Leaders Say I’m Sorry

Or do they? Thinking about the “Leaders Say…” series, I brainstormed topics and wrote down “I’m sorry” without a second thought. There has been a fair amount of criticism of 45 because he seems incapable of admitting a mistake or giving a sincere apology. But do we really see an apology as a sign of leadership or as a sign of weakness?

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About once a year a Japanese CEO makes a very public apology on behalf of his organization’s failings. My friend Keiko Sakurai is an expert on cross-cultural business practices as a consultant for Aperian Global. I skyped with her to learn more about apologies from her experience.

She graduated from UC Berkeley’s Haas Management program after working in Japan. In her first role with a U.S. team her supervisor gave her feedback that she was apologizing too much. “In Japan saying you are sorry is a social lubricant; we say it all the time in social and business situations.” It is expected especially from people with less status to people with more status, consultants to clients, and peer to peer.

In Japan if an organization makes a mistake and does not publicly apologize, it is perceived they will pay a price in public opinion. This does prompt some superficial apologies and we agreed these probably do not restore much trust. And behind every apology is a desire to repair a relationship and to begin to restore trust. Apologies, in our experience, work most effectively when they are specific and sincere and are undermined when accompanied by justifications.

We were troubled that we could not think of more examples of a US leader effectively apologizing. Keiko related a story from a workshop she led with participants from several cultures. She posed a situation: Your boss and team are giving a presentation to potential clients when you realize the boss is presenting old pricing information. What would you do?

–Pause and think of your response.—Read on.

I thought of a team I work with where we share mutual respect and I replied, “I would say, excuse me, I am so sorry there is more recent pricing information and I did not update this slide. Please let me share the most up to date pricing.” Keiko shared this is what the participant from Korea said they would do. Whereas the participant from Japan said they would call for a break and then pull aside the boss to point out the mistake and then they could introduce the information after the break saying they just got a call or email from the Head Office.”

What did the participant from the USA say? He would interject and state the facts objectively, without apology or blaming anyone, “There is more recent pricing available.” And offer a new slide. Or, he qualified his response, if he was competing with his boss and gunning for his position, he would actually point out to the client that the Boss made the critical mistake, and he will stand up and take over the presentation with the correct information, causing the boss to lose face. .

All I could say was, “Wow!”

Keiko explained that in Asian culture there is much more interest in maintaining harmony and people are more willing to put the organization’s needs ahead of their individual aspirations than in the USA.

I wondered how research says about on apologies and in a recent Washington Post article journalist Jena McGregor assembled a nifty summary. She found that the research is not totally clear.

  • Harvard Business School professor Francisca Gino finds that apologizing is generally beneficial for leaders, with even superfluous, unnecessary apologies leading to greater trust. If an apology is botched or if the leaders isn’t trustworthy, then there may be downsides and may be seen as backing down from a dispute.
  • Researchers from Queen’s University in Canada tested whether apologizing was a sign of weakness. They surveyed hockey coaches and referees as well as other lab experiments, and they found generally, those who apologized were seen as more “transformational.” Rather than weak these leaders were perceived as having the ability to inspire, motivate and challenge their followers.
  • Research has also shown that apologizing is associated with better psychological well-being among a boss’s employees and for themselves.
  • In another study, CEOs who show expressions of sadness on their faces when they issued public apologies were viewed as more remorseful and their customers tended to be more willing to do business with them in the future.

On the flip-side, there are some who do perceive apologies as weak, an admission of responsibility, or accepting blame. And in the US litigious culture often leads to non-apology, apologies. “Writing in the Washington Post in late 2015, political scientist Richard Hanania said that people, particularly men, who don’t ‘back down in the face of controversy [show] confidence by not giving in to social pressure, and [take] a risk refusing to follow the conventional path. Some on the right openly suggest that part of Trump’s appeal lies in his refusal to apologize and his unwillingness to be ‘politically correct’.”

Keiko and I met through CTI Co-Active Leadership training where we learned how to “stay and recover” when we make mistakes as leaders, when we are attacked, or when events do not unfold as intended. Sometimes we need to “repair” with colleagues—a boss, a direct report or a customer. A repair is just what it sounds like—doing what is needed to restore the relationship. In our experience, apologies have strengthened trust in relationships and have served our leadership well.

