Category: Leadership

Re-skilling for the AI world of work

Re-skilling for the AI world of work

Owen Valentine Pringle

With Covid fast diminishing in the rear-view mirror, deciphering what ‘new normal’ habits are still standing is becoming a popular pastime. Although not immediately apparent, many of the changes have their roots in technology, the secondary and tertiary impacts of which have forced us to find new vocabularies.

  • Firstly, there are attitudinal shifts, giving rise to the ‘Great Resignation’, its humbler cousin ‘Quiet Quitting’ and its 2023 reboot ‘Conscious Quitting’.

  • Then there are behavioral shifts, such as ‘Hybrid Working’, which mean complete strangers can get away with calling me a ‘TWaT’ because I choose to come to the office only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

  • Next are organizational shifts, which can be explained by increasing numbers of part-time workers and indie contractors, as well as the geographical redistribution of workers away from cities.

  • The final piece in this jigsaw will be widespread vocational shifts as a result of technology automating or augmenting existing roles, establishing new ones, or disestablishing those that are harder to fight for in light of all of the above.

AI isn’t playing by the rules

The quiet revolution going on in AI suddenly turned into a raucous house party when ChatGPT went from 0-100 million users in two months, making it the fastest-growing consumer app in history.

By virtue, the general public was finally given a taste of the future which AI evangelists and Cassandras had both been prophesizing. Its success has opened the floodgates of our curiosity about new AI products and services, only marginally surpassed by the deluge of articles and videos asking ‘will ChatGPT take my job.’ And if it doesn’t, maybe Google’s Bard or Baidu’s ERNIE will.

“2023 will be remembered as the year we shifted uncomfortably in our seats”

New technologies come thick and fast, though rarely do they register a blip on the historical seismograph. This time is different. To most of us, 2023 will be remembered as the year we shifted uncomfortably in our seats.

Until fairly recently, the received wisdom was that if tech was coming for our jobs, it would ‘find and replace’ those whose roles were largely repeatable, with a finite set of outcomes. Actuaries, not actors. Articulated truck drivers not artists.

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Hans Moravec’s illustration of the rising tide of the AI capacity

The ‘landscape of human competence’ diagram created to illustrate Hans Moravec’s theory proved as much – creativity would be the last skill standing.

The trouble is, advancements in AI are refusing to play by the rules. Technologies like DALL-E have artists in their sights, while Flawless’ TrueSync are coming for voice actors. From retail to rocket science, AI keeps breaking our previously agreed understanding of which jobs it’s qualified for and which it ain’t.

The truth is, it’s impossible to know how technology’s encroachment on labor will occur, given we’re only at basecamp. Even amongst AI experts, the jury is out as to whether these technologies will augment our work in the short to medium term or completely supplant it further out. But if, as the old saying goes, the future is already here, just unevenly distributed, it’ll be too late by the time we realize the water has started to boil around us.

The imperative to re-skill

For several years, Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer has seen a growing belief in both individuals and institutions in the business arena, in inverse proportion to that of government, media and NGOs.

For the first time, this year’s trust index revealed that business remains the only trusted institution; at 62%, more people are ready to believe than disbelieve global corporations. The same study revealed that business is now the sole institution that respondents perceive as both ethical and competent following a three-year rise in its ethics score. This may surprise many people, but the fundamental truth at the heart of this matter puts the onus on organizations to rise to the challenge.

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“Organizations should be doing more to educate their staff well before their skills become obsolete”

The simultaneous rise in vocational uncertainty and corporate trust presents businesses with a responsibility. If the skills of today’s workers are misaligned with tomorrow’s labor requirements, then organizations should be doing more to educate their staff well before those skills become obsolete or before the policy wonks make it law.

This needs to go beyond simply encouraging discourse and comprehension about the inevitable and seismic shift we’ll see in the world of work over the next decade. BigCorp will need to dedicate significant resources towards the retraining of their people in order to aid a ‘just transition’ to a more automated future, and to prevent a global pandemic of wealth inequality. Don’t take my word for it. Nearly half of the Edelman respondents think so, too.

A wholesale re-education of this scale needs to connect seamlessly with pedagogy, and not simply at the higher education level but from pre-school through to retirement.

