Give to Receive with Tim Kachuriak

  • Why despite the increase in Digital – Humans deal with Humans
  • Measuring efficiency vs. impact
  • Why marketing through values and mindset gets results
  • Lead with generosity and by example

Transcript:Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: People form an impression of you as soon as you enter the room and before you utter a single word. We’ve been working behind a screen for over a year now. So, what does our digital body language convey about us? The way we communicate or not in email, text, phone and chats, speaks volumes too. We better pay attention, 70% of communication in teams is done virtually. We send about 306 billion emails a day with the average person sending 30 emails a day. Our electronic communication is only expected to increase over time. And sadly, the tone of half of our digital communication is misinterpreted.

As we prepare for the future of work, we need to be cognizant of what Erica Dhawan calls our digital body language, but it’s not just at work where we’re glued to our devices. We socialize more online than we do in person now, think about it. When was the last time you went anywhere without your phone? When was the last time your phone was off? In her new book, digital body language, Erica Dhawan outlines, four things we must do to improve our virtual communication. One, value visibility. Since we cannot offer a handshake or showed them a smile, we need to find other ways of being attentive and other ways that people know we’re communicating with them and understand and appreciate what they’re doing. Communicate carefully, number two. Miscommunication is often at the heart of most people’s problems, being straightforward as possible in our words and expectations as well as our preferred mediums is absolutely critical.

Collaborate confidently. How can we freely share ideas and trust others in our own team so that they can take calculated risks? Knowing that their trust, knowing we will trust their judgment and trust totally. Trust occurs when people tell the truth, keep to their word and deliver to their commitments. Trust can only happen after three other steps are completed. And when trust occurs, empowerment follows. So be thoughtful about your brevity, your T-H-X or thanks, your passive aggressiveness. That might be something like, pay my last email, which probably means. Did you really read what I said? Or for future reference, let me correct. Going forward, do not do this again, or can have an impact. So, the next time you’re thinking about your digital body language, you’re communicating, whether you believe you are or not, that’s been The Leadership Hacker New. If you have any insights, information, please get in touch with us.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Tim Kachuriak is our special guest on today’s show. He’s the founder and chief innovation and optimization officer at NextAfter. A fundraising lab and consulting firm, helping nonprofits with cutting edge research, Tim, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Tim Kachuriak: Thank you so much for having me.

Steve Rush: So, Tim, it’s been a few months since we’ve spoken and the worlds evolved. We’ve become much more involved with digital and technology and research has been perhaps, you know, been taken to the next level where people have gained their curiosity and so on and so forth. And I’m really looking forward to getting into talk about what work you do and the work that you do with NextAfter. But before we do that, perhaps it’d be useful to our listeners. If you give them a little bit of a summary as to how you ended up doing what you’re doing?

Tim Kachuriak: Well sure. I mean, it was very much an indirect pathway into the world of working with nonprofits, but my background story, so I graduated from college right after the events of 9/11, which was a really challenging time for anybody that was trying to move into the job force, especially for somebody who wanted to break in the field of marketing and advertising. But fortunately, I worked at a country club all during high school and college. I’d like to joke. I had 432 aunts and uncles that were captains of industry. And so, I went to the president of the country club who happened to be the president of the second largest ad agency in Pittsburgh, where I grew up. I said, hey Joe, can I come meet with you? He said, sure, come on down. And I did my little dog and pony show and he was like, ugh, man, I’d love to hire you, but we just laid off 30 people yesterday, 9/11 has hit our agency hard, our industry harder and sorry, I just can’t help you.

And so, I spent the next six months just kind of wandering around, just trying to find somebody that would give me a shot. And I met a serial entrepreneur, actually at a golf outing. And he said, you know, why don’t you do some things for some of my little businesses like I operate? I said, that sounds great. He says, you know, why don’t you start a business? And I said, I don’t know how to do that. He’s like, I do. We’ve got an incubator in the second floor of our office building. I’ll give you a desk, I’ll introduce you to people. I’ll be your partner. And the rest is up to you kid. So, I’m looking around and saying, man, what do I got to lose? I’m living in my parents’ basement. I have zero overhead, no romantic interest at the time. And so, I started my first company, about six months out of college called Ambience Interactive.