In closing, let’s look at the McGregor’s checklist for an apology to be effective: “an expression of regret and an explanation of what went wrong to an acknowledgement of responsibility, a statement of repentance, and request for forgiveness.”

Leaders Say Thank You

I am stumped why so few leaders pause to say thank you. Maybe even saying “pause” is part of the problem. You can move forward toward your stake faster when people feel appreciated and included. Saying a sincere and thoughtful thank you in person is terrific. I also like a written note because as a recipient I can read it again and again. So few leaders say thank you in an intentional way.

In California Agricultural Leadership program we were taught to say a sincere and personalized thank you (sometimes with a gift) to people who gave to our program through teaching, speaking, or with financial gifts. I was not surprised when my end of year gift to the Foundation was followed within a month or so by a Thank you example from the Board Chair. I give to lots of different organizations and causes. Most feel that their autogenerated “thank you” with receipt is sufficient. The personal notes or typed letters I receive from the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation binds my loyalty to them as donor.

Last night  I hosted Taylor and Lauren from the Concordia University Irvine women’s choir. They performed beautifully at St John’s Lutheran Church and then I took them home and provided them hospitality. We had a delightful conversation, walked to get coffee and tea and Weatherstone coffeehouse, and they got a good night’s sleep. Twelve hours later I was dropping them off with very little inconvenience to me and yet they took the time to write a beautiful hand written note and leave it on the guest bed (that they made!). A handwritten note is the gold standard for expressing appreciation.

Is this leadership or just being a polite person? I encourage you to think of it as a critical part of leadership. Just ask yourself how much you appreciate when your boss or client recognizes your contribution and thanks you. For ideas about how to do this most effectively, listen to Episode 9 of Radical Candor podcast.  They emphasize the importance of being specific and sincere.

Understanding the Fascination with Ove

oveThe novel, A Man Called Ove, created something of a sensation in the book club world in 2016. I mildly enjoyed the novel but found the character unbearably curmudgeonly through the first half. Though I can understand how many people were attracted to this man of seemingly forgotten values: “Since his father’s death he had begun more and more to differentiate between people who did what they should, and those who didn’t. People who did and people who just talked. Ove talked less and less and did more and more.”

Imagine if the world was mute and people only knew you for your actions.

Who would they see?

Tribes and American Men’s Identity Crisis

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The photographer Platon is featured on the Netflix documentary series Abstract. One focus of his work has been soldiers and military families.

I started my week with a really ugly misogynist verbal dump from a family member. It was very upsetting and the self-preservationist in me beat a retreat. I am concerned my family member is listening to so much hate radio. Still I want to be curious about what is taking so many men down this path. I looked at my pile of unread books and grabbed Sebastian Junger’s Tribe. As a reporter in many war torn countries, he has observed people coming together to help one another in a crisis. It is backed up by more rigorous research.

His definition of tribe is different than one I would have thought of: “the people you feel compelled to share the last of your food with.” What Junger has observed is that people don’t mind, and in fact, thrive on hardship. But modern society has made hardship more and more scarce. Dorothy Day touched back to her experience after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake when everyone pulled together, when the natural disaster and its destruction leveled society. A society-wide crisis–whether it is war or environmental disaster–resets community to a fundamental egalitarianism.

Humans lived with one another this way for centuries until agriculture and then industry developed and the concepts of private property and individual efforts became more important than the common good. Junger points to the three intrinsic values needed to be content: 1) feel competent at what they do; 2) feel connect to others; 3) authentic in their lives. As Junger explains, “Bluntly put, modern society seems to emphasize extrinsic values over intrinsic ones, and as a result mental health issues refuse to decline with growing wealth.”

Humans are hard-wired to help other people. Risk-taking to help others is expressed differently among men and woman. Men tend to do the majority of bystander rescues, and our definition of hero tends to encompass this kind of action that risks one’s life to save non-kin.  Women tend to display the majority of moral courage. (p. 56-57)  Both are needed:

“When a woman gives shelter to a family because she doesn’t want to raise her children in a world where people can be massacred because of their race or their beliefs, she is taking a large risk but also promoting the kind of moral thinking that has clearly kept hominid communities glued together for hundreds of thousands of years. It is exactly the same kind of altruistic choice–with all the attendant risks and terrors–tat a man makes when he runs into a burning building to save someone else’s children. Both are profound acts of selflessness and distinguish us from all other mammals, including the higher primates that we are so closely related to.” (p. 58-59)

When you examine the experience of soldiers after tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, you begin to see why some miss the battlefield and may become depressed when home. They are transitioning from an experience full of social ties and meaning, and return to a relatively isolated existence often without work of any kind.

