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The PeopleCap Playbook

Timely insights and actionable people strategies for leaders.

Growth is a paradox.


Once a company reaches 50-100 employees, growth creates an interesting and seemingly unfair challenge. Having the opportunity to grow is the result of – and reward for – great success. Only successful founders build organizations that attract investors. Only companies with substantial capital have the opportunity to quickly double in size and revenue.

But after a large capital infusion, the next level is not a baby step. It is a giant leap – one that often requires a significant transformation – with a new or evolved vision, strategy, leadership, talent level, structure, and culture. Private equity backed growth is one of the most consistent examples of “what got you here won’t get you there.” Continue reading “Growth is a paradox.”

I’m an Investor, Not a Therapist

“We are really good at analyzing markets, financials, and growth potential. We are not as good analyzing the people part.”

“I spend a lot of effort finding the right investments for us, and then I spend all of my time on the phone dealing with people issues.”

We hear comments like these frequently from private equity firms and board members of private equity portfolio companies. In the private equity arena, where the ability to maximize impact and ROI is largely dependent on speed of growth – getting bogged down by people issues can be costly – and spending hours dealing with leadership issues can be really (really) frustrating. Continue reading “I’m an Investor, Not a Therapist”

News from PeopleCap


We wish you all a happy and prosperous new year! We say that this year with greater excitement and anticipation than ever before. 2020 brought lots of change, and 2021 is bringing lots of new beginnings in the world, our community, and within PeopleCap. Continue reading “News from PeopleCap”

Introducing, Joy of Leading!

As we venture into a new year, I’m also venturing out on a new journey…

I’m excited to announce that I’m launching a new consulting, facilitation and coaching practice focused on nonprofit organizations and leaders called Joy of Leading. My goal is to help nonprofit leaders lead with energy, clarity and confidence and maximize their organization’s impact. Continue reading “Introducing, Joy of Leading!”

How’s Your Organization’s Heart Rate?

My father has always been incredibly healthy and super fit. His heart rate has been naturally so low all of his life that we were shocked when he needed a pace maker. He had started suffering chronic exhaustion and brain fog: his heart was strong, but a virus had likely set the electrical system off course and he wasn’t circulating enough oxygen consistently. If he hadn’t asked his physician to check him out, it could have been dire. But the guy who’s always had an incredible pulse rate, went in to have his pulse checked.

This year, a virus has attacked the world leaving a wake of devastation that has impacted every corner of our communities and organizations. There is further to go – we’re not yet out of the woods and we’re not close to recovery. But as 2020 comes to a close, it’s important to create time to check the pulse of your organization. Continue reading “How’s Your Organization’s Heart Rate?”

2020 is Finally Coming to a Close!

You’ve fought hard for your organizations and communities this year. And you’re exhausted. But don’t let the progress driven by your Herculean efforts creep backwards. We can help you! Continue reading “2020 is Finally Coming to a Close!”

Emerging Healthy

How healthy were you going into this crisis? Just as this virus exposes underlying health issues in those it attacks, the economic fallout and forced changes in how we work (for those of us fortunate enough to continue to work) are exposing and exacerbating the issues we ignored, avoided, put-off in our organizations.

Dysfunction does not go away in a crisis although it may hide temporarily under the false cover of a team pulling together to survive. As the uncertainty and stress of this crisis linger, old haunts return: team dysfunction, communication break-downs, lack of clarity, poor management and more.

One silver lining this crisis presents, however, is that every organization has been presented an invitation to hit the reset button: Continue reading “Emerging Healthy”

Amplify Your Story and Engage More People

I recently attended an informative webinar titled “The Volunteer in the New Digital Age” hosted by Salesforce with guests Tori O’Neal and Trovon Williams from the NAACP – and while I learned more about how to galvanize a volunteer army, I walked away with valuable pointers for leveraging digital technology, as both guests stated, to “amplify” your narrative to engage new supporters, shift their behavior and keep them involved.

