Full Interview: Rachel Miller-Bleich

Tuesday August 4, 2020 comments

Any accounting, business or tax advice in this here podcast is not intended as a thorough in depth analysis of your specific issues. It's not a substitute for a formal opinion. It is not good enough to avoid tax related penalties. Got to tell you this because don't want y'all coming for me. Did you know that I offer free 30 minute strategy sessions, strategy sessions are time for you to come with questions about the challenges your nonprofit is facing and for us to work through what that looks like, are there some resources that you need to be connected with? Are there some tools that we have that could guide you? Strategy sessions are free because I want you to have this time to really flesh out and talk out loud about what your organization is needing and if CNRG is a fit, great. But if not, we really want to make sure that you have what you need to take the next best step. Book a time on my calendar using calendly.com/cnrg/strategy. Back to the episode.  

Chyla Graham:

Hi, Rachel. How are you today?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I'm good, Chyla. How are you?

Chyla Graham:

I am good. So welcome to the Nonprofit Nuggets Podcast. Today we are talking with Rachel Miller-Bleich. Rachel is the CEO of MillerBleich Consulting, and they help nonprofits as well as professional associations do their governance work and make sure that they have a better understanding, a better grasp about what the governance body, be that the board or members of the management team, need to do to keep the organization running. Rachel, today, what are you celebrating?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I'm celebrating my family and my friends. I'll be real about the time that we're living in, post-COVID. My daily life is really very much about taking care of and valuing the people in my life who are most precious to me. Which means my husband, my daughter, and our friends and our wider community, trying to keep in touch with them.

Chyla Graham:

Well, good. That's so good. I feel like that's something I've been trying to do better about is I was like, "I'm going to text my brothers. I promise you, I will reach out to you." Not just putting it off indefinitely because we just don't like ... With all this happening, everyone's dealing with it differently. So I do love that making the time to be like, "Let me check in on these people."

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Right. It's a time to really celebrate the people who we love the most and the things that we treasure the most.

Chyla Graham:

Yeah. So tell me a little bit more about you aside from loving your family and friends. Tell me more about you and your work.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Sure. I am very new to consulting actually. I've been working in the nonprofit and association management field for about 16 years. For the past 10 years, I've really hopped on the governance train, so to speak. I started specializing in managing governance. You could say I started from my first job out of college, which was for an association. I was an executive assistant. When you have that kind of job, the first thing that you find yourself doing is planning board meetings and stuffing board meeting. I found I started to grow professionally. I was really growing as an administrator, and when I stepped into my first management role it was one that focused specifically on managing governance. I was in graduate school at the time studying organizational science, and I really realized this is very fascinating and very interesting because so much of the health of the organization really depends on this office, it really depends on this function.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I was also wondering why isn't there more out there that really supports and studies and analyzes how to do this and how to do it well? There's a lot out there in terms of a boardsource ASE, has a lot out there. But I really found it's a very underdeveloped competency in nonprofits and in associations. It depends on how big the association or the organization is, and it was something that I just clung to as I have a knack for this, I'm really fascinated by it. So I really pursued opportunities professionally that really focus in on governance and really being able to develop good governance systems. Then when I moved into consulting a couple of years ago and I found that it was a really good opportunity to try to dive a little bit deeper into what are some of the components in addition to the inner workings of a board of directors, what are those components that are essential to governance, such as, do you have effective bylaws?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Do you have strong policies? How do you manage things like, which is very much in your world, the financial oversight piece. Those are things that I find in consulting I'm able to add capacity and help expand the capacity of organizations that need to devote more time and attention to that. Excuse me. Allergies are very present, excuse me, in the Washington D.C. area. It really was an opportunity for me to say, "Hey, if you need more capacity to address some of these specific issues, I'm here to help." I really tried to work both with ... I tend to work primarily with staff who really are the ones that are doing that work and really needing that kind of support. But I also make myself available to educate and provide resources for board leaders themselves because often, depending on the size of the organization, they find themselves having to do a lot of that hands on work.

