Our Mission is Çultural

July 20, 2020

What gets me and my colleagues up every morning is simple: creating an environment where leaders feel safe and motivated to ask for help.

I’m happy to say that we are celebrating an important cultural milestone in this mission.

Two years ago we introduced a new way to ask for help: the Peer Coaching Call (PCC).

We *love* running these. 

The members bring a question (or rather we help them articulate a question – more on that in a moment).

Then we:

* Edit the topic and description to create a strong focus and set of criteria for selecting the right peers.

* Search our database to find a subset of 5-10 leaders with the right experience.

* Reach out to see if 3 or 4 of those people will join us (they almost always say “yes” – remember, it’s an HONOR to be asked a serious question by a peer).

* Moderate a structured one-hour PCC that surprises us and everyone on the call for how helpful it can be.

With that context set, now I can say what we are celebrating.

A member recently came to us to *request* a PCC. 

This may sound trivial but it’s not. 

There are major cultural barriers to asking for help. Many don’t ask because they don’t think to ask, don’t think anyone can help, or they think it’s a sign of weakness.

As a result, for the first 250 PCCs we spoke individually to members, found out their challenges, and then made the case that a PCC would provide the kind of concentrated support and attention that would really help.

Last week a Chief Product Officer, for whom we did a First 90 Days PCC one year ago, came to us and said he’d now like another PCC to focus on his challenges for year 2. 

We are dancing in our remote offices! 

The very act of asking for help not only brings great assistance, but helps to reduce the cultural barriers for everyone, which means even more will ask, and even more will realize their full potential. 

That’s why we are celebrating. This member’s decision to ask for help last week means  more will join this cultural evolution.

We all need help all the time.

All you have to remember is this: Ask.

We – the CG team and this community – are standing by ready to spring into action.



P.S. We have lots of great talks coming up – including one with Amazon (part of our new practical Product Management series) – and archives worth watching. Email Britany if you’d like an invite to the Amazon talk or any other upcoming talks.

Most Popular Recordings

Upcoming Sessions

  • A Walk Through the Amazon 6-Page Narrative – Wed, July 22 @3pm ET
    Elvis Dieguez, Senior Manager, TopLine Analytics, Supply Chain Optimization Technologies, Amazon
    By now everyone knows that Amazon does not use Powerpoint for (practically) any meeting; we use 6-page narratives similar to what you might have written in college. But like many things in life where we think we know more than we do, much inaccurate mythology has arisen around the 6-page narrative and how they work. Led by longtime Council member, Elvis Dieguez, this discussion will walk you through an example 6-page narrative to better explain how they are used within Amazon to improve the organization’s ability to make high-quality decisions with minimal investment in (meeting) time. Email Britany if you’d like an invite.
  • Accelerating Transformation at the City of San Antonio – Tue, Aug 4 @3pm ET
    Longtime Council member Craig Hopkins will share how the city of San Antonio leveraged the power of a crisis to accelerate transformation and rethink their service delivery model. From the early phases of business continuity planning and emergency response, to service suspension and stay at home orders, the key to transforming your organization is leveraging every opportunity you are given to do things differently. As the crisis moved from response to a “new normal”, the focus shifted to recovering financially, reconfiguring operations, and rethinking service delivery to residents and employees. Stories from the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic response will demonstrate how an agile and resilient culture can transforming any organization even in the most difficult of times. Email Britany if you’d like an invite.

Recent Talks and Activity Recordings

  • The Pipeline Problem Is a Myth: Black and Brown Creatives Exist—I Am One of Them
    Antonio Garcia, VP of Diversity & Inclusion, AIGA Chicago
    Using his own life and 20+year career as a backdrop, Councils alum Antonio Garcia will explore a range of topics—from design ethics to allyship—and practical ideas for how creative folk can better navigate work, life, and community-building. Drawing from personal experience as a Latino, design leader, and Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion for AIGA Chicago, Antonio will share stories and strategies everyone can immediately employ.
  • CG Life: New Zealand Eco Home Tour
    Auriga Martin, CEO, Forsyth Barr Limited
    Take a break from the world pandemic and step into Zoomtopia to join us for an eco-house build tour with member Auriga Martin and her husband Ed at their farm in New Zealand. Witness the slow-moving magic of the project in action, and see the result of going from designing “a practical square box” to their “dream home” and all of the fun trials and tribulations that come with it. With only a few months away from having their strawbale, off-grid, earth clay plaster home finished, they’re in the final stages and would love to share it with members.