I’ve boiled their brilliance down into 8 tips for you. Continue reading “Amplify Your Story and Engage More People”

The Long Journey Forward

This crisis, against all of our early hopes, has proven it will last – it’s an ultra-marathon we face with an unknown duration, curves in the route we can’t see around, and surprise hurdles thrown in just when we think we might start to hit our stride. But, when I think about it, so are the missions we serve each day and the visions we set out to achieve. Continue reading “The Long Journey Forward”

Rising Out of Crisis


The nonprofit sector was struggling before COVID-19 struck a blow of unimaginable force. Executive Directors were already overwhelmed, with many questioning their ability to stay energized and continue to lead. Fundraising was a constant race with uncertain gains in a competitive and continually growing field of nonprofits. A culture of scarcity had many organizations stuck in a loop of doing more with less only to do even more with even less, and so on. Continue reading “Rising Out of Crisis”

Challenges to Employee Engagement: Summer 2020 Edition


The summer of 2020 has thrown us all for a loop. What were once short-term crisis solutions – virtual and socially distant work environments – look like they are here to stay for a while. In late March, companies reported excitedly that, by and large, employees embraced the sudden shift and engagement and productivity did not seem to suffer. That was five months ago. Fatigue is setting in and, in many companies, employee engagement is waning. It is time, for companies to move out of crisis mode and get on with executing their strategic plans. To do that, they’ll contend with several challenges to employee engagement. Continue reading “Challenges to Employee Engagement: Summer 2020 Edition”

What’s Changed Permanently?

I count 24 weeks since the music stopped. March 5th turned out to be my son’s last in-person day of 6th grade and the beginning of this never-ending summer. Since then, it seems like every facet of our lives has been impacted in ways large and small. As we emerge from the initial crisis and into a new – and potentially long lasting – reality, it’s clear that some of the changes will be permanent.

This week I spent some time with 20 or so business leaders who reflected on this question of “What’s changed permanently?” Here are some of the themes that emerged: Continue reading “What’s Changed Permanently?”

Katie is bringing PeopleCap’s expertise to Chicago

One of our own is moving forward with a major life transition. Katie Spencer is moving to Chicago! We are tremendously sad to see her leave Memphis, but we are grateful for the technology’s capacity to support our collaborative culture and allow us to keep working together. Continue reading “Katie is bringing PeopleCap’s expertise to Chicago”

PeopleCap helps organizations move forward with purpose.

As leaders face an overwhelming number of challenges and opportunities – two of the most common frustrations are the uncertainty and lack of control. Leaders want to know when this is going to end and what the world is going to look like on the other side. In many ways, both the present and the future seem out of their control. Continue reading “PeopleCap helps organizations move forward with purpose.”

Unconscious Bias and the Remote Workplace

Among all of the challenges and opportunities presented by COVID-19, there is a potential impact that that isn’t being discussed very much – if at all: The remote work situation provides fertile ground for unconscious bias. Continue reading “Unconscious Bias and the Remote Workplace”

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone: Executive Coaching Through Crisis and Beyond

The old adage “it’s lonely at the top” has endured for generations because it is a universal truth. As an Executive Leader, you are responsible for the decisions and actions of every employee in the organization. You are responsible, not only for making sure the trains run on time, but also for the overall direction of the company. Recently, the number of crises and urgent issues has increased exponentially – as have levels of exhaustion and stress. In the midst of trying to triage present issues, you are responsible for simultaneously finding the time and headspace to envision the future. Continue reading “You Don’t Have to Go It Alone: Executive Coaching Through Crisis and Beyond”

The Crisis in 3 Phases

Co-Authored by Katie Spencer & Meg Crosby

We have all been swept up in a tsunami of change that hit us hard and fast and has left us disoriented, exhausted, and with miles and miles to swim before we’re back on dry land. As we look to the horizon and plot our course, we can expect to navigate this crisis in three phases:

1. Manage Risk & Adapt
2. Stabilize & Adjust
3. Grow & Innovate Continue reading “The Crisis in 3 Phases”

Putting the Puzzle Back Together After COVID-19

Companies are like puzzles with hundreds of pieces that fit together to create a picture. As a leader, you determine the ultimate picture puzzle, the share of each piece, and how it fits with the other pieces to complete the picture. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has taken most companies’ puzzles, torn them apart, and heaved the pieces into the air. Continue reading “Putting the Puzzle Back Together After COVID-19”

Top Tips for Presenting on Zoom by Phil Darius Wallace

One night last week, my wife was online, as she often is before going to bed, and I found her amazingly excited about a DJ who decided to engage a worried world with a 9-hour dance party. DNice‘s dance party engaged everyday people and stars with dance music that took away 9 hours of anxiety and replaced it with a little taste of joy. DNice tapped into multi generations through numerous styles of music and got over 100,000 views. His sense of joy and compassion moved through phones, computers, and TV screens and uplifted us to help us cope with challenging times. He proved that we public speakers can reach our audiences and make meaningful connections through technology. Continue reading “Top Tips for Presenting on Zoom by Phil Darius Wallace”