Friday Buzz: When A For-Profit Goes Nonprofit

The well-regarded literary publishing house McSweeney's is moving to a nonprofit model—and is using the change to keep the company's mission going. Also: A former association exec with a long track record ponders what drives CEO longevity.

When it came down to it, making money off of literary pursuits was less appealing for Dave Eggers than making the literary pursuits happen in the first place.

This week, Eggers announced that his publishing house, McSweeney’s, would begin working under a nonprofit structure, something that he says was a long-in-the-making effort.

“For 15 years now, it’s been a break-even operation,” Eggers told The New York Times. “I’ve always been attracted to books and projects that we love and are passionate about, and it doesn’t always intersect with books that will sell a million copies.”

While such a move isn’t for everyone, Eggers notes that it makes sense for McSweeney’s because having to make money off its literary endeavors “artificially limited” what the organization could do. Now, he tells SFGate, the nonprofit status opens up the opportunity for the firm to raise money or crowdfund its projects.

Staying Atop the Heap

For many organizations, the CEO role isn’t one that changes very often. Why is that?

Robert Nelson, CAE—a onetime association CEO who stayed in the same role for two decades—recently got to thinking about all the factors that lead to such longevity. Ultimately, he says, many elements are at play for execs—from having the right attitude, to being willing to constantly reinvent their approach, to knowing how to delegate to their staff members.

“Believing in the good we were doing and seeing the fruits of our many successes played a big role, but on reflection, it was more than this,” he writes on his Nelson Strategic Consulting blog. “These fundamentals of success can be applied whether or not you’re in it for the long haul.” (ht @Rbt_Nelson)

Other Neat Links

There’s a limit to how much multitasking you can do. Fortune offers the insights of one Coca-Cola exec who’s managed to balance personal relationships with professional multitasking.

Speaking of multitasking, Oscar winner Jared Leto knows a thing or two about that, but he knows how to keep it in check. “I never wanted to make the most movies, to make the most albums,” he told Fast Company. “So I like to employ the power of no. We all want to say yes, because with yes comes so much opportunity, but with the power of no comes focus and engagement.”

Don’t be afraid to throw around the occasional odd number. According to SCD Group’s Steve Drake, throwing around weird times or prices grabs attention.

Author Dave Eggers is taking his publishing house to the nonprofit space. (Commonwealth Club/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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