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  • feedwordpress 16:55:09 on 2015/09/24 Permalink
    Tags: event, Event/Travel, Future Salon, Futures, Mark Finnern, participation, San Franscico, , thrivable   

    Join us at the Thrivable Future Salon Oct 14 in SF 

    Mark reading Thrivability in the hammock

    Mark Finnern reading Thrivability in the hammock

    When we met in 2012 at an alternative currency event in NYC, I could not have imagined today. Here it is! So exciting!

    Back then, he was interested in my word, “Thrivability” and led Future Salons in SF. A couple years later, while in SF, we agreed to meet again. He wanted me to talk at his Future Salon.

    We never really had that conversation. Instead, we discovered each other. The overlaps in interests and approach were significant, from small things like the soft boiled eggs, to big things like wanting to co-create a world that works (and have fun doing it!). This summer, we married on the beach where we often enjoy sunset picnic hikes.

    Thrivability can be like that, full of surprising and delightful twists.

    Rather than just having me speak at his Future Salon, Mark Finnern has merged his work with mine (and me with his!).

    We will be hosting our first Thrivable Future Salon October 14th at 6pm at Pivotal Labs in San Francisco.

    Here is the invitation! After a warm welcome, we will host an Open Mike for you to share your ideas and interests in co-creating a more thrivable work that works. We are particularly looking for ideas that tie back to something one can take action on right now.

    The future is created by the present.

    Both of us believe we are all in this together. While we will sometimes have speakers, our focus is on high participation among peers (read: you). Come play with us!

    Of course, not everyone can be available that evening or be in San Francisco. We will try to webcast it using Spreecast. But look for more webcasts including our friends from across the globe in the near future.



    Future Salon, please meet Thrivability… and Thrivability, allow me to introduce the Bay Area Future Salon! [Read history below if this doesn’t make sense.]

    Hello all. Welcome to the Thrivable Future Salon where we meet to discuss and challenge each other in co-creating a more thrivable future that works for all. We have some audacious goals for the future, sure, and we are having a fun time together moving in that direction.

    If you are curious or even passionate about creating the future, imagining new possibilities, or wanting to thrive in your life, work, and community, then come join us!

    Can’t make this one and want to learn about future events, online and in person?
    Join our mailing list.


    From the angle of “what will make me, us, and all of us more thrivable” we want to have discussions at this and future events about:

    • Collaboration and co-creativity in practice
    • Open source and other forms of network production
    • Tips about personal thrivability
    • Open government and the future of democracy
    • The future of work
    • The future of learning
    • add your Thrivable Future topic here!

    Open Mike

    For this relaunch event, we would like to solicit topics from you! Open Mike style. If you want to present a 5 minute talk on your own thrivable future topic, let us know by filling out this form.

    Sharing Online

    Tweet: Create the future, imagine new possibilities, or want to thrive in your life, work, and community, then join us at Thrivable Future Salon! [LINK]

    Hashtag: #TFS 

    Webcast: For those not in the room, we will try to webcast via http://spreecast.com. Try this link. However our focus is on the in person event. Let us know if you want to help with organizing the webcast.

    Can’t make this one and want to learn about future events, online and in person?
    Join our mailing list.


    • Doors open at 6pm for you to connect with each other and grab a beer.
    • At 6:15, our formal event begins, including a warm and hearty welcome.
    • Introduction to Thrivability by Jean Russell
      Future Salon by Mark Finnern.
    • 5+5 minute Open Mike talks (sign up now if you want to offer one).
    • Summarize and synthesize together, answering the question:
      “What can you do for a more thrivable world now?”

    We hope you join us afterwards for casual conversations and drinks nearby.


    We thank Pivotal Labs for sponsoring this event by providing our event space.

    We are seeking a food sponsor. Drinks are provided by Pivotal Labs.

    Contact us if you like what we are creating and would like to be a general sponsor for Thrivable Future Salons. Send an email to mark at finnern dot com.


    Mark has been hosting the Bay Area Future Salon since 2002. The Future Salon has provided our audience with riveting speakers on topics that lead toward a world that works for all, including David Brin, Nicole Lazarro, Mickey McManus, Howard Rheingold, Doug Engelbart,  and more.

