Hidden Human Podcast Episode 17 Thumbnail

Greg Hagin, Managing Director of CCS Fundraising, discusses the formative experiences that led him to be interested in philanthropy and social impact. He reveals what he has learned from personal and professional failures, and the lessons he has learned from mountain climbing. Discover the importance of developing a sense of purpose, meaning and responsibility and how to achieve a better work/life flow.

Episode Transcription

Speaker 1: Welcome the Hidden Human, the podcast where we explore the stories behind the business leader. Get ready to hear insights from business leaders speaking candidly about how they became who they are today, and the lessons they learned along the way. And now here’s your host, leadership coach and speaker, Kelly Meerbott.

Kelly Meerbott: Welcome to the space where we will reveal our personal humanity to reconnect with our shared humanity. Let’s begin our conversation with partner and managing director at CCS Fundraising, Greg Hagin. Welcome, Greg. How are you?

Greg Hagin: Thank you, Kelly. Delighted to be here.

Kelly Meerbott: I’ve been really excited since I first talked to you about having you on the podcast. And Hidden Human is all about discovering who the business leader is behind the title. Why don’t we start? Why don’t you explain to me in a way I can understand what CCS Fundraising does?

Greg Hagin: Sure. CCS is a strategy consulting firm and full service fundraising management company. And essentially, we help large nonprofit organizations raise money. And that money might go to help with academic success or healthy outcomes. It will empower individuals in education, healthcare fields, social and human services, environment, advocacy, global development.

Kelly Meerbott: What was it in your soul, Greg, that drew you to this kind of work?

Greg Hagin: It’s a good question. That’s a deep question.

Kelly Meerbott: Oh, we get deep real fast.

Greg Hagin: I mean, the immediate and honest answer is it was really my first formal job out of Boston College, so it was out of school. And I didn’t know what consulting was, philanthropy was, or fundraising was while I was an undergrad at BC. And then I ended up in the space almost 16 years later. But for me, the idea of where CCS was and the space in which it operated was very compelling to me, almost where the mission meets the market. So these non for profit and these social impact missions, but they’re empowered by and resourced by and partnering with a for profit company with certain expertise, experience, and management practices seemed to be very appealing to me.

Kelly Meerbott: Wow. Okay. How young were you when you first realized that social impact was a thing? And we’re looking maybe not in those terms, because I’m looking between the ages of eight and 14. And when I was eight, I didn’t know what the heck social impact was.

Greg Hagin: Right. Right. Right.

Kelly Meerbott: But maybe, I don’t know, an iteration or a shade of that showed up somehow for you.

Greg Hagin: Yeah. I guess in a few ways, definitely through my parents. There’s no doubt if I put myself in the frame of from eight to 14 again, and what I was doing with school and athletics, and at least at the time, I was a competitive soccer player. I wouldn’t be a competitive soccer player today. And my dad was really into the outdoors and the environment. And my mom was really into volunteering and giving back and community service. So there were elements of that, I think, between just the values and exposure that I had with both of my parents in a very loving and supportive home. And then just my own academics and athletics at the time. Yeah, I think a lot of that stayed within me. And then as I got older throughout high school and throughout college was … At BC, I was very involved in volunteerism and starting to get a sense of community service and philanthropy and social impact before I even realized that it was called philanthropy or social impact.

Kelly Meerbott: Right. Right. Right. That’s what I was saying. I was like, when I was eight, if my mom said, “You know, you need to make a social impact,” I would’ve said, “What the heck is that? I don’t even know.”

Greg Hagin: Exactly.

Kelly Meerbott: But I know my parents, like yours, were really big on … I used to hear the term, to those who are given much, much is expected, so we were always expected not only to do our school work, but to give back to the community. You were saying your mom did that. Tell me what they did for a living.

