Muddy Boots 2.0

Waer Muddy Boots 

Muddy Boots 2.0 Blog


Leadership Thoughts:

Wear Muddy Boots

Be Intentional in how you spend your time.

Make it safe for folks to name the elephants.

Your personal brand is everything, as in what do you stand for and how do you stand. 


This is your time.

Find the pain and fix it.

It is all about your crew. Talent Matters

Be calm, be consistent, care, and always be a coach.

Legacy in the end is how we will be measured. 




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March 2021 Punch List

Posted by on March 21, 2021 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

As we make the turn to a time post-Covid, some things I suggest we think about and a call to action.


1.Organizational North Star. What is it, and does everyone in your organization know it and where they fit?

2. Talent. New rules, new challenges, the hybrid experience makes communications, travel, and interaction different. You need to adapt.

3. How good is the team at giving and getting feedback, crucial conversations, and being able to name the elephant in the room safely?

4. Cash, Investment, ROI, Operation Expense. You have a chance to reengineer your financial model post covid. Operating margins can significantly improve if you don't go back to pre covid levels of spend. Don't waste a crisis.

5. Professional Services, how did they do with you the last 12 months? Partnerships tool on a whole new level and meaning over the previous 12 months.

6. Data. Is it good, is it valid, are you measuring the right things?

7. Call your customers, reconnect, to quote Mike Marks, "find the pain and fix it."

8. Muddy Boots rule one and two. Get out in the field and ask how we are doing and what we can do better. See #7

9. We are not out of the Pandemic, people need support, and they also need clarity. Listen with an open heart.

10. Be part of the movement to redefine our nation's relationship with essential workers on pay, benefits, working conditions. Living wage creates consumers and lowers the cost of the social safety net.

11. Let us finally make the founder's vision real, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Men being defined as all men and women in the USA. We are a nation on edge, and it will take all of us to make equity, opportunity, and safety fundamental rights. Diversity is our greatest strength. Let us make it more than a word spoken after yet another bias crime.

12. Put Grandkids over Greed. Social Impact Investing, doing well while doing good, the time has come. Climate change is real, and so should our correlated investing and public policy.

13. Demand accountable and responsible government and vote. Don't sit on the sidelines—every election matters. Protect the right to vote for all Americans.

We live in unprecedented times. It calls for unprecedented leadership.

What's your list?



Managing in a time of Covid, Economic Chaos, and Racial Inequity

Posted by on February 19, 2021 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)


This week as I attended virtually staff meetings, board meetings, committee meetings, check-ins, and zoom with friends and family, I heard a common comment. “Our people are exhausted!”

The next question is, “ What action can we take?” I have heard a range of suggestions. No meeting days, shut the business for a day, listening sessions, send snacks, put off non-essential tasks, set hours for email and work, lower expectations. You could see tempers flare and accountability waiver.

How about we do our job as managers and get back to the basics?

Does your team have a work plan? Do they know where the firm is going? Do they know their role? Are they rolling that plan throughout the organization? Do they know their talent, really know their people? Do they understand the guardrails and what they can and cannot do to provide flexibility and options with the responsibilities and results they own along with their team? Do you empower them to act?

Does your team bicker, or do they problem-solve? Do they acknowledge challenges and share the impacts of decisions? Will they name elephants and admit they are challenged? Are they quiet in the tough crucial conversations? Will they ask for help? A focused and empowered team can move mountains and, in their own way, deal with Covid, economic chaos, and racial inequality on both an individual and larger scale. Your team can be exhausted and helpless, or focused, empowered, and moving the needle.

But, do you set the tone?

We can live in the doom and gloom of 2020 or choose to thrive and drive change. You can lower expectations, or you can set them. You can drift, or you can set direction. You can tell people what to do, or you can lead them. Lead by spending time listening, getting their recommendations, and jointly problem-solving. Giving permission to be balanced and show flexibility in these times and still meet expectations. Clearly communicate and be clear-eyed to the challenges and open to listening. What is the plan, what are our goals, and how do you see your role? Be a leader by being a solid manager. Talent is what drives an organization, and leadership and management are what curates and enables talent.

The essence of Muddy Boot is to be in the field and to ask two questions, how are we doing, and what can we do better? In these times, I would add, how are you doing and how can I help?

