About the Author
Brenda Herchmer is a passionate community builder who is committed to promoting and supporting the value of a collaborative culture and future-readiness. She is the founder and CEO of a social enterprise called Campus for Communities of the Future and Co-Chair of Catalyst 2030 Canada. A speaker, trainer, coach, and strategist across Canada, she is a former Professor and Director at Niagara College, Director of ACE Communities (Alberta) and worked for the City of Niagara Falls. Brenda is the author of three books, has been honoured as…
Posted on 06-13-19
Grilled by Sandra Day O’Connor
Hearing of the death of former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor this week brought back memories. I not only had the honour of meeting that amazing woman, I also experienced - albeit shaking in my boots - her putting me through a grilling cross-examination.
Yes I know she’s American and I’m Canadian but I distinctly remember the widespread excitement when Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to be appointed as Justice to the United States Supreme Court. It was a big deal for women and girls around the world.… More Posted on 12-03-23
Time to Colour Outside the Lines and Off the Page?
Years ago, a friend of mine described herself as someone who specialized in being a generalist. While the comment made me laugh, it also made be realize it was a description I could apply to myself.
My work involves a lot of complex, often fragmented information that comes fast and furious. My job is to make sense of it, find possibility, synthesize, summarize, and use it to determine future direction and action.
Like many others these days, the complexity of the world we live in is wearing me down and I find myself craving simplicity. But, what if instead, the big picture actually made things less stressful?
When seeing the Earth from afar for the first time, many astronauts described a cognitive shift in their awareness. Now called the Overview Effect, their experience of seeing the reality of Earth suspended in space with national borders no longer visible, immediately resulted in them understanding the Earth as being tiny and fragile. Along with that came an…
Posted on 11-22-23
We Are So Much More Than a Non-Horse
As the result of years of experience and learnings gained working alongside brilliant colleagues and community leaders, working long hours, and dipping into savings, today I am the Founder and Principal Collaborator of Campus for Communities of the Future.
I should be proud. And yet, my reality is that I stumble whenever I talk or even write about it.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard or learned so much.
Wait. Laughing and learning at the same time? Can it be? After all, I distinctly recall getting into trouble for assuming I could combine the two. Even my kindergarten teacher wrote on my report card that although I was a good student, I was inclined to be a bit too social.
While today there is a better understanding and acceptance that children learn through their play, we typically don’t equate fun and playfulness with adult learning. Perhaps we…
Posted on 11-17-23
They See Possibilities, Not Problems
I like hanging out with quirky and creative people. A high percentage of them are social entrepreneurs. Not only are they interesting, they are special because unlike a lot of people who see problems, they have a tendency to see possibilities.
If you happen to be a social entrepreneur, you already know being one rarely means an easy path. For most, it likely isn’t even a conscious career choice as it’s more about an innate drive to respond to pressing social challenges, and, ideally make money while you’re doing it.
More Posted on 11-15-23
Talking Heads Aren’t Enough
This post had its beginnings during a live event presented as being about crucial conversations and collaborations for the future. While I know the intentions were good, the truth is I was bored out of my gourd.
It also appears I wasn’t the only one as I actually saw one of the participants nodding off less than 20 minutes into the event. I remember thinking if there was one more powerpoint or so-called ‘expert’ reading their prepared thoughts describing the wonders of their work, I might have to override my disease-to-please and overly developed…
Posted on 11-09-23
Sparking Innovation: It Takes a Village
Every successful small business starts with a spark of innovation and the desire to meet a need. For many of us, the idea of being able to paddle one’s own canoe also has a certain allure.
However, recent reports indicate the number of entrepreneurs in Canada is declining, which is impacting small business creation.
A report by the Business Development Bank of Canada found that the country has 100,000 fewer entrepreneurs than it did 20 years ago, despite the fact that the population has grown by more than 10 million over the…
Posted on 11-04-23
Is Bigger Always Better?
It seems I’ve spent many years searching for a place that was a fit for someone like me with an entrepreneurial spirit and a deep commitment to making a difference.
My employment track record, while successful on some levels, could also be described as am eclectic history within corporations, social purpose organizations, education, government, and as the owner of several businesses.
Not finding a clear fit, I began investing my time and money to build and evolve the Campus for Communities of the Future as a social enterprise over 10…
Posted on 10-06-23
Why Are We Applying Rational Strategies to Irrational Situations?
While my intention is never to annoy others, I know I sometimes do.
When I was working in bureaucratic settings, I’d go to meetings and say something that would inevitably draw puzzled looks from others. It was almost as if I were speaking in a foreign language. After shaking their heads, the other participants would continue their previous line of conversation – typically one that involved a lot of detail. After being ignored for the rest of the meeting I’d beat myself up thinking, “Why on earth couldn’t I just…
Posted on 08-23-23
Complexity Stalls Action
I recently overheard a sales clerk ask a young customer about her plans for school. She replied that she was majoring in arts until she could get a handle on what she wants to do with her life.
With a deep sigh the young woman went on to say, “There are just so many options”.
While school isn’t on my agenda this year, I too often flounder when the decisions, options, and tasks become overwhelming. Even though I know it is somewhat irrational, I sometimes put things on the list even…
Posted on 07-28-23
Enough with the Alphabet Soup
Words matter – the simpler the better - especially now when we’re overwhelmed by data and living in a world that is changing at a blistering pace.
Not only are changes resulting in complex issues and opportunities, they have also prompted new, often complex language, taxonomies, and lexicons. Taxonomies being how we classify the information, and the lexicon being the list of terms and their definitions.
Hard to believe but there really are 102 candidates running for mayor in the upcoming Toronto municipal election.
It is the highest number of candidates ever, surpassing the previous record of 65 candidates in the 2014 municipal election. This month’s by-election was called after the former mayor John Tory resigned in February 2023 after admitting to a relationship with a former employee in his office.
I drove by a flea market last weekend and cars were spilling out of the parking lot. It struck me that there might just be an upside to today’s post pandemic reboot. Flea markets, second-hand, and consignment stores seem to be doing well. It means we’re buying less, recycling more, and contributing to a greener environment. Good news, right?
So, because I’m a glass half full kind of person, I decided to spend some time mining the silver lining in what some might see as stormy clouds. Here’s…
Posted on 05-30-23
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