    Ten years later, Mark met Jean Russell, a founder of Thrivability. Jean co-created the Thrivability Sketch with 70 amazing collaborators in 2010. And then in 2013, she released, through Triarchy Press, Thrivability: Breaking Through to a World that Works. The tagline for the Future Salon has been: Bolding Creating a World that Works for All.

    And so, with a tremendous shared sense of purpose and practice, not only did they marry, they are weaving the Future Salon and Thrivability together in the Thrivable Futures.

    Make sure you are signed up to get our updates about upcoming events online and in person.



  • feedwordpress 00:00:49 on 2014/08/13 Permalink
    Tags: agile, , change, , culture hacking, Event/Travel, events, , habits, talks   

    Speaking of Gratitude 

    photo courtesy of Jhalak Shah.

    photo courtesy of Jhalak Shah.

    It was an honor for me to speak at CultureCon this year in Boston. I have been eager to talk about culture hacking and how gratitude can create numerous benefits. I wanted to share it less from an academic perspective of benefits received and more from a practitioner or hackers perspective – what is working and how do we do it.


    Here are some tweets Daniel posted from the talk:


    The following is a written interpretation of the content delivered in that Boston talk.

    I probably first noticed the power of gratitude when we produced the Thrivability Sketch. I coordinated 65+ people in contributing to the Thrivability Sketch, which we completed in 90 days. I am very thankful that it has seen over 30,000 views on slideshare, but the gratitude was there from the start. I would post to twitter, which I used a lot at the time, something like, 

    “So grateful for @sociate contributing a piece, looking forward to one from @Shirky”

    And magically this seemed to build upward momentum and enthusiasm. It made visible what was working about the project and the progress being made. The message was: here is something that you can do to be appreciated for.

    Benefits of Gratefulness

    Gratitude and acknowledgement have wonderful side effects. 

    • builds trust (when it is authentic)
    • can even help with conflict resolution
    • people want to be a contribution – energizes them to keep contributing
    • small monsters to big monsters – builds confidence
    • builds allegiance and culture of cooperation – focuses on what is present as an antidote to all the what is missing conversations
    • increasing creativity by opening the mind
    • acts as entitlement antidote

    How else do you think gratitude and acknowledgement can help your purpose?

    Protocols and Culture of Gratitude

    So how do we hack a culture of gratitude? I have done a couple experiments trying to answer that question. One of my favorites is gratitude vandals. It started with some post it note thank yous for my friend @deanna. She is a phenomenal host, so I left a dozen post it thank yous. Next time I came to visit, they were still up. We decided to start a tumblr and leave more notes for people we know and for strangers. I don’t think we took the time to keep that tumblr running, but I still love the idea of random acts of gratitude.

    Creating a culture of gratitude requires behavior change. One of the lessons that struck me profoundly when I was exploring behavior change and habit formation was that a habit is easier to start when you tie it to something else that you already do. It helps create the trigger for the habit. And maybe that is where the gratitude vandals failed – we didn’t have good trigger moments to remind ourselves to leave a gratitude.

    At CultureCon we are talking about the Agile practice. I don’t do straight up Agile myself, but here might be some opportunities that speaking with some of you in advance, seemed like good options. 

    Where can we leverage existing agile habits and protocols to incorporate gratitude?

    • Gratitude in Daily SCRUM – when saying what happened yesterday, give gratitude and acknowledgement for who helped and how. When naming a challenge, if you articulate a request, appreciate the ability someone has when you request their assistance. Also, acknowledgements in Review or Retrospective. Improving is not just about doing less of what doesn’t work. It is also about doing more of what does work. By acknowledging it, you encourage more of it.
    • Gratitudes posted to Task Boards - adding a place where, like the vandals, gratitudes can be left for people to publicly see as progress is made. Gratitudes might be specific to work or it could be “thank you for bringing in the cupcakes!” 
    • Note: Social Network Analysis and other approaches are teaching us that pulling social behavior away from “work actions” creates a false distinction. We socialize as part of our work, and in doing so, share important information, build trust, and deepen relationships – the glue of effective work flow, so I discourage you from have a different board for appreciating code than you have for appreciating the cupcake donor.
    • Gratitude Stories – share and encourage stories that include acknowledgement and gratitude to talk about more of what to do right (and less on avoiding what has gone wrong, which encourages fear and contraction)

    What other ways can you imagine or have you tried?

    Good gratitude is hard to give and to receive. 

