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




The Faces of Innovation ~ Visionary, Game-Changer, Spotter


(Artist Alexa Meade courtesy of Zeev Klein & photographer Jensen Sutta)

Candor still reverberates in the Silicon Valley from Patagonia’s Vice President of Environmental Affairs Rick Ridgeway with the bold statement “It is important to lead a reflective life. Once you lead a reflective life inevitably you will realize that you are doing harm. Once you know this, you can make a positive difference.” This was one of many powerful calls to action at the recent Social Innovation Summit.

Arriving early I spent some time in San Francisco at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. There was a powerful portrait exhibition of Arnold Newman and the way he made historical icons, either fragile or accessible, by his use of light and prop placement. Rarely do I spend an hour and half merely studying people’s faces. Yet the time flew by and I was greeted at Social Innovation Summit by a presentation by Los Angeles based artist Alexa Meade, who is best known for portraits painted on the human body that turn real life people into seemingly 2D works of art.  I had no choice but to take away this year the theme The Faces of Innovation. From over 200+ potential individuals to feature the faces that made the most impact on me were the faces of the visionary, the game-changer and the spotter.


The Face of the Visionary


(Zeev Klein Founder of Social Innovation Summit courtesy of Zeev Klein & photographer Jensen Sutta) 

Zeev Klein founder of Social Innovation Summit  the face of the visionary.  Beginning in 2007 Klein and his company Landmark Ventures began a series of events called IT For Good held across 14 cities. The cities that generated the most synergy were New York and Silicon Valley.  During those events Klein began to notice significant shifts in the giving economy; “the trend went from the concept of charity, to philanthropy to what we now know as social innovation.”  Klein observed that what used to be a one way conversation of donors and NGO’s had become much more dynamic and more like a dialogue. A conversation that Klein wanted to enable and accelerate.  Nassim Nicholas Taleb says, “wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire; be the fire and wish for wind.”  While perhaps not inventing the term social innovation, Klein has been wind to the #socinn fire by coordinating the bi-annual prestigious Social Innovation Summit.  Entrepreneurs, NGO’s, and Fortune 500’s spend two dedicated days sharing outcomes, discussing needs, and finding partnerships .


The Face of the Game-Changer

 A chemical engineer from Shell, Mandar Apte is the face of a game-changer. Inspired by a rat trainer who loved rats and wanted them to be perceived as helpful animals rather than vermin, Bert Weetjens found rat size and intelligence ideal to sniff out TNT and has trained over 800 of them. Mandar noticed that turning a rat into a noble animal was not only problem solving but truly game-changing. Mandar leads Shell’s Game Changer Social Innovation program that invests in programs that not only solve social and environmental challenges but that also create transformational value for local communities and society at large. Another way Mandar is transforming the innovation landscape is through the EMPOWER program that has taught over 2000 Shell employees how to meditate. “To navigate complexity, people need to have more awareness. Innovation comes from awareness.


The Face of the Spotter


(Nivan Mullick photo courtesy of Zeev Klein & photographer Jensen Sutta)

Many of you might have already heard of Caine’s Arcade. Nirvan Mullick hands down is the face of a spotter. Spotting is a new leadership core competency of being able to highlight and amplify people, content, and trends that have significant impact in the macro. On a random trip to a privately owned hardware store, Mullick noticed a nine year old boy who build an arcade out of cardboard boxes. Boldly the boy approached Mullick and asked if he’d like “three tickets for $1.00 or a day pass for $5.00.” Mullick paid for the day pass and was inspired by Caine’s creativity. As Mullick complimented Caine’s father on his son’s ingenuity, the father said, “You have been his only customer all summer.” Wanting to acknowledge the creativity, Mullick aggregated 200+ friends for a flash mob that became the documentary “Caine’s Arcade.” The video has been seen over 9 million times.  Mullick’s organization the, Imagination Foundation, has engaged over 250,000 kids in 60 countries in creative play through their Annual Global Cardboard Challenge. Great ideas and great people all need a spotter who is leveraged to amplify and scale.

I am reminded by Albert Camus “real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the   present. “ Perhaps the face of innovation is you.

This article can also be found in Huffington Post Impact

Gratitude for A Community of Learners


Loaves and Fishes

This is not

the age of information.

This is not

the age of information.

Forget the news,

and the radio,

and the blurred screen.

This is the time

of loaves

and fishes.

