Breadcrumbs

Be. Leadership 2018: Session 5 - Global Citizenship

by Daniel Gada

"A global citizen is someone who self-identifies first and foremost not as a member of a state, a tribe or a nation, but as a member of the human race, and is someone who is prepared to act on that belief, to tackle our world's greatest challenges. They exist in every country and among every demographic. The whole world is our backyard, and we ignore it at our peril."

- Hugh Evans, TED 2016.

This month's theme was 'Global Citizenship' where we took an international perspective on leadership and where New Zealand sits. Reflecting on this month's theme I got thinking about New Zealand's place in the world and the stories we are brought up hearing about how we exhibited leadership on the world stage.

As well as building our country on an early concept of fair labour (thanks to a guy named Edward Gibbon Wakefield who, when the world around him was building their empires literally off the backs of the lower class, the would be indentured and the sometimes wrongly convicted, chose a different model which subsequently had far-reaching influences), and recognising the importance of women's voices and influence (Kate Sheppard promoted women's suffrage and delivered a successful petition of 30,000 signatures to parliament which resulted in NZ becoming the first self-governing colony in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections), NZ has been a country that has had a finger in almost every pie and been celebrated as the first to do it. We gave birth to Ernest Rutherford who came to be known as the Father of Nuclear Physics (he split the atom and discovered all kinds of radiation that I don't understand, but it was MAJOR), we also put a very famous mountaineer on some money after he became one of the first men to reach the Summit of Mt Everest in Nepal (it's the world's tallest peak), our popular and very famous All Blacks won the first ever Rugby World Cup, and our beloved Peter Jackson was the Director of the very successful Return Of The King (third movie in Lord of the Rings trilogy) which was nominated for and won 11 Academy Awards, and holds the title of first fantasy film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Recently we did Kate proud and elected our 3rd female Prime Minister who is not only the youngest in history, but was also an unmarried pregnant woman at the time. Did I also mention we are quite proud of inventing the Pavlova? Although that's still hotly contested by Australia.

New Zealand has quite a lot to be proud of in terms of Global Leadership but it's our ethos as Kiwi's that sets us apart. Now, I wouldn't say New Zealanders are necessarily nationalist people but, in my research, I found that some of our success stories are. To make an obvious point - we observe the country today as a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities and I think it's this view of our multiculturalism that lends itself to Kiwi's becoming quite natural Global Citizens, by Hugh Evans' definition. But why don't our success stories reflect that? I had a chat with the incredible News Director at work and she disagreed with my angle almost immediately. She encouraged me to consider that yes we as people of New Zealand are surrounded by what we call multiculturalism but we have to be honest in recognising that we are saturated by monoculture. This includes the stories we are told and see growing up. I felt quite confronted by what she had said and I stopped to think about whether or not I had ever seen or heard a story about NZ Leadership that looked like me, and I'm sad to say I haven’t. The reality is we live in an era where NZ is struggling to identify even as bi-cultural let alone accept that there is more than one skin colour that calls themselves Kiwis - and are very proud to do so. Diversity is our strength and we are young enough as a nation to say this is important - this can change.

The beautiful thing about who we are and where we sit in the world is that we have a need to see more, know more, and do more, and in that pursuit, many of us venture out into the world and come home feeling more well-rounded. I like to think we take on a little bit of all the worlds identities and incorporate them into our own. We see issues that are yet to be solved in the world and find solutions. So many of us realise all too often how good we have it and pick the path of Global Citizen - to venture out into the worlds troubled places and reach out our hospitality, our egalitarian ideals and offer a few of our own values.

This was made no clearer to me than by the example of Jack Byrne, our second guest speaker for this month’s session who, through his work with the Human Rights Commission, has brought the ethos that every human being is born free in dignity and rights to many people of the LGBT-QIA community within and beyond New Zealand. He, to me, is the embodiment of what it means and what it looks like to be a global citizen.

Amanda Judd exemplified Kiwi ingenuity with not one but 2 incredible businesses that are dedicated to rectifying some of the most crippling issues facing our planet today - Food Wastage, Pollution, and Sustainability. By utilising the power of technology along with her leadership style, her ideas and her in-depth understanding of how we can work together, she is basically revolutionising how we shop for food in an Earth-friendly way and turning away millions of dollars in the process. Her vision to expand and teach her method to others is what starts global movements - and I can't wait to see what she achieves. Keep an eye out for the Forbes top 100 in years to come.

Vanessa Sorenson, Enterprise Director of Microsoft New Zealand, brought a human face to a global organisation and gave us an insight into how big corporates want to help us overcome issues of accessibility. She had many great lessons (mostly ones she learned) and visions for the future of how Microsoft New Zealand wants to create a more accessible workforce through diversity and equality. She taught us to never lose sight of our "Why", and what drives us forward. It's with her warm heart, her personal strengths, her sense of values and her open and willing mind that she can learn the superpowers of what a truly accessible world looks like and what the possibilities are. With the help of Be. Vanessa has the potential to transform the ethos of a global brand and become the kind of CEO the world can look up to - and she's made right here in NZ.

I personally felt very privileged to learn from these 3 amazing humans, they, to me, embodied 3 facets of what global leadership looks like for New Zealand- past, present, and future - and I'd like to think they are just a handful of stories we will be telling about how New Zealand was first in the world.

This month was the kind of session that inspired me to apply for the Be. Leadership program in the first place. It even gave me the opportunity to challenge myself and put me in a position I've always imagined myself in but never had the chance to experience. One thing Be. does amazingly is teach us how to create a world that enables access. But it also gives us access, to people, ideas, and concepts that might have been previously unimaginable.

Be. Leadership 2018: Session 4 – Innovation, Regeneration and Nourished Souls

by Melissa Wells

Resilience, compassion, soul and broccolini were just some of the keywords discussed over the course of our three-day mid-year retreat in Christchurch. The city put on a stunningly clear day, and as we touched down and breathed in the fresh dry air, it felt like someone had started to clear my mind of all the rain, clouds and fog that had obscured my vision for the past month.

The topic of the retreat was innovation and regeneration. Within this, we collectively explored the role of leadership when such qualities are needed, and what styles of leadership work in these situations.

Margaret Jeffries opened the session with a compassionate discussion on community resilience and the use of time-banking in Lyttelton. She told us of tough situations where equally tough questions were asked like, ‘how is your soul’? After this weekend I can say with assurance that my soul is nourished. It feels fed. It is no longer starved and exhausted. And now it is hungry for more.

Margaret spoke of ‘visioning days’ – where her community discussed and contemplated their purpose and core – something that I’d only ever seen in dry documents on websites explaining companies’ intent and staff personal performance documents. But when you know what your core and purpose are, there is very little left to consider. It is an essentialist approach and is a way of life I am giving a go. It seems that most of the struggle is understanding what your own core and authentic self is (or that of your company), and what is left over is finding the courage in saying ‘no’ to projects that do not align with your purpose, or ‘hell yes’ to the ones that do. (Thank you to Margaret Jeffries, Greg McKeown and Derek Sivers for connecting these three ideas together. Until the retreat, these were floating meaninglessly, unconnected in my brain).

It was clear that Margaret spoke from her heart and it impacted me

positively. She was open about her experience with the Christchurch earthquakes and how the close community of Lyttelton was able to handle the disaster. People instinctively want to help in these sorts of situations, and time-banking was about accepting people as they were and taking their offers of assistance. I enjoyed Margaret’s honesty and realism. It was a refreshing start to the retreat.

Our second speakers were Lianne Dalziel (Mayor of Christchurch) and Aaron Keown (Councillor). Their perspectives were from central and local government. They spoke about working with local communities in times of crisis and explored of the idea of ‘co-creation’. The process of the rebuild was explained in that different projects were headed by different people and that is why there was not the same level of widespread accessibility across the projects implemented. They also spoke of an accessible city as being one that is fully accessible to as 8-year-old as to an 80-year-old. I thought this was a good realistic starting point.

Our third speaker Prudence Walker is a Be. Leadership alumni from 2013. She showed her own resilience, innovation and regeneration through telling her own life story, and despite our life stories being extremely different, I saw a part of myself in her. She was able to connect us neatly with Margaret Jeffries’ session when she spoke about having a vision, being present and relying on her intuition when things got tough. We also compared the difference between disability leadership and accessible leadership and the qualities of each. My big take away from Prudence is to find and work for a company or organisation that has my values. Such compatibility can allow us to work towards something together, rather than having a constant battle with our values.

Mojo Mathers was our fourth speaker and wow, what a session that was! I had a few mind-blown moments to be sure. Mojo also linked back to Margaret’s session with her own self-awareness, love, compassion, honesty and authentic self. She was refreshing to listen to and she also challenged us to think critically about the society we live in.

So I ask you, what kind of society do we live in? What kind of democracy do we live in?

Mojo was honest about the inaccessibility of central government, but she did say that most people were responsive and supportive of change when they work alongside others with access needs. She is currently in a state of self-innovation and regeneration in her own life. Mojo first stood for the Green Party in 2005 and was an MP for two terms – 2011-2017. She showed us her inner-strength of handling a life-changing occurrence by her current process of rebuilding and refocusing herself.

The discussions within the wider group and within our syndicates pushed our minds to new levels of understanding as we considered and questioned our own biases, prejudices, beliefs and values. We engaged, listened and were actively present with each other as we spoke with compassion, love, and resilience. We discussed tough ideas openly but also stayed true to our authentic selves.

We are on a journey. It is a long but worthy journey. There is more to come, but I feel like I can do anything with my Be. community. My soul has been nourished by the acceptance, strength and love. I feel in touch with my core again, and I have a stronger idea of my purpose. I can only imagine how we will all feel in six months’ time! Ngā mihi nui.

P.S. Don’t forget to eat your broccolini!

Be. Leadership 2018: Session 3, Share the Love

by Kirsten Taylor

'Share the love' was the welcome emblazoned across three large flights of stairs in the entrance way of Te Papa as I made my way to the third instalment of Be. Leadership, and I thought, well isn't that fitting - pause for obligatory photoshoot as [self-appointed] official photographer Be. Leadership 2018.

Civil society was the topic for this month's training session. A series of lengthy and contrasting pre-readings later, I was still utterly perplexed by the concept of civil society, and more than a little intimidated. You see, I'm not an academic, and I don’t need any assistance going down the rabbit hole, so in order to clear my mind for 3 days of intense learning I decided to go with 'you don't know what you don't know, and sometimes, even when I know…I don't know, and that's ok.' Right?

With that we prepare for what has proven to be heartfelt and unique conversations with our speakers, which I sometimes get so lost in I forget to reflect on 'what is the leadership opportunity here'’. Major Campbell Roberts for example. His life’'journey is nothing if not unexpected. He has me collating where I come from, who I have become, and the experiences that have shaped me because apparently, civil society is who you are.

He's cautioned us to be aware of our own poverty and to step out of our boxes in order to connect, because connectedness is everything. Acknowledging my own weaknesses, my favourite topic…connecting [with] people, my favourite activity! Enter the workshop on the need for the balanced ego and the drawbacks of false modesty. Philip always has me coming back down to earth with a (ruthlessly loving) thump!

When our second speaker Laura O'Connell Rapira comes along I'm struck by her immediately – she has an air that is equally kind as it is no-nonsense. I feel like her passage through the creation of RockEnrol and Director of Campaigns at ActionStation can be underlined by one quote, "We need to dream big, because the future is ours to create." Oooooohhhhhh the pressure!

It's as if, at 26 years young, leadership is flowing through her veins, but I'm sure that humility prevents her from seeing it that way. She tells us that it is common to overestimate what can be achieved in one year, but underestimate what can be achieved in 10, and thank goodness for that, because for many we have been left wondering what the hell we’ve done in all of our own years. Nevertheless, we’re inspired to start and/or continue our own journeys because Major Campbell Roberts said so. Actually, what he said was, "You must lead and influence from where you are, because leadership isn't a title you hold, or an office you sit in. Don't wait. Start your journey now!" And we will.

Kim Workman shares unanticipated outcomes from his work in Criminal and Social Justice, and Erin Gough, an alumna of Be. Leadership illustrates where you can land with a Be. Leadership PROGRAMME (did everyone get that? I said PROGRAMME) under your belt - and neither is anything short of inspiring.

As we round out our time together towards the end of our three days we asked ourselves how challenged do we feel? We place ourselves on the spectrum between comfortable and challenged, with the majority sitting in the middle upper or middle lower, and a sprinkling of individuals feeling all too comfortable. But not for long, I can tell you. The thing is that sometimes, it's hard to recognise growth when it’s happening because it’s gradual and messy, and lives somewhere in-between. Even if we are all at different stages of how we understand and feel about civil society, and leadership for that matter, we know we want to be a part of the bigger picture. That leadership comes is many shapes and forms and that's how it should be.

Be. Leadership 2018: Session 2, Society – what’s really going on here?

By Kelli-Anne Te Huki

Have you ever had that feeling where you walked in feeling comfortable and prepared for the topics for the day and then there's that moment when all your preconceived ideas were turned upside down and your view of something expanded into something totally different? Well, I think many of us felt like this following Session #2.

Red Nicholson opened the weekend with a sense of empathy for those he worked with and a sense of frustration at the system. The way he so willingly opened up about his personal and thought-provoking experiences gave the room a sense of compulsion to listen and engage. The ways we discussed underlying racial differences and almost segregation within schooling systems, be it zoning or the decile system, created a range of curiosities amongst the group. Although there are flaws in every system, the way he explained how leadership evolving from creating dialogue really followed on and added to discussions from our first session. Whether it's leader as a host or a facilitator, how can you truly try to help someone if you don’t know what they need? – the best way is to communicate.

The second day we met Dr. Angela Maynard, another leader whom completely changed our perceptions of society, this time from an anthropological and sociological approach. Have you ever been told that what you thought was true is actually a lie? Well, I for one, definitely have now. Breaking down everything from capitalism and secret dooms-day bunkers to myths about New Zealand, she definitely helped us realise that all is not what it may seem, which perfectly fit the weekend's theme. Learning about sociological imagination and how that can aid our leadership journeys perfectly melded Red's conversation and how we view our own backyard as well as how we can approach, break down and understand any issues or situations in the future. We were encouraged to ask questions, even if it's about why sport is like opium in New Zealand and how current day situations compare to 200 years ago to how to better build community ethos. I think everyone should be encouraged to think more critically about society while remaining humble.

If reconstructing our views about the world in only two days wasn't enough, Karen Sew Hoy certainly made us all take a close look at who we thought we were as individuals and shined a light on some character revelations and self-realisation! What to some may have seemed as a bunch of random letter combinations, ended up as a tool to better understand ourselves as individuals and how that affects our group dynamics both in syndicates and as a whole. Whether an image of a simple apple entices thoughts of Adam and Eve, you see a normal, red, shiny apple or think "it's just an apple!" apparently can say a lot about a person; it was definitely a new approach to understanding personality types and differences.

While it's only the end of the second session, it is amazing to see how our group is growing together. Whether it’s friendly disagreements surrounding ideas, or encouraging our more introverted members to back themselves and speak their mind, the bonds we are making are clearly broadening our horizons, building wonderful friendships, and giving us headaches from thinking too much, which I guess is actually a good thing. While I can't speak for us all, the way we are developing our leadership styles to respect and value perspectives and knowledge from others even more, critically analyse society, and filling each other's buckets, is an amazing thing to be a part of. When it comes to the Be. Team, they are definitely encouraging us to take the red pill and delve deeper into society and ourselves on our leadership journey and all I can say is, we're all strapped in for the ride.

Be. Leadership 2018: Leadership - What is it and Why Me?

Kindling the Flame of Leadership

by Chantelle Griffiths

Imagine for a moment, that one of your goals for the year was to face one of your biggest demons. If you knew deep down in your soul that to progress to the next stage of your evolution, you must come to terms with a challenging concept that was at once part of your DNA, and so confronting that you actively avoided it for most of your life.

What if you put an intention out to the universe that you wanted to be the best person you could possibly be, and were handed an opportunity that was exciting and simultaneously terrifying, but that answered your intention exactly? What would you do?

That was me, and I took action.

The 2018 Be. Leadership programme crept stealthily into my consciousness through a video shared by an alumnus on my Facebook feed. Like a flicker in the darkness, disappearing the moment I noticed it. Hovering at the edge of my periphery until I tried to bring it into focus. Yet remaining tantalisingly elusive. Until one day, I found myself entranced, like a moth to a flame, by thoughts of learning, personal growth and possibility. In the end, I knew that the only way to go was forward; lured by the siren song of finally conquering that leadership demon, and developing into a stronger, wiser version of myself in the process.

In any new group situation, at first, there is uncertainty. But that soon evaporated as we were launched head first into examining the core concepts of why we were all there. Leadership. Besides the fact that we didn’t have time to sit and feel awkward, I soon discovered that the energy I needed for anxiety was necessary to fuel my mind as we grappled with concepts like what leadership meant to us, and how leadership and leaders fit into today’s society. I could feel the framework of what I thought I knew reconfiguring itself as we examined our own beliefs; discovering new definitions to everyday words we thought we already understood and examining fundamental concepts in a whole new way.

Under the gentle, humorous, loving and sometimes provocative guidance of our facilitators, I could feel almost a tectonic shifting of understanding taking place within myself and those around me as the weekend progressed. The bond between us as a group strengthened during discussion, (and over amazing food,) to the point where having regular and extremely lively debates, sometimes about very personal concepts became the norm. You know you're doing something right when each time someone says, "I disagree," the group erupts into spontaneous and good-natured laughter.

Now imagine, if you will, bringing together a group of strangers who all found a common thread woven through the tapestries of their lives. Who followed that thread and discovered that where the threads intersected was a way forward. An inclusive, accepting, nurturing and trusting environment where fun is essential, companionship is assured and growth is inevitable. Imagine if that demon you once thought to conquer became a wise and loving companion you could walk with and learn from. And imagine if that stealthy smouldering of consciousness became an iridescent flame, kindled by knowledge and nourished by deliberate and conscious action.

What if that flame illuminates unexpected opportunities? What if the knowledge we gain kindles the same flame in the hearts of everyone we meet through our passion and enthusiasm? And what if that deliberate and conscious action takes us one step closer to the tectonic shifts necessary for significant and long-lasting social change in New Zealand and across the world? Only time will tell.

We have already taken a significant step in the right direction. We’ve learned that leadership is dynamic and diverse. We've learned that leadership means different things to different people. And we've learned that leadership involves looking at the world and ourselves on a soul-deep level.

Together we are discovering, among many other things, that moving from possibility to reality begins with a deceptively simple concept. Taking action. My life has already changed significantly as a result.

And that’s only Session One! Bring it on, Be!

Be. Leadership October 2017: Diversity – Taking off the rose-tinted glasses and getting critical

By Tricia Hall

On Friday 13th and Saturday 14th October we met for our penultimate session of the year at the ILS building in Royal Oak. Auckland put on two gorgeous spring days for us, and we appreciated the graceful hosting of Peter, who works at ILS as well as being part of our Be. Leadership group this year. We noted the unfortunate absence of a couple of members of the group and our thoughts were with those unable to be with us.

