One-on-ones for days

I’d love to tackle a larger feasibility study; sadly, this week is not the week. The good news is tomorrow I meet with a lead organizer for the local IAF organizer to map out potential connections. That could open dozens of doors all at once – hopefully a mix of large, mid-sized, and smaller faith institutions.


The next step is a bunch of one-on-ones, trust building, and data gathering. The Incubator has helped me feel more prepared for those conversations with a deeper analysis around relational meeting, and a much clearer sense of what questions to ask. The questions in the final tabs of the Prompt 6 Mini-Feasibility Study spreadsheet are super clear and helpful, if you haven’t checked them out already.


If I can match Carrie’s speed of analysis and opportunity hunting (high fives!), that could put us on track for our first group purchase in February or March. April or May may be the right time for a second group purchase and formal founding.


With that pace, we’d be able to map out a timeline to profitability. I have some concerns around a quick path to profitability since many institutions in Cleveland are smaller and more financially strapped than many faith institutions in cities on the coast, I assume. Still we’re going to plow ahead with the existing, relatively cohesive networks of faith institutions through the IAF and other networks and see where it takes us.


I think what I find most intimidating about this whole process is the idea of my personally seeing all the details through on arranging contracts for institutions that join CPA Cleveland. Details are not my strength. I do not know contracts well. It will take a lot of focus for me to stick with the details in the meaningful way that allows CPA Cleveland to do right by its member institutions. The experienced CPA people who will be able to support us help me feel confident for this challenge.


I’m also excited to tackle this challenge with other folks in the Incubator! I’ve enjoyed getting to know all of you. I’d like to stay in touch. How about every two weeks open house Zoom chats to update each other on progress and help address pressing questions?

Empathy for All?

I appreciate this post for asking us to deepen our own personal empathy. I’m thankful too this post undermines the tired definition of ‘rationality’ used in economics, a definition limited largely to income and wealth and quantifiable metrics about material conditions. People care about that, sure, and much more.

I have serious doubts, however, about the role of empathy in creating systems change. The Aeon video about empathy suggest if we were all better at empathizing across distance and time, we would find the political will to solve big problems like climate change. The narrative proposes an empathy museum so we could build our capacity to empathize. Let’s call this the ‘hearts and minds’ view.

I find more convincing organizer and philosopher Saul Alinsky’s view of people, and of how change happens. He says people are fundamentally self-interested. When they see their self interest clearly, they will act, and not before. Let’s call this the ‘self-interest’ view. Here is one of my favorite takes on this idea from 2016.

This view is informed by Marxism which, as I understand it, holds that the fundamental conflict between classes is irreconcilable. No amount of empathy can bridge that gap. So in politics, rather than asking people with lots of privilege to get better at empathizing, on the hope that they’ll support policies that will help those less fortunate, stand in solidarity with working class people on strike at GM or in Chicago classroom as they contest for power that will improve their lives.

The other day a friend and I were talking politics and Medicare for All came up. She’s a proud Democrat and liberal activist-type who works at corporate law firm. I told her I’m fully in favor of M4A. I currently don’t have health insurance (yikes) and know many others do not as well.

She said said she’s strongly opposed to M4A if it means abolishing private insurance. I asked her why, and she said because she doesn’t want to give up the plush health insurance plan her law firm offers her.

I’m pretty sure a Marxist analysis would put that directly in the ‘class-conflict’ category.

The dynamics of class interest are at the macro level. To be clear, I’m all for empathy at the personal level.

So with my friend, I want to take a hearts and minds approach, and share with her how that view affects my well-being personally, and how it’s hard for me to hear she would oppose a policy that would help me and other people without health insurance get access to health care. Since we have a strong friendship, I think I may be able to help her make that connection. Evidence suggests she may even shift her policy position.

At a macro level, rather than try to convince 100,000 people like my friends that they should give up what they have to help people who need it, through say, an empathy museum, I want to join a political coalition of people who stand to gain something from a change in the healthcare system such as M4A, and class conscious allies who feel their liberation is bound to mine, to make this happen.

Here’s my deep dive on understanding her reasons for opposing M4A.