And you know, we grew into being kind of like a digital marketing boutique and linked up with a lot of the general market ad agencies. And they would outsource all their digital stuff to us, that was back in 2002 and they didn’t have a lot of in-house capabilities to do that kind of work. And so, I did that for about five years and I loved what I was doing, but I wasn’t really excited about, you know, the clients that we had and not that they were bad. It just, you know, we had a lot of legal clients and a lot of automotive dealerships and nothing wrong with car dealerships or lawyers, but just didn’t really spin my wheels. And so, my church at the time was doing a capital campaign to raise money, to build a new building. And so, I volunteered our agency to do all the marketing materials for that campaign, that was the first time that I was doing digital marketing, but for a cause that I cared about and I thought that was pretty cool.

And so, my next move, I decided I didn’t want to operate this business anymore. I sold that and we sold our house, moved from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Went to work for a nonprofit organization directly. I was there for a short period of time, maybe about 18 months. And that’s when I discovered that there’s basically advertising agencies that work exclusively with nonprofits and NGOs. And we happen to work with one based out of Dallas. They said, hey, look, why don’t you come to Dallas? We’ve been doing direct mail for 30 years to help nonprofits raise money. We’d really like to break into this digital world and why don’t you lead that for us? And so that was kind of an entrepreneurial journey where I moved to Dallas and helped them start this digital division. And quickly, we kind of grew to be the largest, most profitable division of the company. That agency then got acquired about two years later by another agency. And during that time, I really became obsessed with trying to figure out how do we optimize digital fundraising? I mean, I’d seen a lot of the stuff happening in the full profits space. With conversion rate optimization and decision science and behavioral economics, but nobody was talking about that stuff in the nonprofit space. And so that’s what led me to start NextAfter, and really what we are today is a fundraising research lab, a consultancy and a training Institute. So, it’s been quite a ride.

Steve Rush: Wow. And also remember from when we first spoke, there’s a bit of a sliding doors moment for you. Where you were almost going to go down the professional golfing route.

Tim Kachuriak: That is true, yeah. So, I worked, as I mentioned, I worked at a country club during high school and college and for about, I guess it was a semester. I took off and I entered into professional golf training program. I thought I wanted to be a club pro, because I honestly, I just enjoyed being around the golf course. I liked the business of golf. And my boss was this crusty old golf pro, had been doing that for 35 years. He’s like, look, man, you know, go back to school, go get your degree. And then you can come join a country club, you know, enjoy playing golf. He was like, I work seven days a week, key to key, seven to seven. He’s like, it’s a miserable life and I never get to play golf. So, I’m glad he said that to me. And I’m glad I chose a different path.

Steve Rush: Awesome. And the one thing that struck me when we first spoke is this whole cause and purpose, it’s really at the heart of what you do. And I know it’s a big driver for you. So just tell us maybe, you know, what’s the core focus of the work that you do now with NextAfter?

Tim Kachuriak: Yeah, so we kind of discovered along the way that, you know, we’re not a nonprofit organization ourself. We’re very much a full-profit company, but we’ve discovered along the way that we are very much a cause-based organization and our cause is to decode what works in digital fundraising. To get into the hands of as many fundraisers as we possibly can so that we can achieve what we think is our cause, our vision, which is unleashing the most generous generation in the history of the world. So practically how we do that is, by doing three things. We do research, we do two types of research, both forensic research and applied research. With the forensic research looks like, we do deep data analysis. So, we’re looking at large amounts of data across the nonprofit sector. And what we’re looking for in the data is patterns that lead to opportunities to unlock greater digital fundraising performance. So hyper, hyper focus around digital. We believe like many, it’s the future of fundraising, but it’s still underdeveloped within most organizations in the space.

