Monday, December 10, 2012

Why A Golden Rule Award? Why A Roast?

As we step into the final preparations for our Golden Rule event, I find myself pondering the whole point of bestowing an award, no less hosting a roast. As I consider the concept, what I rest into, is the ability to hear and see the reality of living a life of character. We talk a great deal about character development, yet having the chance to hear about a person who lives it, is the gift. 

Selecting Jim Bailey as the recipient this year was easy from many perspectives. His nomination came through a Board member and the discussion that ensued, inspired a rich and lively discussion about the day to day expression of a life of character.

The decision to do a roast blossomed when we discussed how to we PROVE a life of character. A life of character is not only measured in the accomplishments of a person but also in the company one keeps. Jim's dedication to our city, has helped him forge meaningful and well established relationships through out our city. 

As we worked with Jim to establish his roaster line up, I sat in awe of his "go to" colleagues. While creating a full view of his life, it became clear that the PROOF is in the caliber of people who esteem Jim and his life's journey and are willing to put their reputation's on the line speaking about him. What a powerful way to comprehend a life well lived!

Our roasters will include: Bruce Barcelo, Howard Coker, Terri Davlantes, Ray Driver, Bob Gay,  Hon. Denise Lee, Hon. Don Moran, Ed Nimnicht  and Toney Sleiman.

This group is a great cross section of our city and is full of passion for character! 

This list of individuals highlights the impact a character based life has in our community. As we seek to bring the discussions of character and ethics to the forefront of our community, this esteemed list of people is an amazing testament to the importance of these discussions. 

We are looking forward to hearing the not only fun perspectives these individuals hold but the valuable character lessons as well.  As a community that is working diligently to grow, we all know that character and ethics must be at the core of our ongoing evolution. 

Read more about Jim and his legacy of character!
Arbus Magazine: Forces of Character | Jim Bailey: Creative Collaborator
Advantage Business Magazine | Jim Bailey | 100 Years of Lessons 

Learn about past recipients!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ebbs and Flows | Lessons From The Edge

Canyon Walls Ebb and Flow
Fine Art Print - Darcy Michaelchuk

Are you building a dream? Then you know what I am talking about....if you are getting ready to build one,
listen up!! Forewarned is forearmed!

What will ebb and flow?
and the biggie...FAITH

This is reality. I have spoken to scores of people who are breaking ground with new ideas and this is a topic that is huge. The question is, how do you respect this natural process and continue on the quest? 

My career has been built upon the creative process, each and every day I look to the beautiful things and people in my life, I am inspired. Looking for beauty in ALL is what I have come to learn helps me through the ebbs and flows. I have finally learned that the dark has as much to teach as the light, that adversity has as many blessings as abundance and that pain is rich with as much joy as pleasure.

Yes, these are pretty deep thoughts and yet simple too. As we rebuild our economy on new ideas and principles, knowing these truths is critical. Most of us are no longer in the place and space of being unconscious. If we are able to truly see and accept these principles, then moving through the ebbs and flows becomes a process of joy vs suffering. 

Each of us has a choice to be in the flow of it all or fight it. Taking time to look at the ebbs and flows and allowing ourselves to recognize that the ebbs are here for us to reach out beyond ourselves. 

Some people want to be with us in the flows for sure! Other people are there for the ebbs, and the RARE ones are able to be both. Knowing this truth is a blessing. Keeping yourself aware of it and knowing that even you are sometimes with you and sometimes not. Ahh yes, that biggie...FAITH. 

Keeping the at the root of it all. Keeping faith in self, the idea, the world, the reason...this is where the courageous succeed! Courageously Faithful! Know your dreams and goals are real! And KNOW they will come to be if you stick with them!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Youth Justice Awareness Month

Click to learn more
I met Michelle Stephens just about a year ago. She was referred to me as a mother who was working to bring awareness of the issues of youth justice. 

As she shared her journey as a mother, a citizen and a woman, she revealed her faith that change is possible. She also expressed her fear that working for change would put her son at risk within the system. As we continued getting to know each other and continued to speak about the issues, she became clear that she wanted to DO something. I bore witness to her courage and deep belief in what is right.

After  a bit of researching she found the Campaign for Youth Justice. As she learned more, it became clear that their work aligned to her beliefs and her passion to create change.

As she explored, we began discussing being brave enough to create an event here in Jacksonville. One conversation led to another and as she became impassioned about the event, enthusiasm built.

