that I was going to go on a number of first dates and in doing so I was going to create this matrix of the type of person that I was supposed to end up with.

So throughout this process, I ended up going on 23 first dates. Ryan was date number 23. I almost tried to bail on him multiple times, but he was persistent because I was done with my learning journey. I’ve got my map of who I’m looking for and I didn’t really enter that process thinking that I was going to meet my husband, but I really just wanted to learn about personality types and compatibility and all this stuff. We had a wonderful first date, but it ended very awkwardly because…

Ryan: You did fine.

Mallory: I headbutted you!

Okay. So Ryan, you’ve gotten so much better about this since we’ve been together. But when we first met, you did not emote a lot. You were very stoic, very straight faced. So he gets off the train to meet me for the date.

Ryan: Let’s get this straight. You tried to cancel it. I came to you, ’cause I wouldn’t let you cancel on me.

Mallory: Okay. That is fair. That is fair. So then you come off the train in Oakland and you see me and your face doesn’t change. You don’t smile. I’m like “Oh my God, he’s so disappointed”. And I actually thought when I was going to bring you on the podcast that I needed to get a body language expert because we are so different in our facial expressions and body language.

So anyways, this whole date is going on, I’m trying to make him laugh. So stoic most of the date. And so I think he is not into me at all. So we’re saying goodbye at the BART station and he literally comes in to kiss me and I’m so shocked that I headbutt him hard and then step back and I’m like “Wait, you like me?”.

Mallory: We just spent three hours together and it was also a really important lesson for me in just all the different interpretations we hold about experiences and how two people can have just such wildly different experiences in the same moment or interpretations of that, because what was the date for you?

Ryan: I enjoyed it. I thought the conversation was great. Obviously we kept staying together and moving from one thing to the next thing and wanting to keep learning about each other and everything. So to me, it seemed late. Things are going well, we’ve been hanging out and it hasn’t been like “Oh, peace out, I’m going to go. I live over here, bye!” ten minutes later.

By the way is another one of the things that Mallory did. She enjoyed walking the lake with most of her dates. And so if she wasn’t enjoying the date, she could just be like “Oh, I’m done. I’m going to take off over here”. Luckily that didn’t happen to me. We were walking around still and there’s a headbutt, but my nose is fine.

Mallory: We survived it and then I think by the second date, both of us were like, “this is something real”. And so then I had to stalk him online because I needed to know that he was actually a good person and that all these things he said he had done and was doing were true because you were the first person ever that I did not have a second degree connection to. So there was no way really for me to learn “Okay, you’re not a serial killer, I’m going to be okay”. 

Ryan: What about the other 22 dates?

Mallory: I didn’t go on second dates with them. They were all from OkCupid.

In another episode, I’ll talk about my insane way of evaluating who these 23 dates were, but that’s not for this episode. When we were going on our second date, or I think maybe it was even after our second date that I did the stalking. Anyways, Ryan gets an alert from LinkedIn that someone in the nonprofit sector has searched and looked up his profile. I was caught red handed and the rest is history. 

I just remember getting the text message with the screenshot and being like “Oh!”, and all of my friends were like “You are so bad at this Mallory, there is a way to privately do this”. And I’m like “Oh my God, I don’t know. No one ever taught me the rules”.

Anyways, when we started really dating seriously, we moved in pretty quickly. It was also during this really intense moment in my nonprofit leadership where I had become an Executive Director, not by choice actually, but by necessity because of something that happened inside the organization. I was managing a ton of crises, big teams in multiple international locations, I was working a lot. You had said when we first got together, how important work-life balance was for you and how important it was that I wasn’t going to be someone who really overworked, which had not been my historical pattern, but I was really trying to work through my tendencies around overdrive and overwork. So what was it like for you to be my partner during such a hard time?

Ryan: It was hard. I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard, obviously, because it was early in our relationship. It was probably like a year and a half into our relationship. It was very clear to me the kind of person that you are and who you are and what you like to do, how you manage things. I could just see that at this moment was not who you were per se. 

You wanted to help the people. You wanted to make the organization survive. You are putting your heart on the table. Which to me is obviously one of the reasons I love you. Your heart is so big and you care so deeply and passionately about the people with whom you interact and at that time, lots of kids, high school kids, like I just know your passion. And so it was on your sleeve. Right now I recognize that this situation is incredibly difficult and I also know that you don’t want to let that fall apart because of those values that you hold true.

