Community//

Chad Hickey & Givsly: “Leadership is when you turn around and people are naturally following you”

Leadership is when you turn around and people are naturally following you. That is when you know you are a leader. It is not a title or a promotion. Time does not make you a leader. There are a lot of leaders out there that should not be in their position. They are great at […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

Leadership is when you turn around and people are naturally following you. That is when you know you are a leader. It is not a title or a promotion. Time does not make you a leader. There are a lot of leaders out there that should not be in their position. They are great at presenting themselves in a certain way publicly, but when it comes to running a business, inspiring a team and executing a plan, they are poor performers.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chad Hickey, Founder and CEO of Givsly.

Headquartered in New York City, Givsly is a for-purpose company built around the belief that as the world around us evolves, so should our options to create social impact. While business professionals juggle many day-to-day tasks, creating social impact should not be perceived as an additional burden. Instead, Givsly develops new ways of creating impact by thinking differently about how your current everyday tasks and resources can give back. Givsly introduces a portfolio of ways for professionals to give back, while doing business. Partners can utilize meeting time to raise money for nonprofits through the Givsly platform or get out in the community with clients through planned Givsly experiences. Whichever path you choose, Givsly strives to make social impact simple but impactful.

Prior to launching Givsly, Chad spent 17 years of his career in the advertising industry-leading revenue-driven sales teams with a focus on mobile, location data and measurement. Most recently, Chad led sales at Placed, the leader in offline attribution and a company acquired by Snap, Inc. in 2017. Before joining Placed, Chad spent over five years leading global revenue at GroundTruth (formerly xAd). During his time at GroundTruth, Chad launched the national sales team and grew revenues to over 100 million dollars annually across North America, Europe and Asia. Other previous employers include IAC and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s digital division, ajc.com.

An Arkansas native, Chad has lived in New York City for the past eleven years and shares midtown apartment with his dog Minnie.


Thank you for joining us Chad! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In my mid- to late-30s, I really started to “wake up” to some of my previous selfish behavior. I had spent most of the time up until that point climbing the corporate ladder to prove to myself that I could accomplish a title or position. However, when I started to re-evaluate and think about what made me happy, I kept coming back to moments of social impact that I experienced because of a company’s social good program. What I quickly realized is that the thing that made me happy, was also a fundamental gap in the market from most businesses.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Not necessarily a story but more of a mindset. I did not realize how isolating of an experience starting your own company can be. Even though I have two amazing co-founders, to some extent there are elements that only you experience. Whether it be your own financial investment or just worrying about making the best next move, it is something that you mentally go through alone.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Don’t plan your first company event on the rooftop in May. When we launched our social impact event series, we had an amazing plan to do a training experience with 100 people on a roof in Brooklyn. On the day of our event it was raining and 50 degrees. The next day — sunny and 75. All we could do was laugh and make the best of it…and we did.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

Our company is completely changing the way business professionals give back. In July 2019, we noticed a need for professionals to have a volunteering tool that did not disrupt their day-to-day. For nine months we were building the platform, and then the need took on a whole new meaning with COVID-19. The way we have historically volunteered is completely disrupted, but the Givsly platform functions even better after the pandemic. It allows you to volunteer a virtual business meeting from the safety of your home and still have an avenue to support your favorite charities.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

We recently had several focus groups with users of the Givsly platform. One salesperson, who had booked over six meetings via Givsly with key decision-makers in his industry, talked about how he was having deeper connections with the business people that he had booked in the platform. The money that he would typically spend on sending them a gift or taking them to lunch, was now not only helping him automatically form a deeper connection businesswise, but also redirecting that money to causes that needed it.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

  1. Realize that most individuals and companies already have the resources they need to change the world.
  2. Understand and raise awareness to ALL nonprofits in the community that need support, not just the well-known nonprofits.
  3. Evangelize that you don’t have to be “volunteer of the year “to make a difference. Little socially conscious changes in someone’s life can go a long way if we all just take small steps.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is when you turn around and people are naturally following you. That is when you know you are a leader. It is not a title or a promotion. Time does not make you a leader. There are a lot of leaders out there that should not be in their position. They are great at presenting themselves in a certain way publicly, but when it comes to running a business, inspiring a team and executing a plan, they are poor performers.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Have a pandemic plan? ha.
  2. It’s not personal. One of the things I had to adjust to is not taking a “no” on the business as a “no” to me as a person.
  3. Some people are not great connectors. I love to connect and help people, but I have discovered that a lot of people don’t naturally have this skill or the comfort to do it.
  4. Not everyone will want to help you to succeed. I have learned a lot about who I can depend on for help and who I can’t. The most interesting is that the help has come from the most unexpected places, so it has really helped me re-evaluate the quality of some of my network.
  5. You will have to make time to recharge. I have had to force myself to have moments to NOT think about the business. It has been vital to having endurance.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would inspire everyone to believe that they are worthy of creating social change and that they already have the tools to do it. With our platform Givsly, we encourage anyone in business to volunteer meetings, because we know that all levels of people get meeting requests and take new business meetings. By taking one of those meetings and volunteering time, you can easily raise money for a nonprofit that you care about without disrupting your daily job. By making social impact easy but effective — we can do more together!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I read this passage in Dare to Lead by Brene Brown a few days after I decided to start my own business, “If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I’m not interested in or open to your feedback. There are a million cheap seats in the world today filled with people who will never be brave with their lives but who will spend every ounce of energy they have hurling advice and judgment at those who dare greatly. Their only contributions are criticism, cynicism and fearmongering. If you’re criticizing from a place where you’re not also putting yourself on the line, I’m not interested in what you have to say.” In my moments of uncertainty or external criticism, I go back and read this quote. I pay close attention to the feedback of people who have also taken risks in their life and career. The critics who throw stones from the “cheap seats” aren’t worth my time.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Oprah. My mom and I watched every episode after school when I was growing up in Arkansas! She was the original influencer of living a life of purpose in my opinion. The older I have become, the more inspired I am by her desire to be used to do good. I could only hope to do a fraction of what she has done.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

They can follow Givsly on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @givsly or you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram at @chickey79.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Social Impact sector and businesses can define the new normal in post-coronavirus world

by Chad Hickey
Community//

Social Impact Heroes: How Chris Soukup is helping to provide products, programs, and services that create opportunities for deaf people to succeed

by Yitzi Weiner
Photo by pmbbun
Community//

Five Ways to Encourage Inclusion in Your Office

by Angela Roberts

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.