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You are brilliant, and the Earth is hiring May 25, 2009

Posted by Dixon de Leña in business transformation, Change leadership, Cultural Creatives, transformation leadership.
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For me, Paul Hawken has been a Cultural Creative expressing his leadership for some time now. His book, Natural Capitalism, written with co-authors Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins is a classic text among sustainability experts and fans alike and the first best argument for the next industrial revolution to be a green, sustainable and equitable one. His Ecology of Commerce is another must read.  But his latest book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World, is where I think his voca of the heart is most clear.  Perhaps seeing that over 1 Million non-governmental organizations all over the world are getting the job done on-the-ground, that people are not waiting for their governments or business to save them, has invigorated him. I know it has impacted me.  And this heartening message is all over his commencement address to 2009 graduating class of University of Portland.  It’s his kind of speaking that is an example how one’s being can alter another’s view of the planet and even awaken in them a new possibility of life.

I’ve reprinted it in its entirety for none of it should be missed – dtd

Paul Hawken’s Commencement Address to University of Portland

You are brilliant, and the earth is hiring

When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” Boy, no pressure there.

But let’s begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation – but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, and don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food – but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn’t afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown – Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood – and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit.. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, and non-governmental organizations, of companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe – exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it is doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.


Welcome to a conversation dedicated to Cultural Creatives in Business Leadership May 5, 2009

Posted by Dixon de Leña in business transformation, Change leadership, Cultural Creatives.
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dixon_coop america green biz 2008

Hello, my name is Dixon T. de Leña. I am a Founding Partner and the Chief Executive Officer of Integral Partnerships LLC, a management consulting firm I founded with Paul H. Ray in 1999. Welcome to what I intend to be a truly inspiring and useful blog to all Cultural Creatives in Leadership roles. It’ll be inspiring because it’s made up by stories of people like you, many of you are out-front in business pressing for real change. It’ll be useful because I hope to feature discussions and interviews of how others CCILs (my acronym for CCs in business leadership roles) continue to develop themselves and their unique presence of leadership. This might be helpful to those Cultural Creatives who are “waiting for an opening to act” in your companies. Whether you are expressing and acting on your values or just patiently waiting for the right moment, while continuing to develop your knowledge, wisdom and courage, it’s ok. This blog will be an authentic inquiry about what it means to be a Cultural Creatives in a leadership role and I can’t imagine that all of the stories and interviews will be positive but I promise there is wisdom in each story. I believe this commitment is what will make this a useful touchstone for all of us.

If you don’t know much about the original Cultural Creatives research, and what’s all the hooplah is about, then a short history is helpful.

Paul_Ray_website.jpegIn 1996, Paul H. Ray’s seminal “The Integral Culture Survey – A Study of the Emergence of Transformational Values in America” he first coined the label Cultural Creatives to describe an emerging new subculture of American adults living transformational values and expressing their deeply held values in the way they live their lives, built their homes, develop their communities, ran their businesses, voted, purchased goods and services, and much more you can read here. In 2000, Paul updated his research with a paper titled “The New Political Compass” wherein he described a New Political North, made up by primarily by Cultural Creatives, had arrived on the political scene and making their presence known across the political spectrum capable of making big change.

50 Million People Changing the World

50 Million People Changing the World

In 2001, Paul Ray and co-author Sherry Anderson wrote the book “The Cultural Creatives: 50 Million People Changing the World”. Last year, the original research was updated for the first time in 12 years. The results were staggering in the sense that they indicate a huge leap in the growing demand for positive change in how business is run, how the environment is cared for, and how government is managed. This new study, “The Potential for a New, Emerging Culture in the U.S. – Report on the 2008 American Values Survey” indicates that Cultural Creatives now represent 37% of American adults, up from 24% in 1996. Moreover, they are ready to act, not just talk.

During the same 12 year, we watched the growth of the Lifestyles of Health And Sustainability Industry Association (LOHAS), and the incredible growth in the business sectors of socially responsible investing, clean and green technology, sustainable lifestyles, organics, alternative medicine, and all things associated with Cultural Creatives values. The LOHAS industry projects nearly $500 billion annually in global sales.