People are hungry

and one good word is bread

for a thousand.

– David Whyte

from The House of Belonging

©1996 Many Rivers Press

I have such a beautiful community of learners and change makers. I thought I would dedicate this particular post to those who have nourished my mind over the past year.

  • Michel Bauwens has been dedicating his time and his work to foster the Peer2Peer movement. The Synthetic Overview of the Collaborative Economy played a significant role from the “need to have” toward the “need to share.”
  • Tim Rayner makes ancient philosophy accessible and relevant. The discipline of contentment with on-line shopping interrupting our lives continually has never been more important. That is why once a month I remind myself by reading and re-reading See Like A Stoic An Ancient Technique for Modern Consumers
  • Peter Van Auwera travels around the globe aggregating the most interesting change-makers in #FinTech and organizational behavioral. I’ve been lucky enough to be included in his global scoop and have met the most exhilarating people. Changing systems from within as a catalyst is what perhaps he does best as he reminds us about The End of Leadership.
  • Nadine Hack from the cover of Rolling Stone to the White House has been championing cause based leadership for a lifetime. She has created the #beCause global network scaling great people doing meaningful work. “When I was young, I believed it was a sprint and we would change it all right then. As I grew older, I realized it was a marathon and I had to pace myself to be in it for the long haul And, then as I grew even older, I realized it is a relay race.” ~Nadine Hack
  • David Wilcox is the one who pulled me into the epicenter of social innovation. From charity, to philanthropy to social innovation – there as a conversation between business, NGOs and entrepreneurs and it is something to pay deep attention to How Three Quiet Seismic Shifts Are Changing the Social Enterprise and Social Innovation Landscape
  • “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world” says Archimedes. That lever is social media and is being well executed brilliantly by Servane Mouazan founder of Ogunte. Servane is dedicated to the development of women leaders in social businesses across the world.


  • Ramona Pringle created @Rdigitalife a platform for us to better explore how technology changes our relationships. I learned about Ramona first by reading Sherri Turkle’s Alone Together where she is quoted “I’m done with smart machines. I want a machine that is attentive to my needs. Where are the sensitive machines.” Since then we’ve collaborated and I’ve been lucky enough to be in the series on well being.
  • Otto Schamer has been fostering the power of presence for a very long time. I was on his review team at @BKpub. There has never been a better time than now to shift from Ego-System Economies to Eco-System Economies.
  • “Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”–Anain Nin. Last Thanksgiving I spent with a very special friend Teresa Fritschi who in now on a personal adventure in Croatia. She is an aesthetic who writes about emotion, beauty and philosophy.

To all in my community I thank you for being a part of my circulatory system and helping me carve out who I am.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Daylight Savings & Personal Recalibration


What to Remember When Waking

In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?

By David Whyte


While we are changing batteries and clocks – let us take some time to review our life trajectory and ensure we are on course and on purpose for our long view.

Haunted by ‘the rub’ that I know is my greatest learning curve – the art of letting go:

The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” Charles DuBois





Don’t forget to take a dose of courage with your multivitamin.

I am leaving you with links to posts that force personal #recalibration.

In the rigor while listening to ♫ Emma Rossum ♫,


1) Familiarity Can Be Dangerous why I work hard to confront my reality.

2) The Laws of Subtraction with Matthew E. May.

3) Four Principles to Guide A Life with Eric Best.

4) Align Personal Development with Business Strategy my life’s work.

5) Manage Your Energy Not Your Time with Tony Schwartz.

6) How Serious Are We About Learning? with Cameron Norman.

7) Chasing Eden with Teresa Fritschi.

8) The Flight From Conversation with Sherry Turkle.

9) See Like a Stoic: an ancient technique for modern consumers with Tim Rayner.

10) Map of Meaning with Saybrook University.


All Hallow’s Eve & Identity


Halloween is a time where many dress up and get the opportunity to try-on a suit or a persona that allows for fun, expression, and exploration of self. As an existential philosopher I thought it would be a good time to take a moment to reflect on identity. Ironic that the most significant issue right now in information technology is #authentication. Ensuring whoever is the user is in fact a person – not a bot- and does in fact have integrity to name and place is of most importance in the age of digital. Authentication makes me smile as I realize how can you authenticate someone who infact doesn’t even know who he/she is. This is a business platform so that is as far as I will go.

In the spirit of our authentic I am sharing my list of links that support our clear knowing who we are and what we care for.