In today’s The New York Times Magazine, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote one of the featured articles: “New Jobs Require New Ideas–And New Ways of Organizing.” She is focused on the change in our economy and why the labor movement is reinventing itself. As Ehrenreich states, “If the stereotype the old working class was a man in a hard hat, the new one is better represented as a woman chanting, “El pueblo unido jamas  sera vencido! (The people united will never be defeated!)” If men are already feeling emasculated by a lack of work and changing roles in society, there are going to be increasingly angry at women when they read this and it may explain why the Women’s March is stirring up such strong reactions from some men.

The resistance to #45 better fits the kind of moral courage that is more often in women’s domain. Where women feel energized and inspired to run for office, men may be engineering a backlash that will make previous anger at women seem tame.

I am not sure what the solution is, but I am concerned that we’ll repeat the post-9/11 experience when men decided we should go to war. Men need an outlet for their warrior urges and their need to take life-risking action. Or at a minimum, they need good jobs that provide for their families. Without a positive way for them to express these values, what will they get up to?

 

 

 

Mental Mistakes We Commonly Make

 

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My collage made in POTUS 45’s first week in office.

I am not alone in asking, “How the hell did we get to this point?” I am searching for powerful explanations as to how the United States elected an undisciplined, unfocused President who is completely lacking in humility, empathy or curiosity.

I have read brain science articles that suggest our political affiliations light up the part of the brain that identifies with our tribe. It is not reasonable.

The books I have been reading either address cultural divides, such as Hillbilly Elegy, or rebut “rational man” ideas. I’ve never been a fan of theories that require a rational actor. I could think of 2 dozen examples of decisions I  made for reasons other than my own best interest in a one hour economics lecture.

lewis-photoAfter listening to interviews with author Michael Lewis on several podcasts, I bought his hardback book (high compliment!), The Undoing Project.  His latest book is a profile of two Israeli psychologists who created a new branch called behavioral psychology and impacted other fields including economics, and military strategy. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky each possessed brilliant minds, but their collaboration was genius. Lewis tells the interesting story of how they developed independently, how they met and then describes their unique work partnership.

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Both Kahneman and Tversky were fascinated with common mental errors. Kahneman was especially observant of people’s tendencies to make mistakes. As a combatant and psychologist on the front lines of multiple Israeli wars, he was able to make improvements in how the army selected officers by questioning conventional wisdom and tracking actual performance against the impressions the same candidates made during the screening process. His improved method made such an impression the Israeli army still uses it with minor adjustments.

Biases towards managing with criticism or praise: We all tend to believe that one is more effective than the other. Kahneman was helping the Israeli Air Force train pilots and he noticed that the trainers believed criticism was more useful than praise. “They’d explained to Danny that he only needed to see what happened after they praised him for performing especially well, or criticized him for performing especially badly. The pilot who was praised always performed worse the next time out, and the pilot who was criticized always performed better.” (p 125) After observing he explained what was really going on. “The pilot who was praised because he’d flown exceptionally well, like the pilot who was chastised after he had flown exceptionally badly, simply were regressing to the mean. They’d have tended to perform better (or worse) even if the teacher had said nothing at all. An illusion of the mind tricked teachers—and probably many others—into thinking that their words were less effective when they gave pleasure than when they gave pain.”

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Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize and shared credit posthumously with Tversky

There were many fascinating ideas presented in The Undoing Project and the most telling for our current situation are the four heuristics or rules of thumbs they developed for the fallibility of human judgment.

