We had the good fortune of connecting with Dan Gladden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dan, how do you think about risk?
Taking on risk should be calculated and not just for the sake of being risky or to make things exciting (or possibly stressful). I view risk as a means to progress, specifically in my career. In my line of work as a nonprofit director, we operate on a limited and sometimes unpredictable budget based on fluctuations of revenue. That said, we still take risks, but we think them through thoroughly and decide if adding risk will help us achieve success in whatever we are doing. Taking risk at my nonprofit, Hope Shines, Inc., resides mostly with improving programs or by trying new ways to fundraise. Sometimes for us, incorporating risk either through spending when it’s needed or trying new methods results in the organization doing more in a positive way.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am Executive Director of Hope Shines, Inc.
My career started when I was a kid saving money by mowing lawns and cleaning gutters around my neighborhood. Because I wasn’t raised with a lot of means, I was raised to work early on and strive to be independent. For me, that meant dragging a lawn mower around the neighborhood and knocking on doors so I could save money to go to Disney World! Starting early taught me many of the qualitative soft skills I would need later to be successful in my career and open more doors. I always say that I was lucky because I had many friends older than me in high school that started to go off to college. I thought, well maybe that’s what I should do so I did and from there I was able to see the value of education, along with the inevitable pain of student debt! I was raised in a modest family so college wasn’t always something that we heard much about around the house, but I was able to get there and was happy I did.
My career has been a nice mix of corporate for-profit work, where I gained many hard skills as well, and then later, that of nonprofit work, where I currently spend my work days. The longer I’ve been in the nonprofit sector, the more I realize that passion for something will sustain you once your other basic needs are met. I am now able to take the skills and education with me and really impart some wisdom into what I do. Doing something that means something is important, and everyone has a different view on what is important to them. My career path has been one of challenges, windows of opportunity, good mentors, and a sprinkle of timing and luck!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in a great state for this so for me, getting outdoors in the mountains would be ideal. From nature, we get perspective. In my life, none of my stresses come from nature, but rather our “people” world…work, family, relationships, etc. I would certainly include some adventure in the outdoor experience, which would cause some discomfort (because friction forces us to grow!), followed by some cold beers and laugh till your stomach hurts conversation. Keeping it light and not too serious, for me, is what it’s all about to keep a level head. Some of the most exciting and admirable people I’ve come across in my life are always funny, street smart, and passionate!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to shoutout to those who are on the fringes in this world that struggle to have opportunity, great mentors, and skills that can lead to a happy and healthier life. My view on the world has evolved greatly since grade school and I’m thankful to feel moved each day to do my part and help lift those in need when my cup is running over. I now can clearly understand that poverty is one of the worst diseases in the world and I intend to be part of the solution. I’m also very thankful to my closest peers, mentors, and family that have inspired me to findthis career path that allows me to make our connected world that much better.