Manifesto: Expert Enough

For all those suffering from Imposter Syndrome (you know who you are!), this week’s manifesto is for you… Corbett Barr’s Expert Enough.

Expertise doesn’t come from a piece of paper.
Life is richest when we become good at a lot of different things.
Know-it-all, Jill of All Trades, and Renaissance Man are compliments.



Manifesto: A Credo for Making it Happen

Pulling again from the speakers I was fortunate enough to witness at the 2012 World Domination Summit, this week’s manifesto comes courtesy the amazing Danielle LaPorte - A Credo for Making it Happen.

Don’t let perfection become procrastination. DO IT NOW.
Launch + Learn. Everything is progress.
The universe is always expanding, and that includes YOU.



Manifesto: Daring Greatly

All hail the manifesto!

Maybe it’s the typeface, or the layout. Or the bite-sized inspiration these one-pagers bring. Whatever the reason, and despite Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ imprint on the term, ‘manifestos’ have always stirred something in my soul and pulled me in. I tag them, bookmark them, print them, tack ‘em up and use them as visual reminders in my office.

So, why not start aggregating the ones I love here?

As mentioned in my New Year’s ‘Seed Sower’ post, I’m a big Brene Brown fan. So who better to kick off this manifesto binge! Here’s Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly Leadership Manifesto

We are hard-wired for connection, curiosity, and engagement.
We crave purpose, and have a deep desire to create and contribute.



I am a seed sower

bigstock_One_plant_in_female_hands_on_w_18867938This is not my blog confession that I’m leaving the word world to go elbow deep in dirt (although I must admit, that does sometimes sound tempting.)

This is about a recent revelation I made about a principle and purpose in life, and the path of how I got there.

Over the past several months, I’ve been privileged to be part of the CEO peer advisory group Vistage. In a fortuitous twist of fate, my membership in an Idaho Chief Executive Group began the month that my agency co-founder decided to leave the business.

If there ever was a time for peers to provide counsel and insights – this was it.

Boiling the experience down to its essence – it was raw, emotional, scary, infuriating, eye-opening, empowering and…ultimately uplifting.

I have found that often when we are the most vulnerable, we gain the most insights into our strengths. A tip of the hat to the amazing Brene Brown for sharing that truth and that, “Vulnerability is the cornerstone of confidence.” (If you haven’t experienced her Power of Vulnerability TED Talk, go there now.)

During our Vistage Group sessions there was frequent talk about identifying and staying true to your North Star – that point beyond your horizon that guides your day-to-day actions and aspirations. Admittedly, I struggled with this concept. It was difficult to raise my head up and think beyond the immediate business opportunities and obstacles in front of me.

And I truly felt that my personal North Star needed to be something more. More than just a reflection of my company’s business goals and brand promise.

Then in a bit of serendipity, I found it.

I am forever in debt to the leader of one of our community’s non-profits, who when we met for a casual conversation stated, “We invited you here because you’re a seed sower in this community.”

A seed sower.

Like pulling on my 16-year old pair of Frye boots, trying on ‘seed sower’ just felt right. And as Prasaid Kaipa wrote about North Stars for wise leaders, it felt like it embodied a noble purpose,

Smart leaders make New Year resolutions and set quarterly milestones, charting progress against ambitious plans and goals. Wise leaders, however, take a different approach: they root themselves in a noble purpose, align it with a compelling vision, and then take action — not just for that year, but for the rest of their lives. That noble purpose becomes a North Star, giving direction when the path ahead is hazy, humility when arrogance announces false victory, and inspiration when the outlook seems bleak.

I am a seed sower…

….of stories that highlight community and potential

….of ideas that spark and inspire

…of connections and relationships that lead to something more

…of opportunity for those around me

Seems like a damn good purpose for 2014 and beyond.

Happy New Year.



Manifesto: 10 Commandments of Epic Business

Thou shalt do Epic S#@! that actually matters.

Thou shalt have a Strategy but be open to Serendipity.

Thanks to Jonathan Fields for the much-needed reminder as we head into 2014.



I Am My Mother’s, Grandmother’s, Aunt’s, Stepmom’s, Mother-in-Law’s Daughter

This is a post six years in the making. It seems fitting to finally write it on ‘Women’s Equality Day’ (aka the 93rd anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment.)

Six years ago, I was working for someone else but had just-below-the-surface drive and ambition for something more.

Today I am a CEO, founder and owner of my own company.

I am driven, ambitious, competitive, direct, outspoken and full of opinions I am completely happy to share with those who want to hear them. (And sometimes, those who do not.)

Because I believe in my voice, have confidence (still growing, admittedly) in my expertise and a desire to make a dent in the universe.

But until recently, the mantle of ‘female business owner’ and feminist was not one I felt comfortable taking on.

