Fall Apart or Fall Together?

June 2, 2021

Yesterday, we convened a new Roundtable for members who are managing aging parents, some with dementia, some dying, and some just needing new kinds of help.

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us it’s this: we can no longer draw a clear bright line between the professional and the personal.

That has brought humanity into the workplace, but it has also brought a new fear: that if we open up about our challenges and share our sadness, grief, fear about anything personal or professional, then we will fall apart.

The reverse is true. 

If we share our fears with peers walking in our same shoes, then simply discovering that we are NOT alone will give us hope, and rise all of us up. 

But that’s really hard to believe until you do it, as we saw yesterday on the “Aging Parents” Roundtable.

A member, we’ll call him Sam, shared that his mother, who had given so much to him and others – “In so many ways, I would not be here without her” – was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. 

Further, he said that many of his aunt’s and uncle’s had already died from the disease. 

And then Sam quietly tried to slip by us that he too has the markers for Alzheimer’s.

When he tried to continue on quickly to other issues, I broke in and asked him to pause so we could be with him — to not leave him alone emotionally.

Sam appreciated that and said he had not yet given himself a moment to begin to deal with the news of his mother’s diagnosis (and of his own potential diagnosis down the road).


He had been afraid he would fall apart. 

That was what Sam feared before the call.

Here’s what he wrote AFTER:

That was a very valuable hour – one that I didn’t realize just how much I needed. I look forward to walking together through some of the things we all have ahead of us. 


My mother, now dead almost nine years, is crying with tears of joy – and so am I. 

So, if you fear things will fall apart if you open up and be vulnerable in this crazy world, then know two things: 

1) you are NOT alone in feeling that way; 


2) ask for help and discover that instead of falling apart, you and we will fall (and rise) together.



P.S. Everyday more members are reaching out for help. What joy that brings me (and my mom).  Please reach out – even, and especially if, you do NOT know your question. As one member said to me yesterday, “the big stuff is messy and so I didn’t call because I thought I needed to have my question buttoned up.” When she realized that was nottrue – i.e., that she didn’t need to know exactly what she needed – she reached out for help. Yes!

P.P.S. I LOVE hearing from readers in response to these newsletters – your comments and stories help me. So, please write. I’d love to hear from you.  

Upcoming Talks

  • No EgoPart 2 – Fri, June 11 @1pm ET  
    Cy Wakeman, Best-selling Author and CEO
    Talk Type: Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Best-selling author of No Ego and other books, Cy joined us in April for a fun, enlightening, and provocative session with live case studies from members. 

    Members loved it so much that they asked for more. 

    So, come to this follow-up session with your “burning questions” about drama in your workplace. 

    What do we mean by “drama”? 

    We’re talking specifically about drama that keeps you up at night, that derails teams, and businesses. Hard emails. Bad meetings. Difficult relationships. 

    Wakeman’s philosophy offers a new lens through which employees and executives alike, can sharpen their focus on personal accountability, and ditch the drama.

    This will be an action-oriented session, geared towards helping members with their org “drama” questions. Come with your questions. Cy will answer live. We’ll get to as many as we can in the hour. 

    Note: No recording…Given the sensitivity of many of the questions, it will not be recorded. You’ve got to be live with us.
  • Clubhouse and the Audio Revolution – Wed, June 23 @3pm ET
    Jonathan Ehrlich, Partner, Foundation Capital
    Talk Type: In the Moment
    Audience/Roles: All Roles
     Two things to know about Jonathan Ehrlich:
    1) he co-led the seed round in Clubhouse and was thus the first venture capitalist to spot its potential;
    2) he’s a Councils alum with an interesting career arc.Join us for an informal conversation with Jonathan about Clubhouse, the future of audio, and Jonathan’s career journey from a mostly offline retailer in Canada to relocating to Silicon Valley and reinventing himself.—
    —Jonathan Ehrlich is a Partner at Foundation Capital who invests in early early-stage consumer, marketplace, commerce, and SaaS startups and technologies. He joined Foundation Capital in 2013 as a partner after spending nine months with the firm as an entrepreneur-in-residence. Before joining Foundation Capital, Jonathan spent 17 years as an operator during which he founded three companies, built a $100M+ revenue business, and ran marketing for Facebook. He is the first institutional investor in Clubhouse and currently sits on the board of Bulletin and Chord. His Foundation and personal investments include Shelf Engine, Mainstreet, Truepill, Hooked, WayUp, League, Front, and Flexport. When not working, he can be found on his bike or chasing his four kids around.

