Our Team is Our Single Greatest Asset

The only reason The Library Project has grown, scaled and become the organization it is today is because I recognized that I could not and should not be the best at everything. As a founder, this is incredibly important to not only understand, but to address through your hiring practices. The only thing I did right was hire the best people and empowered them to grow the organization.

When I started the organization the reality was I had to do everything. This is because I was alone; I was a team of one. As time went by the team I hired began to provide support to the organization’s growth, mission and programs. Over time my importance on a day-to-day basis became less important. If you are ten years down the road and you are still critical to your organization’s sustainability, then I believe you have failed as a social entrepreneur. I’m happy to say, if I get hit by a bus today, The Library Project will continue on in my absence. Not only will it continue, but I’m absolutely sure it will become a stronger organization than it is today. I have no doubt about this fact.

What does that look like in practice?

In 2014, our organization donated 363 libraries. I attended five of those library donations. Some people would say I’m lazy, detached, or I simply don’t care. I wholeheartedly disagree. I trust my team, and they appreciate that I give them the space to grow personally and professionally. This comes with risks.

Mistakes have been made; some small, some large. I’ve allow for those mistakes, encouraged our team to make mistakes and not punished our leadership when they occur. I like to say we’ve donated nearly 3000 imperfect libraries, and that is something I’m proud to say.

Our team’s role is to implement our organization’s mission; it’s my role to support and empower them. I strive to not make any operational decisions; I support my team’s decisions. Our team respects that I give them that space to grow, learn and impact the organization’s future.

The most important asset The Library Project has is our team. I’ve tried to treat our team with respect, to empower them and give them the space to make real mistakes; and in turn they have helped me build a beautiful organization.