Dive deeper into our webinar series and individual events on professional development and leadership.

Communicating Public Policy

"Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America" with Cody Keenan

On Tuesday, November 15, 2022 Cody Keenan was our inaugural guest for our new webinar series “Communicating Public Policy.”  We were inspired to begin this new series by George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics, who wrote a commentary with the headline: “Want to change America? Talk about it.” Lakoff added: “Changing the public political discourse also changes public understanding, leading to new demands for political action.”

Words matter.  How we talk about public policies matters.  At Harris we are excited about all the policy work our alumni are engaged in, and appreciate that communicating the “why and how” is often challenging. Cody Keenan, the chief speechwriter for President Obama, was the perfect choice to lead our new series.  Cody’s new book Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America,” is a New York Times bestseller.

Listen to our webinar with Cody to learn:

  • How President Obama and his Chief Speechwriter managed the communication challenges over 10 days in 2015 beginning when a white supremacist murdered 9 black worshippers in Charleston, and the Supreme Court issued decisions on marriage equality and the right to health care
  • About the delicate balance in public policy communications between leaders and speechwriters who have to be careful about forcing change on a wider audience,  and the policy activists who have been seeking change for years
  • How and why effective communicators give “space” for reflection, and the advice President Obama gave to Cody about that idea, using Miles Davis as a reference
  • How even seasoned policy communicators struggle to address challenging topics like race and guns, and how the concept of “grace” became the theme for the eulogy in Charleston, leading to President Obama’s powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace”

Watch Cody Keenan discuss his book and provide insights on communicating policy here

Transitions Series

We developed a series of “Transitions” webinars to provide insights and skills to guide you in your career development. We suggest you begin your journey by viewing our webinar with Dorie Clark, an expert at self-reinvention and change management.

“Reinventing You” with Dorie Clark

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategy consultant, professional speaker, frequent contributor to HBR, and author of three books, including Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future. During our wide-ranging discussion Dorie provided enlightening stories and actionable advice on important topics:

  • How to do a personal “inventory” to uncover hidden strengths
  • How to converse at networking events
  • Ideas to develop strong communication skills
  • How to “stand out” and be credible in a busy digital world

Watch Dorie Clark's "Reinventing You" (1 hour).

View Dorie's free self-assessment workbook.

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate and Sisterhood
An interview with author Dawn Turner

A former columnist and reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Dawn Turner spent a decade and a half writing about race, politics, and people whose stories are often dismissed and ignored. Turner has written commentary for The Washington Post, PBS NewsHour, CBS Sunday Morning News show, NPR’s Morning Edition show, the Chicago Tonight show, and is the author of two other books.  She was a Nieman Journalism fellow at Harvard University, and in 2018, Turner served as a Fellow and journalist-in-residence at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. 

Three Girls from Bronzeville was named one of the New York Times and Washington Post’s Notable Books of 2021. Buzzfeed and Real Simple named it a Best Book of 2021. Publishers Weekly described it as “beautiful, tragic and inspiring” and a “powerful testament” to “the importance of understanding the conditions that shape a person’s life choices.” Listen to learn:

  • About Dawn’s career trajectory and transitions from pre-med student, to journalist, to memoirist
  • How Dawn has persevered and succeeded despite obstacles and challenges throughout her life and career, and how choices, “daring,” and “second chances” can make such a difference
  • How Dawn has been shaped by her upbringing in the historic Bronzeville community, and her insights about the role of “place,” community, and education in our lives
  • About the “three girls from Bronzeville,”  – herself, her sister, and her best friend -- who began life in the same building, but who took very different paths as they ventured beyond their homes

Watch “Three Girls from Bronzeville” an interview with Dawn Turner (1 hour)

The Transitions series also includes the following webinars on leadership and management, communications, and data. 

Leadership and Management

“Leadership and Life Hacks” with Alyssa Rapp

Alyssa is the author of Leadership and Life Hacks: Insights from a Mom, Wife, Entrepreneur and Executive. Alyssa is the CEO of Surgical Solutions and one of Crain Chicago’s “Notable Women in Health Care.” She taught courses at both the Stanford School of Business and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Hear Alyssa discuss:

  • How to manage the fear of going through transitions and change
  • How to manage mentor, mentee, and other professional relationships
  • Ideas to manage schedules, and work-life and leadership issues

Watch "Leadership and Life Hacks" with Alyssa Rapp (1 hour).

