402.608.1608 john@johnfulwider.com

I help people plan and work better together.

I work with growth-oriented, thoughtful nonprofit and higher education leaders on:

Strategic planning coaching: More than a facilitator, I’m a strategic thinking partner.

Board chair-chief executive partnerships: My Better Together books help you build strong leadership partnerships that make both of you happy and accomplish more for the mission.

Team building coaching: Helping you make your workplace fulfilling for all.

Executive coaching: Improving communication skills, career transitions, and leading through major change (especially mergers) are my deepest areas of coaching experience.

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Love Your Crisis of Meaning

On creative breakthroughs, from conscious entrepreneur Calvin Corelli: You know these periods that you go through, where you’re not sure where you’re going or why. The thing you were working so hard on or for just yesterday now leaves you drained. The thing you used to be excited about now leaves you cold.I think it’s normal to go through these periodically. … I think it’s important to let these things run their course. They’re part and parcel of creative life. If you’re creative, you’re going to have these periods where your priorities and desires and meaning shifts. It’s what tees you up for the next creative burst. … Whenever friends reveal to me that they’re in a crisis of meaning (they don’t typically use those words, but it’s easy to spot), I always celebrate. It’s life-affirming. It literally is new life breaking through. … You have to pause and question your beliefs in order for the new subtler layer to surface. Your current belief system, your insistence on what you know is right and wrong, who you are, and who you’re not, is what’s holding that creative force back. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Love it. Source: News from Simplero: Love Your Crisis of Meaning – Simplero...

Deciding Whom to Involve in Strategic Planning: Tactics, Strategy, Priorities

Categorize all the people you think you’ll invite to participate in your nonprofit’s strategic planning project into one of three categories: Tactics, Strategy, or Priorities. The purpose here is to segment people according to the type of information you’ll expect them to provide as you “involve the people who know.” You can ask each group different types of questions in interviews leading up to the strategic planning retreat, thus maximizing the amount and quality of decision-support information you receive. Tactics Provide information on how tactics (i.e., day-to-day business processes) are working. Use their “on the ground” knowledge to suggest improved tactics. Daily, weekly view of the implementation of initiatives. Typically, an organization’s line staff and some managers fall into this category. Strategy At a higher level, what we’ll not do (most importantly!) and will do to create and review progress on initiatives designed to accomplish goals. Monthly, quarterly, annual view of the implementation of initiatives. Typically, an organization’s leadership team and some managers fall into this category. Priorities These people set the no more than five things we’ll accomplish to advance our mission in the next ___ years. “If everything’s important, nothing is.” Annual to multi-year view of the implementation of priorities. Typically, an organization’s board of directors and leadership team fall into this category. Exercise 1: Make Three Lists Make three lists of people to involve, following the Tactics-Strategy-Priorities model. Then, answer these reflection questions: What patterns do you see in the lists you made? What surprises you about the lists you made? What organizational capacity and development opportunities and challenges are coming up for you right now?...

Deciding Whom to Involve in Strategic Planning: Veto, Discuss, Inform, Implement

Use this model to list and categorize all the people who could and should be involved in your nonprofit’s strategic planning. Try to be all-inclusive in this first analysis; you don’t have to invite everyone to participate, but you should think as comprehensively as you can about whom you should involve. Veto: These are players who can cancel a planning project, either directly through specific authority or indirectly by, e.g., firing the project sponsor. Their buy-in must be secured early and maintained often. At a minimum, this usually includes the executive committee/officers of the board. Discuss: Whose input is key to the project’s success? Who must be included for political reasons? An important funder could be in this group. While most nonprofits will automatically include the entire board in this group, take just a moment to think: Does every member need or want to be included? How much strategic thinking value (or lack thereof!) do individual board members bring? Inform: Who must be kept informed so they are not blindsided? Who needs to know about the planning progress, in order to prepare for their role in the planning itself? Implement: Who will be carrying out the initiatives in the strategic plan? They should almost certainly be involved in some of the discussion, because early involvement leads to buy-in, a strong predictor of successful strategic execution. Exercise List people in the Veto category. List people in the Discuss category. List people in the Inform category. List people in the Implement category. Reflection Questions What patterns do you see in the lists you made? What surprises you about the lists you...

Everyday Strategic Conversations

Get great at aligning people toward your strategic vision.

Better Board Chair Partnerships

Revive a flagging partnership. Jumpstart a new one. Make a good one great.

Get Control of Your Time

Stay focused on what really matters.

I step away from our coaching conversations and I have two things: Very clear next steps, but also the clarity of mind to see, “Oh, here is how I’m going to do that.” This gives me enormous confidence to move forward.

Ines Polonius

CEO, Communities Unlimited

John helps me bring all the pieces into conscious focus and get there faster.