  • Losing the health benefits free, unfettered access provides (e.g., seeing any doctor you want at any time)


  • Losing peace of mind current plan offers; trading that for uncertainty of how M4A would really work, what access to care it would grant her
  • As her taxes rise and her perceive quality of health insurance declines, she may call into question her life choices of working for a corporate law firm
  • She’s taken a stand against M4A; its passage and successful implementation may put as risk her certainty in her own political acumen


  • Her taxes will rise

Social status

  • Losing the prestige of having a fancy health insurance plan you can tell you friends about
  • Losing a valuable and scarce asset that may make her more desirable to future romantic partners (low co-pays are sexy 😉 )
  • Losing a valuable and scarce asset that may make her feel like she can prove herself to her parents
  • Her past stance against M4A may jeopardize how people perceive her political judgement


  • She does not think unemployed people and poor people (and friends with low-incomes) deserve full health insurance :/
  • She does not like the other policies people who support M4A support (e.g., higher minimum wage, wealth taxes)

Bust up the traditional nonprofit for distributed leadership

I think Cleveland Owns should adopt a distributed-leadership governance structure. Let’s explore 🙂

To truly fulfill Cleveland Owns’ mission to build wealth and power through collective ownership, I think our year-old organization must transition away from today’s leadership structure, where lots of resources and power are concentrated in one person (me) and in a small group of leaders on the Board, to a leadership structure that’s much broader, that involves many more people with more skills and experiences.


Strengthen Cleveland Owns

  • Have a clear base of support for Cleveland Owns that will sustain its mission beyond the tenure of any one person
  • Build a more resilient organization that’s not dependent on one person or just a small group of people
  • Address the skepticism I have and others may have about the intentions of Cleveland Owns and about the intentions I have (e.g., is he doing this because of a white savior complex)
  • Bring more resources to the table to support the org (e.g., connections, ideas, money)
  • Make more connections between people who care about coops in the city


Unlock new ways to reach our mission

  • Model the cooperative governance we encourage the groups we incubate to adopt
  • Raise up leadership from people who are not white men
  • Resist the white savior complex central to many nonprofits in Cleveland
  • Learn new skills about how to run democratic organizations
  • Demonstrate there’s an alternative way to run an org


Options Dependencies
Create board seats for representatives from willing coops Cleveland Owns has incubated Board agrees to take on members from cooperative we’ve incubated
Establish a clear standard for how developed a coop must be to qualify for a board seat
Members of cooperatives are even interested in joining the board of Cleveland Owns
Coops will need to have fair process to select a representative for the Cleveland Owns board
Coop members on the CO board will need to be actively engaged, and communicate back to their coop what’s going on
Create a non-voting advisory board that’s open to the community Enough people (of diverse backgrounds) want to join CO advisory board
We effectively communicate the opportunity
Create structure and enough stakes in the game for people to want to stay involved (aka don’t waste people’s time)
Have a clear standard for what information is fair to share with advisory board and what is not
Listen to the group of creating meaningful opportunities for them to get involved
Design programming that meet people where they’re at, at various levels of knowledge about coops
Cocreate programming that is engaging, meaningful, and create reciprocal exchange of info and ideas
Create a non-voting advisory board made up of people who are members in the coops Cleveland Owns has incubated Same as above, just more refined, plus since people on the advisory board will all have a knowledge of coops
Keep our current board structure and operating structure For this option to produce some of the goals above, we’ll need to develop a strategy that builds a much broader base of leadership and support
Close the organization Consent from the board
Commit to hiring coop members as Cleveland Owns staff (when applicable) Approval from board
Qualified, interested candidates
Replace our ED with a group of people working part-time We’d need to have enough money to pay a full salary, split between a few people
Find, hire qualified candidates
Cut work in a way that creates clear delineations between new part-time staff

I think there are many more way to do this I don’t know. At our upcoming board meeting, I’m going to ask the board to brainstorm ways we can expand this list, so we can consider more options.


It’s also a chance for the board to reflect on this idea and to see if they’re on fire for it as I am.


Of these options my favorite is to create board seats for members of the coops. I like that it’s concrete governance power that turns Cleveland Owns into more of a membership organization, rather than a board-led, non-membership org. It builds connections between the incubator and the incubatee, and between coops, who may otherwise not have structured opportunities to get connected.



Reflection script


Thanks everyone for the comments. These are especially helpful because this is a live decision. In fact, we’re going to discuss this at our Board meeting Sunday. I’m bringing some of what I wrote in this post to the group directly.