Chyla Graham:

When it comes to doing that hands on work, what is a way that organizations can better maximize their time working with you?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I think that it sometimes comes to the point of just needing to take a bit a leap when it comes to committing to having the time and just making time. Right? Right? I hate to admit it, but it does take an investment of both time and resources. I don't tend to pretend that this work isn't time consuming as well. So sometimes I think it really has a lot to do with trying to identify that capacity, whether it's in terms of time or in terms of resources and being willing to make it a priority. Because governance on the surface, governance is not a money maker. It's not a primary service, it's not something that you can charge a fee for.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

But when you think about governance as really the strategic wheel of the organization, if that's not healthy and if you don't have the systems and processes in place, your organization is going to suffer for it. You won't have much capacity to ensure the resources to fundraise, things like that. That would say a lot of it is really just about committing to doing some of the deeper work and building processes and being willing to identify new more systemized ways of doing things.

Chyla Graham:

Yeah. I feel like you and I and so many others are just part of that behind the scenes. This needs to happen. I know it doesn't look nice and pretty or sound fun, but it just makes things so much easier later down the road. Can you tell us a little bit about a time when an organization may have thought, "Hey, we're getting into this thing and it's just about getting the minutes done," but they realized it was something so much more, it was so much more than just let's make sure the bylaws are accurate?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

One example that I was thinking about earlier today that it might be answering a different question that you're going to ask. But I don't want to name names about previous organizations.

Chyla Graham:

All right.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I will mention I worked on standing up the board of a charter school once, and it was interesting how much learning went into something as simple as amending the bylaws. There was a lot of legal regulatory elements that, on the surface you think, "Oh, we're just going to stand up a board, we're going to identify all the people who are going to be on it, and there you go." But what we found was between the corporate structure as well as some of the legal regulatory, and then some of the broader political aspects, there was a lot of synthesizing that needed to go on that involved some rather complex amendments to the bylaws that required training and identifying how do you set this board up to obey sunshine laws? It was an interesting opportunity that I really learned from it, and I think the organization certainly learned that it's never really as simple as it might seem.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

And that's why you really do need to dig in, pay attention to those details and really embrace the idea that, yeah, bylaws are binding. I worked with a president who was also an attorney and she said, she's like, "You do realize these are binding and we need to be ready to fully execute them?" And I'm like, "That is music to my ears." I really do appreciate that when you embrace that, when you understand that, you need to be able to deliver on what you're building, that there are a lot of stakes and implications behind it. Then you're going to set yourself up for success, and it's especially important when it's a new organization.

Chyla Graham:

Yeah. I like to say words mean things. I'm like, "You can't just say it because what are we truly saying, and what does that mean?" Sometimes it's a matter of when you're working with new people who've never set up a new organization, and providing that level of education to say, "Okay, so we're not going to say it that way, because this is that broader implication that that would have." Which leads me to my other question was, what is one thing that you wish more nonprofits knew or more nonprofits acted on?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I wish more nonprofits understand and embrace the idea that governance matters. I think that particularly managing governance sometimes gets treated as either a side desk job or an afterthought, or it gets lumped in with another function. My experience working with charitable nonprofits, I don't think this is everyone's experience, but I think it tends to happen a lot at the development office, gets governance. It's something that I think ... I think I'm really underscoring what I was mentioning before, and that is that it's important to take it seriously. It's important to invest the energy necessary to really boost the quality of governance systems. But I think also I tend to have a bit of a pet peeve when it comes to talking about governance as though it's only about the board.

Chyla Graham:

Okay.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I think there's some literature out there that hits on that actually, that hits on the idea that when people talk about governance, they think, "Well, that's the board's job." That is this isolated thing that lives over here and there isn't necessarily that broader understanding that the work of governance for sure, it is the domain of the board, there's no question about the idea that the board or whoever the highest governing body is that they have the authority, but to say that, ""Oh, it's just the board's job," or, "This is just the board is supposed to do the fundraising." As easy as it might be to say, "Well, governance, that's not really related to me," it encompasses the entire organization. It permeates throughout the entire organization, and it is in and of itself a system of which the board is part of. But when you have a broader understanding of the way that it serves the entire organization as a system, I think it's easier for more people to really buy into it and for more people to share that responsibility.

