Meet EDGE Mentoring’s President & CEO Dave Neff
Some call him the most interesting man in Indiana. Some say his rolodex and web of relationships is worth millions for the right buyer. Some say that his game in pick up basketball is more conducive to high school than the NBA, because he would dribble out the shot clock on every possession if given 24 seconds to get a shot off. Actually, anyone who’s played pick up basketball with Dave would say that.
Dave Neff was recently named to the Indiana Business Journal's Forty Under 40 class of 2016.
1) After a choosing a career path focused on the sports world with the Pacers & ExactTarget, why did you decide to join EDGE?
I chose to pursue the opportunity with EDGE because of the impact it’s had on my life the past six years. I can point to the experience as being the single biggest influencer in my development personally, professionally and spiritually in my 20s.
I’ve heard it said before that your career often starts out more about the “WHAT” (ie – brand of the company/organization you are working for) and transitions to the “WHO” (people you want to work for or with). I saw the opportunity to build a brand and a program in EDGE as a challenge.
I knew it was a worthy endeavor because it had not only temporary benefits but eternal implications in the lives of those it touches as well.
2) How have you grown as a leader since accepting the role as Executive Director?
I have had some amazing opportunities to interface with world-class leaders in this role. From working with mentors, to recruiting new mentors, to creating, nurturing and catalyzing a board and even working with some of the incredible young leaders we have in the program as mentees, I’ve been able to assimilate the best insights from some of the sharpest people around.
I learn through exposure and experiences and EDGE has certainly provided ample opportunity for me to grow in this regard. Prior to Dante joining the team, I think it stretched me as the sole employee to really hold myself accountable to the progress EDGE was making each week, even down to each day.
As the team continues to grow, I’m excited to build an effervescent culture that gets things done and is easy and reliable to engage with on all fronts.
3) What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur looking to start & lead their own non-profit organization?
Have thick skin. Build a rock solid team of advisors or personal board of directors.
Everyone has an opinion on what you are doing and most of that is just white noise – if you believe in your organization’s vision and mission strongly, then don’t allow the opinions of others to dissuade you.
Most importantly, you have to have tenacity, belief in yourself and a relentless spirit to persevere when sometimes it feels like traction might be slow or if what you are doing really even matters.
4) With such great growth over the past 18 months, how do you ensure that EDGE is doing a good job of balancing growth & sustainability at the same time?
EDGE is entering a new phase as we seek some aggressive milestones of growth in the near and intermediate future. We have plans to grow the team and the impact EDGE can make in corporate America, the communities in which we live and our families. I read a great book recently called “Essentialism” and I think it’s critical to focus on “essential” goals. One piece of that, as with every non-profit, is fundraising and development.
We have a big campaign kicking off this fall to build out the long-term sustainability of EDGE. We will continue to recruit and attract new mentors and mentees, plan and host great events, and deliver a phenomenal America’s Best Hope, but our emphasis on building strategic financial investors who believe in what we are doing will be extremely essential.
5) Where do you see for the future of EDGE Mentoring?
I truly believe EDGE can become the most influential mentoring organization in America… maybe even beyond. Our laser-focus on attracting “A” mentors as well as the best and brightest mentees will define our culture and brand. We need to build the organization with scale so getting the right people on board the team will be critical to our success as well.
I also am incredibly bullish on our EDGEx initiative – I believe this has immense potential to drive exponential growth. Finally, I think EDGE will also find growth opportunities by creating a partner ecosystem with like-minded organizations. Indy is already a hub for mentoring organizations and as our influence continues to grow, we will want to be positioned to add value to these organizations in Indy and beyond.
6) Ok, tell us some funny/embarrassing facts about yourself.
As a sophomore in college, I rocked a cubic zirconium stud earring in my left ear. My parents were not thrilled – I wore it for about a year. I’ve also won two karaoke contests in the past.
Learn More About EDGE
You can learn more about one of Indiana’s fastest growing organizations and see why so many young professionals are joining EDGE Mentoring by visiting our website – www.EDGEMentoring.org.