I spend my workdays thinking about customer experience and about how executives can help each other and I spend my evenings thinking about how adults can reignite their intellectual curiosity. At heart, I’m a community organizer building communities in the business world and elsewhere.
Projects include the private peer-to-peer helping and learning community for executives, The Councils, customer experience consulting at Creative Good, phone-based peer-facilitated reading groups at The Reading Odyssey, Inc., Slow Art Day, a global grassroots movement and creative thinking at my partner Mark’s Gel conference.
The Harvard Business Review published an article I wrote on building community and asking for help in the business world and Harvard Business School awarded me the “Dean’s Award” for building a worldwide community of MBA students when I was there more than a decade ago.
Creative Good, the firm for which I’m CEO, has worked with more than 500 consulting clients in the last decade and we are working on some interesting new services for this challenging economy. One new area of work will be in social media. I started a Facebook group a year ago to celebrate Darwin’s 200th birthday, which gathered 220,000 people and some of the world’s leading scientists in 14 days. The lessons from this work combined with what we’ve learned building the Councils community and the Reading Odyssey is leading to a new practice area for clients.
At Creative Good since early 1999, I joined the firm from McKinsey & Co. I got my MBA from the Harvard Business School, where I was a Kauffman Fellow, graduated with academic honors and the aforementioned Dean’s Award.
I do a lot of public speaking and have keynoted more than 150 conferences and private events. I have reduced my speaking schedule to focus on my business and on the Reading Odyssey and Slow Art – but am still open to giving talks if the time and place are right.
My current speeches include:
- The top 10 lessons customer-centric leaders need to learn from Warren Buffett
- The mathematics of hospitality and customer experience
- Why asking for help changes everything
- Leadership lessons from Thucydides and Herodotus
- Numeracy – or how learning basic math and probability can make you a much better leader and decison-maker
I gave the “top 10 lessons” talk at the Council meetings in October 2008, where it was very well received by the hundreds of Councils and have since given it to management at Fidelity (where the video has been shown more than 500 times around the company), and high-growth start-ups like Constant Contact. It’s a speech designed to acknowledge the difficult moment we are in and to inspire employees to use this moment in creative ways.
The mathematics of hospitality speech, which combines the insights of New York restaurateur Danny Meyer with important lessons from probability theory, has been well received at some of New York’s top restaurants (where I’ve delivered it to the whole restaurant team) as well as at corporate conferences.
I have spoken to audiences as large as 10,000 and as small as 10. The bigger the audience, the better. Why? There is more energy in the room for me to work with.
I myself am a member of a number of peer learning groups. In addition to the reading groups that I run and also in which I participate, I’m also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) where I’m Education Chair for the Manhattan chapter, I chair my own virtual CEO council, and a council of value investors.
I’m also committed philanthropically – having started my career in the nonprofit world, it’s still where my heart is. I chair the board of trustees of the Reading Odyssey, the aforementioned nonprofit that I started, have sat on the Harvard Business School Fellowship Committee, and the Board of Trustees of Prospect Park and have given money and time to programs like the national inner-city youth program, the All Stars Project.