And so to me, there’s a balance that really exists in all of us. It was so clear that it was so tough. It was just wearing on you and there wasn’t a right decision. I have corresponded to be there to support you. There are some things that I could do and some things that I couldn’t.

To me, that was tough, but it taught me a lot about who you were and are as well. And you got through it, your passion got you in the organization. The person you are got you through things. I know at least some of the things that I’ve heard you describe about the nonprofit sectors like that.

Tough behavior. A lot of people in the nonprofit sector carry that passion. And that’s so powerful to me, that means that there’s so much that can be done if it’s channeled in the right ways and driven forward. This is translated now to what you’re doing today and how you realize these things and how focusing energy and effort in the passions in different ways can really drive different kinds of change. To me, that’s powerful. I’ve just learned so much about you. And I think that instance just really shows me how passionate you are. Not just another check on the box nonprofit leader.

Mallory: Actually, we had been together at that point for a little over a year, because it was actually in the middle of that crisis that you proposed, which I’m now remembering. You went away for a weekend in the middle of it. I took three days off. I had worked nonstop for probably like 60 days with very little sleep.

It was really an interesting time for you to put your stake in the ground, around our relationship, probably at a moment where I was feeling the most guilty, I felt like I wasn’t being a good partner, like “I’m really neglecting Ryan and I don’t even know what’s going on in his world in so many ways”. I was zoomed in on this problem.

It was a really interesting moment for you to choose to propose. And, for me that was really meaningful, in the sense that everything around us can be chaos, but we, in those moments, stand together, because sometimes it’s going to be chaos for you. Sometimes it’s going to be chaotic for me. Sometimes it’s going to be chaotic for both of us. Life is just hard in so many different ways. And how do we know and choose and pick people that we can really handle the hard stuff with?

Ryan: Exactly. And just show up in ways that are. Meaningful to you as an, as an individual, but then also in the relationship. That balance is there.

Mallory: Yeah. Something that I really appreciate about you is I feel like you’re always thinking about values. You say that a lot to me, even sometimes when I’m driving you crazy about something or something I’m doing is really pissing you off. You’re like “I know this is coming from this value that you hold, that I love about you, but the way that it’s impacting me or that’s impacting our family or that it’s impacting this situation, is really hard right now”. I really love the consciousness you bring to the values that you hold and the values that we hold as a family, but how do you hold those two truths to exist at the same time when you’re like “Gosh, I love this about this person” and then “Oh, my God. I’m annoyed”. 

Ryan: Well, you married a scientist, Mallory, that’d be doing that still, but I’m a rational person in general.

And most of the time I maintain a balance and I try to maintain an objective perspective on things. When I look at one thing, I see it for what it is. But the story is telling me, and then I try to dig into the layers and understand what’s going on behind the layers. What else there is, what patterns exist, et cetera.

It’s part of my nature and similar to you throughout the course of my life. It wasn’t 22 dates in a month, but I figured out things that I find really important in my early relationships.

Mallory: All right. So let’s fast forward. All the years to me, launching this business somewhere in the middle of COVID, when we had an eight month old, there was this sort of growing momentum around the work that I was doing, particularly around fundraising fears and the emotions that are triggered by fundraising. There was this moment of tension in our lives, we had no childcare.

We had an eight month old. You work a full, big job. And this opportunity presented itself where I was like “I really think I can build this thing. And I really think now is the time”. Tell me about that experience from your perspective 

Ryan: When you said “I really think I can do this to me, let’s make it happen, that’s how I want to show up”. Making it happen was us figuring out what that meant. Splitting the outburst. That was a rough time working 6:00 AM to 11:00 AM and switching in the afternoons so you could be on your calls. And then figuring out and working late nights early on and doing what I could to balance and split and take on what I could. So that in the house, you didn’t have to worry about anything and you could focus on what you needed to for work, because I know that when you’re in something, you’re in it, you’re focused.

So if I can help remove some of what’s going on in the periphery to enable that, that’s what I want to do. Obviously, yeah, it’s hard. And again, it comes back to that discussion about the passion that we had earlier. To me, if you feel the passion for something, you put your heart behind it, there is a reason for it.