  1. Representativeness: when people make judgments, they compare whatever they are judging to some model in their minds. We compare the specific case to the parent population. “Our thesis is that in many situations, an event A is judged to be more probable than an event B whenever A appears more representative than B.” They had a hunch that people, when they formed judgments, weren’t just making random mistakes—that they were doing something systemically wrong. (examples p 186-187)
  2. Availability: a heuristic for judging frequency and probability. “The more easily people can call some scenario to mind—the more available it is to them—the more probable they find it to be. Any fact or incident that was especially vivid, or recent, or common—or anything that happened to preoccupy a person—was likely to be recalled with special ease, and so be disproportionately weighted in any judgment.”(examples p 191-192) Human judgment was distorted by the memorable.
  3. Anchoring: People can be anchored with information that was totally irrelevant to the problem they were being asked to solve. (examples p 192)kahneman-quote
  4. Simulation: the power of unrealized possibilities to contaminate people’s minds. As they moved through the world, people ran simulations of the future. They based their judgments and decisions in part on these imagined scenarios. And yet not all scenarios were equally easy to imagine; they were constrained, much in the way that people’s minds seemed constrained when they “undid” some tragedy. Discover the mental rules that the mind obeyed when it undid events after they occurred and you might find, in the bargain, how it simulated reality before it occurred. (p 300) Danny called this “the state of the ‘undoing project.”  This reinforces the importance of framing. Simply by changing the description of a situation, and making a gain seem like a loss, you could cause people to completely flip their attitude toward risk, and turn them from risk-avoiding to risk-seeking.

These examples of these profound rules are ubiquitous. One of Lewis’ illustrations of how these rules confine people’s thinking made a big impression: “It’s far easier for a Jew living in Paris in 1939 to construct a story about how the German army will behave much as it had in 1919, for instance, than to invent a story in which it behaves as it did in 1941, no matter how persuasive the evidence might be that, this time, things are different.” (p 195)

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Because of our faulty assumptions and thinking, we need to have some humility about what we know and what can be known. Leaders must remain curious and open to new knowledge.

I’ll let Amos Tversky have the last word: “The handwriting was on the wall, it was just the ink that was invisible.”

 

We Cannot Take Character for Granted

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President Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden. 

This week with the president-elect’s lack of self control on full display. President Obama honored Joe Biden for his decades of public service and for his strength of character.

Here is an excerpt from his speech, “And through his life, through trial after trial, he has never once forgotten the values and the moral fiber that made him who he is. That’s what steels his faith in God, in America, and in his friends and in all of us. When Joe talks to auto workers whose livelihood he helped save, we hear the son of a man who once knew the pain of having to tell his kids that he lost his job. When Joe talks about hope and opportunity for our children, we hear the father who rode the rails home every night so he could be there to tuck his kids in bed.

When Joe sticks up for the little guy, we hear the young man standing in front of the mirror reciting Yates or Emerson, studying the muscles in his face, determined to vanquish a debilitating stutter. When Joe talks to Gold Star families who have lost a hero, we hear a kindred spirit. Another father of an American veteran, somebody whose faith has been tested and who has been forced to wander through the darkness himself and knows who to lean on to find the light. So, that’s Joe Biden, a resilient and loyal and humble servant. And a patriot, but most of all a family man.” (Time.com)

Everyday the onslaught of news and social media seems to be saying that character doesn’t matter. That there are no real consequences for selfish choices. So it is up to each of us to remind ourselves that character does matter. The fruits of the Spirit are the ones that we should be honoring: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. As Apostle Paul writes in Galatians: There is no law against such things.

Just when you think the pendulum cannot swing any further out on materialism and “I’m number one. Screw you,” it swings further out. The insults lobbed at Congressman John Lewis are another example (link to David Remnick’s article in the New Yorker).

I don’t know what kind of Inauguration is going to take place on January 20, but I hope it is dignified because it represents our country not just the newly elected President. I will not watch because I do not want to reward childish behavior with the thing the president-elect craves most–television ratings. I’ll use the time instead to stay focused on what really matters: community, family, friends, meaningful work and serving God.

If you want to learn more about character or looking for ideas for teaching character to your children or students, check out Tiffany Shlain’s excellent resources at http://www.letitripple.org/films/science-of-character/.

Free Up Space for 2017

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My vision of peace and quiet in 2016: my son at Angkor Wat

I am going through all of my files–paper and computer–to clean out those that no longer matter to make room for new ideas and projects in 2017.  My pile of ideas for blogs or new projects had become a disorganized mess. It is easy to throw out the article on how to bake a perfect cake. In the short-days of winter I am willing to admit that I am not going to start making cakes. I am a pie baker.

Although I am not ready to throw out the article about keeping bees. It may be as far fetched as cake baking, but I am not ready to let the idea of beekeeping go yet. Such is the process of making room. Books and clothes are donated, papers are recycled. Assessments are made.

