Three months ago, an opportunity presented itself that would significantly alter my professional journey and the trajectory of Lamp of Learning. The board of directors extended an invitation for me to formalize my role within the organization and step into the CEO position. Having served as the Chair for many years, this transition was both an honor and a monumental step forward.

Reflecting on the first 90 days of this new role, I’ve encountered numerous learning opportunities and challenges. These experiences have not only contributed to my personal growth but have also strengthened the foundation of Lamp of Learning. Here, I share three pivotal lessons learned during this period, which I believe can serve as valuable insights for leaders and organizations alike.

1. Leveraging the Talent on the Board

One of the first and most crucial lessons I learned was the importance of taking full advantage of the talent present within our board. While not every board member assumed a leadership role, those who did step up brought invaluable skills and perspectives to the table. This realization underscored the significance of recognizing and utilizing the diverse talents of our team members. By encouraging board members to contribute their unique expertise, we were able to enhance our strategic planning and decision-making processes, leading to more innovative and effective solutions for the challenges we faced.

2. Distributing Workload to Committees

Transitioning from a position where I was accustomed to leading every initiative to one where I had to distribute responsibilities was a significant adjustment. Establishing committees with specific deliverables was a strategic move that not only alleviated the workload on my shoulders but also empowered other members of the organization to take ownership and lead. This approach fostered a sense of accountability and commitment among the team, leading to more focused and productive efforts. The committees were instrumental in driving our programs and events to new heights, demonstrating the power of collective effort and collaboration.

3. Actively Engaging in the Community to Drive Donations

Another area of growth during these first 90 days was learning how to more effectively drive donations through active community engagement. While this is an aspect I am still developing, the initial results have been promising. Engaging more deeply with our community has not only helped raise awareness of our mission but has also started to make a tangible impact on our fundraising efforts. This experience has taught me the importance of building and nurturing relationships within the community, as these connections are vital in garnering support and resources for our cause.

Conclusion

As Lamp Of Learning celebrates its 20th anniversary, I am filled with pride for the progress we have made and the direction in which we are headed. The past 90 days have been a period of significant learning and growth, both for myself and for the organization. The lessons learned in leveraging the talent of our board, distributing workload effectively, and actively engaging in the community to drive donations have been instrumental in our success. I am grateful for the guidance of mentors like Cheri Pierre and James Floros, and for the dedicated efforts of individuals such as Ann Gladys and Susan Zale, who have been pivotal in our achievements.

This journey has reaffirmed my belief in the power of teamwork, strategic planning, and community engagement. As we move forward, I am excited to continue applying these lessons and to explore new opportunities for growth and impact. The future of Lamp of Learning shines bright, and I am honored to lead this remarkable organization into its next chapter.


Paul Bergman runs a business strategy and cybersecurity consulting company in San Diego. He is also CEO of a mentoring non-profit in San Diego, Lamp of Learning. He writes on cybersecurity and board management for both corporate and nonprofit boards.

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