You just don’t do things randomly and for fun. There’s something bigger that can come out of it. If you can affect this next tier, it will amplify, it will ripple and that will cascade. That cascade is the change that you want to see that the thing behind it in the ways you’ve described what your work does, how you, it makes you feel when people have succeeded applying your methods and everything like that, just watching you, I’m not the one experiencing it. You’re the one who’s expressing it to me and experiencing it, but I can just see that passion. And that to me is just incredible. Of course, I want to be supportive and I want to enable you to be the best you that I can.

We had the first discussion about figuring it out, what was important for us to lay that out. Obviously, we had that conversation to begin with. And then, I don’t know. It’s just how I want to be there. 

Mallory: I know how lucky I am to have that level of support and without getting too mushy gushy or falling apart on this podcast. I’m curious as we’re talking about this right now, you’re like, these are the things that I want, right? I want to support you and I want to show up for you, but I can imagine, even though you might not place this pressure on me, sometimes it’s really hard. I try really hard obviously to have sacred time for you that is phone free and work free, but what are some of the things that have made it work? And then what are some of the things that make it really hard? 

Ryan: Good question. Sometimes it can also be tiring. I’ll say that, it’s hard to always be supportive. I’m not saying that in a negative way. I just think it is. I think we both have  balance. I am somebody who likes to be supportive of others. And so obviously in this time I’ve wanted to be supportive as much as I can. I get too far into it and forget that I’m getting super drained by doing this too. I need some of my time or my things or whatever. Don’t forget about yourself, if you are being supportive, but then the other thing, check your ego.

It’s not about me. It’s about the partnership. And sometimes it’s about the other person and enabling that person, their ups and downs, and there are moments to really seize the opportunity and drive things forward, seize that energy. It makes sense to really do that and things that are about balance overall.

When it shifts to one side, you’d have to also maintain, to try to maintain the conversation and the understanding about what is going on at any moment in time. We’ve had the challenges here with that not happening. I’m not naturally an expressive person or I bottle things up sometimes, and I don’t express it along the way.

And I’ve acknowledged that and need to put in the effort to try and improve that because anybody’s life is better when we bottle things up. 

Mallory: No, I know what you’re saying. And I think there’s like a few things we’ve put into practice. Things we’ve struggled with and then iterated on and figured out, right? Some things we’ve put into practice have been around sacred phone free together, and being really intentional and understanding each other’s love languages and communicating about those things. I feel like some of the other hard lessons we’ve learned along the way have just been even scheduling time on the calendar to have hard conversations about what’s happening. I think for me, we have a very like equal relationship in a lot of ways. There have been moments or things that have tipped scales in different ways. Like having a pregnancy, having any nursing mama attachment. Those were really hard times for me in that respect.

And now you probably feel like you do 75%, I would say, of all ‘domestic’ work and you’re at home right now with me, which is also not the normal thing before COVID. I was dropped off and picked up and doctor’s appointments and all these things. I think like giving each other grace, recognizing that situations are always changing, that there are seasons, you were saying this before that, things flow and nothing is permanent.

I think being transparent, like at each kind of phase of upleveling this business, it is not a decision I have made without you. It’s been like “Are you okay with this? Here’s what this would mean. Here’s what this would look like for our family financially. Here’s what it would look like in terms of time”.

We didn’t get all those right the first time around, but I feel those are some of my big lessons of the last two years. Yeah. 

Ryan: I agree with everything you just said. And I think the most important thing is to recognize that nothing is ever set in stone and that it is important to revisit and talk about what’s going on in terms of flight, everything, really just understanding the environments that are we’re operating in your professional, your personal family, all of these are different environments that place different stressors, different joys, different activities across the board. To me, the more we can understand those and not even understand, just see them to begin with, get them to the surface, then you can start to understand them. Then you can iterate on how you navigate them. And that iteration I think is really critical.

Pause, take a second. Rethink about everything and see what might be the next way of trying things out. The next path?

Mallory: Yeah. We listened to that podcast about renegotiating marriage contracts, like at different points and I feel like that has been so helpful for us and something I would even say to folks who are listening and not that it has to be like a huge thing all the time.

Executive directors, fundraisers, there’s an annual calendar. That means certain times of the year are much more stressful for you. And there’s a lot going on at the end of year with fundraising. And perhaps there’s another time of the year where you have a big event and to be having transparent conversations with your partner around which components of your contract need to shift during that time. Maybe it’s not with your romantic partner or your life partner, maybe it’s with a roommate, maybe it’s with your best friends. I’ve had to set a lot of boundaries with my closest friends over the last 18 months. I know you’ve gotten really used to this other expectation of how I show up and that is just not within my capacity right now as a new mom and as a business owner. But nobody can interpret those things for you or set those boundaries for you. 

