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Devin Mathias: business leader showcase

Self improvement often comes from studying other leaders and learning what has brought them to where they are. Today, we talk to a leader in the nonprofit world to learn what makes him tick.



The life of a nonprofit consultant

When we are pursuing self improvement, one of the fastest means of doing such is by studying how other successful people operate, how they tick, how they got to where they are, and by learning from them.

What is particularly fascinating is looking at people outside of our own industries when possible. We had a chance to talk with Devin Mathias, consultant at Marts & Lundy, the leading nonprofit fundraising consulting firm in the country.

Q: Tell us about yourself and your work

A: My work is focused on helping clients analyze, improve and develop strategies around broad-based fundraising campaigns (a.k.a. annual giving), marketing, the implementation of social media into the nonprofit communications plan, capital fundraising campaigns, constituent engagement, and generational marketing. I live in State College, Pennsylvania a few miles from Penn State. I’m a single father to three kids. I love traveling, live music and my friends.

Q: Walk us through a typical day in your life.

A: There’s no such thing. That’s the challenge and beauty of what I do. I am regularly engaged and excited by something new, but today I may be sitting in my home office catching up on client reports, submitting receipts and billing, while tomorrow I may be on four planes, in a train and a rental car off to see a client and conduct a number of interviews or presentations.

Q: Where were you raised? Where all have you lived?

A: Born in DC. And I love saying that, because it often makes people say “Oh, I’ve never met anyone actually born there.” Once I was filling out some online form and it asked for your birth state and DC wasn’t an option. Not cool.

I’ve lived in DC, Northern Virginia, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, York and Gettysburg, PA and three Baltimore suburbs. That gets us to fourth grade. We then returned to Gettysburg and I was there through high school. I did undergrad at Penn State, where I met my ex-wife. We married after undergrad and moved to Gainesville, Florida where she began graduate school at the University of Florida.

I became a fundraiser at UF and then completed my MBA and half of my Ph.D. before being recruited to work at the University of Michigan. We had two kids at that point and decided Ann Arbor was where we should head next, to be closer to family, etc. She also hated living in Florida. At Michigan I was the Director of Annual Giving – aka broad-based fundraising – for about four years. From there, I moved into the consulting world. And I love it.

Q: How did you get into your current career?

A: I found philanthropy / fundraising as a career in what I think is a unique fashion – I was chasing a woman. My freshman year at Penn State I was interested in a senior named Amy. She suggested I get involved in Penn State’s Dance Marathon and I was going to do anything she said. THON, as it’s called, is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. It raises money to support the Four Diamonds Fund, which helps pediatric cancer patients and their families.

There are not words to describe how impactful THON is on the lives it touches – from the families to the students. The closest I can come to explaining it without you attending is to direct you to this video, which was created this year in celebration of the event’s 40th anniversary.

This year THON raised more than $10M. All raised by students. THON 2013 should send the cumulative total raised by THON past the $100M mark. It is incredible.

That experience directed me to working with fundraising and alumni relations at Penn State and shaped my career. I joined a small alumni relations firm before the stops with Florida and Michigan mentioned above. Now I’m with Marts & Lundy, the leading nonprofit consulting firm in the country.

Q: What is something unique that you do to balance work and life?

A: This is a huge topic in my firm. We are a firm made up of over-achieving workaholics – mostly former vice presidents of development or presidents of an organization/university/etc. Most of us work from home when not on the road, which can be a challenge for the balance… It’s easy to work, when your work is always right in front of you.

I literally have to walk by my office when I wake in the morning or go to bed. I would love to say “I make myself go for a walk every day,” or “I remember to turn off my phone in the evening,” but I don’t. I love music and my friends… and I let both of those interrupt my day at times. It does help me stay sane.

Side note: A couple of questions after this one, I was put in my place by my 4 year-old daughter “Dad, are you having dinner?” (“Yes”) “Well, we’re at the table now.”

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Lately, The Walking Dead. Not because of nightmares, but because I was watching the first two seasons on Netflix and couldn’t stop.

Oh? Not what you were going for? What keeps me up at night professionally are the looming challenges for the philanthropic world – a tighter economy, potential shifts in the tax-deductibility of charitable giving, endless competition for the philanthropic dollar, etc. Oh… and did I mention I have three kids?

Q: Who would you swap places with?

Q: If you could spend one day in the life of another industry leader, who would it be? Why?

A: Sir Alex Ferguson. Manager of Manchester United. Because I love soccer, primarily, and also because he is respected as a leader and motivator (though the sarcastic & cynical side of me says FIFA chief Sepp Blatter so I could see all the corruption in the organization and bring it to light).

Q: What tools can you not live without?

A: I am attached to my iPhone. I won’t deny that. I would also say that, professionally and personally, there is a specific private punk Facebook group that keeps me sane and informed, even when I can’t participate as much as I like.

