S9E08: Practicing leadership as a craft, with Joshua Lachs (CEO, Moneythink)

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S9E08: Practicing leadership as a craft, with Joshua Lachs (CEO, Moneythink)

Today Joshua Lachs speaks with Richard Medcalf. Joshua is CEO of Moneythink, a not-for-profit organisation on a mission to help students understand their financial options and the impact of their choices so they can have the best chance for college and career success.

We're continuing our season "Mission-Driven CEOs". Top Chief Execs talk about the impact they want to make beyond just the financials - in terms of the company mission and their personal leadership legacy - and how they put that into practice on a daily basis. 

In this conversation, you’ll learn:

  • Why Joshua jumped on board at Moneythink, and how the risk/reward equation played out
  • What "practicing leadership as a craft" really looks like
  • What vulnerability really means when you're CEO

"Be comfortable with vulnerability"

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Transcript

Richard Medcalf
Joshua, Hi and welcome to the show.

Joshua Lachs
Hi Richard, How are you? It's so good to be here.

Richard Medcalf
Hey, it's this is gonna be a fun conversation. I'm really interested in what makes you tick and all about Moneythink, which looks like it's, it's really an organization that's trying to make a real difference in the world. So let's jump straight in, shall we? Tell us a little bit, first of all, like, what's Moneythink, but you're the chief executive but what is it?

Joshua Lachs
So we're nonprofit based in the US and we're a tech and tech nonprofit and we basically help aspiring college students with their financial decision making as they go into college and are thinking about college. So we have some really innovative tech tools that we've innovated throughout the last 1415 years and we're super excited about scaling our reach and so we use those tools to help students who really come from traditionally marginalized and historically marginalized communities, who may not have the access and resources to these kinds of tools and access. So yeah, we're super excited to do our work and I'm super lucky to have an amazing team who pushes us and makes it happen.

