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How Lea Endres and Jim Gilliam Built NationBuilder into the World’s Leading Community Engagement Software Used by Organizations Worldwide

How Lea Endres and Jim Gilliam Built NationBuilder into the World’s Leading Community Engagement Software Used by Organizations Worldwide

On today’s episode of Gritty Founder, Kreig Kent talks with Lea Endres and Jim Gilliam about how they met and both decided to build NationBuilder. Lea and Jim also share advice on building a team and getting your first customers.

Lea Endres is a co-founder and CEO of NationBuilder and the president of NationBuilder Stories. A writer, educator, and human rights advocate, Lea has spent the last two decades developing organizations, programs, and media designed to create conversations about and solutions to some of humanity’s biggest challenges – from climate change to prison reform.

Prior to NationBuilder, Lea served as the chief of staff for Green for All – an organization she helped found that is dedicated to building an inclusive green economy. She currently sits on the advisory board of Homeboy Recycling a Los Angeles-based social enterprise that is creating green jobs for people exiting California’s correctional system. She is the co-author of Jim Gilliam’s memoir, “The Internet is My Religion.”

Jim Gilliam is the founder of NationBuilder, the software platform for leaders. Previously, he co-founded Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films, building a non-profit grassroots media powerhouse of a million members. In the late 90’s, he launched as its Chief Technology Officer, and worked at Lycos, one of the first internet search engines. Gilliam has produced four documentaries, and was honored in 2008 with Take Back America’s second annual Maria Leavey Tribute Award. His speech at the Personal Democracy Forum in June 2011, The Internet is My Religion, has been viewed over 500,000 times and called “the best video on the internet.”

As many of you may already know, Jim Gilliam fought a long battle with cancer and made a number of truly miraculous recoveries. But late last year in November of 2018, Jim fought the battle with cancer once more. This time, an infection dramatically impacted his ability to recover, and he passed away on November 23, 2018. Jim was a brilliant mind and truly a gritty founder. We can learn a lot from him and I hope you can gain some of his wisdom from this amazing episode we recorded along with his cofounder Lea Endres.

Some Questions Kreig Asks Lea & Jim:

– What is NationBuilder? (11:37)
– Did you face any problems in the process of building NationBuilder? (16:29)
– What is the single most important ingredient a founder needs to have to be successful? (23:22)
– What is your advice to future founders and leaders who are going to build organizations? (27:02)
– Many companies struggle getting customers, can you tell us the story about how you got your first customer? (32:47)
– What is some advice you would give to founders who are looking to get their first customers and generate revenue? (34:35)

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

– How Lea and Jim met (7:02)
– How Jim started NationBuilder (7:29)
– Why Lea decided to help build NationBuilder with Jim (10:15)
– Advice on hiring and building a sales team (17:38)
– The importance of devotion to the company, a deep desire to learn, and taking responsibility as a founder (23:30)
– The value of building an audience in the early stages of starting your company (34:47)

Connect with Lea Endres:


See Also

Also Mentioned on This Show…

Lea & Jim’s favorite quotes:
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ―Buckminster Fuller

“In and through community lies the salvation of the world.” ―M. Scott Peck

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is on a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” ―Martha Graham

Lea & Jim’s book recommendations:
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull
An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

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