Bridging Divides at Work

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How can organizations quell political discord in the workplace? Here’s why edicts are not the answer.

Polarization is not just a problem for Congress and our political system, it’s also taking a toll in the workplace. Employees are falling out with each other over politics, Supreme Court decisions, and fiery issues in the culture wars. Colleagues who used to be friendly now barely talk to each other.

Organizations are trying to stem the discord. Some have banned political talk at the office. Others have taken a public stand on an issue of the day in an effort to ‘do the right thing’. But these and other ideas still can end up pleasing some employees and alienating others.

Our guest on today’s show says edicts like this won’t help, but more thoughtful approaches can.

In this, our second episode on polarization in business, we hear from Simon Greer. He’s the founder of Bridging the Gap, a group that helps college students develop the skills to communicate well across differences. He also consults with organizations who face these same challenges among their workforces.

Simon explains how he went from ‘bomb thrower’ to bridge builder over the course of his career, tells stories from his work with employers and employees, and outlines the very personal reason for his belief in the humanity of the other person.

All on this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.

Simon Greer

Simon Greer has been involved in social change work for the past 25 years. He has worked at the local, national, and international levels to address issues of injustice through philanthropy, advocacy, and service. He has led organizations through periods of dramatic institutional growth, including high-profile campaigns, program innovation, increased philanthropic impact, and more. As the founder of Cambridge Heath Ventures, he works with private companies, organizations, and governments to overcome their most pressing challenges.

For the last five years, he has conducted research; designed listening sessions; trained leaders; and organized campaigns to identify common good values, policy ideas, messages, narratives and a coherent worldview that he believes have the power to engage a broad cross-section of Americans.

He is the founder of Bridging the Gap and host of Courageous Conversations at The Nantucket Project.

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Two Young Southerners Speak Up on Guns

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How do our youngest voters feel about America’s gun policy?

Our guests on today’s show are part of the school shooting generation. Each grew up with active shooter drills and worries that their school could be next, concepts that were unthinkable when most of today’s politicians were in the classroom.

Ahead of Common Ground Committee’s live event on September 27th, Finding Common Ground on Guns we hear from Sophie Holtzman and Jackson Hoppe, sophomores at The George Washington University. They are also joint vice presidents of their college’s chapter of BridgeUSA, an organization that creates spaces for students to have open discussion on political issues.

In this episode, Sophie, a liberal, and Jackson, a conservative, share stories of being raised in the South, their experiences with guns, and how listening to others’ opinions on the topic – even when they disagree – is a vital first step to finding common ground.

Join us on Let’s Find Common Ground.

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Ep. 66 – Two Young Southerners Speak Up on Guns

Sophie Holtzman

Sophie Holtzman is a sophomore at the George Washington University and the Co-Vice President of GWU’s BridgeUSA chapter. Originally from Villa Hills, Kentucky, she has worked extensively with the Kentucky Democratic Party and Kentucky’s Youth and Government programs. While she has previously worked in grassroots organizing for Senate, Congressional, and gubernatorial campaigns and in outreach for Kentucky’s public libraries, she now works as a student-teacher for GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

With her International Affairs major and Journalism minor, she hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in Global Communication and work in climate messaging or climate policy. Outside of academics, she volunteers with GW’s Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement, is an active member of her sorority, and spends her free time running and reading.

Jackson Hoppe

Jackson Hoppe is a sophomore at the George Washington University and is pursuing a degree in Public Policy and Marketing. Along with Sophie Holtzman, he is the Co-Vice President of GWU’s BridgeUSA chapter. Jackson grew up in Brentwood, Tennessee, where he has worked both on the campaign and federal levels for Republicans in the Volunteer State, including positions in both the House and Senate. Additionally, he has participated in numerous civic engagement programs, like Model United Nations and Youth in Government, rising to some of the highest officer positions in both programs and being given the opportunity to lobby for federal civics education legislation.

Jackson also serves as the Director of Public Relations for GW College Republicans, where he has engaged with national media sources and is the mouthpiece of the largest conservative organization on campus. He is also an engaged member of his fraternity. He is glad to be a VP for BridgeGW and is a proud Tennessean.