Richard Medcalf
Right. So you're helping people, perhaps from less privileged backgrounds, or potentially other people as well, yeah, really understand how they invest in their future, invest in their education, these kinds of things. Is that right?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, absolutely. So really, we're, you know, taking the idea of financial literacy and, you know, leveling up to what does it mean to be financially healthy, right? What does it mean to be financially well, and so we're giving the decision making in the students hands, so they can feel empowered and feel like an informed consumer around their education choices and so we're doing this by basically giving them the, again, the access and the resources to really have that decision making, in the immediate sense, but also to be able to build long term financial wellness, habits, behaviors, which is certainly key, right? That goes to college.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, okay. So fantastic, right? So you really want to make a difference in the near term and the long term future, I have a whole lot of students to tell me. So what were you up to before? This chief executive role, you know, how to how did you get into this game?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, so I joined money thinking in 2018, I was really lucky to succeed a founder and CEO, my life has really been dedicated to social impact work. I have, I was lucky enough to serve as a CEO and other education nonprofit some years ago. But really, my life has intersected around education, access, workforce development, and economic sustainability. So I've been doing this game for a long time, pushing the years here but it really, you know, it's a purpose of mine. It's a huge purpose of my next to my family and, and I love the work that we're doing and really money think is meld for me of what I had done in my background, with other organizations helping to lead those, but also what's possible, and growing into that possibility and I'm at a point in my career where, you know, I've been really fortunate, I've worked hard to put myself and others and hopefully great situations and at the same time, I'm really interested in this idea of practicing leadership as a craft and I think that money think it was a perfect petri dish to do that. Well, yeah, go ahead.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Well, let me jump in. So yeah, so tell me about what was it that attracted you at this point in your career to Moneythink specifically, right. There's a whole lot of nonprofits out there. Yeah. Yeah. What were the conflagration the things that came together to make you say, this is the thing for me?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, great question. So for me, it came down to three things, it came down to the fact that the the organization, the folks who with whom I met, Board staff, some of our funders, who I reached out to prior to coming on, you know, they all just had this innate sense of curiosity and as a learning organization, they wanted to do and be better and that was really invigorating and and along with that was a huge sense of all right, what could we do what you know, how might we so that was one it was just the people super, super important, obviously, in any company or organization. The next was in this is all parallel. The next was how the organization and started to use technology and specifically human centered design technology and as we now thinking about our future equity center design technology, so the tools that we had built his organization as I was really kind of unpacking it was just really incredible and frankly, kind of game changing and Then the third, you know, all of that was the promise and potential of the organization, you know, what could we do to really take what's been built in an incredible way by the founders and by the team, and really take it to the next level, and not just scale, but like, have a bold vision and create some systems change and that's going to be generations long work but I also felt like, hey, if we can't get started now, then, you know, what the heck are we doing here? So it was really those three elements, which were people the tool and the potential and promise to really take it with the team to the next level.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, that's really clear and I think there's a three big angles to look at all these things with people the possibility and then the past the unique factor, or the technology, you know, the tool that the framework? I'm curious. Well, listen, you just kind of came across, and you went, Oh, that sounds like a good thing to get involved with. Right? Or were you already on a mission of some description that this then fit into? So yeah, did the company create the sense of mission in you? Or did you already have a sense of mission? And the company kind of aligned with that being both valid? I'm just curious for you. One, that was?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, totally great question. More the latter. So I have been in the, you know, social impact world where we are nonprofit world, basically, my whole career and I had, I have what I like to think, you know, a spider web career, right, I really have this kind of direct line of sight for for a long time around what I want to help contribute to, if if you know, that was possible and really, it's around this idea, and this purpose around economic and financial wellness and inclusive economy, access to tools and resources that, again, you know, a lot of people aren't privy to and so I had been in the kind of regional and national level education organizations doing some really incredible work, I really kind of dove into the workforce development world, which is clearly related and working with similar but but different demographics and populations. I had heard the money thing, probably about 10 years ago, I was another organization serving as CEO and money think had just come across my radar and I was like, Oh, they're doing some really cool stuff and it was really young and muddy thinks life at that point but I had heard about them and just kind of took note and I was at an organization called net impact. In 2018, I was serving as their Chief bizdev officer, and wonderful organization. They're an international organization, and they basically help college students go into social impact careers, and really open their eyes up around that. So all that's to say, is that search firm basically had reached out to me, our co founder and CEO was going to be transitioning out at that time when he thinks I mean, and, and, you know, I was like, Oh, I remember, you know, these folks and, and so I was open to having a conversation and again, you know, I, I wasn't looking necessarily to leave where I was, I was in a really great situation and I felt like the work that I had done all these years, when I took stock of it, again, kind of the situation, the three things that I had outlined before, the conversations that I had had in that interview process just really started to make clear sense to me, that said, you know, money think is also the, the kind of smallest organization that I had been a part of, and I have been a part of, and, you know, I had to really think about, like, what is what's my risk tolerance as a as an individual is? Because we were kind of still in startup mode, even though you know, in 2018, we're about 10 years old, as an organization, we were going through some shifts in terms of our strategy, at that time when I was thinking about coming on. So I had to take stock of my own, hey, you know, am I ready for this? And am I ready? Do I have the risk tolerance? If this doesn't work out? For whatever reason,

