Nancy Lublin is the founder of Dress for Success, a nonprofit that provides professional clothing, support and tools for low-income women to succeed in their job-search and helps them gain economic independence. After building Dress for Success, Lublin served as the CEO of DoSomething.org, a nonprofit that galvanizes young people to join national campaigns for projects that create social change.
Most recently, Lublin is the CEO of Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit organization providing free crisis intervention through text message. Lublin founded Crisis Text Line after an employee at DoSomething.org received a text message saying: “He won’t stop raping me. He told me not to tell anyone.” The next day, there was another message: “It’s my dad.”
Forward Females had the opportunity to interview Lublin and learn more about her work, what she claims she’s “not so good at,” and what she’s planning on never feeding her kids…
What’s the common thread between your three main ventures: Dress for Success, DoSomething.org and Crisis Text Line?
My career seems kind of strange – bailing on law school to go to Dress for Success and then DoSomething, but all of these things are about helping other people help themselves. Dress for Success is about nailing that job interview, feeling confident and reclaiming your life. DoSomething is helping you figure out what you’re passionate about and then making a difference in that space. Crisis Text Line is giving you the tools, coping skills and support to make a plan for yourself to be safe. I like helping other people help themselves. Either that or I just have an aversion to making money.
What have you learned about yourself through your professional journey?
I learned a lot about managing people. I learned about technology and using it in smart ways to build things that matter. I’ve also learned what makes me tick, what I’m good at and what I’m not good at.
What are you good at and what are you not good at?
I’m good at functioning on very little sleep. I’m good during “war time”, when things get really messy. I’m good at letting people know what their strengths are and managing to those strengths.
I’m not good at math. I’m not good at taking deep breaths and going slowly. I’m really not good at taking care of myself.
What is your current involvement in Dress for Success and DoSomething.org?
I’m a fan.
When do you know when it’s time to move on to your next project?
When you find yourself spinning your wheels. And then you have to be passionate about something else. I never want to be bored somewhere. Leaving DoSomething was easy because I worked with a fantastic person who was ready to become CEO.
You have a tremendous amount of data and you don’t want people exploiting it in any way. But do you plan to use this data in any other way besides making Crisis Text Line more accurate and efficient?
Yes, we’re using it to make us better and to make the world better. We’ve opened it up at Crisis Trends. And by application only we’re allowing others to do research based on our data corpus. We had 65 applicants in the first couple of weeks. An ethics committee comprised of experts around the country evaluate the applications.
How do you recruit the volunteers who respond to texts? Do you do outreach or do most people come to you unsolicited?
People apply, they go through a background check, and then there’s a 34-hour online training that includes quizzes and role-play exercises. From the start of the application stage to actually getting on the platform, there’s a 39% acceptance rate.
We put the word out at key venues. Moms, veterans, the deaf and hard of hearing – there are these groups of people that are particularly terrific crisis counselors.
What was your biggest career mistake?
Only one? There are so many… Not firing people fast enough, not dreaming big enough, getting caught up in the details and missing the forest and the trees.
What are you most proud of?
My kids have never eaten Chicken McNuggets.
What life experience has had the greatest impact on you?
Probably having my kids. It’s made me a better person and a better CEO.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want my kids to be kind.