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Primaries and Polarization: Is The System Broken?

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With low voter turnout and a wide partisan divide, are there better ways to pick candidates?

The primary election season in this midterm election year is now over in most states. Turnout was often very low—less than 20% of registered voters showed up in many places—while the partisan divide was as wide as ever.

In this episode, we hear from leading political strategists, scholars, authors and journalists about the American system for choosing candidates who will face each other in November’s election. We consider issues with the closed party primaries, and whether there are better ways to pick candidates for public office.

We look at proposed solutions such as ranked-choice voting and open primaries, where independent voters and those who are neither registered Republicans nor Democrats can participate.

Guests include Former Democratic Party Chair Donna Brazile, ex-Congressmen Will Hurd and Barney Frank, Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice, constitutional law scholar Rick Pildes, and journalists Salena Zito, Christa Case Bryant and Story Hinckley.

Join us on Let’s Find Common Ground.

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Ep 65 – Primaries and Polarization: Is The System Broken?

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Podcast EP 64: Millennial Politicians

Millennial Politicians on Finding Common Ground

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At a divisive time in national politics, how can local politicians work for the common good? Hear from two young leaders.

In US politics, bipartisanship is now the exception, not the rule. But the Millennial Action Project is pushing back: it trains young leaders to bridge the partisan divide and work together to solve America’s problems.

In this episode, we meet two members of the Millennial Action Project from opposite sides of the aisle. They are state representatives from Connecticut, Republican Devin Carney, and Democrat Jillian Gilchrest. Gilchrest and Carney discuss the joys and challenges of being a local politician at a time when national politics is so divisive. ‘Get to know me’ is something they often find themselves saying to constituents who judge them solely on the ‘R’ or ‘D’ after their name.

The two representatives talk about listening and responding to their constituents, having their own prejudices upended, and how they find ways to agree for the good of their state.  All on this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.

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Ep 64 – Millennial Politicians on Finding Common Ground

Jillian Gilchrest

Rep. Jillian Gilchrest represents Connecticut’s 18th district in Hartford County. Rep. Gilchrest was educated at the University of Connecticut where she received a Master of Social Work and teaches at the University of Saint Joseph, University of Hartford, and Sacred Heart University.

Prior to her election in 2018, she has a wealth of experience advocating for women’s issues. She serves on the board of directors for the two nonprofit entities that encompass The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in Connecticut. Additionally, Gilchrest has extensive public policy experience in women’s issues serving as the Policy Director at the Connecticut Association for Human Services, an Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, the Director of Health Professional Outreach for the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Director of Public Policy and Communication at Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services.

Currently, Gilchrest serves on the Education, Appropriations, and Commerce Committees.

Devin Carney

State Rep. Devin Carney proudly represents the 23rd General Assembly District. He was elected to his fourth two-year term in November 2020. Rep. Carney was appointed to serve as the Ranking Member for the Transportation Committee for the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, having also served in this position in 2017-2018.

Carney graduated from Brandeis University in 2006 where he received a BA in Political Science and a BA in American Studies with a minor in Film. In addition to the legislature, Carney works in finance at John A Bysko Associates and as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker.

Rep. Carney volunteers his time with many local organizations including serving on The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center Board of Trustees, as the Treasurer of the Board of Saybrook Senior Housing, a member of The Rotary Club of Old Saybrook, and as a member of both the Lyme-Old Lyme and Old Saybrook Chambers of Commerce. In addition, he serves as a member of the bipartisan Millennial Action Project, which brings together legislators 45 and under, and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. He also serves as an alternate member of the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals.

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Episode 63: Davia Temin - Crisis and Common Ground

Companies: Crisis and Common Ground

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Can American businesses help us find common ground?  An expert discusses the challenges and opportunities.

American business can be a force for finding common ground, but large corporations must now answer to a growing array of stakeholders, who often have opposing views on hot-button issues. In recent years, social media has also forced companies to respond immediately to a variety of conflicting demands.