Recent Talks and Activity Recordings

  • No Ego
    Cy Wakeman, Best-selling Author and CEO
    Talk Type: Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles
     This spring keynote was a GREAT session. Members loved it. I collected live case studies from members, which I anonymously shared with Cy to get her reaction on what was to be done. You gotta watch to see her great answers.

    Cy Wakeman is a drama researcher, global thought-leader, and New York Times best-selling author who is recognized for cultivating a counter-intuitive, reality-based approach to leadership. Backed by over 20 years of unparalleled experience, Wakeman’s philosophy offers a new lens through which employees and executives alike, can shift their attention inward, sharpen their focus on personal accountability, and uncover their natural state of innovation simply by ditching the drama.Deemed “the secret weapon to restoring sanity to the workplace,” Wakeman has helped companies such as Google, Facebook, Viacom, Uber, NBC Universal, NASA, Pfizer, Johns Hopkins, Stanford Health Care, Keurig Dr. Pepper, AMC Theatres, White Castle, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and countless others learn to navigate our rapidly changing world using good mental processes to harness energy wasted in workplace drama and reinvest that effort into achieving profound business results.
  • JTBD in Large Distributed Environments
    Jay Haynes, Founder & CEO, thrv.com
    Talk Type: Product; Skill Builder/Practitioner
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Jobs To Be Done has proven to be an effective methodology for building much better holistic end-to-end products and customer experiences.

    *But* CG Council member companies with large distributed environments are finding it difficult to apply JTBD in effective ways.

    Jay Haynes, CEO of thrv, and a global expert on JTBD will come and speak to the Councils community on this specific challenge of using the methodology in large, complex technology environments.
  • Groundwork: Get Better at Making Better Products
    Vidya Dinamani and Heather Samarin, co-Authors of Groundwork
    Talk Type: Product
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Product leaders are all too familiar with the one to two-year period it typically takes to train and coach PMs. Product leaders hire smart people and then work with them individually, guiding them through how to think about product management, and watching them develop. Vidya Dinamani and Heather Samarin wanted a much faster way to help cultivate efficient and effective product managers that consistently create products that delight customers, regardless of the industry, the environment, and the development methodology that the team employed. They took years of experience as product executives and working with hundreds of teams as product coaches to create a framework to Get Better at Making Better Products.

    The design philosophy and methodology behind Groundwork was created to help product leaders be confident that their teams were committed to solving the right customer problems, minimizing costly rework by using individualized needs, and leveraging actionable personas in big and small product decisions. Vidya and Heather want Groundwork to help product teams have a much higher chance of success in the market—and help every product manager shine.

    Join Vidya and Heather as they share the background, principles, and methodology behind the Groundwork to help you, and your team, get better at making better products. 
  • Making the Case for Empowering Your People
    Marty Cagan, Partner, Silicon Valley Product Group
    Talk Type: Product, Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    From Marty: “I have long been interested in the difference between how the best companies work, and the rest. Working with both types of organizations for so many years, there are many differences ranging from culture to process to staffing to roles to techniques. But at its core, strong product companies empower their people, and most of the rest do not. My focus over the past few years has been tackling this issue head-on, which means the product leadership. In this talk, we’ll discuss why this model consistently yields better results, and what’s necessary to transform to work like the best.”

    Marty’s Bio: Marty Cagan is the founding partner of the Silicon Valley Product Group, which he created to pursue his interests in helping others create successful products through his writing, speaking, advising and coaching. Before starting SVPG, Marty served as an executive responsible for defining and building products for some of the most successful companies in the world, including Hewlett-Packard, Netscape Communications, and eBay.As part of his work with SVPG, Marty advises tech companies of all sizes and stages, stretching far beyond Silicon Valley. Marty is the author of the industry-leading book for product teams, INSPIRED: How To Create Tech Products Customers Love, and the upcoming book EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products. Marty is an invited speaker at major conferences and top companies across the globe.
  • See talks from the last month and beyond here.​

About the Author

Phyl Terry

Phyl Terry, Founder and CEO of Collaborative Gain, Inc., launched the company’s flagship leadership program – The Councils – in 2002 with a fellow group of Internet pioneers from Amazon, Google, and others. Thousands of leaders from the Internet world have come together in the last 15 years to learn the art of asking for help and to support each other to build better, more customer-centric products, services, and companies.

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