“Women’s Leadership in the Workplace” with McKinsey partner Irina Starikova

Each year McKinsey reports on their research with LeanIn.org, and the data collected from almost 600 companies and more than a quarter of a million people. The research shows it is not the “glass ceiling” keeping women from the top level of leadership, but the “broken rung” at the bottom of the corporate ladder. 

The webinar includes a discussion of the following topics:

  • Promotion rates, progress of women in the C Suite, and why it is important for women to occupy the highest levels
  • The data showing the barriers and lack of progress for women of color
  • How to fix the “broken rung” so that more women move to management roles, including how to create awareness in the workplace using the McKinsey data

Watch "Women’s Leadership in the Workplace" with Irina Starikova (1 hour).

“The Art of Excellence: An Entrepreneur, Executive Recruiter and Podcaster Shares His Insights” with Glenn Zweig

Glenn shares his transitioning insights from his strategy work at The Walt Disney Company, as a business and marketing executive at multiple technology companies, Silicon Valley CEO, real estate developer, investment advisor with Goldman Sachs, to his current position as executive recruiter at Egon Zehnder. 

Hear Glen discuss:

  • Why your mindsets about risk and failure are critical to making transitions
  • The importance of curiosity and the role reframing plays in career success
  • How Glenn and his company assess talent, and how you can navigate interviews and transitions in a virtual environment 

Watch "The Art of Excellence" with Glenn Zweig (1 hour).

“The Gray Rhino: Why We Ignore Obvious Problems and How to Act on Them” with Michele Wucker

Michele Wucker is a speaker, strategist, and author of The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on The Obvious Dangers We Ignore. She coined the term “gray rhino” to describe obvious risks that are “neglected despite – indeed, often because of their size and likelihood.” Our conversation focused on her career transitions, leadership, managing through ambiguity, global economics, the pandemic, and policy making. 

Listen to learn:

  • Why finding purpose in your work is important, especially for leaders managing ambiguity and uncertainty
  • Insights on biases that hinder and help policy-making 
  • How and why she created the concept of the "gray rhino", and its impact on markets, global challenges, and world leaders

Watch “The Gray Rhino: Why We Ignore Obvious Problems and How to Act on Them” with Michele Wucker (1 hour).

Leadership and Communication

“Getting Your Message Heard Amid All the Covid-19 Noise” with Paul Rand and Mark Peters

The pandemic has unleashed a flood of information, analysis, and public policy recommendations. Learn how you can get your message to “break through” with Paul Rand, the Vice President for Communications at the University of Chicago, and Mark Peters, the Senior Director of Content at the University of Chicago. Our speakers share their insights on how narrative can serve as a powerful and critical tool for policymakers. 

Listen to learn:

  • How to “grab” and maintain the attention of your audience
  • Examples of stories that created policy change and the elements that made those stories powerful
  • The principles of persuasion and examples of persuasive narratives

Watch “Getting Your Message Heard Amid All the Covid-19 Noise” with Paul and Mark (1 hour).

“Crisis Management” with Daniel Diermeier 

Daniel Diermeier, the thirteenth Provost of the University of Chicago and ninth chancellor of Vanderbilt University, is an internationally renowned political scientist, management scholar, and crisis management expert. The current pandemic has demonstrated that even experienced professionals can be overwhelmed by crisis situations. In this webinar, Daniel offers advice and answers questions about the unprecedented challenges presented by managing Covid-19 and other crises. 

His advice includes:

  • Details about the four major factors that influence stakeholder trust, which are important for policy decision makers
  • How to authentically communicate both competence and warmth with examples to overcome fear and lack of information
  • How to use crisis as an innovation tool 

Watch "Crisis Management" with Daniel Diermeier (1 hour).