Greg Hagin: Sure. My dad was an insurance agent with Allstate Insurance and focused mainly on life insurance, so that was part of his natural thing, was understanding people’s life circumstances, what they valued, what was most important to them. And thinking and working through that about how to, I guess, endow some of their own greatest treasures in perpetuity. And my mom, she ran summer camps through the Christian Brothers on Long Island, and was very active in sports camps and academic camps. And so I was around that all the time. I’d be in my dad’s office and overhear conversations, and how he was operating. It was at LaSalle, which is currently a campus of St. John’s University out on Long Island, where my mother was, where I was just around camp counselors a lot, and coaching and tutors and teachers. So I just saw that interaction. And I think I try and embody some of that today, especially on the coaching and teaching side, whether it’s with our own staff at CCS, or hopefully with our clients as well, and they see that value.

Kelly Meerbott: I’m going to validate that for you right now because I met Greg’s assistant, Tiffany. And the first thing she said is, “Greg is a great leader to learn from.”

Greg Hagin: That’s very kind of her.

Kelly Meerbott: Yes. You’re trickling down to your people, which is fantastic. That’s what a great leader does. You model the way, which is what your parents did for you.

Greg Hagin: They did, yeah.

Kelly Meerbott: And of course, I keep thinking your dad embodied the fact that his clients were in good hands. Right?

Greg Hagin: That was the motto. Everybody, every company, everybody’s [inaudible], they have a motto. No, but you’re absolutely right, Kelly. In his own customized and personalized way, and then certainly with my mom as well. But yeah, I feel very blessed to have two parents like that, and a family structure and support. I did have a sense from early on that along with that comes great responsibility. Again, whether or not I was thinking about it in those exact terms, maybe not. But it became more and more evident as I grew up.

Kelly Meerbott: Sure. Well, and I’ve found that just talking to leaders like you through this podcast, that there’s always some thread of what they’re doing now, back then, even though they may not have realized it.

Greg Hagin: Right.

Kelly Meerbott: Do you have any siblings?

Greg Hagin: I do not.

Kelly Meerbott: You do not. You’re an only child.

Greg Hagin: I’m an only child. You’ve heard so much about us.

Kelly Meerbott: Where on Long Island did you grow up? Because that keeps popping in my head.

Greg Hagin: About halfway out, South Shore, in a small town called Oakdale.

Kelly Meerbott: Okay. I was born in Hempstead.

Greg Hagin: Okay, great. Yeah.

Kelly Meerbott: My dad’s from [inaudible] and my mom’s from Brooklyn.

Greg Hagin: Okay, terrific.

Kelly Meerbott: When you were talking about Christian Brothers, I’m like, “I can’t wait to tell my dad about that,” because he probably knows all about it.

Greg Hagin: That’s right. Bishop Loughin High School in Brooklyn, and all throughout Long Island.

Kelly Meerbott: Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep. Okay. Who outside of your immediate family when you were a child, Greg, impacted you positively? You have mom and dad who are obviously doing a great job laying a solid foundation. But you’re not always with them.

Greg Hagin: Right. Well, we still had a close family. My mother’s sister, Aunt Linda and Uncle Jimmy, and their kids, my first cousins, Chris and Jason, who are older than me. Chris is three years older, and Jason is nine years older. They were always like my big brothers, and we were hanging out all the time, whether it’s on the weekends or throughout the summer and vacations. So in a way, I did feel like I had siblings, although it was a little bit different. But I really looked up to them. And my connection with my older cousin, Chris, was very much around sports and athletics and competition and all that. And with Jason, it was very much into music and arts and culture. I feel very blessed and privileged that I really grew up with both kind of hobbies and interests.

Kelly Meerbott: That’s a really beautiful combination too. It’s such a balance. If I had Chris and Jason in the room, and I were to ask them about you as a child, what would they say? How would they describe you?

Greg Hagin: That’s another good question. They’d probably … Independent, even though that might seem obvious as an only child. But yeah, I think independent, curious, adventurous, sometimes stubborn. Could be difficult at times. But yeah, I think good natured, I hope. I think so.

Kelly Meerbott: I definitely get that from you. Good natured, that’s a perfect word for you. I’m going to go back to the arts, culture and music piece. And I love asking this question.