Chyla Graham:

Yeah. That makes sense. I know I've never thought about it in terms of, wow, this permeates the whole organization, but that's definitely how I think about the finances. I'm like, "Everyone plays a part. Even if you don't request a check, you still need to understand the process." So that clearly means it's true for governance. Just because you're not the one who's setting up that rule doesn't mean you don't need to have an understanding about this is how we operate and this is the system we have in place to do things.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Right. Right. I would maybe argue that, and I don't know if you've experienced this too, but I think that financially, when you're talking about things more in terms of finances affects everyone, I think it's almost more accessible to people because I think people who are a line workers or people who are even out in the field, they understand that what they do has some impact dollars and cents wise, whether it be staff time or do I have enough money to provide this kind of service, et cetera. I envy that in the sense that there is a little bit more every day pedestrian vocabulary attached to embracing financial stewardship, where they think governance sometimes just seems like a much heavier concept and a little bit harder to wrap your head around a little bit.

Chyla Graham:

Yeah.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I don't know if you experienced that or if that resonates.

Chyla Graham:

I do think it resonates. I do get that people think finances is far more accessible. I don't think they always appreciate. They're like, "It happens. Please submit the thing." You know play a part, but I need you to buy into that part.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Right, right.

Chyla Graham:

When it comes to making it more tangible, from a governance perspective, you mentioned pre having the language in a finance way, but is helping them come up with a language something that you do? Do you help them say, "How do we make this more accessible to everyone?"

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

That's a really good question, and I think that there are certain touch points that I tend to work inside of that help to emphasize the ways in which governance spreads across the organization. One of the ways in which I do that is I provide a lot of support, not only with boards, but also with committee, and committees are a key way that governance spreads its tentacles across the organization. I think that when you can introduce standard practices and educate people about governance concepts that are specific to perhaps the committee that they work on, or if there is a volunteer advisory group that they work with, those are opportunities to really introduce things like affective meeting management, developing strong agendas even being able to contextualize parliamentary procedures, things like that.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

That is one way. Another way is report development. When people have an audience in the board, if they need to do presentations, or if they need to interface with the governing body, that is another really key opportunity to introduce some of the ways in which you can create that language and help people understand how do you communicate with the board that helps them function at a higher level maintain that 30,000 foot view? I think that it's not so much a matter of everybody in an organization needs to sit down and learn about governance. As much as I would love to teach that class, it's certainly is something that, in different engagements that I've had, it's been a little bit more organic and a little bit more situational.

Chyla Graham:

Okay. I guess that that makes sense, that it wouldn't be an organic process. We need to be in it and that we'll learn, "Okay, this is the turn we need to make." So if you had an organization that realized that they needed to shift or an organization was thinking, "Hey, we really need to dig in to some of our governance work," what type of organizations is it that you work with?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I guess I'll refer to it as my bread and butter, but my stomping ground, so to speak, tends to be professional associations. I tend to split my focus a little bit. So while I have extensive experience with associations, I also try to work with charitable nonprofits. I especially want to be able to support nonprofits that really don't have the full capacity to have the in-house support that can be provided by somebody who is a governance specialist. So primarily for me, I tend to split my attention between charitable nonprofits and associations. There are two different beasts in a lot of ways. They are structured pretty differently. Charitable nonprofits, they usually a lot more donor funded, whereas associations tended to have a much more of a ... they sometimes feel more like for-profit organizations because they tend to be a little bit less abashed about making money. I think that just my experience, but also I care about both kinds of organizations and definitely appreciate the differences and certainly wants to be able to support both kinds of organizations.

