Contextual Intelligence & the Future of Money


(image from Michell Zappa with permission)

One of the most rewarding professional experiences I have had so far is being a speaker at Swift’s banking industry conference Sibos.  Every year Swift coordinates the premier conference on The Future of Money. They have been doing this since 1978 with 300 participants.

Today in Singapore there are over 7000 people from 140 countries discussing crypto-currency, financial technology called #fintech, and the future of banking. A small group of innovators inside of Swift called Innotribe are working to bring the most provocative voices in innovation to center stage providing fresh air to an industry that is moving towards a refreshed relevance. People will always need banking, they will not always need banks.

I am writing this post on the future of money to celebrate people I’ve been lucky enough to meet through Peter Vander Auwera @petervan  who is the primary concept designer for the Innotribe portion of Sibos.  This year’s platform was incredibly dynamic.

Here are people shaping the future of money that you should know:

Andrew Keen is one of the world’s best-known and controversial commentators on the digital revolution.He is the author of three books: Cult of the AmateurDigital Vertigo and his current international hit The Internet Is Not The Answer which the London Sunday Times acclaimed as a “powerful, frightening read” and the Washington Post called “an enormously useful primer for those of us concerned that online life isn’t as shiny as our digital avatars would like us to believe”.

Haydn Shaughnessy is an expert on disruption and platform requirements for competitive adaptation. A very important white paper written for Sibos most recently is a must read: The Platform for Disruption How China’s FinTech Will Change How the World Thinks About Banking.

Michell Zappa is a futurist and emerging technology expert. His company research Envisioning has written a robust anthology of the technological future of money.  While it takes several sleep cycles to comprehend it is an important read for anyone in the api landscape.

Chris Skinner author of The Digital Bank is working very hard across the globe to help bridge the digital divide in the banking industry. He specializes in helping traditional banks become better enabled for globalization and millennial participation. This seems a useful place to also add the 25 most innovative banks.

Christine Duhaime founder of Digital Finance Institute and Sam Maule of Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group have become rigorous in their focus on women in the financial technology landscape. There will be a billion women entering the workforce within the next decade and the entire economic landscape will change.

Ben Bledsoe reminds us that no story of money can be complete without mention of crypto-currency. This all began with The Rise & Rise of Bitcoin.

Michael Bauwens is a key driver for the collaborative economy and has been creating open source information even before open source became a meme.

There are two resources that are vital to your understanding of the transition from the need to have → toward the need to share → toward the need to give.

Here is a synthesis of the collaborative economy.

Here is a talk Michael gives on scenarios in the collaborative economy:


I met  Peter Vander Auwera on twitter in 2011. We decided there was synergy and made a point to meet IRL (in real life). That meeting changed the trajectory of my voice and professional career. I mention this as the final name I want to highlight from my experience with Innotribe is Peter Hinssen; expert on social networks and author of The Network Always Wins.

Building a culture of experimentation means implementing an attitude toward risk that will be necessary if we are to survive in a world in which strategy becomes fluid.

Cheers to Sibos Singapore! Cheers to Innotribe!


(Innotribe speaker alumni Michel Bauwens, Jennifer Sertl, Mark Pesce, and Guibert Englebienne)

The future of money still depends on brave and curious people making meaningful connections.

Jennifer Sertl


You will know me by my lists


The Future of Work – Labor Day 2015


(image designed by Ross Dawson and posted with permission)

Last Labor Day I synthesized the Future of Work.

This year I thought I would share some remarkable people who inform and inspire me as well as a couple of collaborations I have been involved with modeling curation & talent clusters.

At one point people we considered experts by being the source of information. Being the point person to disseminate knowledge meant that you were capable and credible. That was when knowledge didn’t aggregate as quickly as it does in this data era where data doubles not in decades, not in years, but in hours. In Cognitive Surplus Clay Shirky reminds us “the issue today is not information overload, it is filter failure.”