Greg Hagin: Sure.

Kelly Meerbott: Tell me what was the first song that you heard that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. And where were you?

Greg Hagin: The first song ever in my life growing up that really kind of like-

Kelly Meerbott: Go back. Yes. I mean, I can tell you mine.

Greg Hagin: This isn’t the song that really stood out in terms of this is the song for me, or this is it. But I mean, being in second and third grade, I remember around 1986 The Beastie Boys came out with License to Ill.

Kelly Meerbott: Oh my gosh. License to Ill.

Greg Hagin: That was it. You know?

Kelly Meerbott: I wore out that cassette tape.

Greg Hagin: So that stands out as a memory. Now I don’t know if that’s a theme song, or that wasn’t a song where I said, “All right. Music is it,” like this is really moving to me. They were rappers from Brooklyn, from Long Island. They were doing some different things.

Kelly Meerbott: Three Jewish boys.

Greg Hagin: Three Jewish … They were mixing up the scene, so that was a lot of fun. And then A Tribe Called Quest. But the one … Q-Tip, the whole thing, all that. That was big on Long Island at that time. But I would say what really made an impact was probably Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin with my dad.

Kelly Meerbott: Yes.

Greg Hagin: My dad was massively into classic rock, so whether it was Led Zeppelin, or The Beatles, or The Moody Blues, or The Doors.

Kelly Meerbott: AC/DC.

Greg Hagin: AC/DC, all this stuff. But yeah, the first time I heard Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, I just went, “Wow.”

Kelly Meerbott: Yep.

Greg Hagin: It’s like a dozen different tunes and themes and narrative within one. And it was powerful.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah. Do you want to hear mine?

Greg Hagin: Sure. I would love to hear yours.

Kelly Meerbott: Okay. It’s Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here.

Greg Hagin: Yes. Yes.

Kelly Meerbott: And of course, I was 19, and I was in a dorm room with black lights and tapestries on the wall, so you can imagine what was happening.

Greg Hagin: I had that experience too.

Kelly Meerbott: But I remember hearing the breeze kind of come through, and that one drop, that note drop. And I was like, “What is this?” And I felt, literally felt the hairs on my body stand up. And I was like, “This is something I need to pay attention to.”

Greg Hagin: Yeah. That’s it. And isn’t that on the … That’s the Wish You Were Here album.

Kelly Meerbott: Yes.

Greg Hagin: Isn’t Have a Cigar and Shine On Your Crazy Diamond, that’s on?

Kelly Meerbott: Yes.

Greg Hagin: Shine On You Crazy Diamond, that’s another one that the hairs on the arms, so to speak.

Kelly Meerbott: You’re going to go back and play this on Spotify later, right?

Greg Hagin: Yes. Yes. Will, actually. I will.

Kelly Meerbott: Transition me from Boston College to, I know we talked about CCS. But you’ve been here for 16 years. Why this company and why you as a managing partner? Why not somebody else?

Greg Hagin: The company, whether it’s a philosophy, or it’s a set of values, or the people who work at the firm, or the clients that we engage with, all of that just feels right to me. I don’t know how else to explain it. I’ll attempt to articulate it. But there’s a certain, I believe, quality to what we’re doing and a certain impact, a positive impact that I think we’re having on the world, in some small way, in our own way. And I’ve always been optimistic about the direction of the firm and our future, that it feels like home in so many ways. And it feels integrated with other major aspects and dimensions of my life.
I mean, look, over 16 years, have I ever thought about other job opportunities, or offers, or companies? Of course. Of course, I have along the way. But time and time again, CCS for me continues to be the place where I want to be associated with and lead and help clients, and just the work that we do. It’s the client partnerships. It’s the people, and it’s the vision and values that we stand for. And really, our timeless mission of partnering with nonprofits and social impact groups for transformational change.

