Upcoming Events

Some upcoming events that I am producing:

Cybersecurity: The Leadership Imperative – If you want to learn how some of the world’s top corporations and government agencies are addressing cybersecurity from a policy, not technical, perspective — in corporate governance, legal, training, coordination across departments, and public-private partnerships — this is for you.

The Conference Board’s 13th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference – The focus here is not on how women should change in order to succeed; it’s on how organizations are changing, and should be changing, to develop the women leaders they will need in order to succeed. If you care about your organization’s future success, and developing its future leaders, this is for you.

Frank Sesno’s New Book


One of the very best, most thoughtful questioners I’ve ever had the honor to work with has a new book out that couldn’t be more timely: Ask More. I highly recommend it.

The Commandments of Moderating, Part 8-10: Listen, Listen, Listen.

A good moderator is well prepared, has a set of questions in mind for each panelist, and has a good idea of how each panelist will respond to each question. And then the discussion starts and things get interesting. Someone says something that wasn’t expected. They allude to an opinion that doesn’t fit what is usually expected of them, or to a decision that was a mistake. That’s why a moderator’s most important job is to be in the moment and listen — even while thinking about time limitations, who hasn’t gotten to speak yet, and topics that have to be addressed.

Listen for that surprising moment, and follow up on it.

Immigration and the Peter Jennings Project

Can a dialogue on one of the most controversial issues in American policy — illegal immigration — be passionate, and smart, and civil?  The brilliant Jeff Greenfield of CBS News moderated a dialogue at the National Constitution Center that proved it can be done.  You can watch it in full here.

I produced this discussion for the Peter Jennings Project, an organization dedicated to helping current and future journalists understand constitutional issues more deeply.  It was especially meaningful to me because I produced a dialogue moderated by Peter Jennings in 1999.   Continue reading

Tucson and Minds on the Edge

So many who have seen the reports of Jared Loughner’s descent into mental illness prior to the shootings have wondered: Couldn’t something have been done?  College professors, administrators and students knew something was seriously wrong long before the tragic day; his parents in all likelihood did as well.  Even if — as the data demonstrate — acts of violence by the mentally ill are rare, here was someone clearly in need of help.  Many may wonder why he did not receive it.

The reality of our mental health system — and the huge challenges facing those trying to get treatment for the people who need it most — is the subject of a fantastic Fred Friendly Seminar, Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness.  I had the honor of writing the scenarios for the program.

Although it was produced over a year ago, those watching it today will assume it was created in the wake of Tucson: The program opens with a professor — played by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer — struggling with the realization that one of his best students may be slipping into mental illness.

Because this compelling program discusses some of the most important questions raised by the Tucson tragedy, it was featured on PBS Newshour on Tuesday, and many PBS stations will be re-broadcasting it in the coming weeks.  You will find some of the listings after the jump.  Or you can watch the program online here.

Continue reading

The Commandments of Moderating, Part 6: Prepare, But Don’t Overprepare, Panelists and Part 7: Directing Traffic

With the new year I bring you the long-overdue second half of the Ten Commandments of Moderating.  Next up: How to prepare your panelists; and how to direct traffic. Continue reading

Storytelling as a Business Tool

From the Batten Institute on entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business comes this great explanation of storytelling as a business tool.  It’s from the Design@Darden Initiative.  I’ve been preaching much the same message on the power of storytelling to generate connections and insights, and it’s good to see the concept promoted at this great business school.

That’s About Right

From The New Yorker:

Want to do something about it?  Try this.

The Commandments of Moderating, Part 5: Paint Pictures

The first two commandments of moderating are here, the third here, and the fourth here.   I started out without much concern on the order of these pieces of advice, but the list seems to be developing a structure: The first two commandments are the most basic.  They’ve been followed by three on formulating questions. After that, we’ll have a couple on preparation and directing traffic, followed by the most important commandment of all.  Now for the last piece of advice on questions: Continue reading

The Commandments of Moderating, Part 4: Conversations

The first two commandments of moderating are here, and the third here.  Next up:

4. Create Conversations — As I have ranted about before, far too often the label “panel discussion” is a misnomer: The event instead is a set of presentations followed by a series of questions from the moderator to each panelist.   The good news is, this creates a great opportunity for you:  If you can actually get panelists talking to each other — to actually have a discussion at your “panel discussion” — both panelists and audience will be very pleasantly surprised.  You’ll see smiles and greater engagement all around.  Here are several ways to make it happen: Continue reading