She worked to bring meaningful content and partners around the table including The Southern Poverty Center;  the Children's Campaign; Author, Betty Burney; Film Director, Karen Grau and Character Counts! in Jacksonville.

On October 13th in Jacksonville, Florida, Alliance for Youth Justice Parent Michelle Stephens and the Southern Poverty Law Center are hosting a film screening and discussion of Young Kids, Hard Time, which aired on MSNBC in November 2011. Film Director Karen Grau will attend to discuss the experience of filming young kids serving multi-decade sentences and her thoughts on the practice of trying youth as adults.

The event is designed to shed light on the current situation and educate on ways we can work together to make change. 

For more information call Michelle Stephens
at 904-338-1734 or

Friday, September 7, 2012

24 Hours Conscious Creative Jamming

The creative community is invited to create and donate! Come out for a fun action packed creative adventure with your bestest and most inspiring friends. AIGA, JAMA, to name a few...

Character Counts! is turning to the creative community to create a mess of upcycled objects, that we can then sell to raise funds so we can renovate our new space.

This initial Jamming session will help to stock the
Conscious Market at our upcoming fundraiser in January
at Intuition Ale works.

We shall be creating t-shirts, lunch bags, insulated name a few! We will have sewing machines, paints, markers and all sorts of creative materials for you to express one of the Six Pillars of Character. Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.

There will be music and food to fuel the fun...hope to see ya there!! Friday eve, BYOB. Remember this is Character Counts! so no raucous behavior, ok my creative peeps!!

Bring along any new/barely used ugly shirts you might have. Ties and scarves also welcome, especially those theme ones...all kinds of fun to be had with those...

Call Florence if you would like to Participate! 904-612-3934

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CC!inJAX Bake Off Bakers | Mary Dronkers From Charmed Cakes

Meet Mary Dronkers, owner of Charmed Cakes here in Jacksonville. It was inspiring to hear her views on character and ethics. Love how her Navy background inspires her business and creative spirit. Who knew the Navy could inspire cakes!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

CC!inJAX Bake Off Bakers | Le Chat Noir - Patty Kirky

Learn more about Patty Kirky and what drives her heart and business! Understand what inspires her successful business and how her good character keeps her moving forward and creating yummy creations!

Friday, August 24, 2012

CC!inJAX Bake Off Bakers | Ryan & Violet Olds Skinner

Meet Ryan & Violet Olds Skinner - Responsible and fun all at the same time!  - Violet was actually the brainstorming creative mind behind the bake off idea. Her enthusiasm and faith, helped us see, we could make it happen!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Roasting, Baking and Brewing!

A Special Community Event is Just about Done to Perfection!

As I spoke to friends about how to honor Jim Bailey with the Golden Rule Award, we knew it could not be the typical rubber chicken luncheon...he deserved something fun, engaging and all about community!

It was the brain storm of Violet Olds-Skinner of Baking Under the Influence. She got conversations going at Intuition, I started chatting up Zack at Bold Bean, and the next thing ya know we got a full blown bake off and action packed inspiring event. 

We have 5 bakers creating 1000 mini cupcakes, roasters from around the community to bring out the lighter side of Jim, the Clara White Mission cooking from local donated ingredients, a photo booth that will capture which Pillar of character you stand for, a marketplace that has Conscious Threads and Conscious Eats products, a ballad being sung to honor Jim's wisdom, an all girl band and a pile of cool things to raffle off.

During the month of September, Jim will be profiled by many of the local magazines and newspapers that will show the breadth of his contribution to the many facets of our community.

We have been busy and have a sneaking suspicion that this event will rock it!!  Be sure to check the event page for details and be sure to buy your tickets early!!

Event Details  •  The Award  •  Bakers  •  Sponsorship  • Buy Tickets

Friday, August 10, 2012

...while no one is looking.

We have all heard this, yet when was the last time you stopped to ponder what it actually means in your life. 

Just recently I had a chance to witness a real example of what this means. I was siting at a stoplight in downtown Jacksonville and saw a man laying in a parking lot. I was running late for a meeting, which truthfully had me thinking, should I stop or go to the meeting. Just as I was considering. I watched a man kneel down and talk to the gentleman. I saw him hug him and ask him if he could get up. The man took his hand and gently helped him stand and get his bearings. Just as they were hugging again, a horn honked and off I went to my meeting. 