1) Impact is Not an Option: Every “like” or RT or endorsement both subtle and explicit is telling a story about who you are and what you value. Are you proud of what that aggregate story says about you, what you value and your capability? Your auto-autobiography is being written by simple responses on social sites. Whether we like it or not, stories are being told about us based on analytical data and doors are being opened or closed. We can let that happen or we can claim some control of what our data points say about who we are and what we care about. The place to regain control is to reverse engineer the qualities you would like to leave behind. Write your story now and live into it. Thought leader Clay Shirky gave us a nugget of wisdom: it is not information overload, it is filter failure.

2) Beyond Brand You: Reflections on Social Authenticity: “Self-affirmation is a matter of affirming your unique, personal value. The key to self-branding online is to become ‘extraordinarily/noticeably good at something of use/significance’ in the real world – to become something and brand that. All the online self-affirmation in the world – through tweeting, posting, pinning, +1ing, following, liking, favoriting, and sharing – won’t make you worthy of branding unless you are someone of worth. So be the best version of who you are. We all have our superpowers – what are yours?” says Tim Rayner.

3) Be Human: Heidegger and Online Authenticity: “Heidegger coined the phrase ‘being-in-the-world’ to encapsulate this vision of the human being. To be human is to be absorbed in a world of practical action, a world that we understand intuitively, without needing to reflect on it. The ‘world’, in this case, is not just a place or location full of people and things. Worlds are defined by a way of life or being. Worlds reflect community traditions; therefore they are not private, but social and shared. We ‘know our way around’ a world by understanding the way that we are expected to engage with other people in it.” again dear friend Tim Rayner.

4) Man’s Search for Meaning: “Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.” Timeless wisdom from Viktor Frankl.

5) Four Principles to Guide A Life:

1. Clarify the Intention 2. Defind the Sacred 3. Understand the Commitment 4. Act to Be “These four principles are easy enough to remember and say aloud but challenging to apply. They are valuable insofar as you make them about you and your life, day-to-day, week- to-week, personally and professionally.” Brilliant from friend, writer, strategist Eric Best.

6) Finding the Value in Being Human: Being human, is kind of messy in that there isn’t an on and off button of feeling and emotion. You may be really knowledgeable about certain things but you probably have dragons that you need to slay and no matter how much intelligence that you have, you haven’t been able to resolve certain conflicts. I was honored to be included in the @RDigitalife segment on Well Being & Balance. Ramona Pringle’s platform is tracking the relationship technology has on how we life and how we think.

7) Are People Basically Good or Bad? : I have been deeply impacted by Eric Hoffer’s haunting words: It would be difficult to exaggerate the degree to which we are influenced by those we influence. Our need to belong is much more fundamental and primal than our need for excellence. There are subtle ways in which we sabotage our own success for fear of envy and/or our fear of being alone. Every community has thresholds for truth, intelligence, success. It is vital that you pay more attention to who your colleagues are, what they beliefs are and their decision-making criteria. You are impacted in subtle and explicit ways.

8) How Great Leaders Inspire: I was lucky enough to have a coaching session with Simon Sinek and it deeply impacted my practice. When I was younger I felt horribly in the way. I knew that I had blue eyes and if I could get an adult to look me in the eye I felt safer. He suggested that I rename my company “My Blue Eyes” as it represents taking something authentic and natural and leveraging it to create macro value. That is what I do for the companies I serve. It was brilliant advice that I have not yet had the courage to execute. It fits in the identity steam however. My favorite line for Simon’s TED is “there are leaders and there are those who lead.”

9) Authenticity~ The Way to the Millennials Heart: We believe that authenticity can be considered to be one of the ten values regarded as most essential to Postmoderns. The academic literature suggest that one good way to look it is to view it from two perspectives: constructive and existential. Constructive authenticity refers to the cultural context of what is considered to be authentic. Social media has enabled Postmoderns to communicate their true feelings with much less anxiety about being personally judged. It also gives them the ability, however, to distort information to fulfill an agenda without much consequence. Facebook, Twitter and other social media/networking sites provide an outlet for endless self-expression” contributes Forbes writer Professor Karl Moore.

10) To Thine Own Brand Be True: “An exercise in self-reflection can help any startup founder achieve better insights into their consumer’s point of view. At some point in your life, I am sure you have taken time to reflect: you’ve thought on what you want out of life, what your personal virtues and flaws are, what you have accomplished to date, and what you would like to contribute to the world. Such contemplation is crucial to your personal growth and development–and to that of your brand” says Fast Company writer Megha Desai.

