A Career Choice is a Life Choice Logo

In this edition of VIZI’s A Career Choice is a Life Choice blog series, we’re speaking with Nicholas Kristock, co-founder and executive director of Fleece & Thank You, a Metro Detroit-based nonprofit that makes and donates blankets to children battling cancer and other diseases. He’s worked with and founded multiple non-profits, and truly loves helping people and hearing their stories. Learn more about his career path:

Nicholas Kristock, co-founder and executive director of Fleece & Thank You

DB: What is your current position?
NK: I am the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Fleece & Thank You, a nonprofit that provides comfort and hope to children battling illness by giving donors the opportunity to create a blanket and video message of support.

DB: What has your career path been like?
NK: I have an undergrad in Business and an MBA. I started my first non-profit organization as a college sophomore, went on to work in 5 different non profits in Australia, and now have been back in Michigan since 2015 working on Fleece & Thank You.

DB: What do you value most about your current role?
NK: My current role allows me to do what I do best: learn someone’s greatest need and build them up to a solution, empower them to own that solution, and then serve them continually to always be improving on that solution.

DB: What has been the biggest learning to date from your career path?
NK: My largest learning lessons have come from working with people. I am talking about real, authentic, caring humans. People are so much more than spreadsheets and forecasts. Business decisions involve people, and leading a group of humans has challenged me in ways that no statistical analysis could. From all this, I have learned that if you work hard to give yourself to the people around you, they will work equally hard for the mission and vision of your organization. By serving your team, you are advancing the organization.

DB: If you’re looking to hire someone on your team, what is your favorite question to ask them?
NK: I can find out so much about someone by asking them my favorite question: “If you were locked in a room for 30 days with no wifi, no outlets, no cell signal and you could bring 3 tangible items, what would they be?” Now this question is semi-cliche, and that’s why, once they answer, I always follow it up with, “Now, with your three items, would you stay in this room for 365 days if it meant you could have an infinite amount of money at the end of the year, BUT you have to go right now, no goodbyes to family, friends, etc., no explanations to the world, you go RIGHT NOW!”

This question shows me a lot about what someone values and how they value money vs. people.

Deanna Backos is a partner at the midnight oil group, a Detroit marketing agency offering full-service communications for clients. We live and breathe our clients’ brands, always developing new ideas, strategies and creative solutions to build awareness, engage with their target markets, and develop true brand advocates.