Here it is two days later, and I am thinking to myself, why didn't I stop? What had me hesitate? Why was a honored to bear witness to that act of kindness? The man of character I watched, just did what he knew was right in that moment for him. 

So today, I will challenge myself to see what is right in front of me to do, while no one is looking...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Believing in the Dream

A few years ago, while I was ill, a friend gave me this book on tape. I listened to it over and over while lying in bed, mostly hopeless. As I listened, it brought a clarity and a reason to the pain and suffering I was going through. It helped me keep my dream alive through it all.

It changed my whole view of my dreams and the role of getting clear about purpose of the dream and what it takes to make them happen.

For many years I dreamed and thought they impossible. They were pipe dreams, ya know, that little girl dreaming beyond reality. We all have dreams, and we all either decide to pursue them or let them die. 

The book presents a few simple concepts:

Our dreams are God's dreams. He has placed them within us. He would not give us a dream that is impossible. It is up to us to figure it out with His help.

We have all the gifts and skills to make our dreams happen. God has built these gift in as he created the dream within our hearts. God wants us to expand our skills, so other people will expand theirs. God wants us to believe in our dreams deeply, so others may come along side to help make them happen. It is up to us to build alliances that have common dreams and  create solutions together.

Getting quiet with God is absolutely necessary! When we come into "sanctuary" with God, we are able to decipher "His Plan!" When we begin to understand how to do it and with whom.

Overcoming our Personal fears is a ongoing process! Our willingness to come to our knees and be truthful with ourselves will happen the whole way through the realization of a dream. Count on it. 

Social Issues will present them selves! Generally speaking there are social issues that stand in front of our dream. Woman can't do that! Those people are not worth it! Fears and predjudice will reveal it's horrible head. It is our faith and dreams that will overcome them. 

The closer we are to realizing our dreams the harder the challenges will be. As the dream comes into reality the stakes get higher and higher. The obstacles seem bigger, yet in reality they are not. It is the final push that always seems the hardest, yer it is also when the most fear is present, right at the edge of success. Right of the edge of joy!

So today, I am committed to my dream! I pray you commit to yours!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sustaining Employee Engagement With Strategic Storytelling

Bill Baker

To fully leverage the potential of the sustainable brand, organizational leaders must find ways to fully engage and infuse their workforce with enthusiasm around the noble and essential higher purpose that not only drives the brand, but also defines it. The most effective way to do this is through strategic storytelling.
Storytelling can focus, align and inspire the human energy needed to realize the sustainability positioning of your brand and the larger vision for the organization connected to that positioning. When used strategically, stories can infuse your plan with meaning, making the ideas and principles driving your efforts real for your employees.
Though typically made through brand communications, the promises of sustainability are brought to life through the thousands of actions and decisions made daily by managers and employees. To properly guide those actions and decisions, organizations must first make certain their brand is truly sustainable. Sustainability—and the “future generation” higher purpose associated with it—must actually be part of the brand’s core story, not just an operational tangent to it.
Assuming sustainability is an integral thread of your organization’s brand story, you can set about using strategic storytelling to engage employees in that story and, importantly, sustain their engagement around it long into the future. What follows are three guidelines on how to do just that.
1. Present the sustainable brand positioning to employees in the memorable language of stories. As noble as the words  “optimize”, “ integrity” and “innovation” sound on a plaque or in an annual report, when used to communicate your brand positioning to employees, they’re neither distinguishing, nor provocative or memorable. And if employees don’t recall the language of your strategic planning efforts, chances are they are not talking about it or acting on its objectives, either. GE uses stories extensively to bring its Ecomagination story to life, making real for employees, customers and the broader marketplace the higher purpose driving their efforts and the positive impacts resulting from them.
2. Give your employees the means to share stories about your sustainable brand. Employee stories keep your brand positioning current and tangible by reinforcing how it’s coming to life every day—in the field, at corporate headquarters and everywhere in between. What’s more, as more employees share their stories, they take on greater philosophical ownership of the sustainable brand positioning those stories exemplify. For example, the GE Reports website contains a rich collection of stories of “imagination at work” identified and put forward by GE employees around the globe. This creates a greater sense of connection between employees and the larger sustainability story GE is telling the world.
3. Fan the flames of employee engagement and enthusiasm by becoming your organization’s “Storyteller-in-Chief.” When corporate leaders ask for new ways of thinking, talking and acting, employees will always look up the ladder to see if you are practicing what you preach. One of the best ways executives and managers of a company can “walk the sustainability talk” is by regularly sharing stories that demonstrate and exemplify the company’s sustainability efforts coming to life.
So, as you embark on the next wave of strategic planning around sustainability, consider using storytelling to more effectively connect what you’re trying to achieve with the employees you need to achieve it. More than anything, it can help bring about meaningful change for your brand, your business and the larger world in which you do business. And that’s something worth sustaining.

