2012 Interview with Seisei Tatebe-Goddu, Tandem Consulting
*The company participated in the program in 2010.

“Many social impact organizations get started because people with good intentions want to solve a critical social problem–not necessarily because they are the world’s best communicators or managers. Too often, we saw amazing ideas and people being limited by inaccurate or misleading information, weak communication skills, or interpersonal conflict.” – Seisei Tatebe-Goodu, Tandem Consulting Group

Tandem Consulting Group empowers social impact organizations to do good and do it better through consulting, training, facilitation, and coaching. They partner with clients to help them have more effective conversations that lead to greater impact: whether that means helping them to gather accurate and timely information; strengthening skills in communication, management, and leadership; or facilitating tough conversations. The WJF’s Erin Jones recently checked in with founder Seisei to see how Tandem is doing.

Where are you located? 
We’re located in Boston, MA, but our consultants live and work in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia.

What problem is Tandem trying to solve? 
Many social impact organizations get started because people with good intentions want to solve a critical social problem–not necessarily because they are the world’s best communicators or managers. Too often, we saw amazing ideas and people being limited by inaccurate or misleading information, weak communication skills, or interpersonal conflict. We passionately believe that organizations can magnify their social impact with the right information, skills, and tools.

How did you become interested in this?
I did a one-year fellowship in conflict resolution that took me to the UN in Kenya, the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, and two NGOs in Jordan. I noticed many of the same communication, management, and leadership patterns in each country, and wanted to help people become aware of and address the challenges that were holding them back.

What is your solution?
We help organizations do even more good by helping them answer three questions.

  1. Do they have the right information/data they need to have the conversation?
  2. Do they have the skills to have an effective conversation?
  3. Do they need an external facilitator to help them with tough questions?

We do this by offering strategy and organizational development consulting (question 1), training and coaching (question 2), and facilitation (question 3).

Who are your customers?
Our clients are social impact organizations, such as government and UN agencies, international NGOs, grassroots NGOs, hybrid organizations, and socially responsible private sector companies.

What are some of your major challenges? 
A major challenge is staying focused. I’m in the middle of doing a MA at Columbia University right now, and juggling that with the company has been incredibly challenging.

How many people do you employ?
We have a roster of 11 consultants that we work with on a regular basis all around the world.

Has the William James Foundation competition and mentoring program helped you on your way?
WJF made us focus in the early stages and provided us with extraordinary feedback. We had never had so many people looking at our business plan at the same time before, and their comments challenged and stretched the way we thought about the company.

What other resources have you found that are particularly useful for social entrepreneurs?
I’m at StartingBloc Fellow and a member of the Sandbox Network and 85 Broads. I try to maintain a diverse network because that helps me to constantly question my assumptions. I also suggest reaching out to a local SCOREoffice to find a mentor that works for you.

For readers who want to know more about what you’re up to, where can we send them?
We’re in the process of revamping our website at http://www.tandemcg.com and you can follow us on Twitter @TandemCG.