Q: At age 15, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: I actually remember specifically being asked this before taking the PSATs. My buddy Jason and I put down “entrepreneur” because we thought it was cool, but I don’t think we knew exactly what it meant. He also put down professional golfer and I put down professional beach volleyball player. Now I do this and he’s in the FBI.

Q: What inspirational quote has stuck with you the longest?

A: When I was working at a summer camp around the age of 18, Pastor Hoover and I were leaning on the fence looking at the pool. His three daughters all worked at the camp at different points and were all friends of mine. He said to me, “Always tell girls they are beautiful more often than you think you need to… the world tells them they are worthless and ugly all the time. You need to remind them that’s not true.”

It has stuck with me forever and goes beyond simply telling women they are beautiful… but reminding those that are wonderful they are just that. At least I hope I do that.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Business News

Why the world is looking at HEB as the model for preparedness

(BUSINESS NEWS) HEB didn’t react quickly, they had been planning and putting processes in place for years. Businesses that want to live through hard times need hard plans.



HEB store front

In the midst of COVID-19, there seems to be a grocer retailer that should be recognized for how they quickly adapted their processes and supply chain as it relates to providing one of the most essential items we all need: groceries.

HEB is a regional grocer with over 400 stores in Texas and Mexico. In January 2020, they were recognized by Business Insider as being one of the best grocery stores in America. Now if you live in Texas for example, you probably have your own reasons why you love HEB (based in San Antonio, TX) but here are some reasons to truly appreciate their leadership, management and partners even more.

They actually have been working on their pandemic and influenza plan since 2005. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and surrounding areas extremely hard in 2017, HEB was instrumental in helping the communities to rebuild. They have done an incredible number of things like:

  • Implementing a Director of Emergency Preparedness
  • Offering raises to their store managers and employees (called partners) as a great incentive to keep up their great efforts and work
  • Allowed the partners flexibility in sick leave
  • Worked with supply chains early on identify areas that needed additional attention and how to still manage daily shipments of food and other grocery items
  • Put in signage in stores and setting up lines to help manage the amount of people in stores and the guides for social distancing
  • Adjusted store hours so that there would be ample time to re-stock overnight to meet consumer demands
  • Set limits on some items early on so that more customers would have access to those that they need
  • Continue to monitor the situation and adjust as needed
  • Received praise even from the popular Bren Brown about their Daring Leadership

While we continue to navigate what our day to day looks like, it seems like a great idea to take learnings from who is doing it well and give praise to those that are aiding however they can in this current climate and we are forever grateful for access to groceries, toilet paper and other things – thank you, HEB.

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Business News

34 places to find open remote jobs available now

(BUSINESS NEWS) With everything seeming in flux and uncertainty, there are still companies with open positions who are looking to hire people right now, so jump to it!



positions for hire

It goes without saying that these are difficult and unusual times. The number of Americans that have filed for unemployment has hit over 6.6 million and many more will be adding to that number in the coming weeks. In March alone, 701,000 jobs were cut by employers in the United States.

A Job Quality Index, developed by Cornell Law School and others, finds that 37 million jobs may be at risk. A

ccording to the study, “The list assumes that the COVID-19 crisis does not ultimately result in widespread, long-term, layoffs of goods-producing workers (i.e. that the crisis will be of modest duration). It focuses on those workers in sectors that are effectively being forced to shut down as a result of social-distancing recommendations or shelter-in-place requirements.”

While everything is changing around us every single day, something that remains a constant is a fact that people need money. Online businesses, delivery services, grocery stores, and the like are busy like they’ve never been before. As a result, a number of companies within these industries are looking to hire people immediately.

We even have our own Facebook Group dedicated to remote work, Remote Digital Jobs.

Check out the list below to see 34 companies or search sites that offer remote jobs currently open:

A Place for Mom
BMarko Structures
Bellhops Online Service
Dollar General
Kelly Services
Papa John’s
Pizza Hut
Rosetta Stone
UnitedHealth Group

Additionally, Get Hired via LinkedIn is continuously updating who is currently hiring. According to the description from curator Andrew Seaman, “Companies from industries spanning from technology to retail are hiring to meet increased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Below is a regularly updated list of companies hiring right now.”

As noted, the list above are all companies and sites offering remote/work-from-home positions. The Get Hired list may include positions that require on-site work.

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Business News

Debunking ridiculous remote work myths (and some serious survival tips)

(BUSINESS) People new to remote work (or sending their teams home) are still nervous and have no concept of what really happens when people work from home. We’ll debunk that.



remote work

With an entire nation (or planet) moving to a remote workforce in the midst of a global pandemic, we’re hearing some pretty wild misunderstandings of what remote work is, and how it functions effectively. Bosses are scrambling to buy up spying tech for some good ol’ hamfisted enforcement.

For those of us who have been remote for ages, it’s fascinating to watch the transition. And also offensive. People tweeting about getting to take naps and not wear pants. That’s not remote work, that’s just you being unsupervised like a child for five minutes, KEVIN.