Lest you think I am too serious, I am dancing to my favorite Halloween song I first heard at my alma mater University of Colorado : ♫ Shriekback-Nemesis

I wish you a safe and fun Halloween.

I wish you a safe and fun journey towards your authentic identity.




Leadership Lessons from Sibos: Discernment, Connectivity, Proximity

Sibos is an annual conference organized by Swift  for the financial industry. This year’s conference was held in Boston at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC). In attendance where over 7,000 decision makers from over 212 countries debating the future of money in particular global finance, crypto-currencies, payments, securities and trade issues.  While much of the conference was geared to financial institutions and multinational corporations, there were messages and lessons discussed that can help all leaders across sectors be better prepared and should be scaled. All leaders will navigate sea-change better by strengthening discernment, building strong networks, and ensuring a more robust toggle between local and global.

KrisLovejoy(photo of Kristin Lovejoy GM, IBM Security Services Division courtesy of JoAnn Healy of Swift)

“People focus on protection when we really need them to focus on detection” says Kristin Lovejoy at the Cyber Security Panel.

Attacks are inevitable and there are significant things that can be done to support “digital hygiene.” Many individuals may feel that protecting themselves against cyber crime is a loosing battle or that the elephant is too big to eat. That may lend itself to learned helplessness or a sense that these are “not my issues.” Lovejoy believes cyber war is an issue that impacts governments, organizations and individuals and the onus is on everyone to help in this battle. Citing a hand washing study done at the University of Colorado which reported that hand washing as a habit increased student vitality and reduced absenteeism, Lovejoy believes that there are similar habits regarding digital care that increase security. Simple examples include ensuring every device has a security code that changes frequently and enabling two step authentication.  Everyone has a role to have good habits in protecting personal systems at the micro and corporate systems at the macro. Along with these habits is the skill to detect. Sense and gut feel increasingly have a role to play as fundamental core competencies. When asked the mission critical business skill she seeks to hire, without hesitation the answer “discernment.” She continues, “we talk a lot about intellect and at the end of the day it is discernment that makes the biggest difference on my team.

Swift has an internal innovation lab called Innotribe, which is a group of individuals who travel globally to collect innovative thinkers to bring to Sibos to help bridge the gap between protection and innovation. Two speakers in particular made it very clear that competitive advantage today requires individuals build robust relationships across business sectors. Peter Hinssen,“if you understand networks, you will understand the future.” Things are more relational and less hierarchical. There is too much to know and individuals can no longer be single point sources. Those who will have the best sense of reality are those who live and foster relationships in robust networks. So many people like to be with individuals that are similar in lifestyle and expression. Yet, navigating complexity requires people to be more interested in what they have to learn from one another than what it is that they have in common. Similarly Ann Badillo urges that rather than think of a network as a community, think of it “as a rainforest.” She says,“we need to go beyond building networks to building eco-systems.” This requires a much more robust inclusive design around friends, clients, customers, shareholders.


Sustainable innovation and entrepreneurial growth come from ecosystems, not mere assets. Ecosystems are environments designed from the bottom-up to foster serendipitous interactions. The ecosystems are nurtured by several key cultural traits: connectivity, diversity of ideas and talents, deep levels of trust, motivations that rise above short-term zero-sum calculation, and cultural norms that encourage dreaming, risk-taking, and paying it forward.

Penny Hembrow, VP of Global Banking at CGI Group, Inc. was an exhibitor at Sibos. When asked about today’s competitive advantage and navigating complexity, she gave a large smile and let out a sigh, “At the end of the day we must never forget that consulting at its best no matter what you do is about problem solving.”  One of the biggest challenges we have right now is how to be globally minded yet serve our local communities. We have to toggle all the time between global and local. We might have large global networks, but at the end of the day most transactions are really made in person face to face. Even though it might be difficult, one has to find a way to have one foot planted in the macro and one planted in office in the life of the person you are serving. Hembrow refers to this as “the art of proximity – bringing global relevance at a macro level to the front door of the person you are serving.”

Regardless of changes in technology and changes in the economy, navigating change comes down to discipline and choice. We must not be lazy and keep good hygiene for whatever craft we are in. We must not only sharpen our intellect but also sharpen our wisdom. We must invest in nurturing and fostering a cross section of relationships across the business ecosystem. And we must never forget no matter how vast our global community intimacy still is our golden lever.