Chyla Graham:

Okay. You've mentioned that the use of ... You mentioned working with those that don't necessarily have the capacity to hire someone. So is there a size that you work with in terms of the number of people on their management team or is there a dollar value?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I want to make myself available to organizations of all different sizes. So I tend to even scale my fees in such a way that I want to be able to support organizations in many different sizes. I would say it tends to be organizations with either some of the larger budgets and larger staff, because oftentimes that I find is usually there's someone already on the staff side who this is something that they're doing, that they need to work with another professional on organizations that don't have that kind of staff support typically struggle to have the capacity to really focus the attention, like I was saying before being able to have the capacity and the resources to really devote attention to it. So I do think it tends to be some of the larger, more established organizations that are able to work with a consultant like me because they already have some of the capacity, they just need more capacity and that's why they're looking for outside help.

Chyla Graham:

Okay. When it comes to working the actual demographics that which you work with, have you worked with any black-led organizations? That'd be they were founded by black people or the current leadership team is a black person?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

As a consultant. I haven't had any clients that fit that demographic, but as a professional, I certainly have working with a charter operator, certainly helping to serve the populations that are in underserved communities, black, Latino demographics certainly. I've also, just from working in the Washington D.C. area, being part of a diverse workforce as well has given me a lot of experience working with different communities. So I sometimes ask myself, "Why is it that my clients haven't been quite as diverse?" I think a lot of it is certainly there is a lot more room for organizations that are black-led, that it would be great to have more opportunities to work with organizations that are serving more diverse communities. That is certainly something that ... Being able to have a diverse client base is certainly something that I aspire towards.

Chyla Graham:

Definitely. I think it's something that we all do. I asked the question, we talked about why I was going to ask this question, but for listeners, part of asking this question was around the idea of cultural competency, as well as one of the things Rachel mentioned before was just in the nonprofit sphere, it is a very white landscape. And the question has to be raised about what's happening. Because for me as a black person, if you have not seen any of the images that I posted. I know tons of black people who run nonprofits, and usually the problem is about scaling and so the concern is how are we going to reach those organizations who are doing great work? How do they get tapped in? How do they find vendors that they can work with, people who can help them build the capacity?

Chyla Graham:

One of the things that I want to be able to do with the podcast is help reveal, "Hey, these are some people that you could work with as well as have they worked with other black-led organizations before." So that you know, "Hey, is there a communication that I'm going to need to do to make sure that this is clear?" I am a big fan of if you're not comfortable, saying that, "Hey, I'm not comfortable." Because for both parties, this is going to be a learning experience, and so everyone needs to say, even if it's not necessarily about your racial demographic. If you are working with a queer-led organization, being able to say .... Or for me, if I'm working with an Asian population, I've never necessarily worked with that, to be able to say, "Hey, what are some of the nuances that I'm just not going to get that I don't want to be a barrier to how we work together? And I want to make sure that you get what you came for."

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Right, right.

Chyla Graham:

You can't say, "Hey, I'm uncomfortable. This feels weird, and I just don't know." Thank you for being the first one I actually get to ask this question. So if you heard an interview before and you did not hear this question, it's new. 


Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Yeah. No, I like to comment on that just a little bit, because what you bring up I think is so important because diversity on boards is such a huge issue right now. But it's also interesting because if you look at the conversations that have been going on, usually there's this cycle of somebody drops a report that says there's not enough diversity on boards, and then there's all this talk, and then five years later, you're like, "There's still no diversity on boards," and-

Chyla Graham:

We know this. So what's going to change?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Right. I think what you say about cultural competency is spot on when you figure that. I think what sometimes happens is there is this kind of ... and people get a little entropic. I don't think that's the word. Myopic, a little bit more navel-gazey about just being, "Well, we don't feel like we have the cultural competency, so we're just stay over here." I think that we don't really get to that point where we can say, "Yeah, I understand why there is some tension here or why we're maybe not connecting with a certain population," and that needs to be the argument for that's why we need black representation on boards, that's why we need boards that look more like and reflect more of the community that they're trying to serve.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

There is a certain risk that you need to take a little bit that involves that discomfort that comes from, "I don't know if I can serve this community because I don't know if I relate to them." But I think that should be more of a catalyst to say, "That's why we need more people." I mean, because I don't necessarily have all of the answers or all of the experiences. So I don't know. I'm not trying to solve the problem of diversity on boards, but I see it is an important, it's that elephant in the room that I think does need to be talked about.

