Today we’ll talk to Brian about burnout and how he handles feedback, and making the transition from the for-profit to the nonprofit world.
Brian is the Creative Director at BC/DC Ideas. He manages the creative team to produce award-winning and impactful brands, campaigns, and more for nonprofit partners over the last decade.
Brian started his career in for-profit advertising, but quickly joined Dawn to start BC/DC ideas after a move to North Carolina. Today we’ll talk to him about burnout and how he handles feedback, amongst other issues facing the nonprofit world.
Brian Crawford 0:02
Welcome to the Create Good Podcast. I’m Brian, and I’m Dawn. And we’ve spent the last decade plus working with passionate communicators activist and do gooders around the country. We also host a conference called create good, where we gather folks to share their work, and create a community for people trying to make the world a better place.
Dawn Crawford 0:25
The Create Good podcast is a conversation with changemakers and rabble rousers to find out what makes them tick, and how they create good. Let’s get started. Well, welcome to the first Create Good podcast ever.
Brian Crawford 0:45
I’m so excited to do this. You know, it’s, let’s get into it. Yeah. So
Dawn Crawford 0:51
This is Dawn Crawford owner BC/DC ideas and Co-creator of Create Good. And for our very first interview, we’re gonna be talking to Brian Crawford.
Brian Crawford 1:02
Hi, everyone. I’m Brian. I’m the creative director BCDC ideas, also all the things Dawn said help with everything.
Dawn Crawford 1:10
Great. So as we’re kind of figuring out this podcast, our thought is that we’re going to ask you 20 questions, we’ll start out with a little intro section. But after that, I’ll ask you exactly 20 questions to find out how you create good. You ready? I’m ready. Let’s do it. Fantastic. Okay, so tell me your organization and your website?
Brian Crawford 1:32
Yeah, I’m with BC/DC ideas. We’ve been around for around 11 years now. And the website is bcdcideas.com. Great.
Dawn Crawford 1:41
So how many years have you been in nonprofit communication?
Brian Crawford 1:45
I’ve been working in around nonprofit communication for the last 11 years.
Dawn Crawford 1:49
Fantastic. Okay, so now we’re going to get into the questions. So this is important, I will give you a buzzer if you go over. So share your career in 90 seconds or less.
Brian Crawford 2:00
Yeah, my career. So I started off working as an intern as an unpaid intern actually, back when I thought I wanted to do marketing. And I decided, actually, I didn’t want to do advertising. And then after that, I got my first job as a paid intern that turned into a real job. And it was good. I learned stuff. But at the same time, it was not that fulfilling. And so when we had the chance to jump when I have the chance to jump and joined Dawn in this crazy advertising agency for nonprofits situation, I said yes.
Dawn Crawford 2:40
Brian Crawford 2:41
never looked back.
Dawn Crawford 2:42
Great. Very good. So why nonprofits why this work? Um,
Brian Crawford 2:47
it is very fulfilling, I think the the feeling of actually being able to make a difference and make a change in people’s lives versus you know, what I was doing before of just kind of selling them stuff and convincing them to buy things is, you know, it’s much more fulfilling for the soul. Really,
Dawn Crawford 3:11
What were you doing before? What kind of things are you selling?
Brian Crawford 3:14
Before this, I sold soap and it was kind of a mishmash of stuff. I’ve sold the soap, I sold motorcycles, and ATVs and feminine hygiene products and shampoo and so many things. If you have a kitchen in your house, you’ve probably have a product that I’ve tried to sell you
Dawn Crawford 3:37
Fantastic. So now they’re here in the wild world of nonprofits, what’s your favorite thing to do?
Brian Crawford 3:45
My favorite thing is when we first sit down and do kind of these kickoff meetings with nonprofits, and kind of hear their hopes and their desires and their passions of what they want to do. It really comes through. And I don’t know, it’s like this moment of so much optimism and excitement. And I think that is actually one of my favorite things. I mean, I love to create stuff, but it’s this kickoff moment of possibilities is what really does it for me.
Dawn Crawford 4:19
That’s great. So magic wand time. Oh, what’s one thing that you would change about your work life?
Brian Crawford 4:27
Oh, I’m, I’m pretty happy with my work life. I don’t know if I would change anything. I would say the one thing that I want to do in the future and I’ve kind of held this dream in my head is to have a physical space. This is obviously pre-pandemic. I don’t know what this is gonna look like in the future. But I’ve always dreamed of having like this physical space that could be a gathering spot for nonprofit folks, you know, either be a co-working or even just you know monthly events. or coffee, you know, kind of a gathering and networking and learning. So I think a lot of that is really just what we do. Plus.