The topic of our discussions was Diversity – Taking off the Rose-coloured Glasses and getting critical. We were asked to continue to challenge the assumptions we often unconsciously make about ourselves and others through the stories we hear and tell. The power of stories is much more than the surface can lead us to believe. On the topic of Diversity we discussed how too often gender is as far as it gets, and wondered about how we might move beyond this without the limitations of costs, difficulties and complications closing down the conversation before it gets a chance to begin. We had three amazing speakers packed into the two days to help us think about these topics and start some conversations around them. These were Kim Workman and Ronelle Baker on Friday and the talented Quijing Wong on Saturday.

Our first speaker, Kim Workman, spoke to us about his experiences of working in the criminal justice and prison systems and his observations of the issues that continue to occur within it. He gave us powerful insight into the incidences of disabilities and racial prejudices within that system. One of his challenges to us as leaders was around speaking out on issues, and on knowing what the consequences might be should we choose to do so. He talked about how it can be possible for collaboration across agencies who may have differing ideas and ways of working but ultimately common goals.

Immediately after this we had our second guest speaker, Ronelle Baker, Chief Executive of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Ronelle spoke a lot about governance and the importance of the role that those who have lived experience of disability have in leadership. I particularly noted the conversation Ronelle had with us about difficult decisions that we may need to make as leaders and the importance of holding the bigger picture and long-term goals when making these hard choices.

On Friday afternoon we had a chance for a reflection session to go a bit deeper into the issues raised by the speakers and to both agree and disagree with each other’s responses to conversations from earlier in the day. Tamara Fa’anana presented a workshop on grant applications, and Neville Pulman from the Be. Welcome Programme gave us an overview of the work happening in that side of Be. Accessible.

We finished the day with an early dinner of pizza together before we departed.

Saturday's Speaker was Quijing Wong, filmmaker and Chief Executive of Borderless Productions. She talked about being drawn to working in social change and the power stories have as a way of creating connections and breaking down difference. We heard about the Auckland Humanity Project and Q gave us a few tips around applying marketing strategies in creating and maintaining momentum.

In the afternoon on Saturday we had a session on Courageous Conversations – challenging ourselves to have those difficult conversations and how they are different for each of us. We shared a few more of the My Future segments with each other, such a gift to pause and think of the hopes and challenges each of us has in our lives and to share these in the group. All too soon the session came to an end and we were headed home with heads filled with thoughts of new learnings and the realisation that we are nearing the end of our journey with Be Leadership.

Be. Leadership September 2017: Mass Media has a significant force that reflects and constructs modern culture

By Emma Cooper-Williams

In September we were back into it after a long break to reflect and continue our leadership journeys in our own communities. We were filled with inspiration and newfound perspectives and were ready to take on another two days, which challenged our perspectives as they stood and drove our understanding deeper. Held at the now familiar Sudima Hotel near Auckland Airport, we were challenged on our understanding and relationships with the media, which was our topic for the weekend.

After a wonderful opening and having a well needed catch up we were filled with the energy of Richard Paumatatau, who is a lecturer in Journalism at AUT. He shared an interesting perspective around how we locate ourselves in stories being told.

We learnt about how we can locate ourselves as either the story teller, or the person about whom the story is being told. His inspiring insight threw in the idea that while we have our own representation in situations, there is also what he described as re:presentation. I was captivated by the way he explained that we are reframed and reframed again by the media, and the construction and reconstruction of identity.

After lunch we heard from the lovely Melodie Robinson. She explained some of her experiences as a rugby commentator, in an industry where the vast majority of people working are men. I loved her perspective that women who have been able to break down barriers haven’t sweated the small stuff, they just get on with it! I loved that insight and think that we far too often worry about the small stuff and the logistics of how we are going to achieve what we want to.

One reason, she explained, why women don’t watch sports anymore, is because there are not many pathways for women, for former female athletes who want to remain engaged in the sporting arena in a different context to just competing. How women are portrayed in the sporting media needs to change, and there needs to be more pathways for women to contribute further and have a role in sporting media.

After a short break for afternoon tea, we had a 'My Future' session from four of us, where we shared where we would like to see ourselves in five years’ time. For me, although I felt that the context for where I want to be in five years is a mystery, I can see the kind of impact I would like to make, and I can see parts of society that I would like to contribute to changing.

We then spent a little time with the Be. Accessible Marketing Manager, preparing our visions for the Be. Leadership Graduation in November. This year suddenly seemed to have gone so fast, and it was terrifying to think that our leadership journeys were about to go off on their own paths.

On the second day of the September session, we heard from the lovely Minnie Baragwanath who shared about her experience with the media, which was particularly relevant to my own recent experiences dealing with the media. She shared around how she has managed her own narrative in the media, as well as the challenges and realities of how we are portrayed in the media, particularly when dealing with disabilities. In her experience of dealing with the media over a large span of time she had been able to reflect on how this relationship has changed over time, which reminded us that nothing in leadership remains static, and sometimes we have to change our approach.

I loved how she described that dealing with the media is a relationship, and something that we have control over. We were reminded that we are never going to get the perfect story, and we can choose just how much we share with the media, and what we choose not to share. This was quite a wakeup which reminded me that the media uses specific frames which sometimes distort reality, and it is important that we be critical of this.

We also reviewed the books that we had been reading in our syndicates over the last few months, and we didn’t want the session to end! We are now entering a journey in our final syndicates, which I can’t wait to make the most of!

Be. Leadership July 2017: Leading Innovation and Regeneration

By Aroha Lowe

Our mid-year retreat was held in the still regenerating landscape of post-quake Christchurch. We were mindful that the trauma of the quakes of 2010 and 2011 are still impacting on Cantabrians, many of whom lost their homes, and are continuing to rebuild their lives and their city.

Christchurch is well poised to explore the possibilities and challenges of regeneration.

Day 1:
Margaret Jefferies drove in from her beloved home of Lyttleton to speak with us. She shared about Project Lyttleton, which she chairs, and time banking, which she champions.

It was fascinating to hear how Lyttleton has flourished through the trading and sharing of time and skills. This prompted discussion about alternative economics and parallel systems.

Margaret suggested that leadership is as practical as identifying others who have skills different to your own, then creating something new together. She is now exploring how she might apply the lessons learned through her Lyttleton work to support the regeneration of Christchurch.

Later, Andre Lovatt, the CEO of Christchurch Arts Centre and Chair of Regenerate Christchurch, joined us. He spoke of a deepening awareness that creating a successful future city is as much about rebuilding community as it is about repairing the built environment. Andre envisages a city that is more accepting of diversity, more inclusive and accessible. He proposed that this is being achieved through working with Ngai Tahu and others from local communities.

Andre asserts that creating change is a lengthy and costly process, achieved one step at a time.

Day 2:
On Saturday morning, we enjoyed discussion in syndicates before welcoming Sam Johnson. 'Earthquake Boy' spoke generously about The Student Volunteer Army, which he founded. He shared some of the successes, challenges and pressures of his work.

He was energetic and engaging. He talked about the value of simply 'staying on the bus'. It was exciting too, to hear about the Primary Schools Project.

In the afternoon, some Be. Leaders shared their thoughts about their future goals and plans.

Day 3:
Ruth Jones, consultant and co-founder of Kanohi ki te Kanohi started her session by asking us to introduce ourselves. He whakaaro Maori tena. This is usual Maori practice. It gave her a clearer sense of who she was speaking to and enriched our discussion.

Ruth's experience of having access issues, as well as her work as an advisor, has taught her that we can lead in ways that are good for ourselves and others.

She is passionate about advocating alongside and supporting people with disabilities and access needs to co-author a more accessible Christchurch.

She imagines a city where the building code is minimum standard. To this end, Ruth is currently working on an Accessibility Charter. She has also started EDLG, the Earthquake Disability Leadership Group.

Notably, Ruth encouraged us to 'Bloom where you are planted'.

Philip and Lesley workshopped goal-setting with us in the afternoon. We discussed our site visits too.

It was a great privilege to hear from four speakers all co-authoring and exploring innovation in contributing to a more accessible Christchurch, well braced for the future.

Be. Leadership June 2017: Global Citizenship

by Ben Geddes

We were given the heads up that we would be challenged more than before and, at the same time, we were encouraged to challenge the status quo, especially the louder voices in the room.

The session’s focus was on Global Citizenship, helping us to further understand how we view the multitude of cultures around the globe and learning what that means within the context of a global society.

Barriers between countries are lessening through trade, the internet of things, communication, technological advancements, increased information, and technology-based research and development. New leadership and consciousness of the impact we have as individuals, groups and countries on those around the globe needs to be considered.

As a whole this session brought forward ideas about our responsibilities as global citizens and what we need to consider to ensure that our impact encourages others to strive for positive resolve around diversity and inclusive communities.

Anna Stone shared her thoughts on developing leadership within her organisation GSK and approaches to enhancing diversity in the workplace and in governance.

Amanda Judd has had an interesting career influencing many aspects of environmental care and regenerating our world. Using technology she has grown a new social enterprise, Kai, to increase accessibility to food options in response to the rising price of foods around New Zealand.

Craig Richardson's time with us was illuminating and challenging. Many may be anxious about what is ahead in regards to sudden technological advancements. Individuals may face job losses and businesses may experience significant market disruption.

Whether it is the price of food, strategic governance and diversity on boards, or technological advancements, the environment we live in is global. New technology is constantly emerging and will continue to do so, disrupting what was thought to be stable and solid organisations.

I think we will see movers and shakers rising from unseen quarters of society encouraging parallel systems where food and general living costs will be reduced by innovation, challenging historically sound business methodology.

I would encourage people to share their thoughts and be involved in communities they are passionate about, to learn about technology and how it may be used for good and to try out new, sustainable ways to acquire necessities like food and power.

Be. Leadership May 2017: A Civil Society– What is it and how does leadership enhance or diminish its value?

by Latifa Daud

Be. Leadership sessions always come around quickly and this month's session was held in our little capital Wellington. From Thursday night, we all started to arrive in the city and check into our rooms at the CQ Hotel. By Friday morning, we were set to start our third session of the year. It’s always great reconnecting with the leadership whanau after being busy in our own lives.

Friday's session was held in the CQ Hotel's restaurant, starting with a karakia by my syndicate to bless our weekend together and an introduction into our topic for the weekend – "Civil Society: What is it and how does leadership enhance or diminish its value?". We were asked to think about the concept of a 'civil society' and challenge our ideas about what that is.

Our first speaker was journalist Colin James, who spoke about the role politics, politicians and the media play in maintaining a civil society. He gave interesting perspectives about citizen participation, social media and the impact of personality politics.

We then had Green MP Mojo Mathers talk about her experiences in politics as a Deaf Member of Parliament and how to stay resilient in our efforts to effect long-term social change.

Our third and last speaker of the weekend was Marianne Elliott, director of story and strategy at ActionStation. She spoke about her organisation's campaign to encourage young citizens to engage in the political process. She ended by sharing her stories from working in Gaza, Timor-Leste and Afghanistan and how that has shaped her leadership journey.

I was moved by the honesty of all speakers and their willingness to speak openly about their lives, opinions and personal leadership journeys. Hearing from speakers from diverse backgrounds showed me that creating a civil society requires leadership of different styles in order to progress and effect social change. There is no one way to be a leader and at the core of leadership is the ability to think deeply about the world and to believe in your abilities and talents as well as those of others.

After an exhausting yet moving day of hearing from such insightful speakers, we ended with a memorial, joined by some Wellington alumni, for 2012 alumnus Alex Smith, who sadly passed away three weeks ago.

Day Two was held at the beautiful Te Papa Museum, starting with a reflection on the previous day's speakers. We were then taken on an audio tour of the various exhibitions by 2016 alumnus Bruce. This was a wonderful experience, giving us deep insights into various artifacts and the background of the museum. Bruce’s knowledge and passion made for an engaging tour. I certainly learnt more in this tour than I have in my previous individual wonderings through the museum.

After some delicious lunch, we gave book reviews on the books the three syndicates have been reading and discussing over the past three months. It’s interesting to learn how different people interpreted the same book, reminding me of the beautiful diversity of thought in our group.

To finish off the weekend, we were asked to revisit the idea of a 'civil society', and exploring our individual resilience. This tied together our topics of discussion over the weekend and got us thinking about practical steps we can take to build our leadership qualities, acknowledge our barriers to resilience and look after ourselves as we embark on our leadership journeys.

As usual, the leadership session was two days of thought-provoking conversation and an opportunity to challenge our own ideas. But most importantly, it was another lovely chance to connect with my cohort in a deep and meaningful way. I'm especially excited to make life-long friends and learn from such wonderful people.

Be. Leadership March/April 2017: Society – What’s really going on here?

by Alice Campbell

Towards the end of the second Be. Leadership session for this year, we were asked to each share one word to sum up the weekend for us. "Eye-opening", "Motivating", "Inspiring", "Movement", "Thought-provoking" were some of those words given. Summing up the weekend in one word was a difficult task because as we've quickly come to know and expect, the Be. Leadership team packs a lot of fantastic information and experience in a short space of time for these sessions!

I was buzzing for this session having had to leave a day early last time because I had a chest infection, and was keen not to miss out on anything this time. After a few issues with delayed flights and taxis I arrived with Tom to a room of people who have already become fast friends equally rearing to go.

First up we noticed two conspicuous absences as pointed out and explained by Philip in his session introduction. Lesley had another Be. obligation on the Friday morning, and Kramer had to leave the programme for personal reasons. Kramer was a part of my syndicate, and we felt his absence sorely but wish him the best.

Our first speaker of the first day was Red Nicholson, a Be. Leadership alumni, and a dean at Onehunga High School. His talk was titled 'Unraveling the myth of educational equity in Aotearoa'. Red was extremely engaging and his talk was insightful, highlighting issues including systemic racism, competition between schools, the decile system, and overtesting. While not necessarily directly related to some of us, with not all of us being parents, teachers, or students, Red's discussion bore relevance to all of us, making us keenly aware of how the education system impacts us all, and about the concept of privilege and how we each have responsibilities to use our privilege for good.

Our second speaker was Joe McDonald, who works for Affinity Services with Rainbow Youth. Their talk was about gender and sexuality diversity and issues with the mental health system and society in general, as well as issues and experiences of trans and non-binary people. The topic of privilege once again came up strongly and reinforced a lot of what Red had said about it. Joe also initiated their talk with discussion of colonisation and how that has affected and narrowed our potential experiences and understandings of the LGBTQIA communities.

I was very strongly affected by both of these speakers for their passion on their topics and particularly enjoyed them for the fact that they reinforced a lot of what I already knew from prior study. I found them very motivating but mostly appreciated their honesty, particularly in terms of not having the answers or solutions to the problems they were discussing with us. While this is a situation I am well used to, some of us also found it more difficult to not be able to see any immediate solutions, thus marking another growth challenge in our leadership journeys, and a personal challenge to come up with our own solutions to effect social change.

The last part of day one was spent with my syndicate sharing their personal journey stories. I volunteered first simply to get it over with! While I was very nervous at first, I was at ease very quickly as I was talking to friends. The stories shared were very personal and personalised and I gained a great insight into each person’s character and life.

After a big day, we all unwound with a shared dinner of pizza and leadership juice for some, and beers for others, kindly fetched by Aroha, Arturo, and Sam. It was a great evening of laughter, socialising, and chatter, before we all headed our separate ways home or into the taxi back to the hotel for the night.

Day two saw Annie Whitley from Capability Group coming in to run a workshop that gave us all tips for stress management and on how we can manipulate our brain into releasing good hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins to help us keep positive and resilient, and walked us through some mindfulness techniques. I found her workshop extremely engaging and practical and something I will be looking back on and using every day in my daily life.

I want to extend a special shout out to Sam and Hannah for all the work they put in in the background for these sessions, and to Hannah particularly in sorting our meals and making sure that those of us with special dietary needs are well attended to. I particularly loved how our lunch on day one was catered by Eat my Lunch, meaning that for each and every one of us, a schoolkid also got a lunch, tying in nicely with Red’s talk about equity in education and issues of child poverty. It was a really nice touch!

I really enjoyed this session and am eager for the next one in Wellington next month. I feel extremely blessed to be part of this programme.

Be. Leadership February 2017: Leadership – What is it and why me?

by Natalie Brunzel

Filled with trepidation and a feeling of slight inadequacy before entering the first Be. Leadership retreat of the year, I suddenly remembered Donald Trump is President! If Trump taught us anything it's that, sometimes, you just need to dare to put yourself out there. Crazy things can happen. With this in mind, I entered the room. Looking around, I was put immediately at ease. I knew at least two people and there were familiar names floating around too. Taking a few deep breaths, we went around the room introducing ourselves with an object that we had brought with us. The object represented something about us. The honesty with which everyone embraced this challenge set the scene for the rest of the weekend.

After we had some time together the first speaker who was introduced to us was Minnie Baragwanath, Chief Executive of Be. Accessible. Her bubbly personality was infectious and she continued the theme of honesty and vulnerability, sharing her struggles as well as her triumphs. At times things became a little intense so some of the participants asked questions such as, "Where did you buy your lipstick?" to lighten the mood as well as allowing Minnie to show her fun side.

The Friday session was capped off by two members of the Be. Leadership Alumni joining the conversation and giving us their perspective. It was wonderful to be able to ask people who had done this all before questions.

The fun continued with the programme launch. More members of the alumni came and one stopped me and said, "Natalie remember be bold, be stroppy this is the one place where you can try ideas out! I wish I had realised that at the beginning." This was a breath of fresh air and something I will be carrying with me for the rest of the year.

The Saturday session began in our syndicates, talking about leadership and our learning so far. The first order of the day was to prepare questions for our next speaker, Auckland’s former Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse. She shared her passion for the community and how her vision for a better Auckland was what drove her forward. This resonated with everyone as it is sometimes easy to be sucked into the dramas presenting themselves rather than holding onto the big picture, pushing towards a dream and keeping that in the front of your mind, no matter what happens.

In my personal reflections, I realise that perhaps I haven't been thinking big enough. I found Penny truly inspiring. Not just because of her achievements but her honesty about some of the choices and decisions she has had to make for the community. These haven't always made her popular but she has shown integrity and grit.

We finished off the day by learning more about ourselves. Prior to the weekend, we had all completed the Myers Briggs Personality Profile. This was the moment we would all find out who we really were – or, perhaps, time to realise how little we really knew about ourselves. However, instead of just being given the results we were taken through what each personalities characteristic were and asked to write down what we thought. This meant we not only had the opportunity to self-assess, but also the ability to truly learn about the various personality styles. This was powerful because it helped us to identify other people's personality traits and enhance our skills to adapt our own behaviours to understand others better.

There was plenty of laughter and fun for the rest of the night and the next day. Everyone acknowledging their weakness and strengths without prejudice. It was eye opening to notice that the diversity of personalities of the group was what strengthened it. Knowledge is power but seeing it being utilised in this instant was brilliant.

The weekend wasn't just the perfect introduction to the programme, it highlighted the privilege of having the opportunity to join such an esteemed alumni when we graduate at the end of the year. I'm grateful for the workshops and the learning that I will be gaining from my colleagues and those involved in Be. Leadership over the year.

Be. Leadership December 2016: The Year in Review

by Red Nicholson
 
What a year 2016 has been. Donald Trump was elected President, the UK left the EU, and 15 comparatively unremarkable individuals graduated from the Be. Leadership programme. As inappropriate as it may seem to draw an equivalence between these events, I can't help but wonder if the history books may celebrate our cohort of graduates as a shining light amongst the gloom that seemed to permeate a fairly miserable year.
 