Richard Medcalf
Right? Yes, talk to me about that because I often have clients. Yeah. I generally work with people who are in their executive role, but I also work with people who are perhaps leaving that into a new thing or in that transition phase as well and trying to look at how they up level had lived this exponential life, how they, you know, what is my TEDx future, and I do have these conversations and the question of risk tolerance really comes up right? Often it's like, do I go for the safe, boring option or the exciting, risky option, right? Those are often the two days and boil it all down. That's what it comes down to. what's your what's your decision process that or when looking back, do you see that decision differently? You were when you were in the middle of it?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, super interesting. The caveat is that anybody working in the, you know, social impact world, there's rarely a feeling of safety, meaning like, you know, we all have to have, I think, a pretty high risk tolerance, because, you know, funding can dry up. It's a while, I think that there's a very fine line, and oftentimes the line are blurry around, you know, a for profit versus nonprofit and oftentimes, it comes down to tax status that said that there is some different elements and so just wanted to name that, you know, I, I certainly would not have made a different decision. I think, you know, my, my choices at that time were, hey, do I want to, you know, stay where I was, which was, again, a really great situation, our CEO, at that time at net impact was, you know, he's an incredible leader, I loved working with her had a really close relationship, and I loved the work that we're doing and, and so I certainly could have stayed there and, you know, continued to do more, I think, again, I was at a point where I was taking stock of my own career, I wanted to have another opportunity to be a CEO, again, the first time I did it was great and also like, you know, as deer in headlights, and I learned a lot and so I wanted to take some of those learnings, the learnings that I had had along the way with other wonderful mentors and leaders, and have another shot at it, frankly, and I didn't see it as a vanity thing, it was more like, hey, I want to help if I can another organization, who is really aligned with my purpose, and my mission as an individual and also that may look or the organization that may look a lot different than what I've been used to and so that's I think, where the questions were, for me is, like, Am I ready for a different kind of situation that's much smaller than I've been used to that has, frankly, a higher risk tolerance and knowing that, you know, it may not work out, we're gonna give it everything it takes and I actually felt like pretty comfortable in that, that decision because, again, I felt like, I wanted to be a part of something that was super bold and, and that was really exciting to me and I think, you know, a lot of times in life, those big decisions come down to your gut, what is your gut saying? And, you know, and let's, let's see where the cards fall, right?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, yeah, it's interesting, actually, the more I think about it, I actually always measure risk now, or actually, for me, the least riskiest task, the least risky is PA is actually the one where you're gonna grow, you're gonna grow the most in terms of mindsets, skill set, and relationships, actually. Because you take yourself wherever you go, and so I'll bet on yourself. Yes and, you know, who knows, because there's no safe option, like you can give it the biggest corporation in the world and suddenly they consultant can put a line through your business, you go on, or the market can change, or you get run over by a bus, all these things can happen and so generally, I might, my sinfulness now is believe in yourself, and then say, Where do I? Where do I build those extra skills? ways of looking at the world relationships, insights?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, I mean, I think the way that you're describing that is something that I, I tend to maybe believe about, like, Hey, I'm gonna bet on myself, it may not work out whatever it is, but you know, when one door closes, something else opens up. So, you know, I'm reflecting back at that time and I was also really, I think, starting to be comfortable around having what you're, I think describing is around a growth mindset, right? Like, you know, what, it's a, it may be a scary proposition, this may be, you know, a scary opportunity in terms of having that, that high risk tolerance but at the same time, hey, you know, what, if we went into it, meaning this new role in this organization, with really kind of the optimism, and how do we maximize what we want to do, and let's put our again, kind of started, but let's put our best foot forward and, like, let's roll it and we have, you know, we've hit some scary times, in the last few years since I've been there, just in terms of, you know, whether it's, you know, financial health. When I stepped into the organization, obviously, everybody you know, was dressing COVID So, it's not been all peaches and cream and so that's where I think true, organizational health and leadership really comes out, right. It's like, okay, how are you going to navigate through those really, really difficult times as a person? Yeah. When I think back to my risk tolerance about making the decision to go to money, thank I think about it and maybe that feeling of like, oh, you know, do I want to do this? Is that is that a really risky proposition? I think about those hard times that we've been in and, again, I don't think just personally, I would have had the opportunity to work with and really think through these kinds of situations with with other folks in a way that we have it that money thinking, and also just, again, you know, how is that opportunity to practice leadership as a craft with others and really is how are others.

