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An anatomy lesson on how to make positive change in your life

By Louisa Barnum | February 21, 2019

In my experience, following through on making meaningful change in our lives is one of the hardest things to pull off, even though change can be so critical to our well-being. Watching relationships fall apart; feeling powerless; finding yourself again in the same painful place you already swore you would avoid — these kinds of challenges…

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Meditation for beginners? I’m possibly interested

By Louisa Barnum | February 19, 2019

Do you meditate? I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t; it sure can seem mysterious, boring, or intimidating. What if it instead felt warm, nourishing, and powerful? Like you actually achieved something? I’d like to introduce you to the idea of contemplative meditation — but don’t be alarmed, it’s not difficult or complicated. To contemplate in a meditative…

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It’s not too late to reboot your resolutions for this year

By Louisa Barnum | February 14, 2019

Now that January has come and gone, I wonder how your new year’s resolutions are panning out? Statistically, if you set them, you’re part of the majority that has already given up, having found they’re impossible to maintain. But you probably still feel the need to make meaningful change in your life. One very hot…

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Unlocking the Space Between Us: Solving Social Problems through Dialogue and Relationship Building

By Jeff Barnum | November 15, 2018

One of the biggest lessons we learned in 2018 is about the importance of the “space between us”: the relational space where we find each other, make peace, challenge together the codes that shape our behavior, and shape our shared realities together. Both of our major projects this year have focused on “unlocking the space…

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Six Techniques to Make Email Communication More Efficient and Less Painful

By Louisa Barnum | November 14, 2018

Ah, email, the necessary evil. From hundreds of unread emails to triggering interpersonal flare-ups, we’ve all felt the pain. Email is a double-edged sword — we all have to engage with it as a convenient communication channel for getting things done, but the devil is in the details! Specifically, the details of how we communicate…

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Why creativity is essential to surviving the chaos of your life and world

By Louisa Barnum | January 3, 2018

Every leader, change-maker, and entrepreneur (you included) is out there fighting the dragons of our time — from painful personal challenges to outrageous social injustices, from difficult career choices to the million other things you weren’t  taught to master in school, and for which there are no rule books, no blueprints, and no maps.  …

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What they don’t teach you at art school: how to be creative and save the world

By Louisa Barnum | September 27, 2017

I went to at least three different universities and conservatories in different places around the world to study music, and have had continuous music teachers since I was eight years old (that’s 33 years!), in both violin and classical singing. At all those music schools a simply huge amount of energy went into learning the…

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Why Leaders Can’t Solve the World’s Problems (and How Art & Play Will)

By Louisa Barnum | June 28, 2017

Once upon a time, I helped leaders change societies. Or so I thought. Because deep in the fabric of every stuck problem is an invisible cause that leaders can’t touch. You. You are not only a physical being, a consumer, a producer, or a citizen. You are an inner being as well, and while your…

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Leadership’s Next Jump: Meta-Creativity

By Jeff Barnum | June 27, 2017

Woman in Infinity Room, an art installation by Yayoi Kusama, at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles.   When’s the last time you or your team struggled with “people problems?” Disagreement, ego, culture of fear, meanness, power-over… This morning, maybe?   Now think of a huge, messy challenge you care about: climate change, racism, political…

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Inner and Outer

By Jeff Barnum | June 21, 2017

  We are so used to thinking of “inner” as “subjective” that we forget that everything humans make begins as an inner picture. The inner life of the human being is the inner aspect of the world — not only when we appreciate nature, but even when we determine what is real and what is not. We…

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Paying Hell for Creativity: Why “Failure” is Actually Good

By Jeff Barnum | June 14, 2017

“When you’re down, when you’ve been kicked down in the street and then kicked a few more times until you’re bleeding and your teeth are out, then you only have up to go. You get reborn again, and expectations aren’t so great because they’ve taken you away. It’s beautiful to be down there. It’s so…

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Feel the pain and do it anyway

By Louisa Barnum | June 10, 2017

  Developing creativity means walking through the flames of uncertainty. But if you get so far, rest assured, you are fortunate. Those flames are opening your eyes, mind, heart, and will, so you can do your best work. Your best work needs a vessel, and it is preparing you to be that vessel. Learn how…

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Lighten Up. Play The Fool

By Louisa Barnum | June 8, 2017

  You’re going to do stupid stuff from time to time. You’ll make mistakes and you’ll go down dead paths for years on end. Don’t sweat it. Whatever you do, wherever you go, you do it and you go there for some reason. Discover that reason, and let yourself be the fool. You could be…

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Find the right inspiration for your creative work. Source really does matter.

