CtK's Brand of Leadership

We want to talk a little bit about Teri Kanefield’s perspective here and what it means for our work and our nation’s democracy:

This is what the work of Cultivate the Karass is all about: Training leaders who can handle the big, complex problems that we continue to face in our democracy and our world.

Why is this so important? Because the environment we now work within is Volatile, Uncertain Complex/Chaotic, and Ambiguous. In the leadership development field, we call it VUCA for short. The world has become a VUCA world. For those leaders who gain strength and risk taking capability through certainty, the question becomes: How to move through the world with volatility, uncertainty, chaos, complexity, and ambiguity? As Teri Kanefield points out, paraphrasing other scholars whose research has also proven it, authoritarians loathe complexity.

This is where leadership in the midst of complexity - the very core of our CtK mission - is essential democracy-building work.

Each time we host a Campfire to welcome a new cohort of Fellows, there is amazement that CtK can foster dialogue between conservatives and liberals. But we know that these leaders are all patriots, all people with the same agenda – how to foster the great democratic experiment that is the United States of America – and all people who can manage the complexity required to move our nation forward.

Because of how CtK selects, models, and teaches leadership, there is no room for authoritarian impulses. (So much so that we never really considered that was the ideological position never present in the room.) Any aversion to complexity is an automatic disqualifier for our brand of leadership.

And our brand of leadership is what the world needs right now. There is so much to gain from the complexity of our democratic experiment – and from the leadership experiment that CtK is conducting.

Pew Research on Political Labels

Pew Research Center took a look at how people feel about political labels that have obtained ubiquity in our current discourse. The survey, conducted April 29-May 13, 2019, also asked adults about their impressions of several other terms: “libertarian,” “progressive,” “liberal” and “conservative.”

  • Americans have generally positive views of other political terms asked about in the survey, though these views also differ along partisan lines.

  • Majorities have positive impressions of “progressive” (66%), “conservative” (60%), “liberal” (55%) and “libertarian” (also 55%).

  • Overall, Democrats hold more positive views of the term “conservative” than Republicans do of “liberal.” Nearly four-in-ten Democrats (38%) say they view “conservative” positively compared with fewer than a quarter of Republicans who view “liberal” in the same light.


CtK Jake's Retreat 2019!

The 3rd CtK Jake's Retreat is slated for October 5-6, 2019 in Washington D.C. We only do this retreat every other year. It's an opportunity for networking, skill share sessions, Ignite Talks, deep dive conversations, and regenerating bonds of affection with amazing colleagues. Join us!

Get yourself registered and get a big discount!  In honor of the 4th of July holiday, we're offering a limited number of $100 discounts. Get one before they're all gone!

Offer expires Monday, July 8, 2019.

Contact Loretta Yenson

What I Want My Granddaughters to Remember About Independence Day


 Craig and I have our granddaughters with us for the holiday. Mindful of this, I've been asking myself the question: What do I want my granddaughters to remember about the 4th of July with grandma and grandpa? 

First and foremost: I want them to love America.

For us, as for so many people, the 4th is a day focused on family. I want my granddaughters to know that, like family, loving America can sometimes be complicated. Democracy was in the beginning, is now, and will likely always be a fragile experiment. It is our responsibility – as citizens born into the privilege of democracy – to work to protect that fragile concept. This work is not always easy, the path forward is not always clear, and what it means to be a patriot can seem to shift, even if it never truly does.

There is a legacy of unspeakable bravery and courage handed us this opportunity today, and we are all part of this picture. So it is up to us to challenge ourselves to be as brave and courageous – through uncertainty and fear – in order to contribute to the continuation of this amazing experiment. I want them to see themselves as courageous and brave. I want them to know that they are up to the task.

I also want them to have and remember simple things: like the feeling of genuine awe at what lights up the sky or the the collective energy that comes from whole communities celebrating an ideal. Somehow, in their powerful mystery, they become the reminder of what freedom means.

I want them to know that it is up to us, all of us, together.

I want them to think of family. I want them to love America.

The Latest from CtK Fellows & Alumni 

Ashley Spillane's smart research on civic engagement and what the private sector can do attracted a room full of luminaries and was (predictably) SRO. Read her work here!

The Rainey Center celebrated it's 1st Birthday! Congratulations to Alums Sarah Hunt, Bishop Garrison, Charles Moran, and Josh Hone. Check out the photos from the event, the CtK family was out in full force!

Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School had its official ground breaking ceremony.

Emmy Ruiz, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, and Jenn Brown saw their candidates take the stage on Wednesday and Thursday for the two-night Democratic Debate.

Katie Bethell writing in Evoke, interviewed in Salon, and retweeted by Supermajority as the push for paid leave by her great org, Paid Leave + US, heats up.

We know you're out there doing great democracy building work. Send us a note and let us know what you're up to so we can highlight your accomplishments!

The Gift of Fallow Time

The gift of time set apart. To slow the pace and turn off the constant disruption. To practice the art of reflecting, listening, and connecting with what is possible. To lead from within.

