About the Author
Brenda Herchmer is the owner of Grassroots Enterprises, a community development consulting company and an emerging tech start up called Campus for Communities. Brenda Herchmer has a diverse background gained in a variety of government, business, and voluntary sector settings. Her primary work has involved community building and comprehensive community transformation and the change process and leadership it requires. Technology has always played a significant role in her endeavours. She specializes in community development,strategic planning, and community leadership, recently serving as the Director of Alberta Recreation and Parks Association’s…
Posted on 01-01-13
I Have a Thing for Quirky People
I have a thing for quirky people.
You know the ones I mean — the artist who is always late, those who are like magpies and are continually distracted by the next shiny thing, and the ones who are brilliant yet struggle within the confines of traditional education.
In large part I find them to be the most interesting people who stretch my thinking and my learning the most.
While I would describe most of my quirky friends and colleagues as creative, interesting, eccentric, and oddly appealing, there are others who may not share my opinion.
I’m tired, I’m cranky, I need a good laugh.
While there are some who might envy those who are self-employed, the reality is that it comes with long hours and sleepless nights. On the flip side, it comes with many advantages and the truth is I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For sure working for a bureaucracy comes with more security and a pension, but even so I’m not sure I could ever go back. As I recently explained to a colleague, it’s akin to the difference between trying to steer a highly loaded ocean freighter and…
Posted on 02-11-14
Together We Raise Tomorrow
This week Albertans were horrified to learn that 741 children known to child welfare have died since 1999—596 more than previously reported.
Not surprisingly, the tendency among most has been to point the finger of blame directly at the province—elected officials as well as government staff.
And, while that is tempting—after all a scapegoat allows each of us to deflect any responsibility rather than lean into what is a very complex issue. But, if we’re going to be really honest, the blame belongs on the shoulders of a much broader group of stakeholders.
It’s been almost two years since my mother woke one morning to find her husband Joe had died of a massive and unexpected heart attack during the night.
He had come late into her life — several years after she had courageously left an unhappy marriage to my father three years shy of their golden anniversary. Mom and her nine years younger Joe had what my cougar mother still refers to as 12 blissful years together.
While Joe had been a high school shop teacher who had never exhibited any kind of entrepreneurial drive himself, he was supportive of…
Posted on 12-30-13
A Silver Lining in a Potentially Blue Christmas?
I won’t be home for Christmas.
Just putting that in writing makes me weepy.
The reality is that it will be a very quiet Christmas. My husband and I will celebrate, without our children and our respective extended families. Instead we’ll spend some time with friends but Christmas Day on our own.
Ultimately one of the silver linings within a potentially blue Christmas is that it’s made me think a lot about my own values and making sure I’m living them.
Technology is clearly both a blessing and a curse.
I’m in the middle of launching our Campus for Communities and for months now have been immersed in the often perplexing world of technology.
However, I’m blessed to have found a company with a brilliant CEO who has become a good friend. He and his stellar team have helped me navigate and integrate an incredible number of options from among many often perplexing choices. That integration piece has been key and in my opinion is what has made our partnership such a great fit.
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more rewarding than teaching a group of motivated adult learners.
They are quite different from the students I used to teach in a face-to-face college setting where it was sometimes necessary to channel my inner tap dancer to get and keep their attention. Instead, these adult learners are generally much more motivated and eager to learn.
Perhaps more importantly, they have much to contribute to the classroom in terms of information, knowledge, and wisdom.
I’m losing patience and respect for the “Old Boys” among us.
While I’ll be the first to admit they bring extensive experience and often great wisdom, there is a frightening sameness in their sense of entitlement, and an often masked, yet unmistakable arrogance.
Yes for sure there are exceptions. And, if you are an Old Boy, chances are you think you’re different. But trust me, you likely aren’t. You may even be one of the most dangerous because you’re smart enough to say and sometimes even act like a new age leader even though in your heart of hearts, you…
Posted on 11-01-13
Maturity and Moxy?
I don’t know much about building cars or how to fix them if something goes wrong, but I would say I’m a pretty good driver.
Driving a car is also how I think about information technology. And, even though I don’t speak geek, can’t code, and struggle to fix anything when it goes wrong, I use technology better than most people my age.
For me technology is simply an extraordinary gift providing previously unfathomable opportunities to communicate, share ideas, learn, grow, challenge, collaborate, advocate, engage, and make a difference together.
In other words, it really isn’t as much…
Posted on 09-30-13
Are We Paying a Price for the Eclipse of Community?
It’s sad and disturbing.
And, it isn’t the result of anything we’ve done but rather more about what we haven’t done—myself included.
When a lone gunman went on a murderous rampage in the Washington Navy Yard this week, we barely broke stride. Even though it resulted in 12 people being killed and another 8 injured, it barely registered as a bleep on our radar, we all just went about our business.
Have mass killings become so commonplace that we’ve become immune?
As the result of years of experiencing collaborative learning alongside brilliant colleagues, working ridiculous hours, and dipping into my own hard-earned savings, I own a tech start-up.
I should be proud. And yet my reality is that I stumble whenever I talk or even write about the initiative.
I realize my mixed emotions are the result of the push and pull I experience between wanting to change the world, and needing to be an entrepreneur in order to make it happen.
The truth for me is that my personal journey has always been much more about social innovation and…
Posted on 08-30-13
If a Five Year Old Can Be Taught Active Listening…
As he was driving home from a father and son outing in New Jersey a few months ago, Nathaniel Dancy Sr, suffered an aneurysm and a stroke, leaving his 5-year-old son, Nathaniel Dancy Jr. desperate to find help.
The clever little guy called his grandmother and read off the letters on the sign of a furniture store near where the car had pulled over. While his grandmother tried frantically to identify where the two were, Nathaniel calmly instructed her to use her “active listening” skills, something he had learned in kindergarten.
I just read a post on a Harvard Business discussion forum with the subject line shown as, “Are you a Complicator or a Simplifier?”...hmmm.
Jerome, the guy who posed the question went on to suggest there were two types of people.
The COMPLICATORS who complicate things around us by their cluttered thinking and their fanciful tendencies. As he put it, “Contributing much to the entropy in the economic, academic, legal, political, and social environments”; and the SIMPLIFIERS, who “Try to deflate the hot air balloon of hubris and grandiosity in our systems, thereby rendering our labyrinthine world easy to…
Posted on 08-18-13
Ready, Fire, Steer?
These days there’s a big spotlight focused on Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, as the result of his recent purchase of the Washington Post. While the transaction created a lot of buzz, in some regard it makes a lot of sense because if there’s anyone who has what it takes to apply new models to old problems it would be Bezos.
He will no doubt ensure the spirit of experimentation that is so essential these days.