Kelly Meerbott: I love that. I love that. You have had a golden life, it sounds like. And again, we’re only talking about one aspect, so that’s a broad assumption that I’m making. But as a coach, I’ve found that people can relate more to your failures than your successes. Tell me about a failure that you’ve had in your life and how you recovered from that, or business.

Greg Hagin: Yeah. I guess there’s a few that would stand out, even throughout my life. And so one, and again I’m thinking, Kelly, even in terms of eight to 14.

Kelly Meerbott: Sure, yeah.

Greg Hagin: But the first time where I really felt like I had failed at something was getting cut from the Long Island Select soccer team.

Kelly Meerbott: Wow.

Greg Hagin: That was a big deal for me. I was 12. I was 13. I made it one year. I didn’t make it the next year. I just felt like, “Wow. I like to play soccer, and I thought I was good at this and having fun.” And now suddenly I realized that there’s a scoreboard. And there’s a scorecard. And I’m being evaluated against other players, and maybe they’re better than I am. And they have other skills, and that whole thing. And that stuck with me. First of all, that feeling of just being let down, like having a certain expectation, being completely disappointed, knowing that it was me, and because of me, whether my experience, or skillset, or expertise, or the lack thereof, is why I did not make and qualify for that team.
And it hurt. It sucked. And that just stayed with me. And then you try and bounce back with practice, and you talk about it. There’s a sadness and a whole thing. But to kind of rebuild, and then the next year go out and make that team, and then make the state team with the Olympic Development Program, and then proceed through high school. But that really stood out to me.

Kelly Meerbott: What position did you play in soccer?

Greg Hagin: I had a variety of different positions, but the first position that I started out with was sweeper. I don’t know if you’re a soccer fan.

Kelly Meerbott: I played sweeper.

Greg Hagin: It was football, as they call it. It was behind the last person of defense before the goal keeper. And then I played center midfield, so I had a couple of those positions. And if I’m honest with myself, the higher up I advanced throughout my life and the competitive nature of the teams that I was on, the more I got pushed to the side and to the back. I was like, “I was one of the best players on the team.” I was sweeper. And by the time high school, I was right back. By the time I was college, I was a sub for right midfield. And I’m okay with that. That’s how it worked out.

Kelly Meerbott: I’ll make you feel even better. Ready? I worked really, really hard, and I made the soccer team. But the coach said to me the day that I made it, she’s like, “You made it, but you’re going to be benched the whole season.” And I was sweeper and goalie, so I was like-

Greg Hagin: Victory, yes. Failure, I don’t know. Right?

Kelly Meerbott: Oh, what?

Greg Hagin: The sweet and sour of it all.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah, that’s right. I always believe that you can’t have dark without the light. There’s always that pain, pleasure kind of dichotomy going on. We talked about a failure in soccer. Has there been a business failure that you can kind of relate to? This is Kelly. Thanks so much for listening to Hidden Human. We love having you as part of our audience. As a thank you gift from us to you, click to kellymeerbott.com/downloadables to download our free white paper, Seven Insights on Leadership From 20 Years of Coaching Executives. That’s K-E-L-L-Y-M-E-E-R-B-O-T-T.com/downloadables. Thank you so much for being part of the Hidden Human family, and make it a great day.

Greg Hagin: The two other failures that come to mind, not direct business. Although, if you give me a minute, I could get there. But the other one, I really like to climb mountains, and I like to trek, like high altitude tracking.

Kelly Meerbott: What kind of mountains are we talking?

Greg Hagin: Like Mount Kilimanjaro, like Machu Picchu.

Kelly Meerbott: You said Machu Picchu.

Greg Hagin: Yeah, it’s like a life goal of mine.

Kelly Meerbott: So jealous.

Greg Hagin: The seven summits, the seven continents. But I failed to trek and summit Mount Rainier. And still to this day, that bothers me. And I’m committed to eventually doing it. But years ago, and I wasn’t conditioned properly, I was feeling sick. But I still tried to do it, and I couldn’t. Before I got to the summit, I had to press time out. And I needed to go back down the mountain. That still stays with me. That moment of turning around, where I’m like, I’m committed.

