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Nonprofits Put a Face to Your Why

nonprofits015: Why You Should Put a Face to Your "Why" with Zac Ziebarth





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Highlights from the interview

Zac's Journey:


  • Grew up in on a beef farm in southwest Wisconsin 
  • Started his first business while a freshman in high school where he was a disc jokey
  • Attended Arizona State University where he studied journalism and political science 
  • Considered going to law school but determined this was not his passion
  • Studied aboard during his senior year in college where he traveled to fifteen counties throughout Europe, Africa and South America  
  • This experience eventually led him to SmartRoots and ultimately Austin, Texas  


Zac's FaithFactor 

The next generation of youth.  He is compelled to help them bring their ideas to life 


Valley Moment:


  • Traveling to Kenya over the summer to implement a well crafted program
  •  Realizes that the best lad plans don't always work out as expected 
  • While traveling with his team, the driver lost control of the car resulting in a roll over accident
  • Far from any healthcare facilities or an emergency response team, fear strikes and hoping for safety for him and the other passengers
  • Everyone was safe. In spite of the shake up the team decides to continue on with their plan
  • The became a moment of reflection on how fortunate we are to have a well developed healthcare system and other services that we can take for granted 


IMPACT Nonprofit Leadership:


  • Greatest influence on his leadership was during a 4 month period of teaching middle and high school science while still operating his nonprofit
  • Discovered how challenging the basic task of effective communication toward getting the team to go in a certain direction
  • Reflects on the power of having just one follower take hold on his leadership guidance to get others engaged 
  • Elements that define great leaders - Zac's 3 P's 
    1. Persistence: there are no overnight successes
    2. Partnerships: critical for advancing your organization
    3. People: it takes a team to make an impact
  • The don'ts of leadership:
    • Don't take individual credit for every success
    • Have empathy 
    • Don't sacrifice your mission 
  • Zac's genius talent: Has a gift of building genuine relationships that go beyond passing the business card


Strategic Partnership and Community Work:

  • Currently working on developing a youth social impact incubator and partnering with One Seventeen Media to reward funding for design projects to select youth
  • To find meaning partnerships, start with the relationship first 
  • Used google forms to launch the minimum viable product
  • Fast forward to 2018 and success for SmartRoots is to quantify the impact the incubator program and the specific outcomes for the youth involved

Rapid Fire

  • Top two skills nonprofit leaders should have: 
    1. Communication
    2. Collaboration
  • Tactic he uses to attract top talent to his organization: focus on their mission and personal goals to understand what drives them
  • Advice he would give his younger self: It takes a team to build you. It will take a team to tear you down


2 week sprint to action 


Other IMPACT Resources & References


Link to Books mentioned:

Where Good Ideas come from by Steven Johnson

Love Does by Bob Goff


Links to resources mentioned:

Google Forms


Links to connect with Zac: 

SmartRoots Global





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