Leadership and Data

“Data Science to the Rescue: Identifying those most vulnerable to Covid-19” with Kurt Waltenbaugh and David Johnson

Kurt is a serial entrepreneur who has built successful analytic solutions, products, and companies in a wide variety of industries. His previous companies were sold to Oracle and Pearson Education. Dave, a former healthcare investment banker, is the CEO of a boutique thought leadership company, and the author of two books about healthcare. His most recent book is The Customer Revolution in Healthcare: Delivering Kinder, Smarter, Affordable Care for All.

The webinar includes a discussion of the following topics:

  • Carrot Health’s critical infection risk dashboard that policymakers can use to predict Covid-19 spread and allocate medical resources
  • The evolution of data science
  • The use of data analytics in healthcare
  • The privacy of personal health information in the “Big Data” era
  • The need and potential for transformative healthcare change

Watch Data Science to the Rescue with Kurt and David (1 hour).

Influencing Series

To be an effective professional in today’s work environment, you have to exert influence. How do you convince your co-workers, your boss, colleagues in other organizations, and even your friends, that they should listen to your ideas and accommodate your point of view? How do you affect change in thought and behavior in people and organizations?

Nick Morgan, author of Power Cues, acknowledges that gaining influence in the modern workplace is difficult. In a recent HBR article he asserts that “It’s never been harder to influence others, because they’ve never been more distracted. Information overload and the pace of our digital lives [have led to short attention spans].” Of course, the importance of exerting influence continues to be critical for policy leaders.

Our Influencing Series provides you with opportunities to gain insights and skills that will help you discover your voice, express yourself in the workplace, and exert your influence to create positive change.

“It Doesn’t Have to Be This Tense: Persuasive Discourse” with Jay Heinrichs

Jay Heinrichs has provided rhetorical training to development staff at Harvard, aerospace engineers at NASA, pediatricians at Kaiser Permanente, and the Pentagon vaccination agency, among others. His book Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion, has been published in 14 languages and 4 editions. It ranks among the top 10 books assigned to Harvard undergraduates and is used in more than 3,000 college courses. More recently he has published two more books on rhetoric, Word Hero and How to Argue with a Cat. He is the founding partner of the publishing imprint Gavia Books.

Jay's webinar explores:

  • What the ancient rhetoricians can teach us about leadership and influence
  • Persuasive rhetoric tactics to improve our personal and professional conversations
  • Communication strategies to manage toxic politics
  • Employing humor, empathy, and the future tense to craft persuasive arguments on climate change, the pandemic, and during job interviews

Watch It Doesn't Have to Be This Tense: Persuasive Discourse with Jay Heinrichs (1 hour).

“Let the Story Do the Work” with Esther Choy

Author and Chief Story Facilitator Esther Choy of Leadership Story Lab, teaches us about the power of storytelling and how to use it during interviews and with prospective employers. Esther earned her BA in Business Economics from UC Santa Barbara, her MS in Higher Education from Texas A&M University, and her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Listen to learn more about:

  • How leadership, persuasion, and storytelling connect
  • The fundamental rules of story structure and how to craft a “hook”
  • How to use stories to give you confidence to succeed in interviews and at networking events
  • A framework for creating smarter and more effective presentations with data

Watch Let the Story Do the Work with Esther Choy (1 hour).

“Influencer Stories from Tom Alexander: Diversity and Inclusion Entrepreneur, Communications Strategist, and Policy Wonk"

If experience is the best teacher, then Tom Alexander is a walking case study for exerting influence effectively. Tom is a leader in inclusion and diversity, and the founding partner of Holistic, a technology firm dedicated to improving the entire employee experience through the use of data. Before founding his own company, Tom was the COO for 1871, one of the largest technology incubators in the United States, and the number one rated university-affiliated incubator in the world.

The webinar discusses:

  • How Tom has exerted influence in both the public realm and private sector
  • Rethinking the workplace for diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Why personal relationships, networks, and communities are core components of leadership

Watch Influencer Stories from Tom Alexander. (1 hour).

“Persuasion, Communication and Personal Branding” with Hal Weitzman

What is your career “superpower?” We all have some special skill that sets us apart – but if you can’t articulate it in an interview or demonstrate it on the job, it will remain a secret. In this workshop, Hal Weitzman explains how to identify your career superpower and wield it in job interviews, salary negotiations, and team meetings. Hal is the Executive Director of Intellectual Capital and Adjunct Associate Professor of Behavioral Science at the Booth School of Business. He also serves as editor-in-chief of the Chicago Booth Review and host of The Big Question.

