Thursday, May 24, 2007

A little more Gore Hugging...

Maybe its because I'm seeing the world through a authenticity lens -- but I'm loving the blogosphere's reaction to Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason. An inspiring perspective from someone who saw him read last night.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fierce Conversations and Authenticity

Recently, I had a love at first sight experience -- Arianna Huffington. I was listening to her keynote the Women's Funding Network closing luncheon.

(A bit of a declaimer is that while I have been a Washingonian for the past several years, I have stayed out of the political news. It didn't seems worth paying attention to. As a result, I probably would have told you that Huffington was still a Republican, and I could never have told you about the Huffington Post -- of which I'm now a daily reader.)

Huffington was a very good speaker -- but what made me fall in love was her emphasis on authenticity. Asked, in an all women, pro-women forum, what she thought of Hillary Clinton - she replied, not much. "She lack's authenticity. She's unwilling to take responsibility for the decisions she's made and the votes she's taken." While most politicians lack authenticity (as an aside, I do find that Gore to be authentic and I am bummed that he's not running again soley based on that) -- trying to be all things to all people, they aren't true to themselves -- I appreciated Huffington's authenticity. In no way did she try to placate the audience.

Most people who know me know that I love the blogosphere because it feels like an authenticate place to me. A place where marketing and sound bytes don't belong -- though shameless self-promotion is allowed. A place for fierce conversations.

A fierce conversation is one in which we come out from behind ourselves into the conversation and make it real. Fierce means identifying those conversations out there with your name on them and resolving to have them with all the courage, grace, and vulnerability they require. In fierce conversations, there is neither a struggle for approval nor an attempt to persuade. There is, instead, an interchange of ideas and sentiments, during which you pay attention to and disclose your inner thoughts while actively inviting others to do the same. During fierce conversations, people don't cling to their positions as the undeniable truth. Instead, they consider their views as hypothesis to be explored and tested against others. -- Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations.

I think life requires fierce conversations -- and the concept is so important to me now as my life continues to be in a constant state of churn, transition, change, and wonder. Leadership requires fierce conversations -- knowing you don't always know the answer, being flexible in your perspectives and passions, but most importantly, stepping up to be present in the conversation.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Stewardship vs. Civic Leadership

Serving as an Executive Director is a huge learning opportunity for me -- daily my assuptions, perceptions, and positions are challenged. For example...

Many nonprofits are public entities -- mine is at least. We are public foundation that receives the majority of its resources from individuals. I view the organization and its board of directors to be the stewards of the organization and the public's resources. I think it goes without saying that the board would probably also agree with me.

Board members are lured onto the board through a sense of civic responsibility and leadership. They have personal callings, world views, which they must realize and they join boards as an outlet. Or at least, when an individual feels passionately about an issue, joining a board of an organization with shared values and passions is one way make dreams into a reality.

So when it comes to making important decision for the board, how far can an individual's personal passions affect their decision making? What's the point of joining a board if you can't realize your personal passions? And rarely does an organization recruit a board member who's values aren't aligned with the organization, so should not the organization trust that the board member, making decisions based on their own values, will also make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Funny, and of course, pointed commentary by Tony Newman in the Huffington Post -- equating random drug testing in schools with random virginity testing. It falls into the category of "common sense" can go a long long way.

It also gives me the occassion for a little prideful MWF promotion. We (the Maine Women's Fund) recently funded Real Life, Real Talk -- an national initiative of planned parenthood promoting hard but good conversations about sex. Shockingly its an initiative that even pro-abstinence camps are getting behind. The Real Life Real Talk commercial are airing in national prime time media and if you haven't seen one, here's a click from You Tube.

We funded a project specifically designed to use community based theatre to get families talking about sex. Our team, along with a team of volunteers, captured the collaboration through a cool video. Check it out!