Chyla Graham:

Yeah. Definitely.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

It's like, "Does that help? Does that not help?"

Chyla Graham:

Now I want to switch to some of the behind the scenes for you so we can talk some tips of that. So for you, Rachel, super excited. I want to know, you transitioned into your consulting role just a couple of years ago, and what's one piece of advice that has helped you grow as a leader and a business owner?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Oh, wow. So I feel like I'm still very much a newbie when it comes to this. What was one of the things I was thinking about? I think one of the things that I've especially had to learn ... I keep coming back to the reality that we're living in with the post-COVID. I keep calling it the post COVID era. I think that's almost a little too grand view thing. But I've been forced to really rethink a lot in terms of strategically, how am I trying to grow my business, promote my business, position it. And because I'm so new to consulting, it's certainly something that I'm constantly rethinking. I think one of the things I've especially had to learn recently is the necessity of rolling with the punches and being able to adopt a mindset of there's really no perfect way to do this, so I'm going to do what I can and trust that things can grow and evolve in ways.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I think it's easy to think, "Well, this is how it's so and so does it. So I should just follow in those footsteps or in that direction." But this is their learning experience. There's so much learning and doing at the same time when it comes to starting your own business. I think I decided from the beginning that I need to check my perfectionist attitudes at the door when it comes to this experience that is trying to be an entrepreneur, because perfectionism serves its purpose when you're trying to be very accurate with systems and processes for organizations, but when you're trying to be an entrepreneur, sometimes you have to set that aside and say, "I'm going to do the best I can, and I'm going to learn from things, whether they work or don't work."

Chyla Graham:

Yeah. That's good, and reminds me that we have to give ourselves grace to say, "When I learn better, I'll do better and I'm not going to judge my past work on the new information," because that's where I think sometimes we're like, "Oh, I could've done that better." Well, how would you have known to do that better? You just didn't know. So giving ourselves the grace to say, "It may not be perfect, but this is good, and we are going to move forward." So thanks. How do you prevent, and if you can't prevent, how do you reduce some of the overwhelm?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I think I'm still figuring it out. I tend to be an anxious person to begin with, so it's an ongoing learning, right? Ongoing learning experience to really to be able to step back and say, "This is what I need in the moment and I may not be getting XYZ done, but you really do have to approach things from a more mindfulness space." I know that can be a buzz word, but it really is important to maintain the sense of what are your priorities in the moment. Is it always professional or how much do you really need to focus on what you personally need in the moment?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

So that's an ongoing learning experience, but I think also, I love being productive, I love accomplishing things, so if I can reach the end of the day thinking, "Yeah, I got stuff done. I got that blog post off and I'm really glad that I did." Being able to count those little wins too can certainly help especially when you feel as though you're not 100% sure how everything is adding up in the long run. So it's a work in progress. It's definitely a work in progress.

Chyla Graham:

Definitely. So, you just mentioned prioritizing, what's one thing that you would like more organizations to prioritize?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Well, I think that one thing ... I think I've already expressed this in the sense that my baseline is always governance. But I think that in the context of governance, I wish more boards and more organizations would really think about how they are approaching their meetings and how meetings are being planned. I think agendas are sometimes under appreciated tools that boards can really turn to be intentional and strategic about the conversations that they're having. Having both been a volunteer leader as well as the professional working in this space, I've experienced the gamut where board meetings can just feel after thoughts and you don't get anything until the day before and there's not a lot of planning.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

That's not going to set you up to be strategic. I'm a big proponent of be thoughtful about the agenda planning process. Don't just look in Robert's rules and say, "Oh, this is what an agenda is supposed to look like." You have a lot to work with when it comes to really thinking about how are we planning this time, which is, for most nonprofits, it's two to three hours of this space of time when the board has the ability to make really important decisions and take really important action. I think it's something that hopefully all organizations are taking very seriously because it should be taken seriously. But I think those that lack the capacity sometimes that falls by the wayside, and I really hope, my hope and wish for organizations is that they take that meeting time and that meeting space very seriously.

