My Company: John Gans

Executive Director, National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), #44

Apr 19, 2010
Outside Magazine
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Neil Fiske

Neil Fiske

People are typically drawn to a nonprofit because they're passionate about the mission of the organization, and they hope to share common values with co-workers. But nonprofits are going to make decisions that at times look very corporate. Years ago, one of our trustees said something that's stuck with me: NOLS operates like a school in the wilderness and a business in the boardroom. Both are necessary—and you need to be comfortable with that or you won't achieve some of your long-term goals. At the same time, you don't want to take away that strong, values-driven idealism. For NOLS, it's our courses in the field that really cut to no-nonsense. It can be miserable weather, it can be tough conditions—that gets you right to the core of things. The more you do that in all settings, the more genuine it is for people. You take away the spin element.

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