    Sometimes just saying thanks is enough. Sometimes more can be said or done. In my own exploration of gratitude, I have found a few protocols that help me give good gratitude. The simple thank you is a great step. Being specific about who you are thanking – use their name – adds something to the gratitude. Lots of miscommunication happens when we aren’t specific about what we are thanking someone for. Being specific about an action or behavior or quality of being can go a long way. It also helps the gratitude to be more authentic and less habitual. Take that a step deeper by expressing why that matters to you or what you value about it. Share how you benefit from the other person’s action or way of being. {This is probably starting to get really challenging for the other person to receive, so proceed with care and gentleness} Finally to really top it off, share how it makes you feel (their behavior and your benefitting from it).

    Give Good Gratitude Protocols

    Points for each of the following, as they ramp up:

    1. saying THANK YOU
    2. specifically to someone (WHO)
    3. for an action, BEHAVIOR, or what of being (for what)
    4. which you value (why do you BENEFIT)
    5. how it makes you FEEL

    gratitude treegratTreeI was quite pleasantly surprised that people at the event took initiative to create a gratitude tree. And many then expressed gratitude for people and experiences they had. Some were very wide gratitudes – for the air we breathe – and some were very specifically grateful such as thanking the staff or a staff member for helping put the event together.

    After that, Daniel took it to Agile14. And they made a gratitude tree too!

    The Challenge of Receiving Gratitude

    I didn’t explore, in the talk, some tips on receiving gratitude, so I add that as bonus material here.

    The more the person believes you are genuine and the more specific you are, it is likely that they will find the gratitude more and more difficult to receive. Okay, well, the narcissists won’t struggle. However, most of us aren’t used to getting a gratitude without it triggering an urge for reciprocity (give it right back, even if inauthentic), insecurity (I don’t deserve that), negative self talk (yeah, but I messed up x, y, or z), concerns about humility (don’t feed my big head), or other strong human urges, feelings, stories, and patterns.

    Perhaps begin your own explorations with gratitude by practicing on yourself. Observe your own inner dialogue as you thank yourself for something. What inner dialogue do you hear? 

    Slowly expand your gratitude practice. Going all the way to 5 step gratitudes at full tilt it like trying to run a marathon without any practice. Give yourself time to adjust as well as time for those around you, on your team, and in your family to acclimate.

    Be culturally sensitive. Our beliefs about gratitude and the protocols we use for it are culturally encoded. Note whether someone’s religious beliefs may open or close them to giving and receiving gratitude. What about their ethnic heritage? What about socio-economic class (the wealthy might have learned to be polite at boarding school, but they also learned how to be inauthentic there, for example). 

    Finally, gratitude is in some way or can be twisted into an expression of debt: “I benefitted from you. I am thus in some way in your debt.” Most of us are uncomfortable feeling indebted. Watch for social signals that people feel obligation around gratitude – to get the benefits, we all need to feel like we come to it from a place of agency and choice and not obligation. So too this sense of indebtedness is tied to the vulnerability we experience when expressing gratitude. If I am in debt to you for your behavior, then I am at your mercy in some small way: you have an impact on me. Build your vulnerability muscles by implementing a practice of gratitude. (And if you don’t think vulnerability is good for you, see Brene Brown’s work on it and whole-hearted people.)

  • feedwordpress 20:09:00 on 2014/05/07 Permalink
    Tags: Event/Travel, facilitation, , hosting, open space, unconference   

    Guide to Hosting Open Space 


    An Open Space for Giving to Flourish Marketplace

    Recently I facilitated an event for Advisors in Philanthropy, particularly enabled by one Phil Cubeta.

    The guide was commissioned through The CAP Alumni Fund, at the American College, as a gift to the field and in the hopes it would help communities thrive. The photos come from “An Open Space for Giving to Flourish” held in conjunction with The Advisors in Philanthropy Annual Conference in Chicago, on April 23, 2014.

    The guide helps walk you through the script and logistics. OpenSpaceGuide

    However, there is significantly more that goes into a well run open space event. I am happy to discuss particulars about:

    • event space and catering,
    • room layouts,
    • crafting messaging for invitations,
    • ways to use body language to facilitate process,
    • ways of being while facilitating,
    • different methods of opening or closing,

    and much more with my facilitation clients. I hope this guide can be useful for you if you are running your own unconference or open space event. Download it here: OpenSpaceGuide


    An Open Space for Giving to Flourish

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