Blame it on my good fortune to grow up middle-class, raised by a working mother, supported by parents who emphasized higher education and in the era where Title IX gave me the opportunity to compete on sports fields so I grew to understand and embrace competition in other fields.

I never felt that I had to overcome anything or right any injustice because I was able to achieve whatever I set my sights on. The only obstacles I saw were ones I put in front of myself through self-doubt or not working hard enough.


So when I became a business owner and my stepmom proudly sent me this poster, it didn’t resonate. The Art Nouveau painting by Evelyn Rumsey Cary is an iconic woman’s suffrage poster from the early 1900′s. I hung it on my office wall and appreciated its beauty, but not its message nor history. My mother-in-law and aunt-in-law were equally supportive and effusive in their praise of my business ownership, sharing their pride in what I had accomplished, reflecting on how rare it would have been to do so in their time in the professional world at my age.

I felt like a fraud. Here I was being held up as a woman business owner and yet I felt that being a woman had nothing to do with what I had accomplished. I started feeling a debt, a responsibility that I couldn’t quite verbalize.

Then I started seeing that I, and the other strong, vibrant, intelligent women I work and collaborate with weren’t always the equals I thought we were.

Yes, we could vote.

Yes, we could work.

Yes, we could buy our own houses and get our own bank accounts and loans.

But it also became very obvious that we still fell far below equality when it came to elected and appointed leadership at the local, state and national level; that the experts called on in the media and showcased as thought-leaders were way out of balance male; and that subconsciously, a disrespect of women as leaders still permeated our society.

This was brought home recently when a male peer that I admired referred to a group of women leaders – CEOs, Executive Directors, state Senators and Representatives – as ‘girls’.

So today I say I am a feminist, because I do support equal political, economic, and social rights for women. And I believe with all my heart, soul and brain that adding women to any conversation is vitally important. It is not that a woman’s voice is better than a man’s – it is that it brings a different perspective. And that matters.

My pledge moving forward

  • Never apologize for ambition
  • Embrace strong adjectives
  • Be visible and vocal
  • Demand respect if its not freely given
  • Live up to the legacy of those who went before me
  • Pay it forward and support those who come behind me
  • Lean the hell in every. damn. day.



The Case for Collisions

I became enamored with this concept of creating collisionable opportunities once I heard Tony Hsieh of Zappos drop the idea.

Through planning and design, it is about creating points of bottleneck, tension and intentional collisions of humanity.

Through those collisions – you are accelerating serendipity in the hopes those unplanned moments will spark creativity and ideas.

Whether inside the office (which you can do by decreasing the amount of physical/individual space employees have) or outside the building (by decreasing the number of entry points, putting a shared distance between where they park and work).

Tony is planning out these opportunities for collisions and serendipity in the development of the Downtown Project in Las Vegas.

We are a group of passionate people committed to helping to transform Downtown Las Vegas into the most community-focused large city in the world. We are doing that by inspiring and empowering people to follow their passions to create a vibrant, connected urban core.

Our primary goal is to help to create an environment that encourages serendipity…the opportunity to unexpectedly collide with people from different backgrounds. Serendipity encourages people to connect with each other, exchange ideas, and accelerates learning

Here’s Tony’s slideshare presentation on the project.

This idea came full circle at the end of the day when I was introduced to the geek-artist Leo Villareal (my moniker for him), who is the visionary behind The Bay Lights So inspiring from both an artistic and public project perspective.

But what resonated the most had to do with the true public component of the piece – and its visibility from San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Leo eloquently shared how part of his desire was to create a conversation piece for the public. So that those watching and enjoying the piece would have a shared experience with the stranger next to them, leading to a conversation and exchange of thoughts and opinions. And perhaps that serendipitous sharing of thoughts could spark something else.

I see it as a focal point, something people can gather around. People who have never talked to each other are suddenly talking and it’s literally creating community. It’s almost become a digital campfire

Synapses are definitely firing now on how to create these collision opportunities in my own world – both within my agency and my community.

(Not quite the same as being there – but here is a live web cam to get your Bay Lights fix, as well as a Vimeo channel)


The Lineup of Ideas

While I was listening to the live stream of the Aspen Ideas Festival (because my track had not started yet so I couldn’t be ‘in’ the room) I inadvertently heard the theme to what I’m going to be experiencing

Planned Serendipity

Leave it to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh to drop the knowledge on his Theory of Serendipity: creating collision opportunities in planned environments so that you can accelerate serendipity, and therefore collaboration, creativity and idea generation. (more on this concept when I tackle his Downtown Project)

While I don’t think I’ll be head on running into people around the Aspen Institute campus (tho I might, because I am socially awkward in foreign locales and also quite the klutz), I do see the collision opportunities. Hell, even before my track has started I’ve been close enough for some amazing OH moments with Justice Elena Kagan, astronaut Anousheh Ansari and a table of folks from the CDC.

