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Jim Killion thinks about building a no-blame company culture


In this series of Group Thinkers podcast episodes, our focus is on leadership. Throughout each episode, we’ll chat with leaders in the nonprofit and commercial space to learn more about their careers and the unique journeys that lead them to where they are today. 

On this episode, we sit down with Jim Killion, CEO of Digizent, to discuss: 

  • What experiences shaped him as a leader (6:10) 
  • How Jim found his calling in nonprofit marketing (13:55) 
  • Lessons learned from his time building KMA (18:09) 
  • Why helping people is the most rewarding part of his career (27:03) 
  • The people who shaped his career (33:08) 

Meet our guest 

Jim Killion HeadshotJim Killion 

CEO, Digizent 


I am totally committed to the no-blame culture. A lot of people say that, but that is really hard to achieve. And you're always sort of battling for it. But placing blame and dealing with it takes time and energy out of the organization. It also means that I'm going to be less likely to help you …"

Podcast transcript

Justin McCord: The conversation we were just having prior to starting the recording has me thinking about the biggest blunder of your professional or amateur career. And so, Ronnie, what I want to know, I'll give you a second to think, and I'll share with you mine.

Most of our listening audience has heard … we talked before about my career on the marketing side and professional sports prior to coming to the nonprofit marketing space. And I think there are two that come to mind, but the one that physically was biggest was when I had a 40-foot-tall banner produced and put up on the exterior of a stadium that had a typo in the name of the team captain.

It became a bigger blunder because the team was, like, watching the banner get put up. So, there's this big reveal.

Jim Killion: Yeah, I had two similar to that, one was for a new client. And ironically, it was a university. And we gave him a middle initial he didn't have in the first letter to his president's circle mailing. So that was memorable.

Justin: I mean, was there just like a random Q?

Jim: Well, he didn't, he didn't have a middle initial, he just had … it was Clyde Cook, wonderful president of Biola University and high school player of the year in California and basketball back in the day and a civilian POW during World War Two. I could go on about Clyde. What a great man.

The other memorable one was printing 110,000, maybe, 4-color wall calendars. Uniquely, there were 31 days in June.

Justin: Wasn't a problem till July rolled around.

Jim: Yeah, you know, I mean, who's noticing those things? Got to have those things having to go through all the sign offs, and we had to get there. But it did.

Justin: Ronnie, what about you?

Ronnie Richard: I think mine ... the one that comes to mind for me was my first newspaper job. I was working in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and I was doing … we were doing kind of a series on the sports desk on former players, you know, who had been, like, stars there and what they’ve gone on to do since then. And I can’t remember the guy’s name, but he was a basketball player, and I did the feature, talked to him and everything, and he had done a tryout recently with the Sacramento Kings, and he said that he had gotten a 10-day contract with them.

And in my immature, brash youth, I just took him at his word and never double checked it. And it went to print on that. Sacramento Kings called and contacted us and said, we don't have a guy by that name on here. And I was mortified. And the managing editor called me into his office, and I sat down and just said, all right, let's just get this over with, fully sure I was getting fired. And he said, no, no, no. Just, what's the lesson to be learned here? You know, always double check your facts, and always do your research. And so, certainly a lesson learned.

And for the longest time, it's probably around here somewhere, I had a letter that the Kings had sent about that printed and framed, I think, to remind me of that.

Jim: Yeah, well, it strikes me that you're in Mississippi, and you're looking for a safe sports story. Just do something on Brett Favre. I don't know.

Ronnie: That could be ...

Justin: Yeah, the way that I had to reconcile the blunder once I talked to my boss at the time, she said, well, you got to go talk to Coach. And so, the coach was a very solemn, solemn man and that quietness was actually fearful, like, it created more angst.

Ronnie: Made it worse.

Justin: And yeah, and his response was, well, you got to go talk to Danielle, the captain. That's when I felt tiny and the weight of it. I think I was more concerned that he was going to throw me through the wall than really me and my duties, so to speak. But to your point, like, you learned the lessons from it. And, and he and I are even contacts today and trade messages every once in a while, never have misspelled his name since.

