Virtual Collaboration and Convening: 2 New AoC Trainings

Art of convening training

"Virtual collaboration is fast becoming the norm. Are you ready?" (Harvard Business Review, 04/24/18).

Whether you are leading a virtual collaboration or a weekly team meeting, an Art of Convening Training adds a powerful skill set to any facilitation or gathering.

Explore the art, science and application of convening and purpose practices to transform the way people meet and gather.



Jul 11, 25, Aug 8, 22, Sep 5                              Sep 12, 28, Oct 10, 24, Nov 7, 21, Dec 5

8:00am-9:30am Central US                               7:00pm-9:00pm Central US  

$199 by 5/15/18                                              $595 early bird by 7/15/18

2 payments of $100                                          6 payments of $100


Talent Revolving Door? The Soft Stuff is the Real Stuff: 3 Steps to Engagement

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

"Patricia and Craig recently presented at GTS Government IT Symposium, Dakota County employee development, Work/Life Expo for Women, and other venues with the focus of purpose, leadership, connection, engagement."

70% of American workers don’t feel secure in their job and with their company/organization.

What most want in life was to be “valued” as an “individual”.

An avalanche of research shows the most common reason talent walks out the door is their manager who is either micromanaging, not recognizing others’ contribution, and/or disengaged. More research shows that a sense of purpose and related skillsets are essential for authentic engagement. How are the two connected?

GTS Government IT Symposium

Patricia and Craig recently presented at GTS Government IT Symposium, Dakota County employee development, Work/Life Expo for Women, and other venues with the focus of purpose, leadership, connection, engagement. The “soft stuff”, the “touchy-feely” stuff. Right? Well, to quote Seth Godin* in a recent blog post, “Let's stop calling them the 'soft skills'.” 

What is at the heart of the matter? Your values as a leader are on show with every action. The “Talent Revolving Door” is a direct indicator of values of the


leader and/or the organization. Authentic engagement is an attractor and creates greater ease of communication and delivery because it builds trust. Trust is everything.

Organizations are scrambling for value-add for their product or service, differentiators to attract great talent, and increased productivity to do more with less. Authentic engagement is not only an expression of leadership values, but creates the conditions for collaboration at a truly different level.

HR is now recognizing that hiring for emotional intelligence skills is crucial to an individual’s ability to integrate into and connect with your culture, build trust, and deliver results. It is a key indicator of success.

Here are 3 steps to engagement:

  1. Commit to building authentic engagement as a skill set
  2. Commit to practice
  3. Commit to measure progress

1. Building authentic engagement

What are the essential elements? Engagement is more than creating exciting events or one-time recognitions. Fundamentally, engagement is about connection. The ability to connect with others in a way that lets them know they have been heard and you are seeking to understand and clarify what is needed, is foundational to building trust. In order to do that you must build the "muscles" of purposeful leadership: purpose, emotional intelligence, conversational intelligence, convening intelligence. 

2. Commit to practice

Just like an athlete building new muscles, building new skills requires practice, practice, practice! Learn, Practice, Repeat!

Some of the tools and concepts CPL employs include:

  • 9 Steps to Collaboration from The Art of Convening (CPL)
  • Conversational Intelligence Assessment (CPL)
  • Trust Changes Reality (Conversational Intelligence, Judith Glaser)
  • The Business Case for Trust (Vivian Jenkins-Nelsen)
  • More resources listed below

3. Commit to measure: informal and formal ideas

  • Give people stretch assignments and new opportunities to contribute and learn. This shows you have paid attention enough to measure their current condition, progress and can identify opportunities for them to grow.
  • Recognize and reward your people for their contributions.
  • Walk the floors to initiate regular conversation.
  • Convene virtual “town hall” conversations for new ideas.
  • Pulse Surveys. Short, frequent surveys are a great way to maintain a consistent pulse on the vibe in your office.
  • One-On-Ones.Another great way to measure engagement is through one-on-one meetings with employees.
  • Stay/Exit Interviews.


#Talent #AuthenticEngagement #Purpose #PurposefulLeadership #Collaboration

Trust Changes Reality TheBusinessCaseforTrust Convening wheel ConversationalAssessment

3M’s Cindy Kent on whole person leadership, growth and inclusion in medtech

Edited by Patricia Neal

Edited by Patricia Neal

...and on her Masters in Divinity and meeting Oprah. Truly inspirational.

Cindy was the opening Conversation Starter for Heartland (now CPL's) 20th Anniversary Celebration last October. She continues to amaze us. She spoke with MassDevice.comPublisher Brian Johnson at the DeviceTalks event in Minnesota recently about her skills as a leader, how she ended up as an ordained minister and the importance of inclusion and mentorship in the workplace. And, how she met Oprah!

