Fractal Friends (Duncan Autrey) with David Savage (Break Through To Yes); Podcast

Fractal Friends (Duncan Autrey) with David Savage (Break Through To Yes); Podcast

Fractal Friends; “We’re a trickle right now in that creek and we actually know where we’re floating.  Gravity is taking us to that ocean, but that drop of water, that we are separately, has no idea the journey we’re about to go on.  And, definitely, this is not a smooth ride.  There are lots of rapids.  There are lots of bumps.  There are lots of boulders in our way.”  Collaboration is the way. Creating  Shared Value is the energy. Our future is our powerful Why.


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David:  Some people will think of David Savage is this oil guy.  Some people will think of David Savage as an environmentalist and continuing to fight for Mother Earth.  And none of that actually matters because we’re all one.  We are all fractals.  We are all on purpose.  It’s depending on how much of our purpose we can actually achieve and through collaboration is just so obvious that that’s the only way it can happen.

Duncan:  Hello friends, Duncan Autry here.  Today’s episode is a conversation with a man whose vision for the world is close to my own heart.  David, like myself, dreams of a world where people work together across their differences to build a collaborative future.

What I imagine beginning this podcast over a year ago, I imagine that it would be mostly conversations with collaboration professionals and mediators and conflict resolution experts, like myself and David.  It’s kind of sweet actually to see how things change over time and to acknowledge that there are many paths that we can choose as we move through life.

And it’s fun to come back to that vision and introduce to you a close friend and colleague of mine, David Savage.  David Savage is the author of “Break Through to Yes: Unlocking the Possible Within a Culture of Collaboration”.  He is also a co-creator of the Collaborative Global Initiative, which we often call CGI, and yes, we know that those are inconvenient initials.

The Collaborative Global Initiative, we work with people who are involved in complex, multi-stakeholder conflicts to help those involved move past their conflict, move past simple conflict resolution and move into the creation and design of collaborative systems that allow those involved to sustain productive, progressive and sustainable relationships into the future.

There are six founders of CGI: David Savage, Doreen Liberto, Jeff Cohen, Kathleen Porter, Sarah Daitch and myself.  David and I recorded this conversation while we were in San Luis Obispo in April 2016.  David, Doreen and I had just spent a few days meeting with people in the San Luis Obispo County and we also were at a Critical Conversations Event where David presented his new book, “Break Through to Yes”.

The event was hosted by Ecologistics, which is an organization that is dedicated to creating a resilient and healthy community for the residents of San Luis Obispo County, both economically and environmentally.  There are a few references to that event in the episode, so it’s worth pointing out.

And for my part, I just want to say that the people we met during our visit were extremely inspiring and I’ve kind of fallen in love with that part of the world.  So I just want to extend my gratitude to all the people we met while we were on that trip.

In addition to being an author and my colleague in the Collaborative Global Initiative, David is an independent consultant and a coach for businesses, non-governmental organizations, first nation communities and various other kinds of people who are trying to make change in the world.

David also has a podcast series.  It’s called “Break Through to Yes with Collaboration”, and in his podcast series, he speaks with over a hundred leaders in the field of conflict resolution, leadership and change making.  And you can find links to David, that podcast and all that information at the Fractal Friends website, which is

There’s another reason why David is yet another excellent guest for the Fractal Friends podcast.  He brings a new and unique perspective for how to make positive change in the world.  In the arc of his career, he has learned to dance the line between business and profit on one side, and the environment and social progress on the other.  And he’s done that by recognizing the need for collaboration and for all of us to work together.

One of my favorite insights from this conversation and really there are a lot of really good ideas in this conversation, but one of the ones that really touches me is that David pointed out that our fear, that deep-down fear that we actually might not be good enough is partially true.  And that is exactly why we need to learn to work with others to build the future that we want to live in.

Thank you all again for listening to Fractal Friends and now I bring you David Savage.  David, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today.  And I just want to thank you also for your friendship.  I’ve known you for a lot of years now and it’s been really great to have your support as I’ve kind of moved through my own career and my own life journey.  Thank you for that.