The challenge we’ve run into though, is that the kind of data we’re trying to analyze, that we most want to analyze either doesn’t exist or it’s not readily accessible. And that’s because what we’re most interested in is trying to experience the nonprofit, the NGO, the charity from the donor’s point of view. So, we found the best way to get that perspective is by in fact, just becoming donors ourselves. And so, what we do is about four or five times a year, we’ll launch one of these major mystery donor studies. As the name implies, we’ll go out and subscribe to hundreds of different organizations at the same time. We’ll monitor everything they send us. Every email, text message, voicemail, we’ve got boxes of direct mail, stacked to the ceiling. We analyze those pieces of correspondence and we wait for the organizations to invite us, to become a financial partner by making a gift. And when they do that, we go online to their website and we make a donation and then we continue to monitor how they communicate with us over time, and it’s fascinating. I mean, what’s always so interesting is how wildly varying the communication experiences from organization to organization.

Steve Rush: I bet, yeah.

Tim Kachuriak: And so, when we do these market studies, we uncover some pretty interesting findings. And so, then we go test it. So that’s the second part of the research we do, which is applied research. Where we’re using the web as not just a channel of communication, but as a living laboratory where we can run rigorous, scientific experiments to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. And we’ve documented now about 2,800 different online fundraising experiences across a whole range of different types of nonprofits. And we’re just starting to scratch the surface to figure out what works. And so, we take everything we learned in the lab and everything we’d learned from the market studies that we do. And we applied to the two other parts of our company. The second is the next after Institute, which is the training, the resourcing arm of NextAfter. And then finally the consultancy which is like basically we function as a digital agency for about, let’s see, 35, 36 nonprofit organizations primarily across North America, although we’ve started to branch out.

Steve Rush: What an awesome way to find out how things work by actually just immersing yourself in that end user experience, it’s a neat idea. So, from your experience, Tim, then what sets people apart or what sets nonprofits apart from being Uber successful and gaining loads of donations to not?

Tim Kachuriak: So, the secret, it’s going to sound very simplistic, but it’s actually quite profound. So, one of the metta findings from our research and from our primarily is that people give to people. They don’t give to email machines, they don’t give to websites, they don’t give to direct mail campaigns, people give to people. And so, we found honestly, one of the simplest and most effective ways to actually improve your fundraising is by humanizing. It I’ll give you a practical example. So, if you look at most nonprofit fundraising emails, they’ve got lots of HTML and graphics and images and buttons. And the problem is, when a potential donor sees that in their inbox, all they see is somebody trying to market to them. And we’re constantly being pelted with all types of marketing messages every day. But if you actually scrape away that marketing veneer, get rid of the images, the graphics, the buttons, the text, and just actually write more of a text-based appeal. So, it looks like it’s coming from one human to another human. We’ve run experiments like that with dozens of organizations and we’ve done in different countries, different languages. We find that it produces 300, 400% higher conversion rates to donor, when you send those types of emails.

Steve Rush: That’s a significant, isn’t it? And that’s the whole emotional connection, I guess.

Tim Kachuriak: Exactly right. That’s exactly right.

Steve Rush: So, do you think we’re more of a giving nation or giving society now than we were perhaps say 10 years ago?

Tim Kachuriak: This past year with everything that’s happened with COVID-19 has been just, I mean, it’s been devastating, but it’s also been so inspiring just to see how people have responded in generosity, especially online. So Blackbaud who’s a big data provider and company in the nonprofit space globally. They just released their charitable giving report for 2020. And what they found is that digital fundraising actually increased this past year by 21%. Where digital as a channel actually represented 13% of total revenue. And that’s the first time that it’s ever crossed more than 10%. So that was really encouraging, inspiring to us. Obviously, that’s the work we do every single day. So, it’s kind of seems that the nonprofit space has gotten a much-needed shove into digital transformation, which I think is a good thing.

Steve Rush: And do you think we’ll see that continue beyond the pandemic? Do you think there’s been literally a cultural shift or is it just that moment in time that kind of almost wartime spirit that’s often been referred to in the past?

