Friday, October 9, 2009

Universal Nudge

Classmate and friend Adam Moreland recently used the term 'universal nudge' during an assignment to describe...I hope I'm representing his concept well when I say...how we end up where we are when we're open to possibility.

This has been a week full of possibility. Or, as one of the Clinton School staff described it, 'opportunity overload'. On Wednesday alone we met Neil Guiliano, politician and gay rights activist, Wenda Weeks Moore, of the Kellog Foundation, and Matt Flannery, co-founder and CEO of Kiva.
The night before meeting all of these people my group and I were in Pine Bluff officially starting our project with them. It's taking my brain a while to sift through all of these experiences to see what gold is left behind.
From all of these experiences, here's what stands out:
1. I loved co-facilitating our conversation with TOPPS staff and board members. I have a clearer understanding of their organization now. I think there's more facilitation in my future.
2. I have a better understanding of politics, but don't really think it's something I'd like to pursue. I'm trying to remain open about the intersection of facilitation and politics.
3. The work of Foundations, like Kellog, is fascinating. I'd like to know more about the details of how Foundations choose who they disperse grants to.
4. Kiva is just plain cool. Despite really enjoying talking with and listening to Matt Flannery and thinking very highly of the organization, I'm not sure I want to pursue working with them for my International Public Service Project. Something about money just bugs me.

Add in to the mix that today I'll be listening to John Read, president and CEO of Outward Bound.

Plenty of possibilities...start nudging, universe.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009



With a mid-term and a group presentation and the beginning of my group's project and a book review and an all-weekend leadership retreat for the national IMPACT conference all happening within the next 5 days, it's a little difficult to remember how long ago I met Dr. Hanmin Liu of the Wildflowers Institute. He spent the better part of last week in the role of the visiting scholar at the Clinton School. I first met him on Tuesday or Wednesday at a dinner that I considered skipping out on because of the abovementioned workload. I'm glad I didn't.
Unlike the other speakers and scholars who have visited the school, whom I mostly listened to as they spoke, I had the good fortune of listening to and speaking with Dr. Liu multiple times: first at the dinner, then in conversation with our class, then again at his presentation for the Little Rock community. Each time we spoke he caused a shift in how I view communities. His ideas were new enough that I had to give them careful thought to begin to grasp them, but true enough that I intuitively felt like I knew what he was talking about.
Even if my path doesn't cross his again, I'll consider him a mentor. Which makes me think differently both about being mentored and mentoring. It can be done in a long relationship that develops over time, like the type promoted by Big Brothers/Big Sisters or in a few thought-filled conversations.