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
Are We Languishing?
Recently, a talented group of consulting colleagues met in a relaxed, informal networking setting. During the gathering a lot of ground was covered as both personal and work-related subjects were addressed. More than once, there was discussion about broken systems and how they too often constrain and limit innovative responses to individual, social, economic, and environmental well-being.
There was also acknowledgement of vetocracy: a term typically used in government and traditional institutions to describe the system of entrenched interests that make it very hard to get anything radical built or done.
In the Broadway musical, Annie Get Your Gun, one of the most memorable songs was one called Doin’ What Comes Naturally. I’m not sure why, but for some reason I thought about that song and the idea of doing what comes naturally during a recent webinar delivered by an intelligent, passionate presenter who was doing just that.
His own ‘naturally’ seemed to be about positioning himself as the sage-on-the-stage with webinar participants as his attentive audience. That became clear, when one of his first requests was that everyone turn off their…
Posted on 02-04-24
When You’re Stuck in the Weeds
A long time ago I worked for a guy who was something of a leadership junkie. Every time he got back from a conference or read a new book, we would brace ourselves for what we referred to as his new flavour-of-the-week management theory.
Inspired by his enthusiasm, we would initially adopt a gung-ho approach to implementing some new thinking or strategy.
Without fail, it would ultimately die a slow death and we would then hold our collective breath waiting for the next great new idea to be sent our way.… More Posted on 01-23-24
There’s Always Chocolate!
Recent times have been tough and while I haven’t lost my mojo, I definitely lost, or at least misplaced, my normal, fairly resilient, Pollyanna-ish self.
Instead, I’ve done more than my share of whining and venting.
If I were a child, I would be distracting myself with a shiny object or handing over a bottle and telling myself it was time for a nap.
The library in my hometown of Welland, Ontario kicked off the new year with a special event called Loud in the Library.
No kidding. It was a free community event offering live music performances that had participants singing and dancing among the stacks of books! Even better, there was free pizza and snacks.
If I didn’t already love my library, I love it even more now, knowing their leadership is reflecting our changing times.
Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
I wish I could take credit for that line as it is a thought-provoking piece of advice. It was actually part of a commencement address delivered by Apple’s Steve Jobs in a Stanford Commencement speech.
I especially like it because of its simplicity. In today’s world of often overwhelming change, information, and events, making the complex simple is something we all could use more of.
While I like to consider myself one who loves change and embraces trends and early signals, this has been a challenging year to say the least. And yet, could it be there might just be a silver lining?
This week I made a quick late evening visit to a local mall where shoppers were pretty sparse. As a result, it was a bit of a surprise to hear a hauntingly beautiful version of ‘White Christmas’ being played on what could only be a grand piano.
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
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