So October was like a crazy month for me. I had a speaking engagement, like every two days it felt like something new and I remember you and I sat you down. I was “I need to tap out of everything else for the month of October”, and we watched a lot of Elmo and you managed a lot of house stuff and we made it work.

I feel like that has been helpful. And you’ve been able to do that too, to say these next three weeks, I’m running trainings week after week, you’re going to have to do more pickup and drop off. I’m going to be around less in the morning. And just having that lens to the future, I think has also helped me.

Ryan: Definitely. 

Mallory: So let’s talk about the podcast a little bit, because I just found out from you recently that you listened to the podcast. I know you’ll say “Well, of course he listened to the podcast”, but I actually don’t think that’s just an assumption.

You’re not in the nonprofit sector. And of course my guests and the topics apply to life in so many different ways. It was so cool recently to learn that you do listen to all the episodes and that you love them and that you’re learning from them and all of that. So tell me a little bit about, what do you think of this?

Ryan: It is awesome. I think from my world, the biotech for-profit world, I still learn a bunch of things. I think the principle is often that you are discussing, don’t just reside in the non, obviously that’s intentional, you’re pulling from different sectors to try and influence the nonprofit world. But I think beyond that,  some of the things that you talk about that are influencing a different way.

Like I mentioned earlier, I think about people dynamics and a lot of this stuff is actually just humans and interacting with humans. And again, when you get into a certain mindset how do you break out of those patterns? What can you do to think about what are some ways to look at challenges differently?

All of those are really interesting, and also just obviously think about the stories that they tell are really interesting in the content that you guys dive into. And some of the challenges that I didn’t even know exist, or I was naive about. Lots of different content that just, I don’t know, it hits me in different ways.

Every episode is a little different. I like them, I appreciate them in different ways. Obviously the one with what’s her name? Lisa Feldman Barrett.  Is that correct? 

Mallory: Is that correct? 

Ryan: Awesome. “Let me hear what’s going on. There you go”. I love it. But also then the implications of those studies and data and applying it and behaviors and everything.

Political fundraising, how money drives. Of course, duh, like it influences how things change, but what can we do to move it in ways to broaden the pie? You know,  there’s so many cool concepts that I didn’t really think about that you bring to light. I find it really interesting. 

Mallory: What do you think about how much I talk about?

Ryan: I’m getting used to it. It’s definitely, uh, I don’t really have a feeling about it now maybe because I’ve, I’ve grown with you into if you will, but I don’t know. I guess there’s still though. There are times when I just get into these innate human behaviors that we fear not having something. And therefore we hold on to all these things and a lot of the best scarcity mindset, if you will. And that really can be limiting. 

I think a lot of your episodes touch on that in different ways, and it’s really powerful to see it. And when you see it, I don’t know how many people follow your Instagram posts or everything else, but like when you share your success stories from your clients who have done Power Partners and they’re halfway through it. And they’re like “I just multiplied my fundraising by 20 times and I don’t even know how”. Obviously they know what they did, but it is really powerful to realize that like we carry limiting beliefs that we don’t even know we carry in.

So by bringing them to light, even just talking about them, showing them in the different media that you have, and you have shown people like that is the first step and people are “Oh, hey, wait, maybe that is something I should be thinking about”. And the next time I talk to someone or the next time I do X, Y, Z, it will be different or I can act slightly differently.

Mallory: Have you noticed with me a change in how I spend money or approach money in our personal lives over the last five years? Tell me a little bit about how you have seen my own sort of approach to money and money stories evolving as I’ve been doing this work.

Ryan: Yeah, the easiest way of saying it is early in our relationship, it was much more about penny pinching. And even at that time, your family had told me you were a lot better than you used to be. Now you’re like “No, abundance brings creative energy. It creates”.

And it’s much more like what I mentioned earlier about that scarcity mindset . By not limiting ourselves, we can grow, we can challenge. We can drive so much more. And so in your behaviors over the evolution of our relationship. I’ve seen it from penny pinching, if you will. Not quite obviously better than that, but obviously talking much more about little details of things, too.

