Denver: We’re going to play Take Five with Jim Firman, the President and CEO of NCOA. Are you ready to go, Jim?
Jim: I’m ready to go.
Denver: What is one of your favorite documentaries or movies?
Jim: King of Hearts.
Denver: What should we as a society be worried about?
Jim: That we are squandering this wonderful gift of time that we have.
Denver: Tell me something that you believe that other people think is just crazy.
Jim: We shouldn’t retire; we should be graduating.
Denver: What idea in philanthropy is ready for retirement?
Jim: Restricted giving, lots of rules, and not believing in people and organizations.
Denver: Name some organization or person that you have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for.
Jim: I think the Center for Budget and Priorities does spectacular work in educating the country on issues.
Denver: In your current role, what would you say is your biggest challenge?
Jim: Restricted funding, limiting us from doing what we know should be done.
Denver: What is the most important thing that makes for a healthy organizational culture?
Jim: Passion for the mission, and a recognition that culture eats strategy for lunch.
Denver: What have you changed your mind about in the last 10 years and why?
Jim: That any organization can tackle a problem on its own and make a real difference.
Denver: If you are a kitchen utensil, what would you be?
Jim: A utility knife.
Denver: What do you wish people would be more open and honest about?
Jim: That their programs and ideas might not be the best way to get something done.
Denver: If you were to start your career all over again and do something completely different and away from this field, what do you think that might be?
Jim: I’d probably be a social worker.
Denver: What is your superpower?
Jim: Seeing possibilities and learning how to go from an idea to reality.
Denver: Give us a name of a book that you would give as a gift.
Jim: The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister.
Denver: What is something, whether this is related to your work or not, that you are exceptionally excited about right now?
Jim: Neuro-linguistic programming, the potential to reprogram our bodies and experiences in simple ways.
Denver: What topic would you speak about if you were asked to give a TED talk on something outside of your main area of expertise?
Jim: The challenges of hearing loss.
Denver: What is something about you that very few other people know?
Jim: I’m a mostly deaf, wannabe blues harp musician.
Denver: Given the choice of anyone famous in the world, dead or alive, that you could invite over as a dinner guest, who would that be?
Jim: Leonardo da Vinci.
Denver: What is the best constructive criticism you have ever received?
Jim: The best way to get anything done is to be invisible.
Denver: What is something that everybody else seems to love but you really don’t like?
Jim: The idea of retirement.
Denver: What’s the last thing you taught yourself to do?
Jim: I’ve been reading Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I wish I had read it 60 years ago.
Denver: What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self other than read Dale Carnegie?
Jim: Take the long view, and follow your heart.
Denver: And finally, do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?
Jim: “We are as great as the cause we serve and as young as our dreams.”
Denver: Thank you very much, Jim.
Jim: Thank you.