By Louisa Barnum | June 8, 2017

  Every creative person has to make decisions about their source. We love Basquiat and Bacon (sounds like something yummy, right?) but we choose not to draw from their same sources. We also love Rembrandt and Twombly and Gubaidulina; we endeavor to draw from their sources. Source is a key question in creativity of all…

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Why I Left My Dream Job

By Louisa Barnum | June 5, 2017

Between 2007 and 2014, I apprenticed to a man who helped South Africa transition out of apartheid, Colombia find the road to peace, and an alliance of North and South American countries change the war on drugs. He works in the background, well out of the public eye, facilitating high stakes dialogues. As his apprentice,…

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How to Improve your Creative Abilities (and Help Save the World) — Part 2

By Louisa Barnum | May 24, 2017

In Part One we mentioned KH Kim’s research about plummeting creativity levels in America and offered five ideas for developing creative abilities in the form of artworks with explanatory paragraphs. This week we have five more works (#s6–10) with corresponding morsels about how creativity works and why it’ll save us all.   #6. Feel the…

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How To Improve Your Creative Abilities (and Help Save The World)

By Louisa Barnum | May 19, 2017

In her book The Creativity Challenge, KH Kim presents her research about plummeting creativity levels in America and the long term impact this will have. Educational policy since the 1980s is part of the problem, since more standardized testing means less creative thinking, and more recently, Trump’s stance on immigration is part of the problem…

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The Sun Wins Through — Eventually!

By Louisa Barnum | May 15, 2017

    This is a video showing a series of artworks by Jeff that is really one painting going through its metamorphosis from unfinished to finished. You can see a bunch of pictures are layered over; anyone of them might have worked as a finished piece. But Jeff was going for a particular expression and…

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Training for Social Labs on Chicago’s South Side

By Jeff Barnum | March 10, 2017

In 2016, we helped Roller Strategies train the team leading the Grove 3547 project.  Grove 3547 is a “social lab,” a multi-year effort designed to enroll, train, and support young leaders and entrepreneurs in the Bronzeville area of Chicago, located approximately between 35th and 47th Avenues on the South Side. In support of this effort,…

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Supporting Democracy Scenarios in South America

By Jeff Barnum | March 9, 2017

In 2014 we mediated a conversation between two facilitators who were experiencing intense pressure during a year long scenario project with top leaders to envision the future of democracy in South America.  The team had reached a possible breaking point; relations were precarious and the team members were unsure if they could continue to work…

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Collective Prosperity in Colombia

By Jeff Barnum | March 9, 2017

We were invited to help leaders from all across Colombia decide whether they could work together to create “collective prosperity” across the national economy. Some of our participants had been on opposite sides of ideological battles and in some cases the opposing sides of the civil war — so tensions were extremely high.   We had one…

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Helping Society Embrace People with Intellectual Disabilities in Canada

By Jeff Barnum | March 7, 2017

When’s the last time you saw someone with intellectual disabilities in a public place?  And what was your first reaction?  Many people view these folks with fear or even revulsion.  Which is a shame, because they add a rare power of love, meaning, and richness to their families and communities. We’ve been supporting a handful…

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Training Executives in the Outback

By Jeff Barnum | March 6, 2017

We designed and led, in partnership with Reos Australia, an offsite training in leadership presence for Executive Directors at Telstra, Australia’s largest telecom. One of the central aims of the program was to explore the inner journey of becoming a leader.  We were fortunate to travel into the Outback, where we had the amazing privilege…

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Platforms and Presence in the Netherlands