Jim: So, I guess, yeah, if you spelled it right, you probably would have lost contact.

Justin: That's true. Yeah, yeah.

Welcome to Group Thinkers, everyone, the podcast from RKD Group, and on each and every episode, we have a conversation with someone in the nonprofit marketing space who is doing something differently, has done something differently. And currently, we're in a series of talking to people about their experiences and conversations with leaders and leadership conversations.

And I am really excited to welcome today's guest because I consider him to be a leader of many of my leaders and someone who has helped set a tone for the work that we all do. And so, I want to explore some of that. So, welcome, Jim Killian, CEO of Digizent International.

Jim: Thanks, Justin. Thank you. It's fun to be with friends, old friends. And I'm honored. Thank you.

Justin: Yeah, Jim, we are equally, and this is going to be a great conversation. We're excited to dig into it. You know, I think it's appropriate to bridge from, you know, those blunder experiences to just talk about experiences overall.

Jim: I would like to get out of blunders. Yeah, that would be good.

Justin: Hey, listen, if we want to stay there, might get a little lucky, but that's OK. You just … I'm curious, as you reflect on your career, what experiences have most shaped you as a leader?

Jim: Well, quite seriously, I think we do learn more from our blunders, or hopefully they're not all quite that dramatic. Maybe mistakes. I think of some of those, but mostly I think about people and experiences that have had an impact on my life. One that just really kind of snuck up on me at the time. I was inside a nonprofit leading a growing team, mostly creatives, and had the chance to go to a conference on managing creative people. Leading creative people. And it turned out―I was just in my early 30s―and it turned out that some of the early top leadership at Bain were leading this multi-day seminar.

It was in Colorado, in Boulder, excuse me, complete with a chinook coming through hundreds and some miles an hour during the conference. That leads to other stories. But it was an amazing trio of leaders at that conference. And they really planted some seeds about the importance of communication, not looking at people monolithically and giving people space to be who they are and to achieve.

One of the guys was a fellow named Ray Fultz. And just to show the age, look, look at the font on that book cover.

Justin: That’s a great-looking font.

Jim: You can tell it’s an old book. And one of the things he said early on in the book―I just pulled it off the shelf and had highlighted it way back when―and he said, there's no doubt in my mind that organizations that remember people's innate desire to participate, understand and contribute, if you remember those desires in all you plan and do, that your organization will be at the top of the heap in 1980. That's 43 years ago, guys.

And why did he say that? And he said, it's not beyond possibility that people-centered organizations will be the only ones in existence. Oh, my goodness. You know, people-focused organizations. At Digizent, our main value is, people are most important. And you’ve got to live that.

The second one would be reading, again back in the day, Max DePree’s classic, “Leadership is an Art,” and “Leadership Jazz” that follows that up as well. But so many fantastic things there.

And then there was another book that really stuck out, and it was Peter Drucker, you know, who's sage, like, I mean, who else do you know that had tea with the Freud in Vienna other than Peter Drucker. Right? Being around Peter …

Justin: He’s kind of Yoda of the management space.

Jim: Yeah, he started with, you know, that landmark study of management at GM, General Motors, back in the late 30s. And so, here's a book he wrote in 1999. He was looking to this current century, and he said something that … he said an increasing number of people who are full-time employees have to be managed as if they were volunteers. They are paid, to be sure. But knowledge workers have mobility. They can leave. They are their own, quote unquote means of production, which is their wallet. And boy, that just rocked my world back then. I like to think I was living consistently with that because we're in a service business.

RKD is all about serving not-for-profits and helping them reach their goals. And you do it brilliantly, by the way, in a sense that you work at a nonprofit. You're a volunteer, have a volunteer mentality, either formally or informally. And now we are staffed by this army of knowledge workers, and they're not hooked to an assembly line at the GM plant in the 1930s. It's up here, and it's in here, and they can go and do.

So anyway, those are just three of the, kind of, big ideas among many exposures when I was younger. Not quite as young with that last one from Drucker, but I really stewed on those things and said, what does this look like in my life? What does that look like in my company? What does it look like in my relationships?

