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Where Genius Grows

Navigating a rapidly evolving world: - What does it mean to find your voice? - How is our world changing? - What keeps society together?
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Oct 4, 2018

“I always knew that this is a very complex issue and that I don’t want to go for the easy victory. And I think this is what you can very much see in the structure in how we run Germany Close Up.”

— Dr. Dagmar Pruin

Every year Germany Close Up brings 250 Jewish Americans to visit Berlin and get a close up look at a country that plays an outsized, terrifying role in their history. Learn in this interview with Dr. Dagmar Pruin about the experiences that led her to launch Germany Close Up in 2007, how over 2500 participants have added complex nuance to her views of German-Jewish relations, and the critical role this program plays in a time of fraying transatlantic ties.

Sep 29, 2018

“If you have been to a hockey game or a baseball game . . . you see a phenomenon where at some point in the proceedings a military person is recognized for their service. Always for their service. And I’m not meaning to denigrate the service that the military make, and certainly a very significant service. However, they are not the only people who are giving service to the country and to the community. Development workers often go to equally miserable places and they don’t bring guns, and they’re not wearing helmets, and they don’t have a long supply chain to take care of them. They’re living on the frontlines in khakis and a baseball cap and they get killed as frequently as military people get killed. I would love to see a day in which the Washington Capitals, or the Nationals, recognize a humanitarian relief worker for the service that they’re making to their country and to the world and for the risks that they’re taking to do that.”

— Jerrold Keilson

Jerrold Keilson is a historian of international development. This conversation details Jerrold's project to capture in a way that is immediately useful to people active in, or just entering, the field of international development the vast body of knowledge held by development pioneers who possess decades of experience. How can accessing this experience acting on it make a better world for all? Listen in and find out.

Sep 27, 2018

 “Let us not kid ourselves: These 22 volunteers alone are not going to transform the transatlantic relationship. And yet! Through their individual relationships that they build here, through the experiences that they get here, they are hopefully learning about discrimination, they are hopefully learning about political action, they are hopefully learning about the importance of intercultural communication and this transatlantic relationship that we’re talking about, and they’re taking it back to Germany, where they become part of a pool of people who share those values.”

— Mark McGuigan

Mark McGuigan is the US Program Director for Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, an organization formed in 1958 so that Germans could offer volunteer service as a means of atonement in countries affected by Germany’s role in World War II. Mark and I discuss the history and significance of Action Reconciliation Service for Peace on the occasion of its 50th anniversary of volunteer service in the United States.

Sep 11, 2018

"Exercise your witnessing muscle: Go find a good photography book and look at it long and hard. Look at the pictures and practice empathy. Practice witnessing a story that you weren’t there to see and I promise you will find yourself moved. And whatever the source of that empathy is, see if you can’t direct it to someone in your own sphere, someone physically in your own sphere — someone that you can witness, you might never thought needed to be looked at, or maybe you thought it was inappropriate to look."

— Katie Jett Walls

Documentary photographer Katie Jett Walls talks about how she has found her voice as a photographer, capturing images of the world's rapid evolution around us. We speak about the power of bearing witness, which Katie defines as being unafraid to be with someone.

Please explore Katie's work at http://www.katiejettwallsphotography.com.

If you love this conversation, you will find episode 51 with Sara Taber captivating.

Sep 5, 2018

"We live in a world where your attention is the most valuable thing you have to offer. It’s in some ways even more valuable even than the money in your pocket, or even more valuable than your vote. The things you choose to allocate your attention to — the shows you watch, the news you consume, the social media platforms that you engage on and the conversations that you take part in there — those are going to be the things that shape the world around us."

— Arik Ben-Zvi
 
Arik Ben-Zvi is the executive managing director of the Glover Park Group, a strategic communications and government affairs firm with a global presence. In this conversation we discuss the critical faculties and the moral compass we must cultivate to navigate an increasingly complex mass media and social media landscape.
Aug 31, 2018

"We’re really interested in the plot of our lives, but we’re not as interested in the way the plot unfolds — the meaning underneath the plot. And if we were to get more interested collectively in not just what’s happening to me but making sense of what’s happening to me, that is a question that can keep you engaged forever. That question never gets old. You can ask it about anybody else in your life and it brings you closer."