Topics covered:

  • How to identify and demonstrate your career superpower
  • The art of expressing yourself in a professional setting
  • Tips for improving your written and verbal communication skills

“Unapologetically Ambitious: A Conversation with Shellye Archambeau”

Shellye Archambeau was one of the first female African American CEOs in Silicon Valley and has a track record of building brands, high-performance teams, and organizations. Under her leadership as CEO, Metric Steam grew from a fledgling startup into a global market leader with over 1,200 employees serving customers from around the world. Shellye has taken risks, broken barriers, influenced countless people and organizations. Now, she has written about her life and career in her new book Unapologetically Ambitious.

Listen to learn:

  • How to set ambitious goals and craft proactive strategies to make them come true
  • The importance of using influence, positive self-image, and hard work to overcome challenges in the workplace
  • How to build a network of supporters by being upfront about your goals and asking for guidance
  • Management strategies that can be used in the office and at home to maximize your time and effectiveness

Watch Unapologetically Ambitious: A Conversation with Shellye Archambeau (1 hour).

Leadership Series

Our Leadership series focuses on providing you with opportunities to learn critical leadership skills and insights from experts and experienced leaders.

“Leadership Matters: Active Listening and Questioning” with Steve Edwards

Steve Edwards is an award-winning journalist who has worked as Chief Content Officer at WBEZ (Chicago’s NPR member station), Executive Director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, and host of two acclaimed daily news and culture programs, The Afternoon Shift and Eight Forty-Eight. Now he is transitioning into a new position as a managing director with executive recruitment firm Koya Partners. As he makes this exciting transition in his career, Steve spoke to us about the surprising connections between journalism and leadership.

Join us to learn:

  • Insights about navigating and leading through challenging times
  • How active questioning and listening can supercharge your leadership skills
  • The techniques of inquiry journalists use to uncover deep answers and leaders use to manage teams
  • Why open-ended questions are most likely to elicit deep answers in interviews

Watch Leadership Matters: Active Listening and Questioning with Steve Edwards (1 hour).

“Leadership Matters Part II” with Steve Edwards

Steve joined us for a second webinar on his last day of work at WBEZ. It was a special day for him and for us, and a poignant opportunity to interview an award-winning interviewer. We talked about careers and transitions, both generally and personally. He provided insights on career management, building relationships, and leadership. We dug deeper on the topic of listening, and the importance of empathy. Steve also shared how he was affected and changed by the hundreds of people he interviewed over the course of his career. As Steve noted: “Stories have the power to change hearts and change minds.”  You can listen to Steve’s wisdom on a variety of topics: 

  • A framework for evaluating a job opportunity
  • The questions to ask when you are interviewing for a job, such as “what is your philosophy on professional development” and “what is the culture of this organization” (a bit of advice: get ready to take notes on his long list of excellent questions)
  • What are the signals that it might be time for a career transition (more good questions to ask)
  • Why it is important for leaders to be self-aware, and why we should build relationships beyond our teams 
  • Steve’s list of “top”  skills to develop 

Watch Leadership Matters Part II with Steve Edwards (1 hour).

“You Are What You Risk” with Michele Wucker

Crain’s Chicago has described Michele Wucker as a “global thought leader.” She is a sought after global strategist, speaker, and writer. Michele is the author of four books, including the international best seller The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore. Her TED talk about gray rhinos has attracted more than 2 million views. Recently we talked with Michele about her new book You Are What You Risk: The New Art and Science of Navigating an Uncertain World. Listen to learn:

  • A bold new framework for understanding and re-shaping our relationship with risk and uncertainty
  • What contributes to our individual “risk fingerprints” and why understanding them opens us up to more insights about ourselves such as our need for control and our discomfort with ambiguity
  • Strategies for shaping our “risk muscle” so we make better decisions, including how to get out of our comfort zone
  • Why the biggest risk you take may be “standing still”

Watch “You Are What You Risk,” a conversation with Michele Wucker (1 hour).