Justin: And so, as a leader, and you've been a leader, you know, at multiple different stops that we're going to touch on, and I know you as a reader, as evidenced, obviously, by the examples that you just cited, what do you do with that, when you find something that you highlight, that you take down, something that rocks your world? How do you then channel that into the way that you relate to your teams?

Jim: Well, two things. One, I'm thrilled that now most of my new books are on Kindle, so it's easier to highlight and save and retrieve. These are relics from a previous era. So that's a great question, Justin. It's not automatic.

I think what becomes critical is identifying the big ideas; saying, this is worth thinking about, and if it's worth thinking about, then it's probably worth applying, either positively or negatively. And you start … I just work it through in my mind. I mean, I had a fourth grade teacher that said to me, Jimmy, your problem is you think too much. Well, I kind of haven't gotten over that.

And yet, we’ve got to wed thoughts, feelings and actions or people say we're hypocritical. People say, hey, you know, Jim says do this when he does that online. So, it becomes a discipline. But I'm one of those who really believes that it's not just a mental concept that is unrelated to behavior, but there's a wedding. That's the challenge, to bring them together.

And then explore those ideas. You've got to have people around you where, you know, we can't do this alone. What do you think about, again, going back to the K at RKD. Tim Kersten and I used to go to lunch a couple of times a week. We worked together for nearly half a century. Oh, goodness. And we just had significant conversations. Iron sharpens iron. Hey, what do you think about …? Or trying to work this out, or what do you think we should …? And so, you're constantly looking for people that make you better.

If you hire beneath you because you've always got to be the best, and you’ve always got to get the attention, you'll have a mediocre organization. But if you have those gifted people who go beyond and have gifts you don't have, suddenly the discussions … I had one this morning with two of my key leaders―it's life changing.

Ronnie: Jim, I've often heard it said that a good leader knows their weaknesses and surrounds themselves with people who, you know, fill those gaps and isn't afraid to say, I don't know this. You do. You handle that.

I wanted to look through your career a little bit, going back almost to the beginning, to your college days. I was kind of noticing you got …

Jim: Millard Fillmore was president in those days.

Ronnie: I noticed you got a history degree at USC and then a master's in theology. At the time, were you intending to go? Did you kind of see your path, your career path in religious ministry, or were you heading in that direction and kind of … what changed course, and what led to you getting into nonprofit work and things like that?

Jim: Great question. I started out as pre-dent at USC, and then when I had some experiences that really caught my attention―I worked on a Native American reservation in Nevada one summer, and I … it was painful to see what we had done to people and not a sense of compassion, a need for change that really got my attention. The guy leading the group was a fellow―he had graduated from USC, we were four years apart―he went on to Dallas seminary. That was a big influence.

But you hear ‘The University of Southern California,’ most people think it's a state school. It's a private school. And so, I had courses in Old Testament, but by design, it wasn’t required. Old Testament, New Testament―fascinating courses―and inter testament, to literature from a Jewish rabbi in Beverly Hills and then a biblical archaeology course.

They were all coming, perhaps, except the rabbi, all coming from a very different viewpoint and why. And it was really instead of, really embracing the faith, there were fairly strident attacks. So, I went to seminary in part to find answers to these things, or am I going to base my life, this conviction, on something that doesn’t stand up to intellectual scrutiny.

I had planned to go into, to a ministry that dealt with youth. And because I ... going all the way back to that reservation experience, again, just seeing kids are making life choices that are so critical―can I help them with that? But I didn't feel like ... I didn't have alternatives. I did work one year at a church after I graduated, I was on the staff of the seminary.

At that time, I nearly died from a rare disease. I was paralyzed, got pneumonia. I knew I was dying. Doctors knew I was dying. Miraculously, I lived. Hate to give that punchline away, but I am alive. I still have some facial paralysis. But then, I couldn't say the letter P or B because you need your lower left to hold up vertically or it's a B, like this. So now, here I'm trained to speak and teach. And I don't know if I'm going to be able to do that.