“Okay. These are the big concepts. This is what I want. And this is how I think our money can influence something”. It’s much more about what we can do with it and the power that it can have to influence our family, our friends, our society, and I think that’s really powerful in growth in general.

Mallory: I’ve obviously talked a lot about feeling that evolution within myself. Serious work, right? Like my executive coaching program and all of the work I’ve done around my own beliefs and thoughts and what they’re related to and how they feel in my body.

And then honestly, a lot of people say “Just have an abundant mindset”. And I was always like “What, what does that mean?”, like when you’re feeling scarcity. That’s a really hard thing to access. And so for me, it’s actually been an action first thing, a lot of the time. I still feel scared. I still feel that desire to hold tight.

I still feel those things, but I believe so deeply that moving money in alignment with our values creates the world that we want to see. And so  when COVID came and it was like “Oh my God, I run my own business. What’s going to happen with your job?”, you work in a middle role that doesn’t live in any department necessarily.

It was this middle support role. We didn’t know for a moment “Are those roles going to disappear? What’s going to happen? Am I going to have no business?”. And I remember us just sitting down and we needed some work done on our house, which has been like the fixer of all fixers.

And we had this moment where you were like “Should we just do this stuff ourselves?”. And I was like “No, we have to support other people in our community right now. We need to keep our money moving. There is no good that’s going to come from us hoarding what we have”, and it was a scary decision to make at that time.

And it still is sometimes when we have those moments of uncertainty. And so I think for folks who are listening to this, where maybe it’s triggering some of their own money beliefs and thoughts and fears, my recommendation is to just start doing something that scares you around how you invest your money, how you spend your money, how you give philanthropically yourself and just start to practice it.

If the mindset stuff can’t come first, because you don’t have a coach who can really work you through that, then the next best thing is to start to practice it and let the practice retrain your body. But I’m curious because I think you were to say that sometimes it’s still cringy.

When I was saying “How do you feel about the way I talk about money in different settings?”. Do you ever worry about me at dinner parties or in events talking about what I do and making people uncomfortable because of the way I talk about money and the stigma that sometimes is attached to?

Ryan: I don’t think so, because I believe what you say now, too.

I shifted along with you much more. Maybe not as far along as you, but I get it. And I do agree with you. The motion of money really is powerful. And I think that in doing so you also cause those ripples that I had also discussed earlier, you impact other people and just the little seeds. You don’t even realize it when you’re talking about it, but those little seeds get planted.

And then that helps influence other people in the way that they think about things. And you do eventually transform societies that way, obviously as a big jump from a seed to society, but you’ve transformed our family by talking about things the way that you have. And I know you’re transforming different non-profits and that’s transforming the sector.

And so it is starting small, like you said, but for those of us who need to just start small, start with anything, the only way that change happens is by starting something, you have to make a little change, a little effort, and then you can build upon that. And then that eventually builds incremental changes over time.

I think that’s what’s really powerful about it. Without realizing it, there could be drastic change. 

Mallory: Yeah. Okay. I want to ask you one more question, because I just remembered that when we first started dating. Or at least when we moved in together, I remember being so surprised with how much money you were donating in a good way.

You were donating an outsized amount of money compared to your income for most people our age. At that time. We don’t need to talk numbers, but I remember one of the calls you’ve got, and I could hear you on the phone, like just agreeing to what the gift officer was saying.

And literally you were the perfect cold call. Like you were every fundraiser’s freaking dream, let me tell you. But I remember just being so surprised, and this was also during a time where I was operating in a bigger space of scarcity. And so even though I was fundraising, I was not getting anywhere near what you are giving away to different causes.

And I’m just curious about that, where that doesn’t come from your family history or something you were raised with necessarily. What inspires you to give and be involved in different causes. And what do you think has made you that way? 

Ryan: I don’t think there’s any single thing that has made me that way.

I think a lot of the experiences I’ve had growing up, living in other countries, definitely living and traveling the way that I have. I’ve been fortunate to do both of those, living and traveling to other countries, but by living in other countries, I’ve definitely experienced things in a different way than you even experienced when you travel.

You experienced the culture, you experienced the things that are really powerful behind them and what people have. I lived in Mexico, for example, and it’s not a first-world country, it’s not the US. And so I think growing up, I had a certain interpretation of what that meant, and then I lived there and I saw the quantity of joy that they had in being who they are and sharing family values and sharing experiences with each other and just experiencing everything that they had. It was almost like one of those first clicks that I had. I just realized that it’s not all about succeeding, at that moment in time.