Kelly Meerbott: How close were you?

Greg Hagin: It’s a several day trek, but when you summit the actual day, it’s one day up and down. But yeah, within a couple of thousand feet. But each step was just so difficult and so tough, and forced to turn around. That stands out to me. The other one … But I’m committed to doing that, Kelly. I would get back to Mount Rainier.

Kelly Meerbott: I could get you there.

Greg Hagin: And then the other mountains, as well. And then the other piece is the first time I applied to the Wharton School, I didn’t get in.

Kelly Meerbott: Interesting.

Greg Hagin: And that hurt, and that set me back a little bit. And that threw me off my game to an extent, and thought, “Am I not good enough? Am I not smart enough? I can’t get all this hustle and focus and preparation.” And then a couple years later, applied again, and took the advice of the admissions office and the counsel that was provided in terms of what I needed to do and where I still needed to develop in my career and aspects of that application that needed to be strengthened. And then was able to get in and successfully complete that degree. Again, here’s a couple examples of really getting knocked down and that hurting in the moment.
I relay the Wharton piece to business because it was the executive MBA program and it was while and throughout I was working at CCS. And that was one of the best times of my life, but it was also one of the most challenging times of my life as well, trying to manage and MBA, and then a business, and then family, and just my own overall health.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah. Going back to Kilimanjaro, I always think about, you have to scale your own internal mountain before you can scale the out mountain, so there was something was out of alignment for you that made you not be able to get there.

Greg Hagin: Right.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah, because mind projects on body, so if you were feeling sick, then there was something going on internally.

Greg Hagin: Yeah. That’s great. That’s a good insight.

Kelly Meerbott: That’s a little coaching for you.

Greg Hagin: I appreciate that. I’m very open to feedback and to coaching tips, so please.

Kelly Meerbott: Me too. I love it because sometimes it’s painful, but typically it’s what makes us grow and get better. While I have my coaching hat on, may I ask you another question?

Greg Hagin: Of course.

Kelly Meerbott: Okay. Where in your life and business do you feel like you’re not reaching your highest potential?

Greg Hagin: Where in business or life and business do I not feel like I’m reaching my highest potential? I guess that depends on what my aspirations and what my goals are. I feel very lucky and blessed and fortunate right now. And that’s not always the case, whether it was several years ago or at a different point. But for me, right in this moment, and this could change tomorrow, life is funny like that. The old saying, you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Right, exactly.

Kelly Meerbott: Of course, God laughs.

Greg Hagin: Look, I have certain life goals and certain aspirations. But for me right now, there’s not … I mean, I’m happy. And I feel energized and fulfilled, not resting on laurels per se. And I mentioned this to you before, Kelly. Through the Wharton experience, I really tried to adopt a mindset. And I try and live this out in practice of total leadership. And someone who’s very influential to me through that academic program was Stew Friedman.

Kelly Meerbott: I love his work.

Greg Hagin: And it just really made a lot of sense to think about life in terms of your family and your career and your community and yourself. It’s almost these four concentric circles. The key stakeholders in each dimension, and then what you’re doing. What daily activities are you doing to drive wholeness, or alignment, or fit? However you want to describe it. And thinking about what’s most important to you. And where do you see yourself fitting in each of those life dimensions? And that has been a great stabilizing philosophy for me, and one where I draw a lot of energy.
And I guess the reason I bring that up here is because I have different life goals in each one, and whether it’s as simple as, all right, I want to pay off all the debt I have in my house, or I want to continue to run a successful business, or there’s certain clients I want to work with, or I want to grow in my faith with my wife and our daughters. And we want to raise great children to the best of our ability and all that. There are different aspects. But yeah, right now I’m just maintaining that perspective. And it seems to be working.

Kelly Meerbott: Well, and you know, sometimes when we’re treading water, you’re actually doing work. It’s not that you’re not stretching or not meeting your highest potential. You’re just kind of taking time to sort of get the lay of the land and gauge things before you make a move. And to me, that’s not a bad way to kind of live your life. And I love Stew Friedman’s work. I took his online course. He’s brilliant. He’s a little bit like my Rolling Stones. If I met him, I think I’d probably pass out. Well, just because his work is so powerful and it makes sense.