And on top of that, I realized working in a … we were in a church of 1,200 of adults, in a community of 7,900, Perry township, Hershey, Pennsylvania. Volunteer labor was just a struggle for me, to be honest with you. And so, rather than please people, which I normally would have perhaps done to a fault, after one year, I came back and got engaged again in fundraising and communication. I could do that in a written way, and I didn't have to speak. And it didn't matter as much if my facial ability came back.

So, it was a lot of the gradual turn is more of a sudden turn, but I clearly found my calling. I got really comfortable. And when you're in a graduate school, and it was the second largest seminary in the world at that point, all these academics, earning my best friend, double doctorate from Cambridge, on the faculty, very stimulating conversation. I put together a real philosophy and even theology, if you will, of philanthropy. It's a great place to do that when you're young.

And whether I'm working for faith-based organizations or not, I still, kind of, lean back on some principles that were forged there. So, it turned out to be an unanticipated benefit.

Justin: That took you through time, both at Dallas Theological Seminary and where you were honing your communication skills and your fundraising skills. Then, in 1981.

Jim: But just before that, just an irony on that: Here I am; I'm not 35 because I'm 34 years old. Among the five-person administrative cabinet of the school were some faculty members that had been, like, profs. They weren't thrilled that I had got to that point. And my profound thought was, I don't want to do this for 30 more years and get a cheap watch and retire. So, I started looking for opportunities to help more organizations.

Justin: Well, and it would be too easy to say, the rest is history. But the history is so rich, right? So, so …

Jim: Thank you.

Justin: I would say that the next chapter in terms of your helping form Killion McCabe and Associates, KMA, and where you served many roles, including CEO and Chief Creative Officer.

I've got a couple of things I want to ask you about that. As you look back on that experience, what are some of the lessons that you learned from helping build such an influential institution in nonprofit marketing?

Jim: I learned a lot. First, I started by learning what I didn't know. In 1981, gosh, that feels like a different lifetime. There were four of us, 3 and 1/2 of us, really, in a consulting firm that, kind of, would grow into KMA. But everybody was, kind of, an independent contractor. Not really. We worked for the same company, but we had to do stem to stern. And you weren't … you visited the client, you developed a strategy, you wrote the copy, you came home. You got it. Maybe as an artist, maybe you did it yourself. You sent it to the printer yourself. You worked with the letter shop yourself. It was like, this is crazy. We're not going to be able to scale. So, I started visiting, getting all the advice I could, and networked into a guy who was Executive VP of the hot commercial shop in Dallas at the time. And he just, kind of, gave me a primer on how you put an agency together because there just weren't models out there.

So, figuring that out was, kind of, the first thing. And as soon as you did that, you realize you've got to have systems, you’ve got to know where to manage workflow. You've got a lot of things to put together, and you're growing rapidly. So, then you've got questions around, well, OK, what are keys to recruitment? And then, if you can find the right people, now what? Obviously, it was … even then it hit me, it's more than putting them in the right position. And even then, sometimes it was the wrong position.

But yeah, coming around there, it, … you have to develop, I think, a philosophy of hiring, mentoring, training, listening because it's got to be two ways. If all I do is sit in the Lincoln Memorial next to Lincoln and pontificate, it's not going to work. When we hire, we’re not grading IQ. We're not, you're not grading life experiences. We're selecting, maybe, an educational background, but there's a whole lot thats not going in to interview and say, you know, Ronnie, based on everything you've told me about yourself, it feels like we might have a fit here. And so, you know, we did testing, we did a variety of things, but, OK, so now Ronnie's here. Now what? Well, you say, Ronnie, here's what you're going to do, and you give a list. If it stops there, then you're going to probably frustrate the daylights out of Ronnie. And you're probably not going to be successful because Ronnie needs tools that are consistent with our view of how things are done.

And some of those, they're not all parochial. I mean, they could be like any agency does, some others are more unique, but I would so you owe trainee, you owe systems that give a lingua Franca to everyone working together. So, it's not a fire drill. It's, it's a team that, yeah, we're all moving in the same direction even though we're different. We recognize specialists here, there, in the other, going through all of that. And there are lots of layers that I've learned more and more about over the years. I think the critical thing is, I’ve got to help you understand why and not just what.