— Jennifer Garvey Berger

Psychologists long assumed that our minds stopped growing after post-adolescence. Over the past four decades the field of adult developmental psychology has shifted this paradigm by mapping out how our minds continue to develop in complexity over the course of our entire lives. This is a conversation with leading theorist and practitioner Jennifer Garvey Berger about what we can do to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world by actively developing sufficiently complex habits of mind.

Jennifer's books:
Changing on the Job: https://amzn.to/2C5FLxn
Simple Habits for Complex Times: https://amzn.to/2wu8iqW

If you love this conversation, you will find episode 46 with Bob Anderson fascinating.

Aug 10, 2018

“How do we change our economic thinking so that we start to become people who are living in a way that’s compatible with a sustainable planet?”

— Gray Cox

To look at the world and everywhere see strife and material consumption that our planet is unable to sustain can be demoralizing. But particularly as we stare at the prospect of likely peril, College of the Atlantic professor Gray Cox asks us to take heart and consider the simple habits of mind that are drawing us toward the brink of ecological collapse. How can we make subtle shifts in our very rationality — one person at a time — and thereby transform, and increase the odds of, continued life on earth?

Jul 31, 2018

“Listen and do your best to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. That trait is the thing that has saved lives. It’s when people cut themselves off from that recognition of the other person as a human being — that is what gets degraded when we move toward mass atrocities: one of the first steps is to remove the humanity of the other person. And so that’s a little act of resistance right there . . . to look across and see that humanity in the people around you.”

— Kate English

Kate English is the executive director of the Educators Institute for Human Rights. EIHR is an organization made up of teachers, most of whom are in the classroom full-time, who work to heal communities such as Rwanda, Bosnia, and Cambodia in the wake of mass atrocities. Learn in this episode how we all benefit from teachers focusing on human rights, genocide prevention and holocaust education.

Jul 27, 2018

“It’s important to listen both to understand the details of what happened, because remembering the victims and accepting the truth is important to survivor communities, and it’s also important just to make sure people feel heard. Sometimes it’s important for closure, sometimes it’s important as part of a process, sometimes it’s important for reasons that I’m not really sure of. But it is a very small thing we can do and it is meaningful.”

— Arthur Traldi

Arthur is a war crimes prosecutor who has worked on the international criminal tribunes for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. In November of 2017 the international criminal tribune for the former Yugoslavia obtained a conviction for war crimes and genocide case against Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladić. In this conversation you will learn how a genocide case is built and why it matters that we prosecute them.

Jul 27, 2018

“What people need to do is look at their lives through that lens ‘How much of what I do is intentional and how much of what I do is routine? How much of what I do is considered and how much of what I do is simply a function of I did it that way yesterday, I did it again today, and likely I’ll do it tomorrow?’”

— Jerry Johnson

Jerry Johnson manages relevance research at Brodeur Partners. His team helps organizations stay relevant in people's lives. In this episode Jerry discusses how to evaluate the many messages that every day appeal to our attention and our wallets. Learn how being aware and intentional about what matters to us can affect our lives.

Jul 13, 2018

“Anybody offering their truth to the world is a generous act. It doesn’t have to be perfectly wrought or perfectly abstractly conceptualized. But offering your authentic take on the world is just a gift, really. We don’t get a lot of honesty in the world. And emotional honesty is even rarer."

— Sara Mansfield Taber

Sara Mansfield Taber is a writer and a teacher of writing. She has a lucid understanding of what gets in the way of people writing well. Sara has released a book called Chance Particulars that swiftly moves us past our blocks by training our attention on the concrete details of the beautiful world around us.

Chance Particulars: https://amzn.to/2NhhZzc

Jul 9, 2018

"Life is filled with great diversity. You see it all through nature. When we as people take the opportunity to respect and appreciate the diversity that we have as humans, we have the power to build a better and more just society."

