Category Archives: Success Stories

An Executive Director Describes Her Coaching Experience as Transformational

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek


At a recent ECofOC meeting, BB Maboby shared information about her organization and coaching experience with John Benner, an ECofOC Coach. She is the ED of the non-profit called  SmileOnU ( mission is: “Beyond the basic act of eating, dental health is vital to a person’s overall health and appearance. Knowing that there are people who cannot afford to see a dentist, even when suffering from toothaches, loose teeth, or toothlessness, weighs heavily on us here at SmileOnU. Our mission is to rebuild the smiles of those in need, so that the rebuilding of their lives is that much easier.”

John has coached BB for the last three years. BB describes her coaching  experience with John:

“I remember when I first met John, I asked him why do people have coaches? He said, “because starting a non-profit on your own can be a lonely place”…

I can’t tell you how true this is. A lonely place that which words cannot describe.   It’s been almost 5 years now that I’ve started SmileOnU, a non-profit that provides dental-care to those in need. The first couple of years was all fun, I got to do whatever I wanted it was new and exciting, but then the hard reality of running a non-profit kicks in … The real stuff that keeps an organization running; growth and sustainability– and if I wanted to keep doing what I love; SmileOnU- I will have to sustained this somehow.

Now that I’ve been working with Coach John for a few years; without John’s knowing, just his presence alone that holds me accountable has been one of the most powerful forces in keeping me going at times. John’s reassurance and guidance through the tough times has helped me go through unexpected territories and hurdles of running a start-up non-profit.

John also provides perspective in areas that are uncomfortable for me, that often times holds me back from maximizing SmileOnU’s ability to grow and to serve.

One of my dreams was to be able provide dental-care around world. I’m not sure if I was able to take SmileOnU from providing dental-care domestically to internationally without John’s ability to hold space for me to think creatively and to think BIG about where I see SmileOnU’s place in the community without judgement. I’m happy to say we are now on the verge of sustaining SmileOnU.

Thank you John, for helping me with me create my dream, Sm:)eOnU “ Coaching impacts change. If you are interested in getting a coach, please visit the ECOC website for more information and to apply. The moment and power of change is now!

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,


Book Review: “Give and Take” by Adam Grant


Michael Kogutek

Michael Kogutek


Adam Grant,Ph.D. is a professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the Wharton Business School. There he is engaged in research and teaching cutting edge ideas about leadership and managerial styles.

In “ Give and Take”, Adam categorizes people at work as givers, takers and matchers. The givers are a breed of people who contribute without any expectations in return. Takers try to get as much as possible from others. Matchers give and take when they see there will be something in return for them. This is an interesting way to frame people!!!

Grant makes a point to define “otherish giving”. Giving selflessly versus giving a bit selfish is what separates successful from unsuccessful givers.

His book contains a large body of research that supports his ideas that giving under the right conditions is the best overall strategy to succeed in business.

I enjoyed the book. He embellishes his research studies with wonderful narrative stories. In the end, he makes a point to communicate how givers can take better care of themselves and risk not being a doormat.

I recommend the book. It was refreshing to learn that one can be most successful without greed and manipulation.

Author:  MIchael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

The Annual Report

Robin Noah

Robin Noah

Beyond the 990 and other mandated reports is the organization also requiring an annual report?

While annual operations reports are not required by law they do have value for an organization. An annual report is a “story book” that demonstrates accomplishments and successes in meeting the organization’s mission. The report can also be presented to current and future donors, used to cultivate new partnerships, and recognize important people.

Most annual reports are relegated to the first quarter of the year so that all data for the previous year has been captured.

Basically the report is an accounting of the organization’s work over the past year – and – simple is better than complex glossy reports.

Employees and staff, like to know how well they performed in the previous year. Management wants to know:

  • What was done,
  • Why it was done
  • What difference did it make
  • How did it impact the mission of the organization

To help readers understand how activities helped the organization achieve its goals an overview should be included.

Let’s not forget to do a financial section that clearly explains where revenues come from and how they were spent. Here one can get fancy with graphs, charts and other visuals that help readers see the big picture and understand financial trends.

A short narrative description is essential, explaining in plain English the meaning behind all those numbers.

The challenge is in choosing what to include in the report. This will be dictated by the intent of the report.

Author:  Robin Noah, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Is work-life balance an issue we all need to pay attention to?

Robin Noah

Robin Noah

Issues regarding work-life balance are getting more and more attention in the business world. As I research the issues I found several statistics that were very interesting. For example an article in a Bellevue University consumer study noted that more than half (65 percent) of Americans are stressed to their limits. One in three Americans said income loss and increased amounts of personal debt are causing the most strain on their lives. They also noted that nearly one-quarter of working adults simply do not like their jobs. They desire a career transition because they want to find jobs they actually enjoy. In some cases, that means inventing a job for themselves, which is why 12 percent of survey respondents have decided to start their own businesses. 