Chyla Graham:

No, that agenda I think is one of the best tools to be like, "Did we put this together before today?" That way you actually know what you want to talk about, and even internally here, my COO, my virtual administrator, we have a standing meeting in our agenda I keep open as a notebook so that I'm constantly adding to it throughout the week so we don't just come to the day of the meeting to say, "Oh, what are we talking about?"

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Right.

Chyla Graham:

It keeps going and then I can refine it to that before our meeting, as opposed to saying, "I didn't put anything on the list, let's talk about all the things that are just currently in my head." I think, yeah, definitely like you said, being more thoughtful, really maximizing that time is how people will want to, I don't know if they want to stay, but they can manage being on the board when they know, "Okay, this is not a fly by the seat of our pants type of deal." 

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Right. Right. Well, then there's also ... I think that the example that you bring up is a really good one and it reminds me of some other strategies that organizations, not just nonprofits, but even for-profits use, which is they use shared documents to maintain ongoing communication between meetings to be able to identify issues and keep up on whether they are shared briefing materials or just updates on certain situations. There is the opportunity to maintain communication so that when you get to the table you're not drinking from a fire hose. That's the big trope that we talk about a lot, which is when you come to the table, are you just reporting out on things that have happened in the past or are you really thinking about this is where we are. Now where do we need to go?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

And how you structure the agenda, how you share information and distribute reports, I think there's a lot of innovative ideas out there that go beyond just the traditional we're going to do an agenda and then we're going to pass out all of these briefing reports. Then you have seven days to review them. Those are the standards and those standards work I think for most organizations. But I think people are pretty hungry for more innovative approaches to how do you use those tools? How do you make those tools work for the particular group in the particular culture that you're working in?

Chyla Graham:

Yeah. One of the things that you talked about you mentioned was thinking ahead. You've also mentioned being strategic, and so of course, I'm going to have to ask you about strategic planning. For you, when you hear that term, what are you thinking? What are you like, "Listen, this is the thing?"

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Okay. When I hear strategic planning, I think tables, lists, timelines and buzzwords. Part of this is my master's degree talking because when I studied strategic management, I was very much given that orientation around strategies are not just a piece of paper, they're not just a, "We're going to sit down every three or four years and create this document that for a lot of organizations is this trophy piece that you try to refer to, but doesn't necessarily function as a living document." This is not a new idea at all, but I certainly support the idea that strategic thinking is preferable to "strategic planning." Strategic planning is good I think for the purpose of benchmarking. It's a good process. I don't want to downplay the value of that process, but there's a lot of literature out there that certainly supports the idea that strategic thinking is a much more iterative practice.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

It's an active rather than passive approach to really thinking about is our organization functioning in the direction that we want it to function? Are we living our mission? Are we being intentional about the decisions that we make and how we use resources? Well, I don't want to say you don't need a strategic plan. There are a lot of reasons why you do need a strategic plan. But I think that you can't have that without also bringing to the table active strategic thinking. Of course the classic Governance as Leadership book talks a lot about the strategic mode and the generative mode that boards really benefit when they can engage in those conversations that may or may not even alter the strategic plan, because it's bringing the organization to think more intentionally about their environment, to think more intentionally about how is it that what we're doing today really supporting what our purpose and mission is.