— Angela Hayes

Angela Hayes is the owner of Collins Hayes Management and Consulting. As the communities we live in grow increasingly diverse, what can companies do to make sure they resonate with every customer they're trying to reach? In this conversation, we discuss what steps companies can take to avoid embarrassing and costly missteps, as well as how we all benefit from a focus on inclusion.

Jul 9, 2018

"I always like to say 'Stay vocal, stay local,' that focusing on the issues in your most immediate community . . . it never seems to get the recognition it deserves but it's always the most transformative role that we can play in our society."

Albert Cahn

Albert Cahn serves as the legal director for the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Albert's work recently resulted in his being barred from speaking at the temple his family has belonged to for generations. In this conversation, we speak about why it matters to civil society that interfaith relations make an effort to stretch well beyond what most people consider safe.

Jul 4, 2018

“We all do the best we can. And I think whatever someone decides to do is the right step for them. But speaking out does have an impact. And I know that sharing my story brought comfort to many women, brought accountability to one man in particular, got legislation passed, and I think served as a bit of an educational opportunity or a warning to a lot of other men. And that makes it all worthwhile. It’s all of that.”

Maryland State Senator, Cheryl Kagan

Cheryl Kagan represents Maryland State Senate District 17 in Annapolis. On March 1, 2018 she was inappropriately touched by a lobbyist. After she she called him out publicly, inspired by brave voices in the #MeToo movement, the lobbyist called her delusional and threatened to sue. Then Sen. Kagan produced video evidence and drove the legislature to pass an anti-sexual harassment law. In this interview, Sen. Kagan discusses what went into speaking up and taking action.

Mar 31, 2018

Everybody's going to have to do tax planning now. At least for the first year or two — to see what, if anything, they can do to reduce their tax obligation. Even if they're going to get a savings automatically, just from being who they are with the tax laws the way they're going to be, there may be additional opportunities for them to save even more.

 — Richard Chisholm

Richard Chisholm is a partner with tax law firm WardChisholm, P.C. In this interview we discuss the implications for taxpayers and society of the 2017 tax reform.

Mar 30, 2018

Most of us don't have literacy — we weren't trained in school to be literate — in the language of transformation, in the basic math and ABCs of transformation. So how do I learn to listen to my silent thoughts and feelings and track them down to core assumptions that are actually limiting? That if I can see them and break through, the whole game changes?

— Bob Anderson

Bob Anderson is the Founder and Chairman of The Leadership Circle and the Full Circle Group. In this interview we discuss his integration of leadership and adult developmental theory into the model underlying the Leadership Circle Profile 360 assessment.

Bob's book:
Mastering Leadership: https://amzn.to/2wN9V2i

If you love this conversation, you will find episode 56 with Jennifer Garvey Berger fascinating.

Feb 19, 2018

A democracy cannot function if you basically have a political civil war: The sense that politics is a zero-sum game, where one side loses everything and the other wins everything, and it's all about winning against the other side. That can bring you political wins for a certain amount of time, but it doesn't stabilize democracy itself and it doesn't lead to more what in Germany we call sozialer Friede — 'social peace,' a sense of togetherness.

— Bastian Hermisson

Bastian Hermisson is the executive director of Heinrich Böll Foundation North America, a political foundation affiliated with the German Green Party. In this conversation, we discuss the origins of German political foundations and the work they do to foster an engaged citizenry.

Feb 7, 2018

Do we want to build a secure and resilient system for powering . . . our country? And do we want to attack the biggest challenge of collective action in the course of human civilization? And those are the two questions that we have to answer.

— Michael Wu

Michael Wu is the founder and CEO of Converge Strategies. In this interview we discuss how thoroughly the power grid permeates every aspect of contemporary life. Michael describes the array of threats facing the power grid today — both familiar one and those that we can only imagine. He explains the difficulty of allocating resources to counter high-risk, low-frequency threats, and what we must do to build a more resilient, clean-energy power grid.