Onward in the sea-change . . .


Columbus Day & the Voyage of Human Progress


Columbus Day in the US is a celebration of Christopher Columbus. As an existential philosopher I think this a wonderful opportunity to #pause and celebrate globalization and human progress at large.

1) I have many friends who live between airports, hotels and the internet so I begin with

Ode to A Traveler:

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

John O’Donohue

2) I have a commitment to take my family on a trip once a year to a new country. Besides a book, travel is the next most mind expansive tool. Just in case you’d like some ideas New York Times is a great resource for bucket list design. Here are 52 suggested places to visit.

3) Ideas do not care about passports. They land where individuals have quiet time and environments rich in collaboration. If you want to get the innovation virus perhaps these countries are when you want to visit. Here are the top 10 most innovative countries.

4) In addition to where to travel it is important to address the mindset of the traveler. Articulate Alexandra Levit reminds us to see the world as a stage and gives us a nudge to expand our global mindset and fine-tune our global competence:

“If you’re employed by a decent-size company, ask to spend a few days in a foreign office, or for an assignment that involves close business dealings with other countries. Read foreign newspapers to gain insights into the daily goings-on of a particular country. Hop onto Skype and interview international colleagues to learn how your industry operates abroad.”

5) Complexity in the macro, requires simplicity in the micro. To navigate such significant shifts in how we work and where we work, it is more important than ever to hold onto your core. I find Gianpiero Petriglieri poignant as he urges the importance of moving around without loosing your roots.

6) Ensuring your person relevance in the rough water of macro change it is vital that you keep your pulse on the Capernican revolution in management as Steve Denning @stevedenning :

“Just as the Copernican Revolution in astronomy helped put in question social arrangements in which kings and priests and their retinues were in charge of society by Divine Right, so the Copernican Revolution in management is putting in question the social arrangements of the large bureaucracies that currently rule modern society. In the emerging organization, there is little need for “bosses” and “administrators of the status quo” and “paper shufflers”, along with a pressing need for managers who can inspire self-organizing teams, networks and ecosystems to respond to the shifting needs of customers.”

7) The world is becoming more and more “multi=polar” which means there are significant changes in both emerging market landscape and the workforce at large.Accenture has the most robust report on how this changes organizations. The Lisbon Council has given us a treasure trove of how these emerging market shifts changes the labor force.

8) Now it seems the blue ocean that we are swimming consists of droplets of 1’s and 0’s as data artists take the stage. As an example Aaron Koblin suggests:

“Numbers can humanize us. You can use data to discover the patterns we make as a collective whole, so that we can better understand society and ourselves.”

9) In this era of big data I am reminded of the wisdom of Alfred Korzybski and his profound statement: the map is not the territory. There are limits to big data asMichael Schrage has great faith that human begins are still the killer app “the more data and facts one has, and the more predictions matter, the more important human judgment becomes.”

10) Heinz Pagals says, “science has explored the microcosmos and the macrocosmos; we have a good sense of the lay of the land. The great unexplored frontier is complexity.” So I shall close my Columbus Day celebration in anticipation of our next frontier: Chaos, Complexity & Entropy.

I wish you safe travels in mind, body and spirit.

♫ Listening to Edward Sharpe – Home


A New Season ~ Personal Recalibration


Many times you have seen me use Sunday as a day for #‎recalibration and often the image I share is shattered glass as I add the quote: The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become~Charles DuBois

Yet this morning as I awake to a new season and see my yard populated with golden yellow and red leaves, I feel a sense of a gentle whisper inviting a new threshold as the seductive gates of the image above.

Perhaps change and recalibration are not as much about disruption as they are about opening a gate of possibility and actually walking through. Maybe choices don’t have to feel like breaking glass. Perhaps choices can be gentle. Oh, I wish I could find the words as I am feeling such comfort and calm about having very recently walked through this gate.

Our friction-free world is full of options. We can download our world according to our bias and preference. We talk so much about options but rarely talk about discernment. I don’t write so much to teach others but to reinforce for myself what I need to learn and especially practice.

With this new season, please be fierce in your resolve to ensure you are fine tuning your decision making criteria as you continue to expand personal and professional thresholds.