David:  Thank you, Duncan.  We met at Omega, near Rhinebeck in Upstate New York and immediately, I saw you and I was just so appreciative.  The thing that appealed to me most initially was your movement.  I saw you initially as the way you physically danced and used your body, and then very quickly in our conversations and the days and years that have followed, and I think it’s been about seven years, Duncan.  I realize how effective a dancer you are.  In tango, you definitely have the lead position in that tango metaphor we saw last night at San Luis Obispo, where you would step in and you would dance with the participants.  So, love you man.

Duncan:  Thanks, man.  I really appreciate that because I was actually just listening to an Alan Watts talk yesterday and he was talking about how there were kind of like two different ways we can go through life.  We can sort of be on the, ‘god I just get things done’ and just go straight forward and just move, move, move; but if we look at the universe and we look at how wiggly it is – that’s kind of his word, I think it’s his word for fractals – but he talks about how the world is wiggly and there aren’t any straight lines.  I mean Euclidean geometry is a human invention and this idea of trying to make straight lines in the world doesn’t really work.

He says that perhaps the best thing we can do is try to dance through life.  If we’re dancing through life, then we’re really thriving.

David:  It is that invitation to presence and mindfulness and it’s an invitation to show up when you’re in your organization, in your cubicle in exactly the same way.

Duncan:  Right.

David:  Yeah.  This is real.  This is now.  This is us.  To use the phrase, let’s be here now.

Duncan:  Right and being here now, it really means letting go of whatever the sort of next step is going to be.  I don’t know how to say it, but being here now really means thriving in this moment and there’s a certain kind of movement that happens in that.  Yeah, so I really appreciate the dance metaphor.  Thanks for bringing that.

David:  And I guess the other thing that’s just come to mind, Duncan, is oftentimes in everyone’s lives, the structure and the can’ts and the doing and the objectives, goals and all that stuff, and we start to get disempowered from our own lives and our own opportunities, where in fact we all have this yearning to tango in our lives, to actually be passionate on purpose, on our purpose.

And while I coach leaders and executives, that’s really what we all want.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re the chairman of a major power utility or a 16-year-old trying to figure it out.  I actually know who I am.  Can I give myself permission to be who I am?

Just going back to our most recent experience in San Luis Obispo for our Collaborative Global Initiative with you and Doreen Liberto, noticing the shift during the 2-hour talk that we had there, the 2-hour dance with the participants, noticing the shift from ‘that’s never going to happen’, ‘I can’t be with the other side’ and transforming it to what Delia shared with us about just being with yourself and you will change your relationships to the others that you’re in a relationship with, and that’s all we need.

Duncan:  Yeah.  I mean as you know and people listening to this know, the big thing for me is somehow we’re all in this together.  And perhaps something that people listening to this don’t know, my sort of professional work is also around that.  So you and I have been working on, for the last two, almost three years now, what we’re calling the Collaborative Global Initiative and we have a bunch of colleagues that we’re working with.

And what’s interesting is one of the challenges we’re running into as we’re trying to open up the idea of possibility that we can have a collaborative future, people do run into this challenge of, I don’t know if I want to talk to the people who I disagree with, let alone collaborate with them.

And I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve always been excited to work with you on this and I think one of the reasons I’m excited to have you talk on the show it’s because you, within your own life, live a certain kind of collaboration.  You started your career as an oil executive and now you’re finding yourself in this collaboration, now you find yourself doing work to help people collaborate with each other and bring the voices of communities alive.

And for you, these haven’t even been separate things, but a lot of people think that they are.  So I wonder if you’d just be willing to touch a little bit on your history and the arc of your history and how you got to this place.

David:  Yeah.

Duncan:  I think it’s really fascinating.

David:  Thank you, Duncan.  And just using that, what we just touched on, whether it’s the 16-year-old woman or the chairman of the board of a multinational power corporation, when we actually look inward, we realize what our yearning is and what our purpose in life is.  It is obvious to me, when I graduated from university back in ’75, my first job was working for a big Canadian bank.  And I looked at that and it was a management training thing and my role in that bank over the next 2 to 4 years was to become a branch manager.  And the route to being a branch manager in a large bank was through those 27 policy and procedure manuals.  Just visualize that right now.

Duncan:  I’d rather not.

David:  Each one at least 4 inches wide, just full of, it’s got to be done this way or someone’s going to get hurt.  It just drove me crazy.  I can’t live my life without dancing.  I can’t live my life as a subservient being.