Covid, economic chaos, and racial inequity are huge issues, and they can suck the life out of an organization, let alone a nation. Still, there is only one way to meet and address these historic challenges. Yes, people are exhausted and overwhelmed. Rather than seeking one-off silver bullets that feel good but don’t deliver long-term impacts, let us look in the mirror. And see the work of basics leadership and solid management, by defining and communicating a North Star, creating a plan, setting expectations, supporting the team, and creating joint accountability for performance and balance. Focus drives performance, and performance drives and enables change.

A rising tide lifts all boats. We can drift, or we can steer.


Events of 1/6/21

Posted by on January 6, 2021 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Tonight I hold in prayer the nation.

Tonight I hold in prayer the people of the nation.

Freedom, Equality, Justice, Democracy are not idle concepts.

They are bedrock fundamental values.

When we behave this way we put these values at risk and

in turn our families, our neighbors, and ourselves.

We also put at risk the stranger we do not know who could be family, neighbor, or us but for the grace of God.

The time for silence is over, the time for accountability is long overdue. It is time to put Grandchildren over greed.

Yesterday we saw the power of a free and fair election, just as we saw in November. A vote is a voice. It is priceless and unique.

Freedom, Equality, Justice, and Democracy demand discourse and the rule of law.

They also demand equal accountability and equal buy in in order to thrive from the people.

Pray for the nation, but not in silence.

Pray for a time when access to opportunity and justice is available to all, but not in silence.

"All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. All that is needed for the forces of evil to succeed is for enough good men to remain silent."

We are better than this. Speak Up.

Human Services

Posted by on December 17, 2020 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)


“We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, and others will stand on ours. Let our shared legacy be that even in the darkest of days, ECS gave light to the darkness and answered with our full measure the call to service. There will always be fires, and we will always respond.” (150th remarks)


One of my favorite quotes with attribution to St Francis is “Preach the gospel and sometimes use words.” As I reflect on the year that has been 2020, my thoughts are very much with the people we serve at ECS and my colleagues that I have the privilege of working with as together we challenge poverty. Without fanfare, they answer the call every day. They run to the fire, and with few words but deep and resilient actions, they work to positively move the lives of individuals, families, and communities.


The call to service runs deep. I am humbled that individuals who could be doing almost any profession choose this field, moreover, not just at ECS, but throughout our City, Region and Country, answering the call to service at agencies and institutions, all dedicated to lifting the human spirit. I am humbled and grateful for their service. I can honestly say that I had no idea of the challenges and the issues before I took on this work. Now almost eight years in, I understand what one means when one speaks to an individual’s full measure. You know who you are and have my admiration, respect, and commitment to do all I can to help answer the call.


We are stronger together. If nothing else, history tells us that we do not win battles on the edges, but in the middle ground where the work is deep and messy. To do the job well, we need to collaborate and not compete, and we need to expect and drive real impacts; we need to adapt as the field changes. Above all, we need to look with clear eyes and an honest heart and acknowledge we can do better. If we measure progress, one individual, one family, and one community at a time, and we hold leadership and ourselves accountable for real and sustainable impacts, real change is possible.


Besides, if we are smart, we will listen to the folks on the front line and the people they serve, close to the action, doing the work, and moving the needle. They understand the roadmap for change.


You can “do,” or you can talk. I respect the folks who “do.”


Thank you for your service.


Dave Griffith is the executive director and head coach at Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia.


"Our Nation turns its lonely eyes to you"

Posted by on November 8, 2020 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

2020 has been dark, even in the bright days of summer.

But even amid darkness, we have seen rays of light and hope.

Shift changes at medical centers at the height of Covid. Horns honking and individuals cheering and clapping as doctors and nurses came and went about their round changes. With 220,000 deaths and climbing, we see births, marriages, virtual graduations. With record unemployment and shutdowns, we see businesses reinventing and finding new ways to make a buck.

We have a long winter ahead and many, many challenges to overcome. This week seemed incredibly daunting as funding cuts and revenue loss drive hard decisions in many businesses, including my own agency. Racial inequity, very much in the news, impacts many of our participants and employees. On top of it, the election was on all our minds. We were going into Philadelphia, and Paul Simons classic came over the radio.

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon

Going to the candidates' debate

Laugh about it, shout about it

When you've got to choose

Every way you look at this you lose

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you

Woo, woo, woo


And the radio broke in for an announcement that Joe Biden, a different Joe, had carried Pennsylvania and was now President-elect. We turned onto to 6th street by Independence Hall. The mall was filled with people, cheering and waving signs and flags. Through the City, you head honking and cheering. Frankly, it was good to feel democracy working.