Here’s a good lesson on the need to be precise in describing what we’re talking about. I imagined this is about distributed governance, rather than distributed management. The question of management is tricky, since I’m the only paid staff. I think we can wait on tackling that.


Our board members are unpaid. The time it takes to be a board member is substantial barrier. We don’t have a plan to pay board members – I think we’d need to change our bylaws to do so. We could. And we could also find lots of other perks for folks involved that could eliminate barriers and allow more people to seriously consider joining the board.


We’ve enshrined a commitment to a diverse board in our bylaws. I’m not sure what accountability mechanisms we have if we miss that target. It’s also a fuzzy target – we’ve never defined quotas, for example.


The effort to address skepticism goal is an important one. It’s not the only benefit this decision could bring to the org. But I certainly think being able to say something like “our board is made up of membership orgs we’ve helped found’ conveys a real sense of democratic control, and diminishes doubt this is a vanity project. I’m thinking of places like Coop Power and Cooperative Energy Futures, two member-driven orgs with management that, from afar at least, seems accountable to their membership.


Interestingly I’m also grappling with worker-directed nonprofits, a model put forward by the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), designed to bring the principles of democratic management from the worker-coop world into the nonprofits space. That’s another spin on what democractic leadership looks like that winds up in a different direction: A board with much less power, and very decentralized leadership in the workplace. I can imagine us heading in that direction when/if we have staff of 2+.


Overall, this exercise has been quite helpful. It offered just enough structure for me to think about this more than I would have otherwise. Writing helped turn that thinking into something I will share with my board.


On our call Carrie raised doubts about this method. suggesting that it strips away emotion. That hasn’t been my experience. I much better having gone through this because I’ve turned over this issue enough. I haven’t made a decision. That will still involve more convos with the board and trusted friends and reflection on my own feeling about this. But it was a good start.

Flashbacks to client service!!

Here are a few takeaways from our time in DC:

1. Members of the Incubator are bringing a lot of passion and experience…

One of my favorite parts of our time in DC was when eight of us from the Incubator poured out of the Flamboyan Foundation into a cool, dry Fall evening in DC to walk to CPA’s annual event a mile away. Juan Francisco and I chatted about our parallel work experiences. Others paired off, discussing the workshops we’d just left and telling their meet cute stories of Felipe. The group felt energetic. I was inspired to see the way a group of people who had met online just weeks earlier, and many met in person for the first time, were coming together with a shared excitement to build on the work of CPA.
When I asked, Juan Francisco shared in detail how he’s able to fit in the work the Incubator: “Writing a blog post after a day of work and while my family is gathering for drinks before dinner without me.” Wow. His energy and commitment is inspiring. Sheila share with me more of her extensive professional background in social work, organizing, and teaching. We learned we took the same organizing class at Harvard a few year apart!