What this means is, there is so much information out there, you need a strong filter and you need strong people around you to filter out what is most relevant in a sea of relevance. So, one of the most important skills that must be acquired is the ability to curate; organize themes in a way that allows for understanding and swift decision making.  You have often seen my posts with 10 significant links as I say many times “you will know me by my lists.” That is because  I cannot tell you what is relevant to your life. I can, however, tell you themes that you should be tracking to ensure you have your pulse on significant trends that may impact your future choices. Being a conduit vs. a source is a new frame for expertise in the data era.

With curation, it is important that you surround yourself with very interesting and informed people that are “spotters.” A spotter is one who you trust to have their eye and pulse on a particular theme that you know their sources are accurate and the filter is precise. On the topic of the Future of Work – there are two spotters in particular that I think are most relevant and whose insight I deeply value:

Peter Vander Auwera @petervan is co-founder of Innotribe, an innovation incubator within the epicenter of banking SWIFT. An element of his job is traveling around the world meeting interesting people who are transforming the world of work. He started a community called Corporate Rebels as he believe most change in a large organization is going to come from outliers and brave individuals imbedded in the existing business. He wants those individuals to feel less alone and have even more courage to help change systems from within. His most recent personal writing has been on the essence of work.

Ross Dawson @rossdawson is a  globally recognized futurist who is tracking very closely how the Internet of Things impacts our decision making capacity and how robotics is changing the work landscape. He is incredibly gifted in telling visual stories that map out a great deal of complexity. Naming the complexity allows one to create designs and scenario plan with less anxiety and greater ease. (About Ross Dawson)

This year I was involved in two very special collaborations.

This spring I attended The Future of Work Summit held at Vodaphone Innovation Incubator in Redwood City, CA. There were approximately 145 participants who were professors, independent contractors, VCs, entrepreneurs, and students. The group was organized by visionaries Tirza Hollenhorst & David Hodgson and facilitated by Ann Baddilo. It was the most productive learning event I have attended so far as the key intent was to scale our experience to enhance the lives of those in the new economy of co-working, talent clusters, and freelance engagements.

The first part of the summit was spent identifying significant trends on the horizon by which we created this visual story:


(taken at Future of Working Summit, personal photo)

The rest of the day was spent in work-groups tackling these themes that we determined were the most important.

Each issue had a facilitator. Each group created a work document synthesizing key learnings and suggestions.

Here is our output: (click here)

The sections are so important as themes to track that I want you to see all the segments we covered:

  • Igniting the Regenerative Economy
  • Tools & Techniques: Creating Mashups That Work
  • Creating Business Canvas for the “Work-Scape Of The Future
  • Cryptoequity, Cobudgeting, Currency
  • Bootstrapping Adaptive Organizations
  • C0-Creation of Work
  • Evolving Corporate Philanthropy: Corporate Culture as a Vehicle for Social Change
  • Talent Development for the 21st Century
  • Growing Thriving Ecosystem Cultures
  • Future Centered Design: Co-Creating With Global Millennials
  • Reframing the Working Narrative
  • Guerilla Guide to Collaborative Capacity


(personal photo of Art Kleiner facilitating at Price Waterhouse and Coopers, permission granted)

Strategy & Business Magazine – @stratandbiz is celebrating 20 years in publication this year. Part of their celebration is tell the story of the History of Management. Earlier this year a small group of people in organization development were invited to Price Waterhouse and Coopers in New York. The posed question was “what individual and themes most contributed to the history of management as we knowing it.” Luckily they did not ask for “the meaning of life.” In a board room filled with over 400 sticky notes we were completely overwhelmed. There is “what” and there is “so what.”  With editor & chief Art Kleiner’s gracious facilitation we decided that framing themes without specifically identifying key outcomes was a better, more interactive approach. This supports the macro transition from being a source to being a conduit.  We mapped out themes and resources that have impacted our thinking across time using philosophy, history, and sociology to be our guide. Instead of coming up with a timeline and key points we framed 20 significant themes and suggested the resources for those who want to do a deeper dive “20 Questions for Business Leaders.” You will be invited to participate in more cross functional collaboration and seeing more white papers framing questions instead of espousing expertise.

Tracking themes, identifying spotters, participating in collaboration with multi-disciplinary frameworks — this is the the future of work and the future of working.

