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Issue Date:
April 15, 2014

Alumni Lunch: Cliff Holtz,’84 of the American Red Cross

By Chen (Edward) Wang, PhD student  |  november, 2012, Issue 2

On Thursday, November 15, Booth students had a chance to listen to life stories from alumnus Cliff Holtz, '84; Senior Vice President of Humanitarian Services for the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C.

After sharing with the students the history of his professional development, Cliff turned over to the students for questions. Below is a paraphrased summary of Cliff's advice on a range of topics that were brought up by the students:

How to find a job that you really love?

While it is ideal to work on things that you are really passionate about, unfortunately that is not the case for most the people in the real world. The goal should be to find the "sweet spot" of what you love and what you need to do to make a living. When I was in industry, maybe 50% of me was working to make money and the other 50% was working for personal satisfaction. But as of now I am more happy in a non-profit and 90% of me is working for personal satisfaction. Having industry experience helps a lot in a non-profit setting.

What are some of the most important life lessons from being on a sales job?

The most important things is how to listen to what people really care about. Also, you should get rid of the mentality of "I win, you lose." In today's world, you always try to create a win-win situation.

What are some of the takeaways from your career experience in Detroit?

Put your ego in the closet. I was irresponsible for my company and myself and did not do my homework. I could not get pass the partners and talk to senior executives about deals. I was talking to them as if I was their boss. Things did not quite work out.

How do you lead large teams?

People have to see themselves in you. If people see you, they will give you a chance. Also, communication is very important. If you make yourself transparent, people will give you a chance. Finally, be overly self-aware, and do the thing you can do well. If you do not believe what you do, then you should not probably do it.

How did you adjust your management style from a corporate to a non-profit?

You need to modify you expectations, which should be consistent with why people are there. I no longer set deadlines, because people in non-profits do not want the same way to get there.

Last Updated 11/27/12
Last Updated 11/27/12