Let's start at the beginning. Twelve months ago, we came together for the first time, nervous and fidgety. Sizing each other up, looking each other down, all the while wondering if we should even be here at all. Who am I? What on earth is leadership? Who invited the American guy? And then, "Just do the damn readings", implored the inimitable Lesley Slade. Clearly we weren't here to muck around. We were here to become leaders.
 
To support our leadership journey, we were given the opportunity to listen to and interrogate some incredible New Zealanders. We were spellbound as Margaret Jefferies explained how the town of Lyttelton continued to thrive during the Canterbury Earthquakes through the use of a time bank; we wept as Penny Hulse spoke about the raw humanity that she brings every day to her life in the public service; and we nodded in fervent agreement as Anna Stove celebrated her substitution of 'busy-ness' with 'remarkable time'. It's the kind of extraordinary experience that you take for granted while you're in it, but once it's over, you wish for nothing more than for it to begin again.
 
Over the course of the programme we were often made to feel uncomfortable. We were even encouraged to make each other feel uncomfortable. As the year progressed, we began to understand that unless we challenged one another, unless we were prepared to be vulnerable, we wouldn't experience any growth. Because while the leadership programme aimed to enhance our leadership capacity, it was, more than anything, a journey of personal growth. Becoming more self-aware. Discovering how to have courageous conversations. Shifting from a blame mindset to one of opportunity. Developing a congruence between our actions and our values.
 
But like all good things, our journey has come to an end. The onus is now on us, as a group, to do this programme justice. To be active in our communities, to begin new conversations, and to keep nudging the world forward. On behalf of the 2016 Be. Leaders, I’d like to acknowledge all the wonderful people who offered their time to speak, listen, and engage with us; the amazing staff at the Sudima and CQ Hotels; and, of course, our 'mains' (this is actually a word, I learnt it from the kids at school -
apparently, it means crew, posse, etc.), Lesley, Philip, Sam, Hannah, and Michelle. We owe you everything, and we will not let you down.
 
Watch this space.

Be. Leadership September 2016: Diversity – Taking off the Rose-Tinted Glasses and getting critical

by Jase Ranchhod

This session was an opportunity to revisit the stories we tell about ourselves and each other. We also examined the assumptions we make unconsciously (and consciously), and explored the role of leadership in highlighting and changing these stories and assumptions.

Day One
We arrived at our session's first day, after a bit of a rushed, early morning getting to Wellington airport for an early flight. We made it to Auckland excited and headed to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) premises in Penrose. It did feel unusual not catching our yellow bus to the Sudima Airport Hotel from Auckland Airport.

At the MDA, we were welcomed wholeheartedly by CEO Ronelle Baker. She gave us such a lovely welcome and we sang a beautiful waiata.

Our day started with the duty syndicate opening up our session and welcoming our first speaker, Kim Workman. Kim spoke to us about his time in the police and his change in role working in the prison system. He had also completed post graduate degrees in Religious Studies, in response to the outcome of a career assessment he had done. He talked to us about the monoculturalism in the prison system and the relationships with prisoners and correction staff. He also talked to us of the importance of culture, not making assumptions and being open to new ways of innovation.

After our delicious lunch from Eat My Lunch, we then had our second speaker for the day.

Cissy Rock was really candid and it was a joy to have her speak to us. She started her session talking about some of her stories. She spoke about her change in role from being in the Council and then working for the Living Wage. She touched on having 'core values' and spoke about her original ways of having meetings.

Both Kim and Cissy told us about their leadership styles and the unconventional ways of bringing meetings together and making them work. They both shared their individual family journeys and the impact they have had on their lives.

Within our syndicate we reflected on our speakers, the challenges of leading diversity, and the common themes that both Kim and Cissy shared about diversity.

Then Red, Soana, Sean and Maria shared their site visits – they all went to the most interesting places. Soana and Maria both went to the police, and Maria also spent time with Borderless Productions. Red spoke about his journey to Wellington and spending time with Jacinda Ardern at Parliament for the day, and serendipitously meeting Etta at an education protest outside Parliament. Sean talked about his time he spent with Barnadoes.

We also had the last of Our Futures – Soana, Bruce and I shared our goals for our futures and where we hope to see ourselves.

Late in the session we discussed our graduation and had a general rundown of the night. It's unbelievable that it is almost here and we will look forward to our final night together. We enjoyed having pizzas for an early dinner and those of us from out of town headed off to the Jet Park Hotel.

Day Two
On Day Two Ronelle Baker returned to speak to us. Ronelle shared her own leadership journey, from working in a District Health Board to now being the CEO of the MDA. She is the first CEO at the MDA with lived experience of muscular dystrophy. Ronelle is absolutely remarkable, her journey is inspiring and she shared her insights into her own personal development. I think I speak on behalf of us all that the favourite part of her talk was about the poutama as a symbol of parallel process. The explanation of poutama and the spiritual and physical aspects of it being a Stairway to Heaven is a learning that I know we will all cherish.

The similarity of our three speakers was the importance of values, their roles in society and having a strong vision.

After our lunch of Indian food, we all went away in our syndicates and discussed our new insights on diversity, themes and notions of diversity and how to lead in this space.

Philip then ran a workshop on reframing diversity, which included his music video on labels. We then discussed how we unconsciously label people and how we categorise diversity. One of my favourite things that Philip always mentions is how there is more diversity in decay than in growth. I think this sums up our uniqueness well.

This session was very challenging for us at a personal level because several people were absent for various reasons. Maree was missed on both days, as was Etta on Day One and Red on Day Two. It will be great having everyone together again in our final retreat in November.

Thank you to Philip, Lesley, Sam and Hannah for organising the sessions and always making us challenge ourselves and our ways of thinking. Thank you to Ronelle and the team at the MDA for hosting us. Thank you to the Jet Park Hotel for accommodating us out-of-town people and, to the Tribe, thank you for being part of this wonderful continuing Be. Leadership journey.

Be . Leadership August 2016: Mass Media has a significant force that reflects and constructs modern culture

by Kim Smith

It was great to return and to see everyone again in the City of Sails for Session Six of the Be Leadership programme. There was an air of excitement for the weekend. We had a fantastic programme in store for us about the significance of the media and how it influences our everyday lives.

Day One

Our first speaker of the day would have to be considered media royalty, and there was great anticipation in the group. We were privileged to have John Campbell join us, who spoke about the important role that journalism and, in particular, advocacy journalism plays in society. He reminded us that it is so important to capture a moment in time naturally and to not anticipate or augment any stories. He spoke of the significance of having a balance of both bad and good news stories. He explained that sometimes the ability to be real and to follow a story through can be the authentic and powerful way to report on an issue. 

We were then privileged to have Tao Lin who, in contrast, is at the beginning of her career in the newspaper and digital media industry. For Tao, being able to find your niche in the media and to report on the stories that matter to you to keep you passionate – and balancing those stories that need to be reported on but do not interest you – was a key issue. 

John and Tao spoke about the environment that journalists are in, both in the public and private sector, and the importance of journalists to be able to report issues that they think are important, balanced with “click-bait” and popular media. Both also spoke about the importance of resilience and needing to keep going and following what is important to you. They said journalists need to recognise how they are feeling, process it and then move forward. It is who you are as a person that matters.

In the afternoon Jake and Sarah from the Be. Employed Team came and explained to us the amazing work that they do with the Be. Employed Internship Program.
 
The last session of the day was a little bittersweet as we started to think and talk about our Graduation at the end of the year. It has been such a year of growth and it has been fantastic to see each and every one of the group challenge themselves. The thought of not seeing our anymore group monthly is sad.

Day Two

Day Two started with an air of excitement as we waited for Minnie Baragwanath whose dream of 100% accessibility has seen us have the privilege to be on this leadership journey together. She spoke about the exciting times ahead and that joining the momentum will help sustain our ability to live in a society where the barriers are minimised for everyone with access needs. She reminded us the power of having a collective of the right people around you to both challenge and support you through all times of your life. She reminded us that it is ok to feel overwhelmed or not to have the strength all of the time, but to know how to recognise this and how to build yourself up again.

In the afternoon our syndicates shared our reviews of books that each of us have been reading. Each of the books reminded us that our strength comes from within our communities. It is important to connect resources within our local communities and to use them all efficiently and to not operate as individuals within society.

The last part of our session were another four My Futures from our group. They highlighted the strengths and the ability to experience life with greater intention that this programme has given us.

Once again thank you so much to the Sudima Auckland Airport for your fantastic hospitality, as well as Philip, Lesley, Sam and Hannah for again facilitating such a fantastic session. This experience truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I look to what the next session in September will bring.

Be. Leadership July 2016: Leading Innovation and Regeneration

by Sean Parker

The Garden City, the city of old, the city of new, the city of hope – Christchurch, our host city for Session Five of Be.Leadership 2016.

After six weeks apart it was awesome to be reunited with the Be. Leadership family on the first morning at the refreshingly welcoming Sudima Christchurch.

For those of us who have only followed the rebuilding of Christchurch through media, this was going to be the opportunity to hear from the people on the ground how they were regenerating their beloved city.

Day one:

We were all mesmerised by the energetic Margaret Jefferies in the morning. Margaret heads up Project Lytteton and is also involved in a number of groups making a change. Margaret spoke in detail how the development of Time Banking has developed the community's sense of unity by utilising everyone's strengths.

We were all able to take away from the session the belief that any negative can be reframed into a positive to go forward and to keep having fun.

Post-lunch, Andre Lovatt, the chairperson of Regenerate Christchurch and CEO of the Christchurch Arts Centre, spoke to us about the joy he gains from restoring memories and creating exciting futures by getting the Arts Centre back in action in half the expected timeframe.

Andre emphasised the need for Regenerate Christchurch to rebuild confidence in the residents to achieve successful outcomes and dynamic futures for an intergenerational city.

Day Two:

Saturday morning dawned fine and crisp, ideal weather for us all to be treated to an UberASSIST-driven convoy around the Central Business District and, for some, the Eastern suburbs into the Red Zone where whole suburbs have disappeared.

It was here where the scale of the city's regeneration was plain to see with new buildings, colourful parks, playgrounds, shops and bars re-emerging.

We were all anticipating hearing from the current Christchurch mayor,Lianne Dalziel, after lunch and we were not disappointed. With gusto and a breath of fresh air, Lianne is bringing forth a city that is reflective of the diversity of its people.

Lianne made it clear that the city is in a unique position of opportunity to be safer, smarter, sustainable and accessible to everyone. Lianne wears a necklace that reminds her of what is important as a leader: the words on the necklace say, “The most courageous act still is to think for yourself. Aloud.” Lianne also said the beads reminded her to be resilient in times of leadership.

Like most of our speakers this year, Lianne held tightly to the concept of resilience as a way to bounce back and restore faith and belief. Key points in Lianne's speech, that was also highlighted by Margaret and Andre on day one and that I will take with me, were the belief that leadership is about seeing and using the strengths in others. She also reframed the motto, “the wisdom of the community always exceeds the knowledge of the expert,” saying that she thought the wisdom of community coupled with knowledge of experts almost always exceeds what one can achieve with one and not the other.

Day Three:


After a night celebrating the Hurricanes win in the Super Rugby, the third and final day was all about group work. We were challenged to relook at where we were in our leadership journeys and if these thoughts had changed since the beginning of the year.

Lesley and Philip also asked us to consider how we work with goal setting, and introduced us all to the concept of CLEVER goal setting where you become courageous in leaving a legacy and rejoicing in the successes.

Session six awaits us back in Auckland.

Be. Leadership June 2016: Global Citizenship

by Maree Welgus

Day One

Our fourth session involved discussions around looking at the 'Big Picture', our own engagement and not being afraid to fail. Don’t blame – take action and when needed reframe your thinking. The overall weekend also looked into commitment – what will I commit to and what will I be accountable for?

We began with our new syndicates – Enigma-piphany, Four Square and The Fab Five – back where our Be. Leadership Journey began over four months ago – Sudima Auckland Airport. Unfortunately, there was one pretty face missing on the first day thanks to fog in Dunedin. However, Sarah was able to join us late that evening.

Speaker One – Anna Stove, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline NZ

Anna spoke of engagement being a major factor in Global Citizenship. She shared with us her holistic approach to leadership and knowing the staff beyond their role. Having worked in global companies, both large (100K plus staff) and smaller (3,500), Anna could relate to us that, although at times decisions could be made quicker in smaller companies, her drive to enable engagement in the large sector contributed to change. Remember, Anna’s calendar includes many 'remarkable' times.

Speaker Two – Major Campbell Roberts, Director of Salvation Army Social Services.

Global Citizenship to Campbell is contributing, listening and engaging. We need to engage internationally with social needs and issues. On a global scale New Zealand is unknown unless you are referring to the All Blacks. He then posed the question, 'how would you like to see New Zealand on the world stage?' This allowed us to ponder over our ideals and he also expounded that we need to put successes in perspective. His main drivers as a leader are to compete, to be an influencer and, most or all, to be himself.

We all agreed the calibre of speakers was amazing and we were so fortunate to have the opportunity to engage in intimate conversations and Q&A's assisting us in our leadership journey.

It was a pleasure to have Kylie and Adrian share with us an overview of the Be. Welcome Programme. This programme enables businesses to access and cater to the customer market making the world more accessible whilst adding value to businesses. Kylie and Adrian challenged us to introduce Be. Welcome to one business / organisation in 2016.

Day Two

Day two entailed a New Conversations Workshop which allowed us to have conversations between ourselves reflecting on the world, self image, beliefs, persona

and opinions – what is congruent and what is authentic? Sarah was punching her inner voices in the throat with gusto!!!!

To. Be. Me. was screened during the day and I, amongst many, had tears in my eyes. These tears were ones of great admiration for Minnie and her continued mission. The movement has achieved so much in five years, a true testament to one woman’s vision. We again were given another challenge to host a 'To Be Me' session.

In the afternoon Jase, Jon, Kim, Red, Sarah and I shared 'Our Journey'. It was very comforting to reflect on aspects of our lives with such special people. Red’s love of Kanye’s music will not be forgotten (forgive me Red if I have got the wrong rapper lol)

Day Three

Speaker One - Andy Hamilton, CEO of The Icehouse

Andy views the Big Picture with integrity knowing that you are in the present tense creating a vision that may take years to achieve. You need to know where you are and where you are going. The journey in between can be mapped out but be prepared to reframe your thinking with changing environments.

Speaker Two – Qiujing Wong, Chief Executive of Borderless Productions

I had the pleasure of being Q's host and, wow, from the minute we met I felt an aura of loveliness. Q views Global Citizenship as a choice – a way of thinking, to be deeply self aware and interdependent. She mentioned in leadership you need to back yourself as it’s easy to diminish actions. Again the Big Picture view was evident with Q and her continued work on Borderless' project "On the Backs of Woman". Profit from this project injected into a social change via micro-finance for entrepreneurial impoverished women in Myanmar. Q told us to back ourselves and lead with enthusiasm!

Overall active Global Citizenship involves engagement and taking action – it is a choice. W H Murray ended one of his famous quotes with "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!"

Please excuse my bias, but Sudima Auckland Airport catered to our every need during the weekend. Lesley and Philip, you continue to inspire (Lesley, I actually like the word) me and although only midway through the programme I can honesty say my life has changed through your teachings. I am very proud to be part of Be.

See you all in the Garden City next month!

Be. Leadership May 2016: A Civil Society-- What is it and how does leadership enhance or diminish it's value?

by Jono Heaps


Leadership is not only very important to the community, it also depends on the community.

Our third session of Be. Leadership which expanded on the ideas and principles of a civil society, was held at the amazing Te Papa Tongarewa in windy Wellington. I should say 'sunny Wellington', because the weather was sensational for both session days.

Those of us who stayed at the excellent CQ Hotel were able to enjoy some morning sunshine during the 15-minute walk to Te Papa, which was for me an ideal way to get the day started.Unfortunately our leadership company was only 13 this month. I think we all missed Amy Glassford's valuable input and encouragement this session. Amy, I can only imagine how frustrating it was for you not to be there. I'm glad to hear you're recovering and very much look forward to seeing you again soon!

This month, we were thrilled to welcome Hannah Slade as Programme Manager. Hannah, you did a sterling job organising us all and ensuring that everything was fully accessible and ran smoothly. We're very glad to have someone who sets such a high standard of leadership. Cheers!

The theme of this month's session was a daunting one for me. The question of understanding, much less achieving, a civil society has been at the forefront of humanity for a pretty long while and, after a conversation packed couple of days, I can see it's going to be at the forefront of our leadership journeys this year.

We looked at the nature of civil society through several lenses. Colin James provided a political perspective, drawing on a wealth of knowledge and experience in journalism. We then heard from Dr Justine Cornwall, whose experience with advocacy for New Zealand youth provided questions about how well our young people are represented in our democratic process and overall society.

These two unique perspectives represented two contrasting leadership styles. It was fascinating to witness how these successful leaders differed in their definition and application of leadership.

For me it underlined that in a civil society, there needs to be many kinds of leaders and that it's a mistake to think that certain personal qualities are suitable or unsuitable for leadership.

This idea also came up in our syndicate book review of 'David and Goliath' by Malcolm Gladwell. He asks the reader to challenge popular perceptions and stories that shape our thinking, which I think is a model I'd like to apply to the way leadership is recognised. Margaret Wheatley's 'Perseverance' provoked some strong reaction within the group as well, so that one is definitely on my reading list.

It's always nice to get acquainted with Be. Leadership alumni. We got this opportunity on Friday night when some of the Local programme graduates joined us for dinner at the Southern Cross Restaurant. Be. Social!

Mojo Mathers showed us yet another way a successful leader can have a positive impact on society. Her passion for and commitment to accessibility impressed me greatly, as did her openness about the necessity for both resilience and pragmatism in her work.

Perhaps the most telling message I took away from the hour and a half with Mojo was the importance of generosity in building social capital. Peter Block defines generosity as giving of yourself and expecting nothing in return. I'm not sure I agree unconditionally with this definition, but as both Justine and Mojo demonstrated, successful and generous leadership requires significant personal sacrifice in a lot of cases.

I thought Red Nicholson did a splendid job as host of Mojo's session. His proactive encouragement during the Q&A opened the way for previously unexplored conversations.

This entry wouldn't be complete without mentioning the whirlwind tour of Te Papa hosted by Bruce Roberts on Friday afternoon. What a privilege it was to be instructed and entertained by someone so knowledgeable and passionate about their subject. I never realised how incredibly varied New Zealand's aquatic world is and that there are still so many things yet to be discovered. Ties in well with the general theme of the weekend, doesn't it? As always, I wish there had been more time! I very much look forward to my next visit to the museum.

Some key points from the session:

  • An ideal civil society will promote and encourage many distinct styles of leadership.
  • When striving for a productive and accessible society, both individualistic and holistic principles can be very valuable in one's task.
  • Advocating for social change is a task which requires significant resilience. This resilience can be developed and built up over time, it does not have to be an inherent personality trait.
  • Generosity is a key element of positive leadership and can be expressed in many different ways. Each of us have the capacity for generosity, each of us have unique resources that if given generously can have a positive impact on us as individuals and society as a whole.

And so we look towards the fourth Be. Leadership session in June with anticipation, perhaps a little trepidation and many new questions.