May you find your talent cluster,


Jennifer Sertl


You will know me by my lists

An Existential View of Freedom 2015


♫ Usher – Don’t Look Down (Lyrics)

I am lucky to be an American. I am lucky to be an American woman. While there is much to celebrate this July 4th. While July 4th celebrates independence it also is time to revisit  the many ways to articulate “freedom.” Below you will find some of my favorite quotes and links that help us remember the past and protect the future.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

Nelson Mandela

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Abraham Lincoln


People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.

Soren Kierkegaard


Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.

Ayn Rand


1) #Freedom : The Declaration of Independence  and  Thus Spoke John Galt 

2) #Freedom:  Treasure Trove of Abraham Lincoln with Bill Moyers @BillMoyersHQ

3) #Freedom: What Eisenhower Taught Me About Decision Making after all, freedom = choice

4) #Freedom: : I Have a Dream with Martin Luther King transcript 

5) #Freedom: Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Speech The 2015 Muzzle Awards


6) #Freedom This is for everyone via Tim Berners-Lee 

7) #Freedom: Man’s Search for Meaning with Victor Frankl

8) #Freedom: Five Tips for Thinking Open Source with @Ogunte

9) #Freedom: Consciousness & Free Will with Daniel Dennett

10: #Freedom: From the great disruption toward the great distribution my guest post on  @the_OS_


“The Eagle And The Hawk”


I am the eagle, I live in high country in rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky.

I am the hawk, and there’s blood on my feathers.

But time is still turning, they soon will be dry.

And all those who see me, and all who believe in me

share in the freedom I feel when I fly.


Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops.

Sail o’er the canyons and up to the stars.

And reach for the heavens and hope for the future

and all that we can be, and not what we are.


Let us continue to soar,


PS – You Will Know Me By My Lists

In Celebration of Learning


Today is the last day of school for students in the Pittsford School District in which I have three children. However, my eldest is graduating this weekend from Mendon High School and is headed to Michigan State University ( go Spartans!)


How quickly time has gone.


from this ———————–>   to this!


I”d like to take this opportunity to thank all the teachers who have contributed to my children’s journey. We have been very lucky to work with kind, passionate and committed educators.


Teachers are Artists

Teachers are artists.

The art they practice is awareness. The canvas they use is the curriculum upon which they bring forth an effervescent picture for the world. The students arrive at the canvas, each bringing a unique and vibrant color.

The mixture of the student population gives beauty to the canvas. The more diverse the population, the more colorful the painting.

The artist’s strokes are the skillful, gentle questions that she asks her students. Some strokes are broad, confirming understanding. Some strokes are playful, discovering student’s current knowledge to find a benchmark to begin the lesson. Other strokes are so delicate that they barely touch the canvas. These strokes are the questions that stretch the student’s imagination and foster sensitivity.

Bloom’s taxonomy provides hue to the masterpiece.

The artist adds perspective to the painting by facilitating meaningful discussions and sharing observations. Once all the color has made its mark on the canvas and the painter has cultivated a glorious picture of a “spot in time,” with bittersweet emotion the artist gently places the work of art on the wall of life.

It is now time to stretch and prepare yet another canvas.

Jennifer Sertl

Here are the links that keep my learning edge sharp:


  1. #learning : Teaching Smart People How to Learn (Argyris classic) | un-learn to learn ∞ #a3r
  2. #learning : Data-> Information -> Knowledge ->Understanding -> Wisdom insight by Russell Ackoff with a deeper dive into systems thinking via @TriarchyPress
  3. #learning: Why do smart people underperform? Overloaded Circuits
  4. #learning : Building personal capacity for #reflection – my point of view with @dramitinspires
  5. #learning : How serious are we about learning?  … sober view @cdnorman #a3r
  6. #learning : Passion & Flow by @jhagel
  7. #learning : TQ vs. IQ in a Digitized Landscape by Michael Schrage | Trainability Quotient
  8. #learning : I had the opportunity to meet @CameronHerold recently. I appreciate his commitment to building strength based learning environments fostering curiosity and passion.
  9. #learning : How reading can increase critical thinking – my POV with @dramitinspires
  10. #learning:  To support the commitment to reading – here is a wonderful portal Project Gutenberg offering over 49,000 free ebooks. Many thanks @gutenberg_org

Dear graduates ALL, wishing you all the best on your next choices and may your curiosity be inflamed as you navigate this next era.