New technologies will change the world of work irrevocably, but the outcome won’t be purely vocationally destructive. Alongside AI, Blockchain and the Metaverse – both merely taking a rest in the trough of disillusionment before figuring out what they’re actually good at – will create swathes of new jobs that have never existed before.

“The future of human work will rely more than ever before on what truly differentiates us from technology”

The future of human work will rely more than ever before on what truly differentiates us from technology; our ability to connect with each other on an intimate level. Data, intelligence and analysis are nothing without the presentation layer of purpose, empathy and meaning, which we humans excel at.

And it is within this vein that the imperative to re-skilling should not simply be a reaction to the technologization of work, but a concerted effort to re-channel labor towards what will soon become the single largest industry sector humankind has ever known: saving the planet from ourselves.

A message from the co-CEOs of Leaders’ Quest

A message from the co-CEOs of Leaders’ Quest

Dear friends,

As we start our roles as the new co-CEOs of Leaders’ Quest, we’ve been reflecting on the extraordinary leadership that created this unique organization and what it means for our path ahead.

It began 22 years ago. Lindsay Levin, with a small team that punched above its weight, launched the first Quests in Silicon Valley and India. The idea was to immerse leaders in the forces shaping the 2000s, inspiring them to lead their organizations differently.

Over time, spurred by the desire to grow impact, they sought to capture the ‘LQ magic’ that infused Quests in new ways to help companies build a better future.

They defined three values that remain just as relevant in our work as we help leaders navigate the turbulent 2020s:

1. Clear-eyed optimism

Recognizing life’s tough realities whilst seeing possibility everywhere. Racquel Moses, CEO of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator, has a bold vision for the Caribbean to become the world’s first net-zero and climate resilient region. She leads a coalition of 28 countries to generate public-private collaborations. An example? A regional rollout using climate resilient agriculture to solve food security in five island nations.

2. Patient ambition

Big, urgent challenges need the space for bold change to emerge. For us, CORO India embodies this value in the work they’ve done over the last 20+ years to support grassroots leaders to tackle endemic issues in marginalized communities. CORO dreams of creating a society based on equality and justice. They work towards this by equipping each leader to deliver local solutions, while collaborating on state-wide campaigns which reach millions of people.

3. Relentless generosity

We strive to be loving to ourselves and others, even when it’s hard. The role model of this value for many of us is our founder Lindsay, who has just stepped down as CEO yet continues to provide her wisdom as a deeply-valued Board member. Those who know her will recognize this is how she shows up, every day.

As we embark on leading Leaders’ Quest, we want to take this moment to honor these roots: The founding team at LQ that enables us all to do this work today; our clients, who trust us to guide them on their own journeys; and the worldwide community of leaders and innovators who welcome us into their worlds to share learning and inspire new ways forward.

We invite you to look at your own values to see who’s shaped them, and how they influence the choices you’re making for the future. We’d love to hear your reflections.

With warm wishes,

Jayma Pau & Melanie Jamieson

A personal message from LQ Founder and CEO Lindsay Levin

A personal message from LQ Founder and CEO Lindsay Levin

Lindsay Levin

Dear friends,

I hope you and your families are well. 

I’m writing with significant news. 

Strategic alliance between Leaders’ Quest and TED

For the last three years LQ has had a very successful climate partnership with TED through Countdown. It’s been exceptionally impactful, reaching tens of millions of people with solutions to the climate crisis and building cross-sector collaboration to solve tough dilemmas. 

We’re thrilled now to build on this partnership and deepen our shared work through a Strategic Alliance between LQ and TED. We have complementary skills, great alignment in terms of vision, values and purpose – and we see powerful opportunities to do more together in the future. 

A change in my role

As part of this, I will be shifting my role at the end of the year. After 21 years at the helm, I will stand down as CEO of Leaders’ Quest, though I will continue as an advisor, board member and, above all, friend.

I will take up a new role at TED, commencing January 3, as Head of Impact and Partnerships. TED is an amazing platform and this is a wonderful mandate to partner with businesses and philanthropists to address big global themes and to bring an ‘impact-first’ mentality to TED’s work with all partners. 