So I got into oil and gas because of the freedom, because of the creativity, because of working with brilliant people, with the opportunity to collaborate, work together, find new energy sources that have never been discovered or economically available to be produced.  So I go from that to looking at it, and by the way, I’ve never worked for big oil and any of that.  I’ve always had partners that I love as business partners.

We’ve always created little oil and natural gas exploration and development companies, built them up and a few things would happen is whenever we had more than 50 employees or whenever somebody wanted to have a weekly meeting fixed and set and structured, or whenever the price of natural gas got really high, actually there was a fourth thing, whenever any of us suggested we put our company name on a piece of clothing, we knew it was time to sell because the dance was going away.  It was getting too complex and part of that statement is over 50 people, it gets harder and harder.  So you’re spending less innovative time, less creative time and more administrative and getting back to the 27 policy and procedure lifestyle.

What I want to share with you is one of my long term business partners in oil and gas and diamond exploration, Bruce McIntyre.  Very early on, we can see the light in each other’s eyes.  He’s one of the best geologists in Canada.  We had a thoughtful conversation like this and Bruce said, “David, our shareholders only expect us to once a year, come up with one brilliant idea to capture it for our shareholders.” That’s it.

The other part of those 365 days are just busy-ness.  We make one natural gas discovery.  We capture the opportunity.  We drill it.  We keep the costs down, keep the environmental impact to a minimum and deliver incredible share value appreciation for our shareholders.

All of the rest is just busy-ness and I raise that because it’s heartfelt.  And I think it’s a strategy that has guided me all of my life, is our busy-ness actually distracts us from our purpose.  We know what our purpose is, so 10 years ago, actually 12 years ago, I realized that’s fantastic.  I’ve had a really good time building little companies, building teams, building organizations, not for-profit organizations, some of which you and I have built together, the Global Negotiation Insight Institute, our Collaborative Global Initiative, volunteering a lot for first nations, indigenous bands and economic development, non-motorized trails, all of that and when I look at it, I see my purpose just continue to repeat and repeat.  It’s building capacity, building teams to create the future that we all want.

What’s that been like?  It’s been like helping people build wind farms, helping physicians better serve their regions.

So the point I’m stressing here, Duncan, is simply some people will think of David Savage as this oil guy.  Some people think of David Savage as an environmentalist and continuing to fight for Mother Earth, and none of that actually matters because we’re all one.  We are all fractals.  We are all on purpose.  It’s depending on how much of our purpose we can actually achieve and through collaboration is just so obvious that that’s the only way it can happen.

It can’t happen alone.  In isolation, it can’t happen by people competing.  That dynasty is over.  The 20th century is over and that isn’t to say we need to abandon business.  I’m an entrepreneur.  I believe in business.  I believe in profit.  I believe in personal sustainability and I also believe that community comes first and planet comes first, and the Break Through moment is when more and more business people see that with that purpose in mind, they have an incredible strategic advantage to grow their business, to serve their communities and serve their shareholders in a way that serves the future.  It is so obvious and what you and I and Kathy Porter and Sarah Daitch and Jeff Cohen are doing and Doreen Liberto is creating those dialogues where we can say, let’s drop the shields and the swords.  Let’s actually realize that we’re all in this together and we can be the pathmakers.

Duncan:  It reminds me of a conversation that you and I have had a number of times that I’ve had with other important colleagues as well.  It seems like if we want to start building the kind of future that’s going to include all of us and we want to make sure it’s sustainable, so not only does it include all of us but we all survive, really is the real question.  Somehow, we’re going to have to shift the way we work.  There’s going to have to be some sort of change, cultural change and social change.  And for people to work on that, it’s going to have to be profitable because capitalism isn’t something we get to get rid of.  It’s not going away.

So there’s something that very interesting here.  We’re trying to integrate these two things that we’ve somehow tried to keep separate, which is doing good in the world and making a profit.  And there’s this thing that you seem to be indicating here, that this is true for companies, if they want to sort of continue to be thriving, they have to be involving the people whose lives they’re affecting.  They need to be engaging with them and it has to be a shared experience, or else there isn’t a future.  And that feels like it’s like a push back against a short-sighted, kind of approach to life.