This has been an incredible story so far, and the number of stories of behind-the-scenes-deal making, relationship building, visioning, entrepreneurship and leadership has not been covered nearly well enough in my opinion. Most of the growth in green and sustainable industries has not been led entirely by “true blue” Cultural Creatives. Some might not even know the term Cultural Creatives although they value the vision of a sustainable system of trade that preserves the health of the environment and enhances the health and well-being of all peoples. For them, it just makes good business sense. About 10% of the US adult population is now “In Transition” to being Cultural Creatives (called Transitionals) – largely under the threat of the growing climate crisis – accepting values they once rejected, yet still clinging to Traditional values. We know that if we do nothing, the circumstances of our planet will push the percentage of Cultural Creatives higher each year simply because our collective situation is untenable and we’re forced to act. Business leaders know all too well that when we wait until we’re forced to act is the same time we’ve used up most of our options. It is safe to say this rule applies to climate change. But imagine for a moment if we’re able to accelerate the growth of Cultural Creatives to be the majority among business leaders, conventional and green alike. It would really is in our best interest.

We know so little of how this process of our global transformation will happen. We only know that it needs to happen because the philosophy of unlimited growth is unsustainable. There is proof of this everywhere, and, the scientific debate is over. So, this is where you’ll hear and see interviews and stories of other Cultural Creatives in Leadership, some famous and not in the limelight. And, you’ll catch me asking the big questions like, what’s courage to them, what’s motivating them, how are they developing themselves and how this affects their leadership presence, and lastly, what do they see as emerging for us now and in the future. Please join me, listen, make comments, ask questions and I’ll do my best to tell your unfolding story of being A Cultural Creative in Leadership.

© 2009 Dixon T. de Leña, Integral Partnerships LLC. Cultural Creatives is a trademark of Dr. Paul H. Ray. Cultural Creatives in Leadership is a trademark of Integral Partnerships LLC. All rights reserved

A Primer to a possible new society December 14, 2012

Posted by Dixon de Leña in Cultural Creatives.
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  • Within hours or days after tragic events such as Colombine, VA Tech, Aurora, Clackamas Mall and now Sandy Hook, there is a common disclosure by neighbors, friends or acquaintances of the shooter(s), and it goes like this: “He’d been disturbed for quite some time…,”. Every shooter – excuse me – every person who’ve committed an atrocity had been seen by someone, at least one person before the deed, maybe even on a regular basis. The person(s) “knew something was off” about them, and yet they went on with their day, shopping, went to yoga class, school, whatever and let it go. Each of these witnesses, our ONLY witnesses, were good people, well-intentioned people, but just not well-intentioned or mindful when it was needed. Why? Maybe these events are primers for us to understand something important about the life we pursue today. While we work hard to make life better for ourselves and our families, we’ve become further removed from life around us. We are disconnected entities, some healthier than others, but generally disconnected from each other, our true nature and our deepest capacities for deep listening, compassion, love and generosity. So when we see those around us suffering and in need, instead of following our true nature we choose our pursuits, and I use the word “choose” lightly because I believe we’ve lost our capacity to choose. To be able to choose would mean we are conscious of our deepest desires and not merely our shopping lists. The power to choose means we are able to shift our attention to what matters most. Today reminds us that what matters most is the life that includes all life not merely our own.

    To those who interpret these events as more evidence of a Reckoning, shame on you to drop a human invention in God’s lap to handle. To those who lament for a return of a “golden age” when everyone cared for each other, get over it because it never existed on a societal level. This is our opportunity to re-define what a wealthy life can be for all of us. Godspeed.

The 10% Project – A tipping point possibility July 9, 2009

Posted by Dixon de Leña in Change leadership, Cultural Creatives, Emerging Wisdom Culture, tipping point.
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I’m going to try to make a very simple argument that we should ride the horse in the direction it is going – only make it go a little faster. What I mean by this is that we are a mere 10% of the US adult population (23 million) away from having the majority of us Americans living out our lives from green values or at the green meme as Clare Graves defined it. The people who make up to this 10% are American adults who currently are in-transition from Modern values to adopting Cultural Creatives values for a variety of reasons but mainly because they are disillusioned by the pursuit of modern life. Paul (Ray) calls them Transitionals. When, not if, they complete their transition, it will bring the total population of Cultural Creatives in the US to 45%. Not even the Moderns could claim that percentage at their peak despite the incredible and effective efforts of mainstream media’s avalanche pitch of the convenience, new-ness and sexiness of modern life.

Just how fast did this happen? Taking a look of the updated stats from our 2008 study, it breaks down like this:

Cultural Creatives – A steadily growing population

In 1995, Cultural Creatives were 23.6% of the US adult population, or 44 million adults.

