Successful Nonprofits:Tools to Fire Up Your Productivity with Peter Chatel

Tools to Fire Up Your Productivity with Peter Chatel

Tools to Fire Up Your Productivity with Peter Chatel

by Ro

What stands between you and your goals? 

Get ready to knock down those barriers and start on the path to accomplishing your goals today with our guest, Peter Chatel! Peter helps individuals and nonprofits get motivated to become high performers. Join us to get the tools you need to increase your focus and effectiveness and ultimately start achieving your personal and professional goals!

Listen to the Episode Here!


Website: The Chatel Consulting Group

Podcast: Ep 51: The One Thing Necessary to Succeed (in Your Organization and In Your Life) with Peter Chatel

Podcast: Ep 106: Lean Impact with Ann Mei Chang

Podcast: Ep 90: Maurya Couvares Shares the Code to Exponential Nonprofit Growth!


(05:05) Peter’s pivot

(09:06) The law of purpose

(15:56) The law of focus

(19:58) The law of proximity


Dolph Goldenburg (2s):
Welcome to the Successful Nonprofits® Podcast. I’m your host, Dolph Goldenburg. Today, I am so excited to be bringing you a conversation with Peter Chatel about the 10 principles for profoundly positive performance. You may remember Peter if you’re a longtime listener of the podcast. He was on episode 51 which I think was three, maybe even four years ago. And at the time, he was a consultant primarily serving for-profit companies. He has now become what I think of as a crossover consultant. So, he is dedicating the rest of his career to serving nonprofit organizations. 

Dolph Goldenburg (44s):
Listeners, as you know, I believe that the business community has so much to inform what we do in the nonprofit sector. So I am just so excited that we have got Peter back on as we approach our 200th episode. If I were to think about four words that really epitomize Peter and his philosophy they are: purpose-led, people-centered, process-driven, and performance-focused. And those are the four words that drive Peter and absolutely everything that he does. And using those four words, he motivates people and organizations to an even higher level of performance. I am so excited that he has been making this crossover. He has developed 10 principles for profoundly positive performance and we are going to be talking about a few of those principles today. Hey Peter, welcome to the podcast. 

Peter Chatel (1m 52s):
Dolph, it’s so good to be with you. Thanks for this opportunity. I’m delighted to be back on. 

Dolph Goldenburg (1m 59s):
Let’s start by talking about your decision to become a crossover consultant. Back in the summer, you and I had a little bit of a conversation. So, I know what prompted you to make this shift, but can you share that with our listeners? 

Peter Chatel (2m 11s):
I’d be happy to. I’m not particularly proud that it took the murder of George Floyd to wake me up to racism, quite frankly, but that’s what happened. And so I am in the midst of a journey to better understand racism. The metaphor I’ve used is it’s like that picture you have to hold a certain distance from your face before you see that there’s actually a picture there – and it’s not typically two dimensional, it’s three dimensional. 

Peter Chatel (2m 53s):
That’s what the murder of George Floyd did with racism for me. So, I now no longer can ignore it. I am in the midst of studying and learning. I’m in the midst of a 30 day challenge. I’m leading a book discussion group with my rotary club on white fragility. I’m in the midst of other conversations about race and racism to educate myself. The thing that I could do more immediately was to put a stake in the ground around how I’m going to dedicate my practice. And I’ve done a fair amount of work over the last five years for nonprofits. 

Peter Chatel (3m 26s):
So it was a pivot. It is not a significant pivot in terms of what and how I do, but who I am going to be dedicating my time to. And what’s been amazing is almost immediately I was approached by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. I’ve got two contracts with them to help with project work that they needed help with. And that’s been interesting and fulfilling work and is going to be continuing through into 2021. And I am coaching a couple of nonprofit executives currently. 

Peter Chatel (3m 54s):
It wasn’t a significant shift necessarily, but an open declaration. And since then, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many nonprofit leaders and board members and have some very useful conversations. I’m growing my knowledge. I’d like to say, because of my for-profit background, I try to bring the best of for-profit to make nonprofits better. 

Dolph Goldenburg (4m 15s):
First of all, I just have to say I have mad respect for you. A lot of people who are white have had the realization that you’ve had this year – that black lives really have been undervalued in our country. And frankly, that we have often swept it under the rug when black people are
murdered. A lot of white people have had that realization this year, but the realization has not prompted them to change the way they’re doing things or prompted them to change what they’re doing. And so I have mad respect for you. You’re not just stopping at that realization, but you’re going further and exploring things like white fragility and exploring things about what you can do to actually be part of the solution as opposed to just shaking your head and going “Well, this is really sad.” 