Tim Kachuriak: Yeah. You know, what’s interesting. People that have tracked giving and philanthropy over time. During times of like economic down, you know, downturn, and even just like these kinds of experiences, we tend to see a bump, but the trend line continues to go up into the right. The one thing that’s actually kind of troubling is that over the last 50 years, since they’ve been tracking it, the total number of giving households has been going down, but the total amount given to nonprofits has been going up.

Steve Rush: That’s interesting.

Tim Kachuriak: And I think what that suggests is, you know, kind of like some of the income disparity that we starting to see in our world today, that’s part of it. And part of it’s probably some other things that are probably a little bit too technical, but that’s something that’s interesting to monitor.

Steve Rush: How as the pandemic really impacted on the nonprofit world, from your perspective, in terms of how they engage with its members and supporters. Are you seeing much more of a move towards the virtual philanthropy? I think you coined a phrase.

Tim Kachuriak: Yeah. Everything started to shut down last March. There was all these data visualizations that were constantly being, you know, posted on the news and they’re referring to like just how the disease was spreading. And I said, well, you know, we’ve got all this interesting data. What if we actually created a set of data visualizations to answer some of these questions that people were asking? And so, we did that. And one of the things we noticed is that email volume, so the percentage of emails that nonprofits were sending went up significantly during this time.

Steve Rush: Right.

Tim Kachuriak: And you think about it, it makes sense. Digital was the lifeline for many nonprofits. They weren’t having their face-to-face events. They were not actually meeting with donors in person. And so digital became really, it became the primary channel by which they could engage with their supporters. And I think that’s the biggest trend that we’ve seen is that nonprofits have had to figure out how to pivot during this time. They’ve had to figure out how to pivot in terms of how they relate to their donors, but they’ve also had to pivot in terms of how they actually fulfill their mission delivery. And there’s been some really great examples of how organizations that have been, you know, progressive and really pioneering have taken advantage of that.

Steve Rush: What would be your experience Tim, as to why nonprofits and charities, et cetera, were late adopters in the world of technology and digital in terms of their marketing approach?

Tim Kachuriak: That’s a great question. I think it’s primarily because nonprofit industry in general is incredibly risk averse, right.

Steve Rush: Right.

Tim Kachuriak: And if you think about it, there’s good reason for that, right. They’re trying to steward these resources that have been given to them from their donors. And so, you know, there’s this kind of mentality. Like I need to only do the guaranteed things that I know that are going to work. If I try something new and it doesn’t work, that’s a risk and it could end up hurting us as an organization. But I think what they fail to realize is that because the world is changing so fastly, right. So, aggressively that doing the same thing over and over again is actually more risky than trying something new, right? Because like, you’re basically making the hypothesis that like the world is static. And, you know, the same thing I did 50 years ago is going to continue to work today and just not. So, I think the organizations that are starting to embrace that, that are finding ways to mitigate risks, but test new and different ways of approaching the market are the ones that are going to be the winner.

Steve Rush: There’s also some that I think in there, isn’t there? Around the whole notion of what a nonprofit is. So often people get confused with it’s a nonprofit, which means they don’t want to make much money. We’re actually, I know some incredibly, you know, very revenue generative organizations who are making tons of loads of money, but they’re reinvesting in their infrastructure. And they’re still, nonprofit.

Tim Kachuriak: That’s a great point, Steve. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Dan Pallotta TEDx Talks, but he talks about this at length. And you know, the issue he brings up is that we’re measuring the wrong things. We’re measuring efficiency, not impact. And a great example of this is like, let’s say that we have two organizations, right? They both do the exact same thing, say it’s, you know, trying to cure cancer. And one organization has a million-dollar annual budget and they have 99% efficiency, which means that 99 cents out of every dollar is going towards cancer research. And let’s say we have another organization that’s a hundred million dollar a year organization, and they have 50% efficiency, right. Meaning that 50 cents out of a dollar is actually going for research. The rest is being reinvested in actually trying to create greater awareness and get more people on board to support the work, which one’s delivering greater impact. The one with $50 million worth of impact, or the one with $999,000 that is, you know, basically very efficient. So, it’s just kind of like, you know, it’s a challenging thing because I think we get kind of twisted up focus on the wrong things.

