Mighty Good Work

From THE YES WORKS, this is MIGHTY GOOD WORK. A podcast built on the stories of people and companies who are making good work happen. Whether it’s work as a place to be, work as a product or service, or work as a way to spend your life, we will be talking to those who are committed to excellence and who are succeeding in bringing Mighty Good Work into existence. We aim to deliver actionable guidance to people shaping business about engagement, company culture, and healthy business relationships.
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Mighty Good Work





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May 13, 2016

GUEST: HopeSparks CEO, Joe LeRoy  --  


Here’s a distillation of some of the practices Joe told us that he and his team are using to ensure MIGHTY GOOD WORK at HopeSparks.


If there’s one thing that really stands out as a theme woven through everything that Joe shared with us, it’s this:


HopeSparks takes an intentional approach to everything they do, and to every decision they make. They take great pains to ensure that every action the organization and its people take doesn’t just make sense in the moment, but is connected to the culture they aim to build and to the mission they exist to serve.


The theme of intentionality affects the flow of information:

  • HopeSparks’ people see the vision, and are included in the mission.
  • They also are given the opportunity to see the results of their work. As a result, they are fulfilled and gratified to an extent they would not be if the benefits of their labor were only understood academically.

It affects hiring, firing and transitioning.

  • HopeSparls Looks for (and allows their people to find) the right fit.
    • Fit employee to program
    • Change positions to allow for success if possible with a struggling employee
    • Slow hire
      • Never hire after just one interview
      • Multiple interviews and interview formats
      • Better decisions, better fit, eliminating terminations for cause
      • Choose the pain of an empty desk over the pain of hiring a wrong fit.


  • Commitment to excellence -- don’t stop at mediocre
  • Intentional focus on methods and outcome (evidence based treatment)
  • Doing WITH clients, not TO clients
  • GOOD TO GREAT, Jim Collins: “Hedgehog Concept”
    • What can you do that you can be better at doing than anyone else?
    • Do you love to do it?
    • Does it drive the economic engine?
  • You’re not going to do it, if you don’t love it.
    • And your clients will feel it if you’re checked out.
  • People looking to you for service always is a vulnerable position to be in.
    • What’s that vulnerability met with?
  • Alert to recognize the issues attached to and impacting the hedgehog, and not avoiding those as “Not our department,” and also not addressing them as separate matters.
  • Recognizing when a program is outgrowing its seat, and pulling it out to expand it.
  • Not chasing dollars
    • saying no to anything outside the hedgehog
    • Say yes and go all in.
    • Vetting all opportunities
      • Do we have the resources?
      • We gotta figure out the resource because this is our mission and our hedgehog, so we’ve got to do it.
  • Get a foot in the door before we try to change a system
  • Finger on the pulse of what’s coming, what are the systems, how are they changing, and how can we SOLVE?
  • SUBTLE communication styles and vocabulary reflect about attitudes and culture fit, and they are indicative of the work ethic they will bring.
  • There is information in EVERYTHING that people say and the way that they say it.
  • LEADERSHIP by putting people into stretch goals and positions, allowing them to fail and learn
    • Creates engagement
    • Grows people to greater and greater capacity
    • Managing people toward their potential rather than simply where they’re at.


Leadership is like being a drummer. You don’t get the accolades. Most people hardly know how valuable your contribution is, but if you stop playing, it becomes clear how the music hangs on and is governed by the rhythm you set.


“It ignites me to see people succeed here in this organization as staff members or team members... That’s what happened to me as a staff member.”


-- Joe LeRoy

Theme music by Miguel Juarez. Midshow break music by Allan Loucks at

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