Leadership at LQ

After consultation with the Partners, our Board and external advisors, I am thrilled to share the news that Jayma Pau and Melanie Jamieson have accepted roles as co-CEOs of Leaders’ Quest, commencing January 3.

Jayma has been with us for 15 years. She joined as a Program Coordinator, spent two years in Mumbai setting up our India office, time seconded in NY, and became one of three Managing Partners in 2016. She knows the team incredibly well, is a brilliant, intuitive creator of programs, and is highly trusted by clients and hosts. 

Melanie joined us in 2010 as Communication Manager. She became a Partner in 2014 and a Managing Partner at the start of this year. Most recently she has led our relationship with the Climate Champions for COP 26 and 27 and earned huge respect for the leadership, collaboration and optimism she has brought to the climate world. 

Together, they are excited to lead LQ into a wonderful next chapter and look forward to reconnecting with you.

LQ has been at the heart of my life for more than two decades. I am deeply grateful and beyond proud of what we’ve achieved together. Extraordinary friends and colleagues from all corners have shaped how I see the world and — I hope — made me a better person along the way. I look forward to continuing to support the work, and to building new opportunities together with many of you. This is not a goodbye, but rather the next step of LQ’s (and my own) journey.  

Warm regards,


Leaders’ Quest taps Regenerative business leader Kim Coupounas to join as core Partner

Leaders’ Quest taps Regenerative business leader Kim Coupounas to join as core Partner

Leaders’ Quest, a global social enterprise known for its pioneering collaborations such as TED Countdown and Count Us In, has appointed Kim Coupounas to its senior leadership team. During its 21 years of existence, LQ has built an engaged global network of exceptional people committed to cultivating wise leaders for a regenerative future for humanity and the planet. 

A seasoned business leader in both the private and public sector, Coupounas brings deep knowledge and understanding of global impact work and systems change and a profound commitment to mobilizing the power of business to shape a regenerative future.

“LQ’s work to cultivate courageous business leaders and foster game-changing collaborations to address today’s complex global social and environmental challenges is needed like no other time in our history,” said Coupounas. “LQ’s work is centered in both reality and optimism, and it is literally changing the course of the future. What an honor to be able to join this incredible global team to help forward their vision and work while leveraging my own deep passion for amplifying the power of business to advance an equitable and regenerative future for humanity and our planet. ”

“We’re absolutely thrilled that Kim has chosen to bring her exceptional experience, wisdom, passion, and reach to our global team,” said Lindsay Levin, Founder and CEO of Leaders’ Quest. “Kim is a powerhouse leader who will bring courageous, out of the box systems-thinking mixed with an entrepreneur’s spirit to our work of growing wise leaders for a regenerative future and tackling big global challenges. Kim is a highly respected leader within the global sustainable business community, and we can’t wait to see the magic she weaves as part of the Leaders’ Quest team.”

Coupounas is joining Leaders’ Quest at a moment of tremendous growth and opportunity for the organization. In her role on the senior leadership team, Coupounas will be a highly visible LQ Partner focused on furthering the organization’s game-changing collaborations and partnerships, design and delivery of LQ’s trademark leadership programs, client engagement, public advocacy, organizational leadership, and business development. 

Prior to Leaders’ Quest, Coupounas was an instrumental leader in the growth of the B Corp movement. She served as a senior executive at B Lab, the nonprofit behind B Corps, for over 8 years and focused on advancing stakeholder-based capitalism while activating business leaders and companies to operationalize sustainable and regenerative principles and to use their collective power and voice for systemic change. 

At B Lab, she co-led the largest mobilization of companies in history committed to Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Prior to B Lab, Coupounas served as co-founder and CEO of GoLite, a purpose-driven outdoor products brand that was one of the earliest Certified B Corps. Coupounas is also past Board Chair of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the trade association representing the $887 billion+ active outdoor recreation industry, during which she helped launch and lead that industry’s groundbreaking sustainability efforts. 

Coupounas earned MBA and MPA degrees from Harvard University, an AB with honors in Philosophy from Princeton, and attended Oxford University as a Rotary Foundation Graduate Scholar. She has received many awards, including being named Conscious Company’s “2020 World-Changing Woman.”

Lindsay Levin on leadership, climate, and the invisible thread that connects us

Lindsay Levin on leadership, climate, and the invisible thread that connects us

Leaders’ Quest CEO Lindsay Levin joins the Morning Espresso Podcast.