Thanks always to Lesley, Philip and Sam for inspiring and encouraging us. Cheers once again to Bruce for creating a warm and welcoming experience at Te Papa. I'm only beginning to appreciate how much work went into the hosting of this session.

That's all this month. See you again soon!

Be. Leadership April 2016 - Society: What's really going on here?

by Etta Bollinger

The April Be. Leadership session saw the group coming back together slightly more sure of ourselves. There was an air of reunion that first morning as we greeted each other and caught up on the time that had elapsed between sessions. Several tattoos had appeared and we wondered if this would become a theme. Alongside aesthetic changes we shared some of our personal leadership challenges and successes of the last month, some of these were one in the same. Big congratulations in particular to Bruce and Te Papa for receiving an 86% rating in the Be. Welcome assessment.

Listening and sharing in the conversation and jokes I felt that this time around, knowing something more about the land of Be., we were anticipating what new ideas we would be being asked to engage with and getting a sense of each participant’s unique point of view. I for one was looking to absorbing ideas as well as debating them and, as promised, I did a lot of both. I was also observing our own language and culture for the space, which we would continue to debate and refine over the coming days.

Our conversation would be held this time under the wide umbrella of Society and the question, what's really going on here? For me, studying sociology I am invested in some particular ways of unpacking that question. On the one hand, I felt like I might have some tools to bring along. On the other hand, society and the way we think about it is deeply personal and strongly held and I knew there'd be a wealth of perspectives and experiences in the room.

During this busy time, I was challenged from an unexpected quarter. I was looking forward to hearing the speakers largely because the areas in which they were practitioners and leaders - mental health, psychology and education - are all areas where I feel important change can and must be made. Particularly in the case of education and health, a change in our approaches to these disciplines could ultimately support profound change in society at large.

I was surprised to learn that while this basic assumption was affirmed, my thinking around leadership was nevertheless pushed, extended and challenged by people whose impulse toward change and leadership I empathised and agreed with.

Some new thoughts that came up for me were:

* Sometimes leadership is about being yourself, even if this makes others uncomfortable.

* Embracing ambiguity could be something to strive for in our lives and identities, where our (or my) habit has been to aim for clarity.

* Sometimes leadership involves supporting someone else’s vision and understanding the complexities involved in coming to their decision.

* One of our expectations of leadership is often to have individuals as spokespeople. This can work but leadership can have more purchase if it is about enabling others to emulate the change and feel ownership of it.

In the previous sessions ideas had challenged me in ways that have highlighted my own bias but also affirmed my position. In this case I was given thoughts I’ll be teasing out over the coming weeks, gently adjusting my view of some of my interactions and the spaces and institutions I move in. Thoughts could shift my definition of authenticity in my work I look forward to it.

#31 Be. Leadership February 2016 - Leadership? What is it and why me?

by Sarah Williams

Where to start? What a trip (also the name of our syndicate, coincidently) this three days was. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I knew I was excited, and nervous. I did feel in my gut that this leadership programme was for me, the right thing at the right time.

Due to the timing of my flight I was the very last one to arrive at the Sudima Hotel, arriving at approximately 5 minutes past 10am after I had checked my bag and had a very quick post-flight, nervous wee.

I’m going to start with my overall impression of the weekend and work backwards from there. I met the most wonderful people. I could write that sentence 100 times and submit that as my blog. I am so incredibly grateful for the relationships that I have started to build with the other participants and the members of Be. Leadership. This was the most welcome I have felt into any group for a very long time. Lesley, Philip, and Michelle really set the scene for the type of learning environment that the programme encourages and I was super relieved that, while there are very high expectations set of us, we were encouraged to be a bit naughty and be honest and have fun.

The theme of the Opening Retreat was “Leadership, what is it and why me?” This is a really big topic. The question of why me will be one that hovers over my head for some time. And maybe, that is something that should never go away. One thing I learned this weekend was the importance of the concept of unpacking, and checking in with yourself. Leadership isn’t about having all of the answers.

One thing that I really resonated with was something that Red said about the concept of a “well manicured” leader. I have definitely borrowed that phrase a couple of times since and it has challenged my ideas on what a leader is and that it comes in all forms. Leadership is not a role. Leadership is about an invitation to act, to participate and to create change with others (Lesley’s welcome).

I also learned a few new dirty, dirty curse words over the weekend.

Followers
– don’t be a sheep peeps!

Course – this is a programme of learning.

Safe – success for us is a high degree of discomfort, disruption a lot of time and sometimes confusion (Lesley’s welcome).

Our first speaker was Les Morgan, Director of Operations, Sudima Hotels. Les has a special relationship with Be and feels that theirs is a natural partnership. To me the strong theme in Les’ discussion was around generosity which he feels is a very important part of being a leader, being generous with spirit and with money. Les is clearly a confident leader; however he still has the process of checking in and regularly meets with mentors. He listed mentors as of the top five things that have influenced him as a leader. I will take this message back and hold onto it throughout my own leadership journey.

We met in our syndicates to develop some questions for Les and this was new process to negotiate, which we discussed following Les’ presentation. Lesley empowered us with the idea that it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission, and to go boldly. Over time we will learn to distil our ideas, and this will be something that will continue to challenge us. And we will also probably learn not to be quite so polite with each other, watch this space!

Tonya and Jake, Be. alumni came in to speak with us about their Be. Leadership experiences and their own leadership journeys. They both talked about being open to the experience and about having learning objectives and getting everything that we can from the experience. It was great to see the passion that they both have and this only made me more excited about this process. Any words of warning? Buffets can be dangerous.

The Be. Leadership programme 2016 was officially launched on Friday night which saw us enjoy some leadership juice with former Be. Leadership participants, the Be. whanau and some of our own families. What a great opportunity to take a deep breath and say, we made it, we’re here! I loved being able to get to know the other participants a bit better. Red, your wife Helen is a ball of light.

Our first speaker on Saturday was Penny Hulse, Deputy Mayor, Auckland City. I had the pleasure of being the host for this session. Penny arrived like a breath of fresh air. I was a little nervous about my role as host but she put me at ease straight away. Penny talked a lot about being guided by what is the right thing to do, about hope and resilience. I loved that she talked about not having a thick skin and not wanting to grow one. Penny was very honest with us and that I feel that was a real gift that we should all be incredibly grateful for. Two words: "Magenta Highway".

On Saturday afternoon Karen Sew Hoy, HR Director, DDB New Zealand came to talk to us about our Myers Briggs results. I was a super "floofy" ENFP which was no surprise to me as I had been fortunate to complete this process recently through work. What a great way to identify our own and each other's preferences and areas of focus, like the extroverts shutting up once in a while so the introverts can get their voices heard. It was a bit eerie to read the profile synopsis and see how much that reflects who I am and how I operate.

I came away from the weekend absolutely buzzing with anticipation and excitement. I know that this programme is going to be a life changing experience. I am extremely grateful to be a part of this leadership ride and build on the strong relationships we are already starting to build with each other. I look forward to growing in this environment with a bunch of amazing people whom I trust, completely, already.

"Leadership is about doing what you know is right – even when a growing din of voices around you is trying to convince you to accept what you know to be wrong." — Robert L Ehrlich

#30 Be. Leadership Class of 2015 - Graduation Speech

by Tonya Baker & Stephen Macartney

WOW …..They said it would go fast and it really has been almost supersonic 21 days, once a month for each of the 9 sessions, sometimes it felt like we’d only been together just the week or two before, yet other times there was so much "news" and happenings it felt like it should have been much much longer.

One of the first lessons that I remember on our leadership program & journey with be. Was that you can only truly be a leader when you peel back your own layers and get vulnerable and intimate with yourself. When you know your own story, your attitudes, beliefs, values that make up your true authentic self.

We were told, no commanded, to "Go Deep", observe our responses & actions and "get underneath them" to discover our hidden depths of being.

We learnt about the balanced ego of leadership between humility & self confidence, and were encouraged to maintain an awareness of our position between the spectrum of these two ego states on our journey.

Our self-exploration took many forms this year, including our personality types according to Myers-Brigs under the expert guidance of Karen Sew Hoy. In fact Stephen & I are very close in our personality assessments. I am the introvert to his extrovert in the NFP profiles.

The importance of Yin & Yang came through strongly throughout the year, or as Karam Meuli called it "Wairua", two rivers converging, where you need opposites to coexist together such as:

  • Holding on / letting go
  • Short term focus/ long term view
  • Success/ Failure
  • Reaffirm self/ challenge parts of self supposed
  • Give/ receive

We were exposed to some great authors and thought leaders through our readings, who truly helped shape our learnings and experience:

  • Naomi Klein
  • Peter Block
  • Brene Brown
  • Margaret Wheatley
  • Eleanor Roosevelt (to name a few)

Speaking of thought leaders, our facilitators Philip & Lesley have indeed provided much food for thought this year.

This fabulously fashionable, fiercely intelligent, ferociously opinionated and principled duo have at times lit a fire in our bellies, put a bomb underneath us or blown our minds apart.

Of our teachers and our experience we would like to share one of Davendra Barnhart’s writings:

"Raven, teach me to ride the winds of change
Perch where the wind comes at you full force
Let it blow you apart till your feathers fly off and you look like hell
Then abandon yourself

The wind is not your enemy, nothing in life is
Go where the wind takes you, higher, lower, backwards
The wind to carry you forward will find you when you are ready
When you can bear it"

We received some true gifts in the form of speakers this year, thought leaders, business leaders, community, education, social and service leaders. We are all so grateful for the generosity of those who shared their time, experiences and lessons with us and our leadership journey and lives are the richer for it. All seemed to echo the power & value of conversation, and there was much admiration and respect expressed for Be. As a community through which transformational change could be achieved.

We also learned some new & interesting terms of phrase, for me I recall:

  • Minority stress
  • Coalessence
  • Intersectionality
  • Murky Middle
  • And of course "Wairua"

We have discovered for ourselves that this program is indeed a waka, not a ferry, requiring our active participation, and sharing of inarticulate thoughts and feelings at times requiring an immense amount of trust in & respect for each other. We did not always get this exactly right but I am sure we have all learnt, as many of our speakers have said, that through adversity there is often the biggest learning or growth opportunity for us.

We have experienced many things to be grateful for this year. With the aroha of all the people around us. We've learned that more than saying thank you to a speaker we express our gratefulness for their sharing. And in that spirit we would like to thank our friend's family and whanau for their support and belief in us throughout this very busy and challenging year.

And a special mention for the Finances, we've had two "engagements" this year amongst the cohort. Congratulations to Loren and Teena. 

We've been away from Friends and family, we've been busy before during and after each session, We've been grumpy with ourselves with others and absorbed by strange comments, answers to questions and feedback.

And gratitude to Sam and Hannah and briefly Michelle for an organization, its leaders and its wonderful staff who have made it their goal to support us in our leadership development. It can't be easy.. to organize travel, accommodation, reflections, notes feedback surveys, meals.

I, personally, will be forever grateful to Philip, Lesley & Be. For this opportunity to take the time to examine myself and my leadership journey.

Through this I feel I have more self awareness & leadership strengths & skills to step in and out of leadership roles with confidence. While this is only a part of my journey I feel revived and refueled by this experience to lead myself into the next leg.

We include our cohort in our gratitude tonight, who have allowed us to share, listen, learn & grow with them this year. You have shown us much love support & care. We have much admiration for your own drive and sense of purpose you continue to show.

We offer this wish to you our dear friends:

Kia tou kaha hei tutau ki hurihia koe me te koutou parirau ki te tango i rere

Let your strength be your anchor to ground you as well as your wings to take flight.

To conclude, In the words of Margaret Wheatley, "We've lived fully, we've experienced joy, we've had some fun and we'd do it all over again."

#29 Be. Leadership September 2015 - Innovation and Leadership – Christchurch, a truly accessible city for the future

by Stephen Macartney

With innovation and leadership as the key themes, Christchurch was a great place to visit and for us to link with locals. It gave us an opportunity to consider the potential and possibilities of the city through its rebuild phase, and we engaged in this with most speakers and sessions over the two days.

Many of us took the opportunity to visit the city centre at some point. Visiting the city had an emotional impact on many.

The Sudima Hotel in Christchurch airport is going through its own rebuilding and transformation process. The conference room we used was only just finished by the painters the night before. The conference room next door to ours was alive to the sounds of banging, drilling and con-struction work.

On Friday morning the introduction was led by Martin who asked us questions about acts of kindness we had received and given over recent days, and planned to give during the session. On Saturday morning Steve reflected on his and his family’s personal experience during and after the two major quakes.

The three speakers for the sessions were from different sectors and areas of Christchurch, how-ever they all, in some way, increased our understanding through their personal stories about the impact of the quakes on themselves, their families and the people they worked with. The recognition of the host of opportunities and possibilities that can be found within Christchurch in spite of the damage of the quakes was a common thread throughout each of the speakers' sessions.

Lauren Merritt, Chief Awesome Officer of the Ministry of Awesome was our first speaker. In her presentation and Q and A session she explained how people in leadership roles such as hers had the intentional curiosity to go out to talk to people in their community, finding out about their priorities and their needs. This was important so she could link them to others within the community that they could network with.

I reflected that this way of working is important to me in the leadership roles that I work in. Collecting and connecting everyone's views is better than relying on the views of a few people or organisations.

I appreciated Lauren's reflections on her choices to work with people across the globe. I was also interested to see her growing sense of the importance of creating partnerships and collaborating with local people. I was surprised by her growing recognition that, "fighting the good fight" isn't always the best way to lead or help a community.

The work of Ministry of Awesome's role is to connect and collaborate with people around and across the city and this process was an obvious passion of Lauren's.

Andre Lovatt is the Chief Executive of the Christchurch Arts Centre. He shared his insight into the unique place that the centre holds in Christchurch as well the place of the arts in the city and wider community, both after the quakes and now in the rebuild phase.

Andre returned to Christchurch to take up the CE role, which was both similar and different to what he was doing before. He moved from a civil engineering and leadership role in Singapore to a leadership role within an engineering project within the arts sector. He identified the ongoing need to clarify his leadership role by listening to others and staying true to his values.

He is succeeding in many ways as a leader by being himself and having a comprehensive over-view of all that he manages and leads, without getting bogged down in detail. I wondered when he developed this style: as an engineer, through his work in Singapore, or working within the post-quake rebuild phase.

I was surprised that he was a civil engineer working in the creative arts field. I noted that he and Lauren also talked about the importance of remaining independent of the post-quake bureaucracies, but still working alongside central and local government when necessary.

The rebuild of the Arts Centre is a massive project in itself, not to mention the need to connect the wider community with the Centre's future in Christchurch.

Andre discussed with us the importance of accessibility within the rebuild, especially heritage projects. The Centre is now more focused on innovation and accessibility than before.

Margaret Jefferies, Chair of Project Lyttelton, spoke about its genesis and, like the other two speakers, how values are so important to the work she does and the people she works with.

Margaret gave us a brief history of the TimeBank that operates in Lyttelton, including its NZ-wide and global contexts and how it has grown to reflect the positive values of the community. Nearly a quarter (700) of Lyttelton's population of 3000 are linked through the TimeBank.

Margaret also explained why appreciative inquiry was important to her and to the way Project Lyttelton operates. Appreciative inquiry focuses on potential and possibility, not just problems. We later discussed the balance between being problem- or solution-focused and the process of recognising and realising opportunities.

All the speakers identified a need for both personal and organisational strategy within their leadership roles; to identify and maintain the values of an organisation, its people and projects; and to only intentionally link with other organisations or teams that share those values. Leadership in community projects emerges from conversations between people as early as possible and striving to maintain the communication throughout the process.

The final My Future talks were further evidence of the trust, authenticity and respect we have in each other as a group, as we discussed the potential and the possibilities open to us for the next five years.

#28 Be. Leadership August 2015 - Mass media has a significant force that reflects and constructs modern culture

by Juliana Carvalho

I am sipping "leadership juice" while I write about the sixth session of Be. Leadership 2015. Because you know, in vino veritas ("in wine there is truth.") And truth is (or was?) a key part of the communication business.

Our preparation for this session included taking note of the places we go for news and information. I need to confess that I was a bit shocked with myself when I realised that my news comes mainly from Facebook. I go there to check how many likes my last picture has received and then I end up clicking on links that my friends have posted and sometimes clicking on paid links.

We were also asked to think how we develop and test our thinking. Here’s another confession: I am still struggling with this task!

The fact is that mass media (communication that reaches a large audience) has a huge influence in modern culture and our daily lives. The messages largely broadcasted promote not only products and behaviours, but also the sense of what is important or not (for example. the NZ flag vs TPPA ). To be aware that mass media plays a huge role in the leadership space was the aim of our sixth encounter.

The setting for the first day of our session was the Westpac building (thanks Tonya!). As a visitor, I was impressed with the level of security to access the building. It is a mission to get into the premises, a bit like what you would see in sci-fi movies.

Our first speaker was Simon Tong, Managing Director of Fairfax Media since September 2013. Interestingly, Simon has a long career in the information technology industry, and his shift to the communication business proves that leadership skills are transferable (or is it a hint that technology is transforming communications?).

He spoke about the role of the media in shaping, informing and forming public opinion. He shared quite striking and thought provoking information: thefuture challenges and opportunities for journalism and story telling, the immediacy of story telling, the fact that now often the public breaks the news and then the media follows up the stories, the "bubble" with personalised content, and so on.

Yep, we are facing a fast-paced revolution. Technology and social media are right now redesigning how we produce and consume information.

After Simon’s session we ruminated on our mid-year reflections and feedback from Lesley and Philip. We then we had the privilege to hear from several fellow participants about their dreams, plans and expectations in the "My future" session.

Our second day was at one of our favourite venues, Sudima Hotel. Back on familiar ground, we started the day with a media analysis workshop. It was an invitation to think further about how the media tells stories, the importance of information verification and how to develop our critical thinking.

Then was time to watch the beautiful documentary To. Be. Me., which tells the Be. Accessible story since the beginning, followed by a great discussion with Minnie Baragwanath and Qiujing Wong. I was interested in how they are strategically using communication tools to build positive social change. And we were introduced to the second part of the Be. Campaign, which will be launched on 7 November. I can't wait to help spread the word!

We ended up our day with more reflection, finishing with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, generously shared by Tonya:

"What counts in the long run is not what you read; it is what you sift through your own mind; it is the ideas and impressions that are aroused in you by your reading. It is the ideas stirred in your own mind, the ideas which are a reflection of your own thinking which makes you an interesting person."

#27 Be. Leadership July 2015 - Diversity: Taking off our rose coloured glasses and getting critical

by Tonya Baker

We came together again with an excited urgency to make the most of our mid-year retreat back at the Sudima Hotel, Auckland Airport. We only have 7 more days that we will be together on this leadership journey.

I was so glad to be back at the Sudima, with staff who greet us like old friends, nothing is too much trouble. Accommodation, facilities are outstanding and their tasty nourishing food kept us going (and then some) for the 3 days of speakers and workshops.

The theme of this session was to look critically at our society and ask ourselves what role we play in what is happening around us and how we can be part of the solution.

We were already feeling blessed to have been exposed to the quality of leaders we have throughout this programme. Our speakers on this occasion were second to none! All represented a leadership of service, a calling. All reiterated the value of the conversation in everything.

Cissy Rock – "Strategic Community Engagement.'

