We had the good fortune of connecting with Sheryle Gillihan and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sheryle, what role does tech play in your business?
Technology is at the core of our business both in how we operate and in what we provide to our clients. In the past two months, technology has been critical to functioning virtually while we as a nation shelter in place and do our best to work remotely where possible. It’s been rewarding to see that many of CauseLabs’ clients continue their nonprofit programs because they’ve worked with us to transform from analog to digital, in-person high touch to remote high-tech approaches. These education, financial capability, government transparency, health, food security, research, and advocacy programs are needed now more than ever. While we work in tech, we believe that tech alone does not solve problems – how we use tech for our business operations and program delivery, how beneficiaries engage with it, and how it equalizes access to needed resources are the ways in which tech can elevate and lift individuals, families and communities. Technology is a tool and it can be used as a force for good. The lack of tech by itself does not hold a business or institution back, but the lack of awareness, know how, and/or strategic thinking about the evolution of the ecosystem and the future needs of the business can be a detriment, especially in times of crisis. Recently, we’ve seen that even those who aren’t experts in the tools they are being forced to use for video calls are resilient and will adapt. We don’t need to be experts. We are only held back when we are hesitant and deny the need for change and the opportunity for positive transformation. Today, these are web and mobile tech tools, ten or twenty years from now, it will be a different technology. The role technology plays in our business is significant, but even with that experience and expertise, we have the potential to hold ourselves back if we stagnate.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Five years ago, I had no ambition to be a business owner. The opportunity presented itself to join a partnership and I turned it down. At the time, I saw myself as a great supporting member of the CauseLabs team, not as an executive or as an owner. In hindsight, I think I was afraid of the responsibility of making business decisions that affected the lives of others – my team, my friends. I was happy leaving that burden on others and going with the flow, while doing my very best at whatever I needed to do to be good at my job. When I became a CEO a year later, it’s not because I applied for the position. I don’t know if I would have ever applied for it because I don’t think I had the self confidence to chase such a role. When I was asked to step into the role of CauseLabs CEO, I almost said no. I wasn’t sure I was the right person, but I had a strong passion for our work and I wanted to continue supporting my team and our clients. I felt it was worth trying and failing rather than claiming failure from the start. I gave it my all and within a year I was presented with another opportunity to buy the company. This was in April 2018. This time I was ready to say yes because I understood the business needs and I knew I had the support I needed to succeed and to help our clients succeed. I also realized that through my work of using technology as a force for good, I had found my purpose. We finalized the acquistion in October 2018 and I have been leaning into my purpose ever since. It wasn’t easy to get here and it isn’t easy to stay sustainable. The life of an entrepreneur is fraught with decisions that never stop coming. It is everything I feared and more, but I feel blessed every day that I get to affect change and to serve the people that I serve. Everyone from my team to my global community. It’s encouraging to be a productive and proactive contributor to solving our grand global challenges. While we are a service company building web apps for nonprofits and companies seeking to make a positive impact, it’s not the tech that solves the problem. It’s how we use it. Through this I’ve learned that my legacy is not to build things, but to encourage and grow people’s passion for doing work that matters. I have changed a lot over the years. I didn’t know even five years ago that this is what would bring me joy in spite of the challenges.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One venue that we’ve added to our itinerary is the Taste Community Restaurant. It’s Fort Worth’s only pay-what-you-can restaurant. It’s a hip, healthy, fun place to eat, but the also serve our community’s food insecure families. This looks nothing like a soup kitchen, they serve great healthy meals, in a wonderful environment. A CEO of a large corporation might sit next to a person experiencing homelessness or a single parent struggling to feed their kid. When Michael Gillihan and I first visited, he said “They serve up dignity.” I couldn’t put it any better. It’s an experience I want everyone to appreciate.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am grateful to all who’ve helped me lean into my purpose including the very dedicated support of my partner in life and in business Michael Gillihan. Those who stood by me at CauseLabs. Those who have included me such as Aaron Hurst as he was editing his book The Purpose Economy. Those who guided me through friendship and mentorship such as the team at Rising Tide Initiative. Those who modeled purpose for me such as Kimberly O’Neil. This list could be very long, but is not complete without including my daughters and my mother who motivate me to create a better world and to carry on the legacy of the strong women who came before me and who will continue after me.

Website: https://CauseLabs.com
Instagram: https://instagram.com/causelabs
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/causelabs-pbc
Twitter: https://Twitter.com/causelabs
Facebook: https://facebook.com/causelabs