    Race in America: Pursuit of Happiness, Spoils of War
    Bo Kemp, Senior Director, Faegre Drinker Consulting
    What does “Race” mean in America? Few better to answer that than Bo Kemp, former COO of the City of Newark, senior advisor to mayors, and private equity investor. Why? The story of Bo’s family. Bo has spent years researching their ancestry.

    Between Bo and his wife, their genealogy reflects:
    – Earliest settlers to Virginia from England
    – Persecuted religious followers from the Netherlands and France
    – African slaves brought to the New World before 1700
    – Taino and Caribbean slaves brought to New Orleans from the islands
    – Native Mississippi delta Choctaw tribe.

    All the history of people, economic, immigration, migration, technology, cultural, and of course the spoils of war are reflected in the story of his family’s combined DNA. 

    “Pursuit of Happiness, Spoils of War” is Bo’s attempt to tell the unvarnished story of America using tangible examples of people, documents and stories to bring to life the amazing, complicated, troubled and triumphant story of the making of the United States. 
  • Getting Started with Visual Methods
    Summer Koide, Senior Director, New Ventures, Target
    If you’ve ever seen Graphic Recording live at a conference, or been the benefactor of a visual facilitator for an offsite or workshop, you may have seen the power that visuals can bring to any group setting. Council member Summer Koide from Target talks about why visuals work, how visuals can appear in your work, and instructs you through some hands-on practice. This session is designed for beginners and those interested in clearing the first hurdle in your visual journey. All you need is paper and a pen – bonus points if you scrounge up utensils in multiple colors.
  • ‘Summer is Coming’ – Kid Hacks
    Sarah Coles, Early Childhood Educator
    Sarah Coles, a member of our extended Councils community is a kindergarten teacher and has found creative ways to keep her family busy during this quarantine. She spoke with our members about her “global travel” plans this summer as well as other ‘kid hacks’ you can use as a template for your families. Sarah’s boys are 13 and 10 but there was plenty that was applicable across the board that can cater to your unique family dynamic.
  • ‘Animals Included’ at the Zoomaha Zoo 
    Tina Cherica, President & CEO of the Omaha Zoo Foundation, and Cheryl Morris, Ph.D., Vice President of Conservation, Omaha Zoo
    Most don’t know that Omaha is home to one of the top 3 zoos in the world. Further, it holds this position largely because of its intense focus on conservation and user experience – including that of its 4-legged, winged, aquatic, and amphibious customers.  Tina Cherica and Cheryl Morris talked about how the Zoo has built a vigorous program of scientific investigation in the fields of molecular genetics, reproductive physiology, nutrition, and conservation medicine. And then they took us behind-the-scenes with some of the zoo’s residents. (Spoiler: one of them is from the Indian subcontinent, the other from sub-Saharan Africa. One more hint: one has a prehensile lip and the other teams up with her cousins and sisters to hunt. Can you guess which animals you’ll be meeting?). 
  • Solutions to Racism and Police Violence
    Antoine Joyce, Vice President and City Leader, All Stars Project of Dallas
    Antoine Joyce, a global leader in building long-term solutions to racism and police violence, has designed creative programs bringing together cops and kids, corporate executives and young people, and bridging many other communities. He wrote a widely-read Op-Ed Hard Conversations about Race and he joined us to talk about that and helped us to learn how to talk about and, more importantly, do something about racism in the United States.
  • The Art of Transformation: Beyond Control
    Pete Anderson, VP, Agile Experience Owner, Transformation Office, US Bank
    We recently learned that longtime CG member, Pete Anderson, has been preparing to give a TEDx talk on his professional learnings from two Fortune 125 Transformation efforts.  To get some practice under his belt, Pete joined us to do a dry-run of his talk for the CG community.
  • The Gender Gap in Film 
    Diana Martinez, Ph.D., Film Streams’ Artistic Director
    In this two-part session, we first hosted a watch party of the documentary ‘Half the Picture’, about the disparity in women directors in film, while chatting about it live on a Slack channel. Then, Diana joined us for a QnA based on the film and what members learned from it. This recording is of the QnA portion and features a robust conversation of the gender and diversity issue the industry is facing. (Note: this was originally scheduled as an in-person “adventure” for Council members meeting in Omaha). 
  • The Future Path of the Pandemic 
    Kirk Smith, Ph.D., Professor of Global Environmental Health at University of California, Berkeley
    UC Berkeley’ s Professor Kirk Smith is a leading epidemiologist and public health scientist and joined me for a live QnA. Smith is currently a Professor of Global Environmental Health, the founder and co-Director of the university’s Global Health and Environment Program, and Associate Director for International Programs at the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. Special thanks to member George Eberstadt who invited Professor Smith to speak to us. 
  • 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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