Greg Hagin: Yeah. It is powerful. It does make sense.

Kelly Meerbott: Especially, I love how he … A lot of people in leadership will do boxes, so him doing circles, even though it seems like it’s a small distinction, it’s not because it evens everybody out. And there isn’t really any separation.

Greg Hagin: Right.

Kelly Meerbott: Do you mind if we talk a little bit about your wife and daughters?

Greg Hagin: Sure. Let’s do that.

Kelly Meerbott: Tell me your wife’s name because we have to give her a shout out.

Greg Hagin: Jenny.

Kelly Meerbott: Jenny, okay. When you saw Jenny, was it love at first sight?

Greg Hagin: Yes.

Kelly Meerbott: Yes, wow. I love that. Lucky Jenny. That was not missing a beat.

Greg Hagin: Lucky Greg. Yeah.

Kelly Meerbott: Lucky Greg, too. Lucky Greg, too. You have three daughters.

Greg Hagin: Two daughters.

Kelly Meerbott: Two daughters.

Greg Hagin: Mary, who is eight, and Laura, who is six.

Kelly Meerbott: Okay. Tell me. This is a question I love to ask fathers. You’re in the delivery room. Mary’s just been born. She’s been cleaned up, and she’s put in your arms for the first time. And you look down at her face and the realization comes, I’m a father. Tell me about that moment.

Greg Hagin: Well, it’s difficult to describe, as I’m sure most fathers would agree. But your world just gives over to that person. And you’re joyful and scared and melting and enthusiastic and worried. I mean, it’s like every possible life emotion wrapped up in one. But I think the one word would be joy. I mean, just truly joyful in that moment, and feeling so just blessed.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah. I love asking that question because I find that obviously in birth, the mother is very important. The baby is very important. But oftentimes, the fathers get left behind.

Greg Hagin: Right. We get left out on the sidelines. [inaudible].

Kelly Meerbott: Exactly. And I asked that question of Christian Talbot. Do you know Christian?

Greg Hagin: Yeah, I do. He’s a good friend, and we collaborate on many different projects together. Chris, yeah, he’s the best.

Kelly Meerbott: He’s like you. He’s very just a good, solid, good natured person. And I remember asking him that question. And he looked at me with tears in his eyes. And he said, “You had no way of knowing that I had a daughter with special needs, and it was a hard birth for my wife. So when I looked in her face, it was like the fifth dimension opening up.” And I was like, “Okay. I don’t know how I’m going to continue this interview.”

Greg Hagin: Not even the fourth. Let’s go right to the fifth. Like these ones here go to 11. Yeah.

Kelly Meerbott: Went right past that.

Greg Hagin: Yeah.

Kelly Meerbott: The CEO of CURE Auto Insurance looked at me and he goes, “I thought you told me you weren’t going to make me cry.” And I was like, “I’m not making you do anything.”

Greg Hagin: It’s incredible. It’s powerful.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah. It’s a powerful moment. And it deserves to be honored. For your great, great, great-grandchildren possibly listening to this interview, what wisdom would you have to impart for them?

Greg Hagin: I would say it’s really important to know what’s important to you and your values. And really, developing a sense of meaning, purpose, and responsibility. And I think that applies to me and my family and community and society at large. But I think more than anything, really developing a sense of purpose, meaning, and responsibility, and accept who you are and who you’re not, and understand your strengths and areas that you’d like to pursue and improve. And also, just to have fun with it all. I mean, really to flow. Right? When you think about authenticity and integrity and creativity, I would encourage generations later of the Hagin family anyway, to really think about that, authenticity, integrity and creativity, to be who you are in all dimensions of life. And have fun and really enjoy the journey.

Kelly Meerbott: Those are three of the core values for my business.

