My Favorite Mistake — 208: Wendy Steele Explained the What, But Not the Why as Her Non-Profit Grew Quickly

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My guest for Episode #208 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Wendy H. Steele, the founder and CEO of Impact100, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to uniting and empowering over 30,000 women to create a transformational impact in their communities has today collectively granted more than $123 million to worthy nonprofits across more than 65 local chapters and four countries.

Wendy's debut book, Invitation to Impact: Lighting the Path to Community Transformationwas released in April 2023.

Wendy brings the ideal combination of corporate leadership (SVP/Regional Manager in the banking industry), entrepreneurship (Successfully launched and led both non-profit and for-profit enterprises), and civic engagement resulting in keen business acumen and thought leadership. 

In this episode, Wendy shares her favorite mistake story about starting up her nonprofit and explaining what it did, but not why it existed. How did she come to see this problem and how did it affect the organization as it grew nationally? And how did Wendy adjust?

We also discuss some of her previous experience as a founder and CEO of a company that manufactured an innovative duct tape dispenser. How do we make sure we're moving the needle on results in a business or a non-profit?

  • Assumed the why was obvious…
  • What was the what?? To help women get involved in their community on their terms… thought it was designed for women in Cincinnati
  • The leadership team understood the why at launch
  • How did you realize people didn’t understand the WHY? It took a while
  • What got off track? How did you adjust?
  • How would you articulate the WHY? Did others make up their own why in the absence of that?
  • Entrepreneurship trap of getting popular and growing too quickly before some of those foundations are sorted out, including systems, documents, training
  • Your journey from banking to manufacturing CEO to banking to philanthropy? Lessons learned?
  • Tell us about the new book Invitation to Impact: Lighting the Path to Community Transformation
  • Iteration on the book writing and editing too?
  • How to make sure our philanthropic activity has impact?

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