“The Long Game” with Dorie Clark

Dorie Clark was named one of the Top 50 business thinkers in the world by Thinkers50, and was recognized as the #1 Communication Coach in the world by the Marshall Goldsmith Leading Global Coaches Awards.  She is a consultant, keynote speaker, frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review, teacher at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Columbia University’s Business School. Her new book The Long Game: How to be a long-term thinker in a short-term world is a Wall Street Journal bestseller. We talked with Dorie about her new book which Seth Godin said  is her “best book yet,” and about her own career and the stories she shared about other professionals’ experiences. Listen to learn:

  • Why saying “no” is the ultimate weapon for becoming a long-term thinker (there are four questions that can help determine whether something is worth doing)
  • How spending 20% of your time exploring your interests is an investment in your future self (hint: it’s not what you think)
  • The strategy of “thinking in waves,” which leverages the power of focus to your advantage
  • How to be strategically patient and why you should “look back” to move forward

Watch “The Long Game,” a conversation with Dorie Clark (1 hour).

Meta Reflections on Career and Life Connections

Rafi Nulman’s  job title (Director of Product Strategy at Meta – formerly Facebook) does not divulge the extent of his strategic thinking – but his LinkedIn posts are more revealing.  He is a deep thinker who is insightful, funny, and wise beyond his years. He posted a commentary with the title “The Joy” and wrote this:

“The world rewards a certain type of productivity with recognition and promotions. Certainly these are important. Resume bullets aren’t simply a vanity metric. They say ‘I was here and I performed and I mattered.’  At some point we’re all called to give an accounting of how we’ve spent our time, even if just to ourselves. And at that point, I won’t call up my resume bullets to justify my choices. It will be the pleasure of being helpful and dependable; of being kind; of laughing as part of a team.”

Rafi’s posts cover a wide range of topics: decision-making, inspiration, failure, wellness, joy, the role of data, building connections, leadership, and sometimes he even writes about his job.  Rafi earned his BS in math and economics at the University of Chicago, and his MBA from Booth where he was a Gary Becker Distinguished Fellow and a leadership facilitator. He also worked as a consultant for McKinsey. 

Our webinar also covered a wide range of topics.  Listen to hear Rafi’s thoughts about:

  • The interviewing process and why some challenging interview questions, and resumes, don’t measure someone’s talent and potential. 
  • How to use LinkedIn posts as an influencing tool and a career-enhancing communication tool to build relationships. (Hint: clarity is very important.)
  • Why when we are stuck on a problem, it’s important to recognize that sometimes there is no simple answer, and that it’s always important to care of  the basics:  your body (sleep, nutrition, exercise) and soul (time with friends).
  • The role of humor in our lives, and the importance of knowing we can’t be good at everything. 

Watch “Meta Reflections on Career and Life Connections” with Rafi Nulman here.  

Culture by Design

David Friedman knows firsthand what it takes to build a high-performance culture. He is an award-winning CEO, entrepreneur, author, and renowned public speaker. His book, Culture by Design, is the definitive “how to” manual for building a high-performing culture. Participants in his  workshops have described them as the most practical and actionable programs they have ever attended. Here is what one reviewer said of his presentation:

“The genius in what David Friedman teaches is in its simplicity. But don’t let that fool you. We applied these concepts, with amazing results, for our thousands of team members around the world.”

Listen to our webinar with David to learn:

  • Why culture is consistently ranked among the top three most important issues for senior leadership and the impact culture has on an organization
  • David’s innovative eight step framework for creating a high-performing culture and why it is important to understand the distinction between “behaviors” and “values”
  • How “fundamental behaviors” determine culture, why and how to “ritualize” the practice of fundamentals, and the importance of clarity in communicating these ideas to the organization and to external stakeholders
  • How to design and build a high-performance culture when employees are working remotely

Watch “Culture by Design” with David Friedman here

Wellness Series

The Groundbreaking Science of Kindness: Live Longer, Happier and Healthier
A Webinar with Kelli Harding, MD, MPH, author of “The Rabbit Effect”

Headshot of Kelli Harding
Kelli Harding

On January 24, 2023 we hosted a discussion in our Wellness Webinar series with Dr. Kelli Harding, a medical and public health doctor who specializes in mind-body medicine. Her book and research present a radical new way to think about health, wellness and how we live. 