Cissy demonstrated a collaborative leadership style in her reflections with us. She shared some nuggets, including the question, "Who defined the problem," which is a challenge to critically evaluate our assumptions about what we are working to "fix”. She shared how her life experiences have helped her to have empathy and build relationships with others and talked of the need to keep an eye on the long term view while working on the current issues. Such a lively woman, who actively welcomes friction in her conversations, which help her live with passion and purpose. What wonderful strengths she has to be able to mobilise people, simplify complex messages and to be true to her integrity in everything she does. A particular takeout for me was to be more aware of my privilege, which Cissy defined as "our bundle of unearned advantages". "If we are aware of them,” she said, "we can start to see how they make an impact on the world."

Damon Keen – "Clean Green NZ?'

Damon made our responsibilities regarding climate change accessible to me. He shared some extremely sobering statistics about just how bad things have become, which prompted an "are you sure?" response internally from me many times. He too was passionate about the value of conversation and that every little step (as Bobby Brown would say) counts. Again balance.... again collaboration, finding like minds, and again the value of conversation. What an attentive respectful speaker he was. Such a pleasure to hear his thoughts. Once you know it you can't unknow it, but what do you do with that?

Red Nicholson – "Education, where are we leading our kids?"

Another passionate committed leader came to speak to us. How privileged were we to meet his whole family – his wife Helen and son Lachlan –, beautiful! Red advocated for authentic

participation and keeping your curiosity. He introduced how charter schools might be able to bridge the gap through funds and innovation that our public traditional schools might not be able to bridge. I am still pondering on this and where the shortfall/responsibilities lie. Red certainly challenged my own thoughts around good/bad schools and the salacious fodder that our media portrays about teachers in the minority and their shortcomings vs. the majority who are in it for the long haul for the good of their students and ultimately our society. How do we ensure that our children learn how to learn and love it?

Karam Mueli – "Maori Mental Health – Unravelling myths & stereotypes"

Karam was such a giving presenter. Another humble, passionate, courageous leader who values conversation and shares his story and authentic self to build relationships. I appreciated his insights about everyone needing a role in society and a place to stand. A beautiful man with a beautiful voice and a sobering message about how we all need a strong support system to help us through the pressures that life can throw at us. A village, a hapu, an iwi, a community, that helps us build the toolkit we need to make a contribution.

Not only am I very grateful to be on this journey, having my mind "blown apart" and put back together again, under the expert care of our facilitators, but I get to share this with a phenomenal group of diverse and dynamic people that I now call my friends.

It is funny to me how much angst I had about the mid-year feedback on my journey to date, feeling like I didn’t have enough "improvement" to talk about. A couple of situations have occurred in my life since that feedback, that have showed me just how much growth I have had on this leadership programme. I am reconnecting with parts of myself I have forgotten as well as learning new things about myself and what is important to me.

Mike shared a great quote with the group from TS Elliot that I will end with: "We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time".

#26 Be. Leadership June 2015 - Global Citizenship

by Simon Noonan

The June session of Be. Leadership saw us all back at Sudima Hotel in Auckland. I really enjoy the atmosphere of Sudima – it felt good coming back to somewhere familiar and welcoming. Knowing we had a full on first day with three speakers was softened by knowing we had an accessible and understanding environment to work in.

It was our first full session with the new syndicate mixes. Knowing what was expected of us as a group made the transition smooth and I soon found myself settling in with the new dynamics.

The theme for this session was 'Global Citizenship’ and we had a great group of speakers, who each took a different approach to the topic.

Major Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army lead us through the history of social housing in New Zealand and let us know about how these issues were being handled in other countries. His depth of knowledge had me wishing we could have kept him longer. I found his deep commitment to issues he found vital to our society was an inspiring model of active leadership, as befitted his rank.

Next Paula Rebstock spoke to us. Her extensive list of chair positions had me fascinated and hesitant at the same time – I'm a great fan of ACC as a concept (as otherwise it is sue and be damned), as well as a New Zealand rail system, but my feelings about WINZ are somewhat more neutral! There were some quite practical questions and answers directly relating to increasing employment of those with disabilities. Her experiences as a woman in the male dominated business world were revealing insight into impediments to diversity.

To finish the day Tim Miles, CEO of Spark, brought his personal insights into business leadership from his extensive international experience. If I had to describe this glimpse of him in a nutshell, I would have to say 'high powered and down to earth'. What I took from his discussion of international leadership styles was that, while there are differences in cultures, as long as you take them into account they are outweighed by the similarities, even when running a huge business.

We wrapped up and those of us not staying for dinner or the night headed home.

Day two had us meeting the Chair of Be Accessible, John Allen. I sat back with growing admiration for his incredible presentation style. It wasn't just that he was entirely on point for the whole of our programme – more than any other speaker he'd be aware of our programme topics – but he built each theme logically and flowed seamlessly into the next.

Our first reflection began with solo contemplation of where we were in terms of leadership and our place in the world. We gathered into syndicates to continue the discussion and then finally brought these discussions to the whole group.

We concluded the afternoon with another round of story telling, as five more of us shared our journeys.

Our third and final day was spent again in reflection. As an experiment, my syndicate was chosen to facilitate the reflection on the duty groups. While I was initially hesitant as to how this would work, we discussed how we would approach the task and I feel we managed to pull off a useful reflection.

#25 Be. Leadership May 2015: A Civil Society– What is it and how does leadership enhance or diminish its value?

by Loren Corbett

Thanks to the lovely team at the Goethe Institute, we were able to hold our third session right in the hustle and bustle of the capital city. Walking through Cuba Mall on my way to meet up with everyone again, I was reunited with that feeling of excitement and anticipation that comes with being a Be. Leadership participant. I was also fortunately reunited with one of my fellow participants, so we could reassure each other that we were heading in the right direction, literally.  

Unfortunately our first speaker of the day had to excuse herself due to sickness at the last minute. I was disappointed that we did not get to hear their interpretation of a civil society, but I was also interested to see how Lesley and Philip would handle this curve ball. Would we finally see this composed pair, that have to date handled everything with such grace, face the group with blank stares and ask us what we wanted to do to fill in time? Of course not! With a couple of words quiet exchanged between them they announced, as though they had already planned it, that we were off to Te Papa.

I loved this learning experience 'outside of the classroom'. Some of us took time to learn about the last 75 years of Air New Zealand and others, including myself, ventured through the much talked about 'Gallipoli - the scale of our war' exhibition. Whilst we were tasked to think about the relevance of this exhibition and the relevance it has to a civil society, I can't say that was always in the front of my mind. I tried not to cry at the heartfelt stories, gag at the sight of incredibly realistic faces and moan too much about the inaccessibility of it all.

After lunch we enjoyed a conversation with Dr. Oliver Hartwich, who is the Executive Director of The New Zealand Initiative. Dr Hartwich shared with us the role of Think Tanks, local government and public policy in a Civil Society, stories of working in Think Tanks in England, and how to deal with both criticism and praise.

As quickly as Dr. Harwich left, in came a hero within the disability community, Disability Commissioner, Paul Gibson.  Paul's delivery style was genuine and humbling, as he told us of the trials and successes that he has had in his role.

Both speakers came from vastly different backgrounds and delivered content on two different aspects of a civil society, yet they both had an incredible way of captivating the room with their messages.

Sunday was a day to reflect, pose for our photos and find out the makeup of the new syndicates.  We reflected from events as recent as yesterday's guest speaker sessions to as far back as the forming of our syndicate. The reflection of the syndicate for me was possibly the most valuable time I had this session. We laughed about our mistakes or ‘learning experiences’ celebrated our successes and reminisced about our journey to date.

As the new syndicates for the following three sessions were announced, there was no denying it that we were all a little sad about the breaking up of our syndicates, I think we just needed to remind ourselves that they weren't going far – to the opposite side of the room at most!

Thank you Wellington and more importantly the Goethe Institute for providing us with a space where we could collectively grow in our leadership journey. I look forward to the June session in Auckland where we can start the forming, storming, norming and performing process in our new syndicates all over again.

#24 Be. Leadership April 2015 - Society, what's really going on here?

by Cath Soper

Arriving for the second session of Be. Leadership 2015 felt like reuniting with old friends. We had only known each other for three days, yet (for me) it felt like I was seeing people I had known for years.

The theme of session two was Society: What's Really Going on Here? We had two incredible speakers come and talk to us on different topics. Dr. Angela Maynard gave a talk on What lies beneath the surface and how do we find out? Angela is a sociologist and covered a number of interesting topics in her talk. She discussed the problems with capitalism, class structure, and concepts such as the deserving and undeserving poor. The major point I took away from Angela's talk was that we should critically deconstruct society and the world around us. We shouldn't just passively accept a situation because 'that's the way things are'. Sometimes 'the way things are' needs to change.

Our second speaker was Tommy Hamilton. He spoke to us about sexuality and gender. Tommy covered a lot of interesting ideas in his talk. He talked about the fluidity of gender and sexuality, and about the assumptions people often make about the two. He talked about being a leader, and having the courage to have a conversation about something that might seem difficult to talk about. I really admired Tommy's leadership style. He was right in the thick of things. He led from within the group, not in front, which is a leadership model that particularly appeals to me.

After the speakers, it was our turn to talk. Throughout the year we will all give a talk on our journey. I was one of the five that gave a ten minute talk this session. I think we were pretty nervous! For me it wasn't so much the talking, it was the fact that I had to talk about myself. Talking about personal experiences can leave you feeling vulnerable, and therefore can be intimidating, but we all did great! Everyone had their own style, and we learnt some interesting facts about each other. We heard about Rachel's epic journey to find Prince Charming. Stephen explained his journey using a giant game of snakes and ladders, and I revealed the time I spent in a cannibalistic cult (also known as Roman Catholicism). I can't wait to hear everyone else's talks over the course of the year!

Day two was also a little sad, because it was the last time Michelle would be with us before going on maternity leave. Apparently staying on and just putting the baby in a shoebox in the corner during the day isn't an option… While we were sad to see Michelle go, we were excited to welcome Hannah, who will be taking over Michelle's role.

Overall, it was an awesome session, and I can't wait to see everyone again in Wellington!

#23 Be. Leadership March 2015 - Leadership, what is it and why me?

by Rachel Cox

In movies from yesteryear, the concierge of the hotel always discreetly asks if you need any assistance as you arrive in the foyer of their hotel. It's the kind of service that hasn't really been easy to find in New Zealand, at least not in the places where I have stayed. So I was a little taken aback as my case was wheeled away by a smiling gentleman and I was ushered into the bright foyer.

Sudima Hotel near the airport in Auckland was the location for the initial three day retreat of the 2015 Be. Leadership Programme. It's a beautifully appointed hotel, cleverly designed for access and peopled with such gracious, attentive staff. Sudima have a remarkable relationship with the Be. movement and are leading the way in accessible accommodation in New Zealand. It takes heart and vision to be leaders in accessibility. The Sudima group have both and are already making a difference for New Zealanders.

Then I saw them; my people. The first few faces of the Be. Leadership 2015 intake.

And now, from the fast forwarded view of three days later, I have already forgotten how it felt not to know these precious people, not to have their names etched into my mind by the intense discussions and reflections, the speeches and the easy social banter over meals. I trace my memory back to the first few moments; perched on a lobby chair trying to memorise names. I remember my nerves and the feeling of overwhelm as more new faces arrived. I remember wondering if my inner wobbles were visible. And then we were there. Beginning.

We took our places and began to learn about what we might expect this year. Philip Patston and Lesley Slade, Be. Leadership's co-directors, seemed to take perverse pleasure in the dismantling of our expectations. No, there was no set outcome. No, we may not always follow the agenda. No, it was impossible to say exactly what we would learn. But yes, we will learn. About ourselves, about current thinking on the world stage regarding leadership. And yes, it will be exhausting, exhilarating and maybe even a little disturbing. And of course, yes, we will challenge ourselves and dig deep. The process might begin something in us that may not neatly fit into a one year programme, or even one lifetime. This year might be a year for bewilderment, but we might also become our most authentic selves. That will be up to us.

Our first evening together, Philip threw us a curveball. We had to throw away our 3 minute speeches and ad-lib. And we had to do it without mentioning our impairment. What a cleverly chosen aspect of ourselves to take out of the equation. We squirmed, we who have so often defined ourselves by what doesn't work with our bodies. And then something beautiful happened. We all spoke about who WE are. And our sharing drew us closer together, taught us more than we might have known if our labels had obscured the view.

By the end of day three we had work-shopped, planned, discussed and considered so much. We had listened and reflected on all of our visiting speakers. Sir Bob Harvey had regaled us about his childhood, his years as Mayor of Waitakere, and his wisdom on dealing with people, dark times, tough decisions and maintaining a productive attitude. Minnie Baragwanath had engaged with us about the origins of the Be. movement and the birth of an extraordinary idea. She outlined the legacy we carry. Her insights into the future of New Zealand stirred even the most latent leader within us. We scribbled our notes and raised our hands to know more. She is a force, that woman. A kind of human supernova. And then we met some of last years' Be. Leadership alumni; laughed at their wonderful humour and marvelled at their stories. We dared to look into our own futures and imagine the possibilities. To begin to believe.

Sudima Hotel, Sir Bob Harvey, Minnie Baragwanath, Be. Leadership Alumni; and Lesley, Philip, Michelle and Sam, our wonderful facilitators – thank you. I know that I speak for all of my cohort when I say that we are immensely grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this programme. We don't yet know what we will become. But we know that it will grow out of the nurturing ground work put in by your passions. We brought our own to join with yours, and together, just quietly, I think we're going to Be.Amazing.

#21 Be. Leadership September 2014 - Creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation

by Vanessa Creamer

The September theme was creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. We met in a wonderfully creative space to explore this topic. Hosted by Le Va, one wall in the room was covered with inspirational quotes from all walks of life, which spurred our creative thinking.

The syndicate 'Robin's Angels' opened Friday with each person reading a quote from 'A Creative Companion: How to Free Your Creative Spirit.' I particularly liked 'Gather energetic community', which is what we were doing this weekend as we came together as leaders in our communities.

It must be noted that Sarah was not with us this weekend, as she had taken up residence in Rarotonga. We were all secretly hoping that Be. would send us there for our next retreat! But not to be. We had three wonderfully engaging speakers from different walks of life and with different connections to the Be Team.

The first speaker was Dean Easterbrook, who is an entrepreneur in the film business.  His production company, Borderless, produces documentaries such as 'A Grandmother’s Tribe'. Dean was very open about his journey and his motivation for doing what he does. His encouragement to us was to find clarity in this noisy world, find out who you are and discover what is different from everyone else. We did have a chuckle at his comment to 'say no', whereas a previous speaker had emphatically told us to 'say yes!' It seems that our 'yes' and 'no' needs to be firmly in line with our motivation and intention.

The second speaker of the day was Rachael Penman, who works in the dance industry.  Rachael brought her delightful son with her to the day and he assisted answering some questions.  Rachael gave a very clear definition of the difference between management – putting people in a box — and leadership — guiding, working with others and allowing them to learn from you. It was refreshing to see that people of Rachael and Dean’s calibre choose to do what they do because they enjoy it.

After the speakers had concluded for the day, it was time for self reflection. Those of us who had visited organisations to meet leaders in the community shared our experiences. Most people seemed to have really enjoyable experiences, and some were even keen to do it again. We were fortunate to be able to watch 'A Grandmother's Tribe' on Friday night, which led to quite a reflective end to the day.

Saturday’s speaker was Meg Nicoll, whose three passions are Ultimate Frisbee, art and education (quite possibly in that order!). Meg works at Auckland Art Gallery in the role of connecting people to the arts. She described how groups of people who are dealing with dementia come into the art gallery to simply sit and share what individual pieces of art mean to them, a discussion which is often continued with a cup of tea  afterwards. The energy and passion that Meg has was contagious and made some of us more appreciate of the local gallery.

It was hard to believe that we only had two more weekends together left – the friendships formed throughout the year will no doubt continue far beyond this programme. The quality of all the speakers has been top notch and they have given us much to think about as we consider our own leadership journey.

#22 Be. Leadership October 2014 - Our people

by Lucy Croft

I was eager to get into the 'Be' routine as I walked through the doors of Le Va on Friday morning. I'd missed the last session, and consequently was rearing to see everyone again. It was a homecoming of sorts, as we hadn’t all been together in two months. We were a loud, dysfunctional family that somehow gelled together.

This session, titled 'Our People', was a very pensive, reflective couple of days. We tackled New Zealand's 'hot' topic – not the Whittakers Chocolate Milk craze, but child poverty. We heard from Dianne Robertson (CEO of the Auckland City Mission), Vaughan Couillaut (Principal of James Cook High School), and Dr Justine Cornwall (Deputy Children's Commissioner). All three speakers gracefully and assertively spoke about child poverty, and added personal insights into the issue.

One key aspect of the weekend which stood out to me was reframing the idea of child poverty. All three speakers spoke about family poverty being the crux of child poverty, and the importance of holistic solutions. Family poverty is not caused by one factor; it is the compounding effect of different societal factors. Although Dianne, Vaughan and Justine clearly had different leadership styles, they all stressed the importance of collective impact. No one person can lead the charge against child poverty alone. It needs to be people from different arenas; the media, the politicians, the academics, the social workers, the teachers… everyone can be the change.

While we were reflecting on the speakers, someone asked, "Why are we asking what they [the speakers] are doing, when we should be asking what WE'RE doing?" This was a pivotal point in the weekend’s conversation for me. All of the lessons of resilience, passion, engagement and leadership that we had learnt over the weekend could be taken on board to guide our own leadership journeys.

Before we wrapped up the weekend, we have one last individual reflection session. We were asked to consider our unconscious and conscious thoughts – our beliefs, values, and attitudes versus our behaviours and actions. It’s the iceberg model – what you show others compared to what is hidden only to yourself. I'm still considering what my beliefs and values are now, and how they correspond to my actions.

I think this shows how leadership is a constant process, always malleable. It’s also important to know yourself as a leader. After all, leadership isn’t just a role in a company, it's an action in society. As I walked out of the doors on Saturday afternoon, I took with me the importance of being accountable for my own actions. I also took with me the idea that societal change can start from the bottom – I don't have to be the prime minister to help mitigate family poverty. Ultimately, this session was empowering, and I await the final session with both excitement and trepidation.

#20 Be. Leadership July 2014

by Blake Leitch

It had been some two months since we last saw each other as a group. It had been about the same time since we lost our precious Joyce from this world. Despite the pain many of us still clearly felt, despite the fact that we hadn't seen each other for so long, the morning of the first day was so… calm. Everybody slotted into their syndicates with ease and everybody just seemed plain happy to see each other. Even though we had some temporary losses over the weekend, and even though Sam wasn't able to make it, there seemed to be a feeling throughout the weekend of actual tangible progress.

That isn't to say that we hadn't been progressing over the previous months, but this weekend had so much focus on life and legacy. On the very first morning we discussed Joyce and her legacy and the fact that little pieces of her kept being found. While I think we all realise that we inspire each other, it felt as though Joyce was especially inspiring throughout the weekend.

So we said our hellos, had a time of remembrance, and reflected a bit on the previous months. We were then introduced to two new members of the Be. Team who explained a bit about the direction Be. was going. After lunch, we were back in position and ready for the first speaker in a weekend that focused on the media.

The first speaker of the weekend was a man who refuses to be called an expert, the social media and public relations hobbyist, Vaughn Davis. His enthusiasm was, to say the least, infectious and provided a perfect start to the weekend. Vaughn didn’t have a leadership model so much as a life philosophy: "Once you've had an idea, you're kinda obliged to do it, aren't you." This philosophy, mixed with Vaughn's obsession with saying 'yes', showed us how new doors could be opened if one continues to take opportunities.

Following the question and answer session, some reflection, and the final break of the day, we convened for dinner before a session of, what could best be described as, cards. We went to bed, we re-awoke, and we were ready for day two.

After settling in and starting a day of birthday celebrations for Cate, we were all prepared for our second speaker, journalist Steve Braunias. Steve had story after story to further enlighten us about his life and his thoughts. He also had a knack for trying to connect his long and meandering, albeit entertaining, stories back to leadership. In the end, for me, his ideas on leadership seemed quite simple: do what you enjoy and take opportunities. There appeared to be a common theme developing from our media-based leaders.

After lunch and reflections, we were ready for our third and final speaker, the social issues reporter from the New Zealand Herald, Simon Collins. Simon was much more reserved than our previous two speakers. Although he had plenty of interesting stories from a long and fruitful career, he remained very humble. For the third time in the weekend, Simon had explained how he wrote what he felt was important and did what he enjoyed. Moreover, and possibly explained for the first time in the weekend, Simon enjoyed what he was doing because he felt it was for the good of the community. While Vaughn and Steve had explained that one should take opportunities and do what they enjoy, Simon was the only to focus on the fact that he did those things to make a difference.

And those were the speakers for the weekend. Beyond that, we had plenty of reflection – personal and group reflection – and plenty of fun. We briefly lost Jules and Debra throughout the weekend, and Sam was not able to come up to Auckland, but we were a strong and happy community. We celebrated life with Cate's birthday, we celebrated life with Joyce's remembrance, and we each learnt a whole other level to leadership.

#19 Be. Alumni - The beginning of the next beginning

By Annie Inwood and Sharon Davies

May and June saw the Be. Leadership Alumni meet formally for the first time, with participants from 2011, 2012 and 2013 coming together in Auckland and then Wellington. Seventeen Be. Leaders met to reconnect, share achievements and begin to answer the question, "Where to next?"

Annie Inwood and Sharon (Shaz) Davies from 2013 attended both sessions. Annie shares her reflections on the Auckland session and Shaz fills us in on Wellington.

Auckland session 10 May 2014

Our theme for the very first Be. Alumni session held in Auckland was one of discovery and renewal! The renewal was of the deep bonds with our fellow alumni from the three years the Be. Leadership programme has been running — not only re-engaging with those whanau from our own year but also starting the new bonding with the alumni from the other years.

Minnie took us through the origins of Be., how it has grown and the big aspirations for the organisation. As a social change movement, a lot has happened in a short space of time and Be. is looking to its Be. Alumni to take a step forward into its own future.

Our afternoon was one of discovery, discussing where we each personally were going and what we had to offer the Be. Accessible movement. These are big questions and there were a lot of ideas and challenges to ponder. We were all in agreement that the indisputable opportunity is for us to create our own legacy.

Anything is possible and that is what we will be working on in the coming months as we formulate what we want Be. Alumni to be in the social change arena. A wonderful voyage of discovery is unfolding. Stay tuned!

Wellington session 7 June 2014

Fellow 2013 Alumni Annie and I agreed we had so much fun at the Auckland session in May we decided to attend the Wellington session a month later. Some might have wondered why we would want to do it all again so soon, but we were up for anything! We grabbed a cheap fare, packed an overnight bag and before we knew it, we were on a plane to Wellington. It was great to re-connect with four others from our year and meet a couple from the 2012 year.

The morning started with a quick get together with the 2014 leaders, most of whom we had previously met, the infamous Be. Leadership Team and John Allen, Be. Institute's Chairperson. Following this, we were treated to a rendition of this year’s Be. waiata.

We then moved into our first session with John. He gave us an update on Be. Accessible including how far they've come, where Be. is now and how far will it go. He challenged us to think about where we all are in this picture. This was followed by a Q&A session and a reflection session from his workshop.

The afternoon was in two parts; firstly looking at where we are going from a personal and professional prospective followed by an Alumni perspective. We were asked to think about what is it we have to offer the Be. Movement. We were seriously challenged to think about what each of us will commit to as part of the Alumni. We talked a lot about the importance of commitment and for anything to stay alive and relative we need to be part of that process and do our bit towards it.

Both sessions, albeit with similar conversations, were a great chance to re-connect. We also managed to have a bit of down time with the wider group afterwards. Annie and I treated ourselves to an overnight stay, flying back to Auckland the following morning, full of enthusiasm and ready for the next round, whenever that is. I guess that's up to us all, individually and collectively!

#18 Be. Leadership June 2014 - Leadership and Governance

by Robin Tinga

By some bizarre coincidence our Be. family, people and pets, were beset with ailments at the convening of the June huddle at CQ Hotel, on a dismal Wellington day. One of us ended up in hospital before we even started; someone else struggled with back pain through the first day and was in hospital the next! We had swollen toes, flu, sick dogs at home with anxious owners hanging out for news updates. We hope all are on the mend and our thoughts and prayers are with you!

Holding the June session and staying at the CQ saved taxiing people around. The conference room was 'cosy' as our new syndicates settled in to explore the month’s theme, 'Leadership and Governance'.

Wingnut syndicate's Richard introduced our first speaker, Green Party MP Mojo Mathers. Her topic was, 'Using your democratic right to have your say on government policy'. She gave an insight into the discrimination issues she battled to become an MP, ongoing battles she faces and issues affecting voters with disabilities generally. She also gave great advice on how to utilise MPs' to voice our opinion and access information. Mojo then took part in a lively Q and A session.

After a buffet lunch in CQ's restaurant we returned for reflection on our first speaker's presentation, considering what political opinion affects us most, how much it matters to us and our commitment to supporting it.

Our second scheduled speaker, Trish Green, Manager of the Social Change Team at MSD, had been called away to tend to Ministers' needs and instead we spent an hour and a half with one of her team, Jan Scown, the MSD Relationship Manager for Be. and Specialist Advisor for the Think Differently campaign. Jan told us her history as IHC Regional Advisor in Waikato and Director of the Office of Disability Issues, then gave us a run down on the Making a Difference fund and its focus this year.

Q and A with Jan was followed by reflection, then a continuation of our group getting to know one another in 'My Journey'. We then wandered down to Hotel Bristol for a rather loud dinner. Some with hearing aids demonstrated the advantage of hearing impairment, by removing said hearing aids!

Saturday morning saw us back at 10am to prepare for our third speaker of the weekend, Nick Leggett, Mayor of Porirua. First though, Alumni from previous years joined us to kick off the session (ably led by Jan on ukulele) with the now adopted 2014 sing-along of Bruno Mars' Count on Me. The Alumni then retired to the next room.

Lucy of Refresh syndicate introduced Nick Leggett as the youngest mayor in NZ and only the second youngest in NZ history. Nick's topic was 'Leading Change'. He gave us some statistics on Porirua, indicating it is a leading city in terms of income & home ownership per capita. We learned a little of his political history and desire to see the council reflect the predominantly young population. He shared a personal approach to his mayoralty, with great emphasis on social media for communication with the people of Porirua; visiting schools to engage kids in citizenship and participation; and handing village planning over to the community. His emphasis was definitely on engaging the younger population of the city in civic matters and he seemed a great role model for other city leaders.

Following Q&A with Nick, our fourth and final speaker, John Stansfield, presented his topic was 'Passion, Pause & Persistence: Reflections of a serial social change agent'. Jan of Refresh chaired for John, including a delightfully candid introduction as they had worked together in the past.

John is Head of Social Practice at Unitec in Auckland, a career activist married to a Green party MP and lives on Waiheke Island. John maps all his ideas and plans on a white board — and this presentation was no exception! He talked of being 'active and engaged' and believing your opinions matter, which he believes has resulted in Waiheke's high voter turnout. He led a 'Wananga on Waste' on Waiheke, resulting in a community run waste management company called Clean Stream, which included bio-fuel production. He spoke openly of the passion and heartache that followed when the Auckland Council shut the operation down, but also the triumph when Council realised its mistake and used John’s model for other waste programmes. He touched on his time as CEO of Problem Gambling Foundation and dropped a number of great one-liners, including; 'No good deed goes unpunished'! A very passionate and highly inspirational man!

The final group to tell their stories in the 'My Journey' finished up the day. The group dispersed to later reconvene with the alumni at the CQ bar for some easy jazz from a piano/sax combo, followed by dinner interspersed with some rousing speeches and conversation with Alumni members.

Sunday — our final day — saw the big debate, with the moot, "It is easy to participate in and influence the political, social and economic direction of New Zealand." We split into two teams and three members from each fronted while the others on their team supported in some inventive ways — cunning silent messages written on paper were cleverly used to support each other and put opponents off! Ultimately though, the adjudicators deemed the 'for' team the winners in a close contest. Big ups to Vanessa from the 'against' team for earning the mantle of best individual debater.

After reflection and discussion about the differences between the polarising influence of debating and the uniting effects of conversing, we moved into a workshop on reflection as learning. We talked about how we reflect and what we learn from our speakers. We also discussed how attitude and feelings could be projected onto others; that we should recognize the projection; and respond suitably from a sense of self-awareness. As syndicates we discussed how we related together. Some frank discussion followed, some sensitivity revealed.

A timely break for a cup of tea, then into the final session of the day and weekend, discussing our personal goals, Leadership Week and site visits. A final sing-a-long wrapped up the weekend.

#17 Be. Leadership May 2014 - Convening New Conversations

by Blake Leitch

By this month's session, everyone appeared to have settled into the general routine quite easily. There didn't appear to be the nerves that had accompanied us the prior two months, more just a feeling of excitement for what would be on offer over the next two days. The month's session was focused around the theme, 'Convening New Conversations'. Needless to say, every speaker had their own special focus which resulted in a number of diverse conversations.

After arriving at the Independent Living Service in Royal Oak (the facility for the first day's festivities), everybody settled in and prepared for the day. The Fusion syndicate was in charge of the first day, but unfortunately Lucy was unable to attend. As a result, Fusion had to buckle down and pull a little bit of double duty.

Robin would end up hosting the first part of the day and would also chair for our first speaker, Lorraine Murphy. The Chief People Officer of Air New Zealand focused her talk around the topic, 'From Good to Great'. In a nutshell, she taught that the only way to get from good to great is to focus on oneself. One should always be open to constructive criticism and, if one has the ability, prove negative criticism wrong.

Something else which came to fruition – albeit, on a bit of a tangent – was an interesting and heated discussion on sexism and bullying. While I'm not entirely sure whether any conclusions were made, it did prove that we were becoming a somewhat more vocal crowd.

Following lunch and a reflection session which saw the sexism/bullying debate continue, we had former Rainbow Youth Executive Director, Tommy Hamilton, talk to us about what he called, 'The Wobbly Continuum: Gender and Politics in NZ today'. I would take the chair position for Tommy and enjoyed a good bit of chin-wagging pre-talk.

Although he was slated to speak about gender and politics, he admitted that he only submitted that title to fulfil Philip's wishes. He would end up focusing his discussion on the meaning of gender. However, it wasn't so much the exact definition of gender that Tommy focused on — it was more the importance of gender as an idea. His ideas seemed to be focused around the fact that gender is no longer binary, and when we treat it as such, we lose focus of the greater conversation of equality.

Following the two talks for the day, the groups would convene for a final workshop where we filled out what were essentially Johari windows (albeit, with a Philip Patston twist). The day ended quite quietly before the majority of us headed for drinks and dinner at the Ibis Ellerslie Restaurant with the first ever Be. Alumni group.

The second day saw everyone from the Be. Leadership and Be. Alumni programmes meet at CCS Disability Action for a joint opening lead by the Fruitburst syndicate. Jan would host the morning half of the day commencing with a group singalong of Bruno Mars' 'Count on Me'. We then separated into our respective programmes, and to begin each syndicate gave their first review for the Book Club.

Following the Book Club (it was quite a short affair really) we were treated to our first speaker for the day, Red Nicholson, chaired by Richard. Red's talk was entitled, 'Raising the bar: Why being unique isn't enough', and focused primarily around the importance of being part of a community when it comes to social change. He was very much of the mindset that a leader wasn’t necessarily at the front of the group, but helped in whichever ways they could from where they were.

One of the key reflections noticed of Red by the syndicates was that he was very willing to discuss some issues that he was grappling with. He provided an excellent portrayal of somebody who is still in the early stages of their leadership role.

Our second speaker was Auckland City's Deputy Mayor, Penny Hulse, and she was chaired by Lisa. Penny didn't have a title for her talk, and it was surprising when she didn't focus purely on politics. What Penny offered was in fact completely in sync with Red's talk from the morning; that our community is key and we should not forget it. Something else which Penny really nailed down was the necessity to learn to say 'no'; by no means at all times, but when 'yes' simply isn't an option.

That would end the weekend: obviously, there were many more discussions and far deeper talks, but this is what I feel was the crux of the weekend. Everybody found their new syndicate partners for the next three months, packed up their gear, and headed on their separate ways.

#16 Be. Leadership April 2014 - Our Diversity: What units and divides us ... and everything in between

by Cate Grace

The month rolled around so fast! It didn't seem like four weeks had passed as we headed to Wellington for our second time together. The anticipation was less than our initial retreat in March, as we arrived from all around NZ at the Kelburn campus of Victoria University. The smiles were more familiar and the room had a wonderful energy — it was light with a view of forest trees surrounding Wellington Harbour.

Our syndicates, which we formed in March — Fruit Bursts, Fusion and HumBility — chatted away like old friends. Fruit Bursts opened the day with the sounds of a Tibetan bowl and an Irish blessing, a fitting beginning to our topic, "Our Diversity — What unites and divides us…and everything in between." We were about to be challenged to think about how we polarise diversity and how we could use the space in between to create common dialogue.

Our first session was with Kim Workman, Founder & Strategic Adviser of Rethinking Crime & Punishment. His topic was, "Why won't you change your mind? Changing public attitudes to crime and punishment." Kim opened by making us realise immediately that, without a shift in mindset, social change will not happen. He took us on a journey from his early days in the NZ Police, through the crime and punishment reforms of 1985 and 1990, to his present day work as a consultant. We were introduced to ideas of extrinsic and intrinsic values and how they might be formed. He touched on ideas of social reform and awakened a sense that change is coming — in our lifetime — in the areas of global warming, elderly and disability, and mass imprisonment.

After a short interlude due to a fire alarm, we returned to conclude the Q&A session with Kim, who wove even more thoughts for us to ponder, encompassing avoiding compassion fatigue, legitimisation and acceptance within communities, engaging people to influence change, and being open to explore and embrace our own comfort zones in implementing social change. It was a wonderful start to our second time together.

Lunch was prepared by the ever-talented Michelle and Sam, and it was lovely to chat amongst ourselves about the preceding month. Then a quick dash for coffee and we were ready to start the afternoon session.

Be Leadership April 2014 Retreat

Tania Thomas, Director of the Centre for Family & Whānau Knowledge at the Families Commission, was our next speaker. Her topic was "Knowledge in action – making good things happen." What a great session to explore how our own group diversity was both united and divided.

Tania opened challenging us to be responsible as change agents. She introduced us to the idea of civil society, asking us to reflect about it in our syndicates. We all used the word "collaboration" in our answers, which sparked new divides as we learned that collaboration may not be the key. Tania proposed a model of civil society as the intersection of the private sector, government and citizens. Her model required government to realise that those working in the area of civil society are closest to the people, which is an important place of influence. She reflected that, currently, many NZ NGO's have high passion about the work they are doing, but few statistics and therefore low proof of need. She encouraged more research and evaluation to create evidence to back requests for Government funding.

Tania then introduced the term "collective impact," which lay behind her department's mission to create more evidence to support fundraising. This sparked debate amongst the group. It was enlightening to watch such a small cross section of society in one room with many differing viewpoints. I noticed how comfortable I felt being challenged and felt an awareness that I was in the right place at the right time. I was intrigued to see us, in syndicates and in the wider group, work together to create common dialogue and find mutual respect, despite our differences.

Congratulations to Fruit Burst who hosted and chaired our first day wonderfully and very naturally, even despite the unexpected fire alarms, technology hiccups and some very thought provoking conversation! We all seemed to leave with a great sense of energy and anticipation for the next day. Great effort!

That night we headed out to Cuba Street for an evening of fun, food and great conversation. It was wonderful to be amongst like minds. Returning to the hotel, I realised how I had hardly noticed the crowd around us because I was so engaged with my fellow Be. Leadership delegates. It was a great night.

On Day Two it was our syndicate's turn to host and chair. Josh opened with a reading and I chaired our third and final speaker, Philip Patston. What an honour to have Philip with a different hat on. It was more formal than I had expected but, as this was only our second month together, I wanted to acknowledge Philip in his role as speaker. I felt the responsibility to ensure he was treated with the same dignity and respect given our other speakers.

Be Leadership April 2014 Retreat

Being in front of the group in the role of Chair gave me a completely different perspective on our group dynamics. It was a pleasure to lead in an environment of diversity, uncertainty and complexity. Even though I had researched Philip — and gathered statements from those close to him — his topic, "Leadership thinking: it's not outside the box – it's about the box," was new, thought-provoking and valuable. The whole session validated my current position that I am happily challenged and am feeling enlightened when confronted with ideas that may not currently be in my filtering system or worldview.

I was so pleased Philip provided notes as I missed a lot of the content, focussing on the group, time and ensuring the session flowed. My own thoughts kept shooting off and, as I pulled myself back, I realised we were onto a new point. I began to feel under enormous pressure as the body language of our group changed when Philip appeared to push some buttons for the group. The passion was high and I felt compelled to ensure everyone got their say.

I was fascinated that I enjoy debate and hearing different viewpoints, but when charged with being Chair, I struggled. I began to reflect that this may be because of our diversity and the struggle to form questions that each group was happy with. I am still thinking about many aspects of it — Philip's content, being Chair and the role of leadership in a diverse, uncertain and complex environment.

Another great lunch and the final session of the day began with a sociogram, where we all shared our current thoughts and feelings and found a place in the room to represent them. Definitely art, not science and intriguing to say the least! Following this we participated in a workshop led by Lesley and Philip on models of group dynamics. It was fascinating for me to see our individual, syndicate and wider group dynamics and unique personalities reflecting our diversity. We were continually pushed out of our comfort zones and, for me, it was a refreshing space.

I am definitely in a phase of inquisitive curiosity and reflection. I believe that in a year’s time it will all make sense and I will have grown so much from this model of learning. I spent most of my flight to Christchurch pondering my diversity and what unites and divided us and everything in between. Thanks team! Bring on May! I am certainly looking forward to our next session with eager anticipation.

Image of quote for Be Leadership Blog

#15 Be. Leadership 2014 - The First Retreat

By Richard Reid

I walked into the room at Sudima Hotel on a beautiful sunny morning to be greeted by a few smiley faces. Slowly the room filled up and we were allocated to a table, which would become our syndicate for the next few months. I looked at the names and I saw that I was the token male, although I secretly hoped that the name Sam would even up the stakes a bit. But no, it turned out the guys are out-numbered in this group of diverse people.