Richard Medcalf
Said that's, that's the death of transition of looking for the route to make the transition? I was going to get back to this phrase you used before, as a craft that you just brought it up? Yeah. What does that mean to you? Right? So in your role, there's, you know, there's obviously a way for you, where you practice leadership as a craft, and then there's simply another way, which is you could not be practicing leadership as a craft and so how do you see the difference?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, it's evolving. My, my idea of it is evolving, to be quite honest and I, when I say that, I guess, you know, for me, and I'm just talking about myself, it's not about reading, you know, a ton of leadership books and although those are great, I think it's really having had the opportunity and the privilege, frankly, of, in the past, working with two really wonderful executive coaches, that have really shaped and influenced me, as a person and as I aspire to be a better leader and so this idea of leadership is a craft, it's, you know, how do how do I think about and how do I practice leading, you know, the vision? On a few different levels, right, like, how do I leave the vision and purpose for myself as an individual? What's my path forward? What's my North Star, that I really truly, you know, am, am committed to? And then it kind of filters out from there, and really critical ways? How do you lead the thinking for the organization? How do you lead others, by, frankly, you know, hiring and then unlocking the brains and the people to get us there, right and for me, like getting the hell out of the way, frankly, a lot of times, and that takes, I think, a level of vulnerability, and feeling comfortable of not needing to have all the answers all the time and that's been a huge growth area for me, because I started out, I was really lucky to be in a senior role when I was, you know, fairly young way back in my career and at that time, I had to, I felt like I had to have all the answers, because I was literally the youngest one in the room and so there was a feeling for myself of, you know, I've got to have this, I've got to, you know, be perfect and be right and I've learned through the years that actually, that's quite the opposite part, for me of a huge part for me of being what I think about leadership as a craft is being really comfortable with going back to the risk tolerance, being comfortable with risk, being comfortable in that gray area, getting to basically my zen place about being vulnerable, and in that knowing that you're going to be exposed to having your ideas and your assumptions challenged and actually, it's a really good thing, because that for me, and my experience has led to, you know, a level of engagement with my colleagues that we have some really open and healthy conversations about big strategic choices and so I think that when I think about leadership as a craft, it's those elements of not just leading myself, not just seeing that organization, but really interesting people to really be engaged in that visioning process and and really make that happen.

Richard Medcalf
So when you're talking about vulnerability, what's the scenario, which is the most edgy for you? Yeah, what kind of what kind of situation? Make you go, Oh, this is where I've got to really do this stuff that I talk about?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, it's great. Actually, we're kind of in it right now, there are several than many scenarios, actually but one that comes to top of mind is the equity work that we're focused on an organization. So you know, we have a very explicit mission at money think, and that is very equity focused and it's also di as part of our core value as an organization. So you know, it's really wonderful to have that leverage. That said, we hadn't really invested in equity work and really thinking about what it means to be an equity focused organization with our team right internally with our workforce and so, for the last couple of years, we've been on a really, really explicit journey, that that I though was really staunch about and this came in the summer of 2020, after George Floyd and breonna Taylor and so I was really committed to saying, Hey, we shouldn't just put out a statement. It's not just in our mission as being an equity focused organization, but like, how are we actually? How do we level up? What does it mean to aim higher for us and for our team, that we demonstrate this value and so, long story short, I put out basically an invitation and a challenge to our organization to step up and that included me to start with, right like it is, it was very much a, you know, Josh driven idea and knowing that I had to, frankly get buy in, which wasn't really difficult, but I had to get buy in from my team to say, hey, I want to enact these kinds of activities with our team, I want to help create a an environment, that we're not just, you know, saying, but doing and for me, that has meant, basically being really exposed and feeling vulnerable and the example is that, I feel like, I have been a fairly open minded progressive person, and I've been in this line of work for my entire career, essentially, I'm super dedicated to the cause, per se and at the same time, you know, I have to constantly check that, you know, frankly, I'm a, you know, white male privileged, and my ideas of certain things, or what I think my ideas are being challenged, and, and I mean, in a really healthy way, because we're engaged as a team because of the environment that we're creating and evolving around having some really personal conversations and, you know, safe conversations, but but about topics that are really personal and perhaps triggering and so I have to be comfortable if I want to state my opinion, or, and really, listen to other people, which is most importantly, thing it's a, but there's a sense of being vulnerable and being exposed and my my ideas of what about this, or what about that are constantly being challenged and I really, it's a really uncomfortable place to be. But also, it's extremely powerful and it unlocks in a lock something I think, not just for me, but for our team.

Richard Medcalf
I think what I hear you saying is the equity works important, you recruit you, you in many ways, you have a privileged situation, right within that, and therefore, the vulnerability piece is about is it about daring to explain? It can be two things, either daring to express things which you actually think but which might not be completely politically correct or like could be challengeable? Or it could be the vulnerability of going with different perspectives that you did or not your perspective?

Joshua Lachs
I think probably the latter. I really, thank you for asking for the clarification. I think probably the latter. You know, I think it's really about, you know, feeling exposed about hearing different perspectives, which I am super open to, and then that challenge is I challenge myself, like, what do I really think about this and actually, like, does that matter?

Richard Medcalf
Because if you have different perspectives, and then you basically go, yeah, yeah, but I'm the CEO. We're doing it this way.