Jennifer #a3r


PS – You Will Know Me By My Lists


Memorial Day


Whitney Houston sings the National Anthem

America – Walt Whitman

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

My favorite presidential quotes:

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe
~Abraham Lincoln

We grow by dreams. All big men are dreamers, some of us let dreams die, but others nourish and protect them, nurse them through bad days…to the sunshine and light which always come
~Woodrow Wilson

The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

May we continue to live lives worthy of those who have sacrificed on our behalf. Amen.

1) Very special Thank You to Colonel David W. Sutherland @DSutherland_TSP for what he does at @DixonCenterVets supporting 2M+ Vets 

2) Two favorite war movies: The Hurt Locker (reviewed by Time) and most recently The Railway Man (and article on Eric Lomax)

3) The Five Debates We Need in 2016 by Nigel Cameron (@nigelcameron)

4) I Fought For You (written & produced by our @joshpies)

5) Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln

6) Treasure Trove of Bill Moyers & Abraham Lincoln

7) What Eisenhower Taught Me About Decision-Making

8) List of book-based war films of 21st Century

9) A story of reconciliation: The Porcelain Unicorn

10) The Stockdale Paradox: How Optimism Creates Resilience via The Big Think @BigThink

Nobody says it better than . . .
Lee Greenwood – God Bless the USA


Blue Angels in New York right outside Fast Company Magazine office


PS: You will know me by my lists . . .

The Power of Voice to Foster Positive Progress – International Women’s Day 2015

It is an exciting time to be an American woman.

I am seeing higher levels of collaboration and mutual respect in more and more of the groups I work and lead in.

I am seeing empowerment awakening across the globe.


This International Women’s Day I’d like to highlight three organizations that are personally important to me:

Servane Mouazan’s  Building A Better World Empowered by Women is fueling the social entrepreneur landscape.


Dorothy Dalton and Dr. Anne Perschel founded 3PlusInternational to support business skill development and mentorship across the globe.


I am so fortunate to live in Rochester, NY where Susan B. Anthony worked tirelessly to support women’s right to vote. I can only image today that she would be asking us to focus on women on corporate boards.

pic2Here are some favorite links that amplify our global celebration today.




  • Academy Award winning Patricia Arquette brought the house down this year with her Best Actress acceptance speech: “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” shouted a fiery Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”


  • One of my favorite college commencement speeches is Meryl Streep’s, delivered to Barnard. “This is your time, and it feels normal to you. But, really, there is no ‘normal.’ There’s only change, and resistance to it, and then more change.”


  • CNN reminds us that we still have work to do as it reports the best and worst countries for women on corporate boards:  “Research proves that companies with diverse boards attract more talented employees, are more innovative and have greater financial success than companies with male-dominated boards.” Here is the latest Catalyst report.


  • As growing numbers of women enter the economic mainstream, they will have a profound effect on global business. The potential impact of nearly 1 billion women entering the global labor force will be as significant as the impact of the billion-plus populations of either China or India. Price Waterhouse PwC is tracking this trend: #3rdBillion.
  • 2020 Women on Boards is a national campaign to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20% or greater by the year 2020.


  • Here you will find Nobel Prize & Laureates who will inspire you and for a deeper dive you can go here.
  • We get our power from the stories we are told as we grow up. These women have impacted the feminine voice in literature and our own sense of belonging.


  • We all know how much we love our mothers, our daughters, our teachers. Here is why we love the Girl Effect.


  • Today is International Women’s Day and our theme this year is #MakeItHappen!



I’ve only been able to do what I’ve done because of those who came earlier and passed me the baton.Nadine Hack

The best way I can contribute to progress is to carve out my own voice in life and work. I get in life what I settle for.