I am also making space for quiet. Unlike silence, which is impossible to find, quiet is attainable. The tapping of my fingers on computer keys, a car passing on the street below, an airplane flying overhead, Lulu’s whine at a dog walking by with owner across the street. It still allows room for contemplation and rest from the bombardment of noisy modern life. Funny that it took a podcast to remind me of the power of quiet. (On Being: Gordon Hempton “Silence and the Presence of Everything”)

Wishing you peace and quiet in 2017. Happy New Year.

 

Most Impactful Books of 2016

I am enjoying reading the lists of books, podcasts, and movies that people compile at the end of the year. People’s tastes are idiosyncratic, so I figure if I find one or two things that are new and interest me then it was worth the time reading their list. Whilst reading the New York Times Book Review survey of writers and their favorites of 2016, I found quite a few new things to read in 2017 (more on that at the end).

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Three journals from 2016 and my current composition book… on my desk in winter’s light.

The challenge is always remembering what I have read in Q1 or Q2. This is why I write down the titles in my journal. Please allow me a moment to pause and say a word on behalf of journaling. I have been writing in a personal journal for most of my life. Okay, so when I was in third grade I called it a diary and it had a key that I lost somewhere over the years. Sometimes they devolve into a book of lists. Sometimes I take notes on a particularly moving podcast or documentary or copy passages from a book.

I also use composition notebooks for work. I learned this technique from Dr. Henry Vaux at the University of California. It is easier to look for notes based on the timeline of meetings and associations than to keep them in separate files by topic. When I begin a new comp book, I tear out a few of the most important pages from the old one and tuck them in the back. I hang on to the old one for about a month and then shred it because I find I rarely go back to find information. It is more important as a tool in the moment–writing helps me process information and improves my memory. I never understand the people who never write down a single word in a meeting. How can they relinquish so much power?

Back to the book list! I know a book has impacted me greatly when I give it as gifts to one or more people. So while Toni Morrison said that Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me was a must read, I couldn’t stop thinking about Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. I gave it to 3 people and I have one more copy to give away.

I participated in the Jane Austen Reading Group that meets at the McClatchy library in Sacramento. I read two books that I shared with others:  Paula Byrne’s The Real Jane Austen: a life in small things, and William Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education. This almost made up for the other months when I had to read the muck that passes as Jane Austen tributes, mysteries, etc.

Lynne Twist came to Sacramento to speak at our church and to nonprofit leaders about The Soul of Money. I reread her book and gave several copies to others to encourage them to attend her presentations. You have to be ready to hear the message. I know I didn’t cotton to her ideas the first time I read it. I just recently watched the documentary Minimalism on Netflix, and while it touches on a lot of topics shallowly, I still found it compelling.

Thanks to the podcast On Being, I discovered some new writers including David Whyte. I shared chapters of his book with friends and colleagues and used them as the focal points of discussions. One discussion of “boids” in The Heart Aroused led to reading the 1992 book Complexity by M. Mitchell Waldrup. I found so many of the ideas about complexity theory of interest to the challenges of managing a megaproject that I shared copies with our team before we went on holiday break.

One of the books that moved me most profoundly was Carla Power’s If the Oceans Were Ink about the modern Muslim faith. It really helped me fill in a giant gap in my knowledge and to see similarities to my faith in Jesus. I want to know more.

What is in my pile to read in 2017? Waking Up White by Debby Irving; Lit by Mary Karr; Evicted by Matthew Desmond, Tribe by Sebastian Junger; Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. There are more on my wish list: Ann Pachett’s Commonwealth, and Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad.

One final note, Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong had a real impact on me at the time I read it. And then the nastiness of the election overwhelmed the public space and now the world just doesn’t feel safe enough to be vulnerable except among friends and trusted colleagues. I still believe that Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability is hugely important in our world today. So if you haven’t read it yet: give yourself a New Year treat and download or pick it up today.

Christmas Morn Lesson: Open letter to Krista Tippett

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Part of our family tradition is singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus with cake and candles. Someone always invariably says, “and many more”, which cracks us all up because of course He is eternal.

Dear Krista:

As a descendent of Norseman, our family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve. This has been handy as divorce and distance has challenged gatherings. It also means that Christmas is a quiet day of reflection for me. Worship at St John’s Lutheran wasn’t until 10 a.m. so I listened to your On Being podcast interview with Eugene Peterson. It was such a blessing and I felt such peace and love. I still had time and I was waiting for scones to come out of the oven. I searched for something similar on your website and found April 16, 2016 interview with MIT physicist Frank Wilczek. Wow!