My definition of success was working my butt off and I just realized like “Hey, there’s so much more out there than that”. Sharing these cultural values definitely opened my eyes to things in a different way. I just realized that family and friends are so powerful and that I needed more of that in my life.

But beyond that, just recognizing what I have and how fortunate I am to be who I am, where I am, what I am and what all of those things can do to help other people when I’m aligned with values.

 think it was from my university, but to me, it didn’t change what I became and they influenced me. And so to me it was like “Yeah, I’ll donate”. I just feel like I just pause for a second and think about what feeling it’s given me and how it’s impacted my life.

And then if it is something that has impacted me or I feel is valuable, then obviously I want to donate. There’s just so many ways to like, experience and make change in this world.

I feel like people underestimate what that means? Support and anything, any cause can meet, even if it’s just foaming, it really does make a big difference. 

Mallory: I made you phone bank this year. I forgot about that. That was a big push. 

Ryan: Yeah, definitely not my introverted nature.

Mallory: I forgot about that. Okay. I want to answer your question, but I think you said a few things that are really important. I think one thing you said that you said lately is just when you’re aligned and the person on the other end reminds you of that alignment, that’s really meaningful.

I think the other thing that you said is that you take a moment to connect whatever the cause is to your life experience, whether it’s an experience you had or an experience you see the possibility of avoiding or enhancing and you believe in it, and there’s value alignment there, then that’s something you want to invest into.

I guess I know this because of our relationship, and that this is such a fundamental belief of my business. And it’s a fundamental belief of our family, which is that we create the world we want to see together. And that mutual benefit is that there is no zero sum gain.

You and I really believe that to be true, that the world does not have to be an “I win or you win situation”. That there is more than enough for everyone that there is a future. Equity and justice and collaboration and joy and mutual benefit. Those of us who want to see that world have to create it together.

Some of us have the capability to do that with our time. Others have the capability to do that with our money. there’s so many different ways to be a part of that, but it’s not just going to happen on its own. I think you have always, really understood that in many ways, Or in certain ways before I did, even as someone living my life inside the non-profit sector with that mentality, I think you’ve just always really seen that.

So we’re going to do the end of this episode a little bit different because I give folks an opportunity to highlight a nonprofit they care about. I am going to give you that opportunity. I’m not going to give you an opportunity to tell people where they can find you, so you have to go through me ladies, but let’s highlight a nonprofit that you love and care about. And just end on that note.

Okay. I’m actually using this as a little teachable moment. So Ryan cannot think of one organization that he wants to highlight off the top of his head right now. And so here’s what’s super interesting about this moment that we’re just going to go with it. You can, don’t worry. Stop Googling. You’re fine.

Okay. Here’s this really interesting moment. You are an incredibly generous person. You give a lot of things every year. And you have no single organization that is in your conscious mind right now. So you are proving a very important point.  Which is that in order for people to give you to your organization, you need to inspire them and prompt them to give in that same moment, because that is what gets you to act, Ryan.

Like when you have alignment in that moment, you’re inspired and connected in whatever way it is and you’re asked to get it. You give. And so often fundraisers and nonprofit leaders say things like “They know we need money and I emailed them a month ago”, or “They would give if they wanted to”.

And what you’re proving right now is no, like you care a lot about a lot of issues in our community. You’re giving a lot to a lot of issues in your community, but it’s not top of. You’re a busy guy with a job as a two-year-old and your dad’s in the other room visiting. I’m making you do this anyways. And so nonprofits, like this is super, super important for you to remember, right?

Cause I’m sitting across from somebody who could be your major donor, if you inspired and aligned and prompted him correctly, because he’s not thinking about another organization right now. So let’s leave with that and, and just let it be that teachable moment that it is organic and authentic and all the ways that.

Thank you for doing this with me and for having this conversation and being open and honest, I feel like we touched on a lot of different things. Then we could have talked about a lot more, but I, I really appreciate you being candid and sharing with folks a little about you and a little about us and yeah.

And what we’re really building together. Like this business is ours and having you believe in the dream and the impact is invaluable. 

Ryan: And thank you for having me and for letting me be a little piece of your journey.

23: Meet Mallory’s #1 Power Partner: Her Husband, Ryan Erickson

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