Dreaming Big at DreamForce

20 Nov

This week, San Francisco’s population increased by about 15% with estimates running into the 130,000+ range. And they’re all buzzing around with bright blue conference badges circling their necks. Dreamers here to dream—at DreamForce. But a portion of those folks are not just your everyday profit-based conference attendees.They’re “Dreamers” who dare to dream big,


representing nonprofits from around the world. 

Everyone in my husband’s company, Exponent Partners (ExP), a certified B Corp, pinches themselves (yes, it’s one big group pinch) every day, because they’re so fortunate to work with hundreds of nonprofits, streamlining business processes and redesigning systems to save program staff time and effort and funders’ cash. It’s win-win, as the biz folks say. Programs run smoother, cooler, quieter, longer—doing good more effectively.

ExP focuses on education, social services, and foundations. Whether it’s improving educational outcomes at the high school or college level, building schools for girls in areas where women get little education, or transforming the world in myriad ways through social entrepreneurship, ExP can often be found behind the scenes, a quiet but active do-gooder.

Over the past ten years, the company has grown from my husband and a partner consulting from a room in our home


No, this isn’t our home office, but wouldn’t it be awesome?

to a 40+person organization anchoring The Impact Hub in San Francisco, a space that fosters socially responsible ventures.

Over the course of those years, ExP has worked with “Dreamers” that include ASHOKA, KIPP, Beyond 12, Global Giving, Kiva, New Leaders for New Schools, The Posse Foundation, Playworks, Room to Read, Skoll Foundation, Teach for All, The Case Foundation, The New Teacher Project, and many others.

And during those ten years, my husband has worked twelve to sixteen hour days. He’s worked on the weekends, vacations, family visits, and into the wee hours long after our son and I have gone to bed. He believes deeply in ExP’s mission: helping nonprofits better serve their clients and measure their results, all with the understanding that it’s not enough to WANT to do good. You need to KNOW that you ARE doing good. As with medicine, anecdotal evidence only goes so far. The measurement of success must now be evidence-based.

I’m proud of my husband and his dedication to making the world a better place, so I thought I’d take this moment to show my appreciation as the clouds of “Dreamers” cover San Francisco in a warm, do-gooder fog (a welcome change from the usual chilling mist). And at the risk of sounding sappy, there is pure joy in my heart


for the biggest man in my life—a guy who dreams big and works hard to make lots of dreams come true, not just for himself, but for millions of folks around the world.

Don’t tell him I said this. He, like our son, hates being the center of attention.

Oh, and since it is the season to do good, if there’s an organization in the list I mentioned above that “speaks to you,” send ’em a little cash to help the good work continue! Or send a little extra to those helping out in the Philippines or anywhere else there is need in the world. We are so fortunate in comparison.

Happy early Thanksgiving!!

16 Responses to “Dreaming Big at DreamForce”

  1. Carrie Rubin November 20, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    I have such admiration for people who start something up like that from scratch and build it up to a success. Kudos to your husband. And I bet those San Francisco restaurants and hotels will be hopping with all those extra visitors!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

      Oh yeah. Can’t swing a dead cat, as they say where I’m from, without hitting a Dreamer. 😮

  2. FictionFan November 20, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    No it would not be awesome. Even looking at that thing teetering into mid-air makes me feel dizzy! It’s good though to be involved in something where you can feel that you’re contibuting to making the world a better place though. 🙂

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      Yes, I suppose you’re right. Especially in earthquake country.

  3. heylookawriterfellow November 20, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    What a sweet post! And what a great fellow your husband is!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      Oh dear, I hope I didn’t blow the sugar meter. Perhaps I should have added: Now if I could just get him to stop trying to improve me, we’d be all set. 😀

  4. 4amWriter November 21, 2013 at 4:15 am #

    Your husband is awesome, but so are YOU for supporting him. That doesn’t happen often enough, especially when one spouse is so dedicated to a belief/goal that doesn’t necessarily include his/her partner.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 21, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Oh Kate, you are too kind. As a writer, I often struggle with doing something that is so solitary that it excludes my husband and son. So I guess we support each other in different ways?

  5. Lady Fancifull November 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    What a lovely warm post Jilanne. Thank you. Big cheesy grin! (made with non-animal rennet!)

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 22, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

      No worries about the animal rennet. I grew up on a farm, and we named and honored our steers before we ate them. The farm was in Illinois, a couple of hours south of Wisconsin, the cheese state, so we’re big into cheesy everything–including appreciation. 😀 In the spirit of giving thanks, thank you for your warm response!

  6. Laurel Leigh November 23, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Go Rem! That is such a fantastic story. It’s nice to get an update on what he’s doing and how he’s making a difference for others. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Call of the Siren November 25, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    A total inspiration for us all, Jil. And it comes at the perfect time of year when we should all be thinking about what makes us thankful.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 25, 2013 at 10:08 am #

      Yes, indeed! Our son’s school just held a pancake breakfast to raise funds for aid to the Philippines. They netted $1300! And Julia’a 100WC for students website:
      is teaming up with World Vision to raise funds for the Philippines. Some may say that doing these types of things is like trying to bail the ocean with a teaspoon. But I think this exemplifies what defines us as human beings.

      • Call of the Siren November 25, 2013 at 10:30 am #

        Amen to that, sister. It’s the effort that matters, and it sounds like there are some great things going on in your household. Very cool!

  8. Shakti Ghosal December 4, 2013 at 4:14 am #

    Loved the post.

    Is it not ironical that a simple shift in our perspective viz. gaining the willingness to connect two people to join and work together can do wonders to the kind of initiatives you have written about? But we also seem to come up with some excuse viz. lack of time, finances etc. to avoid doing this……..


    • Jilanne Hoffmann December 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

      Hi Shakti, As long as those working for change outnumber those who come up with excuses, we will make progress. Thanks for stopping by!

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