2. …and people are bringing a lot of questions


A memorable part of the workshop was when we discussed what it looks like for CPA to work with its member institutions. Michelle asked something like, “What if they want to know about composting services? I don’t know anything about that. What do I have to offer a member institution on that?”
What Felipe shared was insightful. He said in that scenario he would get smart on it real quick. He’d call 3 composting companies and get quotes, ask about their billing practices. He’d ask the company for references, and call them to learn what the service is like. Then he’d call that member institution back and share what he’d learned.
When Felipe told us this, people had more questions. Paul, I think, asked about “Well what about HVAC? I don’t know anything about HVAC, but many property managers at large institutions do. What can I tell them about HVAC they don’t already know?” Felipe’s response: “Joe spent a year learning about HVAC systems, even though he primarily works on solar. He had to learn a ton of stuff. And now he’s the expert on HVACs, and helps lots of institutions figure stuff out they didn’t know already.”
3. CPA is a business service organization
It’s clear to me following our time in DC that CPA revolves around solving concrete problems facing member institutions – who both spend with CPA and exercise governance through their role as member owners. Felipe’s composting example revealed that to me.
That commitment to member institutions reminds me of my years in private sector consulting. Client service was a big deal. We went to incredible lengths to bring the best analysis to clients – traveling everywhere at the drop of the hat, late nights, endless conference calls. Delivering what the client needed was the whole reasons we existed.
I don’t see that same relentless drive in the nonprofit sector. I can think of a few reasons why that may be the case. One is the profit motive is lower. There’s no big payday when a nonprofit organization gets it right. Two, and perhaps more convincing, is the lack of clarity around who is the ‘client.’ While the consulting firm I worked gets paid by the same person or org to whom we’re responsible to deliver our findings, nonprofit orgs can have many more stakeholders beyond the person they will work with day-to-day. Funders and volunteer board members, for example, may each offer competing visions of what the work should look like.
I think CPA has that clarity, and I’m guessing that to make CPA Cleveland work, our team here must approach the work with a client service mentality.
Thank you for the comments! Generous indeed! I really like the idea of parsing out the desirable / undesirable parts of private sector consulting, and leaving behind the bad as I move to CPA. I left the consulting job because I wanted to run to work in the solidarity economy; I also left because I wanted to run from the bad parts of my old job. Here are two pernicious parts of consulting I hope do not show up in CPA. 
Unbalanced life. The commitment to client service plus insatiable requests for work on internal projects and to sustaining the institution itself led to super healthy lives. The month I left the firm I worked at, my two closest friends in the home office at emotional breakdowns. The stress accumulated in their bodies until they shut down. At least one left the office sobbing. CPA LETS NEVER DO THAT TO PEOPLE WHO WORK HERE.
Both rolled of their clients and took a few weeks off. Now they’re back on the job. That’s wild.
Compromised values. One Friday afternoon as I was between clients the person who staffed me on projects asked me if I would join a team doing client service at a big tobacco company. She knew enough about my politics that she couched the request like “No pressure, but would you consider…” NO! I would not consider that.
But big tobacco is profitable, and the firm I worked at was all about profit. That led them to do all sorts of terrible things I’m not proud to have been part of, even if I said no to the most egregious of them. I hope I never say that about CPA.

From the dance floor to the coop

I plan to schedule relational meetings with three leaders from local churches, one from the church I attend, and two from other churches. I’m going to map out my plan for meeting with the woman in my church who handles all financial decisions–let’s call her Sister Smith.

In my relational meeting with Sister Smith, I’d like to share with her a high-level description of CPA, a network of institutions facing similar opportunities to save money through group purchasing, and ‘a vehicle to act together on common problems that are bigger than any one institution can tackle on their own.’ Each year in DC, 20 schools and 20 faith institutions find the insight, pricing, and convience so helpful they choose to work with the co-op for more than 100 contracts in the areas that make sense for their institution. The co-op gets a rebate from the vendor that pays for their time, but because of the group negotiating and the better service, the individual member experiences either a lower cost or better value and chooses the co-op. The co-op is owned by the members and works for the members.

Before we go into the details, I’d like to share why I feel called to do this work. (This is my story of self.) That story starts for me in middle school, when I felt so excited to go to my first middle school dance. I put on my shiniest shirt and walked into the dark gym at Mayfield Middle School. There was a smoke machine and a DJ playing Limp Bizkit. Perfect. I found some friends and started dancing. Almost right away a guy I was on the football team with yelled out, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Hey Welle! Dancing is for girls and for gays!” I froze. I felt a hundred eyes on me. I had no idea dances came with all these rules. I stopped dancing right then, and I stopped dancing for years.

It wasn’t until years later, after I’d seen my mother stand up for her own career after years of feeling like her role in the family, and the expectations of my father, did not give her the space to pursue her professional passions, that I found courage to stand up for myself. I stopped hanging out with the football guys and instead find true friends in honors calls who accepted me as I am. I have a picture from junior prom of me with those friends, with my face red and shirt disheveled from dancing so much.

That experience inspired me to stand with people fighting against the rules that hold them back.

Small churches in Cleveland like the one I’m a member of have for years had to break the rules to keep their congregations intact. The city has lost population every year since 1950. The population is getting older as young people move out of the region. Finances are tight as building age and the economy stagnates–or even declines. For churches that have survived these headwinds–mostly Black churches–staying open means fighting for their faith, for their community, for the relationships and history they believe. As they fight to stay open, they’ve shown a lot of the courage I found in modest ways back in high school. (This is the story of us, and the beginning of a story of now.)