Peter Chatel (5m 05s):
One other thing I’m involved in is a week-long program with about 40 other coaches from around the world. It’s about rising awareness around racism and what we can do as coaches to bring that into our practice and have greater influence with our clients. It’s been a process of moving from awareness to advocacy to allyship and then ultimately activism. So, that’s the journey I’m on. I’ve yet to become an activist, but that’s where I’m headed. 

Dolph Goldenburg (5m 49s):
I would love for us to just unpack that a little bit. What are some of your key takeaways from your week-long coaching program? 

Peter Chatel (6m 00s): 

Well, I’m in the middle of it. The first day, Monday, was setting the context and introducing the facilitators. Tuesday was focused on awareness. So, it was people sharing their personal stories of where and how they had experienced racism. I was raised in a small town in upstate New York. There were very few people of color. We had only one family of color in our church. The father of that family had the same birthday as I did. So, we had a kinship from that. I just didn’t have many experiences with people of color at all growing up. So, it’s been a process of me gaining clarity of just where and how pervasive racism is. I just read an article this morning about the Fair Labor Practices Act and the fact that farms aren’t covered. They aren’t covered because Southern politicians insisted that they weren’t covered because they employed mainly blacks at that time to do the field work. They didn’t want to have that economic cost placed on them. So they got exempted from that, which is just another way in which racism has been perpetuated through our legislation. And I shared that with the rotary group saying, “I think you might find this of interest.” 

Dolph Goldenburg (7m 28s):
I also just have to jump in: it’s one of those ways that racism has really been institutionalized, not just perpetuated, but institutionalized in our country. 

Peter Chatel (7m 41s):
That’s the right term. Yesterday’s conversation was about advocacy. So, what does advocacy mean? And then how to become an advocate and speak out. Even if you just go on social media and become more aware of who the social justice and equity people are, what they are posting and how you can support them. If people are taking risks about speaking out, have their back and say, “I agree, you’re doing the right thing.” 

Peter Chatel (8m 12s):
And then today is about allyship. So, how do you work collaboratively with others? And then tomorrow is about activism. So it’s not just about learning. It’s ultimately about taking action. I live under no illusion that this is going to be something that’s eliminated tomorrow or even in my lifetime, but it’s no longer acceptable. It’s just not acceptable to me. And so, this is where I’m at. It’s been a profound year for me. It’s been a very challenging year, but this has been a huge awakening. 

Dolph Goldenburg (8m 51s):
One of the things that I’m hearing is that professionally and personally, your life purpose has reshaped and come into focus this year. And I think that’s one of your 10 laws. 

Peter Chatel (9m 06s):
It sure is. It’s the first principle and there’s no mistake why it’s number one. The first principle is you must know your purpose in order to know what you truly want. And I find success is getting what you truly want. This is all about being clear about why you’re here. I always begin with purpose work. No one ever comes to me, in terms of coaching, with a clear written purpose. They may have an idea in their head. 

Peter Chatel (9m 49s):
So, the compass for life that I work to develop starts with: what are your 5 to 7 core values? What do you hold as most important associated with each of those core values? What is at least one core belief? Values and beliefs are related, but beliefs are what you hold as a truth related to what you hold as most important. And then finally, what is your purpose? Typically, I ask people to reflect on their life first as a part of this process. And to just take time to document over their life, what were the high points, low points? What were the greatest adversities they faced? Who was most important? What were their dreams at different stages of their life? What were the goals? Look retrospectively – we aren’t really encouraged to do that. I’m a big believer that experiences are only rented. They’re owned when you reflect on them and ask and answer powerful questions about them. Like, How are you changed? What do you now have to offer because of that experience? It’s important to gain the clarity around why you’re here and what your purpose is. 

Dolph Goldenburg (11m 00s):
I love your phrase: experiences are only rented. That’s a great phrase. I’m going to be using it. Thank you. I also just have to reflect, as I look back on my career in the nonprofit sector, for far too long I allowed my position to define my purpose. I started life in social work as a case manager. And I really allowed that to define my purpose. Similarly, when I moved into fundraising, I allowed the pursuit of raising money to become my purpose. And then when I became an executive director, growing an organization and growing its impact and its mission became my purpose. It was only through burnout that I actually realized that I had to step away and take the time. 