We discuss these challenges with Davia Temin, a highly respected marketing and reputation strategist, crisis manager and communications coach. We also learn the ways that business can help contribute to improving public discourse at a time of polarization and political conflict.

In this episode, we hear about the daily hazards and opportunities for corporate leaders and get practical lessons on how they can respond to today’s changing political, cultural and social landscape in a clear, caring and authentic voice.

 

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Ep 63 – Companies: Crisis and Common Ground

Davia Temin

Davia Temin is the CEO of Temin and Company, a risk, reputation, leadership strategy, and crisis management consultancy. Davia works with corporate leaders around the world, helping them to refine and strengthen their vision, voice, and market position in times of crisis and opportunity.

A respected writer, commentator, and coach, she speaks globally and has appeared on CBS, CNN, NBC, Bloomberg, PBS, ABC, Reuters, and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times and numerous other publications and networks around the world. Prior to founding the firm over 20 years ago with the backing of GE, Davia headed Corporate Marketing, Crisis and Risk Management, and Public Affairs for GE Capital, Schroders, Scudder, Citi Investment Bank, and Columbia Business School.

An NACD Board Leadership Fellow, Davia is the Chair of Video Volunteers, an international media and human rights NGO. She also Chairs the Board Development Committee and serves on the Executive Committee and Governance Committee on the Board of Girl Scouts of Greater New York. She also serves on the Boards or Advisory Boards of The Harvard Women’s Leadership Board, The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship of Columbia Journalism School, and many public and private organizations.

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Episode 62 Climate Series - Daniel Yergin

Energy, Climate, and National Security: The New Map

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Can the global energy crisis be solved?  An expert assesses the evolving challenges and opportunities.

The world is being shaken by a collision of energy needs, climate change, and clashes between nations in a time of global crisis — made much worse by Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine. Roaring inflation has shocked consumers, the Biden Administration, and other governments around the world.

In this episode we discuss the rapidly growing challenges of national security as well as opportunities for common ground with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin, one of the world’s foremost experts on energy, international politics and economics.

We examine the reasons behind President Biden’s latest visit to Saudi Arabia, Europe’s rapidly growing dependence on U.S. oil and natural gas, and the changing threats to the West from Russia and China. Daniel Yergin’s book The New Map: Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations led to his selection as Energy Writer of the Year by the American Energy Society.

 

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Ep 62 – Energy, Climate, and National Security: The New Map

Daniel Yergin

Daniel Yergin is a highly respected authority on energy, international politics, and economics. He is Vice Chairman of IHS Markit, one of the world’s largest research and information companies; and chairman of CERAWeek, which CNBC has described as “the Super Bowl of world energy.”

He has served on the US Secretary of Energy Advisory Board under the last four presidents. He is a member of the Energy Policy Council of the Dallas Federal Reserve, a director of the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior trustee of the Brookings Institution. He also serves as a member of the National Petroleum Council, a director of the United States Energy Association, and of the US-Russia Business Council.

Dr. Yergin holds a BA from Yale University, where he founded The New Journal, and a PhD from Cambridge University, where he was a Marshall Scholar.

He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Prime Minister of India, and the first James Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security from the U.S. Department of Energy. Among other honors, he was also awarded the United States Energy Award for “lifelong achievements in energy and the promotion of international understanding,” and the Charles Percy Award for Public Service from the Alliance to Save Energy.

In addition to his latest book The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations, Dr. Yergin also authored the bestseller The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. He is known around the world for his book The Prize: the Epic Quest for Oil Money and Power, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

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climate change podcast

Climate Action: A Progressive and a Conservative Find Common Ground

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Can progressives and conservatives find common ground on climate change?

Environmental activist and author Bill McKibben warned the public about the perils of climate change and the damage human activity is causing more than forty years ago.

Former South Carolina Republican Congressman Bob Inglis became a climate activist much later, but he is no less passionate. Both differ on politics and who to vote for, but they agree on the goal of sharply reducing carbon emissions as soon as possible.

Inglis and McKibben join us for this episode of “Let’s Find Common Ground.” They sound the alarm for urgent action.