Joshua Lachs
Abosulutey, yeah. Absolutely and so you know, and I think that also comes down to, you know, clarity around expectations and so I feel very vulnerable in those kinds of situations and that's an ongoing personal and professional journey but I also feel super confident and comfortable in feeling exposed in that way and that was a really, I mean, for me, the whole idea about feeling vulnerable, and actually truly feeling, you know, feeling exposed, has been a pretty lengthy journey for me and actually, the best piece of advice, I think I ever got, well, two pieces, but they're really related. Way back when I had a mentor, who told me, Hey, you know, you're too risk adverse, you need to be more comfortable living in the gray, because life happens, and not everything is all buttoned up and so I had to check my you know, Virgo nature. So that was earlier in my career and that really stuck, though. I don't think I put it into practice till later and then the second piece of related advice, which was just super helpful, I think that actually really landed was exactly this be comfortable about being vulnerable and exposed, and that means that you don't need to have all the answers all the time and that means that you know, not everybody can read your mind so you have to be more clear quicker about what you're thinking and invite people in, and that I'm still clearly working on that but I also feel like it's a huge when I think about leadership as a craft, I think that these elements really come down to it because what starts to happen, and I see it in really demonstrable ways is that it starts to become part of the culture when your CEO is saying, You know what, I don't, I don't know this, but like, Hey, let's go figure this out. I think that, that really empowers a team to, again, like feel self empowered, as in their own leadership, right, and their own engagement and like, Hey, I don't care about owning the idea if there was a great idea. Let's go forward and I think that's really important to me.

Richard Medcalf
So what would you say to somebody who is this, you nearly didn't roll? And they're like, Well, yeah, I get it in theory, but you know, people depend on me for like, from what I wrote up here, because I'm a good problem solver and the more than everybody else, I have the bigger view the broader view, or don't have the that such a bigger view, I owe it to them to really provide the answers. I mean, yeah, because intellectually we can kind of go Yeah, yeah, it's great to do this, and then viscerally people, you know, have that feeling. I'm just wondering what advice you would give to that person?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah. I appreciate that and I also, I also feel like, you know, this is not without decision making, right? So I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers, but I'm certainly comfortable and confident and do provide, you know, the answers where possible, I actually think it does come down to clarity around decision making process and, and being upfront with expectations. So that's, that's where I think the the kind of, you know, element, the critical element comes into play with feeling like, Hey, I'm on the, you know, on the leader of this organization, I am being counted on I'm always being watched, I am, every move that I make is, you know, is being witnessed. So I'm very self aware about that and, for me, one of the big things that I have learned along the way is like be more clear about what I expected myself and what I expect about my colleagues and, and be more clear sooner and, and really be clear about the decision making. So if, if there's a big decision to be had, or a small one, you know, for me, what's worked is just the transparency around, hey, here's how we're going to approach this, here's who, you know, is going to be involved in here who has a final decision and, you know, in short order, I think obviously, there's more to that, but but that has, I think really helped clarify, basically, you know, lanes that that each of us is striving in and, and also, so much a visit about about choices and decision making is really about communication and process and I had been a part of really messy and choppy decisions, because the communication process wasn't either named or clarified upfront, or checked along the way and, you know, things change, right and like, you know, maybe we make a decision, we're making a decision on this, but we have a really critical piece of new information that's going to influence us. So we have to be open to, like, you know, assessing that and saying, hey, does this change our mind? And if so, what do we do about that? So I the clarity, and communication around decision making is really, I think, Paramount, regardless of what the big thing is, and that that really kind of ties into this feeling of vulnerability. I don't I see vulnerability is a strength, right? Like, of course, hey, we're going to we're going to be open to what we don't know and I find that actually really empowering.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, that's beautiful. Yeah, thank you. I think that that focus on communications and process as a way to actually make decision making simpler and clearer. I think it's great. I mean, I want to, I always say to some SEO clients, like, if you have to overturn a decision, you have a broken process, right? Because you shouldn't get to your level, right? Only for you to overthrow the work and analysis and everything else, right. If you can sit there and basically, you know, wholeheartedly agree with everything everybody says to you, you then you know, you've got an organization that's aligned to kind of pay with it.