Right now is the best time to address the work-life balance of your life. Consider the following:

Priorities: Set reality priorities. Take time to examine your life and work styles looking for a balance. Be realistic about personal time. You need to draw a line; decide what is important and what isn’t.

Boundaries: Know when to turn off the electronics. Technology can make the line between your work life and personal life blurry.

Focus: One thing at a time. Multi-tasking is not all it is made out to be. How about devoting your full attention to a task or an activity at hand?

Time: Time that is not productive or satisfying needs to be rearranged, delegating or eliminating things that do not align with priorities.

Build in down time by scheduling time with friends and family activities. Personal and joyful time should be included in the development of your priorities. A little relaxation is better than a stress pill.

Permission: Learn to think before saying Yes. Ask yourself, “How will saying yes align with my priorities?

Studies show that there’s no one “right” approach to balancing work-related and personal commitments. The most important thing to remember in the quest for work-life balance is that we’ll never achieve perfection. We will “forget” important things throughout our lives. What matters is that we create a personally meaningful life that helps us feel happy and healthy overall.

Author:  Robin Noah, Executive Coaches of Orange County,


Larry Tucker

I just finished the biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I always seem to learn something from a biography, and this one was no exception.  

The former CEO of Apple was a true innovator, finding and sometimes creating trends that influenced entire industries…technology, music, films. If any recent technology leader can be referred to as a creative genius, Steve Jobs certainly fits that description.  

His ability to lead his organization to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks was legendary, but of course, so was his poor treatment of employees. His narcissistic personality prompted him to consider only his goals, completely disregarding the feelings and aspirations of others. An extremely successful organization might be able to drive their employees to some successes using this technique, but it’s not a great long-term strategy for any organization.  

The primary lesson from Job’s tenure at Apple, however, might be his amazing ability to focus his efforts and those of his organization on a few, important projects with the intent of doing a few things really well. When he returned to Apple and ultimately took over the reins, he literally stopped several ongoing projects to focus on just the most compelling ones, like iPod, iPhone and iPad. Not a bad strategy!  

As we enter a new year, this might be a good time to evaluate our organizations’ programs

  • Are they all contributing to our mission?  
  • Are they the absolute best use of our resources?   
  • Are we focusing on several programs to the detriment of the few most important?  

Best of luck to you in 2012!

 Author:  Larry Tucker,  Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Considering a Social Enterprise? Why Not?

Larry Tucker

For decades now, Goodwill and the Girl Scouts have been using entrepreneurial ventures to create earned income, which is then used to fund the advancement of their mission. Hundreds of nonprofits throughout the world have followed this path to becoming more sustainable and less reliant on outside sources of funds.  

Most (maybe all!) nonprofits have assets, skills, knowledge or talents that can generate earned revenue. Some local nonprofits have created social enterprises: A child day care facility earns income by charging for evening and weekend care. A number of nonprofits use their facilities as event rental space. One organization who works with seniors uses their skills to teach classes for caregivers.  

Nonprofits can operate for profit businesses as long as those ventures are directly related to the pursuit of their social mission. Laws and tax codes vary by state and situation, so legal counsel should always be consulted before serious consideration begins.  

I’d suggest starting like this:   

  • Learn about social enterprises. There are mobilephonescoop many examples among local nonprofits. Go to the website of The Academies of Social Entrepreneurship for many facts and examples.   
  • Socialize the concept with your board and others in your organization. See how they react and if they have any objections or concerns.   
  • Attend training at the Social Enterprise Academies, a program of The Academies of Social Entrepreneurship to learn all the facets of starting a business.   
  • Brainstorm with your board and local business people about what marketable assets, skills, knowledge or talents exist in your organization.   
  • Establish at least one contact who can counsel you on legal and tax implications.   

Nonprofits will need to continue to look for creative ways to be sustainable. Starting a social enterprise may be a good alternative for your organization.

Author: Larry Tucker, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

ED Forums… because it’s lonely at the top

Larry Tucker

Recently the Executive Coaches of Orange County inaugurated the Executive Director Forum program with three forums each comprised of about 13 executive directors of Orange County nonprofits. We continue to get lots of interest and specific questions about the program, so let me overview the program.

Why is it valuable to Executive Directors?

The forum provides an opportunity for executive directors to problem solve with their peers. Each ED brings to the table a specific issue which is then evaluated and discussed using a proven process for problem resolution. Members indicate that they learn things both tactical and strategic that will benefit their organizations. Yet, it’s also a “support group” in that members often share common problems and can help each other using their past experiences. In addition, the groups are facilitated by two experienced coaches who have years of experience working with nonprofits.

What is the commitment of time? 

Forum sessions are from 8:15 to noon once a month. Members commit to attend all meeting except, of course, when travel or an important meeting conflict with the session. Members are also asked to consider their issues in advance of the session so they are prepared to present the issue, the appropriate background information, what solutions have been attempted to date and what specifically they are looking for from the forum members.

Is there a cost involved?