Dolph Goldenburg (11m 50s):
It’s not easy work and it doesn’t happen in a day. You don’t discover it until you ask the tough questions. Why am I on this planet? And given the fact that I may only have three decades left, maybe less, on this planet, what impact do I want to have in those three decades? 

Peter Chatel (13m 58s):
This, for me personally as well as for people I’ve coached, finding clarity about core values, core beliefs, and your purpose offers you an opportunity. That’s what they offer you. They don’t guarantee anything, but the opportunity is to choose to live into them. And my experience is that when you make that choice, you really enter what I call the “magic zone.” Everything changes. And my experience is you attract what you truly want. 

Peter Chatel (12m 13s): 

It’s easier to obtain it. It isn’t easy to obtain, but it’s easier because you are putting out why you’re here, what your core values are, what your core beliefs are and you are living into that. And that is attractive to people because so few people are doing it. That’s my experience. 

Dolph Goldenburg (13m 18s):
It also helps create a very simple decision matrix for you. So if you know what your purpose is, it’s really easy to decide: Should I have this difficult conversation with my boss or my board chair? Or should I take this job? It’s so much easier when you know what your purpose in life actually is. 

Peter Chatel (13m 37s):
Yes and not only if you should have those conversations, but how you’re going to have those conversations guided by your core principles. Many organizations or people have their mission but there is an interesting distinction between mission and purpose. They can be thought of as the same, but I had a conversation with two other purpose-led people recently and they made the distinction that purpose is more individual. Mission is when you come together as a group of two or more. I really liked that. Many organizations have a list of core values. The issue is people aren’t making a decision on a daily basis to live into those. And let me also say, just because you have them, just because you have clarity, does not guarantee anything. It comes to a daily choice of choosing to live into that. 

Dolph Goldenburg (14m 45s):
The other issue is your organization may have core values, but do you have core values? What your organization decides is right for it may or may not be right for you. And that’s even true if you’re the Chief Executive Officer. 

Peter Chatel (14m 55s):
Exactly. I think I could raise the productivity of most organizations, profit or nonprofit, by 40% almost instantaneously. Because if you look at Gallup’s survey, only 30% of American workforce is fully engaged in their work. The high performing organizations are 70%+ engaged. The difference in those organizations, I would argue, is that people have a deeper connection with the meaning of their work and its relationship to the mission of the organization. 

Peter Chatel (15m 40s):
And that comes from clarity about their individual core values, their individual core beliefs and their individual purpose. And let me just say, if organizations focused on that, I think that would be the precursor, the precondition of closing the gap. 

Dolph Goldenburg (15m 56s):
And let me just say that engaged staff members and engaged team members are also much more likely to focus, which I think is your fourth law. 

Peter Chatel (16m 07s):
Indeed. Working on more than one thing at any moment leads to a significant reduction in productivity and increase in waste. So, this is the law of focus. And what this comes out of is the misunderstanding around multitasking and the desire to multitask. When you’re attempting to work on more than one thing at any time you are less productive, you make more mistakes and you are less efficient. 

Peter Chatel (16m 42s):
So it’s this illusion. We’ve gotten there because we’re all inundated by emails. When you go on a conference call, people are working on their email at the same time as the call. They’re on their phones. No one can be fully engaged when they are distracted. And with every distraction in order to get re-engaged, you lose time. So, what we know multitaskers lose between 28-40% of productivity. 

Dolph Goldenburg (17m 22s):
I’ll share with you. I came across this great manual that was recently declassified by the CIA. And it’s called ‘The Simple Sabotage Field Manual’. And it was originally created by the predecessor of the CIA. They created it during WWII and widely distributed it throughout Nazi-controlled Europe so that individuals who were part of the machinery and part of making everything work could sabotage their organizations. 

Dolph Goldenburg (17m 55s):
And the first 25 pages don’t apply so much to the nonprofit sector because it’s how to gum things up, like putting sand in the gas tank. But there’s a four page section on how to sabotage organizations and how they operate. And one of those is to create as many interruptions and distractions as possible. And in this day and age, we’ve done that to ourselves. We have these computers, both at our desk and in our pocket, that are pinging us all day long with distractions. And it keeps us from focusing. 

Peter Chatel (18m 38s):
Absolutely. One of the key things is to literally block time on your calendar, choose the one thing that’s most important to accomplish that day and take the hour or two to get it done. That means shutting down other applications if they’re going to be distracting to you. 