Plus – the lineup of ideas I’ve selected for the 3.5 days takes me out of my comfort zone and into different fields. Here’s the plan so far:

    Saturday, June 29
  • Afternoon of Conversation:
  • Featuring House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Henry Paulson on Sustainable Urbanization, Eric Lander of the Human Genome Project, Playwriight Anna Deavere Smith, Violinist Robert McDuffie, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, and Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan

  • Fire and Lights:
  • Mankind Illuminating the Cosmos at the Planetarium

  • Bay Lights| the Most Remarkable Public Art Project in America:
  • Artist Leo Villareal discussing his light sculpture in San Francisco

      Sunday, June 30

  • Experts are Passé, What About Leaders:
  • Andrew McAfee, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business

  • The Future of Your TV:
  • Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, fmr FCC Chair Julius Genachowski & Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton

  • With All This Data, Will We Come to the Right Conclusions?:
  • RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson, MIT Director Andrew McAfee, MAYA Design CEO Mickey McManus

  • Your Brain on Stories|Why You are Hardwired to Think and Learn through Storytelling:
  • Master Storyteller & Consultant Kendall Haven

  • Matter of Debate|Is Privacy Paramount or Should We Live in a Transparent Society?:
  • Legal Affairs Editor of The New Republic Jeffrey Rosen, Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu. (This is underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton, which I find awesome & timely

  • Envision, Invent, Inspire:
  • Three PhD candidates from MIT Media Lab present their research.

  • Designing the Human Interface:
  • CCO of Jawbone & CEO of fuseproject Yves Behar, CEO of Nest Tony Fadell, CEO of Flipboard Mike McCue, CEO of Path Dave Morin

  • Build on It|Designing Our Educated Future:
  • Los Angeles USD Superintendent John Deasy, CEO New Classrooms Innovation Partners Joel Rose

  • The Literature of War|Who Gets to Tell the Story?:
  • Author Lea Carpenter, Author Ben Fountain, Author Karl Marlantes

  • What does it Mean to be a Journalist in the age of PRISM and Wikileaks?:
  • Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman, HuffPost Editorial Director Howard Fineman, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, Finance & Economics Editor of The Guardian Heidi Moore, WSJ Weekedn Review Editor Gary Rosen

      Monday, July 1

  • NPR’s “Tell Me More”:
  • Live show with John E. Deasy, Anand Giridharadas, Steve Inskeep, Shirley Ann Jackson, Joel Klein, Madeline Levine, Paul Tough

  • Beautiful Complexity|Design, Business and Technology in the Age of Trillions:
  • CEO OF MAYA Design Mickey McManus

  • The Cool War|The Future of Global Competition:
  • Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman

  • Surprising Synergies|Game Makers, Policy Makers, and Educators:
  • CEO of ESA Michael Gallagher, CEO of Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars Jane Harman, CEO of Dreambox Learning Jessie Wooley-Wilson

  • Art in a Post-Conflict Society:
  • Fmr CEO Viacon Tom Freston, CEO of Moby Group Saad Mohseni, CEO of Season of Cambodia Phloeun Prim

  • Crowdsourcing Solutions to Messy Problems:
  • TED Curator Chris Anderson

  • Future Footprints|Expansive Landscapes and Enduring Cultures for the 21st Century:
  • National Geographic Fellows Sean Gerrity and Chris Rainier

      Tuesday, July 2

  • The Rise and Fall of Curiosity:
  • Williams College Senior Lecturer Susan Engel

  • The Rule of Law on the Move|Challenges and Disasters:
  • Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

  • Love It or Leave It|Can You Design Love into Your Brand?:
  • PepsiCo Chief Design Officer Mauro Porcini

  • Activism Anew| Dispatches from the Front Lines of the War on Women:
  • Jane Harman, Author Courtney Martin, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards



    Off for a Little Inspiration & Intimidation

    It’s early and I’m airport-bound.

    Destination – Aspen.

    Not for a celebrity jaunt – though I am sure I will see a few rich & famous folk.

    I’m headed to the annual Aspen Ideas Festival, “…a conversation-packed exploration of some of the most important ideas and pressing issues we face.”

    How can you not be energized by a description like that? The issues on tap, the mix of conversation opportunities and the amazing speakers on the lineup awed – and intimidated – me.

    This is year two of my quest to attend gatherings that challenge and expand my thinking.

    Last year? World Domination Summit.

    This time around, more inspiration than domination.

    Ideas, pure and simple, can be inspirational. They can plant seeds where none existed. They can morph an existing thought into quite another. They can introduce us to worlds of thinking we have never considered, thought about, imagined… And that’s why we like to share them!

    Here’s to serendipity, planting seeds and doing epic shit.