By Jeff Barnum | March 5, 2017

While many organizations in the Netherlands embrace social innovation, leadership transformation, and responsible business practices, their efforts seem inadequate relative to the scale and urgency of the country’s economic, social, and environmental challenges. Two stories from Holland come to mind.  The first is from PLUK, a platform designed to support leaders from a variety of…

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Teaching Creativity to Social Innovation Pioneers

By Jeff Barnum | March 4, 2017

Getting to Maybe is a “social innovation residency” named after the book of the same title by Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman, and Michael Patton.  The programs occur in summer at the beautiful Banff Centre, in and among pristine lakes and snowy mountains. Westley invited us to teach participants about creativity, and given the setting, we…

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Breaking the Cycles of Violence in Oakland, USA

By Jeff Barnum | March 3, 2017

The problem of police violence against young African-Americans is one of the most visible, best known social issues today, thanks in part to Black Lives Matter.  We helped the Numi Foundation establish a unique approach to addressing violence in Oakland, California (USA), in the ACTION project. ACTION stands for A Creative Transformation In Our Neighborhoods.…

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Bridges to Sarajevo

By Jeff Barnum | March 3, 2017

When snipers and militia surrounded Sarajevo in the early 1990s, we felt a peculiar calling to aid and support — and in 1996, we had a chance to go there ourselves.  We jumped at the opportunity, though there were still mines in the fields and forests.  Long grass grew from burned out cars; tall buildings were…

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Protecting Children in Austraila

By Jeff Barnum | March 2, 2017

Protecting at-risk children is a complex social challenge: a child suffers an act of violence in a single moment, but that act occurs in a complex context defined by multiple causes, some of which are far apart in space and time.   From 2009-11, we helped leaders from government organizations, social services, lawyers, judges, communities,…

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Increasing Innovation in Disability Services, Canada

By Jeff Barnum | March 1, 2017

The Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) is one of the Vancouver partners we support in their efforts to mainstream social acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities.  Before we began that larger work, we helped BACI get the most of their team. There is always a drive at BACI to drive innovation in their service…

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Hosting Thousands of Change Leaders

By Jeff Barnum | February 28, 2017

One of our very first adventures in this work was at Castle Borl in Slovenia. An ancient castle overlooking the Drava River, Borl is a “grail castle;” a thousand years ago, the Holy Grail was revered within its walls.  Older still are towers within the towers — some of them originate as far back as 2,000…

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Envisioning the Future of Health Care in New Zealand

By Jeff Barnum | February 27, 2017

We’ve supported many positive change projects over the years, but sometimes something happens that packs in a great learning experience.  This is one. We were asked to facilitate a few workshops in the healthcare sector around Auckland, New Zealand.  One of those workshops was specifically designed to harness the insight and creativity of Maori communities.…

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Supporting a Food Startup

By Jeff Barnum | February 26, 2017

You never know what difference a small intervention can make. A year after spending an afternoon with sibling startup entrepreneurs Arielle and Paul Moinester, Arielle let us know that our conversation had been pivotal. We helped the founders identify blind spots they hadn’t realized were holding back their partnership and their business. They were able…

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The Future of Energy in North America: the WECC Scenarios

By Jeff Barnum | February 25, 2017

We assisted the Western Electricity Coordinating Council’s (WECC’s) scenario development project for the United States Department of Energy, for which representatives from industry, state, provincial and national government, tribes, environmental groups, and technology and consumer groups comprised a multi-stakeholder group responsible for developing the scenarios. The focus question of the scenario exercise was: How will demand for…

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Restoring the World’s High Risk Fisheries

By Jeff Barnum | February 24, 2017

We were asked to help 50in10, an ambitious, international initiative to restore fifty percent of the world’s fisheries in ten years, course correct after relationships among key stakeholders grew fragile. Between 2013 to 2016, we supported the participants and funders to progress the effort, which ultimately developed a number of tools and resources to aid…

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Co-founding Reos Partners

By Jeff Barnum | February 1, 2017

In 2007, we co-founded Reos Partners, a leading social innovation consultancy supporting systemic change around the world.  With Reos, we served and led projects on five continents, focusing on a wide range of issues with diverse clients and partners and supporting the global community of partners and clients.   At Reos, we honed our craft…

