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Karl Weber
Editor (anthology), Service Provider
Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind, Revised Edition
Alex Counts, author
Some people are dreamers. They choose a career shaped by dreams of making the world a better place—caring for kids, lifting up the poor, protecting the planet. When your dreams are that powerful, it’s easy to neglect yourself. Both lives and dreams can suffer the consequences. If you’re one of the dreamers, this is the book for you. CHANGING THE WORLD WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND is a down-to-earth guide to mission-driven leadership. Drawing on his decades of experience as an acclaimed nonprofit leader, Alex Counts offers practical advice on such vital activities as fundraising, team-building, communications, and management. He shows you how to run an organization—and your own life—both effectively and sustainably, giving joyfully to those around you while also caring generously for yourself. Candid, funny, insightful, and wise, CHANGING THE WORLD WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND is a book you’ll refer to throughout your career . . . no matter where your dreams may lead you.
Reviews
Counts, the founder of the Grameen Foundation, has dedicated his life to alleviating poverty through microfinance and other innovations. This revised edition of Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind, which pairs accounts of Counts’ career in the nonprofit world with lessons for effective leadership and self-care, updates a book targeted at a specialized audience: nonprofit leaders fighting for societal change. Counts’ practical, engaging advice draws from his decades of experience, in the U.S. and abroad, in holding true to a mission and vision while wrangling grants, board members, staffs, and complex partnerships.

Setting the book apart is his focus on physical and mental self-care: “I’ve seen far too many middle-aged nonprofit leaders who were overweight smokers and whose cynicism and jaded perspectives lived right below the surface of their ossified idealism,” he writes. Attentive to the particular challenges facing leaders in his field, Counts urges readers to commit to hobbies, to “live generously” in their personal lives, and to practice gratitude, suggestions he illustrates with clear, compelling anecdotes. One breakthrough he recounts, in work and in life, has been learning to recognize that people are who they are: “I expected everyone to be motivated, demotivated, amused, saddened, inspired, and troubled by roughly similar things as I was,” he writes. This insight helped him grow beyond that assumption: “every person was a riddle to be solved, joyfully.”

This updated edition closes with a new chapter, inspired by the era of the coronavirus, that centers on nonprofit leadership in a society-wide crisis. Crucially, Counts encourages his readers to take the long view, avoid overreacting, and demonstrate grace and understanding to stressed or even angry supporters. Having faced crises every decade of his career, Counts suggests that nonprofit leaders should anticipate, during boom times, that a bust is inevitable and manage rainy-day funds accordingly. His book offers hard-won insight and guidance to nonprofit workers and leaders committed to living lives of meaning–but not lives of needless stress.

Takeaway: This practical memoir and guide balances nonprofit work with self-care.

Great for fans of: INCITE!’s The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, Dan and Chip Heath’s Made to Stick.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

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