David:  Yeah.

Duncan:  I don’t know.  I just wanted to sort of capture…

David:  Yeah.  I think this is the struggle that we’re all in right now, including our CGI and you and I.  The struggle that I’m in right now is how do you make that sell?  How do you actually take that step because those that stay in their silos are against, just holding us back?  How do you actually do it well without being burned?

I’m an optimist in life.  I love the work of Peter Diamandis, that type of work.  I would say I don’t have the view that the world’s about to end.  I have the view that the world is getting more and more complex, and the greater opportunities globally.  We have 7 ½ billion people with opportunities and health that they’ve never had.

And at the same time, we see increasing income disparity where it’s not just the third world and the first world.  We find, as North Americans, the income disparity where you’ve got the top 1 to 5% seem to have all the command and the control.  And the rest of us, our incomes are shrinking.  Our costs are increasing.  Let’s lead the revolution to say, with the collaborative approach to our communities, to our cultures, to our organizations.

We can be the disruptors and the simple example I love to use, and there’s lots of them is those organizations that have gone to the community, gone to the environmentalist, gone to the youth and said, “Let’s make it up together.  We don’t know what this is, but let’s make it up together,” because the community here actually are the real board of directors, then whatever we come up with as a business becomes real and becomes much lower cost, much wider acceptance, much greater demand because we’re not pushing our thing anymore.  We’re not promoting or selling.  We’re actually creating that space where people have a yearning to work together.

Duncan:  I want to capture something you said there, which is you talked about this idea of this command and control model and then there’s also, it seems like the opposite of that is the model that started to question, that says how can we do this together or what do we want to create, and that we, being as inclusive as possible?  Can you talk a little bit about sort of how you see that the command and control model is sort of messing with our heads and that shift to the collaborative approach?

David:  As we witnessed in North American and world politics, there is increasing anger and polarization and judgment and wall building going on, fear-based leadership.  And today’s leadership, we need future-based leadership.  We know the power of nature so it’s not only something we want to protect, it’s something we want to gain from and as you were asking me that question, Duncan, the visual that came to mind was a creek that flows into a river that turns into an ocean.

We’re a trickle right now in that creek and we actually know where we’re floating.  Gravity is taking us to that ocean, but that drop of water that we are separately has no idea the journey we’re about to go.  And, definitely, this is not a smooth ride.  There are lots of rapids.  There are lots of bumps.  There are lots of boulders in our way.

There are lots of failures that I’ve experienced in trying to learn this collaborative process, this collaborative leadership.  And there are times where definitely there’s got to be a strong quarterback, the strong person that actually makes it so, applies the resources, makes the ultimate decision.  But they do it as informed by their community, their staff and by the planet.

Let’s jump from this silo into a brand new silo.  It’s like we’re just actually learning this.  This is so common sense.  We know it in our hearts.  We have this yearning and it’s bumpy.  And what I want to give the grace to our listeners today and to our planet is we actually don’t know how to do this yet.  We’re figuring it out and through your work Duncan, internationally in Argentina and Ecuador, including the United States of America, we need more Duncans that can convene those safe spaces where the people with absolutely conflict and judgment of each other start to lean in and start to build some form of dialogue and I know that once you get them in the room, that’s all they need to do.  It happens and it takes moments and it takes years, but once they show up, you know they’re in.

Duncan:  I love this idea of this creek, that we’re just this trickle way at the top and not only do we not know where we’re going to end up, we also don’t know about all of the other infinite trickles that are starting to go in the same direction, right?

David:  Yeah.

Duncan:  And we’re going to keep on as we go through this journey, just bumping into them and bumping into them and then we’ll say, “Oh my gosh, you’re going in the same way as I am?  Let’s go.” And then we’ll go and we’ll meet some more and then we’ll meet some more, and there’s something about that, that accumulative sort of experience and I think that there’s – so they’re very encouraging because the question isn’t, is this where I’m supposed to be going, but am I crazy for doing this alone?

Not everyone that’s in the trickle go into the ocean, right?  Some people are very happily being a rock or a glacier, or I don’t know what the metaphor is.  So it’s a little bit where it’s like, okay so this I’m feeling pretty alone here.  And I have my colleagues but there’s the 6 of us and then we know our communities, but there are a lot of us and there’s a momentum.  And then I think the thing that’s really interesting there is that we know the direction, just like every drop of water knows the direction we’re talking about, you find a drop of water away at the top of the tree or something like that.

