Young woman sitting at a desk and participating in a video conference.
Young woman sitting at a desk and participating in a video conference.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for a workshop on writing effective op-eds with a group of academics. Maybe we would all take turns standing at a podium, playing intellectual defense as people searched for holes in our arguments. But what ended up taking place was both gentler and more energizing — and it’s given me a powerful strategy for propelling ideas forward.

“We’re going to do something I call the ‘Hunch Hour,’” the workshop facilitator, Courtney Martin, told the group. The other participants and I looked at each other, confused. …


Maybe Sundays should happen more often

It was Sunday morning. I was a little groggy from a late night and found some mindless task outside while the absolutely not “pandemic-puppy” played around my ankles. I was staring out at the ocean and all her glory when there was a ping on my phone — “What’s a good time to stop by to help with that roof project.”

In the non-existent rush of island life, I’d forgotten that my neighbor had offered to lend a hand. “How’s 11 looking?” …


Be careful you aren’t taking on a diagnosis that’s not for you

I read an article in the New Yorker where they interviewed a noted communication expert on “why we’re feeling so much social anxiety as we reopen.”

You know the ones I’m talking about, right? The plethora of pieces showing up that say you’re languishing, afraid, or experiencing PTSD.

Maybe you are experiencing one of these feelings. Or maybe you’re even going through all three. But be careful you aren’t letting a magazine or “expert” set the script in your head.

Let me make it clear how utterly serious I am about this. About 6 weeks ago, when yet another languishing…


No, I’m really asking

“You don’t follow through!”

My husband said this about me during family therapy yesterday. Then, today, it came up again in a team meeting. You’d think I’d be used to it by now as people have been saying this about me my entire life.

It’s an easy allegation.

It’s also super triggering.

I know cause I just came home and cried.

Let’s give a bit of a picture of where I’m sitting right now. I’m writing this on a green Velvet sofa in our house on an island off the coast of Maine. I’m the author of a successful book…


Or, why you may not want to be me when you grow up.

I woke up this morning at 8:00am to the soft sound of surf and chirping birds.

“What should I do today?” I thought to myself while admiring the gorgeous morning light. “Maybe I’ll buy that boat.” After all, anything is possible. “Or maybe I’ll just go for a hike instead?”

I opened Instagram and saw that a friend I’d invited up to our island in Maine had left me a message — “You’re wild creatures who roam free! So jealous:).”

She isn’t wrong. I do “feel” very free. We don’t have any children. Our dog died three months ago. I’m…


Or, how the pandemic changed friendships for good

Prior to the pandemic, our friends were mostly all, well, sorta the same. Great people with families and kids and upper middle class careers. All people who’d “made it’’ by any conventional measure. More importantly, all people who you’d consider yourself lucky to claim as friends. 14 months after the pandemic starting, the question I have now is where did they all go? Or perhaps more worryingly, where did I go?

The truth is they’re still here, texting, chatting from various parts of the country and world. But the people I find myself calling everyday, traveling to go visit (when…


Or, how not to be a d*ck at work

So it feels like there’s a collective theme emerging as the volume on the “back to the office” conversation grows louder: trauma — lots and lots of trauma.

This morning I woke up to a viral article about my former employer entitled — “Surviving insert company name here.” I opened it with relish. I too felt super used and traumatized by my old workplace. And I too had been writing about that trauma. This piece was exactly the seven minute read I needed.

I read through it with interest as it pulled from forty-something interviews with former employees who outlined…


Hiring is a creative act

When I was a global managing director at IDEO I often pushed us to get more creative… With hiring.

That’s why when I am consulting, one of the first questions I ask a founder, CEO or any member of the leadership team is “Where do you feel your company is at its most creative?” And not once in my history of asking that question has anyone ever responded with what I believe is the most interesting answer — “In our hiring process.”

We often have this view of creativity, especially in business, that there are certain moments to be creative…


Master the side-text

I was at the top of my design firm, seemingly invincible. But I also just so happened to be running a division that was struggling and on the verge of failure. To me, saving the office meant hitting the road and going out into the world to talk about our work and showcase what we were capable of.

So I went to the annual TEDWomen Conference. It was something I’ll never regret as I met so many inspiring people and wrote the first part of my book, Making Conversation: Seven Essential Elements of Meaningful Communication, during that week. But while…


Maybe not every problem we face needs fixing.

“Can’t we just enjoy this glorious fried chicken we drove 1400 miles to eat?”

Over the past week, I’ve been introducing my husband David to coastal Georgia, a place where I have deep connections. We’ve been talking a lot. The break from upstate New York in February has been good. The same goes for the cheese popper and macaroni. …

FRED DUST

Founder of Making Conversation, senior design advisor for Rockefeller Foundation & former global managing partner of IDEO — fan of words and good conversation.

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