Joshua Lachs
Don't you also find that there are very few decisions, you know, some of the clients that you're working with that can't be undone, right?

Richard Medcalf
But yeah, it's that idea. It's a Jeff Bezos idea of the one way door or the two way doors, right? Most of you can walk through it. If you don't like it. You can walk back there's very few where the doors I'm closing.

Joshua Lachs
So I, you know, I tried to, like explain that too, with without getting too intellectual about it, but like, hey, let's we're also, you know, a tech driven organization, right. So I think the idea of like, you know, failing fast and learning is is pretty key to us and so, and I've had to build my muscle around that as well, because I used to, you know, going back to what I mentioned before, I used to be like, Hey, we got to have all the things buttoned up, we have to know everything going in and I've really gotten to a point to be quite honest, which is like, let's not get, you know, let's not let perfect get in the way of great enough and let's just move forward, and we can recalibrate if needed, with you know, with some scenarios that we can map out.

Richard Medcalf
I love that. I think that's like the the American upgrade to the European, like, good enough, right? Like we'd say, good enough, it's fine. You got to dial it up, bring up the grid. That's good. It's great. So let's, let's, let's switch in. I'm just teasing you here and let's move into the quickfire questions I would like to get into what kind of what's the what resources and an input is underneath? Love it? Yeah. Leaders. Leadership. So first one is, what's a favorite quote that perhaps structures you or inspires you? Or? Or do you keep telling your team?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, so the questions that actually really inspire me, were from one of our former colleagues, and it's really, you know, the questions of how might we and what if we, so I just like that actually, is really influenced me and how I approach my work. In terms of a quote, I think this was a Steve Jobs quote, but it's something around the idea of, you know, empower your people to be able to leave but you know, that they want to stay, because you're doing some really excellent work. So I think it was a Steve Jobs quote, but that idea has really stuck with me a lot and that about empowering others.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, I love it. Yeah. What about a favorite app? Is there some app on your phone that you know, you can attend to that might be different from the standard set?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah. I know, this is not, quote, unquote, professional. But I'm all. I'm all about all trails and it's a app that basically you can bring up anytime, and it tells you the trails, around that hiking trails, biking trails. So, you know, like to like to do that walk into hiking. So all Trails is really awesome.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, that's great. I've heard I think I've had a similar one. I haven't I don't know. Yeah, it's pretty cool. Check it out. Okay. Yeah and it's important because we get creative as well. Totally different circumstances.

Joshua Lachs
Yeah.

Richard Medcalf
I love to provoke people by saying you can be productive or creative.

Joshua Lachs
Yeah. And how do you bring outside in thinking into your own work? Right. So like, alltrails has nothing to do with our work. But you know, as I'm looking at that I use, you know, personal and hiking reasons, but like, you know, how do you then take that and think about, oh, aesthetically, or like, you know, feature or functionally? Like, how might we think about putting something like that into our app? So I'm all about outside and thinking where work can happen.

Richard Medcalf
Beautiful. So that book that's really inspired you or influenced you?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah. Definitely. Mindset by Carol Dweck, and is referred to before you know, the whole growth mindset idea. So that was pretty influential and I'm a huge basketball person. So Phil Jackson, who is former NBA coach, the bulls and Lakers, he wrote a book called sacred hoops, way back when, and, and this is the whole idea around how he's approached leadership and decision making an individual roles within a team and how to empower everybody within that and that became really influential for me and just in terms of how I think about things or trying to think about things more holistically. I sacred tubes, everything. Yeah.

Richard Medcalf
That's the title. What about what advice would you give your 20 year old self?

Joshua Lachs
Oh, my gosh, so many pieces of, I guess, advice. A couple of things come to mind. You know, get myself a personal board of directors who can really help guide me, I think, you know, everybody needs an inner circle of, you know, trusted folks who can give you the straight deal on how you're doing what you're doing what you should think about doing. So that's one is just having a I never had that. And then again, I don't need to kind of bring this up again, but really be comfortable with not having to have all the answers all the time and, so those are the, I think two pieces of suggestions I would give to my 20 year old self.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, definitely.

