Wednesday, November 14, 2018

NovEmber dinner guest - Icing Smiles

Once a month, The Ember Cast hosts a dinner with a select group of students and a special guest who are some of the most creative and innovative in the global missions/nonprofit space. The intention of this dinner is for our students to learn, interact and be inspired by these amazing individuals who have created something incredible from nothing.

Our NovEmber dinner guest was Tracy Quisenberry, founder and executive director of Icing Smiles. Icing Smiles a nonprofit org that provides celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by the critical illness of a child. In just over 8 years, Icing Smiles has mobilized thousands of volunteers including bakers, project managers and delivery staff to deliver cakes in all 50 states, including just delivering their 17,000th cake.

Our conversation touched on lots of topics including working in multiple vocations, starting something from nothing, having a laser focus on the mission of your organization and some of the struggles as a founder. Below are some other highlights. Thank you, Tracy, for helping inspire our students and helping Ember forge the future!
The Founder struggle
"Dig where you are"
The hardest job is to lead a team of volunteers.
Was always too hard on herself as a founder

+ Her career experiences as an international tax account for a large multnational corporation helped prepare her to lead an organization. There were also lots of things that she had to learn

+ Icing Smiles is not a faith based org but we would not be an org without my faith.

Q - Have you struggled with mission creep?
Definitely. Had an offer early on to be a program piece of a big, well known nonprofit, but it was an obvious bad fit.

Q - do you want your org to outlast you
Tracy - Yes! Absolutely.
Tony - No not necessarily. Seth Godin - entrepreneur or freelancer. I used to think about us multiplying lots of mentors and missions catalysts that were investing in high school students. But now, I want to be the artisan crafting each and every thing that we deliver.

Advice to 16 year old:
Don't be so hard on yourself. See the pieces of the puzzle,

There are 14 steps to delivering a cake.
"A cake is not just a cake - it is sometimes a breath of air when families feel like they are suffocating."

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