If you're going to be a leader, if you are going to be effective for clients over time, internal and external, you need to know why. If all you know is what, you’re going to miss the why.

Justin: How big did KMA get? How many people, like, in its heyday?

Jim: 125.

Justin: That's a big shop, Jim. Did you find that the, well, how did the expression of the why change from five people to 125 people?

Jim: That's a great question, you know, and starting Digizent many years later, I had learned something way back in the beginning of KMA, I stumbled on, I observed, and that is: You can get the first 12 to 15 people right and build a philosophy of vision and help them understand the why. Then you don't have top-down policing and hand-holding. They become self-enforcing, if you will, and they embrace the new people that come on and they tell them, well, this is how we do things. They know why we do it that way.

And so, you know, getting those first 12 to 15 right, really building it. In my experience, you hit 50 or so, and then the dynamic is changing again because, particularly with rapid growth, you've got challenges that are very, very different than the initial. At Digizent, we’re about 65 now. Well, I think we did a pretty good job with the first 12 to 15. And they're working that out. Now with the growth we've had in the pandemic and post pandemic, we've got a bunch of people that we're really, really concerned understand more.

The other thing that I learned is, in each passing decade you get, hopefully, a new opportunity to be better at it. Because I didn't always handle this well, but sometimes I handle it horribly. And that, is I am totally committed to the no blame culture. A lot of people say that, but that is really hard to achieve. And you're always sort of battling for it. But placing blame and dealing with it takes time and energy out of the organization. It also means that I'm going to be less likely to help you, Justin, because I might be blamed for something you do. And so, I go in and help you. And now we're both in trouble. No, thank you, I'm just going to stay well away and, you know, get as much work done. You, you don't get the synergy again of those other people that have skills you don't have. And so, by the time we've gotten to Digizent, we're just militant about that. And people come in and, yeah, I've been in an agency where I kind of got beaten up. We'll see.

Justin: And, I mean, but also, Jim, I appreciate you calling that out. I don't know if I've ever, I know I've never heard you express it. But, you know, we've known each other now almost a dozen years. And early in our relationship, we worked on some, I mean, albatrosses of projects. It would be so easy, would be so easy to fall into, well, if Jim would have done this well, if Justin would have done this, like, those sorts of things. That's definitely a hallmark that you carry.

Jim: Thank you. I mean, I know I blow it at times. I'm not perfectly consistent, but I, we really work hard at that. And it's amazing how much time you save. It's amazing how much better work gets done. People say, how in the world in peak season did you do 200 tests in a day? You have to work together, or you're not going to do it.

Justin: Yeah, yeah. Golly, it's so interesting to hear you talk about the people aspect, and it goes back to one of the things I said at the beginning, and it's because I have been blessed and shaped by so many people whose lives you've had an impact on.

And so, it's fun to, to be in a, in a kind of, in an indirect way, of the, the tree of Killian, and in fact, Jim, I asked some of these folks about you. And, and so and I want to just share with you a snippet of the things that they said because I think that it underscores what you said about people mattering:

That he showed an example for me and others to raise the bar in how we dressed, spoke, managed time, anticipated client needs and how to make a priority of growing in your expertise. Someone else said, he exudes class and shaped how I work today. And the other person said how that you made a lasting impression on how young adults should present themselves with excellence and deliver an exceptional experience. Someone else told me that you're the ultimate connector, and it's person after person after person, Jim, have reiterated and said that the impact that you've made on not just young people, but even on people as they grow in their career, on embracing technology, that failing is expected and unavoidable.

How do you think about, how do you think about hearing the words of those folks and the realization that you have made that ripple?

Jim: That really is the most significant part of my career. I don't know. I suppose I helped raise a couple of billion dollars, and that's meaningful, obviously.

Justin: And won some awards for incredible creative pieces along the way.

Jim: Thank you. Yeah, means to an end, but what’s most rewarding, again, goes back to people and that's what means most to me is that I've been able to help people. You know, some of those people are … and the clients we serve … and we're caring for a lot of people in Ukraine right now through some of our efforts, for example.

But when we build into others, now we're multiplying, right? And I look at some of the people at RKD that I was blessed to work with, and I don't know, can I name names?