Greg Hagin: That’s awesome.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah, it really is because it’s … And I love what you said about the flow. I mean, I get called for a lot of talks. And people will say, “Talk about work life balance.” I’m like, “You don’t want me to talk about that because there is no such thing.”

Greg Hagin: I don’t believe in … I think balance is the wrong word.

Kelly Meerbott: I do too.

Greg Hagin: I really do.

Kelly Meerbott: I think it’s a flow.

Greg Hagin: I think it’s alignment, or fit, or integration, or flow. It’s not like you’re off with this segment in life, and then on. It’s not like a phone or a radio you turn on and off.

Kelly Meerbott: Exactly.

Greg Hagin: It just doesn’t. It’s not that neat.

Kelly Meerbott: Right. Exactly.

Greg Hagin: It’s a lot messier than that.

Kelly Meerbott: You get it. Usually I get silence on the other end of the phone. I say, “Let me explain,” because for me, I say it’s a work life flow. Some days, you may have a project due at work. Right? And you’re spending, I don’t know, you’re here until 10:00 at night. The next day, you may get up, do yoga, hang out with Jenny, hang out with the girls, have a nice cup of coffee, come in, have a great flowy work day. You’re out at 5:30. That’s in flow, the [inaudible].

Greg Hagin: Totally, totally get it. Can I offer a quick example in this?

Kelly Meerbott: Yes, please do. Please do.

Greg Hagin: Sunday morning, just a few days ago, I’m on an 8:00 AM flight to Calgary to then drive to Banff. My family does not like that. I don’t like that because … I mean, I do. But I don’t. I’m excited to go there. And it’s a work conference. And it’s a whole thing, and I’m really jazzed up about that. But I’m leaving my family on a Sunday morning. We go to church on Sunday mornings at Wayne Presbyterian Church. We really enjoy that experience. It’s very important to us. Sundays are our family time together. My point is, I’m leaving on a Sunday, so I’m away from my family. Have a great work trip experience in Banff, which is absolutely incredible with United Way Worldwide and their round table on philanthropy of some of the biggest donors and philanthropists around the world, in meetings with people from four or five different continents at a time. Incredible experience.
But then it’s this flow. It’s this up and down. Driving back from Banff through a snow storm, one of the record setting snows that they’ve ever received this early in the season. Missed my flight. Get on another flight. Fly through a thunderstorm from Chicago back to Philadelphia, which was exhilarating. Maybe that’s a terrifying account.

Kelly Meerbott: Does Jenny know this story?

Greg Hagin: Yes, she does. And then on the drive home from the airport, I get a flat tire. So it’s now 2:00 AM, fixing the tire on the side of road by myself. It’s like, everything flowed together. There’s some good. There’s some bad. There’s some adventure and excitement in all that. But it’s time consuming. Right? And then today, I’m going to leave the office at 4:00, and I’m going to coach Laura’s soccer team. She has soccer practice at 5:30. It’s a group of first grade girls, and I’m coach Hagin or Coach Greg. Maybe not every Sunday in there, but then you know what, on a random Thursday night I am going to be there for Laura and for Mary and for Jenny.

Kelly Meerbott: You’ve got to tell me the funniest thing you’ve heard from these girls because you have to hear a lot of funny things.

Greg Hagin: They are pretty amazing. I remember one of the first times that we went to the Philadelphia Zoo. And the girls were getting really excited to go there. And they had been watching one of these cartoon shows, or whatever it was. And Laura just got really excited. And she popped up and she asked me. She said, “Daddy, are we going to see any dragons today?” I said, “Well, I don’t know.” She said, “I want to see two dragons today. And I just thought, that’s so adorable.

Kelly Meerbott: That is.

Greg Hagin: She was watching this cartoon. She’s thinking maybe there are real dragons out there, and there are dragons at the zoo. And we’re going to interact with them today.

Kelly Meerbott: Well, and why not? Why not? Why shouldn’t there be dragons? And who knows? Maybe back in the day, somebody misnamed and animal, and really a giraffe is a dragon. We don’t know. Right?

