Monday, December 10, 2012

Holly Ross - Disruptor

At my new job they seem to love the word disruptor. (or disrupter, didn't ask them the spelling...?) defines disrupt as:
1. to cause disorder or turmoil in
2. to destroy, usually temporarily, the normal continuance or unityof; interrupt
3. to break apart

Ok, Holly Ross doesn't really meet those definitions.
1. Her efforts helped bring order and collaboration to the NPTech community
2. She acted as a leader to build a strong, sustainable and respected organization focused on the NPTech community
3. Holly knew she couldn't do this alone, she encouraged, connected and empowered each person she met to support the movement

Is Holly Ross a disruptor? Yes.

(Side note: if you don't know who Holly Ross is, she was the Exec Dir of NTEN, see her recent article about her change in career.)

Holly is a disruptor because she was not willing to accept the status quo, she:
1. Caused turmoil by defying myths like all nonprofits lack in technology knowledge and technology is overhead to be managed
2. Destroyed the curtain nonprofit technology staff were hiding behind by collaborating to build a way to spotlight our NPTech community and unify us
3. Stepped up as Executive Director to break apart the barriers that prevented nonprofits from getting and learning how to use technology to achieve their mission

The real gift of Holly's work though was she did not do it alone. She always relied on the strength, support and resources of the full community.  She was selfless and didn't seek attention to herself. NTEN works to lean on corporate, nonprofit and foundation partners to make it happen.

I can remember conversations with Holly around 2004 before she was the Exec. Director at NTEN. She repeatedly said she didn't need to be in charge or be on stage. She loved her work and wanted to spend all of her time getting things done, not basking in the glory. At that point I didn't believe that I was important enough to the community to have her spend time with me. I questioned my value in presenting, sharing and connecting. Holly saw it very different. She believes and helps people find the value and to have the courage to share it.

Did Holly do this work alone? No. That is how she is a disruptor. She disrupted our silos, our preconceptions and what was considered normal in nonprofit technology.

She didn't get on the list of 50 most influential people in nonprofit technology by running a campaign, building a personal brand or grabbing attention. Holly is a rockstar because she genuinely cares, is remarkably smart and puts the mission first.  Holly didn't want to be an Exec, she stepped up because others encouraged her.

Anyway, why am I blogging about this? Well first to say Thanks to Holly for taking time with me all of those years ago and ever since.

But also to challenge you! What are you doing to disrupt the status quo to make a real difference?

Take Holly's example. Every person has the ability to have an impact.

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