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The Secret to Conquering Busyness, Overwhelm, & Burnout

By Louisa Barnum | May 30, 2016

Hello and welcome to Magenta Studios, your source for tools and know-how for growing your inner capabilities for impact and success. So many of us are doing too many things, taking on too much, juggling lists of to dos… It’s incredibly challenging to find focus and carve out the time to work on what matters…

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From Fear to Creativity in an Organization Or System

By Louisa Barnum | April 11, 2016

Last month an electrical failure took out a portion of one of California’s main public transportation rail systems.  In response, the agency issued a remarkably honest and telling tweet: “BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality.”  We’ve…

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Get A Grip On Your Fear!

By Louisa Barnum | April 11, 2016

Fear is a pernicious thing that can sway your perspective without your realizing. As they say: you can make facts prove anything; I know I am guilty of gathering plenty of facts to support my fears! So, what to do when you are afraid? Here’s a more positive perspective shift we use when we’re sweatin’…

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The one essential condition for success with any new project

By Louisa Barnum | March 10, 2016

If you are doing anything creative — and that includes leadership, entrepreneurship, and change-making when you’re doing something challenging and impactful — setting up for success can make the difference between impact or flop.  Every creative endeavor needs the right conditions for success.  A writer needs pen and paper, a computer, maybe a printer.  And a quiet place…

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Five Simple Lessons to Boost Your creative leadership

By Louisa Barnum | March 10, 2016

We define creativity as the ability to generate something valuable without a blueprint or instructions. IBM’s landmark study of 1500 CEOs across the globe in 2010 identified “creativity” as the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through the extraordinary complexity of the world today. What did they mean by this? Today’s…

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Not your normal approach to meditation; Part three

By Louisa Barnum | January 21, 2016

This is the third exercise in a series of meditations designed to help develop your inner practices.  This one is about gratitude. I have seen gratitude exercises offered in lots of places; it’s not a new idea. However, try doing it every single morning right when you wake up.  Same time, every day.   Think…

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Shadow? What Shadow??

By Jeff Barnum | January 7, 2016

  We’re right in the middle of producing our upcoming World Maker video series and one of the themes that’s coming up is about the shadow and its transformation. It’s not necessarily a sexy topic until you experience that life-or-death sense of urgency that comes with the powerful, crushing realization that UNLESS. YOU. CHANGE. you will…

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Not Your Normal Approach to Meditation: 3 Unusual Practices and Why You Should Do Them (part two)

By Louisa Barnum | January 6, 2016

I’m going to tell you about something we call “the peace exercise.” OK, so you may think peace as a meditative exercise is a bit over-used and thoroughly done. You’d be right… but I PROMISE I do have something new to say about working with peace in your meditation, and here it is: The Peace exercise, done right,…

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Not Your Normal Approach to Meditation: Three Unusual Practices and Why You Should Do Them

By Louisa Barnum | December 17, 2015

This is the first of three articles, each one featuring a different exercise or meditation practice. Meditation, Shmeditation… Why bother? You may get the notion of having some mindfulness in your hectic life, and you may even have your own practices you do every day or every week that you like. But when shopping in…

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Social Creativity: An Introduction

By Jeff Barnum | December 9, 2015

“I need to be able to read the room and know exactly what they should do next. I need to be able to depart from the plan with 100% confidence and intuit accurately where to go.”  That’s a super smart social entrepreneur with ten successful years behind her, telling us about her challenges when facilitating…

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Leadership or Dominance? Wise lessons from Nature

By Louisa Barnum | November 19, 2015

I’m sweaty and hot, gravel is painfully digging into my foot inside my sneaker, and the horse on the other end of my 12 foot rope is eyeing me with deep skepticism. “She doesn’t know what you want; you need to be clearer in your phases!” calls my teacher as I vainly try to get…

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Why you should read LaLoux’s Reinventing Organizations, even if you’re not an organizational consultant

By Louisa Barnum | September 18, 2015

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer How do we create changes in behavior across a distributed organization with many people and many moving parts?  There are as many organizational development consultants as there are people asking this question—and then there is LaLoux’s recent book “Reinventing Organizations”…

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