It’s going to find its way and when we’re talking about creating a world that’s inclusive, and peaceful where we each have our part to play that would not lose our individuality either.  And you start talking about that, everyone knows what direction you’re talking about, just like every drop of water knows what you’re talking about.

And even if someone is saying you can’t do that, let’s build a nice day so we can stop this, whatever, they know what the direction is.

David:  And there is a yearning.  There’s lots of judgments about that evil empire, multinational, big whatever.  They’re spineless.  They’re inhuman.  They’re just evil.  And that’s a lie.  That’s simply a negative judgment that stops the dialogue.  I will say there’s many of those people in those corner offices that are doing far more for a shared future than most others.

The beauty of their position is they have the resources to actually make it so.  The gift that we offer them is to actually learn together because this is bumpy.  There are rapids.  There are boulders.  There are failures.

Same thing with the conversation that we had with Critical Conversations; we knew that those people that showed up, even though they were, I guess the word might be distrustful, they were curious.  And that curiosity is, is this something that can serve me, and serve my interests, honor my values?

When we talk as CGI and talking to our communities and with our families and our children and grandchildren, that’s the only conversation we can ever really have, is what’s most important?  What are our interests?  What are our shared values?  And once we know what that foundation is, then we can create shared value for everyone.

This is, as Doreen Liberto points out repeatedly, compromise is an ugly word.  This is not dividing things out or having less.  This is actually growing the pie.

The other thing is, you’re talking Duncan, I was thinking about using that creek bed analogy, growing into a river, growing into an ocean, we definitely are there.  So many people just think of themselves as raindrops as opposed to a rainfall.  Imagine the absurdity of me as that raindrop, going into that early phase of the creek and saying, “No Duncan, this is my creek.  Don’t you dare come in.  You can’t come in.” Tell us a little more about your wisdom that you coach people on, on conflict.  When I say “Duncan, this is my creek.  You can’t come in,” what’s going to happen?

Duncan:  Thank you for that.  I am constantly sort of surprised by the desire to say, we want to move forward but we’re only going to move forward with these people or those people.  And I had this job down in Ecuador where that was like a real question.  The people I was working with wanted to have a conversation, but they only wanted to include the people who are going to agree with us.

And I was like, I don’t know if that’s going to work.  In fact, I know it’s not going to work.  And I invented what I call the first rule of conflict, which is whoever we don’t involve in the solution to the conflict will find a way to get involved on their own terms.

And I think we can see that happen in lots of different parts of society where the people who feel like they’ve been excluded or feel like that their voice isn’t going to be heard, they’ll find a more desperate and sort of  intense way to get their voice heard.  And that happens in all sorts of different directions.  You can see that happening with…the climate change movement is in a panic right now because they’re trying to say something extremely important.  We have to change things.  This is the most dangerous thing that’s happening to our planet and a lot of people are like, “I don’t know.  Maybe.  We’ll do half-measures and not enough.”

And so that movement is out there raising heck, and please if you’re out there in that movement, raise more heck.  It’s important.  Please, it’s really, really valuable.  This movement is going to keep raising trouble until they get heard.  But listen, this happens across the board, right?

Terrorism is a product of this.  Any marginalized group that feels like they’re not being heard or they don’t have the resources or the economic system, they’ll find a way of getting people’s attention because they don’t feel heard.  We can also see that happening in the current elections, the rise of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump as candidates that no one actually would’ve paid attention to or would’ve believed would’ve been viable candidates, are getting attention because there’s a bunch of people out there that are saying, we’re not being heard by mainstream politics.  And they’re angry about it.

And this also happens into personal conflict or even parts of ourselves.  If I try to say, I don’t want to listen to that voice in myself that is insecure, I’m just going to be brave, that insecure part of myself will keep on speaking up until it comes up in another way.  It’ll block me in a different way.