Justin: Go for it. We might be, like, we might beep them just to keep, you know, mysterious. Or Ronnie may dub his name over all of them.

Ronnie: Over and over again. It'll be my name.

Jim: Yeah, whatever. Whatever works. Well, Amanda Wasson and Billy Vaudry were part of the great class of 1990 and different backgrounds. Amanda came out of Baylor University, and she sort of started at a somewhat menial role. But you could tell from day one this was an exceptional person. And I like to think I've built into her life. She has contributed so much to my life. She absolutely stuns me with the breadth of her brilliance and her ability to come into a client's situation and not only know what to do but know what's best to do.

But you have an opportunity because it's right out of college. There's not a lot of bad habits formed in terms of our business. And yes, it takes more time, but it's worth it. Again, not, you don't have … everyone doesn't become an Amanda, who is so exceptional, but hopefully we pick out the ones that really do. You’ve got to want to get there, too.

I don't mean ‘there’ in terms of achievement but in terms of personal growth and professional growth to handle the challenges of meeting human needs, like we do. Amanda certainly had it.

Billy Vaudry, we didn't need a new writer, but he heard about us, and he applied, and well, what do you got for your portfolio? He had newspaper clippings from his college newspaper that he'd written, and it obviously had almost virtually nothing to do with all we were doing. Well, you could tell he could write. You could tell he had the ability to communicate, and he persisted. I had an associate creative director in those days, a PhD of Russian, with, I don’t know, that was a weird connection, but he kind of liked Billy and kept saying, I know we don't need anybody, but Billy checked back in.

And finally, we had about this much of an opening and said, Billy, would you come join us? Well, it turned out to be a brilliant hire. Didn’t know it was brilliant at the time. But again, here's a person that comes with skills and a great family story and wants to grow and wants to relate to people. And on and on it goes.

Going back further to Tim Kersten. He wrote me while I was still at Dallas Seminary looking for a new position. He was in a less than exciting role. I said, well, I'm leaving, but Development Resources may be hiring. Both ended up there. I've never known anyone who read so voraciously about his craft. He was intense from day one, not in a cold sense, but that he was focused; he was purposeful. So, conversations what was somebody one year blessed to have a Tim Kersten in your life. You just knew he was going to be great, and he was.

Ronnie: Jim, you've obviously had a ton of influence on a lot of people throughout your career. I'm curious, who in your career influenced you, shaped you, and turned you into the leader you are today?

Jim: We all stand on the shoulders of somebody else, multiple people. The myth of the self-made person is really that there's an old book out there called “A Turtle on a Fencepost.” And, you know, the old story, if you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he didn't get there by himself. That's certainly me.

I had several mentors. My great mentor was a long-time president of Dallas Seminary, and he gave me quite an invitation to a job: took me to lunch and said, I'd like you to be my assistant. And it was really related to fundraising, and he said, frankly, I don't think you can do the job. But my son, who has started agencies in this business and his son, has three master's and two doctorates. Smart guy. My son assures me you can do it. Well, you know, I still marvel that I accepted the job. Then Dr. Walford and I became close and was at his bedside just three days before he died. We laughed about it over the years. I really said that to you? Yeah, you really said that to me. But I used to go on with copy, and it would come out hemorrhaging. I mean, it was just bleeding red ink.

His son and I, you know, his son and I are still good friends; had lunch yesterday. We had a deal with occasionally would hear, your problem is, you're not thinking straight. You know what's to come back to you you're not thinking straight, you know. Yes, I know, right. There's no way that I don't know what to do with that, you know? That's so terrible.

Justin: That’s the turtle trying to get off of a fencepost at that point.

Jim: Yeah, I'd go, I'd go underground and go get back in your shell. My goodness. So, he was a huge influence. I was blessed with a good undergraduate education. I really felt like I learned how to say at USC. And that was helpful. I wasn't especially close to any one faculty member there because I was very engaged in other leadership activities.