Lindsay shares how she combined her fascination with people, leadership and travel, with a burning desire to use her business skills to help businesses do and be better. Lindsay has sat with prisoners on death row, worked with community leaders in the slums of Mumbai and brokered talks between Israelis and Palestinians. She eloquently describes our shared humanity.

She has seen at first hand the impact of climate change inspiring her to co-lead the launch of Future Stewards and spearheaded the launch of TED Countdown, a global partnership to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis. If you are looking to be inspired, this is the episode for you.

Finally, Lindsay shares her best non-money purchases for around £30, and her Climate Pearls of Wisdom.

‘The Way Out Is In’: a conversation with Christiana Figueres

‘The Way Out Is In’: a conversation with Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres, an LQ Ambassador and one of the architects of the Paris Climate Agreement, joins The Way Out Is In.


Presenters Jo Confino, an LQ Partner, and Brother Phap Huu, a lay Buddhist practitioner, discuss collective leadership; guidance; spiritual awakening and nourishing our spiritual dimension; dependent co-arising; and saving lives through teachings.

Figueres shares deeply about what brought her to Plum Village, both now and years ago, during her first encounter with Applied Buddhism; her journey to spiritual practice, to overcome a personal crisis; the historical context of making contact with Thich Nhat Hanh; and the transformative power of Buddhist teachings – such as the art of deep listening – on the negotiation process during the Paris Climate Change Conference.

Additionally, she addresses the Global North-South divide; victimhood; and strengthening the arc between the inner and outer worlds.

Leading with wisdom through the global pandemic

Leading with wisdom through the global pandemic

One year ago, almost exactly, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Just like that, our lives changed. Lockdowns, isolation, collapsing global markets, overburdened health systems, and uncertainty like nothing we’ve faced before.

For many of us, life as we knew it seemed to stop. Time moved both fast and slow. There was palpable urgency and profound stillness at the same time. Yet, amidst the chaos and disruption, we saw heroes rise. So-called “invisible giants” working on the frontlines to serve the most vulnerable communities, demonstrated the power of compassion, innovation and collaboration.

The Leaders’ Quest global community is made up of many such giants. The following are the stories of how some of our global partners have stepped up during the global pandemic. Their work has protected the dignity of the many women who have fallen victims of increased domestic abuse, the homeless facing even more precarity, the casual workers who have lost their only source of income, and the many communities risking segregation in the face of lacking communication infrastructure.

Their wise leadership is proof that, especially in the most challenging times, when we act from the core of our values, we’re able to pave the way for healing and, eventually, thriving.

Patient Ambition: Grassroots Innovation in India

For three decades, CORO has worked with India’s most marginalized, politically and socio-economically disadvantaged communities. Taking a bottom-up approach, their programs and campaigns empower India’s “unseen” communities to articulate and voice their rights, to a government who otherwise treat them with neglect. CORO focuses on community involvement and sustained engagement, equipping these populations with the tools and leadership skills they need to enable social movement in the long run.

CORO has built a robust grassroots infrastructure of more than 1,268 community leaders and 250 CBOs/NGOs. Through various times of crisis in India – from the Bombay Riots in 1992-1993 to the coronavirus pandemic today – CORO collaborative networks have developed a deep capacity for rapid, nuanced and impactful action.

When the pandemic first struck India, the strategy conceived by municipal and national governments failed to consider the country’s most vulnerable – daily wage and migrant workers, single women, victims of domestic violence, the urban poor, small vendors, the undocumented, Dalits (who belong to the lowest caste in India), and Tribal communities in rural areas. CORO moved into rapid action, providing aid packages of food, sanitary products and essential goods to more than 10,168 families, in Maharashtra and Rajasthan. But as the lockdown continued, it became clear that the consequences were nuanced, multifaceted, and called for multiple, simultaneous initiatives.

With the money raised through online campaigns, generous donations from philanthropic partners and collaborations with several vendors, charities and NPOs, CORO were able to work on five interventions to alleviate hunger and livelihood insecurity, reduce exposure to coronavirus, assess and mitigate levels of gender-based violence and increase access to clean public toilets.