Bob Inglis is a conservative Republican and a committed believer in free enterprise capitalism and limited government. He’s executive director of RepublicEN.org, a conservative group that advocates for solutions to climate change.

Bill McKibben is a writer and teacher who has dedicated his life to stopping the climate crisis. He has written a dozen books about the environment, is a distinguished scholar at Middlebury College, and leads the climate campaign group 350.org. Last year Bill launched Third Act, a new campaign aimed at engaging activists over the age of 60.

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Ep 61 – Climate Action: A Progressive and a Conservative Find Common Ground

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is a contributing writer to The New Yorker, and a founder of Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60 to work on climate and racial justice. He founded the first global grassroots climate campaign, 350.org, and serves as the Schumann Distinguished Professor in Residence at Middlebury College in Vermont. In 2014 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel,’ in the Swedish Parliament. He’s also won the Gandhi Peace Award and honorary degrees from 19 colleges and universities. He has written over a dozen books about the environment, including his first, The End of Nature, published in 1989, and the forthcoming The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at his Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened.

Bob Inglis

Bob Inglis is the Executive Director of republicEn.org. He was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1992, having never run for office before. He represented Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, from 1993-1998, unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings in 1998, and then returned to the practice of commercial real estate law in
Greenville, S.C. In 2004, he was re-elected to Congress and served until losing re-election in the South Carolina Republican primary of 2010.

In 2011, Inglis went full-time into promoting free enterprise action on climate change and launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative (“E&EI”) at George Mason University in July 2012. In the fall of 2014, E&EI rebranded to become republicEn.org.

republicEn is a growing grassroots community of over 10,000 Americans educating the country about free-enterprise solutions to climate change. The organization is a 501(c)(3) operation hosted at the George Mason University Foundation and educates, recruits, and organizes conservative voices for action on climate change.

For his work on climate change, Inglis was given the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. He appears in the film Merchants of Doubt and in the Showtime series YEARS of Living Dangerously (episodes 3 and 4), and he’s spoken at TEDxBeaconStreet and TEDxJacksonville.

Inglis was a Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics in 2011, a Visiting Energy Fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2012, and a Resident Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics in 2014.

Inglis grew up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, went to Duke University for college, met and married his college sweetheart, graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, and practiced commercial real estate law in Greenville, S.C., before and between his years in Congress. Bob and Mary Anne Inglis have five children (a son and four daughters). They live on a small farm in northern Greenville
County, South Carolina.

 

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Will Hurd Common Ground Podcast

The Crucial Role of Political Centrists

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Does the future lie with politicians who appeal to the center? Learn why this former Congressman says yes.

The world appears to be one of political extremes, with the far right and far left denigrating each other on a regular basis. But could the future lie with politicians who appeal to a larger group?

Our guest on this week’s podcast says yes. Former CIA agent and Republican congressman Will Hurd of San Antonio won three terms in Texas’s 23rd congressional district, a district he was told he could never win because it was bright blue, while he was red.

He says he succeeded by engaging with everyone, not just voters who shared all his beliefs – and he believes others can do the same. Just don’t call them moderates.

“In the media in Washington DC…moderate means middle of the road,” he says. “But in reality, moderates are the ones that do the hard work and get things done because they’re the ones that are having to take a philosophy to people that may not identify with it.”

Hurd grew up bi-racial in Texas, which gave him early experience of finding common ground. In his book American Reboot he outlines how to ‘get big things done’ by focusing on policy, not politics. He also shares his thoughts on what Americans should be worrying about, including losing control of the technology on which we run our lives.

All in this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 60 – The Crucial Role of Political Centrists

Will Hurd

Will Hurd is currently a managing director at Allen & Company and former member of Congress, cybersecurity executive, and undercover officer in the CIA. For almost two decades he’s been involved in the most pressing national security issues challenging the country whether it was in the back-alleys of dangerous places, boardrooms of top international businesses or halls of Congress.

