Archives for January 2015

Laughter & Leadership Go Hand in (Clapping) Hand

Islandwood workshop 4

Earlier this month, at the EMERGE Leadership Residency in Islandwood, we “learned” to laugh. I’d asked attendee Sue Z. Hart, to introduce us to laughter as therapy as part of our opening session on Friday night.  In addition to being Marketing Specialist for the Trades Division of Green River Community College, and Founder of the mission-based Building Beyond the Walls, Sue is a certified laughter therapist.

Sue shared her personal story of using laughter to help her heal from the serious effects of a car accident years ago, some of the science related to the benefits of laughter, and then led us in a serious of truly outrageous exercises that had us, yes, laughing.

Because I’m not miked at our workshops, we’ve developed “whoo-hoo!” as the emergent call back to attention after breaks, group work, etc.  Now you’ll find us “Ho Ho HaHaHa Whee-ing” too!

I exported the simplest exercise (clapping and sing-songing Ho Ho HaHaHa with a rousing Halleluah-style Whee) to our workshop in Los Angeles. I shared it as a remedy for long hours in a technologically state of the art but windowless interior classroom and was delighted when participants began asking for us to do it again. What an energy boost!

Leaders can’t afford to be stuffy – at least not Emergent leaders. Besides the fact that laughter helps keep us going when the going gets rough (now that’s original!) it is known to be a type of social “glue”.  Laughter can build connections among individuals and forge a sense of community.  Thus laughter is an important tool in the toolbox for Emergent leaders.   As part of the third primary component of the Emerge Leadership Model, community Emergent leaders rely on community, both to attain results and to provide moral support for leaderly work.

We’ll be (seriously) polishing this “tool” at the first annual EMERGE Summit this February 28th.  The theme is “Building a Beloved Community.” If you have participated in one of the EMERGE Leadership workshops in California, Oregon, Washington, or Hawaii, you are welcome to attend, and can register at:

(If you are not an alumni, let’s make you one! Sign up for our newsletter to learn of future workshops as they are scheduled.)

(The EMERGE Leadership scenario presentations have always been incredible, but the laughter session may have added a special something. The photo shows one team acting out the “ready, fire, aim!” leadership technique. Not!)

The EMERGE Participant Profile: Curious?

SmilingFolks_IslandwoodYou might wonder just who attends the EMERGE Leadership Workshop.  Given the content, you know it’s someone who is dedicated to doing what they can to accelerate the adoption of sustainability in the built environment and in their communities.  Although the workshop does provide professional CEUs, that’s not what they are here for. We seem to be drawing very special individuals, capable of and committed to doing good work.

Last year, we started including several questions regarding our participants’ professional career arc in the pre-workshop survey, to give the Faculty some background and help us better prepare for the workshop.   The surveys are confirming what we thought to be true:  With a few exceptions, most attendees, whether they operate in the for-profit, non-profit, or government sector, have a good amount of professional experience under their belt.  In this current year, for example, there’s an average of 15 years career experience, ranging from 2.5 years to 30. In addition, attendees usually have some current leadership responsibility, with a list of titles that include President, Vice President, General Manager, Project Manager, Project Coordinator, Program Manager, Senior Associate, Director, Principal, Senior Job Captain, and of course, Owner.

Frequently, attendees have recently been asked (or voluntarily stepped up) to take on expanded leadership responsibility in their current role, with a focus on sustainability.   Just as frequently, they are considering a transition from their current position or role, hoping to use their experience and talent in a new context.

Many of our alumni are design professionals, including urban planners, architects (building, interior, landscape, historic), engineers (structural, civil, mechanical), while others are in construction (build-design, trades, project management), and still others are policy planners and analysts specializing in sustainable topics. Each workshop generally includes a few advocates working for (often directing) non-profits focused on sustainability.

I’ll be meeting this year’s cohort in person at our upcoming workshops at IslandWood (January 9-11), and the Southern California Gas Company’s Energy Resource Center (January 14-15).  (IslandWood registration is filled; we do have some room in the LA workshop, but you’ll need to hurry!)

And many of these high caliber alumni will get to meet each other at the first annual EMERGE Summit, planned for February 28th, 2015.  I’m looking forward to it!

More later.

Vets: Interested in Green Building Leadership? Two Comp Seats for You at LA workshop

bootsA special retraining opportunity for vets interested in green building leadership has “emerged!”  Southern California Gas Company is graciously offering its two complimentary seats at the January 14-15th EMERGE Leadership Workshop to two veterans who are interested in attending, but currently do not have the means to register.  Turnaround is tight, but we want to make this happen! Are you, or do you know of, a veteran who has or is currently attending an energy efficiency certification training program in the LA area? Similarly, do you know of a veteran who has or is currently attending LEED or Living Building Accreditation training?  Or has construction supervisory experience gained while in the military and would like to expand that capability into green building leadership? This is a great opportunity to both gain leadership knowledge pertinent to the green building field AND connect with other green building leaders. Please contact me immediately at, or 206-200-1864. Information on the workshop is at: