Comings & Goings @ Center for Purposeful Leadership


We are sad to say goodbye to Anna Patterson, our marketing and social media intern for the past year.

Anna has expanded our social media game, while keeping an eye on our marketing. Together, we have discovered the delights of using Craig’s beautiful sunrises/sunsets to connect in new ways via Instagram.  Along with this, Anna has influenced our Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram presences and beyond!

Anna just completed her degree in Strategic Communication and Political Science and is on her way to Chicago to work for Coyote Logistics. We wish her the best of luck!


We are excited to welcome a new intern to the CPL team!  This summer, Olivia Bretzman will be joining our marketing team. Olivia just finished her freshman year at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. While there, she participates in volunteer programs and club figure skating as well as intense academics as she works towards her BA in English and a Spanish minor.

She is excited to begin her time here at the Center for Purposeful Leadership. Olivia’s passion for leadership and genuine connection fuel intention into her abilities in writing, social media, technology, and marketing.

Welcome back to Sarah Flores, a summer marketing and web redesign intern.

After graduating from Henry B. Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa, with a B.B.A in Marketing Management with an interest in sustainability, as well as working in Denver for a year, we’re thrilled to have Sarah for the summer before she finds her next work in the Twin Cities.

During the summer Sarah will be actively looking in the job market for various positions in marketing - agency or departmental, business development programs as well as account executive positions.

We also welcome Charlie Francois to be point on our web redesign, working with integrating the various platforms we use.

We have a lot of ground to cover this summer! With these gifted people, we can continue to adjust to the rapidly evolving online world, and serve you in the best way possible!

Empathy: The Surprisingly Crucial Business Skill

In the back reaches of our professional mind, we know the people and relational aspects of business life have perplexed and stymied managers and leaders alike.

In our upcoming book, "Touchy Feely: The Soft Stuff is the Hard Stuff," we reveal the powerful and liberating truth that empathy and compassion along with vulnerability are not the weaknesses we've hoodwinked ourselves into believing, but are core strengths of successful leadership.

Below is an excerpt from an article from our friends at Korn Ferry that stimulated some related ideas. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Touchy Feely cover placeholder 75%.jpeg

Empathy: The Surprisingly Crucial Business Skill

October 16, 2017 | DANIEL GOLEMAN, Contributor, Korn Ferry Institute
We all know empathy matters in our personal relationships, but how does empathy matter for business? You need empathy to work effectively with other people, especially in sales and client management, on teams, and in leadership. Empathy is the core of the competencies in the relationship management domain of Emotional Intelligence, the basis for more complex relationship management skills, including influencing other people or having a positive impact, mentoring other people, managing conflict, inspiring them as a leader, and teamwork. Read more…

We are just beginning to understand why knowing your purpose is key to good leadership. So why is it surprising that empathy is a crucial business skill?

Through empathy your purpose comes alive because you can see best where to serve. When we realize that our success is tied to others’ success and that interdependence (empathy) is not a personal liability but strength, then watch and experience miracles to happen.

Our book, The Art of Convening offers a roadmap of how purpose shared can get you there.


#purpose #PurposefulLeadership #leadership #RichardLeider #ThePowerofPurpose #TheArtofConvening

2017 Center for Purposeful LeadershipThe Art of Convening

Flashback Friday! CPL Team Reception with Richard Leider!


Hard to believe it’s been a year since The Waters Senior Living hosted a Launch Reception for CPL! On November 1 we celebrated with Richard Leider, our Associates Team, the leadership of The Waters and other Twin Cities colleagues. It was a snowy night; we were so pleased so many made the trek! Thanks again for Katherine Todd’s introduction to her Leadership Team.

1 year later, as we what has become core to our work and daily practices is this how convening and purpose are integral to purposeful leadership. Convening creates a structure to connect to your purpose and be in authentic relationship with others, a core practice for purposeful leadership.

Scroll down for a livestream of remarks from CPL, The Waters leadership, and Richard Leider.

This past Wednesday, Center for Purposeful Leadership hosted its first reception welcoming over 45 colleagues. Our purpose was not only to convene and reconnect with colleagues but to introduce the CPL Team.

We were honored to have purpose leader Richard Leider speak on the Purpose Movement and Purpose Research and pleased to connect and convene with others to spread the voice of what Center for Purposeful Leadership stands for.

The Waters leadership embodies purposeful leadership. Thank you to Kyle Didier, Lynn Carlson Schell, Katherine Todd and The Waters for hosting, and to those who attended. 

Gathering with so many thought leaders from the Twin Cities truly shows the great direction purposeful leadership is headed. CPL is honored and excited to have you on this journey with us!


#purpose #PurposefulLeadership #leadership #RichardLeider #ThePowerofPurpose #TheArtofConvening

2017 Center for Purposeful LeadershipThe Art of Convening

Purpose Moment

Purpose Moment

#PurposefulLeadership #Purpose #Leadership #Convening #ArtofConvening #AuthenticEngagement #RichardLeider

2018 Center for Purposeful LeadershipThe Art of Convening

On Purpose Meetings & Your "Webside Manner": 5 Steps

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

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

14 years ago, sick and tired of attending meetings where I left feeling, at best, depleted and others moaning about, yet another meeting, "that didn't go anywhere"; I invited 12 leaders to join me in the 1st Art of Convening Teletraining. It was an early virtual laboratory or "skunkworks" project to explore what the components of what makes for a transformational meeting, gathering or even conversation. Now, 14 years later, we've learned a thing or two.

Here are 5 bedrock steps to improve your "Webside Manner" in any virtual meeting or conversation...

Web Meeting
  1. Clarity of Purpose and Intent- Get crystal clear BEFORE your engagement on why you are meeting and what your intent is for success.
  2. An invitation that has meaning and relevance- Make sure your invitation clearly articulates the form, function, and purpose. Then ask yourself why people should come and what's in it for them.
  3. Set the Context- Open with a warm welcome, tell them why they have been invited and review the high points of the agenda including expectations and outcome.
  4. Create a container of safety and generativity- People want to know what the "terms of engagement" will be. For example: ask people to be present by resisting the urge to multitask.  
  5. Hear all the Voices- When people feel their views count, they become more engaged and engaged people tend to own the outcomes. (Accountability!)  Start with a check-in to take the temperature of the group. Take a few minutes to ask each to respond to what expectations they have for the meeting. A simple 30-second check in from each will tell you volumes about where you might go and what people want from the meeting.

These simple 5 steps can go a long way in improving clarity, buy-in, and alignment in any virtual meeting. Check out our next Convening Powerful Virtual Meetings Training!

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


Purpose Shared: A Young Man With a “Big Heart for Society and the World”

[Click to Watch Full Interview]

[Click to Watch Full Interview]

Ren Wei is a family man, OD consultant and convener sharing his purpose on a global level. I have the good fortune to work closely with Ren Wei, along with five of his fellow Chinese colleagues, in the current Art of Convening training. This brief yet inspirational interview captures the commitment he has for being an active catalyst for societal and global transformation.

#PurposefulLeadership #Purpose #Leadership #Convening #ArtofConvening #Engagement

2018 Center for Purposeful Leadership The Art of Convening

Craig Neal @ Fusion 2.0 Conference: Leading a Learning Lab

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:


Exciting news!

Craig Neal will be leading a Learning Lab @ the Fusion 2.0 Conference

The Art of Purposeful Leadership: The Future Leader


11/7/2018, 11:20 a.m.-12:35 p.m.

Get registered to join him! group rates are now available. Bring your teams. For the best rate, register now while the preview rate is still in effect. 


Purpose Shared: Leadership is Convening

"Convening leaders create and manage the social space within which citizens get deeply engaged."

Peter Block became a foundational mentor when we founded Heartland/CPL 22 years ago. His writing and thought leadership was invaluable.

'The Answer to How is Yes' and 'Community: The Structure of Belonging' were both primary texts for the early Art of Convening Training's. The essay below states the case for purpose shared as convening, and convening as a foundational characteristic of an on-purpose leader.

Leadership is Convening

Excerpt from Community: The Structure of Belonging, by Peter Block, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, May 2008

In communal transformation, leadership is about intention, convening, valuing relatedness, and presenting choices. It is not a personality characteristic or a matter of style, and therefore it requires nothing more than what all of us already have. 

This means we can stop looking for leadership as though it were scarce or lost, or it had to be trained into us by experts. If our traditional form of leadership has been studied for so long, written about with such admiration, defined by so many, worshiped by so few, and the cause of so much disappointment, maybe doing more of all that is not productive. The search for great leadership is a prime example of how we too often take something that does not work and try harder at it. I have written elsewhere about reconstructing leader as social architect.

The Art of Convening

The shift is to believe that the task of leadership is to provide context and produce engagement, to tend to our social fabric. It is to see the leader as one whose function is to engage groups of people in a way that creates accountability and commitment. In this way of thinking we hold leadership to three tasks: 

• Create a context that nurtures an alternative future, one based on gifts, generosity, accountability, and commitment.

• Initiate and convene conversations that shift people’s experience, which occurs through the way people are brought together and the nature of the questions used to engage them.

• Listen and pay attention. 

Convening leaders create and manage the social space within which citizens get deeply engaged. Through this engagement, citizens discover that it is in their power to resolve something or at least move the action forward. 


Engagement, and the accountability that grows out of it, occurs when we ask people to be in charge of their own experience and act on the well-being of the whole. Leaders do this by naming a new context and convening people into new conversations through questions that demand personal investment. This is what triggers the choice to be accountable for those things over which we can have power, even though we may have no control.

In addition to convening and naming the question, we add listening to the critical role of leadership. Listening may be the single most powerful action the leader can take. Leaders will always be under pressure to speak, but if building social fabric is important, and sustained transformation is the goal, then listening becomes the greater service. 

This kind of leadership––convening, naming the question, and listening––is restorative and produces energy rather than consumes it. It is leadership that creates accountability as it confronts people with their freedom. In this way, engagement-centered leaders bring kitchen table and street corner democracy into being.

Subscribe to this blog now to get your 2x/week spark of purpose

Purpose Moment

Purpose Moment

#PurposefulLeadership #Purpose #Leadership #Convening #ArtofConvening #Engagement

2018 Center for Purposeful LeadershipThe Art of Convening

Purpose Shared: "Making Happy" -Cindy Kent

Purpose Shared

"So start tomorrow, right now. Welcome to the first few seconds of your bright, beautiful future."

Cindy Kent was the lead Conversation Starter at our 20th Anniversary Conference in 2016. As a thought and purposeful leader, her values are central to all she does and how she does it. 

Making Happy

In nearly five decades of life, and too-many-experiences-to-count later, I have come to realize how misguided the notion of finding happiness is. You don’t really find happy, in truth, we make happy. Finding Happy is an ill-conceived notion, that inherently implies that happiness is some illusive by-product of luck or fortune or even, some edenic destination—a wistful, ideologue of a reward at the end of one’s diligent pursuit. Instead, I believe, we make happy—one decision, one choice, at a time.

The very idea that we make happy can be hard for some people to accept. Why? Because if we accept that we make our own happy, then it places the responsibility of our happiness squarely on our own shoulders. As such, it puts an end once and for all to the infamous “blame game” and the convenient opportunity to blame someone, anyone, for our failing to achieve the love, success and happiness that we desire. It would mean that the years we’ve spent blaming friends, parents, spouses, partners and employers for failing to make us happy were in fact, a bad use of our good and precious time. It does not mean that these individuals are abdicated from any wrong-doing, but it does suggest that we maintain absolute control over the effect that we allow their actions to have on our emotional and mental well-being. Fundamentally, happiness is much more about our reactions than it is about the actions themselves—reactions, which are completely within our own control. At some point we must make the choice to let go of the pain and hurt inflicted by others and choose to forgive them, let it go and MOVE ON. In fact today, or better yet right NOW, you can choose to let this very moment be the last bit of hurt that you ascribe to any event of your past. As you take deep cleansing breaths, you are releasing the bitterness of yesterday and taking in all the joy and hope that tomorrow brings. If you choose to wait, to have one final pity party or to savor the familiarity of pain’s bitterness one last time, then tomorrow will never come. So start tomorrow, right now. Welcome to the first few seconds of your bright, beautiful future.

Cindy Kent

So what is happiness? Happiness is the deepest level of contentment that you can possibly imagine, a sense of fullness that envelopes every fiber of your being. It is soul joy—a knowing that you are where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to be doing at this very moment in time. It is not a feeling, for feelings are fleeting, but instead it is a sense of wholeness and being completely at peace in the moment. Happiness is inextricably tied to purpose. Walking in purpose and living life on purpose, by its very nature is a higher order of livelihood. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many people go through their entire lives having never experienced the depth of peace that comes from a life truly lived. 

After years of “ordinary-ness,” the human spirit that is purposed for greatness will eventually take one of two paths. It will either grow dull and bitter, having convinced itself that ‘this is as good as it gets’ or two, the intensity of frustration will fuel the yearning to find ‘something more.’ It is at this point that one becomes increasingly aware that what you’re doing now, or even what you’ve spent the last twenty or thirty years doing is not fulfilling. This can be a frightening and overwhelming experience fraught with questions and self-doubt. What will I do instead? I don’t have the training or education to do what I really want to do. Will I be able to meet my financial obligations? I have a thriving career; people will think I’m crazy to leave this great job. Be assured that these feelings and questions are normal—and necessary—milestones as one endeavors to make happy.  

Cindy (Smith) Kent

Innovative Healthcare Executive. Focused Operational Growth Leader. Visionary Change Champion. Public Speaker.

President & General Manager, 3M Infection Prevention Division

Subscribe to this blog now to get your 2x/week spark of purpose

Purpose Moment


#PurposefulLeadership #Purpose #Leadership #Convening #ArtofConvening #Engagement

2018 Center for Purposeful LeadershipThe Art of Convening

Great Meetings - The Recipe: Part 1

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

The Convening Method is much like baking a cake. Purpose is the flour, convening is the yeast. Convening activates purpose. The ingredients, all added at the right time, consciously tended in a step-by-step manner, can be successful time after time.

The recipe for convening transformational meetings follows a path:

  1. Start with a clear purpose and success factors. A two-sentence statement will do.
  2. Your agenda comes next. It will embody your purpose along with what you are to do together to reach your success factors or intent.
  3. Your invitation simply outlines what you are to do together that integrates purpose and intent.
  4. Giving thought and consideration to the space in which you meet is often neglected. Think what would stimulate and enliven the attendees beyond all the necessary materials.
  5. In creating safe spaces for authentic engagements remember the cultural norms and what agreements you wish to have to allow people to settle in and feel safe.
  6. Once in the meeting, how many times and how many ways can all the voices be heard to allow the opportunity for full participation?
  7. Essential conversation is the result of the preparation you have put into the first 5 steps of the recipe. Here we are aware of mood and level of connection each has for engaging in the agenda. Has the space been created for mutual trust and respect?
  8. Calling for a commitment to action brings clarity to what has been agreed to. A commitment to action invites responsibility, accountability, and commitment to an individual and collective way forward.

In Part 1 we gave you the recipe or the method. In Part 2, next week, the yummy ingredients!