Bill Baker is founder and principal of BB&Co Strategic Storytelling. BB&Co has helped business leaders of organizations such as Relais & Châteaux, Johnson & Johnson and GE, as well as the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, the University of British Columbia and others advance their brands, businesses and people through strategic storytelling. For more information about BB&Co, visit, or email

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Productive & Respectful Networking: Oh Right it's all about Conversations!

As far as playing jazz, no other art form, other than conversation, can give the satisfaction of spontaneous interaction.  - Stan Getz

I love this quote! It reveals such a delightful morsel to me. It helps me see the beauty of not having an agenda and allowing a conversation to go where it goes.

As I consider how important my time is these days,
I realize every relationship I decide to choose to create has infinite potential. What I open up to share and what I foster to be shared are the moments of  j a z z. Those sweet lyrical exchanges that connect and flow. 

So often I find myself selling, to begin with in a relationship, instead of exploring, revealing, creating and experiencing. I believe the quote asks us to look at the idea of being willing to allow the spontaneity of an exchange to create a beautiful connection, instead of some imagined agenda to be followed.

In the charming illustration, we see the intersections of ideas and thoughts expressed so beautifully, that ideas intermingle and create surprises that unfold. As I personally consider the kinds of networking experiences that bring me inspiration, they are the ones that allow meaningful dialogue. 

 Recently a colleague challenging me to the idea, that I already knew right this moment, every person, I needed to grow my work and gain greater success. She asked me to look at respecting and honoring my past investments of time and reputation. Had I followed up? Had I let an opportunity pass? Why was I looking for new, when I had not deepened the ones I currently have.

It got me really thinking. As I explored this idea, it helped me see that when I am fostering current relationships with the flow of jazz, the exact right new player will come in effortlessly, with surprise and spontaneity, those magical connections...that just reveal themselves. 

So today I shall be a jazz player and allow myself to flow and to explore...with confidence and ease. 

Join us July 13th to converse about networking and creating the right strategies for YOU!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What is Social Resonsibility?

How do you see yourself in the whole? What is your part? your companies part?

There are many definitions out there for social responsibility. We chose the definition from the Harvard Kennedy School, THE INITIATIVE DEFINING CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY 
"We define corporate social responsibility strategically. Corporate social responsibility encompasses not only what companies do with their profits, but also how they make them. It goes beyond philanthropy and compliance and addresses how companies manage their economic, social, and environmental impacts, as well as their relationships in all key spheres of influence: the workplace, the marketplace, the supply chain, the community, and the public policy realm" 

This shows the vastness and importance of looking at the whole picture, be it personally or as an organization.

What are your views on this important topic? We are all part of the whole and how we take responsibility for our part MATTERS!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pilgrimage: Willingness to be Conscious.

According to Wiki, the definition of pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Ahh yes, spiritual significance, my personal daily quest, but what has this to do with a vacation?

The past months, I have been reading a wonderful book called the Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau. It inspired me to set off on the road to explore myself and the world around me in a new way. I feel myself more than ever, being willing to be changed, affected and grown. I have chosen to be conscious of the world around me and seek clarity about how I am affected and how I affect others. 

So much in my life these days is calling me higher, deeper, further. I have been working to create and solidify the work of Character Counts! and have found places within myself being pushed, pressed and questioned. Quite an intense and inspiring experience.

So last week, I set out on a pilgrimage. I knew I was ready to see and hear differently. Life has been shifting in vast was lately and I have found myself called to become quiet and observe the world in a quieter way. Seeking God's light

Often when I seek to see and experience myself again, I go back to the things I love, family, friends, art, design, is from these familiar facets of myself I am able to not only find the things I love about my world, I also get to see so many perspectives and approaches, I had looked past before.

The past 10 days, has been a blessing beyond measure. I had a chance to "see" beyond myself and open myself to change that feels deep and lasting. I can feel that I have been able to actually let go of some old and unloving habitual thoughts.

