Closeted optimist. (Guess I’m out now.) Learner. Doer. Lover of life.
Since 2002, I’ve been helping groups of all shapes and sizes focused on making the world a better place collaborate more effectively. I’m currently focused on helping other practitioners do the same.
I like to be intentional about where I’m going, but I’m not afraid to build the plane as I’m flying it, and I’m always open to surprises.
The Full Story
I have two goals in life:
- Be the best human being I can possibly be.
- Do things that are joyful, impactful, and nourishing.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Although my parents and teachers told me to be practical and conform, they showed me how to be authentic and chase my dreams. I listened to their words, and I did what I saw. Their greatest gift was encouraging me to play and to learn, which continue to be my favorite pastimes.
I went to college in Boston, where I learned how much I loved California and how much I hated Boston sports teams. I officially studied how change happened in scientific communities. (The answer: Not easily.) I unofficially studied how to become an entrepreneur. While writing my thesis on the history of software patents, I published one of the first books on web application programming.
After college, I moved to San Francisco, where I spent five years dabbling. While perfecting this art, I met Doug Engelbart, who taught me that making the world a better place was a legitimate career path.
Thus inspired, I spent 10 years (from 2002 to 2012) helping groups learn how to come alive and collaborate more skillfully together. I co-founded two social change consultancies in this pursuit: Blue Oxen Associates and Groupaya. I worked with C-level business leaders and social activists, rocket scientists and spies, billionaires and hackers, foundations and farmers. My work took me to nine countries across five different continents. Highlights included:
- Co-leading the Delta Dialogues, a multistakeholder process around California water issues in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta designed to rebuild trust and shared understanding in the region
- Working with the CIO of a Fortune 500 company and his leadership team to better understand and implement best practices for global collaboration across the entire IT division
- Designing and leading a completely open strategic planning process for Wikimedia, where over 1,000 participants from all over the world co-created and aligned around a set of movement-wide priorities
- Developing strategies for more effective collaboration across a network of reproductive and population health leaders in India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and the Philippines
- Leading Doug’s HyperScope project, where we experimented with long-forgotten, but still-important hypertext ideas using modern technology.
As much as I valued this work, I felt like I had reached the limits of my effectiveness without achieving my higher goals. The path to scaleability and greater effectiveness was to help other practitioners develop and refine their skills through practice and coaching. Since 2013, my focus has been on cultivating a community of collaboration practitioners.
You can follow my work and thinking on collaboration at Faster Than 20. I write about collaboration here too, just not exclusively.