Feb 1, 2018

"Take a look at the mirror. Reflect on the values and the traditions that have brought what I would call the Transatlantic Civilization into existence as a civilization that has ensured individual rights and liberties and economic success to billions of people around the world."

— Dr. Aykan Erdemir

Dr. Aykan Erdemir is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. In this episode we discuss the intersection of religion and politics, focusing on what happens when political elites use religion as a pretext for personal enrichment. This phenomenon has recently been named kleptotheocracy. Find out how to spot nascent kleptotheocracy in your midst and what you can do to prevent its spread.

Jan 22, 2018

My experience growing up taught me, 'Just 'cause they said 'No' doesn't mean I'm not qualified. They think I'm not qualified, but I'm qualified. They're idiots.' My view was that I was going to come to Washington, I was going to get them to offer me the job, and then I was going to turn them down. Just so they could see what it feels like.

— Lydia Borland

Ever wonder what a lobbyist actually does? In this episode, lobbyist Lydia Borland provides insight into the role lobbyists play in the legislative process. The key takeaway from this conversation is that, while lobbyists provide legislators with a wealth of information on the issues they vote on, the most important person a legislator can ever hear from is you.

Jan 19, 2018

There ought to be room for joy in the workplace. There ought to be room for experiencing the joy that comes from working collaboratively with others: feeling that joy, celebrating that joy, acknowledging that joy. It turns the daily slog into . . . joy. That doesn't exist without collaboration. So maybe getting started down this path is asking oneself, "Do I have enough joy in the work that I do in the place where I work?"

— Robert Tobias

Robert Tobias is the founder of the Key Executive Leadership Programs at American University. In this episode you'll learn what makes collaboration and authenticity so critical to successful leadership — not buzzwords, but rather tangible qualities. Allow this conversation to help you get curious about how you might develop your own leadership.

 

Jan 17, 2018

“We need to look beyond institutions to stand up for our rights, for our lifestyle, our quality of life. Time to broaden that to the organizations, to the businesses we interact with each and every day and realize there is power there.”

— DeVere Kutscher

DeVere Kutscher is a principal at Public Private Strategies. In this episode he discusses the role business plays in filling the void when there's a vacuum of political leadership. You will learn why business leaders can't afford to neglect broad swaths of population even when political leaders do. You will also find out why business, and even democracy itself, depends on the 2020 Census being carried out properly and in good faith.

Jan 11, 2018

It's a really interesting moment in the world where there's large emerging markets that will transform the way the rest of the world looks. And so staying engaged and aware and open to change and to  new technology and innovation, while also remaining focused on the human aspect of it — of how is it actually improving your and other people's lives? — will become increasingly critical.

— Melissa Frakman

Melissa Frakman is an emerging markets fintech advisor. Melissa discusses why India holds such promise for technology companies, what the Indian government is doing to make this wave of innovation possible, and how this happens in India will set the stage for how we do business around the world in the 21st century.

Jan 11, 2018

One of the things that will be incredibly important this year, in 2018, is everyone's action to vote. And to vote out the people who don't support our issues and vote in the people who do. Because this year has really shown people that politics touches your life, whether or not you like it. It is so important to use your vote and civic responsibility to have it touch you in a positive way.

— Bettina Hager

Bettina Hager is the COO and DC Director of the ERA Coalition. A near-total majority of Americans believes men and women should enjoy equal protection under the constitution. Paradoxically, the greatest obstacle to the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment that would enshrine this equality in the U.S. constitution is the mistaken belief, by over 80% of Americans, that this protection is already guaranteed. Learn about the history of the Equal Rights Amendment and find out what you can do to ensure its passage in our time.

Dec 11, 2017

As state after state passes laws regulating the use of cannabis, a booming industry has sprung up. Many people believe that this momentum — which they see as analogous to sweeping tides of civil rights legislation — will ultimately result in the passage of federal laws. Cannabis lobbyist and attorney Joshua Sanderlin believes that this optimism is misplaced and fails to account for the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. However, Joshua also offers clear pointers on how to mobilize the groundswell of support required to make changes to federal law.

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