As president and CEO of Public Allies, a national leadership development organization headquartered in Milwaukee, I’ve learned a lot from the best practices of other social entrepreneurs. But I’ve learned even more from our “worst practices” – what we suck at, how we’ve screwed up, and what we’ve done to get better.

Every time I present my list of worst practices at conferences and meetings, nonprofit leaders approach me with their own secret shortcomings, saying that they have no one with...

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