So that, I think is a really important thing.  Just quickly the other two rules of conflict are: the conflict’s usually not about what it’s about.  So usually, people are focused on one thing and there’s actually something deeper and more significant that’s actually at the heart of the conflict.  And the third piece I’d like to say is the process and the outcome are the same thing.  We have to take our dreams for the future we’re trying to build and incorporate that into the process that we’re having.  So we won’t have outcomes that are inclusive.  We want to have outcomes that are inclusive.  We want to have conversations that are inclusive.  If we want to have outcomes that preserve the environment and sustainability, then we need to have a process that pays attention to the environment and what’s sustainable.

So anyway, those are just pieces.  Thank you for that…

David:  They’re so, so important and perhaps I can interview you on the next podcast on exactly that.

Duncan:  Yeah, sure, sounds great.

David:  Because there’s wonderful wisdom there.  What’s showing up for me is, it’s safe to hate.  It’s safe to run down people and we see that so often in our leaders.  We see that so often in our media, in our coffee shop talk, in our anti-social media.  It’s really a strange place where you embrace that conflict, where you seek out to learn from what you perceive as your enemy.

And touching on something else that you brought up is, I’ve really been looking at my own shadows in the last couple of months to say, there are repeating things in my behaviors, in my personal and professional relationships where unconsciously, it’s starting to become apparent that in some instances, I actually sabotage a personal or professional relationship.

What if I can be not good enough?  What if I could depend on Duncan to hold me when it’s just not working for me?  The attachment theory I think is a beautiful theory.  It works in families.  It works in marriages and I think it’s critically important for corporations and not-for-profits to say, “None of us are actually good enough.  Together, we’re more than good enough.  Can I trust you to have my back when things are going wrong or when I fail?  Are you going to be there with me, side by each, learning together because it is a culture?

The subtitle on my new book is “Unlocking the Possible Within a Culture of Collaboration”, so this isn’t the meal of the month or meal of the week.  This isn’t McDonald’s.  This is sustainable culture building on how we relate to each other in multinational organizations and with our teenage children.  This is how we are and how we’re learning together.

And it’s a much more inviting space there when you realize, I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t need to be the commander that’s a superhero because I’m not.  I’m a failure in a lot of ways.

But together, we can.  I raised my children alone and I just love my kids and we have an incredible spiritual connection.  My oldest daughter, when she was in her late high school years, she turned from the supergirl, achiever of everything she put her heart to, to the most challenging daughter in my fears.  And what I found is the more boundaries and the more restrictions I put on her, the harder she fought, the more difficult she became.  That rolled out in things like, you’re grounded.  So you’re grounded, you broke that curfew, you didn’t do that, you didn’t pay for your car insurance, whatever.

And I went to a weekend workshop called “Surviving the Teenage Years” and the reason I’m talking about this is when we actually go to our hearts and our own interests and our own values that actually informs how we collaborate, how we work together, how we relate to our teenage daughters.  And the psychologist said, “David, if you listened and take away only one thing from this weekend, it’s this is all about power.  And you need to give people their power.  As a worried parent, you’re refusing to give your daughter power.  So take your dispute resolution expertise and actually use it, David.  Have a conversation with Alyssa and say, ‘I’m concerned about your safety.  I’m concerned about your future and I want to support you in making all the choices that you think are best,’ as long as it’s within that frame.”

So how that rolled out, which scared the hell out of me, was Alyssa, if you call me at midnight and tell me where you are, who you’re with and how you’re going to get home safely, you can stay out all night.  And the cool thing about that story was of course, the next weekend she did stay out all night.  I was like, oh I’m not sure about this.  And from that point on, oftentimes on weekends she wasn’t going out anymore.

She had power in our home.  She was part of it.  She was part of the leadership circle in our home, had her voice, had her place.  And there was no more command and control from dad.  It was, I trust you.  You’re smart.  You’ll figure this out and I’m here.  All I want to know is we share values.

Duncan:  Yeah.  Oh man, there are a couple of things about that that touch me.  On one hand, there’s this lesson that we each need to learn, that opens up the door to collaboration, which is recognizing that we can’t do it on our own.  We’re not necessarily perfect, and that’s a hard thing for any of us to admit.  But when we can do that, we create the space for others to bring their best selves to the table and it seems that there are so many things that are telling us that we need to be the best and show them that we’re the best.