In 1999, Cultural Creatives were 26% of US adult population, or 50 million adults.

In 2008, Cultural Creatives were 34.9% of US adult population, or 80 million adults

[US Adults 18+ years in 2008 = approximately 230 million]

175% growth in 13 years is a little over a 3% per year constant annual population growth rate.

However we have to factor in that the US adult population is growing too. So, the Cultural Creatives’ share of US population went from 23.6% to 33.6%. That is a 42.4% increase in share—about a 2.5% annual growth rate as an increasing share of the US population.*

Getting back to the when, not if, remark that I made earlier, it would appear that this potential tipping point will happen eventually. There’s no question of the potential positive impact on how politics, business and environmental policies are done by having a majority that would argue for change that is influence by the sensibilities and sensitivities of the Cultural Creatives consciousness.

The major influence on their growth has been that new values and worldviews grew out of their involvement in all the new social movements, from civil rights, to women’s, to social justice, to environmental, to concerns for hunger and third world peoples, to new spiritualities and psychotherapies, to bio-foods, and finally to ecology and the growing climate crisis of the planet. The other major influence on their growth has been the growing information saturation of the world since the 1950s. In fact the Cultural Creatives are simply the best informed people. They take in more of every kind of information through all the media, and are more discriminating about it as a result. (Though they are somewhat more educated than the Moderns, they have twice as many professionals.) Many successfully blend their personal experience with new views about how the world works, and why—their new values and commitments have rather organically grown out of their synthesis of all the information. By contrast, Traditionals tend to fend off new information that Cultural Creatives absorb, while Moderns leave media information quite fragmented and undigested that Cultural Creatives are determined to make sense of. Cultural Creatives are also mainstays of middle class support for the arts and good causes in America, for they are America’s practical idealists.“*

Cultural Creatives also represent the potential emergence of integral creativity, behavior that is seriously needed in this era if we are to successfully overt a global scale disaster. Moreover, a worldwide majority of Cultural Creatives is needed for us to move to second-tier consciousness according to Ken Wilber. The green meme is still considered first-tier consciousness though some argue that yellow and turquoise systems are expressions of the green meme but that’s another post entirely. The big curveball in this wonderfully, transformational, and potential evolutionary tale is that there is no guarantee that Cultural Creatives are capable or willing, even as a majority or possibly because they are majority, to create the breakthrough to second-tier thinking and behavior.

Wilber really flushes out his reasoning behind this difficulty, in his The Theory of Everything, calling the syndrome Boomeritis – a bad case of “pluralism infected with narcissism”.  Sheesh, what a knock-out cocktail! But after studying my own developmental trajectory as well is working shoulder to shoulder with Cultural Creatives over the last 10 years, I am almost in total agreement with his assertion – almost. I’ve also got nearly 29 years of real-life experience of transformation in individuals, groups and organizations to convince me there is an exception to such theories, that sudden shifts in consciousness can, and do, produce real breakthroughs into new ways of being.

So, over the next few posts I’ll tease out The 10% Project because I’m staking my reputation that it is one possibility that can lead to a breakthrough through Boomeritis. Stay tuned and keep those comments coming. Please!

[*Excerpts from “The Potential for a New, Emerging Culture in the U.S., Report on the 2008 American Values Survey” by Paul H. Ray, Ph.D., Research Director, Institute for the Emerging Wisdom Culture, Wisdom University; Research Director, State of the World Forum; Founding Partner, Integral Partnerships LLC, March 2008]

Selling without Selling Out video – Successful Cultural Creatives in leadership share their lessons of selling their companies June 2, 2009

Posted by Dixon de Leña in business transformation, Cultural Creatives, tipping point.
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Lessons From Founders of Socially Responsible Businesses Bought by Multinationals

In May 2008, at Aspen Meadows Conference Center in Aspen, CO, Trusteeship Institute and Aspen Institute held a small conference of some of the founders of socially responsible businesses that had been bought by multinationals. Each founder was interviewed by Terry Mollner to discover how they sustained their social policies and what more, in hindsight, they wish they had done.

