Kevin Wallace is the Founder and President of CampaignCounsel.org, a consulting firm that helps nonprofits plan and manage capital campaigns.
Kevin earned an undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University where he joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity and interrupted his studies to travel in Up With People. After college, Kevin earned an MBA from Thunderbird School of International Management. He has worked in the healthcare, telecom, advertising, and furniture manufacturing industries. His early professions included business management, business development, and strategic planning. Kevin began consulting for nonprofits in 2003. Since then, CampaignCounsel.org has been providing capital campaign auditing, planning and management to a variety of clients across the country.
Kevin is married with five children. He is a native to Tucson, Arizona, one of very few, and continues to call the Sonoran Desert home. Kevin’s hobbies include trying to stay fit, energetic, and partially well read.
Where did the idea for CampaignCounsel.org come from?
CampaignCounsel.org was born from necessity. I was nearly unemployed with a wife and five young children when a friend told me about a consulting opportunity. The position interested me, but getting the job entailed setting up a company and becoming a subcontractor. I took the job, formed my company and learned how to plan and manage capital campaigns for nonprofits.
Since founding CampaignCounsel.org, I’ve worked with nonprofits providing social, civic, healthcare, entertainment, education and religious services to their communities. Every client is unique, but each of them benefits from my team’s experience. My original need to create CampaignCounsel.org has grown a really valuable experience for both me and our clients.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
When I am home, my mornings begin quietly with some reading and getting our children off for the day. After that I try to exercise. Next are phone calls and emails. Regular business hours are spent keeping up with client needs and deadlines. My most productive times are early or late in the day, when our clients are not at their desks. This is when I can think and plan. When I’m traveling, my day is dictated by meetings and airports. Airplanes can be productive places to work, when I have a good seat. Middle seats in economy rows are not made for working; they’re made for uncomfortable napping.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Slowly, which is good because most of my ideas are unrealistic or bad. I am not an impulsive person, which allows me to be patient with ideas. Bad ideas fade away, almost unnoticed. Unrealistic ideas might find traction, but time reveals their shortcomings. My good ideas can take months if not years to mature. I do not force them. Good ideas have a common theme; they help other people. Good ideas are based upon core principles that naturally energize others.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I have great respect for people who formally or informally master the hard sciences. They make our lives more comfortable, safe, productive and enjoyable. The educational trend for many years has been to focus young people in these fields, and rightfully so; the hard sciences provide the most jobs. I believe there is a resurgence in the appreciation for the soft sciences, for producing more thinkers. The older I get, the more I appreciate the time and talent it takes to become an empathetic thinker and interpersonal problem solver.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My steady nature. Every day can include triumphs and disasters. Remaining focused and calm during both is good for business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Less criticism, more compassion.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The word “fair” is misused and misleading. Fair is not synonymous with right. We often try to do what is fair – we try to appease – rather than doing what is right. If we agree that “Life is not fair,” then why has that word become a benchmark for anything of value?
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Focus on value. As a fundraising consultant, there is always a wide range of fees that people in our industry charge. I am proud that CampaignCounsel.org typically provides a middle of the road price while providing top-of-the-line service. All of our team members are committed to client satisfaction; we are attentive, prompt, and eager to meet and exceed our clients’ goals and expectations. By focusing on value to our clients, we have seen success – and are proud to have repeat clients, as well.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I never stop selling. Consulting is cyclical, and over the years I’ve learned to keep working every channel of sales, regardless if we are busy or slow. We try and keep our company name “top-of-mind” for prospective clients because we never know when they will be in the market for a fundraiser. We do this through emails, blogs, presentations and conferences.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Being fired. I didn’t blame the client. I tried to see the situation from their point of view and hopefully became a better consultant. I continue trying to improve my communication skills to meet the needs of our clients.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A battery-powered coffee cup that maintains the right temperature. Yes, I adore a warm, rich cup of coffee.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A pair of running shoes – Altra Timp. I love to run, especially on mountain trails. I had a bruised heel that made running uncomfortable, which made me grouchy. The Timp gave me enough cushioning so I could keep running while I healed.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Microsoft Office 365 helps our team share vital client and company info in real time. We only use a very small portion of its capabilities; there are many apps that Microsoft continuously improves.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey because it helps focus me and our company on the most fruitful principles.
What is your favorite quote?
“Ten-thousand difficulties do not make one doubt” – Blessed John Henry Newman
• No single event defines success or failure.
• A successful entrepreneur learns, grows and maintains balance between mind, body and spirit.
• Edit your text until what you write is true.