Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Creating Safe Space: The Gift Exchange


I hadn’t ever thought of a gift as something that would create safe space between people.  That changed when I listened to Keith Lipert, of Keith Lipert Corporate Gifts (  He is an expert in the art and science of gift giving.  Having worked with the Protocol offices of several US Presidents, with other world leaders, heads of corporations, and other dignitaries – he knows the importance of and potential impact of gifts. 


Giving a gift he reminds us, creates a relationship between the giver and the recipient.  The exchange itself can create “safe space” because focuses the parties on their connection.  At that moment the only topic of importance is the gift, representing their connection.   Usually a neutral conversation occurs where the gift is explained:  why it was selected turning the conversation to something special about the recipient.  Polite.  Friendly.  Insightful (we hope).


How do you get to having that perfect gift, the one that starts the safe conversation you want to have?   Begin with answering Mr. Lipert’s  Six Questions for Selecting a Gift: 


Who is it for

Why is it being given

What’s the intended message

What have I given this person (or group)  before

How many of this gift do I need

What’s the budget


Six simple yet sometimes complicated questions whose answers can lead you to the gift that creates Safe Space in the moment of the exchange.


Monday, April 26, 2021


In a recent meeting, I listened to a Director of a company from Finland* describe challenges of working globally, describing requests for special payments to facilitate the movement of goods.   His story reminded me that there is an annual report titled  the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).  Created by Transparency International it offers an assessment of the perceived level of corruption in countries across the globe.   (

The 2020 edition of the CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, drawing on expert assessments and surveys of business executives. It uses a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Denmark and New Zealand top the index as the least corrupt tied with 88 points.  Following them are Finland*, Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore all at 88.   At the bottom:  Syria, Somalia and South Sudan  with 14, 12 and 12 points, respectively.  Wondering about the United States?   The US appears at #25 with 67 points (down from 73 in 2012).     Thinking about entering a new market?  Don’t forget to check the CPI. 

To see the full report:

Monday, April 12, 2021

Yes, there is still Happiness in the World


 It’s hard to think in terms of happiness when we look back at 2020.  However --- it can be found.   Thanks to the Sustainable Development Solutions Network we know that there is Happiest Country in the World.    They recently issued their annual report,  announcing that Finland was the Happiest Country in the World.  (


They stated that:  “This year’s report focuses on the effects of COVID-19 on happiness and how countries have differed in their success in reducing the deaths and maintaining connected and healthy societies.”   Although the same five countries  rank as the happiest five whether looking at results covering 2018 – 2020 or only  2020, the rankings change slightly.  Either way Finland continues to rank #1 – Happiest country.


 2018-2020                   (2020 only)


1.     Finland                         (1)

2.     Denmark                      (3)

3.     Switzerland                  (4)

4.     Iceland                          (2)

5.     Netherlands                 (5)



You’ll find the details  of the 2021 report and those dating to 2013 by following this link:


(By the way, of the 149 countries in included in the report for 2018-2020 – in the top 20 are  Austria at 10, Ireland 15, the US 19 and Belgium 20.  At  149 is Afghanistan.)


Monday, March 15, 2021

Forget the New Normal














As more people receive their vaccinations there seems to be a sense that  they are magic shots that will take us back to 2019 – a familiar time with well-known rhythms, ways of doing things. 


I submit to you that it’s time to change our vision – not to look backwards.  Let’s be realistic. We’re not going back.  Corvid’s here to stay (like the flu).  Look forward.  Let’s talk about PV (Post Vaccination) or NN (New Now) or New Time (NT) or whatever forward thinking label you wish to create.


Let’s take  advantage of all that we’ve learned (who knew what ‘You’re on mute” meant a year ago?) --- that remote work could be difficult/easy/productive/and not – that we could pivot, learn, adapt, suffer, care for each other, play bingo on Zoom, talk to long lost colleagues and more? 


Let’s figure out our new passports, what it means to be working in hybrid model, figure out how to support each other as we create new patterns, new ways to travel, new ways to keep each other safe.  Let’s look for the joy that surely will come if we pay attention and bring our energy to creating what comes next. 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

I wish you a leader who laughs

Gary Burnison, Korn Ferry, (, writes occasionally about Leadership.  In a recent piece he focused on humor and shared stories of when humor diffused difficult, awkward situations.  Of all that he wrote the sentences below touched me, so I am sharing them with you.

Humor is a legitimate leadership tool, and it takes a lot of intelligence (emotional and intellectual) to use it well. It can become the release valve that lightens despair and disarms conflict.

For family and friends, colleagues and clients, adding a dose of levity and authenticity can alleviate even the heaviest of downpours. We become relatable. We become more human. We don’t build walls of words; we help people climb over to reach us. Indeed, where there’s humor, there’s humanity.

 No matter where we are in the world, no matter that what makes me laugh  may not make any sense to you - and the reverse -  I believe as Mr. Burnison does, that we all benefit when laughter is part of lives.  So I wish you leaders who laugh and laughter to brighten your days.