Dawn Crawford 5:10
Okay, so you’re currently virtual. You were hoping for an office space? Yes. So how long have you been virtual? How has that been through the pandemic?
Brian Crawford 5:18
We’ve been virtual since day one, essentially. So the last 11 years, we’ve had our own home office, I think, for a minute, you know, for a while I really wanted an office, and we couldn’t really make it work. You know, we, like I said, we wanted, I wanted something that was bigger, and, you know, bigger and vision than just, you know, our small team. And it never worked out. And I think, as I know, now, it didn’t work out for, for the right reasons for good for good. So yeah, I mean, I think work wise, you know, during the pandemic, there’s a lot of upheaval, as far as you know, personal life, but workwise, you know, working from home didn’t really change too much for us.
Dawn Crawford 6:05
So keep it a little bit shorter term, what the next year? What are you looking forward to?
Brian Crawford 6:12
Oh, man, um, well, in the next year, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this podcast goes. This is a new foray for us. I’m curious to see how it’s accepted or not, if people are interested or not. And I love just talking with people and seeing like, how they do what they do and what they get excited about.
Dawn Crawford 6:36
So why do you feel like you still need to achieve?
Brian Crawford 6:41
It’s interesting question, because I feel like a lot of the things that I thought I needed to achieve early in my career, I’ve let go of specifically awards, and things like that, I think that was, you know, coming out of the advertising agency world. You know, it’s all about awards and awards can make or break an agency and get you to the next level. And so I definitely came into our thing with that in mind, you know, we have some and I think, so getting them was kind of like, yeah, that’s, you know, good. And then you kind of move on with with your work life. So, I don’t know, it’s interesting that I think actually my process over the last, or at least maybe progress over the last, you know, at least five years has been kind of shedding those expectations. So I would say it’s, to answer the question, I still, you know, I to repeat myself, I really am still kind of holding the candle for the space, the physical space co-work space thing. I just, it’s hard to see when that’s going to happen.
Dawn Crawford 7:49
So what advice do you have for somebody who’s starting their career nonprofits, or transitioning to nonprofits? As you did in your career,
Brian Crawford 7:57
I’ll speak for the transitioner people, especially for me, who was coming from the corporate side is that the nonprofit space, it really is about people. So it’s about people who benefit, it’s about people who are doing the work. And to not downplay that, I think that is my biggest advice is to really lean into the people. And I don’t know, just less a less, you know, kind of hierarchical that you’re used to in corporate world that this is more of a consensus building situation.
Dawn Crawford 8:36
So this next section, we’re going to be talking about how you receive feedback. So this is something that BCDC ideas is very interested in, in talking about how people process and receive creative feedback, this can be very personal for people, so but I hope that you’re able to share freely with me. So how do you personally process criticism and feedback on your work?
Brian Crawford 8:59
Yeah, I would say that’s been a ongoing process. I feel like you know, in the last maybe four years has asked to go back before the pandemic at this point. But I would say in the last four years, I’ve I feel like I’ve gotten to a good point, a good spot with that. But early on in my career, I was I was looking back, I was like, I was that difficult person, man. I took feedback very personally. And I think what’s tough is a lot of times that’s encouraged in you know, coming from the advertising, corporate advertising space is encouraged to going further than just defending your work and your ideas, but to really push back hard and kind of, you know, getting sort of angry or upset about it. So, yeah, and I think that was, you know, a bit of an undoing process for me. You know, going back to what I said earlier about it, this being consensus model versus a hierarchical model. And so that is a big thing is, you know, working together and figuring out a way forward versus like, I have to have the idea, you know, and if it’s not my idea, then it’s terrible, or, you know, things like that. So, but So currently, I feel like I’m better. I think, you know, the creation process is always is a personal process. And so I think, to a certain extent, feedback is always going to be at least, you know, my knee jerk way is always gonna be personal. And it’s just about how you, you know, respond to that. Definitely,
Dawn Crawford 10:41
definitely. So how do you like to receive feedback? And how do you communicate that to your colleagues?
Brian Crawford 10:47
I’ve like two types I prefer so one is more broad, with some direction, right? Give me Give me like, this isn’t quite it, looking for something more like this? Go for it. But the other one, too, is like, if something has to be a certain way. You know, like, if that color on that button needs to be blue, like just tell me needs to be blue? You know, I mean, I’d say lots of communication. I think my usual you can respond to this. I think my usual reaction these days to feedback is questions, because I want a lot of clarity. Yeah, that’s fine. Is that what this means? Is this what you’re looking for?