Steve Rush: So how do you go about changing the mindset of donors using digital then?

Tim Kachuriak: Well, I mean, part of its education. So, the opportunity presented with digital as a channel is that many donors, traditional donors have been acquired through direct mail, which means I’m going to go send a letter, you know, three to five pages or whatever, however long they are. And in that one instance, I have to move you from like, not even knowing who I am to caring about my organization and then giving gifts in that one instance, right. So, there’s a lot of ways. I mean, you know, 1-2% response rate to a campaign like that is considered tremendous success. I look at that and say, well, that’s like a 98%, you know,

failure rate, you know.

Steve Rush: Yeah, exactly right.

Tim Kachuriak: So, with digital we can take baby steps, right? So, what I can do is, I can repurpose and reuse content that I have to create something that’s interesting. Like maybe it’s an eBook that actually helps the person to, you know, gradually learn about the cause. And now when somebody downloads that eBook, I have their email address. And then I can say, hey, did you read that? How about chapter nine? Wasn’t that crazy? And then you can move them down his pathway that leads to giving more gradually, as opposed to having it be more of a direct response type of thing. So, content marketing, I think, is the huge value, add of taking advantage of digital versus other channels.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I get that too. And I see that the way that I respond to marketing, you know, if I feel I’m being marketed too, I hate that, right. So, I just delete, delete, delete, but if somebody wants to share content to educate me, I’m in.

Tim Kachuriak: That’s right. That’s right.

Steve Rush: Yeah, so is there some science behind what makes people give?

Tim Kachuriak: There’s tremendous science, actually we’re working closely with an organization based in the UK called the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy and they have the world’s first PhD in philanthropic psychology. And they’re doing all kinds of really interesting pioneering work in the academic space, trying to explore some of these new theories of psychology applied to the science of giving. And what we’ve been trying to do is working with their team. Actually, we appointed the NextAfter fellow to do this specific task of actually translating some of their theoretic research into testable hypotheses, that we can go test online with our clients and our research partners. And it’s been fascinating, and one of their central theses are, is that when you, you know, when you actually present a message to a donor and, you know, you make an appeal for them to give to your organization, there’s different ways you can go about that.

You can do certain things that maybe gets you the quick kit. It gets you the donation today, but it actually doesn’t really do much to help the donor come to a place of higher wellbeing, right. Let me give you an example. So, you know, the hyper polarized world that we live in here, especially in the United States, I can go and create a fundraising message that leans into some of the politics of the day and gets people really frothing, mad, and angry. And I know that anger is a great leverage point to getting somebody to respond. Like they’re so angry at what’s happening in the world, that they’re going to go give money to this organization so they can go and like, you know, try to change this thing, right. Well, that’s great. And it works, but it doesn’t actually do much to help the donor, you know, come to this place of, you know, higher sense of wellbeing,

Steve Rush: Right.

Tim Kachuriak: Whereas you can actually do things that actually maybe get less results today, but it actually makes the donor a better person and feel better. And ultimately, they become a more lifetime partner with the organization. The challenge with that, Steve is like, you know, nonprofits live hand to mouth, right? So, they live in this world of the annual budget. And they’re constantly enslaved to like this direct response mindset that I put more dollar in, I got to get $5 out and they don’t really think about the lifetime value or lifetime, you know, relationship with their donors. And so that’s something that we’re really trying to change.

Steve Rush: It’s really fascinating. And I guess the, yeah, I’m certainly not a neuroscientist, but there is something around the chemical reaction that happens when we give that kind of, that feeling of pleasure that comes from, you know, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, all of the happy chemicals get released. And that’s part of this, isn’t it?