Greg Hagin: There you go.

Kelly Meerbott: I’m going to end the interview with four rapid fire questions. Are you ready?

Greg Hagin: I think so.

Kelly Meerbott: Okay. What’s your favorite comfort food?

Greg Hagin: Does sushi count?

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah.

Greg Hagin: Sushi.

Kelly Meerbott: Okay. Is there a special roll that you like?

Greg Hagin: No. The shrimp tempura roll. That probably works, yeah. On Friday nights, oftentimes our family and Jenny, we get sushi. And that’s like the end of the week, we all get to huddle again, so it’s the experience of having takeout sushi on Friday nights.

Kelly Meerbott: Awesome. What books are on your nightstand?

Greg Hagin: The most recent one is by Niall Ferguson. He was a Harvard professor. Now he’s at Stanford. And he’s written a book called The West and the Rest. It’s all about kind of this historical transition of progress and power from the Eastern part of the world of some of the Chinese empires, then through modern Europe, and then the West into North America over the last 500 years. And now that pendulum is starting to possibly shift again through all sorts of different patterns that we’re seeing. So that book and another book by Joshua Ramos about just networks and the power of networks, and the evolution of networks overall, whether that’s data flows, or capital flows, or migration flows, levered through technology, and really what that means for the future of our societies and our species.

Kelly Meerbott: Wow. That’s amazing. That’s too very different books.

Greg Hagin: Those are fun reads for me, yeah. I get excited about that.

Kelly Meerbott: Yeah. It’s light reading. Everybody does it, of course, Greg. Okay. What songs are on your playlist? I can’t wait to hear this one.

Greg Hagin: Well, there’s that song Most People Are Good by Luke Bryan. Like listening to that one. My wife, Jenny, and I, we listen to a lot of country music together. I also have a little bit of a ritual in the morning. Whatever time I wake up, usually around 5:00, and leave the house around 5:15, 5:30, I just listen to WRTI, and that’s just classical music the whole time. I don’t know enough about it to say, “Well, it’s Mozart or Beethoven.” But I really enjoy that kind of morning groove and ritual waking up with classical music for the first 20 to 30 minutes. It all depends kind of on mood and time of day and weekend and the whole thing. I have an eclectic taste for music, so classical music. Could still kick it old school every once in a while.

Kelly Meerbott: Yes, man.

Greg Hagin: Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest. Could go classic rock with Led Zeppelin and all that stuff.

Kelly Meerbott: You never told me your favorite song off of License to Ill. Or did you just like the whole … I mean, I wore out the cassette tape. And the cassette tape, if you don’t know what that is, just Google it.

Greg Hagin: I don’t know. Maybe Brass Monkey.

Kelly Meerbott: Oh, yeah.

Greg Hagin: Maybe Paul Revere.

Kelly Meerbott: Oh, yes.

Greg Hagin: No Sleep Til Brooklyn.

Kelly Meerbott: Yes, all these great songs. I miss the Beasties. They were so good. Okay. Final question. What are you most grateful for in this moment right now?

Greg Hagin: To have the presence to be speaking with you.

Kelly Meerbott: That’s very kind. Thank you very much. Do you have a web address in case any nonprofits are listening to the podcast can get in touch with you?

Greg Hagin: Ccsfundraising.com.

Kelly Meerbott: Okay. We’ve been speaking with the amazing Greg Hagin, partner and managing director at CCS Fundraising. Thank you so much for honoring us with your time, Greg.

Greg Hagin: Thank you, Kelly.

Kelly Meerbott: And thanks for being so vulnerable and real. And to our listeners, it’s our intention that this podcast inspires you to go out and have an authentic conversation to deepen the connections in your life. Thanks, and make it a great day.

Speaker 1: You’ve been listening to Hidden Human, the stories behind the business leader. If you’ve enjoyed the episode, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. To learn more about Kelly and the services she provides, visit youloudandclear.com. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll be back soon with a new episode.