I really enjoyed the great bunch in my syndicate, and the group as a whole, especially as the three days of the retreat progressed. We experienced the discussions and realised the strength of character everyone brought to the group.

We all got to meet Philip Patston and Lesley Slade, who had interviewed us on Skype, and got to finally put a face to Michelle Jurgens after getting emails throughout the past few months.

Our first session was an introduction from the CEO of Be. Institute, Minnie Baragwanath, who after a brief overview of Be. Leadership, introduced us to John Allen, the Be. Institute, Chairman of the Board.

John gave us a history of his working life — starting off in a law firm, moving to NZ Post where he became CEO after 8 years and then after 14 years at NZ Post, he took on the role of CEO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Throughout his talk he gave me an insight of how his own leadership has evolved to work with his managers who had differing leadership qualities and style. After a 20 minute presentation we had an hour for Q & A after some time to prepare questions. These questions were compelling and challenging, giving us an insight of John’s leap into a political world that he had not experienced before.

Lunchtime gave us a taste of the food that we came to expect over the 3 days and we also were able to experience excellent customer service that helped the Sudima Hotel receive a Silver in the Be. Welcome programme.

The afternoon was spent being introduced to most of the Be. Institute staff who demonstrated that the culture there means laughing is compulsory. We also met the Be. Leadership Alumni from 2013. Each told us how they have grown from being part of Be. Leadership. We quickly learned how the group managed to gel as a team and how much fun they had throughout the previous year. They then joined us for drinks, dinner and building a vibrating cell phone tower.

On Day Two we had two speakers. First up, Minnie Baragwanath returned and shared the reasons behind the creation of Be. Accessible and spoke about her role. She also explained her frustrations working in a large council organisation with seven managers above her, and how that was a catalyst to take the plunge to initiate the Be. Institute.

The second speaker was Les Morgan, the Operations Manager of Sudima Hotel Group who also manages the Auckland Airport Hotel. His discussion and answers in our Q & A session gave us an introduction to a common tale of people who did not have high aspirations when young, but who have taken the opportunities that have arisen and grown to become leaders. Les gave us a candid discussion, and it evolved that his was not a leadership style that some of the group expected to be uncomfortable with. On the surface, it seemed difficult to reconcile his leadership values with the results that have been achieved at the hotel.

The final session of the day was called Reflection, which was the most interesting session of the weekend for me personally. Most of the reflection was about the presentation from Les Morgan and how some of his methods used were difficult with some of the members of the group. We concluded that the background and life experiences of individuals have a significant impact on how you react to different leadership styles, and that different leadership styles fit different business or cultural environments. Therefore, we recognised that each person will not be comfortable with all styles of leadership.

On Day Three, we worked in our syndicates, exploring our intentions for the year and how we can work together over the course of 2014. We discussed what books should be read from the "Book Club” and reflected on how the retreat went, with some constructive feedback given to Philip and Lesley. Also discussed, was our journey to our future retreats, which we are all looking forward too.

#14 Be. Leadership November 2013 - Last words for 2013

by Sean Winterbottom

The final retreat for the Be. Leadership Programme 2013 was aptly titled Be.ing the Change: New Zealand on the World Stage. This theme was a wonderful way to wrap up a brilliant and inspiring year on the programme. Throughout the year, we've discussed our potential as leaders, what it means to be a good and effective leader, and the strengths and weaknesses of individual leadership styles. By the last weekend retreat of 2013, I imagine that all of us were ready to take our places on the world stage!

Over the course of the weekend, the thinking that had developed over the year - the ideas, the concepts, the moments of clarity - started to come together. I started to feel like I had something to offer, that I could make a difference, that I was, indeed, a leader. Looking around at my colleagues, I saw the same realisation.

The initial speakers for the weekend were a perfect start. Mike Chunn, New Zealand creative luminary, arrived, at ease, dressed all in white. His manner was engaging, relaxed, interesting and interested in us. His passion for creativity - be it music or thinking - shone through. He entertained us, and our minds. He challenged us to think creatively, be brave, and to challenge perceptions. He even promised to compose a theme song for Be. Leadership (set to Greg's brilliantly creative lyrics, of course!) - and delivered. Listen to the theme song for Be. Leadership.

Dr Oliver Hartwich, Executive Director of the New Zealand Initiative, complemented Mike's international outlook, with his own experiences of Germany, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. He engaged us with his personal story of long-distance intercultural love and learning, and guided us to his passion - social justice and policy reform. Rather than seeing himself as a leader, Dr. Hartwich emphasised the need to be knowledgeable, to understand what you're discussing and present that knowledge in a way that others can recognise, comprehend and take towards action. Be Leaders in session November 2013Dr. Hartwich did his bit for international relations by dispelling the myth of the humourless German!

By this point, we all needed a cuppa and a lie down. Being inspired and inspirational is hard work (so we went to the pub for steak, beer and really good conversation!).

The following day, we reconvened, refreshed and not at all hungover. Tania Thomas, the Head of the Families Commission, started the day with a very personal and open account of herself and her own leadership style. She discussed leadership as an emotional connection, rather than simply a role or a job. She talked about making tough decisions, considering the greater good and the toll that can take on an individual. She showed us that leadership is about having clarity of purpose and a human touch. Tania was engaging, open, honest and inspiring.

In the afternoon workshop, we all considered what we had achieved on the Be. Leadership Programme this year, as well as what we might achieve on the world stage. These workshops focused and made real what had slowly seeped into our consciousnesses over the year - that we are leaders, that we have much to offer, and much to achieve.

Our last speaker for the day was the indomitable Stephen Gianni. Having retrieved him from the bar, where the good Australian was relaxing into a boutique dark ale, we were captivated and engaged by his passion and his knowledge. His open, frank and enjoyable manner made the hour pass so quickly that I, for one, forgot to take any notes! He imparted knowledge with ease; sharing his expertise in policy, his personal and professional bravery and his willingness to seek change and to see change as a positive opportunity.

Our final guest speaker for the retreat and for the year was Minnie Baragwanath. This was the second time Minnie had spoken to us: she had been one of the speakers on our very first retreat. She treated us as equals and shared what was happening in the world of Be. in a very open way, as she had at our first meeting. However, this time I believe that we felt, as a group, far more able to contribute to the conversation, to utilise our skills, knowledge and ability in order to work with her and with Be.

As I was leaving the building at the end of the session, I found myself in the lift with one of the Programme Directors, Lesley Slade. I lamented to her that, just as it was all over, I was beginning to feel as if I had really got the hang of it and had something to actually contribute. Lesley turned to me with a smile, and said "Surely, Sean, that is rather the point!".

What a brilliant way, to end a life-changing year.

#13 Be. Leadership October 2013 - Reflecting on our diversity

by Prudence Walker

A strength for us as people - and even more so I believe for leaders - is to work with and acknowledge what we might see as our (or others') weak points, our insecurities, the things that really cause us to question our ability to lead. The truth is that we are all diverse and, while our diversity may lead us to question our own or others' ability, it is actually in this diversity that we find our strengths and our unique opportunity to lead in a way that is authentic for us.

What stood out for me during our Be. Leadership time together in October was the passion of the speakers, with whom we engaged, for what they do; how the questioning of ourselves and the searching for our authenticity never ends; and how we are all so diverse yet so similar.

My biggest experience of preconceptions in leadership was within an organisation where, at the age of 22, I was the Chairperson of a national board. The organisation was a branch of another national organisation, of which I was also a board member.

The organisation I chaired was a well-known not-for-profit, which at the time was going through a period of financial struggle. The other was a well-established organisation.

I was a young, female, and a student - three attributes that don't naturally fit with being a board member, let alone a Chairperson. The particular organisation I chaired was youth-related, so being young was a strength in this light and supported me to be my authentic self.

I allowed myself to embrace my diversity (some of which I clearly couldn't hide!) and not try to fit the box that some would believe I should as a board member. I didn't need to try to be anything else to bring my best to the position.

Sure, as a young person, I had never been a board member before and on one of the boards sat mainly middle-aged suit-wearing men. But neither meant that I couldn't embrace who I was and represent my organisation.

Of course, I questioned myself and I made mistakes - people always do. It wasn't because I was young or a female or a student. It was just because I was a person and, whether we like to admit it or not, we question ourselves. We make mistakes.

There were also times when my knowledge, gut feeling, or experience was most relevant to the situation and I was actually the one who could give the most useful input and make the best decision. Again, it wasn't because of any of the boxes people perceived I fitted in - it was because I was me.

We all question ourselves, we don't want to be the one who looks like we don't know what we’re doing. In a way, we self-manage ourselves and keep ourselves in check, just to make sure that we do actually know something.

We all know something about something, which we should embrace, realising that others know something else about something else. We are all passionate about something and if we follow our passions, others may just see what we are trying to achieve.

It is so much easier, when there is obvious diversity present, to make judgements about who people are, what they can achieve, or how they are different from us. Really, we are all so similar and, if we can embrace diversity and see it as a strength, we can support our own unique opportunity to lead.

We can also view the diversity of others as challenging us, building our resilience and supporting us in our own passions. Often, strengths don’t lie where we think they do - they lie in the people or places that we so quickly judge.

#12 Be. Leadership September 2013 - The Media

By Jake Mills

My trip back to Be. Leadership began with an early morning flight from New Plymouth to Auckland on Friday the 6th of September, waking before the sunset and knowing the next two days were going to be full on. Arriving in Auckland at 8am I was greeted by Gareth and our taxi driver, a big smile from Peter and a cheeky comment from Greg. I knew that the Be. Family was back together.

The subject for this month was 'The Media' a topic that would once again challenge our thinking and provoke new conversations within the group. We were four people down this month and it was going to be a challenge in itself to keep the energy levels high. Luckily there were three very energetic speakers to keep the room captivated.

The Friday started with a quick catch up between the Be. Leaders and then straight into the sessions. The first speaker was Vaughn Davis, a very experienced social networker and journalist. His insight taught me the importance of having a plan and understanding how the media operates. With new technology there is a much faster way to keep updated with the events of the world than the 6 o'clock news. Social media websites such as Twitter allow the public to share ideas directly with news presenters and gain momentum on topics that may usually be overlooked.

The second speaker was Wallace Chapman. He is the host of the Pub Politics show, Back Benchers and a RadioLive presenter. His story was emotionally moving and he related easily with the Be. Leaders. He gave a totally new perspective on what can happen when somebody puts their heart and soul into something. You can create change no matter what you are trying to achieve as long as you are prepared to fight for it.

After our two great speakers we moved on to a media workshop with Philip, Lesley and Michelle. We put all the ideas from the day out in the open and worked in pairs to write a media release. The purpose was to reflect on what we had learnt throughout the day and to be prompt and direct with our messages. Finally after a long day we wrapped up the session with delicious seafood meal at the IBIS hotel in Ellerslie and a few cold beverages. It was time to head home and rest before our final day.

Day two started with our syndicate 'The Purple Magicians' in charge of running the session. I was lucky enough to host the third and final speaker Andrew Fagan. I felt that Andrew Fagan was a very kind man who was very outgoing but also happy in being on his own. He was the lead singer of The 'Mockers', an iconic New Zealand band and has also made history by being the first person to sail on a solo voyage around New Zealand in a sailing boat (size specific) and most recently is a co-host with his wife, Karen Hay on RadioLive 7-10pm. His presence was electric as he took the Be. Leaders on a journey. His ability to shift between performance and relaxed modes was a standout for me.

We finished day two with another topic under our belts and plenty more knowledge. I know that all the leaders were happy with this session and can't wait to get back in October for our second to last retreat.

#11 Be. Leadership August 2013 - Wisdom, Creativity and Courage

By Alison Fitzpatrick

The topic for our 2 day Be. Leadership session in August was "Entrepreneurship and Innovation".

We began the weekend with inspirational quotes from Dr Seuss and Richard Buckminster Fuller – two incredibly innovative thinkers. This set the scene for the speakers who followed.

Our first guest was Gael Surgenor, a social entrepreneur who is currently the manager of Community Development and Safety for the Auckland Council. Prior to this role she had successfully led a number of high profile campaigns for the Ministry of Social Development.

Gael talked about social intrepreneurship – this is when a person behaves like a social entrepreneur while working in a large organisation. She talked about creating the space in an organisation from which one can innovate and create change. She discussed the paradoxes that emerge when issues are viewed through a lens of complexity: tight and loose, light and dark, growth and decay. Holding these apparent contradictions has helped Gael become the innovator she is today. It is all about being comfortable with the tension of opposites. I think Gael would make a good mathematician – an algebraist, no less!

Next, we were privileged to hear from the lovely Qiujing Wong, a social entrepreneur who is the co-founder and chief executive of Borderless Productions, a social change agency working in the rich medium of film.

Q spoke with verve and vigour. She introduced (many of) us to a concept called "anti-fragility", where setbacks, shocks or volatility can be beneficial to a person or project. She advised us to be comfortable with vulnerability and embrace anti-fragility. I think Q would make an outstanding physicist: she would make "anti-matter" matter.

Q's backstory is fascinating. Her courage, work ethic and social conscience are an inspiration. I loved her definition of leadership – that it is all about connecting in with other people’s motivation.

Our third speaker was Elisabeth Vaneveld, the Executive Director of The Big Idea – Te Aria Nui. Elisabeth is an innovator and strategist who also has a fascinating backstory. She spoke about serendipity – a concept very close to my heart and something that came into all of the speakers' stories. Elisabeth gave us a good definition of innovation – that it is applied creativity which adds value in and above itself. By workshopping ideas, she got us to decide whether we as individuals were innovators, entrepreneurs, or both. She advised us to be comfortable thinking in an empty space. Start from nothing then create that big idea, that big compound, just like a chemist. Elisabeth’s facilitation style was constructive and almost playful.

Huge thanks go to our three speakers for their generosity of time and spirit. They demonstrated wisdom, creativity and courage and showed that it is possible to innovate and create, regardless of the constraints that exist all around us.

#10 Be. Leadership July 2013 - Starting new conversations

By Wayne Forrest

On Friday, 5th July we kicked off another great "Be. Leadership" weekend. Mishaps and a bit of bad luck had left Gareth and Alison absent in May so it was good to have everyone back together.

On Friday morning we sat down in our syndicates to contemplate our three big days ahead. After our welcome and outline of the day we prepared ourselves to be photographed for the website, which came more naturally for some than for others. There's something very uneasy in trying to show off while getting your photo taken. I must say I felt very self-conscious, but I hope we did the photos justice.

During the morning we reviewed our leaderships goals as well as sharing our learning from the organisations we had visited in June that interested us and fit with our future leadership aspirations. Overwhelmingly people had found the visits useful.

With full stomachs after a good lunch we got into some sign language with Peter which as always was entertaining. We learn a little bit more every time; Peter has such a skill with the way he teaches New Zealand Sign Language, which makes it very enjoyable.

The lovely Minnie graced us with her beautiful presence and spoke about the honour of winning a Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award. We heard about the glamour of the evening and of course the beautiful dresses and shoes. Minnie told us about some of the other recipients of the awards and the great things they had done.

We moved on to "My Journey" where Alison and Gareth shared. Listening to both of their stories made me aware what amazing people we have in this group – like so many others in the group they had to overcome hardship to achieve and they are truly wonderful people.

After a short break we all gathered in the dining room for pre-dinner drinks and another great feed! Suffering from a nasty little cold I soon snuck off to my room leaving the rest of group with their desserts and great conversations.

On Saturday, we gathered in our syndicates to prepare for the day. As I was still not feeling well, the lovely Annie gave me some strange Chinese drug that seemed to give me a perk up.

Our first workshop of the day was about the conversations we have with ourselves and the world. Philip had a lovely diagram that helped us to understand and ask ourselves if our current dialogues are authentic. Man, did that start up a discussion of its own.

Our first speaker of the day was Stephanie McIntyre, Director of DCM – wow, what an amazing woman! For twenty minutes Stephanie talked about how DCM worked with homelessness from a "Housing First" approach. This was followed by some great questions.

The afternoon started off with our very own Philip Patston, who was a little nervous in his "speaker" role. Though it was quite unusual to see Philip uneasy, it didn’t last very long. As always he soon had us captivated and spellbound so that 20 minutes flew by. Philip changed things up and asked us to have a discussion, instead of the usual 40 minutes of questions. Not sure if I remember right, but I think it ended in a debate about why people and society had to label us by our disability instead of seeing our uniqueness.

Our third speaker of the day, John McCarthy, General Manager of Lifewise, was a great ending to the day. He gave a natural and honest insight into the way he had worked to change the old charity model of the Methodist Mission into the modern social development model of Lifewise today. The 20 minutes truly flew by. So interested were we in what John had to say that we went over time with our questions – not too bad considering we all had such a big day. Like Friday we ended the day with a few drinks and another meal together. John joined us and it was wonderful to finish the day in the company of a truly honest and generous man.

I think we were all a little bit weary on Sunday morning, after two big days and three great speakers. I for one had to have a few extra coffees to prepare for the day. By this time Annie's Chinese drug had kicked in and I was feeling better and ready for the last day, which was just as well because it was our syndicate, the Curious Monkeys, on duty.

After a quick outline of the day, we went straight into speaker number four, Tommy Hamilton from Rainbow Youth. Tommy's topic was gender and sexuality – a wonderfully diverse and interesting subject. I can only speak for myself, but I thoroughly enjoyed Tommy as a speaker and his subject.

After lunch we had a quick reflection on the four speakers, then the final workshop was looking at the new conversations we want to have about social change. My insights and learning from the workshop was that we must ensure that what we say is aligned with what we think! This makes us authentic, better leaders and helps us find ways of having truly NEW conversations.

For me this weekend was full of information and, as always, I came away with some amazing insight and knowledge. I would like to finish with a personal insight: we need to get society to see disability in a new light. We need to start the conversation with those individuals that define people by the negative perspective of disability rather than the uniqueness of the individuals. If we can get the masses open to those conversations, the possibility is that society might not need the label of disability and people will only see the uniqueness of the individual.

Clear as mud!

#9 Be. Leadership May 2013 - The Power of Language in Leadership and Democracy

By Annie Inwood

The third session of our Be. Leadership journey began on Friday 10 May in Wellington. We have been together now for three months and as we greeted each other that morning it was clear we had already become a tight knit extended family.

Our theme for this month was National and Local Governance: what are the leadership and policy issues to understand and pay attention to, and how possible is it for citizens to genuinely engage and actively participate in the process.

We heard all sides of the governance spectrum with speakers including Brendan Boyle, Chief Executive from Ministry for Social Development; Colin James, political analyst and journalist; Mojo Mathers, MP for the Green Party and Nick Leggett, Mayor of Porirua City.

A theme which recurred throughout the three day session was the power of language in leadership. Brendan Boyle spoke of the need to set the right tone, the right style and right behaviour, as staff will emulate their chief executive. Colin James spoke of it through our discussions about the role the media plays in democracy as delivery systems for information and how we need as much information as possible - even the boring stuff - so we can participate fully.

As the youngest Mayor of a city in New Zealand’s history, Nick Leggett talked with us about bringing a young person’s approach to leadership and democracy in local government and the different approaches needed for communicating with young voters, particularly when considering how future governance in the Wellington region might look.