Tim Kachuriak: Very, very much so. I’m glad you mentioned that, like there’s some really great research being conducted about how, you know, oxytocin, if we can elevate the oxytocin levels in our donors’ brains, like they are much more generous. Paul Zak wrote a book about that, The Moral Molecule, and he does like different studies and one where he actually had two groups of individuals and he dosed one with oxytocin and the other one, they got a placebo and they were both given a certain sum of money and they can make a decision to keep all of it for themselves, or they could give it to a needy cause. And those who were actually dosed with oxytocin are 80% more generous.

Steve Rush: Wow, that’s fascinating.

Tim Kachuriak: So, what my team is working on today is we’re trying to figure out how to like, you know, get all of our donors high on oxytocin as much as we can.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and it’s exactly the same in the world of leadership, right?

Tim Kachuriak: That’s right.

Steve Rush: Having interviewed hundreds of people through this podcast and the work I do. One of the things that always comes along with this whole thing of gratitude, being grateful. It’s the same thing, but almost in reverse, it’s been grateful for what’s being done and what you can experience around you. And of course, oxytocin the love chemical, as it’s often referred to. People feel that they’re doing something that’s worthwhile and it’s raising people’s emotions. They’re more likely to do it as well, aren’t they?

Tim Kachuriak: Yes, that’s right.

Steve Rush: So, what would you say having worked alongside, the nonprofit world for such a long time, what would you see as the, maybe the parallels or the divergence that exists in the nonprofit world for the full profit world?

Tim Kachuriak: Yeah, that’s great. I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. And one of the things that I think is interesting about working and marketing nonprofits is that we don’t have a tangible product, right. So, you know, I don’t have something that my donor is going to receive in most cases when they give a donation to my nonprofit organization. So, our marketing, you know, more like ideas and values and things like that. And I’m seeing more and more consumer brands that are, you know, shifting away from features benefits and all these things that were the traditional ways and leverage points to get people, to buy their products. And they’re really moving more towards marketing of values and, you know, these different mindsets. And so, I see that there’s actually probably going to be even more crossover in the future. And so perhaps some of the things that we’re working on and decoding about why people give, will have some relevance for maybe some big consumer brands someday.

Steve Rush: Yeah, absolutely right. And I think it’s also very relevant now that most big consumer brands are more thoughtful about, they’re giving back to society, giving back to communities that they work in, and perhaps that wasn’t visible as much 10 or 20 years ago.

Tim Kachuriak: That’s right. That is right.

Steve Rush: So, what’s next for NextAfter?

Tim Kachuriak: Well, one of the things that I mentioned is that we’re trying to find ways to syndicate the research and some of the testing work that we’re doing outside of the U.S. borders. So, you know, we primarily, as I mentioned, work in U.S. and Canada today, but we launched a major mystery donor study and partnership with, and we basically replicated our online mystery donor study in nine different countries in four different languages, which required us to partner with I think five different agencies in different geographic markets to help us execute that. And that’s been really interesting just to see the variance and how some of the things that we’ve learned here in the U.S. have relevance in other markets. And also, we learned a lot from other markets and things that we’re actually now testing here in the U.S. so what I’m trying to do is figure out how do we basically like almost franchise the NextAfter model of like, you know, research, testing, and then training and each of these different markets. And so that’s a big project that probably is the next three or four years going to be a big focus of mine.

Steve Rush: How exciting. And also, I guess, finding out if there are perhaps different trends, and in fact, you might even have the data to support this. Are there communities, countries that are more philanthropic than others?

Tim Kachuriak: Well, there’s certainly is. There’re lists that are published every year, and it depends on like how you actually define that. So, if it’s like giving per capita, or if its total mountain giving, you know, there’s different ways of measuring that, but yes, there is, there’s some obvious, you know, target markets that we would be focusing on initially UK, Australia, South Korea and Germany, and kind of like Germany, Switzerland area. So yeah, there some markets that are pretty interesting.

Steve Rush: Interesting. And some hope for us all in the fact that the countries that you’ve just stated as well are all relatively financially well-positioned. And therefore, it seems to me that there’s already some philanthropy going on in those communities already.

Tim Kachuriak: Oh, for sure.

Steve Rush: And I’m pretty certain with your support. You will be able to unlock some more of that.