Yes, we are in dark days, with a nation divided and perhaps on the brink. Leadership matters and we need to heed Lincoln's words that a house divided cannot stand, let alone beat a pandemic, or play on the world stage. Nevertheless, one can only hope that a leadership change will bring hope, healing, tolerance, and mutual respect back into our national discourse. Can we learn that our self-interest starts with our neighbors?


We may disagree on many things, but let us decide that a healthy, growing American that can lift all boats with equal opportunity and equal justice is worth looking past our differences and finding common ground. It is time for all of us to answer that higher call. Throughout the City Saturday, and in the President-elect remarks that night, I heard a call to service and a willingness to listen and find common ground. I pray that the call is answered by all of us, both Red and Blue. There is a reason it is "We the People."


Indeed Mr. President, Mr. President-elect, and all of our elected leaders,


Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.


Please lead all of the nation.



Posted by on September 15, 2020 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

With a few weeks until 11.3.2020, I thought it appropriate to frame the issues and what is at stake against one of my go-to bedrock quotes.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt, Citizenship in a Republic.

We are clearly at an inflection point, and I fear we are missing the point. It is not a battle for the left vs. the right, liberal vs. conservative. Instead, it is a battle for what does America stands for regardless of the party in power. The issue is, what are the core values that we stand for and live for as a nation, and are they valid and actual for all Americans? The question that needs an answer is what are the non-negotiable fundamentals and the true rule of law for all of our citizens.

In the work that we do, we have a vision. It is a world where access to opportunity is available to all, as in the opportunity for health care, for housing, for education, for training, for employment at a living wage, for equal protection, and a safe environment. To be clear, it is access to the opportunity. What one does with opportunity is fundamental to where one lands. The way out of poverty is a job at a living wage. How do we level the playing field and create access for all is the core question?

The America I am committed to fighting for is one where access and equality are genuinely available to all Americans. It should never be an issue of party politics. It should be fundamental to our DNA as a nation. The challenge is how do get more of us into the arena, to not only call for change but to make it happen.

As TR eloquently stated, it is a worthy cause well worth the fight. May we have less cold and timid souls.


Will we do more?

Posted by on August 16, 2020 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

My daughter takes about CV19 in terms of the “before” time, the “now” time, and the “after” time. The “now” time has all of our attention, frustration, and hope. At ECS, we are working to deliver essential services at our shelter and emergency housing, and getting ready to staff our Out of School Time program in the Fall to support the City and School District as Philadelphia children go back to school virtually. Plans are underway to provide pods of 25 throughout the city to ensure children are safe, learning, and working parents can work. Our other vital services we are delivering virtually and in some ways, because of time and place challenges, more effectively. Our transformational programs based on the best available brain science that coach individuals have at their roots, helping individuals learn to problem solve. If ever there was a time to build this skill, it is now. We continue to grow these programs and collaborate with other agencies to deliver these services. For more information, see and specifically MindSet.

However, what about the “after” time. Against the new realities of finally calling out and acknowledging systematic racism on a national scale, will we do more? Against the record unemployment in black and brown neighborhoods, when PPP fades and other temporary measures end, will we do more? With the genuine possibility of a lost school year and higher education looking at a dramatic shift in both delivery and expense, will we do more? With poverty, sure to rise, will we do more? Will we value our essential workers differently, will we do more? Will we use the resources, time, talent, and treasure of our nation to raise all boats, to create new jobs, will we do more? To say it once more, will we put grandchildren over greed?

I recently joined several individuals to write an op-ed laying out one possible direction. The 5 Rs — Recognition, Recovery, Reimagining, Reform, and Resilience — are the blueprint for a new dialogue, a strategic path forward that includes all of us. To read the full article see


We will get through the “now” time. It is the “after” time that concerns me. For many, the path to prosperity just grew significantly harder and steeper. If history is any indication, many of us will look inward, and we will turn inward. We are at a pivot point that affects us individually, but also our children and our wider community of all our families and children.


There can only be one answer to the question, “will we do more”?


It has to be “Yes,” and it has to be all of us.


On 11.3.2020, our vision for America has to be one for all Americans. Leadership matters. Especially ours.


On the Water

Posted by on July 7, 2020 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I am up to my wader belt in sixty-degree water. The sun is dancing on the surface, and the ripples are in and out of shade from the overhanging trees. A short waterfall is on my left, and a deep pool is in front of me and runs along the far bank on my right. I am casting a six weight rod and line with a caddis and sinking green nymph set up. For me, this is about as good as it gets.