Mojo Mathers, MP from the Green Party capped it all off by getting us to roleplay a select committee hearing and emphasising how important it is to recognise democracy is so much more than just voting once every three years. We could clearly picture the setting and the power of being heard after our Friday tour of parliament.

Any doubts we may have had about our ability to influence decisions in local and central government were put to rest by the end of the three days as we all recognised our responsibility as leaders. This includes being curious, inquisitive and building our knowledge so that we can contribute from a fully informed and wide ranging point of view, especially when it comes to democracy.

#8 Be. Leaders show Kiwi kids how to Dare Dream Be

Several current and past Be. Leadership participants joined with the Sir Peter Black Trust in sharing this year’s Leadership Week theme, Dare Dream Do. According to the Trust's website , the 2013 Dream Team inspired over 10,000 young Kiwis all across New Zealand on Tuesday 9 July.

Anna presentingAnna Nelson visited Wakaaranga School in Farm Cove, speaking to a group of 7-10 year-old class room monitors and school reps. "They had come prepared with really great leadership questions," said Anna.

"Questions like, 'What do you do in conflict and confrontation?', 'What are leadership qualities?' 'How do you inspire others?' 'Is it hard to be a leader?' 'Does your disability influence your leadership?' and 'How do you know you’re a leader?"

The group then told her about some of the environmental projects they were leading in their classes. "They were so excited and pleased to be sharing what they were doing."

Annie Inwood at Sancta Maria Primary School.Annie Inwood visited Sancta Maria Primary School. Annie spoke to 58 ten and 11 year-olds, sharing one of her own dreams from when she was about their age. "My mother was born in 1930," she recounted, "and at the age of 26 she sailed with a group of friends to the UK and Europe, travelling all over the place."

"Growing up I loved to look at her photo album and dreamed of travelling the world myself."

This led Annie on a trip to Asia, spending six months travelling by motorbike in India, Pakistan and Nepal. "I worked in India as a Tour Leader for two and a half years and later travelled around the world marketing international education for the University of Auckland."

John Marrable told Otago Girls High School how he came to use in a wheelchair and become the first person with paraplegia in NZ to get his open water diver ticket, do a marathon and get his black belt in karate.

Sharon Davies at Kelston Deaf Education CentreSonia Pivac reminded students of the possibility of doing things that people say aren't possible. She was joined by Shaz Davies at Kelston Deaf Education Centre. Shaz said, "To be a leader, it's important to take people with you, be kind and most importantly be true to yourself and if you want to see change, you need to be part of the process…boots and all!"

Prudence Walker visited Ilam School and talked about how leadership is not about being Prime Minister or being on TV. "It's taking a lead in you own life and what you believe in," she said. "Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do or be – believe in yourself and your future and persue what you want."

Prudence Walker at Ilam SchoolAs Prudence said, Sir Peter Blake took a long time to make his dream come true, but he persisted. "We all dream and we don't always get there – but it’s up to us not others. Be true to yourself. Leadership is what you make it."

 

 

 

------------------------

The Sir Peter Blake Trust formed the Dream Team in 2012 with a daring dream to inspire at least 3000 kiwi kids in one hour during Leadership Week. After more than 230 leaders volunteered, we far surpassed our target – inspiring 10,000 young New Zealanders.

See more at: http://www.sirpeterblaketrust.org/get-involved/dream-team-2013/

#7 Breaking down the barriers that divide

By Vicki Terrell

In April, the topic for the Be. Leadership programme was: "Our diversity: What unities and divides us and everything in between."

I have noticed that most of us have a love-hate relationship with diversity because we like the idea of diversity being the spice of life, yet we find disagreement and conflict hard to handle. I was taught from a young age to get along with everyone and not to be disagreeable.

As leaders, particularly in social change, people will disagree with us. We need to handle this creatively and keep channels of communication open with people who may have different points of view to us.

At our April gathering, we heard from three leaders who have worked with diverse communities: Dr Huhana Hickey, a human rights lawyer and an advocate; Penny Hulse, Deputy Mayor of Auckland; and Mary-Jane Rivers, a community development worker from Wellington. These three wise women, all coming from different perspectives, spoke about the joys and challenges of diversity.

Huhana described mediating between people who disagree as "catching the bees with honey". This phrase speaks of the need to be gentle and hospitable towards those who disagree. Penny spoke about people being united over the big picture of what they want, but deeply disagreeing over the details of how to get there. Mary-Jane spoke about “the space in between” as being the place where new things can emerge. These spaces are not easy places to be in. Mary-Jane also challenged us to expect that, if things were worth doing, we should expect some opposition.

A workshop on diversity, complexity and chaos helped to develop our thinking on leadership and change. There needs to be a certain amount of chaos as a momentum for change. I realised that when leading a group, I enjoy being able to “go with the flow”. This happens when I am confident and have prepared myself well. In our fast-changing world, we need to be able to go with the flow and embrace diversity, without letting go our core values.

Leadership in social change is challenging because it questions the status quo. People may not like the status quo, but feel there is no alternative, and fear change. Since change happens anyway, as leaders, we need to listen to diverse voices and encourage people into dialogue and action. This ensures people are empowered to have better lives because of the change.

Breaking down the barriers that divide people helps bring hope and strength to our communities.

#6 Be. Leadership 2013 Opening Retreat

By Gareth Tucker

So many new faces, questions and expectations. There was nervous excitement as Philip Patston and Lesley Slade introduced themselves. It built as we each realised the calibre of people we were sharing the room with, and the diversity of the group of leaders we were to do this course with.

John Allen, the chairman of the Be. Institute board, was the first speaker and he introduced Be. Accessible to us. As a group, we created a picture to explain our world, using metaphors to make what we were about to experience more accessible for us. Such a vivid speaker, John was a great introduction to the course.

Chief Executive Minnie Baragwanath was next and her bubbly enthusiasm was contagious. She shared the reasons behind the creation of Be. Accessible and spoke about her role. We really felt her passion and love for the field she works in.

Be. Leadership alumni also introduced themselves - such humble yet powerful people, they explained how to get the most out of the programme.

On the second day, we worked in syndicates to create what we would like to see as a community of learning. We highlighted respect and the need to be fully present at each session.

Paul Curry spoke about his experiences as a leader of people, in contrast to the group leadership model Minnie had discussed the previous day. Paul sees his role as that of a humble leader who lets his team take the successes while he owns the mistakes. A leader, he said, must have a team, the team must respect their leader, and that respect must be earned.

On the last day we worked in our syndicates and explored our personal leadership ideas. We looked at the different styles of leadership and how we can change the style we use. Philip explained how a group goes through phases of forming, norming and storming before it is able to perform, and that we should expect these phases and work through them together.

We also looked at the importance of reflection and how important this will be going forward.

The first session had started with nervous expectations and a sense of unknown. By the end the group was mentally exhausted and had settled into a comfortable team. It was a busy and intense experience that opened up Be. Leadership and whet the appetite for more to come.

#5 Be. Leadership - September 2nd and 3rd

With excited anticipation, 19 participants and supporters along with the Be. Accessible Team entered Jet Park Hotel in Mangere, Auckland, our preferred conference facility.

Our first of four speakers, commanding presence, set the tone for what began as an extraordinary 2 days of intense presentations. The Minister of Disabilities, The Hon. Minister Turia, responded to the welcome with her softly spoken and powerful energy. Her dynamic and generous opening speech offered us several tools to present positively when framing a question to any government department. This diminutive woman spoke of strong self belief and values, to educate us with her experience of how to influence with a positive outcome.

Trish Green our next speaker showed similar passion and purpose to understand timing and the need to be well researched. Her valuable experience of the reframing of attitude toward domestic violence added to our social change direction.

Thanks to the Be. Brand, at the end of our first day, we settled into a beautiful dinner discussing our reflections of our exceptional speakers. The challenges they offered us were wonderfully creative.

Saturday morning sparked a full and final day by Colin James, the political analyst and journalist. A humble and intelligent person, he was succinct with his stories of political history. His determination to understand the theory of treating the environment as infrastructure that requires maintenance and therefore should return the investment of this asset was profound. He extrapolated this thesis to include our people. With extraordinary knowledge of past political change bought interesting stories of influential leaders such as Norman Kirk, Helen Clark and Robert Muldoon.

A sense of theatre, introduced our final speaker , the former cultural Director to the USA Embassy for over nine years, Richard Benge. He shared from his diplomatic perspective, how NZ is seen as leaders in the Pacific region. Identified as green and clean, our country offers robust institutions supporting a stable government. His explanation of a positive relationship between America and NZ, investigated from the 9 -11 New York tragedy  made way to receive Hilary Clinton, during a ceremony celebrating the US Marines in the South Pacific during WWII.

Closure to another fantastic session of learning brought hugs and farewells from all who were privileged to attend this seminar on Government, governance and lobbying. We all look forward to our next module at the end of September / October.

The Be. Leadership programme is in the final stage and will be expected to perform. From an opportunity comes an obligation as we discussed during this forum. It is now a call to action for the last quarter of this amazing, provocative programme. We are extended to excel to our personal best with the investment from the Be. Accessible brand.

#4 Harriet's Update: August

I was asked to write about my experience on the Be.Leadership Course that was on the 5th-7th of August.
As always, we were given our monthly reading 'package'. This informs us of what the next retreat is going to be focussing on.

This weekend was creativity, and how it relates to leadership.
We were given the names, and the biographies, of the speakers that were coming to talk to us.
We were then provided with a long list of web links. Some of the links were to articles, some were to past interviews with well known people, and some were links to talks; These talks I must say were incredibly impressive and I felt excited and inspired after listening to them.

The resources were all carefully chosen. The intention was to give us the best possible opportunity for us to expand our knowledge on what creativity really is.
We learnt how it is used and harnessed, and also why it is so important to us, not just as individual people, but as emerging leaders in a group.
Some of us were not so sure about this weekend. For them, being an artist or just simply being creative, did not to them have any strong correlation for why they were there; and that was Leadership.

We had four speakers join us over the Weekend, and it was a real honour that they so happily came to talk to us.
They gave up their very own personal time to share their journey on how they have become the people they're today.
The talks were open and honest and it really didn't feel like we were in a class room type environment.
Everyone had an opportunity to engage with the speakers, and nobody didn't want to not be there, that was evident.

That, to me, is huge. And maybe that's why these people have become such big influential people? Because they're good leaders in every sense of the word; and they make you want to get out of yourself and your own, or perceived, limitations and embrace whatever that has been said.

The speakers didn't sugar coat anything and made it very clear that we're all in control of our own journeys.
It was heartening to hear that they themselves didn't have a pre-determined pathway or goal in life; that they just did whatever felt right at the time. It seems more organic when I think of it like that, and more positive in general.

With creativity, we soon realized that we were going to have to encounter the big scary word: Vulnerability.
It was evident we were al scared of putting ourselves in positions that could cause fear, pain, distress, and just general vulnerability.

We spent a long time on this, as it was relevant to everyone. Some people could talk on the microphone in a room full of people with not an ounce of concern, yet if you asked them to draw a picture or do a presentation on what their creative symbol was, they'd be quietly hoping the ground would swallow them up.
Everyone on this course was challenged, and all to their own personal maximum.
It was hard, I wont say it wasn't, but it was done in such a beautifully open and honest way, in which we all felt valued and trusted; that we could let our guard down and show the vulnerability they we all so carefully hide.

In the evenings we'd all meet up again and have some pre-dinner drinks at the bar that was situated in the conference centre (it was a hotel), followed on by dinner and drinks, and in some peoples' cases, more drinks!  :)

These evenings were really, really special. After working so hard during the day it was nice to 'let loose' a bit (some more so than others!). We'd have a great evening of just general banter, interlaced with some of the things we'd learnt that day. It was really lovely to hear the kind words of support and backing each group member got, especially if they had to host the speaker, or answer some curly questions that were clearly out of their comfort zone.

There is really so much more I could say, but I'd like to be as succinct as possible.
The Be. Leadership Course has opened so many doors for us, not just in a professional networking sense, but in a personal development way.
I came onto this course embarrassed by my disabilities, and now, only halfway through, I feel incredibly supported and empowered, and don't at all feel any shame in what now makes me, me.

#3 Leadership NZ Dinner

After spending the week exploring the urban jungle that is Auckland’s CBD with several fellow Be. Leaders as my tour guides, attending the Leadership New Zealand dinner at the stunning Auckland Town Hall along with most of the Be.Leadership group was the perfect way to end my trip. With speakers including 2010 New Zealander of the Year, Sir Ray Avery, founder of the Student Volunteer Army, Sam Johnson, and Be.’s very own Minnie Baragawanath, it was bound to be a night full of wisdom and inspiration as leadership in New Zealand was celebrated according to the theme of “building a nation on courage, compassion, and commitment” – things which not only the keynote speakers showed, but indeed, all of those present had.

Being a typical university student, the closest I usually come to black tie dinners is wearing black track pants and eating Thai from the local takeaway, so being surrounded by people in suits, bowties and long dresses was something different – in a good way – and having a choice of four different wines when usually the cheapest plonk would do, was a learning curve too. I must say, though, that I could quite easily get used to such glamorous affairs and that everyone, especially the Be.Leadership team, did look very glamorous!

While it was indeed a formal occasion, the conversation flowed easily as everyone mingled casually before dinner, and I enjoyed both talking to people whom I hadn’t met and talking to friends whom I’ve known for years. I also really liked the fact that the Be.Leadership team was quickly and warmly accepted as part of the Leadership New Zealand whanau. As fellow Be.Leadership member, Anna Nelson, mentioned, “it was really cool because [she] didn’t feel like an outsider on the night” – something I definitely agree with, and I’m sure others there would, too.

After being seated at our tables and introduced to the night’s MC, Maori TV Presenter Julian Wilcox, we were treated to an awe-inspiring performance by the Dilworth School cultural group. The school, a private boys’ boarding school where all boys are attending on scholarships, is “for making good boys better”, according to the school website. Going by their performance, boy, they were good and I don’t know if they could have been made any better!

Next on the agenda was a performance by the renowned Touch Compass mixed-ability dance troupe. Featuring Be.Leadership’s very own Suzanne Cowan and Alisha McLennan, I think it was a highlight of the night for me and was well-received by the audience as a whole, as Touch Compass challenged perceptions of what dance is and who can do it – something which demonstrated the courage, compassion and commitment the dinner celebrated at its core.

Someone else who demonstrated this courage, compassion and commitment, was first speaker, CEO of the Be. Institute, Minnie Baragawanath. Having heard Minnie speak at our very first Be.Leadership retreat, I knew she was an excellent storyteller and that her speech was bound to be inspiring, but it impacted me on a deeper and more personal level than expected. Minnie began her talk in the year 1981, telling the rather embarrassing, yet poignant anecdote of how she came home from school as an 11-year-old one day, to find out that her mother had been arrested and taken to Palmerston North jail for protesting against the 1981 Springbok Tour and more widely, the Apartheid regime. This was immediately personal and impacting to me, because as some will know, I was born and grew up in South Africa until age eight, and hence, my parents lived with and through Apartheid.

Growing up in South Africa, I knew the basics of what it all meant – how people were discriminated against and segregated for decades, how Nelson Mandela, whom Minnie mentioned several times as one of the world’s greatest leaders, fought so hard for his freedom and justice and equality for all, and how, at the time I started school, he was President. Still, when recall how hard my parents had to fight to allow me to attend my local school after they would not accept me on my first day, because “it was not for people like me”, I couldn’t and still can’t help but draw comparisons between the Apartheid regime and the struggle that people with disabilities have faced and continue face in gaining equal access in all areas of life.

This is what made Minnie’s talk, her work in founding the Be. movement, and being at the dinner as a group for the first time so incredibly promising and exciting. Here we all were, 30 years after the 1981 Tour in the year of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, celebrating the contributions and leadership of all New Zealanders – disabled and non-disabled alike, together for the first time. As Minnie, a graduate of the Leadership NZ programme, said herself, “Standing alongside another leadership programme made us feel part of a much wider leadership community and there was something strengthening and inspiring about that.” Indeed there was, and I think maybe, no, make that definitely, that this year is the start of something extremely powerful as we begin to move towards a 100% accessible society for all, and with an innovative, vivacious, and shining leader like Minnie, who stated, “it is about possibility, not disability!”, it seems impossible to go wrong.  

Following Minnie, Sir Ray Avery, someone whom I knew very little about, apart from the fact that he is a “Sir” and is apparently very trustworthy, topping New Zealand’s “Most Trusted” list for 2011, was next to speak. Turns out he is a rather famous scientist and inventor of technology to produce low-cost intraocular lenses, allowing 20 million people to regain their sight. While the people Sir Ray has helped have not always had their vision in the most literal sense, it is clear that Sir Ray has always and continues to always have a vision of how successful both he individually, and New Zealanders as a whole, have been and can and will be, even if we don’t always promote ourselves as much as we should. An engaging speaker with a talent for storytelling, I thoroughly enjoyed Sir Ray’s speech and took a lot from his stories about what is possible when we “Be.lieve” in ourselves as people, leaders and perhaps most importantly, as a nation.

 Last, but surely not least to speak, was university student, founder of the Student Volunteer Army, and recent recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award, Sam Johnson. As a fellow Cantabrian, University of Canterbury student, and post-earthquake volunteer, I was very much looking forward to hearing what Sam had to say. He has become somewhat of a local, even national, celebrity, so I was not surprised when I was asked more than once if I had the privilege of knowing him personally. Truthfully, I have only met him briefly a couple of times, but I do have him as a friend on Facebook!

In all seriousness, I have a great amount of respect for Sam and what he and his Student Volunteer Army team has done and continues to do in post-quake Christchurch as well as in Japan, and I am very proud to have been a part of the local volunteer effort. He is undoubtedly a well-rounded speaker and a remarkable young leader with a great future ahead of him and as a young person, I identify with and look up to him as a role model for how I can become a better leader. Clearly I’m not the only one, as Sam received a well-deserved standing ovation after he spoke, demonstrating just how much respect other leaders in the room had for him and what he has done.

It’s incredibly hard to sum up the night in a couple of sentences, but considering I’ve probably rambled on for 500 words too long, I suppose I better. So, if I had to sum it up, I’d say it was a night of formality, but also, friendship, fun and most importantly, the future. I am and will forever be honoured to be part of the 2011 Be.Leadership group, and now, of the wider Leadership NZ group, whom fellow participant Rena Savage said she “couldn’t wait to invite to the Be. table.” As Shakespeare famously wrote in Hamlet, “to be or not to be, that is the question”. I’m nowhere near as famous as Shakespeare, nor can I compare much to a summer’s day, but I think that this dinner showed that “to Be.” is in fact not the question, but the answer!

#2 Be. Accessible website

The new Be. Accessible website launches today! Be. Accessible is a brand, an accreditation framework for accessibility and a communications campaign with the vision to enrich the lives of all New Zealanders by inspiring and enabling a 100% accessible society.  An important tool of Be. Accessible is the website www.beaccessible.org.nz which is a new and improved online service designed to provide access information about New Zealand businesses and organisations to “access customers”.

#1 Be. in the spotlight!

The 6th of May marks an important moment for the access community in New Zealand – the arrival of New Zealand’s first nationwide accessibility programme Be. Accessible and its sister programme Be. Leadership. The Be. Institute is delighted to be hosting an evening of glamour, entertainment and celebration to mark this very special occasion. Minister Tariana Turia and other vey special guests will be attending this important occasion.