When we’re trying to do that, pretend that we have it all figured out, then all we’re going to get from other people is their push back.  So it’s like, I have to say somehow, I don’t totally trust that I know all the answers and I trust that you know some of the others, or I trust that you know the rest of the answers or that everyone knows the rest of the answers.

And something very personal and tender, it always reminds me of this puzzle that comes up in our work as collaborative professionals is that we have to do the work in ourselves so much and to be able to create the space for other people to grow and they may or may not be there and that’s always this interesting thing.  It’s so beautiful to see your daughter stepped up, but I’m picturing this advertising thing where, okay everyone you’re not good enough.  You need everyone’s help and we’re going to help you get the help.

Okay, that’s not going to work but something…so we just have to – I don’t know, it’s interesting.  It’s some sort of a big loop there.

David:  A couple of things is that one, I have three adult children.  My wife has two adult children.  We’re blessed with four grandchildren, and what I’ll say is every one of them is very different.  They have different purposes, different hearts, different visions, and that’s so perfect.  Not one of them is identical to anyone.  I love them all and they’ve all moved across North America to lead their lives.

The other part of this is the one degree of separation.  That’s part of my recognition for writing a book and for the Collaborative Global Initiative, is to say, not only are we not city states anymore or states or provinces or nations.  We are actually one world.  We are one degree away from the resources we need to complete our vision.

The mayor, Jan, of San Luis Obispo first thing she said to me when we met was, “Hey, do you know the guy that runs the airport up in Cranbrook, British Columbia?” I said, “Yeah, he’s a friend of mine.  He’s brilliant.  I love him.  Tristan.” And she said, “Yeah, they grew up next door to us when we were all kids in Powell River, B.C.”

So here’s Jan that’s got huge pressures all over in San Luis Obispo, California, Pacific Coast, Diablo Canyon, the economy, conflicts and corruption scandals in her police department; all of this, a huge pressure and what does she go to first, is that one degree.  Do you know this guy?  And we both see Tristan as that younger generation leader that is deeply committed to collaborative leadership, sustainable organizations and to our future.

And the recognition that I have is people in my demographic, the yuppie generation, our greatest task now is to actually be the elders for the generation from 0 to 25.  20 years ago, kids would come home from elementary school and say, “I hate smoking.  Anybody that smokes is my enemy.” And now, it’s being embraced by those young minds is, “When are we going to turn to renewable energy?  When are we going to take better care of our planet?”

So it’s just those little, little things.  We don’t need to spend thousands of dollars.  It’s the awareness.  It’s the teaching to move from paradigms of, I don’t even notice them wasting all of this energy and the solution is I need to spend thousands of dollars to do something else instead of, maybe I could just change my behavior and maybe I could invest in that.

Maybe at our homes, we could have switches that they do in Europe where you’re not at home, all the power other than the necessary utilities – the heat and basic electricity – are turned off.  Why are we paying for 24 hours of electricity?  Rather than debating climate change, why don’t we just employ those devices where we cut off that vampire energy which in homes, can reduce power consumption by an estimated 25 to 40%.  That’s way simpler.

And I don’t need to have any enemies.  I don’t have to campaign.  I don’t have to do whatever.  I can just make those changes.

Duncan:  We appreciate that, those comments, just the reminder that we all get to sort of make our contribution and I think this touches on what you’re saying in the beginning a little bit about finding our purpose or our passion.  And with that, I wanted to, as you’re sort of talking about what is your message for the next generation, what is some of your wisdom?  And you’ve actually written a book and we had mentioned a couple of times and I’ll have all the links and stuff for that on the website.

But you’ve written a book called “Break Through to Yes” and it talks a lot about why we need to sort of make a shift in our culture.  I’m just wondering if you want to sort of use that, you just mentioned a little bit in that book, is an opportunity.  What is it that you want to invite the world to pay attention to right now as they’re trying to make their lives better, and also as you’re trying to make a better world?

David:  We are one.  We truly are fractals.  We are one.  We are one energy.  And that might sound pretty woo-woo, but in our hearts, I think we all know what division, the separation, the value destruction comes from fear and fear is run by our amygdala, not by our logical prefrontal cortex.  So let’s use our brains and our emotions to go forward.