It was cathartic to be able to talk with so many people who love and KNOW me about the work I am doing and why I believe I have been called to do it. They were able to help me understand at a deep level God's bigger plan. Each person was able to tell me how happy they are to see me so happy today. Each of was able to help understand how LOVE and FAITH has brought me through some pretty dark times he past years.

I was also blessed to be open to several new acquaintances who were placed on my path to hold the space of inquiry. My sense of pilgrimage was inspired by these very special interactions. People who had many things to tell me in the moment. I felt so grateful to meet faithful people willing to share their hearts and open to saying things they felt I needed to hear.

As I write this, I am actually awed by God's divine plan.  I guess that was the primary blessing of the trip. That yes, there is a plan and if I am wiling to open myself to it, it will bring joy and love.

I love my life and all the people who are in it! I deeply sense that I am where I am supposed to be and that my basic sense of path is just right too! I accept that it is evolving and that as I continue to be willing to be aware of the world around me, my life will blossom. I know that I am here to be affected by others and that I too affect the world around me.

I commit to being "CONSCIOUS"!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May Speaker Profile: Dave Josephson, Growth Coach

Dave will join us Monday May 14!  

Innovation Fueled by Respect

For Dave Josephson, marketing and sales coaching has been a part of life since the very beginning.

When he was in grade school, Dave told his Uncle Jim, a food engineer for Oscar Mayer®, what he thought kids would like for lunch: a sampling of meats, cheeses, and breads, and of course, a sweet treat for dessert. Dave even suggested the name of “Lunch Sampler.” A few short years later, Lunchables® hit the market, and today it is one of Oscar Mayers’ top selling packaged food items for children ages 6 to 10. So began Dave’s lifelong love affair with sales and marketing.

While in college, Dave assisted his father-in-law in the opening of several video stores, where in addition to stocking shelves, he also developed “Take-One,” a monthly video newsletter for video club members. Seeing that his family needed marketing dollars, he simply asked their video sales representative for some. By asking a simple question, Dave uncovered hundreds of dollars worth of co-op funds for his family’s new video store chain.

After college, Dave worked for a national home-business magazine publisher, where he coached home-business owners how to wisely spend their advertising dollars. His creativity and enthusiasm soon had him in charge of the magazine’s major accounts. Since his clients loved his marketing coaching, Dave hosted a weekly teleseminar called “Market Smarts,” where he coached hundreds of business owners around the world at a time.

Dave then pursued a marketing career where he would be able to work with one of the leading franchise systems in the country, Auntie Anne’s Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels™. Here Dave realized that impulse buying and regional taste preferences had an impact on each location. Therefore, he coached his franchisees to uncover what their customers wanted and then how to market to them. Not only did this empower his franchisees, but it also drove up their sales by as much as 50% within as little as 6 months. Dave showed them how to leverage their marketing dollars by working directly with mall property managers. As a result of developing innovative partnerships, he helped save his franchisees thousands of dollars on advertising, as well as gave them the ability sell more with little to no effort.

Always admiring small business owners for their courage, Dave later partnered with his wife Dawn in her business, Cameo Publications, a boutique publishing house where they worked with some of the top business trainers and professional speakers around the world. In addition to publishing self-help and business books, Dave coached business consultants of the Fortune 500 companies. His reputation made him well known throughout various professional consulting circles as the Marketing Innovator.
Despite the success of Cameo Publications, Dave felt it was time to tackle a new adventure, so he took a position in Jacksonville, Florida at The Beaver Street Enterprise Center as their Program Coordinator. In this role, Dave used his creativity to motivate small business owners by helping them break their self-limiting barriers and empower them by learning how to leverage their business through effective branding and sales leadership. As part of this effort, Dave introduced SELL-Ebration, where he brought together Jacksonville’s top sales and marketing trainers to give advice to a packed event hall.

After witnessing how many business owners fall victim to working IN their businesses rather than ON their businesses, Dave became a certified coach in the Strategic Mindset® Process with The Growth Coach®.  Dave empowers business owners to Drive Success AND Balance Life™. Today, Dave’s mission is to help small business owners realize that they are truly worthy of being successful and that they are their best asset in their business.


In total, Dave has over 20 years of marketing and sales coaching experience, and has personally coached more than 1,500 small business owners ranging from the start-ups to the mega-successful in many different industries. Dave holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Communications with a Minor in English from Rollins College and an Associate of Arts Degrees in Business Administration and in Paralegal Science.

