Wednesday, August 27

Hallelujah: Holy or Broken Connections?

If there is a song that everyone knows and connects to strong feelings—either positive or negative—it’s “Hallelujah.” I admit that I have a hard time disassociating it from “Shrek.”

Recently, I finished reading The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah,” by Alan Light and I recommend it to anyone who shares a curiosity about this song.  It’s a great book about the history of "Hallelujah" and how it evolved from being unpublished and unknown to being borderline over-exposed on every competitive singing reality show here and abroad.

Thanks to Casey Purpus ( for lending me this fascinating book, which dramatically demonstrates through the story of this song how everyone who touches something brings their own interpretation to the experience, making it uniquely their own. Just for fun, go to youtube and listen to the recording of this song by some of the following artists. Let me know your fave, and I’ll report your votes and comments in a future blog: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright (Shrek version?), k.d. lang, Kate Voegele, Bon Jovi (the worst?), Il Divo, Justin Timberlake, Alexandra Burke, Willie Nelson, Jake Shimabukuro, etc.......

Do you wonder why there are so many different verses? Wonder about the meaning of the lyrics? Wonder
how the same song can be played at both weddings and funerals? The answers are all in this book.

Wednesday, August 20

Tearing It Down to Its Core

For some reason, I have been noticing the nature of renovations on existing buildings and reflecting on the parallels between the building of a physical space and the building of an organization, a team, or a life.  
This photo is of a hotel I recently saw in Santa Barbara (Hotel California, where you can check out, but never leave?).  From the fa├žade it looks like a bustling enterprise, but when you walk around back, you discover that it has been completed gutted except for the front.  

Similarly, I snapped this photo of a new restaurant/store going in at the corner of King and Union Streets at the core of Old Town Alexandria.  Even the concrete flooring is being torn out in order for the new to be built on solid footings.  
What does this have to do with organizational change?  Organizations and individuals often try to ignore foundational issues or patch things together rather than accept that what they really need to do.  Yet, if important issues are deeply rooted, it is imperative to get down to the most basic level and start over on firmer footing, no matter how painful or time consuming the process may be.  How do you know when this is what you need to do?  I’d like to hear from you about your experiences and how you knew you needed to take it down to bare bones, and I’ll share my thoughts in a future blog.

Friday, August 15

If You Talked Like TED, What Would You Say?

If you were invited to give an 18 minute TED Talk, what story would you tell that would be the most unique, authentic message that only you could give?  What are you passionate about that is integral to who you are, how you understand the world, and how you live your life?  TRY IT.  Everyone should have their TED Talk ready should they have the opportunity—not just on stage at a TED Conference, but when connecting with new clients or friends, selecting priorities in one’s life, and aligning one’s words and actions with one’s story about oneself.  

Talk Like Ted, by Carmine Gallo, shares the 9 traits of all great presentations—and goes much further in challenging readers to think about the story they tell themselves and others.  If you don’t like what you learn, for instance, if you’re not really passionate about your work, then Gallo challenges you to think about what changes you are willing to make to live a life that inspires and informs others.  This process is not only an interesting personal exercise, but sharing your refined TED Talk with others can help you connect in ways you never may have imagined.

Sunday, August 10

How Do You Respond to Trust and Generosity of Spirit?

Every morning my dog Elvis and I walk past this curb-hugging little flower patch planted each summer by my neighbors Tom and Joan.  Their invitation to cut and share their zinnias (could there be a happier flower?) fills me with joy and a sense of abundance.  In a world that can seem to be dominated by greed, thoughtlessness, and competition, they have created their own daily reminder to intentionally practice trust and generosity.  Because we are all so interconnected, this simple profound act ripples beyond our ability to measure.  

Every day as I pass their invitation, I challenge myself to find something meaningful to give to someone who might benefit from it.  What might you be able to share that would encourage trust and generosity of spirit?

Saturday, August 2

Lessons from Nature- Part 2

“If we look to the natural world we can discern patterns and principles that help us understand and influence organizations so that we can connect people in positive change.” (Hum, 59).

At first glance, it may not be obvious to associate change and management within an organization as having any connection with nature.  Yet, if we take a closer look at the natural world and its biological systems, there are many lessons to be learned about how human organizations can adapt to and manage change.

Throughout the course of my career working with many different organizations, the most profound lesson I have incorporated in my work is the importance of connectivity.  In both our personal and professional lives, we seek to create connections and relationships.  Animals in their natural environment also pursue this, choosing to live in packs and work together to accomplish a common goal. This interdependence is a key to organizational success in both nature and in the office. Like populations of geese or a pride of lions, organizations where team members understand that they need to rely and lean on each other are far more successful than those that maintain complete independence.

So, the next time you go on a hike or hit the beach on vacation, make sure to take a look around you and try to identify how some of the connections observed in nature organically occur in the most purposeful and efficient parts of your own organization.