Join the Conversation Series

I love engaging conversations with smart people, because I always learn something – a way of thinking about something differently, a new story that’s hilarious or thought provoking or both, a way of leaning into leadership from a fully human perspective. 

These conversations are here do just that. It is my hope that you enjoy them, and encourage others to join in too.

Get a sneak peak…

John Palfrey

John Palfrey, CEO, of the MacArthur Foundation, leads both the team at their HQ in Chicago and grantees doing critical work internationally. We spoke about navigating global challenges in a conscious manner. 

MacArthur is focusing on pressing issues, including advancing global climate solutions, decreasing nuclear risk, promoting local justice reform in the U.S., and reducing corruption in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. John shares the emotional impacts of his team having a mission to help solve crises with unpredictable risks and urgency.  

He shares how pausing around his family’s dinner table as a child set him up to value taking a moment even when his instinct was to push ahead. To recognize that sometimes slowing down in the moment will help you achieve your goals more fully and broadly in the future.

Dawna Markova

Internationally known storyteller, Dawna Markova, PhD., followed in her grandmother’s footsteps to become a midwife, but rather than babies, she helps birth possibilities within and between people. Over the past seven decades, she’s been an author, teacher, psychotherapist, researcher, executive advisor, and organizational fairy godmother.   
Dawna warns, “Do not mistake noise and movement within your organization as evidence that everyone is moving forward together.” One of the most powerful lessons she teaches to leaders is the value of stepping back and listening differently, thinking differently – acknowledging that we don’t all have the same story in our heads.
Lastly, Dawna shares the intimate story of how a pause and $5 finally fulfilled a lifelong request she’d made to her father.

David Emerald

David Emerald is the celebrated author (3 Vital Questions, The Power of TED) and creator of leadership frameworks proven to powerfully boost teamwork and productivity. We delve right into the realities of living and leading in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world, with no sign of a slowdown. David tells us why the leadership goal of ‘no drama’ in the workplace is unrealistic – given that managers spend an average of 40 percent (!) of their time on employees’ relationship anxieties and frustrations. We discuss how triggers can actually point leaders toward making a real difference. Instead of pushing triggers away, take a pause and turn toward them, to gain understanding about what you most care about. From here, pause becomes the portal to opportunity and conscious action. 

Scott Shute

It took author and speaker, Scott Shute,  also Former Head of Mindfulness and Compassion Programs at LinkedIn, nearly 30 years of “wandering in the career desert” to align with the wisdom of a message he received at age 17. In our lively conversation, he reveals what was gained on his long journey to the work he’s meant to do, the fear he overcame to finally do it, and why an orange rhinoceros was exactly the sign he needed. This is a conversation not to be missed!

Rand Stagen

In my engaging conversation with Rand Stagen, CEO of the Stagen Leadership Academy, we delve into what it means for a leader to be conscious. Being conscious is simply being aware, yet many leaders operate from invisible patterns that limit their impact and create harm. Rand shares why being aware as a leader mattered as much 10,000 years ago as it does today. Learn about the profound and humbling lesson he learned from an unlikely ‘guru’ at his local gym. Rand also explains how pause gives us the power of choice, “A leader who is aware is able to be at choice. I pause because I have the capacity to use my awareness to choose what I’m going to do or not do in a much more intentional way.” 

Sylvia Trent Adams

Dr. Sylvia Trent Adams is the EVP and Chief Strategy Officer at the University of North Texas Health Sciences, and a retired Rear Admiral from the United States Public Health Service. The pandemic brought to the forefront issues about how leaders can shift to face significant challenges in ways that do not lead to burnout, mental health struggles, or worse.  

Dr. Trent Adams advocates for training our teams differently understanding that first and foremost, we are all human beings. We must actively practice self-care as a part of showing up. Training, especially in the military, has not traditionally been if you’re not feeling well, raise the flag – it’s been “dig in and power through.” And it’s honestly not that different in many other work sectors. The common expectation is to achieve the organization’s goals at all costs. 

 She also shares that one of the greatest tools that one can have is “…learning how to stop all the noise, shift the chaos, and just be quiet for the moment to reassess, recalibrate, and reassess.”

Donna Zajonc

Donna Zajonc (pronounced Say-John), Director of Coaching for the Center for the Empowerment Dynamic. She is the author of the book, Who Do You Want to Be on the Way to What You Want. Donna’s concern for the world drew her to politics where she served three terms in the Oregon Legislature. She’s the business partner and wife of David Emerald, another guest in this series.  

 Donna’s coaching is focused on The Empowerment Dynamic (TED) which gives an alternative to the Drama Triangle. The Drama Triangle, created by Stephen Karpman, is a model of social interactions and illustrates a power dynamic that involves three roles: Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor, each role represents a common and ineffective response to conflict.   

Richard Strozzi Heckler

Richard Strozzi-Heckler, PhD.,  is the founder of Strozzi Institute, and a pioneer in embodied leadership and somatic coaching. He’s spent more than four decades teaching embodiment to CEOs, executives, and teams from Fortune 500 companies, NGOs, start-ups, nonprofits, and the U.S. government and military.

Richard was one of my earliest and formative embodiment teachers. This was back when most leaders still viewed mindfulness and meditation as ‘something hippies do.’ We discuss shifting perspectives toward embodied practices, including how the development of the ‘holistic Marine’ came into practice 22 years ago and continues today. Richard’s son, a Marine aviator, recently earned his brown belt in the resilience-building program his father created more than two decades ago.

Amanda Blake

My conversation partner is Dr. Amanda Blake,  a master somatic practitioner, gifted teacher, and published author – she’s also my dear friend and trusted colleague. Mandy highlights the dangers to leaders who get caught up in the cultural expectations that to succeed you must always “operate at full-speed” and “never let ‘em see you sweat.” She also emphasizes that embodiment is both a way of being and a way of knowing – although either is useless if you don’t slow down enough to access it. Our interview ends with the one question we mutually agree you must ask to embody the skills of a purposeful, conscious, and effective leader.

Michelle Forbes

My conversation partner is Dr. Michelle Forbes, Medical Director for Catalyst Health Network and the Catalyst Community Foundation. We begin with how health care providers have been stretched – many to the breaking point – due to the unrelenting challenges of the pandemic. Dr. Forbes shares how physicians – masters of healing – were additionally challenged by not knowing how to first approach the new infection, and by patients’ growing distrust of physicians as the experts. This only added to the extreme discomfort and anxiety of medical professionals who were taking huge risks every day to save lives. Dr. Forbes observed how medical professionals who used their anxiety as a tool for questioning, and took a pause to explore it, were more able to avoid burnout and remain focused on their purpose in the chaos.