Onward . . .


Empathy, Passion, and Progress – An Existential View of Valentine’s Day



SenaRuna artist from Istanbul on Etsy – found from Paper Quilted Art Roundup by Agnes Niewiadomski – spotted from Jean Russell aka @NurtureGirls Facebook stream

We Found Love – Lindsey Stirling (VenTribe)

Here you’ll find a mosaic of meaning and beauty that I hope will allow and foster depth. It is my belief that the more connected one is to his/her core ~ the better one can care for their personal ecosystem.

Empathy begins with self.

1) #Love:  Why We Need Each Other “Recent research reveals that people are more capable of mental novelty when thinking on behalf of others than for themselves. This has far-reaching practical implications at every level of business.”  Thus spoke, Daniel Pink.

2) #Love: A Darwinian Theory of Beauty “Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? No, it’s deep in our minds. It’s a gift handed down from the intelligent skills and rich emotional lives of our most ancient ancestors. Our powerful reaction to images, to the expression of emotion in art, to the beauty of music, to the night sky, will be with us and our descendants for as long as the human race exists.” Thus spoke, Denis Dutton.

3) #Love: 8 Rules for Creating Passionate Work Culture  with @FastCompany highlights some key themes from Paul Alofs @Alofs Passion Capital “Creeds don’t need to be the same in order to be effective. On the contrary, sometimes they need to evolve to address a changing environment. Company leaders need to take a hard look at what the company was when it began and what it has become and make necessary adjustments. Part of being a great leader is understand when to reassess a course of action and when to stay the course.”

4) #Love: The Four Loves  “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” ― C.S. Lewis

5) #Love: Perspective with @TeresaFritschi “There is, someplace, for each of us a soul capable of seeing ours as clearly as their own, whose beginning and end can be found at the end of both sentences and fingertips, the realization of an unwillingness to compromise as manifest in human flesh that protects and nurtures and transcends dimensions. This love, no more perfect than any other, is perhaps the most illusive.  Maybe because it is so rare is why we value it so highly when the universe opens up and places it squarely in front of us.


6) #Love: Empathy is a muscle and can be strengthened and developed like any other muscle. One way to foster empathy is through the reading of robust fiction.

“Psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, at the New School for Social Research in New York, have proved that reading literary fiction enhances the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions, a crucial skill in navigating complex social relationships.”

7) #Love: We have gone from the “need to have” towards the “need to share” and the collaborative economy has passed its tipping point. An early voice of this movement is Jeremy Rifkin who was the very first to frame the phrase “empathic civilization” — (RSA) (transcript) “A new science is emerging whose operating principles and assumptions are more compatible with empathic ways of thinking. The old science views nature as objects; the new science views nature as relationships. The old science is characterized by detachment, expropriation, dissection, and reduction; the new science is characterized by engagement, replenishment, integration, and holism. The old science is committed to making nature productive; the new science to making nature sustainable. The old science seeks power over nature; the new science seeks partnership with nature. The old science puts a premium on autonomy from nature; the new science on re-participation with nature.”

8) #Love: While we talk about empathy and moral codes of behavior – there are limits to what we are capable of. Christian Keysers is helping us understand these limits  The Empathic Brain by Christian Keysers  “ Where neuroscience is interesting, is by showing us the limits of our natural empathy, and helping us devise ethics that are compatible with how our brain works. For instance, our work shows that we feel what goes on in others by projecting what we would feel in their stead. In this context, ethics that suggest ‘treat others as they would like to be treated’ are harder to follow than ethics that suggest ‘treat others as you would like to be treated.”

What kind of passion do you have? Great question posed by Deloitte’s @JohnHagel “Passion, performance and potential – these three weave together into a seamless web.  Whether we come at it from the perspective of achieving more of our untapped potential or from the perspective of driving performance to ever higher levels, passion is the necessary foundation. Without it, our potential will remain exactly that – latent within us, something that we can only imagine but will never experience.”

