Sunday, May 31

Our Earth Flag

The “authentic” Earth Flag was created in 1969 by John McConnell ( a symbol of all of us being connected to one another and all living things on the planet we share.

I have flown the Earth Flag in front of The Schiller Center for Connective Change for decades.  A photo of the flag flying in front of our office appeared a few years ago on the cover to the City of Alexandria’s annual report.  As you can see from this current photo, we are now in a location just across the street from a public magnet school.  I wonder how many of the students—and their teachers—have discussed what it might mean to pledge allegiance to the Earth.  I’m told we have the only Earth Flag in Alexandria and wonder why they didn’t catch on more widely.  I often see flags being flown that represent a past period in history, a loyalty to an alma mater, a fun celebration of the season, or even just cocktail hour.  I wish the original vision for the flag had spread, and wonder where we’d be today if it had.

Thursday, May 28

Living in Gratitude

Before we turn in at night, my dog Elvis and I go through a ritual in which I remove his collars and bandanas and we recount everything we can remember from the day for which we are grateful.  During this exercise, he gets a massage.  Of course, there are always the big things for which we give thanks: good health, great friends, and meaningful work. On any ordinary day, there are so many additional things for which to give thanks once you start looking for them.  I am grateful to the motorists who stopped at the stop lights that signaled them to do so as I proceeded through the intersection.  I am thankful to the client who called and trusted me with a delicate situation for which she needed a sounding board.  I appreciate my neighbors, who keep their lawns and gardens tidy.  Every person who walked by me on the street and acknowledged me added to my day.  I find joy in our morning walk, where we always see the same heron sitting on a piling as he watches the sun rise, the coffee shop employees who know how I like my coffee prepared, and the special stop at the Hotel Monaco where Elvis gets a morning treat from the desk staff.

I find that counting my blessings for the day I’ve just experienced puts me into a peaceful and positive perspective, which helps me sleep better.  Sharing the experience with Elvis reconnects us, as he can feel the good energy as well as the physical contact through the massage.  What a great way to end each day!

Tuesday, May 12

Saying Thanks

I believe everything is about relationships, and nothing builds good will as much as saying a genuine thanks to your loyal customers.  When you hold an event or stay at a Kimpton Hotel, you feel that every staff member is really paying attention to you and wants you to have the best possible experience with them.  I know.  I stay at Kimpton hotels whenever possible. My dog, Elvis, and I attend our local Hotel Monaco’s doggie happy hour.  Every morning as part of our walk, we visit their front desk where the staff happily gives him a treat. 

Last week, I had the good fortune to be the speaker at the DC-area Kimpton Hotels’ thank you luncheon for loyal guests.  I began by giving each attendee a copy of my book, HUM.  Given the diversity and experience level of the guests, I decided to engage in an interactive session rather than doing the talking myself.  As an introduction to the strategies I discuss at length in my book, I explained a simple, three-part framework for strengthening their teams and organizations: 1. People, 2. Purpose, and 3. Processes.  Then, together, we filled in the blanks with the attendees providing insights and examples of each of the 3 elements.  It was exciting for me to hear how easily the group could provide insights and examples of how to diagnose and improve each of the three elements of organizational performance.  I loved their energy and determination.  Thank you, Kimpton team, for the privilege to meet with your great customers, who are now new friends.

Wednesday, May 6


It takes thought and commitment to reduce a complex concept down to its essence—something so short and clear that it is widely understood.  For example, it took me years to come up with the title of my last book, HUM.  The word “hum” dates back thousands of years to when ancient people used it to describe the sound of the universe moving in synchronicity.  Today, it still refers to the flow experience when everything is in harmony.  This one word, hum, represents the essence of what I aim to achieve with my client organizations all over the world and I have found universal understanding of its concept.

With the same goal in mind, the iterative process I use during strategic planning sessions with clients helps carve out the “essence” of each organization—it’s purpose, vision, and principles.  This process guides them through the steps of Defining, Designing, Aligning, and Refining, allowing organizations to adjust to changes in their internal and external conditions, resulting in a more adaptive and relevant plan.  Thus, instead of producing long and complicated strategic planning documents that are usually obsolete by the time they are distributed, we endeavor to achieve clarity in our brevity. 

As I mentioned in a prior blog post, when the American Nephrology Nurses’ Association ("ANNA") engaged me to guide them through strategic planning, we agreed that we would aim for communicating the essence of who they are, what they believe, and where they want to go in a single page document.  We succeeded, but more importantly, the framework re-enlivened the organization and re-engaged their members.  When I returned this past spring, I helped their changing board through a similar process—again with the goal of containing the essential elements to one page.  Below is what they crafted, which has a lot of meaning for the organization and its leaders.  What do you think?  Would capturing on a single page these critical components help your organization or team?  If you could develop a one page map for your family or yourself, what would it look like?