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LEADING QUESTIONS: Goodwill boss on lessons learned

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” where IBJ sits down with one of central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead to success.

Jim McClelland has been a fixture in the city's not-for-profit world since 1974, when he became president of Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana Inc. He has piloted the organization from $2.8 million in revenue when he first took the helm to $72.8 million in 2009, reinventing its business model a few times along the way.

An industrial engineer by training, McClelland became interested in service work while tutoring inner-city children in Washington, D.C. He was offered a position in Goodwill Industries' executive training program, which he accepted after some reluctance.

"I didn't want to be an executive; I never aspired to be a leader," he said. "What I've been able to do here is exercise my entrepreneurial instincts but at the same time get the same satisfaction I was getting from that volunteer experience."

McClelland, 66, is a big fan of lifelong learning, both from traditional paper-and-ink sources and nose-to-the-grindstone experience. In the video below, McClelland picks his favorite book on management and details a tough lesson learned on his own about nurturing the support functions of his organization.



McClelland's entrepreneurial instincts haven't always led Goodwill in the best direction. In the video below, he discusses how he tried to handle the economic downturn of the early 1980s and what happened when the group started several small business to provide employment for its own training graduates. The experience led to an important epiphany.

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  • Wonderful Stewardship
    I just became a part of the Goodwill organization as a full time employee and I did not realize what a fabulous and well run organization I have had the opportunity to become a part of. There are so many wonderful things they offer to the community; the slogan should be Goodwill - GREAT CAUSE! I encourage everyone to visit the website in order to find out everything Goodwill does for the people of central Indiana. Please visit www.goodwillindy.org I consider working here a privledge.
  • Great guy
    Jim McClelland can be credited for so many visionary strategies for Goodwill Industries and the city of Indianapolis. We are blessed to have him continue to be so active in our community. Thanks, IBJ, for spotlighting a man with such integrity and dedication.

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