Monday, January 24, 2011

Almost Isn't Good Enough

"World changers aren't looking for a way to feel better about themselves but a way to spread light and joy in places that are dark and dreary." - Wayne Elsey

Recently I saw a tweet about a book that was to be released around Christmas time. I didn't give it much thought and then saw another tweet about some of the work that Soles4Souls is doing in various parts of the world, specifically in Haiti. I read that they had recently given away their 12 millionth pair of shoes and they have a goal of giving away 11 million shoes in 2011. It was at that point that I decided to read the description of Wayne Elsey's book, "Almost Isn't Good Enough." I was told that it was a good road map for how to run a nonprofit, and since I have a friend that is starting a nonprofit soon, I thought it may be a good book to read. Wow, was that a good decision.

Don't get me wrong, this book isn't going to tell you how to run your business or nonprofit, but it does give a general idea of how Mr. Elsey started and runs this company. He doesn't believe that simply because they are a nonprofit that his employees should be willing to work for "the cause," and not get paid market value for the talent and work they bring to the table. He has great expectations of his employees and they are given the margin and latitude to make decisions in order to meet those expectations. Having audited many nonprofit organizations while working in public accounting, I can tell you this isn't the norm. Many of these organizations feel that either their hands are tied or they simply can't afford to pay employees what they could make in the same position at a for profit company. Souls4Soles simply refuses to operate this way.

The best thing, however, that I got out of the book is Mr. Elsey's love for people. His attitude toward making a difference in the world shines throughout the entire book. You really get the sense that he believes he is on this earth for one purpose, to give shoes to the shoeless. From the background of him leaving an executive position in corporate America to the stories of him going to as many shoe distributions as he can around the world, his care for this cause is evident.

If you run or work at a nonprofit this book is a must read. If you work for a company, run your own business, or have any interest in business leadership, this book is for you as well. It is a very well written easy to read book with a great message.


mike barrow said...

I really am so glad to read this post. Soles4Soles is doing some amazing work to improve and change lives. It's funny how something we take for shoes, can have a huge impact...especially in third world countries. So, here's an interesting fact Diarrheal diseases kill five times as many children in the developing world as HIV/AIDS. Not only that, but the diseases kill more children than either malaria or AIDS, stunts growth, and forces millions – adults and children alike – to spend weeks at a time off work or school, which affects both the country's economy and chances of a better future for its citizens. The majority of illness in the world is caused by fecal matter, and lack of sanitation is the world's biggest cause of infection. One gram of feces can contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts, and 100 parasite eggs. Safe disposal of children's feces leads to nearly a 40% reduction in childhood diarrhea. Where most of this is a problem, people have bare feet. So, I think you get the connection with what Soles4Soles is doing them & read this book

Wayne Elsey said...

Thanks for such a kind review of my book. I'm delighted it has inspired you in some very specific ways, and I appreciate your support of Soles4Souls. We are strong as an organization and in our impact because of individuals like you!