I’d love to know why Sister Smith believes the longevity of her church matters to her. What motivates her to put in long hours to keep paying the church bills, to keep cooking dinner for the Pastor’s appreciation lunch? When was the first time she know our church would be her church home? What’s a moment from church she’ll always remember?

What’s her hope for where the church should go? What priorities does she hold for how the church evolves in its ministry?

I will ask Sister Smith two or three of these questions in a way that invites her to reveal her values, the things she cares about as it relates to her work sustaining our church’s finances.

I’ll bring the conversation back to that work, and ask what substantial expenses and contracts she sees on the horizon for our church, and what routine expenses are the most taxing.

I’ll invite her to share some specifics about how much our church spends on specific types of contracts–electricity, trash pick up, copier services, etc. I’ll ask what services she’s happy with, which leave something to be desired, and which vendors stand out and which aren’t meeting standards.

I’ll let her know we plan to convene a meeting of 10 or so faith institutions this winter to see what opportunity there is to work together to save our church some money by working together. I’ll also ask to follow up later one regarding some of the details about spend data.

How to build CPA in Cleveland; how to build a meaningful career that does not define me

My first goal is by January 31, 2020 to convene representatives of 10-15 faith institutions and nonprofits in Cleveland around the idea of building a CPA-style purchasing cooperative.

My second goal is in the next year to create a plausible, written strategy for how to build a career in a way that complements, rather than crowds the other parts of my life — how to build a meaningful career and make sure that career does not define me.


Goal 1: Convene 


I’m excited for this goal because my church struggles to pay its bills, which are often too high. The windows leak hot air. Small gaps in the roof drip water onto the ceiling at times. The HVAC system needs a full update. For these and other reasons, despite a thriving congregation, we’re paying more than we can afford to keep the church going. A purchasing coop would shift some of the burden of finding contractors off the shoulders of the church caretakers, giving them more time to caulk the doorway to cut down on heating and cooling expenses. It would save us money on our bills through group purchasing. It may even earn the church some money as the coop thrives.

I want to see this happen because I want to see economic power shift in Cleveland away from corporate power towards local, democratic institutions, towards Black and Brown people and institutions, towards low-income people and institutions. That shift in economic power means a shift in political power.

I want to see this happen because it would help me develop new skills as an organizer and coop developer. It would expand my network and allow me to meet new people from across the region. It would broaden the audience for the work I’m doing as one of the few coop developers in Cleveland. Having this meeting would give me more confidence as an organizer – it would feel like a win.



This group will need a lot of trust to have an effective meeting. As the central convener, I will need to do much of that work, in part by having relational meetings with many people from key institutions, and also by selecting strategic relationships to build. I’m not able to do all of it, however; one obstacle is finding key partners who will help drive this forward with me locally.

The bar for building trust in Cleveland is high. Many of the people who manage operations at Cleveland churches are stretched thin. It will take substantial trust for them to dedicate time to a group that doesn’t yet have a track record of success. There is also a deep, well-earned mistrust between segments of the Black and Latinx community, who have survived repeated  economic exploitation by white supremacist policies. In one of the most segregated, high-poverty cities in the country, trust must be earned. As a white person convening a multi-class, multi-racial group of people, I will have to bring the humility and relational preparatory work to earn the trust of people in the room.


Skills and knowledge

This is first and foremost an organizing challenge. Building relationships through public narrative that articulate shared values is the most important skill for this project. Effective meeting facilitation, structured opportunities to share control of the process, pacing work in a digestible way, communicating a clear strategy — I must draw on each of these skills.

Business skill is the other essential part of this. Here I’ll rely heavily on the work CPA has done already in analyzing bills, identifying opportunities for purchasing events, constructing the legal backbone for this org, etc. I’ll also draw on my background as a corporate consultant.


Identify the people and groups to work with

I’ve decided not to share this on the blog. Slide into my DMs if you want to learn more about this decision 🙂


Plan of action

  • Create a list of key people and institutions
  • Meet with them, asking for intros to other people at organizations and institutions
  • Learn about what’s keeping them up at night about facilities maintenance, following the prompts Felipe and team have honed
  • Gather data – request and compile bills
  • Develop several hypotheses about opportunities for group purchasing events
  • Sketch out a potential structure for a legal entity owned by member institutions
  • Invite people from institutions to join a kickoff meeting


Goal 2: A meaningful career that does not define me

What’s in it for me

I want to make sure I’m intentional about building a career that is compatible with the rest of my life — the values I care about, the relationships I hold, how I spend my time, how I understand myself to be. This holistic view of who I am and what I care about I believe is essential for a fulfilled, meaningful life.