Dawn Crawford 11:26
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. A lot of questions. Yeah. Yeah. You’ve worked on not ferreting out. So that is something that we used to have before was ferreting out there’s this great GIF of this ferret, just losing his shit over something. I don’t even know what that tell Brian used to be in our career. He just like, tweak out and just be like, blah blah blah, and you get really angry. Yeah, now it’s gotten a lot better. It’s fantastic. So that tells us what style of feedback does not work for you.
Brian Crawford 11:54
Early on, I had a account director, her style of feedback was kind of like belittling or dismissive. So something along the lines in you know, if you’re nodding if you’re listening and nodding, I’m sorry, you get this feedback is why why would you do it that way? Or what were you thinking? Not in like an exploratory way, but like, this is a dumb way to do things. And it was not a pleasant feedback process.
Dawn Crawford 12:28
But it sounds like your process that you’d like to have direction. Yeah, but opportunity to continue to contribute to make it better.
Brian Crawford 12:37
That comes in to us and kind of all creative is personal is, you know, I think it’s still at the end of day would like to see some of whatever I did in there. And I think that’s what that’s from. Yeah, fair enough. Yeah.
Dawn Crawford 12:51
Okie dokie. So the next set of questions are really talking about burnout. Yeah. So we know that we’re experiencing the great resignation, I do hope that you do not leave BCDC ideas, we will have to do rebranding and a lot of other things. But I think it is good for all of us to hear about how we avoid burnout, and do that self care to maintain and do the things we still have to do at work. You know that leaving your job is not always the option. That works for everybody. So what’s some of your tips for avoiding burnout at work?
Brian Crawford 13:32
That’s, yeah, it’s burnouts an interesting one, because it’s, I feel like it’s one of these things that sort of creeps up on you, right, and it goes very quickly, from you know, mild discontent to just, you know, check out. So it’s about new stuff and exploring stuff. I like to learn how to read a lot as Dawn knows. So I think where I get most burnt out, is doing the same thing over and over and over again. So variety makes it easy for me to stay engaged and stay interested. Something that may be unique for us. And hopefully, you know, if you’re listening you have this opportunity is we you know, we have people we have other contractors that work with us. And so I think there’s some times when there’s either there’s things that I can push out and be like, Okay, I can’t do this, like, I can’t do this again, or it’s this thing that I know is gonna drive me crazy. And we’ve, you know, I’ve been able to just be like, okay, hand that off to someone and let them deal with it. Yeah,
Dawn Crawford 14:45
yeah. Yeah. The idea of adding more people to the team. sharing the joy of the work.
Brian Crawford 14:52
Dawn Crawford 14:54
So makes what makes you come back to work every day.
Brian Crawford 14:57
Going back to what I said earlier. I think it’s that that feeling of really making a difference, you know, bigger small, right? I mean, I think we’ve done everything from, you know, giant rebranding political campaigns that move the needle and, you know, years long campaigns that have seen great success to making a sticker. So, but that feeling of that everything big and small and really makes a difference that the end of the day, I think that is what, what keeps me engaged.
Dawn Crawford 15:32
Okay, this is our final set of questions. Coming to the end of our very first podcast. Let’s do it. This is very exciting. So this is our rapid fire section. Things are one word answer. I’ll do my best. So it is good to be brief and direct. Okay, here we go. What is your favorite word? Make. What’s your least favorite word?
Brian Crawford 15:56
Stop. I’ll go. That’s the first one that popped in my head. Okay.
Dawn Crawford 16:02
What is your personal nonprofit or cause
Brian Crawford 16:06
anything in the human service realm? It’s too many words. Human Services.
Dawn Crawford 16:16
Okay, what nonprofit cause gets too much attention?
Brian Crawford 16:20
Pass? I don’t want to get in trouble.
Dawn Crawford 16:23
What’s your favorite curse word?
Brian Crawford 16:25
Say, damn it.
Dawn Crawford 16:31
What profession other than your own? Would you like to attempt
Brian Crawford 16:34
being a chef?
Dawn Crawford 16:37
And then what nonprofit professional or organization would you love to talk to you on this podcast?
Brian Crawford 16:45
You know, we saw saw this recently. So I think I would love to talk to the Best Friends, folks.
Dawn Crawford 16:57
Very good. Well, thank you so much for being part of our very first Create Good podcast. Thank you to all of our listeners and to everybody who’s joining us on this journey to sharing and talking to more amazing nonprofit professionals. Have a great day y’all.
Brian Crawford 17:15
Dawn Crawford 17:19
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