But so, so Dr. Walford would be ... but then, I have to say, I learned from books and reading, and from people a lot smarter than me at seminars. And maybe that, on the one hand, it is kind of looked at as leadership, like … but Ken Blanchard, you know, the one manager guy, and all of us follow on to that. Lots of seminar hours of his in, gosh, I just had to come back, ended up meeting Ken some years later, tried to do a video, interview candidate, driven all night from New York to Boston. He'd been speaking there, and he was going to speak at the conference I was a part of in Boston. So, we're doing this in front of the room. But Ken's laying on the bed, snoring away. I mean, just utterly so and so pre possesed, but just a wonderful … again, a lot of hopeful input there.

I learned from some of my clients. I've been blessed as you guys and I were able to serve a lot of really extraordinary people. And I'm always looking back, I'm amazed that some of the people I didn't think I'd like as CEOs I like most and became closest to. And some I thought, gosh, it's going to be great to work for this person. And, you know, they were less so. I learned from clients. And then the other thing I would say is, I learned from my colleagues. Let's go back to Tim, Amanda and Billy, just as a quick three. They all taught me things that I needed to know. Each of them has skills I don't have. Gosh, how blessed can you be? You know, it's, we get to work with you. I get to work with people like you, Justin, for a dozen years, you know, we don't see each other all the time. But you're skilled. You've got so many skills that I could go to class the rest of my life but not achieve. And Ronnie, you know, I'm stunned by all the things that I'm learning about what you've done. You know, you've got skills I don't have. So, I think it's, part of it is, don't close yourself. Want to learn it? You don't have to be the guru, be the one who's going to school with whoever is ready to go to school with you. And, you know, be grateful for what you can take up because I don't bring it up on my own.

Justin: Well, Jim, I but you never know whenever you start these conversations where they're going to go, frankly, and even if you start to line up topics and those sorts of things. And so, I just I want to say thank you for opening up your career and your, you know, sharing these insights. And I can tell you, Ronnie and I have both been challenged and blessed by them today. And I know that our audience is going to be as well.

Jim: Well, thank you. I mean, it sounds like a cliché, but the privilege is really mine. You guys have enriched my life today, and it helps to look back and think about the people in your life that have brought you here today. I didn't get here alone. One of the things I do with Digizent and, help me in my parting slide here, is most Fridays, although it's become a part of the culture, I don't have to do it every Friday, but I post something in our team chat to remind them to have at least one significant conversation this weekend, if people are most important, you know, that we have all the little things. This is a significant conversation. Thank you for this significant conversation. We had a good conversation, but we need that people are our most important. Let's talk to them, let's listen to them, let's get a little bit beyond. And ‘How are you?’ is great, but that doesn't carry us to where we need to go, where we want to go. Life is much richer than that. People are amazing. So, thank you. Thank you for that. Great fun for me. I'm blessed and privileged to share it with you. Thank you.

Justin: You're so welcome. And we appreciate it. You are, you like this conversation? I think there's nowhere to go but down by listening to any other podcast episodes.

Jim: I do, occasionally, you'll be surprised to know I have listened on occasion. I've got to read Ronnie’s post on AI, I just saw that earlier today. So, I got to go check it out.

Justin: Exactly, but there are plenty of other resources available on RKD Group’s website,, and we'll be sure to tag other episodes that are related to this one.

And again, Jim, we appreciate it, and we can't wait to see you again. We don't need to have as much time go by next time.

Jim: Thanks. I look forward to it. Thank you.

Justin: Thanks for coming.

Group Thinkers is a production of RKD Group. For more information, visit Special thanks to our production team, including the talented Ryan Mellinger for his work on mixing every episode. Also, a shout out to the content team that helps pull together research and guests, puts the marketing efforts behind Group Thinkers, Suzanne, Ronnie and others for their work on this and every episode of Group Thinkers.

RKD Group

RKD Group is North America's leading fundraising and marketing services provider to hundreds of nonprofit organizations, including hospitals, social service, disease research, animal welfare, rescue missions, and faith-based charities. RKD Group’s omnichannel approach leverages technology, advanced data science and award-winning strategic and creative leadership to accelerate net revenue growth, build long-term donor relationships and drive online and offline engagements and donations. With a growing team of professionals, RKD Group creates breakthroughs never thought possible.

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