Specifically, I want to have an identity outside of my career that’s strong enough so I’m comfortable letting go of my career when the time is right. I don’t want to find all my sense of meaning in my professional work.

I think doing so will help me build stronger relationships, lead a more balanced life, and allow me to spend a lifetime showing up for collective social justice work.



An idea of masculinity that’s confined to what one does professionally. An urgent need to make money to stay alive in capitalism. My tendency to anchor my expectations on other people, rather than through my own sense of purpose. External pressure to do just that.

A lack of hobbies, maybe? My ego tied to external validation. A lack of language to talk about this stuff. A sparse community of men I know well who are overtly fighting toxic masculinity.


Skills and knowledge

Writing this helps me put words behind the feeling I’ve had about how I want to integrate my personal and professional lives. Expanding my vocabulary around this is a skill I’ll need to develop. I need to learn more about the ways I’ve absorbed the lessons of patriarchy that makes it hard for men to see themselves as more than money makers.


People and groups to work with

I have a close group of male friends from college. A conversation with one of them helped crystalize this specific challenge. I’d like to keep speaking with my friend about strategies for dealing with this now; I’d also like to broader the group of friends having that conversation. I’m part of the Braden Fellowship through the Catalyst Project; that’s another good network of people thinking about how to defeat patriarchal systems. I’d like to speak with my Dad about this. He’s figuring out what’s on the other side of retirement from a career that’s central to who he is. I have a lot to learn from him in that process. I’d like to have more conversations about this with my girlfriend.


Plan of action

Have conversations with my close male friends and my father. Talk to my girlfriend about this. Find 2-3 books that will help me understand the system of patriarchy I grew up in that have made this process so challenging for me and other people like me. Reflect on all these inputs, and write down a plan to deal with this (e.g., pursue other hobbies, set limits on work hours). I’d like to have that plan in place a year from now.


Reflection script (10/13)

Wow – so much to dig into here on reflection from these thoughtful comments from Ale, Michelle, and Juan Francisco and reading other prompts.

Juan Francisco, I appreciate the nuance you’ve reached for your in your comment. I don’t want what I get paid to do to define me. That’s a fallacy central to toxic masculinity. I want my paid work to be part of who I am, integrated with other parts of how I spend time, so that when it stops, I know who I am outside of it.

That’s true even if my paid work is in something that feels important to me and to the world. Part of what motivates me to ask this question is my Dad, who’s not sure what will happen when he retires. When he brought it up over dinner last week, he seemed worried. He’s not an emotive guy. I felt a little scared seeing him worry about who he is after he retires. He’s spent 45 years as a pastor, doing work he cares deeply about, that he believes makes the world (and heaven!) a better place. Many would agree. That doesn’t make retiring any easier.

I’d like to write my plan for this goal in an way that integrates paid work with other work for justice and other goals focused on a holistic sense of myself (e.g., deepening relationships, building personal practices our exercise and hobbies).

Prompt 1: Set Goals

A fundamental objective of this workshop is to make change happen.

You can change the way you produce things
change the market
change the people you work with
change your bank account
change yourself

Before you can make a change happen, though, you need to determine which change you’d like to create. Sure, you might stumble on something, but you’re far more likely to find something if you know what you’re looking for.

The goal setting we’re going to do in this project isn’t forever. It’s a temporary placeholder. The pressure is off, because the list of long-term goals you come up with will only be your list for the next two weeks, and then you can create a new list.

First hurdle: Writing down a goal doesn’t make it less likely to occur. (Just like buying life insurance doesn’t make it more likely you will die).

Second hurdle: Writing down a goal doesn’t make it hurt more when you don’t reach it.

Third hurdle: Sharing a goal with a trusted circle isn’t humiliating.

Cultivating & growing in our self awareness through our own writing & shipping. Practice fighting the Resistance. (See the first 20 pages of Pressfield for that reference.)

Personal transformation, and habituating our daily struggle against the Resistance, is how we start transforming the world — by developing the habit of showing up to do our most creative work: our art.

