Inspired Team - Candy Jar

2018 Inspiration Brain Candy

As an inspired team, we look at October as a time to seek out our own brain candy; each of us finding opportunities to learn, grow, expand and ignite inspiration. Last October was the first time we turned our focus on this, in case you missed it, you can read more about it here.

The following are just a few of the many inspiring conferences, events and experiences we participated in over the past month. 

FRED 2018

Jen Grace Baron attended this years, FRED conference in Chicago, themed the Future of Executive Development, it was wonderful to hear a fresh perspective from Dr. Srini Pillay, an entrepreneur and neuroscientist from Harvard, who offered intriguing research which has the potential to shape the future of our field.

Pillay spoke about a thought pathway in our brains called the default mode network (DMN). This default circuit is is activated when we are not focusing specific, conscious attention but rather doing something that doesn’t require conscious focus- folding laundry, like walking the dog, taking a shower, driving a familiar route or daydreaming. These kinds of activities distract our conscious attention so our unconscious minds can come online.

In our upcoming book, Dare to Inspire: How to Spark and Sustain Extraordinary Results in Your Workplace, we make the case that inspiration is a most important resource to be managed in modern work. Based on over 100 interviews we’ve conducted with successful, inspiring leaders on how inspiration works for them and their teams, we believe the DMN is one of the critical pathways to activating inspiration.

This kind of thinking allows us to dream of possibilities that don’t yet exist, make connections across our knowledge and experiences and imagine new aspirations and possible actions and plans we can take to realize them.

The implication for leaders and teams is the ability to design when to activate this thinking- by stepping away, zooming out from an immediate challenge, and letting our unconscious brains go to work on a breakthrough solution.

Perhaps easier said than done in this world of increasing pace, information, and demands, but the awareness of the power of this thinking is more important than ever. Here is a ted talk we love on how stepping away can lead to the critical inspiration that is required to solve the toughest problems and dream the biggest dreams.


Laura Campbell had the opportunity to attend her first  Responsive Conference in New York, her very first “un-conference” where like minded HR and people strategy leaders are getting together to experientially explore the future of work.

The Responsive Conference, founded by Robin Zander, creates a space for individuals to embark on a two-day exploration of the Future of Work, with a program that’s built around experiential learning, critical discussion, and practical actions for your own organizational change efforts.

If you didn’t have a chance to see Laura’s post conference video, check out what she had to say below. Click to play.

DisruptHR Hartford

We are so thrilled to have been part of the inaugural DisruptHR in Connecticut on October 18, what a wonderful night it was!

DISRUPT is an information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower people in the HR field. The night brought together 8 speakers, including our own, Jen Grace Baron who spoke on Getting Naked: Vulnerability as a Driver for High Performance Teams.

We are incredibly inspired by the commitment of this new organization to bring innovation to the field of HR.

Organizations should not be focused solely on the employee experience, but rather the human experience. At it’s best, how organizations support employees goes beyond work, we should attend to the whole person. The next version of employee engagement is life engagement, not just engagement at work. It’s being inspired in your life…your work serves as one of the engines, and an inspired life can lead to inspiring work. One of our favorite scholars on this topic is Stew Freidman from Wharton, his popular press book is Total Leadership.

We have the opportunity to help lead the important integration of generations in the workforce in the coming decades. It is an exciting time to leverage the strengths of different generations to solve the toughest problems.  

Google Teams 2.0 Event

Earlier this month, Laura Campbell & Gabi Joyce had the chance to attend the most recent NY HR: People and Strategy event on The Rise of Team Effectiveness: How Google Develops Successful Teams”.

Google’s Cathy Chen Rennie & Michele Wolfenstein Aptman facilitated an engaging conversation about the most current research on team effectiveness and what the highest performing teams all have in common. The following are five key characteristics of highly effective teams:

  1. Psychological Safety – A situation in which everyone is safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and ask judgment-free questions. A culture where managers provide air cover and create safe zones so employees can let down their guard.
  2. Dependability Team members get things done on time and meet expectations.
  3. Structure and Clarity High-performing teams have clear goals, and have well-defined roles within the group.
  4. MeaningThe work has personal significance to each member.
  5. Impact – The group believes their work is purposeful and positively impacts the greater good.

What the list doesn’t indicate is that psychological safety stands out as the most important and powerful driver of high performance.

When individuals feel able to be who they are, trust that they are free from blame and judgement, and are not threatened in any way, they will do their best work and bring forward their highest performance.

The question for most organizations is how to create an environment and culture of psychological safety. Despite the desire to build a culture of psychological safety, many leaders simply don’t how to foster it in their organizations and with their people.

For more information on Google’s research and findings, please visit their resource site here.

And to schedule a complimentary strategic consultation on how you can build a culture of psychological safety on your team and in your organization, please email Laura at

Coffee at The District

We’re so excited to share our beta Coffee at the District: Inspired Conversations with Extraordinary Leaders. Keep your eye out for our full launch in 2019.