Joshua Lachs
Just trying to figure out what to do.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. to the board of directors is a great one, I think, yeah, we, most of us, we don't have enough mentors or people willing to give us hard input or you know, heart and Frank input into our lives. Yeah, totally. We need that separate from that. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I'm curious about who inspires you, as a CEO, perhaps, and people that you've worked with as many, many, as guests on the show come from referrals? I'm always curious. So who do you know who well, isn't really somebody who I really look up to or inspires me or has inspired me on my journey?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, absolutely. Gosh, I've had, I've really been fortunate to have a number of folks to stand out to me actually, and I happen to be on the bookends of the organization that I was with at the time. There, the person who brought me into this organization a few years back, Debbie Alvarez surgery, because she is just a an incredibly inspiring and thoughtful and purposeful leader and she is fully committed and dedicated her life work, to contributing to veteran communities in the world and the way that she really includes and engages people, and again, kind of leverages everybody around her and she has this mindset, which I really have tried to embody, which is if if we're not doing it, that who is right, right, it's this sense of ownership and the sense of dedication, and accountability and so that's...

Richard Medcalf
When we see other people if does rub off on it doesn't it?

Joshua Lachs
Absolutely, yeah, and the whole idea of responsibility and accountability is really, really important as a leader and I know we didn't cover it enough, but but on this on this episode, but maybe another time, but that really Debbie really influenced me and then actually, Debbie successor, this person, Maureen Sedona, and who's also just this incredible leader in the field, very different style, very different approach was, frankly, antithetical, not not Marine. But the her approach is antithetical to I think the way that I was thinking about things, however, Maureen has had one of the biggest impacts on me, in terms of how she went about approaching decision making, how she went about approaching, you know, the kind of health of an organization and so it was very, like two ends of the spectrum, but super critical and super important and marine gave me a sense of kind of understanding that I don't think I had had before so both people just truly inspirational to me, and, and I tell them a lot, even now, how much they've meant to me, so, yeah.

Richard Medcalf
Wonderful. That's beautiful. Thank you for calling these people out. Let's talk about my favorite questions, which is no matter how much you've achieved is always an excellent way to get absolutely, yeah. So yes. Well, first of all, for Moneythink, like what's the next level for that organization? Where does that need to go? Next? What's going to be multiplying its impact?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah. Thanks for asking. So, you know, we have launched this product called decided, we launched it about a year and a half ago. So for us, it's really about mastering the product that we have now and, and getting it out to as many individuals as possible really about scaling this, this tool and so we feel like we've got a really innovative tool that we have worked on and iterated on over the number of years. So we're really excited about that. It's just scaling it up, you know, my my vision in the next five years is to get decided, serving a million students and really helping them avoid the pitfalls of student debt. So that's a, you know, a near term goal that we're really shooting for and so thinking about and doing the work that it's going to take to scale. So that's really top of mind for me and us.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, that's my super clear and inspiring goal. Right? Yeah. Helping him. Students get out of debt. Yeah, avoid debt. Yeah. What will you personally need to do yourself to most probably will impact I mean, you've packed in YouTube as a craft thinking about this. What's Yeah, what's your invention that you might need to work on?

Joshua Lachs
Such a relevant timely question, because I'm, I'm kind of soaking that in my head right now, as I think about you know, we're growing our team, we're really in a fortunate position to grow our team, we're doing this amazing work with with our tools and, you know, we're in a position as an organization that we haven't been in, actually, forever. So it's really exciting and fun and also a little bit overwhelming. Where my attention is right now is thinking about, you know, where do my energies and attention actually need to shift right over the next 235 10 years? What differences do I need to make where I have been spending my time For the last, you know, almost four years, what have I been spending my time for the last two years? And then what do I need to shift in order to continue to to motivate and inspire? And also be relevant, applicable? Right, and really focus on the main thing? And I think I imagine you, you know, have experienced this and could attest to the folks that you're working with, you know, the idea of what got you here won't get you there and I know, it sounds...