I spent three days this past week leading a group of twenty-four global managers who are on the rise within their organization. Talented, ambitious, smart - and eager for the tips and techniques that will catapult them into an assured sequence of promotions and success.

In other words, a typical professional group.

On the final day of the workshop, each participant prepares, rehearses, and presents a story. The stories are a mere three minutes and incredibly compelling. The common thread that connected them was the theme of authenticity - of coming to a fuller version of themselves and the importance of “bringing in our heart as well as our mind.”

Their words.

They voiced what it was like for them inside to move from a fear of becoming unmoored if they weren’t constantly tethered to real and imagined timelines, and the thought of being cast adrift by their company. That’s what immediately popped up. And then they tasted the liberation, short-lived though it was, of becoming vulnerable and opening themselves to important conversations. Conversations of substance, with each other, and mostly with themselves.

This may not seem like much of an insight until you’re in the midst of all twenty-four of them. You feel the veil lift and the energy shift as they see themselves and one another as whole people. They voiced surprise and delight in the insights they heard emerging from themselves and from their peers. 

And in the debrief, they agreed that what had allowed the transformation was time set aside from deadlines and the obligations that accompany our work. They recognized how stepping back and slowing the usual 24/7 activity had allowed them, in two-and-a-half-days, to gain important insights. For some, it was genuinely life-shifting.  

“We need to rest, to read, to reconnect. It is the invisible labor that makes creative life possible,” Bonnie Tsui writes. “Fallow time is part of the work cycle, not outside of it.”

An age-old truth, ripe for a current-day renaissance.

Have A Great Weekend!

If you’re like us, you’re watching (and enjoying) the US Women’s National Soccer Team putting on a clinic in the opening round of the Women’s World Cup. Maybe you’re also enjoying the spate of articles that their consistently stellar performance and consistently unequal pay have spurred on equal pay, women in sports, lingering stereotypes about women, and how much representation in leadership matters. Check them out here, here, and here.

New work and an upcoming panel from Ashley Spillane:

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Bishop Garrison & Sarah Hunt speaking this week at the 9th Annual Breakthrough Institute

Nick Troiano recently featured on How Do We Fix It? talking about Country Over Party. As Executive Director of Unite America, Nick is a leading voice of the reform movement. "We are caught in a democracy that is spiraling in a very negative direction and the question before us is how do we break that.” Among his solutions:

  • End gerrymandering. Independent commissions, not partisan legislators, would decide the shape Congressional districts.

  • Ranked-choice voting. Instead of choosing just one candidate, voters would have the option of ranking candidates according to their preference.

  • Reform primary rules, and allow independents to vote in party primaries.

  • Campaign finance reform. Allow small donors to have more influence at the expense shadowy "dark money" special interest groups.

  • Encourage support for The Problem Solvers Caucus and other bipartisan coalitions in Congress and state legislatures.

  • Voting reform. Expand polling hours, and legalize early and at-home voting. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy

Jeff Buenrostro and Lori Brewer Collins co-facilitating CtK.Leadership Academy’s 1-Day Accelerator. Space is extremely limited. Register now!

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Global Leadership: The Time Is Now

Read the latest whitepaper from CtK Founder, Lori Brewer Collins!

Leading in a global context has become a must-have for executives in today’s global business environment. Leaders increasingly are challenged to address unique problems and cross-cultural issues in a climate that’s more volatile, uncertain, and complex than it’s ever been.

As the world’s economic center of gravity shifts, global companies compete intensely with fast-growing local companies for a limited pool of executive talent. Prime targets are leaders who can span different cultures, economies, politics, and geographies; who can think systemically across multiple networks, deal with rapid change and layers of complexity; and who can speak the language of global business.

Organizations and elected bodies are increasingly hard-pressed to find leaders who can both adapt to these complexities and excel at helping those around them be similarly adaptive and agile. But the good news is that leaders can develop the qualities they need to meet this growing demand.

Global Leadership: The Time Is Now explores a powerful framework for helping leaders navigate global challenges and develop global leadership capacity.

Download the whitepaper now.

Friday Updates & Have A Great Weekend!

Cultivate the Karass is about making unlikely connections, forming lasting relationships, and holding each other accountable to live into the democratic promise of our nation. Sometimes, that seems further away or more abstract than others - especially in moment of political turmoil and uncertainty. But the promise of the karass we are cultivating is this: Loyal Antagonists are those you can trust to deeply challenge as well as deeply support you, throughout your life.

As the Karass continues to grow, we have more great news from our Fellows & Alums! Here are just a few of the exciting announcements:

  • Laura Leigh Oyler was named the Senior Director of International Regulatory Integration at JUUL Labs

  • Ross Dakin has joined the State of New Jersey's Office of Innovation

  • Sasha Moss is now a Senior Director at Insight Public Affairs 

  • Nick Allardice was promoted to Chief Product Officer at Change.org

What we’ve been watching and listening to this week:

As we close out the week, we want to thank the Fellows & Alums who have stepped up recently to make “Pay It Forward” Donations that ensure that the Campfire continues burning. Have a great weekend!