To date, CORO has equipped 6,500 frontline workers with PPE they would otherwise have had no access to. Direct beneficiaries from this effort include sanitation workers, and those manning public toilets – whom a huge proportion of India’s population relies on.

One of CORO’s most inspiring efforts was in response to the uptick in domestic violence, afflicting women in India’s most vulnerable communities. In the urgent requirement for PPE, the organization saw an opportunity for these women to revive their livelihoods and have economic autonomy. In partnership with local grassroots, they employed groups of women to manufacture reusable cotton masks at home, which have been sold locally at affordable prices to those in need. Through this initiative, which has expansion plans, over 7,000 masks have been manufactured, and a vast network of vulnerable women are seeing the financial and mental rewards of occupying themselves with mask masking.

CORO’s connectedness and relationships with India’s local communities has been key in the distribution of aid and emergency services through the pandemic. Working closely with their grassroots network has enabled them to access communities that, particularly given the challenges posed by lockdown, they would otherwise have struggled to reach. Importantly, CORO’s unparalleled approach to collaborative work has helped India’s most vulnerable populations to organise their own relief systems and become self-sufficient.

Learn more about CORO’s initiatives here and, if you wish to donate, you can do so here.

Relentless Generosity: Safeguarding Dignity in Detroit

Detroit is an incredibly diverse city, buzzing with innovation, an exploding startup scene, and local communities injecting a strong sense of collaboration into its growth and development. All the while, its population is one of unique vulnerability. With a third of its inhabitants living in poverty, and an estimated 14,000 individuals being homeless, Detroit has become a fertile breeding ground for COVID-19 – and one of the cities worst hit by the pandemic in America.

But whilst the majority of charities and support centres have closed their doors to the pandemic, the team at The Pope Francis Center (TPFC) has been working harder than ever to support and protect Detroit’s homeless community.

30 years ago, the pastors of Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church opened their doors to those in need of refuge from a harsh winter storm. This spontaneous act of kindness gradually evolved into TPFC – a day centre providing nutritious meals, showers, laundry, hygiene, clothing, food, medical help and essential services, six days a week, to those in need. TPFC is committed to eradicating chronic homelessness in Detroit by 2030, and is seen as a real “beacon of help and hope” for the city.

“When we come together in a spirit of compassion and generosity, we can defy expectations and find innovative solutions to complicated problems.”

– Fr. Tim McCabe SJ, Executive Director

With the pandemic rendering more of Detroit’s population homeless, and sparking widespread food insecurity, TPFC saw a great surge in the demand for support. Seemingly overnight, they adapted and modified their services. They shifted all of their operations outdoors, installing heated tents, portable bathrooms, mobile showers and hand-washing facilities, they also continued to provide hot meals, but did so in take-away containers – with the number of meals served per day rising from 200 to over 500 as a result of the crisis.

In March 2020, they launched a drop-in COVID screening clinic, allowing individuals to be checked for signs of infection and, if necessary, transporting them to a location for testing and quarantining – all free of charge. Meanwhile, with most of the city’s other clinics remaining shut or inaccessible, TPFC offer a general medical clinic, where guests can receive treatment for other ailments and guidance on how to stay safe around the virus – helping reduce the probability of outbreak within homeless communities.

To help fund their invaluable work, TPFC launched the campaign ‘Sanctuary For The Season’, which raised $250,000. They have also been receiving support from local businesses such as Buddy’s Pizza, who donated 400 meals to the centre, and clothing label Carhartt, who donated 400 coats and pairs of gloves.

Whilst all of us are at risk of the virus, TPFC recognise that the lack of access to hygiene facilities, medical care, good nutrition and shelter, and the predisposition to poor health, put homeless people at an unquestionable disadvantage. But, the compassion, dedication and resourcefulness of this team of less than 10, has driven an army of volunteers and generous local businesses to make sure that this is not the case.

To make a donation for The Pope Francis Centre, follow this link.

Diverse Communities are Resilient Communities: Building Bridges in Bradford

The city of Bradford, in the UK, is a district of real ethnic and cultural diversity – a third of its population is of non-white origins. Amid post-industrial decline, social unrest has simmered, exacerbating issues around prejudice and discrimination. But, with characteristic Bradfordian grit, the communities that form this cultural melting pot are driving regeneration.