It’s my yearning.  I dedicate the book to our grandmothers and grandfathers and to our granddaughters and to our grandsons because my yearning, and I think our awareness is this self-centered consumption of energy, time, resources, ‘I am right’ attitude, I don’t want to be part of that.  My role is actually to realize I am not good enough.  But together, we can figure it out.

And to add to your point, we’re only one degree away from those people in Afghanistan.  We’re a Skype call or a Zoom meeting away from engaging those conversations, learning together.  The gift of globalization is the connection and the technology and the abundance that’s happening.  The potential, catastrophic results are with greater health, greater possibility, greater sanitation, can we actually have 7 ½ billion people in this world, can we actually go to 10 billion?  This is the real challenge and those are the questions that nobody’s really prepared to enter into.

But in the meantime, how do we make it work for more?  And that’s not some kind of communal thing.  We’re all in this together.  We can’t avoid it.  In some communities around the world, they’re walled communities with barbed wire and guards.  That’s just awful and the income disparity, that’s just awful.

So the peace around collaborative cultures and leadership that is the most exciting is innovation.  So when I talk about the erosion of the old money, the wealthy Texans, the Rockefellers, that’s the old dynasty.  Those are the dynasties that really grew.  And up until the 1970s, and we’re in the 21st century now, and everything’s shifting.

I point to Elon Musk, basically a South African refugee that went to Canada to create an opportunity for himself, then went to Silicon Valley, then came to Los Angeles.  And make no mistake, Elon Musk from what I know and reading his biography and being interested in him for about the last five years, like Steve Jobs, he was a real dick.  He did some really awful things to people and family members, so let’s not pretend this is black or white.

And at the same time, he knew that only by getting the best and the brightest innovators working with him, he could realize the dream of SpaceX, of taking people to Mars and bringing them back.  I’m hopeful that he can.  It’s an insane dream for an individual, not a government or a collection of governments, but an individual to take that on and now have some great initial economic success.

So the guy, he’s a visionary, interpersonally, he’s a train wreck.  But he stuck to his vision of how do we make things very different and he didn’t go to the Coke brothers or in his case, he didn’t go to NASA.  He didn’t go to General Motors.  “Help me figure this out.  I want to be a competitor.” He got some key, young financial wizards from the Back of Nova Scotia in Canada and he got a lot of Silicon Valley wisdom in technology and they made it all up themselves.

They did it completely without any of the old paradigms, the old commanders, the old system that people are in charge now of the major utilities, the major energy companies, the major Wal-Marts, they may not actually exist in 10 years.  Let’s be part of this new paradigm.  That’s the possible.

Duncan:  David, thank you so much for this conversation.  I just want to wrap up by asking you if people want to get in touch or find you in the Internet or the world would want to find your book, where are they to look?

David:  The website is  The book is “Break Through to Yes: Unlocking the Possible within a Culture of Collaboration” and everything I do, in addition to creating my own sustainable lifestyle, is to actually like you Duncan and our CGI, to actually create this paradigm shift, to disrupt the economy, to disrupt the conflict, to unlock the possibility.

So it’s knowledge that all we can do is start to create those spaces and those collaborations, and the ripple effect will take on and will turn that dry creek bed into a raging river.  There’ll be some waterfalls but ultimately, we can start to dream of the ocean.

Duncan:  David, thank you so much.

David:  Thank you.

Duncan:  Thank you for listening to this show today.  I hope that you enjoyed it.  If you enjoy this podcast, please recommend Fractal Friends to your friends.  And if you love the show, I’d really appreciate it if you can give me a rating on iTunes or leave me a review even.

As always, you can get information about this show on the website, and as a bonus, the first person to make a comment for this show on the Fractal Friends website and to sign up for the newsletter, I’ll send them a copy of David Savage’s book “Break Through to Yes: Unlocking the Possible within a Culture of Collaboration”.

And finally, I’m really excited to share a song with you that has long been a favorite of mine.  And it also picks up on the theme of the river rushing towards the sea that we talked about in today’s show.  The song is called “Night Calls to the Humble Stream”.  It’s by a Seattle band named Led to Sea.  I just want to really thank Alex Guy for all of her beautiful music over the years and for giving me permission to use her song.  It’s so beautiful.

Thank you so much for listening to Fractal Friends.  Have a nice day.


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David B Savage

David B Savage