These links are keys to gates of impact I hope to open in my lifetime:

1) #whisper : Daniel Dennett’s Seven Tools for Thinking

2) #whisper: Tim Rayner @TimRayner01‘s Sage Wisdom for Contemporary Time

3) #whisper: Dr. Amit Nagpal @DrAmitInspires‘ Blue Ocean Strategy for Your Own Person Brand

4) #whisper: Jose Baldadaia @jabaldaia‘s Replace GPS w/ a Compass

5) #whisper: Saybrook University @SaybrookU’Map of Meaning

6) #whisper: Tony Schwartz‘ The Art of Letting Go

7) #whisper: Eric Best‘s Four Principles to Guide A Life

8) #whisper: Peter Vander Auwera @PeterVan‘s The End of Leadership

9) #whisper: Jim Collins‘s The Triump of Humility and Fierce Resolve

10) #whisper: My point of view for The Age of Essence


This is how leaves sound as they gently fall . . .♫

May a golden leaf gently brush your cheek and welcome you to Autumn.


Contextual Intelligence & The Future of Work


Your competitive advantage is not where you work or what you do.

Your competitive advantage is the accuracy in which you scan the macro environment and the way you interpret and articulate those observations.

Labor Day is a moment to pause and acknowledge all the the hard work that has built our nation and a celebration of economic vitality.

The best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing ~ President Theodore Roosevelt

I feel very lucky to have found my vocation ins building bridges between strategic intent and personal development. There has never been a better time than right now to integrate strategy, leadership and soul.

I often say, “you will know me by my links.” Here are my favorite to provide contextual intelligence for #TheFutureofWork.

Scanning the macro,

1) Perhaps the most important attribute we can take into the future is resilience. Andrew Zolli offers a framework that can be used both for life at home and at work:If You Want to Build Resilience, Kill the Complexity.

2) Many talk about the importance of learning and reading to stay current and sharp. Yet, I often look at people’s schedules and rarely have they built in time for processing information. How are we going to get better, stronger, smarter without built in capacity for learning? My friend Cameron Norman aka @cdnorman keeps us honest by asking How Serious Are We About Learning?

3) Our environment has much more impact on us than we’d like to accept. It is very important that you choose an environment where you own natural tendencies can thrive. John Hagel @jhagel from Deloitte is in the thick of corporate culture. Tracking and following the Shift Index is an important part of your staying current.

4) Data can be beautiful and informative. The Institute for the Future @iftf has created an elegant framework for leadership development. They don’t call it leadership development, but I do. It is time that each employee assume they are leaders and also that they are in charge of their own person development. “Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future.”

5) We cannot have work without an economy. It is a slippery slope when discussions of the economy often lead to politics. I am on the line here and this is as far as I’ll go. Bravely I want to make sure you are aware of Jeremy Rifkin@JeremyRifkin. His latest work is about zero marginal cost and how the collaborative economy is taking capitalism on. Our ability to compete is our ability to know the landscape. Rifkin is creating ripples that make take years for effect; however, important that you are in this conversation: The Fall of Capitalism and the Internet of Things.

6) By 2025, over 75% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials, a group many refer to as the Facebook generation. This group is much more dynamic than employee pools of the past. Because of lifestyle choices and the need for mobility, the employment group is much more likely to select projects to ensure elements of freedom: 8 Reasons Why Your Next Job Will Be A Project.

7) And if this freelance thing is not your cup o’ tea, I suggest you drink it longer to acquire the taste: The Freelance Surge is the Industrial Revolution of our Time.



Given we are moving more and more toward freelance economy, it is even more important that we have self knowledge in what we care about, how we create value, and who we want to work with. I love this modern twist on Jim Collin’s Hedge Hog.

8) Skill trumps distance. With the amazing file share and video technology people can truly be global. Perhaps the most significant trend is the rise of the multinational employee: The Rise of Micro-Multinantional.

9) Because the smartest person in the room is the room, it is important that your curate and cultivate great relationships with individuals who you learn and grow with by design. Global collaboration is catching wildfire: The Future of Talent Lies In Clusters.

10) Einstein tells us, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” There is one source, however, that I cannot keep a secret. Friend Ross Dawson@rossdawson is a visual architect that has given us the future of work in an icon that can teach, inform, frighten and inspire. YES, it really has this many dynamic parts.

Thanks for coming this far. You indeed will be rewarded.






 The Bangles – Manic Monday