Here is an example of amazing mentorship: “Cindy, we see a lot of potential in you, so you take the next five years on us, and you go play, and you go work in as many disciplines and fields as you like, and in five years we’re going to come ask you what you want to do for this company, and we expect an answer.” 

Let me know your thoughts. -Patricia

Transformational Highlights from the 6/10 Transformational Leaders Circle (TLC)

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Inclusive Leadership: Why Company Culture and Men Matter with Results of the 2015 Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership

by Patricia Neal

At our conference we were able to speak with transformational leaders Dr. Sylvia Bartley, Medtronic Inc.• Dr. Rebecca Hawthorne, St. Catherine University and co-author of The Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership • Dr. Deborah Koland, EdD, MBA • Doug Baker of True North Groups Institute.

Each conversation starter briefed attendees on inclusion, equity, innovation and impact. Deborah and Rebecca offered research data and case studies, and a preview of what is possible in bringing women to the leadership table.

Key questions highlighted at the session included: 

  • What is the value add of having diverse voices in your company's leadership?
  • What role does company culture play in shaping women’s leadership opportunities and trajectories? 
  • Why are we still having this conversation in 2016?
  • During the "Big Q" question time, some compelling questions came forward [partial list]:
  • What is the one thing we can all do in our individual roles to impart this issue?
  • What are the practical proven best practices of changing corporate cultures so women and people of color are retained and thus represented more equitably at the leadership level in the next 5 years- not 100!
  • Do women really want the C Suite positions?
  • The are so many values they seem to have to give up to hold these spots. What can we do as individuals to change our company’s corporate culture? More here

As the session progressed our large group split up into small group "Conversation Cafés" in which thought leaders from around the area expressed and discussed the importance of company culture, the integration of more female leadership and how men can support and enable the process. 

Conversation Café Thought Leaders: • Eric Ahlness, Cargill Inc. • Heather Faulkner, Kris Petersen, think2perform • Lynn Nelson, LIN PR • Sam Paske, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services • Don Thomas, Nan Langevin, Stephanie Reem, BWBR Architects, Inc. • Lisa Walker, Logic PD • Lori Crever, Wells Fargo International Group

Concluding remarks:

"Women leaning in is not the ultimate solution for more leadership diversity. According to many studies, there is evidence that gender diversity in executive teams is connected to company earnings."

Heartland would like to extend a huge Thank you to all of our speakers, attendees and wonderful convening conversations we had at this TLC. If you may have missed our June TLC, check out our updated LinkedIn page full of helpful tips to master the Art of Convening Check out photos from the event here.

! Are you wanting to collaborate with more productivity within your organization and enable more diversity amongst your leaders? Call us at 612.920.3029 to schedule your next consult. Were you unable to attend the June Transformational Leaders Circle? Here are some highlights from our session!

Session Archives

2014: Crunch Time!

Photo credit: Daniel Scotton

Photo credit: Daniel Scotton

an interesting thought piece:

For many years we have all observed massive change, driven not only by extraordinary developments in information, medical, and material technologies, but also by accompanying social shifts that have been as dramatic as technological change.

These shifts have been incremental over years, so while we are all aware of these shifts, many still do not realize quite how dramatic the impact will be.

We are now reaching “Crunch Time”, when cumulative change is reaching the point of fundamental disruption in many aspects of society. Now is when the extent of change truly hits home, leaving many dazed, yet others seizing the extraordinary opportunities that emerge from rapid change.

In this brief report we highlight 14 domains in which we are reaching crunch time, and how we need to respond.

The Art of Opening the Circle to be in Essential Conversation

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Continuing the journey around the Convening Wheel, we find ourselves at the 7th Aspect, Essential Conversation, which allows for meaningful exchange in an atmosphere of trust and lays the groundwork for the 8th Aspect, Creation, to be possible.

We are now ready for something new to emerge from the authentic engagement of the group.

  • Margaret Wheatley says, “Conversation is how humans think together.” "Opening the circle," by allowing for reflections and comments from anyone in the group who feels compelled to speak, we can process what we have heard and allow something that is more than the sum of the parts to emerge.  Conversation is most powerful when personal story telling and deep listening are present.  It is also about surfacing all that arises out of the listening and sharing process in a mindful and respectful way:

- We can sense the “questions that lie beneath the questions” to let emerge what is essential.

- We can become aligned with what is at the Heart of the Matter as a collectivegroup – expressing shared core values and vision. 