I was chatting with my buddy Michael Pascuzzi about remote work (full disclosure, he’s a Moderator in our Remote Digital Jobs group) and despite cracking many jokes, we realized there is a lot of noise to cut through.

In the spirit of offering meat for you in these hungry times, Michael offered to put his thoughts on paper. And why should you listen to him? It’s because he has worked for several tech companies, both startups and enterprises including TrackingPoint, 3DR, and H.P. He currently works remotely for Crayon, a Norwegian Digital Transformation, and Cloud Services company. He holds an M.B.A. in Digital Media Management from St. Edward’s University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Connecticut. He’s also wonderfully weird. And a remote worker.

In his own words below:

So you’re working remotely now. Cool.

At first, it feels.. strange. But, as you get into it, you’ll get comfortable with your routine.

I’m sure you have a preconceived notion of remote workers. You probably thought this type of work was just for Unabombers and nomads. Maybe you don’t think you have a real job any longer because you’re doing it in your Underoos.

While, yes, working from home does allow you the option to work in your underwear, you still probably shouldn’t. There’s a lot to working from home and getting work done. You’re going to get a crash course in the coming weeks. I’m going to give you a leg up on your peers by telling you what you really need to know and what nobody else is telling you about remote work.

The following is a cheat sheet to getting ahead of your peers – and maybe make a case for you to continue in this lifestyle after the pandemic has subsided.

1. Working remotely doesn’t mean playtime

Right now, you’re roughly one week into your new working arrangement. You’ve got your table, your computer, and your whole set up. You’re also taking advantage of:
– The creature comforts of home
– Nobody looking over your shoulder

Irish coffees for breakfast, no pants-wearing, and naps during lunch are all available to you now that you work from home. And let’s not forget about #WhiteClawWednesdays!

These are all terrible ideas.

Here’s why:

If you come to a phone/video meeting drunk, we’ll know. If you’re on a video call with bedhead and a wrinkled shirt, we’ll assume you’re unprofessional. White Claw Wednesdays are probably okay in moderation, but taking a shot every time Karen says something annoying on a conference call is a bad idea!

Working from home should be an enjoyable and comfortable experience, but it shouldn’t be fun. It’s still work; and work sucks.

2. Working remotely should give you a better work/life balance:

Initially, you’ll find it hard for you and for your employer to separate your work hours from your life hours. Staying working only during your work hours is VITAL to keeping your sanity. Microsoft Office 365 has a tool that measures your wellbeing in “My Analytics.” Below is a picture of my wellbeing for this month. It’s not good.

digital accounting of wellbeing

The leadership team and managers at my company stress wellbeing. We take that chart seriously, and failing to have quiet days doesn’t make you look like a hard worker. Hard workers get shit done 8-5.

3. Working remotely also doesn’t mean firing the nanny

Working remotely doesn’t equal additional family time. Your work hours are your work hours. The pandemic quarantine doesn’t leave a whole lot of options for families to coexist without overlapping.

And it’s okay to occasionally have a “coworker.” But, you need to create your own private workspace within the hustle and bustle of homeschooling going on around you.

Here are a few more best practices you won’t read anywhere else:

You’ll need to learn to distance yourself from “work” when no longer at your “office.” This means powering down at the end of the day. Having a work/life balance when you work from home tends to swing in the opposite direction than you probably assumed; work can take over your life.

  • You’re going to have to turn off mobile notifications 100% of the time. It’s a pandemic, you’re not traveling; you don’t need them on – ever.
  • Turn off your computer at the end of the day. It’s good for your computer, and it’s fantastic for your mental health.
  • If your manager needs to reach you or you need to contact a direct report, just follow the wise words of Kim Possible: Call me, beep me if you wanna reach me.
  • You must wear pants. (FYI guys, dark leggings look like real pants and are super comfortable) Get ready for your day as if it were a regular office. Take a shower, shave, comb your hair, eat breakfast in the kitchen, wear jewelry. Look like you give a damn.

  • You must turn on your camera for video calls (and please don’t take your laptop into the bathroom. no field trips). Nonverbal communication accounts for 93% of all communication. We need to see your face, your posture, your eyerolls.
  • All of your calls should be video calls. You’ll find you’ll miss humans if you do not see them daily.
  • Clean the room (or at least directly behind you). We shouldn’t see laundry and quarantine snacks in the background. We absolutely should never HEAR you opening a bag of chips.
  • Close your door. Kitchen, office, bedroom… whatever you’re using needs to be YOUR space. It’s your office. Your clubhouse. Only one Homer allowed.

And for the love of all that isn’t COVID, please wear pants.

More resources:

I’m on a team at Crayon that freely consults on working remotely and cloud technology. This isn’t a sales pitch. If you have questions or need productivity tips, you can always email my team directly at

Meanwhile, here are some additional resources to dig into:

  1. 20 tips for working from home
  2. Guide to engaging a distributed workforce
  3. Top 15 tips to effectively manage remote employees
  4. How to make working from home work for you

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