9) #Love: Still resonate after 2002 Fast Company article and way before the API landscape Love is the Killer App by @sanderssays “The most powerful force in business isn’t greed, fear, or even the raw energy of unbridled competition. The most powerful force in business is love. It’s what will help your company grow and become stronger. It’s what will propel your career forward. It’s what will give you a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your work, which will help you do your best work.”

10) #Love: I am a realist and know that we have work to do in the areas of fostering empathy, strengthening our capacity to collaborate, and understanding the new levels of isolation the digital culture fosters. I want to end this series with the shadow side of the conversation Lethality of Loneliness: How it Can Ravage Your Body and Brain “At a deeper level, though, loneliness research forces us to acknowledge our own extraordinary malleability in the face of social forces. This susceptibility is both terrifying and exhilarating. On the terrifying side is the unhappy fact that isolation, especially when it stems from the disenfranchisement of the underprivileged, creates a bodily limitation all too easily reproduced in each successive generation.”


Here is my Valentine to you:

“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea


Happy Valentine’s Day!


Love & Light,


Navigating Complexity – Hold onto Your Core!


(Escalator ~ Copyright 1984 Scott Mutter used in this article with permission from Bob Mutter)

I am a pilgrim on the edge, on the edge of my perception.

We are travelers at the edge, we are always at the edge of our perception.

 ~ Scott Mutter

As I launch 2015, I am thinking of all the tools we will need to navigate change in these complex times. Having a discipline to journal is a tool that I want us all to sharpen. Some are intimidated by the idea of keeping a journal and don’t really know how to begin. Here are some ideas that I hope spark action and insight.

There is a deli in my office building that has several Scott Mutter prints. Recently I was eating lunch and writing in my journal I had a visceral experience of feeling the water at my feet and the tug of the current.  What is so poignant about Mutter’s image is that I believe we are all in an identity crisis: a crisis between nature and technology, a crisis between capitalism and collaboration, a crisis between big data and intuition, and finally, a crisis between influencer, seduction, and our own solo voice.

Poet E. E. Cummings says it beautifully: To be nobody but myself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me somebody else – means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight, and never stop fighting. In the midst of so many tugs of war, abstract thinking, critical thinking, and introspection have never been more important muscles to strengthen.  A lot of money is being spent to have you feel emotions and buy things that have nothing to do with who you are at your core. In addition, as social creatures, we are deeply impacted by our fear of being judged or experiencing shame. Every choice you make, every word you use, every “like” or “RT” becomes a node on a grid telling a data story about who you are and what you care about. It is more important than ever that you know the story and claim it as your own.

Introspection is the sword you have to fight this battle. You must, by design, get to know yourself under the shell of saving face. There are many ways to practice and explore self-knowledge.  The practice that has offered me the most personal insight has been keeping a journal. I have been keeping a journal since I was eight years old – so it is a well-worn habit. There are three exercises I give my clients to help them build introspection and begin the discipline of journal writing.

  1. The first practice is called “Plus + /  Delta Δ”.  The discipline of “Plus +  /  Delta Δ” invites you to write, once a week, a situation that you are proud of – where you describe the situation (context), the task at hand (what you were required to do), the actions you took (choices you made), and the result. In this exercise you also write, once a week, a situation that you wished for a do-over. Thus the delta Δ – which is the symbol for change. You follow the same formula of describing the situation (context), the task at hand (what you were required to do), the actions you took (choices you made), and the result.  In addition you describe what you wished would have happened, and any choices that you could have made as an alternative, to create a different outcome. The premise here is that we are better and learning if we have a chance to celebrate and anchor what is working and why and also build in the capacity for scenario planning of alternative outcomes. Just because we have an experience, doesn’t mean we will learn from it. The discipline of “Plus +  /  Delta Δ” makes the learning explicit, accessible, and scalable for future preparation.
  1. The second practice is called “Recalibration.” “Recalibration” is a writing exercise that I suggest to individuals and companies when they are going through significant changes, feeling lost, or feeling overwhelmed. Like arrows in a quiver, these questions can provide wonderful guidance on how to sequence events and how to establish priorities:

Where have you been?

What have you learned?

Where are you going?