  • In Opening the Circle we are continually evoking a WISDOM that comes through our collective consciousness.
  • We are also in a practice of mirroring back what it is that has touched us deeply in what was shared.
  • This is also a time for participants to feel heard, to learn how their words have “landed” for another and to have thoughts reflected back to them from a different perspective (or several different perspectives).
  • It is also in this type of respectful conversation that the creative process blossoms and takes flight.  We build on each other’s word offerings and something magicalhappens.

Guidelines for Essential Conversation:

#1: When someone wishes to speak have them introduce themselves beginning with, “I am... (insert their name here)”

#2: When the person speaking is done speaking have them notify the group by saying, "I am complete" or "I have spoken."

#3: Interruptions are not allowed in this form.

#4: Ask for deep listening so the group can hold the space for differences. This is the primary function of this type of conversation.

#5: Be attentive to the pace of the conversation, allowing for silence and pauses between speakers. Silence can seem uncomfortable to many, but the absence of noise also has the potential to be an incredibly generative space for new ideas to take shape.

This structure reinforces our sense of safety, and gives us the freedom toexplore new ways of thinking and being together and ultimately allows for creation to occur.

SAVE 15% on AoC trainings in 2013

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Give yourself the gift of The Art of Convening this holiday season by enrolling in one of the 2013 Trainings.

Registrations by 12/15 will receive a special 15% discount.

The AoC Trainings benefits include:

  • New skills for Convening and Facilitation
  • New strategies and tools for applying convening in your work and life as a leader and catalyst for change and transformation.
  • State of the art virtual and in-person participative learning practicum utilizing practices, tools, and principles for authentic engagement and leadership.
  • Credentials as an AoC graduate. (certificate and certification)
  • From 15 to 36 CCEUs from the International Coaches Federation.
  • Listing on Heartland's AoC web site as a Convening Resource Provider.

Our new Practicum Trainings include:



- AND -

2 NEW CORE TELETRAININGS: January 2013 -1/29 & 1/30

Bring your case study, project, next convening challenge to your Practicum Training Cohort.

A space and discounted rate can be held with a deposit.

When we, as Conveners, tap into the generosity inherent in people, the wealth of knowledge and wisdom in any gathering is revealed. That wisdom is felt as a connection to being whole, both individually and collectively. When we feel and experience wholeness, our connection to one another and the world around us becomes less hostile  and more inviting.

-- Craig Neal, Originator of The Art of Convening Trainings 

The Training illuminated the essence of adding action to intention in a way that has transformed and equipped me to serve and contribute convening in both professional and personal areas of my life. I have committed to convening as a way of life." -- Myron Lowe, Director, Office of Information Technology, University of Minnesota      


- Call: 612.920.3039 - Email:

Turning Your Worst Enemy Into Your Best Teacher

PHoto credit: craig neal

PHoto credit: craig neal

Seeing conflict as a birthing process...

Deidre Combs has spent decades obsessing about conflict. From her early family days, being one of four sisters, to her 12-year stint at IBM, she's plumbed the depths of what conflict is all about. My one-hour interview with Deidre was one of the most intriguing ever. How does one see conflict as a birthing process? As a Minnesotan, like many other cultures, we're bred to avoid conflict at all costs—to move through life with stoic resolve. What the hell is so frightening about conflict?

On tonight's VisionHolder Conversation, Deidre wowed us with all sorts of stories of her childhood, her corporate life, her spiritual journey. ultimately, the wisdom of conflict is almost of a spiritual practice. There is something so simple about breathing, getting centered, being human. seeing your partner not as an adversary, but as a teacher. The art of holding paradox, and letting go of our positions and opinions.

Whoa, whoa — way easier said than done. when you're totally engaged in oppositional politics, you've just lost your job—what do you want to do?

According to Deidre, "We are all participating- the living being is alive to figure things out. We need this bouncing and pushing and prodding." Intriguing.

How do you resolve conflict? What learnings does it hold for you? Share your stories on how conflict has transformed your life — or not! Simply hit the "Comments" link below and give us your thoughts.


Imagining ourselves into a world that works

PHoto credit: craig neal

PHoto credit: craig neal

What do we need to do to change the world?

Imagine ourselves into the future: imagine a vision for a world that works for most of the beings on the planet. Imagine that an ever-larger network of people each with an ever-larger network, can all connect to bring this vision to a critical mass.

It’s about waking up to see each other and take action together. It's about each of us finding our vision and bringing it to the world. Vision in action.

It's about relationships, connectedness, seeing no separation. We - can - do - this. Read this story to learn more about imagining as a tool to bring vision to action.

What are your imaginings, your stories, for how we will imagine ourselves into the future? Add your comments below!