Chyla Graham:

Yeah. No, that's great. I've never thought about it in terms of strategic thinking, but I'm definitely into is this a mission decision? Yeah, no. You can't figure it out. Maybe we need to table this decision until we are clear about where this is headed. And are we asking questions that are for the purpose of will we make a decision based off of this information, as opposed to saying, "We're asking for the hopes of asking." Your questions, you're like, "Hey, does this fit the arena? Does this stay in alignment with what we say we set out to do?" No, you would make a decision off of that then. You would say, "No, it doesn't. We need to revamp before we go down this rabbit hole." Because again, so many people get caught up in the we have to have a plan that they're not even thinking about what is that plan even in alignment with our mission?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Right, with mission and values and everything. I think that that's a really good way of describing the tension there between you want to have something written down, you want to be able to turn to something as this reminder of, "Okay, we decided this is not what we're trying to do here." There is a certain extent to which you do need to look at that and say, "Okay, so ..." Pulling an idea out of a hat, it's like, "Well, our mission is to sell Girl Scout cookies. So let's not sell boy scout popcorn." Right? There should be a lot of, you would hope that there are a lot of obvious guardrails that I think come up when you establish a strategic plan, because a lot of the work that goes into that is about revisiting the mission, is about clarifying values.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

That is important work to do so that people can center their minds around what the organization's priorities are. When that becomes static though, that can become problematic. Yeah, you're right. Sometimes you struggle to let that inform decision making because sometimes things get a little too fluid or you get a little reactive. So there's a balance there. There's certainly opportunity to hold that intention.

Chyla Graham:

Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much. I realized, I was like, "We set 30 minutes and we have talked for way more than that," and I love it. Personally, I enjoy talking with you, Rachel.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

It's my pleasure. I love talking to you too, Chyla. It's always a pleasure.

Chyla Graham:

Yeah. Before you go though, I have two ask questions. So one being, what is a podcast or a book that has helped you or that you would recommend to others?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I'm a big podcast listener. Weirdly enough, I've been listening to podcasts a little bit less. I have been listening to more audio books, but I actually have two podcasts. I can't just pick one.

Chyla Graham:

Yeah.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

One podcast that I really love is The Good Place Podcast, which I don't know if you're familiar with the TV show, The Good Place. What I really love is that there is a podcast that was created, I think, into the second or third event hosted by Marc Evan Jackson. He plays one of the minor characters, Shawn. He hosted the podcast where they do episode recap, and it's a wonderful opportunity to listen behind the scenes of the TV show, and it's especially fun because it's a TV show that I really love. But he also would end every episode asking his guests, "What's good?" And you just hear all these variety of responses, oftentimes highlighting the work of a nonprofit, which is always really great. But I always feel really inspired and just happy and joyful whenever I listen to that podcast. I recommend that highly. The other one that occurred to me that I think is so interesting is I really to listen to The Business with Kim Masters. It's a KCRW podcast and it is a hosted by a Hollywood reporter. Kim masters is a reporter in Hollywood. She's written for the Hollywood reporter many many years in the industry. She was behind the scenes in the effort to break the story about Harvey Weinstein. She has been a big reporter in Hollywood for a very long time. What I find really interesting about her podcast is it's this mix of interviewing entertainers, filmmakers as well as exploring a lot of the behind the scenes corporate, sometimes corporate nonsense, that occurs in the film and television industry.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

I find that really interesting just because I love learning about some of the governance management issues that exist in other sectors and in other types of organizations. I always find that very enriching when you can think about business from a very specific perspective. So I love the first 10 minutes of her podcast is a banter where she speaks with another reporter and you just get a lot of insight about how Hollywood operates and how the entertainment industry operates. I find that also very enriching.

Chyla Graham:

Thank you. Then our last question is how would you people to connect with you? So where can they find you? What do they do if they want to reach out?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Sure. The best way to reach me actually is on LinkedIn, my personal profile, but also my company has a profile, MillerBleich Consulting, #MillerBleichConsulting. I have some presence on Twitter and Facebook, but LinkedIn is the key. That is how much of a D.C. professional I am. But my website also is www.millerbleichconsulting.com. I also have a blog where I am just trying to continue to contribute thoughts and ideas are related to specific issues in governance. My blog is called Treading the Nonprofit Boards, which is a takeoff of a theater expression. Treading the boards describes Broadway/theater acting, whereas Treading the Nonprofit Boards is really just about exploring the world of governance in nonprofit organization. I invite people to check out my blog, check out my website, looking up on LinkedIn, I'm happy to connect.

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