To learn more about what Dave spends his time doing take a moment to visit his Growth Coach website. 

Innovation Fueled by Respect

You may ask yourself how do these two seemingly unrelated thoughts fit together. What I have learned by running teams focused on creating innovative ideas, approaches and products is that we must create environments that foster respect for innovation to flourish.

The environment that nurtures respect will allow diverse ideas to be expressed. It is this space that is the lifeblood of new thinking. Innovation requires the looking at a situation from as many perspectives as possible. Respect for all perspectives must be present in order for the team to truly see all the possibilities.

What are you thinking here? I am curious about your perspective??

Monday, May 7, 2012

May Speaker Profile: Katie Seay, American Heart Association

Katie will be one of our panelists for this month's Breakfast on May 14, where we will be discussing Innovation Fueled by Respect.

After practicing in the field of public relations for seven years, Katie Seay, APR, feels passionate about working for organizations that dedicate the majority of their operations to serving others.

An Atlanta native and Wolfson High School graduate, Katie’s passion for  all things equine, lead her to a bachelor of science in equestrian science from Stephen’s College in Columbia,  Missouri.   Katie worked as a riding instructor in Missouri and Louisiana, and then  ran her own riding lesson/boarding stable operation in Green Cove Springs, until returning to school in 2003. 

In December of 2004 Katie graduated from the University of Northeast Florida with a B.S. in Communications-Public Relations. Since that time she has worked in the communications field for Big Brothers Big Sisters of North East Florida, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and currently is the director of communications for the American Heart Association-First Coast Market.

She has been a member of the North Florida Public Relations Society of America since 2004. In 2006, Katie’s Big Brothers Big Sisters of North East Florida Bowl For Kids Sake public relations campaign received a local Image and Judges award from the Jacksonville Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association.  Katie became accredited in public relations in September of 2011.

Katie, is an active member of our community always looking for innovative ways to bring education and engagement to our community. We look forward to hearing her diverse views and passion about serving her community.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We failed!

We learned!  We succeeded!

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Thomas A. Edison

As I write this post I will work back and forth between I and we, because there are personal insights as a leader and team insights that will be revealed. Personal failings and team failings are intermingled.

I tried to do something way bigger than I should have. Hence I failed. 

I worked to create a social experiment and the lessons are rich and deep. For that I am blessed. 

I am OK with sharing failure. Revealing the lessons, helps me to learn and I hope you might learn from my mistakes. I have noticed, not many people share their failures. I wonder why? We know why, cause, maybe you will not respect me any more. Maybe you will not support me any more. Well dear reader, I know that I know how to learn and refine.

Yesterday I spoke at the Jacksonville Business Journal Diversity Awards. I tried to do an interactive exercise and lost sight of a few things.

The main reasons I failed are clear. There are many more nuances but these three are clear and able to directly learn from.

1. Did not understand the dynamics of the event well enough to create something so complex.
2. Overlooked the real reason for the event: to celebrate and inspire. NOT LEARN.
3. Did not have enough collaboration with the key vision holder.

What I did learn about innovation and diversity.
1. It is hard to get people to innovate if they do not see the need to.
2. Innovation requires a special environment: order and chaos in the right proportion.
3. The timing of innovation efforts MUST be considered.

1. Getting voices heard is an art.
2. Helping people to understand the value of their voices takes time.
3. Creating a space that allows for voices to be heard is critical. 

WE Succeeded!
1. Learned that my team is incredibly flexible and capable
2. They are dedicated to excellence.
3. They feel comfortable sharing insights to help us all succeed. 
4. Made many contacts that are rich and powerful
5. Came together as a team and were willing to debrief in a healthy creative way. 

So this is the beginning of a journey. We are "all in" as they say and willing to reveal, so we may learn and connect with others who too are on the journey to re-creating. 

Look forward to your insights!

I want to take a moment to personally thank David Sillick and Kara Rosario of the Journal for their willingness to take a chance with this sorta wild Idea I had...we took a chance, had an opportunity to learn and we will all move forward in new ways.

In the next day or two, I will be sharing what actually happened at the event and share the insights into the social experiment.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What is Good? What is Bad? | Judgements Abound!