The Bradford Council is determined to push these efforts. Instead of being defeated by the physical isolation brought about by the pandemic, the Council has identified the opportunity to define and address the needs of the people of Bradford. Bradford Council’s vision has come to fruition in a wealth of initiatives to help cultivate compassion and build stronger relationships between the city’s various communities.

Citizen Coin is an innovative mobile app, unique to Bradford, which recognizes and rewards people for acts of social-good. It is a virtual monetary system which “inspires acts of kindness”. The app grants users “digital coins”, earned from time volunteering in the local community, which can then be exchanged for discounted products and services in the area.

Whilst encouraging voluntary work and creating opportunities for individuals to learn new skills, the scheme also drives flow to small businesses. With local trade and retail feeling the pressures of the pandemic, the Citizen Coin has been a real source of support.

Bradford have also got involved with the nationwide project Creative People & Places (CPP) (supported by Arts Council England), establishing their own, local strand of the initiative called THE LEAP. The mission of CPP is to cultivate creative experiences “for, by and with” local communities, in areas where there is lack of engagement with arts and culture. THE LEAP is focussed on inspiring young people between the ages of 16-25 to use art and creativity to tackle prominent social issues in the Bradford district.

Over a 12-month span, it offers successful applicants financial support, one-to-one mentoring, training and access to a wide range of tools and resources to help bring young creatives’ ideas to reality. From documentary film-making to activist theatre, THE LEAP is helping carve the futures of Bradford’s promising artists, whilst advocating the influence and impact that art can have on society.

So far, through the Bradford For Everyone initiative, Bradford Council has developed and commissioned over 40 projects – providing a range of meeting places for people of all different religious, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Through these opportunities for community engagement and involvement, they hope to slowly unite Bradford’s various social divisions and sculpt a brighter future for the city.

Learn more about Bradford for Everyone on the Bradford People Library and find out how to get involved following this link 

Radical Collaboration: Collective Action to Combat Food Insecurity in New York

West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH)’s work is founded on their three principles of ‘Dignity. Community. Choice’. They work in partnership with their customers, with many volunteering their services or acting on the board of directors. This model provides direct insight into the communities that they cater to, and ensures people’s needs are heard. Striving to challenge the perceptions around hungry people, the WSCAH community is built on foundations of respect and autonomy, providing “access with dignity”. The organization places a strong emphasis on healthy food, with fresh produce constituting 47% of the food distributed in 2020.

For over forty years, WSCAH has worked to alleviate hunger across New York City. A true pioneer in the field, it was the first ‘customer-choice supermarket style pantry’ in the US, developing a unique model that promotes empowerment and self-sufficiency within the communities it serves.

The organization operates across all five boroughs of New York, giving low-income residents access to healthy food, support services, culinary training, nutrition workshops and cooking demonstrations.

Before the pandemic, WSCAH operated several open pantries across the city where residents were given points to spend on their own selection of groceries, allowing customers to shop to their preferences and specific requirements. But, with the mobility restrictions brought about by the pandemic, the model needed adapting. The organization responded to this by developing its ‘Mobile Market Program’, which serves the needs of those unable to reach the other locations. The ultimate purpose: to ensure no-one in New York is left unaccounted for.

Last year, as coronavirus cases in New York rose exponentially, so did the levels of food insecurity. April saw a threefold increase in WSCAH customers, compared to their usual average rate. It became clear that their help, throughout the pandemic, would be more crucial than ever.

Since the onset of the virus, WSCAH has been joined by over 1,300 new volunteers. The teams delivered food directly to New York’s most vulnerable citizens, moving their pantry locations outdoors and distributing healthy food parcels to recovering COVID-19 patients upon their discharge from hospital.

Over the winter of 2020, they collaborated with 32 different organizations across the 5 boroughs of New York, such as Uber and Lyft – who helped with distribution and delivery of food boxes to peoples’ homes. Meanwhile, they have been working virtually to connect customers to over $1.3 million worth of food stamps (SNAP benefits), ensuring that they have the additional resources necessary to provide food for themselves and their families.

