Today we're talking to Vivien Hoexter & Linda C. Hartley, the authors of Big Impact: Insights & Stories from America’s Non-Profit Leaders
Please tell us a little about yourselves.
We live in New York City. We are both from New Jersey but moved to New York City as soon as we could. We love the city. Linda also has a place in upstate New York, in the Catskill Mountains. Vivien is married to Mark, and Linda to Bruce.
We are advisors to nonprofits and foundations on strategy, fundraising and governance (i.e. by-laws, board recruitment and training). We help nonprofits growth and thrive. One of our biggest clients currently is New York City Opera, which has come back from bankruptcy to a second critically acclaimed season. We are assisting City Opera to re-build its board of directors and fundraising capacity.
We work with organizations across a variety of issue areas including education, health care, social services, arts and culture and Jewish causes.
How and when did you become writers?
We are practitioners and experts in nonprofit management and leadership. We had never written a book before. We wrote Big Impact because we care passionately about social change and the leaders who make it happen. Between us we've spent over 40 years in the nonprofit sector empowering organizations to have big impacts in their fields.
We wanted to share insights and stories from the change-makers of the nonprofit world so that those of us with a stake in the sector could learn from and be inspired by the successes, failures and wisdom of these leaders. We interviewed the best of the best, mostly CEOs, from organizations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Ford Foundation, Goodwill Industries International, Share Our Strength (NoKidHungry), the Nature Conservancy, PBS and DoSomething.org.
We felt we could help to amplify the voices of these change-makers. More people need to know about and learn from their successes.
What genre do you write?
So far, we have written only non-fiction. Who knows what the future might bring?
How would you describe your writing style?
Vivien writes best early in the day, before noon. Linda is a night owl. We both write on the computer. Sometimes, when the words are really not flowing, Vivien will set a timer for 15 minutes and not allow herself to do anything else except stare at the computer for those 15 minutes. It is amazing how much she can write during 15 focused minutes.
What makes you different from other writers?
There are scores of books written about corporate leadership, i.e. how to be the next Steve Jobs or Sheryl Sandberg. We found virtually no books on nonprofit leadership. We are reasonably certain that ours is the only book based on interviews with nonprofit leaders across areas within the nonprofit world. Our interviewees come from education, health care, environmental causes, empowerment of girls and women, public broadcasting, the arts and culture.
Who inspires you?
Vivien’s mother is a role model. Her mom wrote and published two books of non-fiction while Vivien was a child. Both Vivien and Linda have great admiration for beautiful prose, both fiction or nonfiction. We also have a business coach who encouraged us to write the book and stayed with us through the whole process. He is an inspiration.
What are you most proud of?
In fact, one of things Vivien is most proud of is having researched, written, edited and published this book.
We had so many different titles before we settled on this one. We brainstormed about them endlessly over a number of months. We knew we had to have a title that conveyed several ideas at once: nonprofits, leadership and insights. Our coach came up with “Big Impact,” and we worked out the rest with him.
How did you come up with the plot for Big Impact: Insights & Stories from Americas Non Profit Leaders?
We started the interviews with some great questions, but it took months to realize that the story we are telling is about effecting positive social change, as told through the lenses of these leaders’ accomplishments. We had a phone call with a brilliant marketing friend of Vivien’s from college, and she asked some really insightful questions. That led us to this “plot”.
We live in divisive times. Should your religion/politics influence your writing?
We don’t think so. One of our interviewees, Dan Gross, President of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said, “We’re not here to make social commentary on guns, and we don’t come out of hatred of guns or people who own them. We come here with a single-minded desire to prevent people from getting shot.” We aspire to this level of neutrality in our work. We want to help bridge the divides in this country, not deepen them.
What are you working on now?
At the moment, we are working on three things: marketing this book, which comes out the week of November 6; serving our current consulting clients; and looking for new ones. If we have an idea about another book, it will have to wait a while.
Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
We are creating our own book tour. We have three events already scheduled, one on November 6 and one on November 8, both in New York City. We will also be speaking at the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference in New Orleans at the end of April 2018. Any of your readers who are interested in learning more about our events as they are scheduled should go to h2growthstrategies.com/book-2/.