ACUMEN Academy CIRCLEs

Character. Skill. Practice.

Learning to promote an equitable and sustainable world.

I have been hosting monthly discussions where we explore moral leadership in our work and lives since 2020. This is a safe space to cultivate character and practice skills needed to build a world based on dignity.

The past year raised questions and issues we could be unpacking for years. Political division, systemic racism, the pandemic, climate change and so many more issues inspire a sense of urgency in how we communicate and work together. How do we go forward as a nation if we are divided or don’t share a common moral compass?

Through these group discussions, we are building the bridges  

between where we are now and where we want to be
collectively—not just for ourselves but also for future generations.

Meeting details:
1. Our meetings are held online on the 3rd Saturday of every month at 2PM Pacific Time.
2. Additional meeting details will be shared once you sign up.
3. Monthly themed reading materials are provided by Acumen Academy Circles along with the discussion guide.

Looking forward to meeting you at the Circles.

upcoming meeting

Working on a NEW podcast

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My team and I are currently working to launch a new podcast series on moral values and leadership - Accompany organizations and businesses on their journey for a better world. Stay tuned!

previouis meetings

January 2022: Use the power of markets, don't be seduced by them

“At their best, markets efficiently allocate resources to meet the greatest demand. As long as individuals have access to them, markets give people control over their own lives rather than leaving them to the whims of government or charitable benefactors… On the other hand, if markets enable individual freedom, they also create inequality. Unchecked, capitalism overlooks or exploits those who cannot afford to pay; insufficiently considers the well-being of employees; and does not integrate onto balance sheets the cost of poorly utilizing earth’s precious resources. The result is a profoundly unequal society in which the wealthiest feel above the system and the poorest feel left out altogether. In other words, capitalism without restraint is not good for any of us. ” — Excerpt from Manifesto for a Moral Revolution by Jacqueline Novogratz

November 2021: Holding Opposing Values in Tension

“A modern moral revolution demands that all of us hold contradictions, even stark ones, within ourselves as well as between ourselves and others. For each of us, the first step is to reach across the wall of either-or and acknowledge the truths that exist in opposing perspectives.” — Excerpt from Manifesto for a Moral Revolution by Jacqueline Novogratz

October 2021: Practice Courage

“Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to look fear in the face and continue to walk forward. All of us have something that frightens us, whether or not we admit it, and there are as many forms of courage as there are of fear. Only by nurturing our courage will we prevent our fears from making and then keeping us small.” — Excerpt from Manifesto for a Moral Revolution by Jacqueline Novogratz

September 2021: You are the Ocean in a Drop

As the American poet Walt Whitman wrote in Song of Myself in 1855, ‘I am large. I contain multitudes,' singing through his poetry to an expansive identity reminiscent of the words of the thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi: ‘You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the ocean in a drop.' — Excerpt from Manifesto for a Moral Revolution by Jacqueline Novogratz

August 2021: Listen to Voices Unheard

“Learn to listen with your whole body. Listen with your ears, your eyes, all your senses. Listen not to convince or to convert, but to change yourself, spark your moral imagination, soften your hardened edges, and open yourself to the world. When we fail to listen to those the world excludes, we lose the possibility of solving problems that matter most to all of us. But when we succeed at listening with all our attention and empathy, we have a chance to set others and ourselves free.” — Excerpt from Manifesto for a Moral Revolution by Jacqueline Novogratz

July 2021: Cultivate Moral Imagination

“Moral imagination means to view other people’s problems as if they were your own, and to begin to discern how to tackle those problems. And then to act accordingly. It summons us to understand and transcend the realities of current circumstances and to envision a better future for ourselves and others. ” — Excerpt from Manifesto for a Moral Revolution by Jacqueline Novogratz. The global content this month is The ISM by Wanda Coleman (1946–2013).

June 2021: Redefine Success

“Laughter, respect, the security of productive work, a sense of belonging, dignity—these are things that matter the most to our experience as human beings, yet our financial and economic systems too often fail to acknowledge them when calculating ‘success’...Of course, the notion of redefining success rubs against the status quo. Humans are status-seeking beings. We yearn to be accepted, respected, loved. Our current systems (economic, political, and social) reinforce a definition of ‘winning’ based on money, power, and fame. Rather than being rewarded for what we give, we’re too often affirmed by what we take. ” — Excerpt from Manifesto for a Moral Revolution by Jacqueline Novogratz

May 2021: Embrace the Beautiful Struggle

This month, we explore the concept of resilience and how we can embrace the challenges that life throws our way—ultimately creating beauty around us, despite the struggles that we might face. The two options for global content include the poem Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye (born 1952) and the poem The Guest House by Jalaluddin Rumi (c. 1207–1273).

April 2021: Accompany Each Other

The global content we’ve prepared for this month is a powerful poem entitled Refugee Blues by W. H. Auden (1907–1973). Auden was an English poet, playwright, critic and librettist. Auden won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for The Age of Anxiety and much of his poetry concerns moral issues and maintains strong political, social and psychological contexts. Refugee Blues reflects on the mistreatment of Jewish refugees during the period of Nazi Germany, with a particular emphasis on discrimination and antagonization.

March 2021: The Power of Markets - and Its Limits

The global content we’ve prepared for this month is an excerpt from The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406). Khaldun has been described as the founder of the modern disciplines of sociology, demography, historiography, cultural history and economics. A scholar born in Tunis, Tunisia in 1332, Khaldun was also a social scientist and historian whose works have become known as some of the earliest nonreligious philosophies of history. In addition to these themes, The Muqaddimah also discusses Islamic theology, political theory and the natural sciences of biology and chemistry.

February 2021: Avoid the Conformity Trap

The global content we’ve prepared for this month is a short story entitled The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018). Le Guin was an American author who focused on writing fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas was published in 1973 in a collection of short stories (of the same name) amidst change and contention in the United States of America—the final years of the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal and call for President Richard Nixon’s impeachment, the Cold War, the U.S. oil crisis and the struggle for both LGBTQ and women’s rights.

January 2021: Holding Opposing Values in Tension

The global content we’ve prepared for this month is a speech entitled To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich (1926–2002). Illich was an Austrian philosopher and Roman Catholic priest (until leaving the priesthood in 1969), known for his cynical tone and criticism of institutions of modern Western culture. The speech To Hell with Good Intentions was made on April 20, 1968 at the Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects (CIASP) in Cuernavaca, Mexico. At that time, Mexico was experiencing great industrial and economic growth in the post-World War II era, with rising inequalities between the richest and poorest segments of the population.

December 2020: Identities

The global content we’ve prepared for this month is a short story named Lather and Nothing Else by Hernando Téllez (1908–1966). Téllez is considered one of the first writers on violence in Colombia, whose work began to circulate between 1946 and 1956 amidst one of the most violent periods in Colombia, known as "La Violencia". Téllez is renowned for his collection of stories, Cenizas para El Viento (Ashes for The Wind, from which Lather and Nothing Else is taken), where he uses everyday scenes to portray the armed conflict that was taking place in Colombia, the values in tension within society and the emotions that were present in the lives of citizens throughout the country.

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