As the pressure on WSCAH has increased, they have responded by expanding and adapting their services, reaching staggering new numbers. In 2020 alone, they reached 12,727 new families and distributed 2.2 million pounds of food; the number of individuals they served increased by 178% and the number of household visits by 93%.

WSCAH have used this crisis as an opportunity to grow and consolidate their services, proving they are a truly reliable resource for the residents of New York. They have worked tirelessly to remove any shame or obstacles around seeking help, making sure nobody has to face the pandemic malnourished or on an empty stomach.

The head and the heart of radical leadership

The head and the heart of radical leadership

Leaders’ Quest Founder and CEO, Lindsay Levin, was the guest speaker at the acclaimed podcast series: Outrage!+Optimism

Featured alongside alongside South African activist Kumi Naidoo, Lindsay discusses the kind of leadership needed to make a difference in the world.

Leading through uncertainty:  Bending towards wholeness

Leading through uncertainty: Bending towards wholeness

Rachel Parikh

Beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep! The sound of the kitchen smoke alarm pierces through the house. I sit bolt upright in my bed. It’s 12.15 am. The lights are on in the hallway. I hear mumbling, “It’s bad, it’s really bad.” I venture into the kitchen and find one of the kids standing in front of the oven. Smoke is pouring out, toxic fumes billowing through the air and out of the window. I carefully open the oven door. Through the smoke I can see a half-baked pizza on a melting chopping board, a growing pool of molten plastic on the oven floor. I cough as the stench fills my lungs. I shut the door quickly. 

California’s shelter-in-place order means our two college kids have returned to complete their semester from home and our high schooler has shifted to distance learning. We’re back to being a full, noisy household. The dining table is a shared office/learning environment during the day, and returns to its usual function in the evening. The fridge is stocked to the brim with food to feed three hungry teenagers, appliances are working overtime, and there’s a stream of family members in and out of the kitchen, all day, seven days a week. Together, we are re-experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly of family life. From lively conversation around the dinner table, to a midnight feast on a melted chopping board – and everything in between.

It’s only 12 months since I was preparing for our second child to head off to college, following in her brother’s footsteps (he’d left the previous year). Our family was dwindling, an empty nest on the horizon. After 20 years of a house bursting with energy, I was dreading the shift to a different kind of reality. I wasn’t sure that I was ready for this new phase and I could see it was going to happen whether I liked it or not. Change is hard; anticipating it is even harder. 

But when the day came to drop our daughter at college, I discovered the emotional work of separation had already been done. I felt at peace. I was happy for her and had a sense of ease about letting go, letting her go off to build a future. Our family was transitioning to a new chapter, a new way of being in a relationship, a new way of being – individually and collectively. 

My husband and I settled into a newly configured life at home with our youngest son. We enjoyed the quieter house and simpler day-to-day routine. I challenged myself to take up a new hobby – ballroom dancing – to tame the inner gremlin that has always told me I don’t know how to dance. I delighted in the rediscovery of things forgotten and the discovery of things I never knew.

It’s now just six months later, and we have reversed gear. The house is full again. Some of our family dysfunction has returned.The kids have grown up in so many ways, but old behaviors show up in moments of stress. Deep-seated father-son dynamics resurface. There are arguments over nothing. The kitchen is on fire. I fall back into my default role: imperfect mediator. Yet new bonds form. The boys exercise together. Big sister tutors younger brother in trigonometry. Our main outing of the week is to the supermarket. We try out new recipes; cook dinner together. Make banana bread. Dust off the board games. 

Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. Perhaps it also bends towards wholeness. These past weeks have reminded me that life is not linear; it is complex and unpredictable, full of stops and starts. It is utterly imperfect, and still it moves towards wholeness. Our role is to focus on what we can influence, and nudge things in the right direction.

Coronavirus has brought about a change to our existence that we didn’t anticipate. It arrived suddenly and forced us to adjust in unimaginable ways. Collectively, we’ve had to do an about-turn. It is easy to feel anxious and disempowered when so much is beyond our control. Yet we are more empowered than we sometimes think. Each of us has the chance to make even small changes, so that we emerge from this crisis stronger than before.

Take a moment to consider your sphere of influence. Are there pockets of dissonance, or places where you feel stuck? What might you do to nudge towards wholeness? Are there conversations you’ve been putting off? People you’ve been avoiding? Is it time to re-envision your leadership? Reimagine your future? Pause for a moment to reflect.