Tim Kachuriak: Absolutely, yeah.

Steve Rush: So, this is part of the show where we get to turn the tables a little bit, Tim. Get to hack into your leadership mind. So, you have not only been chief innovation and optimization officer. You’ve led a number of businesses along the way. So, I want to tap into your years of experience and try and distill them down into your top three leadership hacks if you could.

Tim Kachuriak: Okay, great.

Steve Rush: Go for it. What would your top three be?

Tim Kachuriak: I’d say they probably all fall under a central theme, which is, air on the side of generosity. That’s, one of our core values at NextAfter. So, this idea of Err on the side of generosity, the three ways that we’ve actually implemented that into our company, that I think I’ve have made some big differences. Number one, we practice what we preach, right? So, if we work in the nonprofit space and we want to inspire the most generous generation in the history of the world, we’ve got to lead by example. So, we give 10% of all of our profits back to nonprofit organizations. And the cool part about that is that when we give these gifts to these nonprofits, we also take everything that we learned through the process of making those gifts and turn them into more research. So, it kind of feeds our research engine.

The second way we try to practice generosity on Err on side of generosity is with our employees. So, one thing we started from the very beginning and as we’ve added more and more staff, we just continue doing this as the free lunch program at NextAfter. Every single day, every single employee gets a free lunch provided by the company. And it’s become such a great way to develop culture and build bonds among staff members because we’ve, you know, we’ve turned half of our office now into like this giant lunch room. And everybody sits down together and you sit down with somebody different every single day, but everybody takes a break and we sit down and we eat together. And you know, that does a couple of things. That gets people away from their desk for a few minutes to kind of take a breather, it gets them to talk to each other and relate. And then it also helps them, you know, be ready for the second half of the day by eating. But, you know, that’s one way that we do that.

Steve Rush: I love that. Yeah, great idea.

Tim Kachuriak: We also do like a profit-sharing plan where we take half of our distributable profits. So, we put it into an employee profit share pool. So, half goes to the shareholders, the other half goes to the employees. And what’s cool is there’s no cap on that. So last year everybody got effectively a 24% bonus because of the profits of the company, we had a very profitable year last year. So that’s another way that we’re just trying to, you know, be generous with our staff. And then the last way is just by being generous with our industry. So, everything we do, all of our research, all of our testing, all of our trade secrets, we have open source, all of that. It all lives on our website. Anybody can access that. All 2,800 experiments have been posted there. There’s no password required. You can just go log in and download everything. But we just feel very, very, very passionate about trying to be generous about the things that we’re learning through our work with our clients and through our research. And there’s a risk to that, right? Because obviously our competition gets access to all that stuff. But I think what I’ve found is that when we give away our best thing today, it puts positive pressure on the team to come up with something new tomorrow. Like it’s positive innovation pressure when you give away your trade secrets today. So those are three ways that we try to Err on the side of generosity.

Steve Rush: And generosity begets generosity, right?

Tim Kachuriak: It does, obviously when we put all this stuff in the marketplace, we don’t have to say that we’re a thought leader. We demonstrate it every single day, right. And so, we have this endless supply of new potential clients that keep coming in and knocking on our door. So, we actually don’t have a salesforce. And yet we have, you know, an endless supply of pipeline, you know, business. So that’s a positive benefit.

Steve Rush: Yes, amazing. Well done, love it. So, the next part of the show we call Hack to Attack. So, this is where we get to explore with you, something in your life at work that perhaps hasn’t worked out well. But as a result of the experience, you’ve turned that into a positive in what you do, what would be your Hack to Attack?

Tim Kachuriak: I guess I’d have to describe it as insecurity as a competitive advantage.

Steve Rush: Oh, Interesting.

