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A lover of wisdom, dedicated to imagining what we can build and achieve together. Founder & Chief Curator |The Museum of Ideas

Lake Superior Agates & Leadership

“Our life has to be our message.” — Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thích Nhất Hạnh reminds us that each of us is a writer — with our life’s message as our greatest story.

As a child, I collected Lake Superior agates that I found in an open field behind my home. A pack of us roamed the Central Minnesota fields in the summertime, building forts, dipping our toes in puddles, and shooing the cows away from our mothers’ dinner gardens.

The agates were a special part of those summer afternoons.

The lines were embedded in them to remind us that time…

The value of matriarchal wisdom in leadership

The ‘This We Believe’ Series

By Melanie Garson Ph.D. & Shannon Mullen O’Keefe M.A.L.D.

Algorithms underpin our digital lives.

These recipes guide our computers and apps and are the inconspicuous super currents behind much of what shows up on our screens.

Algorithms have the power to know us intimately. They suggest what to buy, friends to know, news to read, and people to date or marry.

But there are questions about the decision-making ethics behind them. Whose ethics are they? Are they riddled with bias? Whose biases are these?

The truth is that while we can point out all the flaws in the algorithms, the…

Falling in love with your job is beautiful, but can it last?

Whispered sweet nothings make our hearts beat faster.

They just do.

It’s that feeling Tom Waits portrays in his song about falling in love: Hope that I don’t fall in love with you.

The refrain: “I hope I don’t fall in love with you…”

And then later. . . “The chair next to yours is free. . . and I hope that you don’t fall in love with me.”

Love boasts many great moments — and falling in love is among the greatest. We feel a current. A force that speeds up our hearts and our imagination.

The scientists and…

Leaders Must Have a Universal Moral Philosophy First

The ‘This We Believe’ Series

By Melanie Garson Ph.D. & Shannon Mullen O’Keefe M.A.L.D.

In an episode of the television series Black Mirror human beings risk their lives to seek out the contents of a box in a warehouse. In doing so they encounter security — a robotic dog — which ruthlessly pursues and attempts to kill them.

What was in the box that the humans risked their lives for? (*spoiler alert*)

Teddy bears.

The humans wanted to retrieve the teddy bears to give them to a dying friend.

If that security guard had been a dad, or a grandpa, or a brother, sister, mother…

The Space Race Now and What it Means for Humanity

The Museum of Ideas: Conversations on the Blue Couch Series

By Shannon Mullen O’Keefe M.A.L.D. & Lakshmi Karan Ph.D.

We are again on the cusp of a giant leap forward in possibilities for humanity.

Remember what a big deal it was way back on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon? Americans put a flag on the moon and they left a sign there.

But, consider this.

Now there are people aiming to do a lot more than that in space and those who dominate space will probably hold a great deal of power for years to come.

So, it will matter to future generations of humans…

Manager mindsets that leave room for slack

Efficiency can be beautiful.

It means waste is minimized, energy is maximized, and we achieve things.

Everything has a time and a place, everyone knows where to be, there isn’t extra — there’s just enough.

Things are right-sized.

And things clip along perfectly.

When the Pict woman (pictured above) lived — probably during the late Iron Age — people were excited about advances in efficiency. Back then, it was new iron tools that helped to streamline human life.

As humans, we’re rightfully proud of the gains we’ve made in efficiency, from iron tools to Roomba vacuums.

But, as the saying…

Tether Leadership Narratives to ‘We,’ and not ‘I’

The ‘This We Believe’ Series

By Melanie Garson Ph.D. and Shannon Mullen O’Keefe M.A.L.D.

Let’s be honest. Anytime we make a choice not for ‘I’ — meaning ourselves, individually — we can disadvantage ourselves.

When we step away from the ‘I,’ in decision-making, we can fall quickly into the classic game theory dilemmas: if I disadvantage myself how do I know that I will not be exploited?

This dilemma happens in decisions we make all day long: our electoral choice, our fishing rights, keeping our place in line at the grocery store, and deciding whether to foreclose on homes. The movie classic It’s a Wonderful…

Some common definitions, redefined

What do words mean to you? At the recent Great Wave event, the ethical philosopher Françoise Baylis helped call to mind the power in words when she used this example:

“What if we had a different understanding of what it meant to be wealthy?” she asked. “What if ‘wealth,’ were defined by how much you could give away — constantly gifting — rather than keeping?”

If we sit with her questions for a minute, we realize that a different definition of wealth might make a “ripple.” Her question was a pebble tossed into still water.

When “there is no pebble…

Orangutans — the great apes whose babies are cuter than The Mandalorian’s green sidekick — are on the endangered list.

The world wildlife organization reports that ‘a century ago there were probably more than 230,000 orangutans in total, but the Bornean orangutan is now estimated at about 104,700 (endangered) and 7,500 (critically endangered.)’

These orangutans, whose name literally means ‘man of the forest,’ in the Malay language are endangered because their natural forest habitat is threatened.

Not only is the population at large on the endangered list, but a new sub group variety, the Tapanuli Orangutan, is also on the…

Shannon Mullen O'Keefe

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