Kelli Harding, MD, MPH, trained in psychiatry at Columbia University where she continues to teach, is Board certified in both Psychiatry and Psychosomatic (mind- body) Medicine, has a degree in public health from Columbia University, and completed a two-year National Institute of Mental Health research fellowship studying anxiety disorders and unexplained medical symptoms. She has appeared on the Today show, Good Morning America, NPR, BBC, and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the World Economic Forum.

Listen to our webinar with Kelli Harding, MD, MPH to learn:

  • How a 1978 study involving rabbits showing that kindness in the form of a nurturing researcher was the reason that some rabbits had healthier hearts; this study then led to more groundbreaking research demonstrating that kindness can have a far greater impact on our health than anything that happens in the doctor’s office
  • Why social isolation is a critical risk factor affecting our health and chronic loneliness is more of a risk factor than other things like high blood pressure and smoking a pack of cigarettes a day; it’s important to create and invest in public policies that result in positive social connections
  • About research studies showing that taking naps, having a pet, the power of touch, being optimistic, expressing gratitude, and engaging in lifelong learning are “health protective”
  • Why it’s important to learn conflict resolution skills and how engaging in  “micro-kindnesses” can influence ourselves and other people and lead to better health outcomes

Watch “Groundbreaking Science of Kindness,” a presentation by Kelli Harding (1 Hour). 

“Master Your Mindset: Practical Strategies for Living a Balanced Life During Turbulent Times” with Michelle Fraley

As we move through our careers and develop as professionals, it is important to think about our physical health and develop our emotional and mental wellbeing. How does our wellness affect our working life?  What practices and strategies can we use to support a wellness program for ourselves and our teams?

We expanded our webinar series to include “wellness” programming by inviting Michelle Fraley to discuss how we can retrain our brain for positivity using the brain’s neuroplasticity. She shared practical strategies that we can use to live a more balanced life, and to build resilience during these turbulent times.

Michelle Fraley, MA, WPCC, has a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and is a counselor, certified holistic coach, and certified yoga/meditation teacher. She is an integrative wellness specialist at Miraval Resort, and has a private clinical practice in Tucson, Arizona. She is passionate about helping others optimize their emotional health and wellness through holistic approaches.  Listen to learn:

  • How the process of neuroplasticity allows us to change our mindset and thought patterns to create new neural pathways
  • Effective strategies for managing negative thinking and calming our nervous system through various mindfulness techniques
  • What it means to “take action” before we are ready, and how that retrains our brains
  • Why engaging in play and laughter is necessary to combat the feeling of “overwhelm” 

Watch “Master Your Mindset,” a presentation by Michelle Fraley (1 Hour). 

"Cultivating Confidence" with Michelle Fraley

Michelle Fraley believes that self-confidence creates a foundation for living with authenticity and purpose. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology, is a certified holistic life coach, certified yoga and meditation teacher, and a clinical counselor and highly regarded speaker. She has been featured in Yahoo, Women’s Health, and other significant publications and is an Integrative Wellness Specialist at Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson. In her webinar presentation she discussed insights and misconceptions about confidence, growth mindset, emotional resilience, and the imposter syndrome. 

Listen to this Wellness-themed webinar to learn:

  • What confidence is and is not, why it is important to develop and strengthen our self-confidence and self-trust, and how low self-confidence manifests in our daily lives
  • About the Imposter Syndrome, which is a distorted way of thinking estimated to affect 7 of 10 people, to learn the common symptoms, and practical strategies for dealing with it
  • Ten valuable and actionable strategies for boosting your self-confidence, including the importance of shifting your perspective, taking action to get out of the "overthinking" trap, and surrounding yourself with people who support you on your confidence journey
  • The importance of self-compassion, and how self-discovery can be beneficial and lead to diminishing the frequency and intensity of negative self-dialogue

Watch “Cultivating Confidence” with Michelle Fraley (1 Hour).