Tim Kachuriak: So, yeah.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Tim Kachuriak: And this, I learned with my first experience starting a business. So, you know, try to picture this. I’m six months out of college. I’ve never had a job at anywhere. I’ve never worked anywhere. And now I find myself in this position of being an entrepreneur and I have to go try to get clients. And I’m like the smooth faced kid that, you know, doesn’t know anything. And I was incredibly insecure and I think everybody is, right. You call it like an imposter syndrome or whatever it is, but we all have this insecurity that we kind of, you know, try to put a mask over it. I guess I learned through that early experience, I’ve continued through my career. It’s like just lean into it. So great, if you feel insecure that causes you to over-prepare and to overwork and to actually exceed the bar every single chance you get, because you don’t know where the bar is, right. And so, I’ve found that to be incredibly helpful especially in the kind of business of serving clients is just, okay. I feel incredibly insecure. I don’t know what’s going to work. Honestly, that’s what led us to getting deep into this world of testing and experimentation is because as a consultant, everybody looks at you, like you have all the answers and deep down inside, I know I don’t, right. But when I discovered testing, I realized that I might not know the answers. I know my client doesn’t know that’s why they’ve hired me, but we can together go find them by allowing the customers, the donors to teach us what works and what doesn’t. So that would be, I guess my Hack to Attack.

Steve Rush: Brilliant, I have this philosophy as well of I’ve never failed at anything, but I have definitely screwed up and learned along the way. And you often hear people say, well, fake it till you make it. But I think that comes with some high risk. I have a philosophy called mistake it until you make it. And that way, you know, you’re always in that mindset of being able to learn.

Tim Kachuriak: Exactly.

Steve Rush: So, the last thing we’d like to do is take you on a bit of time travel. You get to bump into Tim at 21 and give him some words of wisdom. What would your advice to Tim be?

Tim Kachuriak: Oh man, I guess I would say be present. I think especially today in the world that we live in where, you know, everybody’s constantly like multitasking. I think I’ve found the hard way that being present is one of the most effective ways to deliver value to whoever’s in front of you at the time, right. So, I discovered this probably not until my senior year of college. I always struggled because, you know, I had the typical client college experience where I didn’t really care much about the schooling. I just cared more about like the party scene. And so, I would, you know, miss classes or cut classes and I just wasn’t there, right. And then as I entered into my senior year, I was like, man, I need to try to figure out a different plan because this is not working out for me.

And so, I actually stopped buying books and I just went and I’d sit in the front row and I would just be present in every class meeting, I take notes and I would listen and I would engage with the teacher. And like all of a sudden, like everything turned around for me. I went from, you know, maybe a C student to like getting straight A’s and it was just this idea of being present. I was like, wow, that worked. And, so I’ve taken that now into my work. And you know, that’s one of my biggest pet peeves is, you know, we’d be sitting in a leadership meeting or something with my leadership team and everybody is so busy and they’re like, multitasking. I’m like, look, let’s be present and focus on what we have right here in front of us. Because if we can’t take care of this, then all the rest doesn’t really matter. So, I’d say that I would try to instill that even earlier, but make as many mistakes as I did

Steve Rush: The power of now. It’s one of those things that I think when you get it, it’s a life changer for you, isn’t it? But we are surrounded by distractions and the lure of something else. And actually, just be in that moment, be present and the world will be a grand place for you, I’m sure.

Tim Kachuriak: That’s right. That’s right.

Steve Rush: If folks want to find out a little bit more about the work that you do with NextAfter Tim and they wanted to maybe have a look at some of the research papers and some of the great work you’re doing, where’s the best place we can send them?

Tim Kachuriak: Yeah, the best place would be our website,, N-E-X-T-A-F-T-E

Steve Rush: Perfect. We’ll make sure that the links in the show notes and also, I know you’re quite a prolific user of LinkedIn and you share lots of stories there. So, we’ll make sure your LinkedIn profiles on our show notes as well. And we’ll keep our folk connected with you beyond today.

Tim Kachuriak: Wonderful, thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed it.

Steve Rush: I think you’re doing some grand work with NextAfter. It’s great to see the energy, the passion you have to unlock the power of giving. And I just wanted to say thank you for giving your time to The Leadership Hacker Podcast today.

Tim Kachuriak: My pleasure. Thank you.

Steve Rush: Thanks Tim


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler there @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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