There is Joy in Risk

Two years ago, having been unceremoniously cut loose from the all-consuming community development work I had passionately embraced on behalf of a non profit organization for over five years, I found myself at a crossroads. It was, as Dr. Phil would say, a defining moment.

Ultimately, my way forward would be determined by the answer to a single question, “Do I choose to finally complete the MBA that I had pushed aside for many years, or do I choose to try and make a difference with what I had learned. Clearly I couldn’t afford the time and money to do… More Posted on 06-25-14

Is Putting Things in Boxes Really the Answer?

I felt her angst. 

In a recent conversation, a colleague and friend for whom I have the deepest respect, sighed deeply, and spoke about how overwhelmed she is feeling these days what with the competing demands of a young family, a demanding job, and a never-ending tsunami of data and information coming at her.

Despite being a woman who is clearly creative, resourceful, and innovative, she went on to speak enviously about those she knew who were good at routines and practices that allowed them to put things - meaning tasks and “to-dos” - in boxes.

While I… More Posted on 05-13-14

Real Conversations, Real Community

It was a first for me.

While we referred to it as a biz-cation, in reality it was five fun filled days spent with three amazing women interspersed with discussions regarding our related work. Business associates who have become great friends, we now affectionately refer to ourselves as the “sistas” (although we may need to rethink that because as reported by one offspring of our group after she texted her mom, her phone had autocorrected “sistas” so it became “disasters”....hmmm).

Given that we are in different cities, we typically have had to rely on technology to connect, however this… More Posted on 04-30-14

Channel Your Inner Mick Jagger

You can’t always do it yourself. Go ahead and sing it now. Channel your inner Mick Jagger because sometimes you can get what you want if you don’t always try to do it yourself.

Maybe it’s because we’re all so busy these days or, maybe there are simply a lot of people who like to control, but it does seem there are a growing number who think it is just quicker and easier to do it themselves. I keep being reminded that while it may be a tempting quick fix to do it ourselves, it is a rather myopic view… More Posted on 04-02-14

Ocean Freighter or Canoe?

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… More 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.

Since the post-war boom of the 1940s… More Posted on 01-11-14

Joe Would Approve…Leaning Into Meaningful Work

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… More 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.

Family has always been my most important priority. As part of my Christmas reflection this year, I’ve had… More Posted on 12-20-13

The Few, The Some, The Many?

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.

Over the last several months,… More Posted on 12-12-13

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?

When exactly is enough, enough? How many innocent bystanders have to be killed before we (especially our American… More Posted on 09-19-13

A Tech Startup? Me?

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… More 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.

That’s when his grandmother figured out that they… More Posted on 08-21-13

Are You a Complicator or a Simplifier?

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… More 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.

As he put it in his initial communication to the employees at the the Post, “There is no map, and charting a path ahead… More Posted on 08-15-13

We Oughta Know that Stories Matter

The best part about summer for me is that I actually have time to think and to write.

While I get that it may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, it definitely makes me happy even though it’s often hard work.

The challenge for me is that I’m typically using different types of writing.

By way of example, this summer my writing included a chapter of a textbook being published by Athabasca University about leadership for active, creative, and engaged communities as well as another article called How One Small Rural Community Found their… More Posted on 08-13-13

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