Richard Medcalf
I think I tend to have tattooed. You know, yeah, all the way through. I think that that that phrase, it's the mental, yeah,

Joshua Lachs
I used to, like, not poopoo it, but I'm like, yeah, whatever and I'm actually like, Oh, that makes sense because, you know, my bandwidth has to change my, my focus has changed about where I'm diverting, and diversifying my energies and so that's really top of mind for me is like, how we think about scale? What do I need to do to shift my energy and my focus in order to continue on that path and I don't have it all figured out yet. I know, no pretense but it's very top of mind for me and so I'm, I'm making sure that I'm carving out time for myself now, to really think through what that means, and how I actually start to put it into practice and so it looks a little bit differently, you know, three months from now than it does 10 months from now but for me, what's really important, just close out this thought, is what what is our organization look like, for example, in the next three years, like, you know, by the end of 2025, let's say, what is our organizational structure look like? And what kinds of resources and capacity do we want to have in order to do the work that we're doing and to meet our goals? And so that for me as a backstop is really helpful to think about, okay, well, if we want to be here, you know, we're going to be doing this, then I have to actually shift my attention and energy to be doing that.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, absolutely. You're speaking to Yeah, one of the frameworks that I use is the impact model player framework and I've really got it down the four key areas that which are, which well, when we when we apply them to ourself, our team organization, they apply to any of these, but there's always a key limiting factor in how we operate, because most people, they just try to hit the accelerator, and they realize they have any more hours in the day. So you have to shift, you have to shift gear, right? Yeah. And there's four areas there's commitment, right? So the vision, like am I fully in? What do I really want this next level? Yeah. Do I feel there's other stuff going on? That's gonna, you know, is the cost to great for the benefits? Are there things going ahead? So this is what is really getting on fire. So if you'd like the constraint of the heart, then there's, then there's attention, which is really what I'm talking about when I put my attention, like what what and requires my focus to be the constraint of the mind, you know, everything where I put my focus, then there's a constraint of action, which is, do I have the skills, you know, like, what skills do I need to be building to operate at this new level? What behaviors need to shift what your person is wanting to get break out of? And the last one is influence because we say we're never we can never whenever influential enough to hit our goals, otherwise, we'd have achieved them with a phone call, basically. So there's always like, how do we upgrade each of these areas?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah. Yeah, and I and I know that you've, you've outlined that and so it's really great to hear you actually just vocalize that because I mean, frankly, I, my attention is around those four areas and yet, it's also really struggling, right and it's a struggle to try to kind of optimize those. Maybe not all at once and so I think it's part of the puzzle, right? And figuring out of those four areas.

Richard Medcalf
Oh, yeah. Which one is the constraint? And right now, which one is holding me back? And then it's an iterative process, you can't work on them all, necessarily. You got to figure it out?

Joshua Lachs
Yeah. So I'm going to be calling you up again. I'll need some guidance around that.

Richard Medcalf
But this is the game. I mean, this is vital the exposure game, right? Because we can keep doing the same kind of a bit more of the same with a few tweaks and then if we just mean dramatically different, I think it's asking those hard questions like, well, this is looking good. I'm already successful. Yet, there's probably something else.

Joshua Lachs
And I think, and I think like, to your point, it's also I think, one has to be self aware enough and actually, like good with like, Hey, here's my boundaries are in, like, how do I start to push those and what do I want to push? Because, you know, I think something could look and feel great, like in theory, and oh, yeah, you know, I've got to shift my attention, or I've got to build a skill but there are constraints and a lot of those are psychological and mental and emotional and so how do we navigate through those are really critical and again, I just think like, it's something to name and be self aware about. So it continues to, to unblock what what one wants to do.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, for sure. I just did a fantastic conversation. If people want to get in touch with you or find out more about Moneythink how do they do that?

Joshua Lachs
Super easy. Thanks for asking. It's www.moneythink.org. So all the information, it's got great direct links to our tool, which is called decided. So check us out online.

Richard Medcalf
Perfect. That's great. Well, hey, Joshua, it's been really fascinating. Thank you for...

Joshua Lachs
Thank you, Richard.

Richard Medcalf
Opening up talking about these really fascinating topics from from ownership and leadership as a craft and decision making and vulnerability. Then we just laugh every day we're getting into what does it mean to level up? I think it's been a great discussion. So thank you for your openness and and engagement you bought today. It's been fantastic.

Joshua Lachs
Yeah, totally loved it and thanks for having me on and I really appreciate your insights and leadership approach as well. So thanks so much.

Richard Medcalf
Speak soon.

**Note: This transcript is automatically generated.
Please excuse any errors.

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