The meeting leader coaches donate their time and the conference room is donated by OneOC. There is a charge of $20 per month in advance every six months to cover the cost of a continental breakfast and snacks during the sessions. Payment is required for all meetings even if you miss one or two. The costing assumes that one or two members will need to miss each session because of conflicts.

What are the requirements for participation?

To assure that the participants are truly peers, certain minimum criteria must be met to participate. The nonprofit must have:

  • A Board of Directors
  • At least two employees (ED +1)
  • An annual budget of at least $150,000
  • A commercial-based (not home-based) office

If you think you might be interested in joining one of our Executive Director Forums, please let us know by E-mailing us at

Author: Larry Tucker, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

EC of OC Now Serving 100 Nonprofit Managers

ECofOC's Coaches Celebrating Our 100 Clients

In April 2011, four additional nonprofit managers applied for and began working with their no-cost executive coach. Sixty-one nonprofit managers are now having regular meetings with their ECofOC executive coach. In addition, thirty-nine nonprofit Executive Directors are meeting monthly in three peer-to-peer learning Forums facilitated by ECofOC’s coaches.

At the ECofOC monthly coaches meeting on May 9, we celebrated this milestone with a chocolate cupcakes inscribed with a “100”. In the celebration photo above, from left to right, are coaches:

Dan Charobee, Moty Koppes, Bob Lichtsinn, Bob Cryer, Harry Greenberg, Judy Combs, John Pricz, Robin Noah, Adrianne DuMond, Jerry Margolin, John Benner and Pat Kelly.

 The ECofOC coaches that were not able to get into this photo are:

George Blanc, Lois Carson, Kay Childs, Jim Evans, Howard Hawkins, Joel Mascitelli, Tara Norton, Chuck Reich, Martha Ryan, John Seelinger, Chistine Steele and Larry Tucker.

If you or any of your nonprofit management colleagues think you might like to have an Executive Coach, please visit our website to learn more about us and our no-cost coaching program, and if interested, complete the application.

If you are a nonprofit Executive Director and think you might like to join one of our peer-to-peer learning Forums, please let us know of your interest by sending a message to us at and we will E-mail you an information and application packet.  

Author: Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

ECofOC’s $2250 Management Award

John Benner-ECofOC, Sundaram Rama-Cambodian Family, Larry Tucker-ECofOC

Sundaram Rama, Executive Director, The Cambodian Family, Santa Ana has won the Executive Coaches of Orange County’s Management Award.

Rama has been with The Cambodian Family for over 15 years and is the first Cambodian refugee to assume the Executive Director position. The Cambodian Family provides opportunities for refugee and immigrant families to develop the knowledge, skills, and desires for creating health and well-being in their lives. The vision of The Cambodian Family is to serve families who will have good physical and mental health, satisfying jobs with good wages, kids who thrive in school, a sense of belonging to the larger community, and a comfortable community center of their own in which they take pride and feel strong support.

Rama has devoted himself to learning and growing into the extremely effective leader he is today. He searches for programs to increase his knowledge and his skills. With this ECofOC award there is a $2250 scholarship to be used for furthering his education either by attending school, seminars, or building up his management library.

His accomplishments to date include:  providing more structure for the agency which includes developing a Procedures Manual; working with staff and the board to develop a Strategic Plan; recruiting new board members and encouraging them to take a more active role in board development and fundraising; successfully overseeing the purchase of a 11,000 square foot facility funded by receiving a grant from the Santa Ana Federal Empowerment Zone; obtaining a 3 year Federal Grant for the expansion of Community Health Services; and, is now developing a fundraising plan to find new funding sources for unrestricted funds with the goal of those funds being 30% of the budget.  

Rama’s next goal is to be a spokesperson for The Cambodian Family and for the partner agencies that serve the Cambodian, Vietnamese, Latino and refugee clients in their Santa Ana service area. The award he receives from ECofOC is going to help achieve this goal.

Congratulations Sundaram Rama!

Author: Judy Combs, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

ECofOC Launches The Executive Director Forums

Larry Tucker

Larry Tucker, the CEO of the Executive Coaches of Orange County (ECofOC), has successfully managed the startup of three Executive Director Forums in Orange County. Each Forum has about a dozen members who are Executive Directors of nonprofits with at least two employees and $150,000 of annual revenues. The Forums meet once a month from 8:30am until noon to help Forum members resolve the issues that they bring to their group.

Each Forum will be facilitated by two Executive Coaches who are donating their time. OneOC is donating the conference rooms for the Forums’ meetings. Participating Executive Directors pay $120 every six months to cover the cost of the food and beverage service provided at each meeting.

Forums will start having monthly meetings in March, 2011. The first Forum meets on the second Tuesday of the month and will be facilitated by Martha Ryan and Larry Tucker. The second Forum meets on the second Thursday of the month and will be facilitated by Kay Childs and Bob Cryer. The third Forum meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month and will be facilitated by John Benner and Robin Noah.

If you think you might be interested in joining one of our Executive Director Forums, please let us know by E-mailing us at