Dolph Goldenburg (19m 09s):
It also means scheduling that time to do it and holding that time sacred. You’ve got to schedule that deep think time and then hold it sacred and not let anyone take it from you. 

Peter Chatel (19m 34s): 

Absolutely. The catchphrase is: if you erase, you must replace. Things do happen, but the idea is you want to block time for what matters most. Not everything matters equally. That’s actually my second one – not everything matters equally. Make sure you are saving time on your calendars to do what is most important. 

Dolph Goldenburg (19m 58s):
Absolutely. So let’s talk about one more law and I love this one and I think it’s one of your last ones, the law of proximity. When I read that, I thought, “Wow, that’s so true in my own life. And it’s also so true in the life of almost everyone I’ve ever worked with.” 

Peter Chatel (20m 22s):
So, this is the principle: the people in your life, as well as the environment within which you live your life, have a profound impact on your success. So, my wife and I became very discriminating in our later years around the people in our lives. And when I say discriminating, it basically comes down to two buckets of people, lifters and leaners. We do everything we can to limit our exposure to leaners. How do you distinguish lifters from leaders? Well, here’s one easy way. Leaners like to talk about other people and not in flattering ways. Leaners like to blame, complain, and be victims. You know who they are because they’re sucking the life out of you when you talk to them. They’re a bottomless energy pit that is just taking energy out of the conversation. Now, lifters, on the other hand, like to talk about dreams. They like to talk about goals. They like to talk about books. They’ve read. They’d like to talk about what they’ve learned. They like to talk about who they’re hoping to meet. They like to talk about where they’re traveling to see something and learn something new. Lifters challenge you and inspire you to be better than you than you are today. 

Peter Chatel (21m 45s):
My mother used to say, “Peter, if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.” And she was very attentive to who I was spending my time with when I was growing up. And you know, that’s true. It doesn’t change. It’s a lifelong principle. The other thing is the environment within which you’re living your life. So, what is your environment like now? We’re in the midst of a house renovation. So, our environment is a little disturbed right now. It raises a certain level of discomfort for both my wife and me. So the environment within which you’re living your life is important too. If it’s just filled with disarray, it’s going to be challenging to live in and have a life of order. So, where are you spending your time? Are you just all inside? Are you getting outside at all and getting into nature? Where and how are you balancing your environment? 

Dolph Goldenburg (22m 66s):
I also think as part of the law of proximity, one of the things to just think about is creating habits. The law of proximity makes or breaks habits. So if you want to create a new habit, whether that is a personal goal or a work-related goal, and you’re hanging out with people that don’t respect that habit, or you’re hanging out with people that literally just refuse to do that type of a thing, then you’re probably not going to make the habit. 

Dolph Goldenburg (23m 18s):
One of the examples I would give is running. if you decide you’re going to run but don’t link up online with people that are doing any type of social-distance running or link up online with people where they share their run course for the day through GPS, you might do it for a week or two. And then at some point, the alarm rings and you’d rather have 45 minutes of sleep. 

Peter Chatel (23m 48s):
I think that it gets to another aspect of leaners. Leaners are people who are less likely to support your goals and dreams, as opposed to lifters who are encouraging you and supporting you. Even if you’re facing challenges or you feel like you’re getting off track, they’re encouraging you to get back on track. It’s okay that you’ve missed a week of running. Get back into it. You can do it. 

Peter Chatel (24m 28s):
Another part of the law is the importance of accountability. So, having accountability when you’re trying to build a new habit. Sharing that with someone and asking them to hold you accountable or checking in with them on a weekly basis. 

Dolph Goldenburg (24m 49s):
In my own life, I’m all about accountability partners. We can have a lot of internal locus of control, but it’s so helpful when we give some external control. 

Peter Chatel (25m 01s):
Yes, absolutely. A big difference. Those with written goals and weekly accountability are about 80% more likely to achieve the goals. So, there is a magic bullet there. If you are serious about accomplishing something, write it down and have an accountability partner and have a weekly check-in. 