After stopping terrorists, preventing Russian spies from stealing our secrets, and putting nuclear weapons proliferators out of business, Will helped build a cybersecurity company that prepared businesses for the next domain of conflict – cyberspace.

While in Congress, Texas Monthly and Politico Magazine called Will “The Future of the GOP,” because he put good policy over good politics at a time when America was often consumed with what divides us rather than what unites us. He was able to get more legislation signed into law in three terms than most congressmen do in three decades – substantive legislation like a national strategy for Artificial Intelligence.

Will is a native of San Antonio and earned a Computer Science degree from Texas A&M University. Additionally, he is growing the US transatlantic partnership with Europe as a trustee of the German Marshall Fund, an OpenAI board member, and most recently served as a fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. He is also the author of American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide to Getting Big Things Done, which was released in March 2022. For more information, please visit www.willbhurd.com.

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Common Ground Podcast

Our Common Ground: What Polling Doesn’t Reveal About Americans

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Are we as far apart as polling suggests? What this research innovator found might surprise you on what polling doesn’t reveal about Americans.

All too often people in public life talk past one another. But what happens when we listen and give people the space to explain who they really are and how they view today’s most divisive issues?

On guns, abortion, government spending and even partisan politics, most people may not be as far apart as polling suggests.

For more than four years, our guest, entrepreneur and market researcher, Diane Hessan, conducted a remarkable series of conversations with hundreds of voters from all across the country. She checked in with them every week. What Diane found may surprise you, give you hope, and change the way you feel about your fellow Americans.

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Ep 59 – Our Common Ground: What Polling Doesn’t Reveal About Americans

Diane Hessan

Diane Hessan is an award-winning entrepreneur and innovator in the market research field and a nationally recognized expert on the American voter. Since 2016, she has been engaged in an in-depth longitudinal study of the electorate, looking for trends, shifts and common ground. She has written more than fifty columns about her findings for the Boston Globe and her work has also been featured on CNN and NPR, and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, and many other outlets. Her new book, Our Common Ground: Insights from Four Years of Listening to American Voters, was published in 2021 by RealClear Publishing.

She is the founder and Chairman of C Space, formerly called Communispace, and was CEO of the company during fourteen years of exponential growth, as C Space worked with hundreds of global corporations across twelve countries.

She received a BA in economics and English from Tufts University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, and received an honorary degree from Bentley University.

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DEPOLARIZING AMERICA PODCAST

We’re Less Divided Than We Think

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Are we all Team Red or Team Blue? Here’s why this thought leader is sounding the alarm on a false narrative.

Every day on social media and cable TV, in newspapers and magazines, we’re told that we live in a red-versus-blue world of rigid divides. Our podcast guest, Tony Woodlief, begs to differ.

“In reality, most people fall somewhere in the middle, or else have a complex blend of views from both sides of the aisle,” says Tony. His new book I, Citizen uses polling data, political history and on-the-ground reporting to make the case that party activists and partisans are attempting to undermine the freedom of Americans to govern themselves and make decisions that have a direct impact on their lives.

Many people have fallen for a false narrative promoted by leaders of political parties, academia, media and government, that we’re all team red or team blue, he argues. In this episode, we learn a different perspective and discuss how all of us can find common ground in our local neighborhoods and national discourse.

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Ep 58 – We’re Less Divided Than We Think

Tony Woodlief

Tony Woodlief is Executive Vice President at State Policy Network, which advocates practical federalism and catalyzes thriving, durable freedom movements in the states. Previously he led the Bill of Rights Institute, the Market-Based Management Institute, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Prior to those positions, he worked for Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation.

Tony’s essays on politics, faith, parenting, and culture have appeared in The Wall Street Journal,  New York Post, Washington Post, and other publications, and he has appeared on Fox News, CSPAN, and radio programs across the U.S. His short fiction has appeared in Image, Ruminate, Saint Katherine Review, and elsewhere. An alumnus of the University of North Carolina, Tony holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan, and an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University. He is the founder of Intentional Fathering, which is devoted to helping fathers build better parenting habits, and the author of I, Citizen, a book about reclaiming American self-governance.

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