I mean really pause.

Beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep! The alarm awakens us and we respond to an urgent family situation. A spontaneous reaction, subconscious and immediate. Comforting in its familiarity. By contrast, our global predicament feels uncertain, alarming and at times painful. It’s hard going through this, not knowing our direction, or even what awaits us on the other side. Yet just as we have shown willing to adapt over the last few weeks, so can we emerge from this crisis with new ways of living and leading. And, most importantly, with a deeper understanding of what it means to inhabit – humanely and sustainably – this place we call home. Our collective future depends on it. 

Leaders’ Quest offer a wide range of leadership workshops to help leaders and companies navigate uncertainty. To learn more, get in touch with us at

This blog is part of a series on leading through uncertainty.

Part I: Leading self

Part II: Making conscious choices

A report prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

A report prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Harnessing private sector purpose to achieve the global goals

In 2015, 193 UN member states signed up to 17 Global Goals for a better world by 2030. In their simplest form, these Goals can end poverty, fight inequality and address climate change. 

The world’s largest 1,000 companies can make or break our progress towards the Global Goals.

But leaders need to embed purpose and profit in their business plans and investment strategies.

Harnessing private sector purpose to achieve the Global Goals, a report by Leaders’ Quest for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, sets out the prevailing purpose landscape and offers clear-cut ways for business to ramp up its efforts.

Report at-a-glance

We researched the most up-to-date work on purpose and interviewed more than 50 business experts and C-suite/executive leaders.

We learned how they define the fundamentals of purpose-driven business, and how much progress has been made. We explored what they see as the key levers to accelerate action and impact (using the Global Goals and planetary boundaries as a metric of success). 

Why now?

It’s crunch time for humanity. We’re living beyond our planetary boundaries, and the growing sense of mistrust in political leadership is undermining our ability to collaborate – at a time when joint action is imperative.

Yet there’s good news too. We’re seeing increasing momentum – from a broad range of stakeholders – for business to focus on people, planet and profit. And more importantly, business and investors are responding to the coalition of voices urging action.

From CEO roundtable announcements, to corporate coalitions on health, fashion and food. From public mobilisation efforts to employee campaigns and radical political policies that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. The mood is turning.

And this puts business in the spotlight to make a wider contribution.

What’s happening?

Purpose is top of mind for many CEOs, but there’s no unified view on how to articulate it, let alone embed it. There’s a face-off between a free-markets mentality and an anti-business mentality – and an ill-defined midway course, where responsibility is viewed as a key element of the license to operate.

But private sector business leaders – especially – face trade-offs if they want to embrace sustainability. Cost pressures today versus long-term strategy; profit-only objectives versus ethical innovation.

Current regulatory frameworks hinder progress, while benchmarking standards and metrics need consolidating and reshaping. Capitalism’s iOS, if you like, needs adapting.

The good news

There’s growing realisation that purpose-driven business helps leaders innovate, manage risks, attract (and keep) top talent and benefit from consumer/market opportunities on the horizon.

What can change?

  • A purpose ‘north star’ can set the course for operational plans underpinned by ESG metrics (eg Science Based Targets), to benefit multiple-stakeholders (not just shareholders).
  • There’s scope for relationships between business and state to be reinvented. A government can set standards, apply them to companies and offer a sense of stability. Known as ‘ambition loops’, these can operate at national or city level, reinforcing regulation which enables business to pursue long-term targets, rather than competitive races to the bottom.
  • Simplified, widely acknowledged public measurement metrics (scorecards, league tables) will incentivise companies to act.
  • A critical role can be played by institutional investors. For example, by applying higher risk discounts to regenerative projects (renewables etc) and encouraging strategies that align with the Global Goals, Science Based Targets and high ESG scores.
  • Radical collaborations (such as the UN Principles for Responsible Banking or Countdown) can bring together governments, civil society and the private sector.

Next steps

Progress will come from a combination of public campaigns, government regulation, updated benchmarks and metrics, and a rethink by investors. Above all, it will start with courageous individual leadership, at CEO, staff and Board levels.

Our report offers practical suggestions for action and invites you to join.