Go here for Videos of Presentations of SWSO Speakers Seth Goldman, Founder of Honest Tea (bought by Coca Cola); Gary Hirshberg, Founder of Stonyfield Farm (bought by Danone); Frederick Schilling, Founder of Dagoba Chocolate (bought by Hersheys); Greg Steltenpohl, Founder of Odwalla (bought by Coca Cola); Brian Johnson, Founder of Zaadz (bought by Gaia); Steve Demos, Founder of White Wave (bought by Dean Foods); Pierre Ferrari, Chair of Ben & Jerry’s (bought by Unilever); Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors and CEO; Ron Soiefer, Chief Counsel of Unilever USA as he describes in detail the Agreement Between Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever. 

Opening and Closing Remarks by Terry Mollner, A Founder of the Calvert Social Investment Funds

I think the lessons learned by these Cultural Creatives in leadership is crucial during these times.  One of the great points I heard in these videos is that we need to think in the long-term, that the biggest companies in the world, while certainly not socially or environmentally responsible by any measure of the terms, are opening to the inevitability of green being the only way to do business, and that this opening is one we must step through.  In a way, it’s an argument for creating a tipping point as soon as possible by starting ESR (Environment and Social Responsible) modeled companies, making them successful, attracting the big buyers seriously looking to get into the green, sustainable, or organic brands markets and selling your company to them.  We’re talking viral here, aren’t we?  Let me know of your thoughts after you watch some of the videos. – dtd

More design changes May 30, 2009

Posted by Dixon de Leña in Cultural Creatives.
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Sorry for the inconvenience but I will keep trying design layouts for this blog until I feel comfortable with how it lays out the material (never mind the quality of my writing – which will get better over time 😉 ) but more importantly, readers tell me it’s easy on their eyes and effortless to navigate.  Thanks for your understanding and feedback as it’s always welcome.


Cultural Creatives Global population estimate: 6% – A boom worth waiting for- May 26, 2009

Posted by Dixon de Leña in business transformation, Cultural Creatives, Emerging Wisdom Culture, tipping point, transformation leadership.
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EV300-074A couple of months ago, I asked Paul to help a woman who was curious whether we had compiled “a world map of Cultural Creatives”. Of course, I knew we hadn’t but I was curious how Paul how he would answer her question by talking the existing data from our U.S. studies and those which he’d facilitated in Europe and Japan, and extrapolate how that would play out in creating a global map of Cultural Creatives (CCs).

I know that it can get pretty lonely out there for Cultural Creatives, especially those people who are in leadership roles in companies and industries not quite green and sustainable. Well, just know there isn’t a company or industry that ‘s completely sustainable but many are getting better all the time.  If you’re feeling like you’re talking your values into a void, well, run this formulation through your head.

Here’s Paul’s “back of the envelope” rumination:

“There isn’t a world map of Cultural Creatives, but here’s how to think about the world population of Cultural Creatives:

Surveys have been done in Western Europe, US and Japan in the last 4 years. The numbers are pretty consistent everywhere, in the range of 33-37% average about 35%, and this is a typical error band for surveys. As of last year, the US was 33%.

We have impressionistic reports from a large number of world cities everywhere that say when people start getting information about what’s going on around the planet, then a large minority take up CCs values. They get that information from media, books, internet, friends. But in developing countries the proportion of the population systematically exposed to such information is only in the 10-25% range.

So, here’s a quick back of the envelope calculation: Let’s say it’s 1/3 of them who take up those values. In about 80% of the population of planet Earth, about 5% are likely to be CCs, and they are concentrated in their own 100 world cities. In 20% of the planet that’s the developed world, about 35% are likely to be CCs spread uniformly across their countries’ cities, for about 7% of the planetary population. So this suggests that no more than 6% of the planet are CCs. The least likely place they will be found is in rural areas with poor communications.”

6%.  So, put that number in your bonnet for a day or so and see what happens to your thinking about the business transformation we’re facing. It might feel a little more possible. Maybe.

Here’s a little Cultural Creatives In Leadership “renewal” practice: I think it’s best to keep working on your emerging awareness of CC values and how they fit creating a better industry, today and tomorrow; keep adopting a wisdom perspective which is simply “broader, deeper, higher, more inclusive”; keep sharpening your own story of development, both inner and outer;  speak more often and to more diverse audience of people in your surroundings. It sure beats talking louder to the same people.

Oh, and if you haven’t done it already – Get started on a serious meditation practice or contemplative practice of your choosing – to settle the mind and cultivate your spirit.  If you’re a leader during this era of transformative change, better get one quick!  I’ll get more into this in later blogs and in my interviews.