These two images are the open slides to a presentation I did at the Jacksonville Business Journal Diversity Awards this morning. I had the honor to create a fun experience and take risks because someone trusted me. Why? I am not sure...well maybe cause I have some radical ideas and David Sellick knows that those are the ideas that might change the way we do business.

Our ability to continually let go of and hold onto judgements is at the root of our ability to think innovatively. As we look for new and diverse ideas and perspectives we must open ourselves to ideas that we might deem "BAD" so we might find something "GOOD". 

Pretty ironic isn't it??

I look forward to hearing the ideas and thoughts of those that attended so that we may continue to foster diversity in our community with the hopes of changing it for the better!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Why Should I Listen to You?

I am in the process of preparing my speech for the Jacksonville Business Journal Diversity Awards.  As I do, I have been busy interviewing and researching for my topic: Innovation Inspired by Diversity.

One of my research methods is interviewing the people around me about my topic. I seek various perspectives and see what I am missing. I ask a few questions and get ideas from the brilliant people God has put in my life. It is fun and enjoyable way for my pals to add into my work in a way that is fun and engaging. I often quote them and cite their brilliance from the podium.

So the other day, I am with a friend who is recently been through a horrible divorce.She is feel down and in this zone of fear and healing. We were having breakfast and sharing our lives. I spoke to her about my process and hoped it would help her see her way through. Eventually she asked me what I am working on, so I shared this topic of diversity and innovation. 

She asked me the purpose of the speech. I said, I wanted people to comprehend that exploring other perspectives on a situation is good and healthy. That we as a community have so many resources and that when we bring people together, we must have a respect for all view points even though we might not understand them. We talked about it and laughed and cried and enjoyed creating some ideas together.

Suddenly she blurted out, a big thought. She asked my why I felt I had what it took to speak in front of a few hundred people. She simply asked, "Why would they listen to you?" As I took in her question, I realized she was the person feeling like no one listens to her. I told her why, and she smiled. She told me how proud she was of me and how she hoped one day she would be capable of doing similar work. I know she will heal and i know that as I help her see how I find mine, she will find hers. That is how the divine works! It is called living in the world of diversity.

What I was struck by is her fear and her ability to find her voice within the fray. I have to be honest, I started crying, with joy as we spoke. As I listened to her ideas, she found her voice that morning. She found a way to express her wisdom, her perspectives in a way that honored her and her journey. WOW, what a blessing this speech prep has been for not only me, but the people around me.

I felt so grateful that I have the chance to find my voice in a way that will help my community. I know that the work I do helps others find theirs. So as I jump back into the work of getting ready for the event tomorrow, I shall bring everyone's journey with me to fuel and focus the pile of to dos. 

Looking forward till tomorrow...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Innovation Inspired By Diversity

We are grateful to be a part of this years Jacksonville Business Journal Diversity Awards - May 1. Not only do we get to honor some of the thought leaders in our city, we get to share about one of our favorite topics. 

Diversity, is at the core of many of the Pillars of Character. As we take a look at diversity, we will be sharing how this way of thinking may inspire innovation, if wielded in the right way. We will discover how to look at things in new perspectives as well as experience what it feels like to hold a perspective that is not understood or popular.

In working with the team at JBJ, we have had the chance to witness an openness to innovation. We proposed a pretty out of the box approach to the event and were encouraged to go with it. It was a great thing to actually work with a team that is willing to trust creativity and explore alternatives. 

When we are willing to actually take a look at the many perspectives in the room, the situation, the community...we are able to potentially see opportunities for deeper exploration for solutions, innovations and most importantly relationships.

Truly the JBJ, is walking their talk and bringing diversity to all that it does. Kudos to the team!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Conscious Threads is Coming to Life!!

Our newest installment here is about the excitement of planning for our new home. 

We have been given a donation that will allow for 2 years of rent for a warehouse space to open our doors. Much to do and plan for. We are actively seeking support and am working with many designers to create a space that will allow or healing and creativity.

Last week I had a chance to visit a world renowned program that supports ex-felons and addicts. Delancy Street, is a model that we have been studying and could potentially replicate at some time in the future. It is a live in situation and has a social enterprises that fund much of the costs of the program.

As the vision evolves, we are working diligently to  create a financial model that will sustain us and create a long term vision. We have hired our first man part time to help with the financials and business plan. His insights have been invaluable as we move forward.

