Q&A with Jeffrey Golby, Forty Under 40 Winner 2021, CEO, Acts of Water, Age 38
Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?
A desire to make as much of an impact with the time and privilege I’ve been given. There’s probably just a hint of an unhealthy need to overachieve and please too many people in the process, too.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Great wine — except I don’t feel guilty about it.
What is the best book you would recommend?
Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up by Jerry Colonna.
Now that you are (or are close to) entering your forties, what goals have you set for yourself?
I hope to continue to own my story more. There are insecurities that come with the not-for-profit sector — defining your work as what you are ‘not’ versus what you are ‘for.’ I hope I can better own my reckless thoughts, my loud mouth, my actions and ambitions.
What was your childhood career dream?
Pop star — it still is.
Name your happiest place.
Good food, wine, friends and family around my table enjoying a slow meal together, where the dishes disappear at the end, as the scotch appears to start the second act.
What was your toughest business or professional decision?
At the start of becoming CEO, we had almost no money and there were significant operational challenges, which I felt inept at solving. I had to look at our books and our operations and make some painful gut-level decisions and cuts to make this organization viable.
What Advice you would give your 20-year-old self?
Fight the expectations others have on how you should be using this time in your life; use it for non-linear career moves, explore lots, buy the plane ticket, take the random gig.
What is your best habit?
I am all over the place, and so as a result I religiously use Todoist to write down everything, and then follow a fairly structured morning ritual that allows me to stay on top of my most pressing priorities.
Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.
I’ve worked as everything, from a blueberry picker and telemarketer, through to a tour guide in Japan for members of the New York Police Department.
Best piece of advice ever received?
The best leaders create the sandbox for others to succeed.
Biggest learning (about life or business) during the pandemic?
The value of investing in people and trusting them to lead when the time comes.
What career highlight are you most proud of?
We’re about to complete a three-year project, where 17,000 people will receive clean water.