Here are a few of the core principles from adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy. If you haven’t gotten to read the book yet, here’s one summary / review).

  • Small is good, small is all (The large is a reflection of the small)
  • Trust the People (If you trust the people, they become trustworthy)
  • There is always enough time for the right work. There is a conversation in the room that only these people at this moment can have. Find it.

The Zigler 7 steps to goal setting offer a succinct and effective way to delineate your goals.

Some critics prefer a less rigorous goal approach. And in the long run, they may be correct—overdoing the process can be as debilitating as not doing the process at all. But before you can scale back, incorporating a goal-mindset into your daily life, it helps to see it in full splendor. It helps you know.

Your format of the goals for this project should match the format of these 7 steps.

Because this is a direct and clear process, you’ll be challenged to find goals that you actually believe in, that are worth the effort and focus you (or your organization) are going to put into them. Careful what you wish for, you might get it.

The most common initial approach is to pick goals that are:




These are all variations on hiding. If a goal feels safely small or safely ridiculous, it’s mostly safe and not much of a goal at all.


  1. On your own take a first crack at your written personal goals. Use the Ziglar Seven Steps of Goal Setting process to break your goals into specifics, and describe the when and the what and the who. Try to do this before your group meets. These are personal goals, goals that aren’t designed to be shared with everyone. But, like all useful goals, the goals that are worth your time and effort, are important, they’re specific and they have a specific timeframe associated with them. If the goals don’t make you a little uncomfortable, they’re probably not important enough to you.
  2. With those personal ones identified, use the same process to create goals you’d feel comfortable sharing in a public-facing project: Select one or two goals for your organization, your career, and/or your work project. Share them with your group. Are the goals worthy of your best work? Are they unrealistic, designed to give you a place to hide?
  3. After discussing with you group, go ahead and post one or two goals for your organization, your career, and/or your work project. As you do so, tell us about why you selected this goal, and how you decided this was the right goal for you. What’s it feel like to pick this goal and share it publicly? What edge is this goal creating for you?


After you publish your project Wednesday at midnight EST, your fellow workshop participants will post their feedback to your project by Thursday at 10pm Eastern Time / 8pm MT. This is one of the most important elements of the program. Please plan to provide feedback on at least five other participant’s work each Thursday.

Every project should have a title that is unique, that invites the reader in. It’s not homework, it’s a project. “Three things I know about getting things done,” is great, “Project 1: Goal setting” is not. You don’t need to restate the question, you need to establish early on in your post what you’re here to say.

Every project should, after getting feedback, end with a ‘reflective script’ (RS) that
highlights what you’ve learned since you published it. If you were going to write the post
again, what would you do differently?

After reviewing the feedback, post an RS to your project (leaving the original post as is) by
Saturday at 10pm ET / 8pm MT. This ‘reflective script’ should have your take on what you learned from the comments. The RS itself should be written at the bottom of your original post — not as a comment. You can read more about the purpose of the RS in the participant guide.


Projects Due: Wednesday, October 9, 11:59pm EST

Comments Due: Thursday, October 10, 10pm ET / 8pm MT / 7pm PT

RS Due: Saturday, October 12, 10pm ET / 8pm MT / 7pm PT

Welcome to the CPA Incubator!

Hi all – Welcome. I’m deeply appreciative that we’re here, right now, ready to grow together over the next few weeks

My aim is through the Incubator to share what we’ve learned about building Community Purchasing Alliance in D.C. these past several years. One of the things I’m just learning now is that a successful co-op as much about the process, the culture, and the people as anything else.

We’re hoping we can all learn from each other by creating a space where we show up with care and generosity to deepen our own self-awareness and look deeper into ourselves for that defining question: the quest that unleashes that deeper power and purpose for our lives.

My goal with the Incubator is to share an experience of the core leadership frameworks that have helped CPA get where we are, and that we believe will help CPA live into this next phase of growth and implementation.

In the Incubator we want you to synthesize all that you know about what’s wrong with our economy and our community institutions. These are the truths we know in and through our bodies, the traumas we’ve endured and those of close friends and family. When we combine that knowledge with a more holistic process, we unlock the transformative potential of your local work and the federated work of this broader collective you are joining. We want the deep wisdom and genius that’s inside of you to be unleashed.

– Felipe