Each and every day I work on this, I become more clear about how much it is needed! The mission to create jobs for ex-felons has taught me so much about the true meaning of the 6 Pillars of Character. As we bring this enterprise to life with the 6 Pillars as the core, I know that it will begin to show tangibly the power of living a character based life.

Quite exciting times for Character Counts! in Jacksonville.  We are in the process of creating a social enterprise. I will be sharing the journey to creating the business and praying the right resources come out to support it's success.

You might ask, "What is a social enterprise?" A social enterprise is an organization that applies business strategies to achieving philanthropic goals. Our social enterprises is structured
as a non-profit, with all profits going to educate and empower our employees, which are ex-felons.

Why A Clothing Company?
Conscious Threads is social enterprise that seeks to educate on the issues ex-felons
face as they re-enter society after serving time. We use ugly t-shirts to create fun, smart new ones. Like the t-shirts, many of us have things in our past that are not pretty. Like these shirts, their lives are not disposable. With creativity, love & determination all can be made anew.

I will be writing about the creation of the brand, the business case, the team...etc. I hope you will engage with me...

As we move forward, I will be sharing the journey with you, in hopes of:
• Creating support for the enterprise
  • Time
  • Talent
  • Resources...AKA Dinero, Cash, Moola!! | Real Estate | Donate a Sewing Machine or Laser Printer | Donate/Subsidize Warehouse Space | Creative S
  • Run a t-shirt/tie/scarf drive at your church, business group, company, etc
• Reveal the dynamic process of creating such a vision, knowing that as I share, I will gain insights and maybe you will too!

• Share the real life ins and outs of social enterprise development. 

And of course...fuel the mission of Character Counts!!

Spread The Word

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What is Accountability?

One definition of ACCOUNTABILITY: the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. 

The willingness to take responsibility stems from our ability to see "our" part of a commitment and have full understanding of the elements of a situation and the dependencies. 

While researching this rich topic, I sought the usual sources of information, yet what i found myself desiring is a more REAL world view of this idea. I asked others to comment on a Facebook post about this topic. I got a full range of views on the topic. Some simple and concise and others rich and complex. Today, I will share a handful and add more this week as they come in.

The perspective that come up consistently was simply stated by Tina Warren "For me, it is "say what you'll do...and do what you say." to an extent, it is answering to someone or something outside of yourself for your choices and actions." The element of answering outside yourself is an intriguing one. A person, a process, a entity? Many are possible if we are willing to open ourselves to that. 

Many also mentioned their spiritual paths in regard to answering to God and being inspired by their faith to DO for others.  Hans E. Huntsinger beautifully states, "Keep our head in the clouds with Him who presides over us. But keep our feet firmly planted here on earth where WORK for our fellow man must take place..."

The richness of the faith filled ideas flowed, Kelli De Moro eloquently added, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Christ said this and made it very clear that the person you pass by a person without shelter, clothing, or someone is despair.. you are essentially passing him over. I try to make it a point in my life everyday to reach out to the "invisible" in our culture in small ways and sometimes not so small. That is my love for God and of course transcends into love for my brothers and sisters. ♥"
Another view that came up repeatedly is the willingness to put others first. That we are to understand that serving others is critical component.  "It's putting selfishness aside and living up to your responsibilities." as Michael O'Connell states. What a powerful view. 

 Halimeh Barrie added "...Of course it all depends on our character, and our desire to do right things, and maybe just appreciating that we have a responsibility to our fellow man to cover their backs and make sure they succeed at their mission, because we said we would, because we are accountable.

Jeffrey Spear added, "It's about doing the right thing. Treating others as you would prefer others treat you. It's also about being true to your word. If you say you're going to do something. Do it as promised... or even better. I love it when others exceed expectations and try to do the same for them." Love this idea of exceeding expectations. That is a rare view these days, when just getting by seems the norm. 

A colleague decided to take a holistic view and blended the intellect with faith in his post.
Ronald Tomas "The Wikepedia definition includes references "to improve both the internal standard of individual and group conduct as well as external factors, such as sustainable economic and ecologic strategies." Responsibility to one's self and society, in general. Matthew 5:13-16 states'"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses it flavor, how shall it be seasoned? it is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Not do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand , and it gives light to all who in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Accountability=shine your light so that you change your world!" 

Ron's approach helped me to better understand out ongoing desire to use both our heads and our hearts. wonderful and expansive.

I will be adding more to this post in the coming days. Stay tuned.