The interview was over just as I needed to leave for church. I came home and listened to the unedited version. And I am inspired to write this open letter to you.

First, thank you for providing a place for profound conversations about such widely varied topics as physics, poetry, faith, and life in the public space. Where else would I learn that Eugene Peterson loves Wallace Stegner’s books as much as I do? Every week I am invariably challenged or inspired or made to think or all of these at once.

In the Frank Wilczek interview you spent much time conversing with him about beauty. As he said, “There’s a remarkable intersection I think, a remarkable overlap between the concepts of beauty that you find in art and literature and music and things that you find as the deepest themes of our understanding of the physical world.” You shared your discoveries in discussing beauty with Islam and Jewish scholars of the deep shared value for beauty.

In 2017 as we all struggle to make sense of what is going on with our world–with the poles melting, Aleppo burning, and many other pressing needs–it may seem frivolous to focus on beauty. Yet I am writing today to ask you to host a conference across all of the disciplines that you feature on your show to discuss beauty and help us all learn more about what beauty can tell us about the deepest meaning in the universe. Ask the powerful questions of these deep thinkers that we listeners only have access through you. Ask them what beauty can tell us about how we should then live in 2017.

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St John’s gave each worshipper a gift as we departed: a tangerine, a small candy cane and a birthday cake candle. My heart smiled. I remembered my grandpa’s stories about simpler, less materialistic Christmases. It is afterall a story about a babe in a manger, young parents, and shepherds agog from seeing angels. 

This is my Christmas wish for On Being. Thank you for listening so well to your guests and modeling meaningful conversation.

Merry Christmas,

Julie Pieper Spezia

A Shot of Much Needed Leadership Inspiration

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You may not have noticed, but I went dark for a few weeks. I fell into a deep funk after the election. Once the outrage subsided I found my motivation at a very low ebb. I gave myself permission to retreat. I am coming out it now and one of the contributing factors was witnessing my friend Mai Vang’s swearing in to the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Mai invited her family and friends to attend and about 100 people filled the boardroom to support her on this momentous occasion. Four people actually shared in administering the oath: her high school teacher and mentor, a parent from the district who inspires her, a Burbank High School student, and an elder from her Hmong community.

It was so moving to hear Mai repeat the oath to defend the US constitution and the constitution of the State of California. Here was evidence that our democracy can still function beautifully.

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Mai speaking after taking the oath flanked by her grandparents.

This is Mai’s story. Her family was part of the wave of immigrants from Laos that came to the US after the Vietnam War. Mai is the oldest of 16 children and she worked hard to learn English while retaining the Hmong language to be able to respect her elders as that culture teaches. At the same time she didn’t want to remain in poverty, so she studied hard and accepted help from Ms. Crowder who helped to coach her to earn the grades to get into college and a Buck Fellowship. Mai went on to University of San Francisco and then UCLA to earn two master’s degrees. She could be earning larger salaries working in public health. She chose to return to Sacramento to organize her community. She is staff to a Sacramento City Councilmember and now a member of the school board representing a part of the school district that is challenged by low income and fewer opportunities.

As she took the oath my eyes teared up. Here is proof that if you work hard and participate in our democracy you can take a seat at the table. I only wish there were more Mai’s from her community running for office. More young people from all walks of life stepping up to leadership.

Rob Bell in Episode 122 of his RobCast “We need to talk about politics…” (October 16, 2016) He explains why politics needs to reclaimed as a good thing. The origin of the word of politics Greek is “politicos” and means citizens. It is essentially a good word and determines how we arrange our common life together. There is something sacred and holy about our shared life together. As a poli-sci nerd I don’t need to be convinced by Rob Bell that policy is also important.

We have to pay attention to actual policy to cut through the clouds of opinion in a post-truth world. We need to talk about the nuts and bolts of how things get done.

If you don’t step up, people and corporations who do not care about our common good take advantage of your cynicism or disaffection. This is OUR common good. Be part of the solution not part of the problem. But don’t kid yourself into thinking that doing nothing is anything other than being part of the problem.

Mai Vang is willing to commit a large amount of time to learn the issues facing the Sacramento City Unified School District and help to adopt policies that result in better outcomes for all students. I am digging into local housing policy to find ways to dramatically reduce people experiencing homelessness.

What are you willing to do?