I get a rise in front of me at about 35 feet. Then a second. I cast and lay the fly about a foot in front of the last rise. The indicator starts its drift in the current. I can't feel the line, but the cork does its job and disappears with a hit. I lift my rod sharply and set the hook.


I reel in the excess line and start the dance. The fish runs for the bottom, then turns, then breaks the surface. We do these steps three or four times, each time I can bring in more line. As the fish tires, I get my net and look to bring the fish over its submerged opening.


The fly is barbless, as we fish catch and release, and for a second I let the line slack. In a flash, the fish spits the fly and is gone.


The pool grows still again. The waterfall the only sound. I check the fly, strip some line and cast back into the moving foam of the falls.


It does not matter if I catch a fish. It only matters that the soul restores in the attempt.


Prayer takes many forms.


That is the beauty of fishing.



"There is no try, only do or do not"

Posted by on July 5, 2020 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I have not posted for a while.

Like many, I find myself caught in the arc of history and the times.

Our plans and preparation for the future now requiring a redrafting.

We are not a “remote” culture, but Teams and Zoom are our new office.

In my current work in nonprofit social services, the rules are changing. Some because they have too and some because they can. I know it is not just our sector.

None of us can sit and watch. We must do. Moreover, we must do together on the big issues.

Therefore, what is the punch list?

1. 11.3.2020 vote. Fight to protect your and others right to vote.

2. Vote 11.3.2020. It is where accountability starts.

3. Wear your damn mask, go long on hand sanitizer, 6 feet means 6 feet. Science matters.

4. As a leader, confirm your Mission, Vision and Values, what is your North Star? Is it valid?

5. If it is in these times, double down. If not, reload and accept change. Drive it. Quickly.

6. I suspect we all call for racial equity in America, what are you doing to make it real? Are you getting help so you drive real change?

7. Care for your team, care for your clients, care for yourself. See #6.

8. Communicate the truth; its absence sows fear and discomfort.

9. Learn from these times, reality has never been sharper. Know your data. Forecast, as time and insigt are a gift. Nimble is how you survive. Talent, Data, and Assets are your levers. Know and manage all three. Know reality and shape it where you can, adapt where you cannot.

10. Every day, do your job. Move towards your North Star. Your team, your customers and clients, count on it. Not everyone has the assets to make it through a crisis. Keeping people employed and moving forward is job one. The team delivers the mission.

You may never have the opportunity to make a bigger difference than you do now.

To quote, “There is no try, there is only do or do not”




It is Time

Posted by on May 29, 2020 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I have been thinking hard about recent events and how to respond as both as an agency focused on the issues of poverty in our community and as a father and citizen.

I have long held the belief that our values frame us. Not just what we say they are, but how we live them.

Our values at ECS, as I have written about before, are dignity, justice, community, and impact. I recently wrote about how CV-19 has ripped off the covers on the issues of equity in our communities and wide gaps in our society. Much of our work at ECS focuses on addressing these gaps with individuals and communities impacted by poverty.

The recent news highlights the racial inequity in America. While I do not know the specifics of each case, the ongoing trend and response is alarming and confirms what many of my black and brown colleagues have told me and what I have witnessed in our work. Let us note the events in Minneapolis with George Floyd are not new and that alone should get our attention. One would have to be blind not to see our history, root causes, and note the consequences of doing nothing to change our trajectory.

As a father, I hear the concern in both participants and employees who are parents' voices; as a father, I fear for the youth we serve, as I would worry for my children. However, as the leader of a 150-year-old social service agency that holds the values of dignity, justice, impact, and community, I also have to call for action. The baptismal covenant in our tradition asks if you will respect the dignity of every human being, not some, but every. The conditions that spawn this violence find their root cause in poverty and racism and result in the long-term disparity in America over access to opportunity.

We condemn the use of violence, and we call for us to step back from the brink, breathe, and name the real problems here, especially in a pandemic and economic disruption that has raised so clearly the differences in America. We acknowledge that we are all afraid, but I know fear is best met if we are all together. Let me emphasize the "all." As I have said before, self-interest starts with your neighbor—all your neighbors.

Let us use our resources to ease the short-term pain. Then let us use the events of late to trigger a collective and aggressive response to the economic disparity and racial inequity that divide us as a nation and as humans. Let our values be more than words.

"You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again." Ben Franklin

Time is not on our side.