Dolph Goldenburg (25m 25s):
Your accountability partner in a work situation does not have to be your boss. It could be a colleague. It could even be somebody who works for you. One of my Chief Executive mentors knew that he had an issue with making his fundraising calls every week. So what he did was he asked someone in the development office to be an accountability partner. And so that person would show up at his office when he was supposed to make those calls. And she would sit there by his desk while he made those calls. And her role actually was to listen to his side of the conversation and get notes into the CRM. But she was there to make sure that he really did the calls. So it does not have to be someone who’s above you in the organization, or even beside you. You can ask someone who reports to you, “Hey, can you help me out? because I need a little help here.” 

Peter Chatel (26m 46s):
Absolutely and how powerful to model that level of accountability and encourage that person to be thinking likewise in terms of something that may be challenging for them to consistently do or build the habit around. 

Dolph Goldenburg (27m 02s):
Let me also say to model that vulnerability as the chief executive to say, “Hey, I’m not perfect. And I know I’m likely to slip unless you show up and make sure I’m really doing it.” 

Peter Chatel (27m 13s):
Yes. I just offered some training to a nonprofit on seven habits that help build resiliency. And I said to the founder and CEO, “Listen, I’m not going to do this training unless you and your leadership team have a commitment to actually build a habit coming out of this and communicate that to your team.” And they totally agreed and built some accountability. 

Dolph Goldenburg (27m 33s):
Peter, the muse has given me a great off-the-map question for you. You and I have known each other for probably five or so years now. Listeners, let me describe Peter’s background. He is in front of an amazing view of downtown Atlanta from afar. You see trees and then you see a rainbow shooting up from the trees into the clouds. It’s Incredible. So Peter, you’ve got to tell us the story about this. 

Peter Chatel (28m 27s):
Some friends of ours bought a condo. And my wife’s a real estate agent helped them buy it. The condo building is on a hill and the condo is on the 9th floor. So this is quite a look at downtown. It was July 4th, 2018. And we were there to just help them celebrate and also view the fireworks. What I don’t have is shots that I got that evening on the patio where we saw hundreds of fireworks displays that night. 

Peter Chatel (29m 12 s):
It was just spectacular, and it was just a whole different view of it. This rainbow came out when we were there and I’ve got a large color printer. I double mounted the picture and gave it to him as a housewarming present. So it’s one of my favorite shots. And I wanted that as a backdrop. I get a lot of comments about it and it allows me to give a view to people on Zoom of what Atlanta looks like from a neat perspective. 

Dolph Goldenburg (29m 42s):
Shutterbugs want to know; did you take this photo with your phone or did you have a DSLR? 

Peter Chatel (29m 50s):
Yeah. I’ve got a DSLR camera. It was with a Nikon and a wide angle lens. 

Dolph Goldenburg (29m 54s):
I was going to say that might be just about the best cell phone photo I have ever seen. I’d be shocked if you did that with an iPhone or an Android. Well, Peter, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing a few of your 10 principles for profoundly positive performance. Listeners, if you want to learn more about Peter Chatel go to There, you can download a PDF of all 10 of his principles for profoundly positive performance. Obviously we could not cover them all in a podcast episode, but you can get them all there. And they’re on one easy to read page. 

Dolph Goldenburg (30m 43s):
I also strongly suggest, while you’re there, check out his blog. And one post in particular, it is called, “Are You CEO Material?” It’s about the book “The CEO Next Door.” And I think it’s an important question to ask whether you want to become a chief executive or you already are a chief executive. Hey Peter, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. 

Peter Chatel (31m 20s):
Thank you Dolph. That’s been a great pleasure to be with you again and have this conversation. 

Dolph Goldenburg (31m 23s):
And listeners, if you were busy Googling the “law of proximity” because you need to get better at building habits and being around people that support your mission and your purpose in life, no worries. You can still get Peter’s URL at our show notes at 

Dolph Goldenburg (32m 16s): 

Finally, if you liked this conversation with Peter, make sure you check out the first episode he was on, which was episode 51 full disclosure that is no longer available on our stream but you can go to our website and you can actually listen to it at Also check out Episode 106 with Ann Mei Chang on creating effective organizations. And episode 90 with Maurya Courvas on how she grew an organization from $0 to $3 million in under five years. Thank you so much for being with us today. I hope you have gained some insight to help you and your nonprofit thrive in a competitive environment. 

Dolph Goldenburg (33:20)

I am not an accountant nor an attorney, and neither I, nor the Goldenburg group provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This episode is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. If you find that you need that, I would suggest that you identify and speak with a qualified, licensed professional. 

**  We have edited this transcript because how you listen is not how you read. If you have a problem with this, remember you got this for free!


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