Thank you so much to Yon Sugiharto, Director of Learning and Development at Yale Medicine, a valued colleague, partner, and extraordinary leader, for kicking off our video series. In this episode, Allison Holzer and Laura Campbell talk to Yon about unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ and leadership in today’s modern world of work.

CWE Annual Women Business Leaders Conference

One of our most exciting accomplishments in 2018 was becoming a certified women’s owned business through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

The WBENC is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs. They believe that diversity promotes innovation, opens doors, and creates partnerships that fuel the economy. They provide the most relied upon certification standard for women-owned businesses and the tools to help them succeed. Their mission is to fuel economic growth globally by identifying, certifying, and facilitating the development of women-owned businesses.

We are thrilled to be one of the thousands of women owned businesses paving the way for the next generation of women leaders.

Recently Judy Dobai, our CFO, had the opportunity to attend our first WBE Conference and here are a few of her key insights.

We all have the power to find more joy in everyday moments and handle the difficult ones with resilience.

The morning keynote was Nataly Kogan, author of Happier now. Her keynote is peppered with references to happiness research, impact on individuals and the workplace.  

Financial wisdom: making sure to create lives aligned with our deepest values.

The afternoon Keynote was Manisha Thakor, talking about money management and her personal mission around money education for women. She was a great speaker, comes off as authentic more than polished, but her vulnerability share at the beginning had everyone in the audience riveted. Her website is  She is launching a podcast about Wellth vs Wealth sponsored by her now employer, Brighton Jones.

Today’s modern world of work requires building competencies around leading remote teams.

We hear it more and more from leaders across industries, the necessity to build new competencies around leading remote teams. In several of the procurement sessions AND among WBE attendees, there was plenty of conversation about the unique opportunities and challenges of leading remote teams.


Sandy gave the keynote address at a Northern Kentucky SHRM luncheon in October. The attendees were all HR professionals. Sandy’s keynote, “Beyond Diversity: Blurring the Lines that Divide Us” highlighted some of the (many) different work outcomes for different demographic groups. She looked at some common biases that even we, people who are strongly committed to diversity and equal opportunities for all, can fall prey to. There are at least three ways that open-minded, progressive thinkers can still (unintentionally) contribute to inequality at work:

  1. implicit bias

  2. racial anxiety

  3. stereotype threat

Sandy described what each of these is and how it can affect our thinking (even when we don’t want it to), and what we can do to minimize the effects.

The good news bottom line is that awareness is the best way to fight bias – learn about your own potential biases by exploring these three.

Click here to watch Sandy’s keynote and highlights of the event.


Jen Grace Baron attended the 2018 annual MAPP summit in October. The annual summit is is hosted to bring everyone back along with the class that is currently studying. It is designed to be a pathway for continuing education and to keep the 300 plus graduates sharp on updates in the field.

“The annual summit is one of the best things about being an alumni of the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.” -Jen Grace Baron

At this year’s MAPP, Jen’s insights were around mindfulness and wholeness after listening to Tal Ben-Shahar, one of the pioneers in positive psychology. 

A critical highlight from his lecture was on the importance of managing stress through recovery and through mindfulness. He offered that we tend to think about meditation as closing your eyes and thinking about nothing for a set period of time. He turned this on its head and suggested that mindfulness lives in intense focus and presence. For example, he cited research showing ‘that people who bring attention to listening to those around them, in focus and intense ways, reap similar benefits to a meditation practice’.

Another highlight was his emphasis on wholeness, that happiness is wholeness and that we need to give ourselves “permission to be human”. He offered the examples that any human system that wants to make a change, experiences challenge. It’s not easy to change and we need to be patient and realistic when we embark on making a change.

He also offered that social science points us to three pathways to make change more successful. Her called them the 3 R’s which include

  • Reminders
  • Repetition
  • Rituals

InspireCorps, as a team, is digging in to thread the 3R framework as an experiment to work through challenges. For example, we are currently working on “good meeting hygiene”, which includes starting and ending on time, not scheduling back to back meetings, and staying at task. We are using the 3R’s in the following ways:

  • Reminder: As a reminder at the beginning of every meeting, we state the key objectives and decisions that need to be made by the end of the meeting and state the time we have to make these.
  • Repetition: We are still working on this- but we have this word, “Huzzah” that we use when we are really nailing alignment with our meeting rules. When we miss the mark, typically by getting off topic, we use the word, “bubblegum”, to get us back on track.
  • Ritual: We have established a new ritual to end every meeting at 45 minutes, rather than the typical hour to give us space in between meetings.

We are giving ourselves “Permission to be human”.

We challenge you to give yourself permission to be human, too. Think about a change or a challenge you are working through right now. How might you integrate the 3R’s?


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