Like all good first-born, type A people, I had a plan. It was a good plan that met the needs of my stakeholders (spouse, children, employer). It was a plan made me as happy as I thought I could be. And then life came through and smashed that plan to teensy tiny pieces.
Roughly four years earlier, I'd come across one of my most favorite quotes:
In July of 2015, approximately seven weeks after the birth my my second child, I was ready for the next beginning and Gladiator Consulting was born over a bottle of wine and under the watchful eye of my CPA little brother. I had already been involved with the nonprofit sector in St. Louis for ten years. I'd had the opportunity to work for both an internationally recognized organization and a local, grassroots start-up. As the mother of two young children with a traveling spouse, I knew a full-time job structured in the confines of a hetero-patriarchal workforce wouldn't meet the needs of my family or my sanity. Gladiator Consulting provided the space for me to use my professional skills to support small and/or start-up nonprofit organizations who didn't have the capacity to hire full-time staff but who desperately needed fundraising support, coaching and general bossing-around.
I learned and/or was reminded of a few things in Gladiator Consulting's infancy that has informed our organizational culture:
1. Our community craves what Gladiator offers
Gladiator didn’t start out with the answer key and certainly doesn’t claim to have them all. We take the time to learn from our clients and create an approach to their needs that speaks to who they are, who they serve and what they need.
2. There is no such thing as work/life balance.
If you subscribe to this paradigm, you are certainly on a course for disappointment. The various hats we wear don’t exist in a vacuum. When Gladiator Consulting takes on a client, we seek to build relationships with the whole person and team. Sometimes this means late-morning meetings to accommodate school or childcare drop-offs. Other times, it means pushing our limits to complete a project and then creating space for quality time off & self-care after the fact. A shared understanding of what motivates our clients both personally and professionally makes for the most productive relationships & successful outcomes.
3. Fail Early, Fail Often
If doing what has been done before worked, you certainly wouldn’t need Gladiator Consulting. This is not to say that there aren’t tried and true practices worth adopting. When we work with a client, we make an effort to evaluate past activities to inform future opportunities. Being responsive to the needs of your constituents and community means trying techniques that haven’t been used before. Sometimes we plan knowing that failure is likely… and we also know what we learn from that failure will be far more valuable that an easy-win in the long-term. Your organization is growing and changing and you deserve more than a one-size-fits-all approach.
4. We exist in a time of abundance.
Still with us? This is hard one. There is a pervasive mindset in the nonprofit community that we are in fierce competition for human capital and financial resources. This perceived scarcity has been known to destroy collaboration, influence mission drift, drive employee burnout and has left many a strategic plan sitting on the shelf.
Gladiator Consulting embraces an abundance mindset. We believe in an abundance of time, opportunity, talent and resources for each of our clients and those they serve. We acknowledge a troublesome gap between available resources and how they are used/shared. We are compelled to find clarity around how our client’s mission and programs fit into the larger nonprofit ecosystem and we work internally, externally and collaboratively to serve the broader community.
5. We get by with a little help from our friends
At Gladiator Consulting, we know where we shine. And we’re pretty comfortable sharing when we’re not that best team to tackle your project. That’s why we’ve formed a network of collaborators to meet your needs. Known as the Uprise Collective, this collaboration offers talented consulting teams whose specialities range from marketing & branding to diversity, equity & inclusion training to program assessment & evaluation. As a member of the Uprise Collective, we embrace a holistic approach and place your organization’s needs at the center of our strategy.
The past two years have felt at times like a listening tour & learning adventure. We are excited to bring our experience to your organization with the shared vision that it’s possible to do more than what we think is possible.