Nancy Straw

President, West Central Initiative


How I Help Growth-Oriented, Thoughtful Leaders


… with proprietary tools and interviews, the highest-value problem we can solve.


… an initiative, together, to get a quick win and lasting impact.


… the initiative (you do that, with my coaching support).

John quickly helped me distill our many programs into one clear message, with a direct call to action, that won more friends for our agency from my audiences.

Ingrid Kirst

CEO, Community CROPS

John is like a second brain for me.

Mike Renken

CEO, NeighborWorks Lincoln

Approaches We Can Take

Executive Coaching

I help you take what you already know, generate new insights, make action plans, then hold you accountable while you execute those plans.


I draw the best thinking out of other people efficiently and enjoyably, whether that’s your board, your leadership team, or just you and a key partner.


I share specific expertise that empowers your audience (usually board or team members) to take specific action. Interactivity is guaranteed.


I collect information for you and generate action recommendations. I don’t do a lot of this; my clients almost always have the answers.

Who I Work With

You must be ...

  • The chief executive (e.g. executive director, CEO, president)
  • Growth-oriented
  • Coachable
  • High-achieving

Your organization must ...

  • Have at least a $1 million annual budget.
  • Have diversified revenue streams.
  • Be healthy and stable.

John M. Fulwider, Ph.D.

Executive coach for #nonprofit CEOs. Happy husband. Infertile dad: http://youtu.be/U5tK0iM8390  All my memories revolve around food. Hashtag #NPOCEO.

Brief Biography

Professional communicator John Fulwider helps nonprofit chief executives advance their strategic visions through everyday conversations. Combining coaching, teaching, and training, John works exclusively with high-achieving CEOs who want their leadership teams and boards rowing in the same direction. He is a sought-after speaker and the not-yet-bestselling author of five books, including Better Together: How Top Nonprofit CEOs and Board Chairs Get Happy and Fall in Love (with the Mission) and Everyday Strategic Conversations: How Top Nonprofit CEOs Get Their Teams and Boards Rowing in the Same Direction.

  • Everyday strategic conversations
  • CEO-board chair partnerships
  • Time management and focus for CEOs
  • Strategic planning facilitation
  • Organizational culture
  • Cooking German food for a crowd. (Hey, you wanted a comprehensive list, didn’t you?)
Representative Clients

John’s coaching, speaking and consulting clients have included these nonprofit segments:

Child-Focused: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands, Child Advocacy Center, Hope Center for Kids

Economic Development: alt.Consulting, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, Goodwill Industries

Foundations: Heartland Council of Community Foundations, Kearney Area Community Foundation, Nebraska Community Foundation, West Central Initiative

Health Care: Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City, Brain Injury Association of Nebraska, Bryan Health

Housing and Community Development: Lincoln/Lancaster County Habitat for Humanity, NeighborWorks America, NeighborWorks Lincoln

Higher Education: South Dakota State University, University of Nebraska Public Policy Center

Other: Human Services Federation, KZUM 89.3 FM, Lincoln American Marketing Association, Lincoln Arts Council, Lincoln’s Young Professionals Group

Five Things to Know about John

Five things you might not otherwise know about John:

  • His favorite cuisines are Ethiopian, German, and Indian, in that order.
  • He once completed a five-rappel descent off Cat in the Hat in the dark, without a headlamp.
  • He’s a redhead whose hair has gone dark. (Sad.)
  • He still has the rock he used to (slowly) chip ice out of the wheel wells (all four!) of his Geo Metro one particularly wintry day in Boulder, Colorado, circa 1996.
  • He adores functional public transportation systems with an abiding passion.


Why I Work Exclusively with Nonprofit Chief Executives

  1. I’m an idealist like you. In my ideal world, nonprofit organizations help more people because their chief executives succeed wildly.
  2. Beyond that, I haven’t come up with better verbiage than Kivi Leroux Miller, so here’s her words (slightly edited): “This work is like honey to my soul: a way to make an honest and decent living as a creative, thoughtful professional by helping people who are, by definition, here to serve and to change the world.” *

* There’s probably a reason Kivi’s better at the verbiage: She’s a well-known nonprofit marketing consultant. #knowyourstrengths

My Guarantee

I understand that, as a nonprofit executive, the resources you have to invest are precious. You have to manage your expenses smartly, and think about return on investment.

What’s more, the fees for my executive coaching and other success solutions are a meaningful investment.

Fortunately, I’m so confident my services will empower you to achieve your organization’s goals that I offer a 100% money back guarantee. So you really have zero risk.

If at any time you don’t believe that my services are delivering value, I will refund your investment in full. No questions asked. No hoops to jump through. No games.

But you should know this guarantee works both ways. Because I am so passionate about helping people create real, sustainable change, I reserve the right to end our relationship if you’re not making progress. And I’ll give you your money back for that too. So you’ve got nothing to lose, right?