What is required?

As you can imagine, these questions can be answered on a page or may extend into a two day working strategy session within a company.

For those of you who need more structure I offer this guidance:

  • Where have you been? (7 observations about past landscape)
  • What have you learned? (10 bullet point lessons/scars and what you hope to remember going forward)
  • Where are you going? (7 observations about current/future landscape)
  • What is required?  (3 mental muscles you need to strengthen, 2 skills you must acquire, 3 resources you must engage)
  1. The third practice is called “Shadow Dancing.” “Shadow Dancing” is a discipline that requires a six week commitment to create 30 minutes a day of writing. The theory behind “Shadow Dancing” is that we each have very strong internal critics and we judge ourselves. Often what insights we may need or truths we may want to discover about ourselves may be deep, deep within our psyche. By creating a disciplined practice of writing over a long period of time – new thoughts, insights, and perspectives may come to the surface. In my post Individuation of Ideas  I suggest that having insight isn’t so much about being intelligent as it is about being present. Even if you don’t know what to say and write – create the space and time anyway. Write “I am bored” or “I have nothing to say,” again and again. Just preserve the time and write. Perhaps, in the disciplined presence, a great idea will have the stillness required to land.

In this era of information overload and complexity – the one thing that will stay constant is who you are at your core, what you value, and your own discernment. Please take the time, by design, to strengthen your own voice so that you can hear the wisdom of your intuition, anchor and reinforce learning from the past, and support your personal resolve against the seduction of the macro.

Here is a talk I gave to innovators for global event called Hatch A Better World where I go a bit deeper on self-protection in the midst of macro seduction.


Onward in the rigor,



Family Dinner Depth & Warm Holiday Wishes


Regardless of the faith you practice this season, it is a universal time for family, personal recalibration, and a collective #pause from the hustle and bustle of survival. For some this is the only time that three generations are together for an extended period of time.

I believe leadership is transferred through the limbic system in addition to cognition. This means that the smiles, the stories, the hugs all transmit collective and historical scars and lessons.

The links I share this holiday are all topics that will be discussed and explored in the Sertl family. It is my hope that your dinner table be willed with laughter, music, memories, deep conversation and good questions. Perhaps a prayer or two as well.

Inclusive of all faiths . . .

Love and light,



  1. What principles guide your life? Don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements is a wonderful exploration as is Eric Best’s Four Principles to Guide a Life
  2. In an age of oppulence – learning to simplify becomes a discipline of choice. A great touch stone for the question “what is essential?” is Matthew E. May’s Laws of Subtraction 
  3. History always makes a great topic of conversation. Sarah Caldicott  blends past, present and future as she fosters innovation. One of her most recent posts was on the history of the first Christmas lights.
  4. Movies are fantastic teachers. Here is a list of some great holiday classics. The best family movie I saw this year is Words & Pictures a liberal art major’s delight. It is also fun to see Reel Wisdom a compilation of existential moments across 40 films.
  5. Fostering a culture of reading is fundamental to success. Here is a crowd-sourced compilation of the 51 of the most beautiful lines in literature one of my favorites is John Steinbeck’s: now that you know you don’t have to be perfect, you can simply be good.  ChristmasTreeLibrary
  6. A modern deep dive into the exploration of faith ‘My Bright Abyss,’ by Christian Wiman and the subtle sensations of faith also explored by David Brooks.
  7. The most significant life experience I had to date was a hard lesson on “letting go.” End of life discussions are difficult but necessary.
  8. The holiday season is not joyful for everyone. In fact for many it is a season filled with lonliness and depression. For that reason I think it important to create space for mental vitality.
  9. The importance of developing a network of friends and relatives who you can share your emotions with How Optimism Creates Resilience via @BigThink.
  10. We are more creative at solving other people’s problems than our own. Which is why peer learning groups are so effective and also why we need each other. Daniel Pink says “recent research reveals that people are more capable of mental novelting when thinking on behalf of others than for themselves

To make a difference in the face of all that stands in the way of making a difference

~ Don Michael

♫Looping on our playlist is Sara Bareilles