Captain of the Rescue Boats

The person who walks around while the Titanic is sinking, and calmly begins rearranging the deck chairs, organizing the evacuation, and gets everyone off the ship before it sinks becomes, by default, the future captain of the rescue vessel in the North Atlantic.

That person also becomes a new Noah.

Here is a list of 26 icebergs (non-exhaustive, your list (and mileage) may vary) where, as the Titanic ship of state known as global society collides with them and begins to sink, you can be the default captain of the rescue ships later:

  1. Climate change
  2. Fear of change
  3. Growing use of A.I. based technology
  4. Biodiversity disappearance
  5. Lack of sufficient explanations that people can understand for necessary changes
  6. Financial systems collapse
  7. Refusal to be held accountable
  8. Developing world debt
  9. Connection economy of the Internet
  10. Rethinking of Labor Value
  11. The electrical grid in the postmodern world
  12. Lack of access to creation on the Internet
  13. Lack of courage in individuals to take risks
  14. First world educational system
  15. Scarcity of emotional labor
  16. Child abuse and victimization
  17. Lack of true, courageous statesmanship
  18. Human trafficking
  19. Increased spiritual hopelessness among the old
  20. Increased spiritual hopelessness among the young
  21. Lack of self-efficacy
  22. Growing ability to hide from what matters
  23. Thinking harder about the answers to binary questions
  24. Lack of interest in self-awareness
  25. Lack of ability to emotionally care
  26. The increasingly intractable nature of conflicts

There are other ones out there as well. There’s no lack of icebergs. There is, however a lack of people calmly prepared to be captains in future rescue boats.

HIT Piece 11.29.2016

Sometimes a presentation doesn’t “work.”

Sometimes there’s no connection with the audience.

Sometimes the presenter talks more to themselves than they listen to the crowd.

Sometimes questions aren’t asked (or answered) by the audience or the presenter.

Sometimes there is no active listening on the part of the audience.

Sometimes there is no active listening on the part of the presenter.

Sometimes the content is not what the audience expected.

Sometimes the content is not what the presenter expected.

Sometimes personalities clash.

Sometimes the content is exactly what the audience needs to hear, but not in the way that they need to hear it.

Sometimes the presentation is just a failure, and there’s nothing that the audience (or the presenter) can do at all to “fix” it.

Sometimes trying again, with a different audience, is enough.


[Advice] Packaging Your Workshop

Think for a moment about product packaging:

Everything that we buy, from dish soap to artesian water, comes in some type of package. Being the rational consumers that we are, we often tell ourselves that the shape of the container, the way that the container is delivered to us, or even the design and colors on the outside of the package doesn’t influence our decision to purchase.

The more honest, irrational consumer, however, will admit that all those factors influenced their purchasing decision, but they won’t admit it in a way that can be quantified, researched and measured in a way that will produce repeatable results.

Instead, they’ll just say “I liked the bottle.” Or even “The wine tastes different in this glass versus that glass.”

In the fields of marketing, advertising, and sales, the psychology of influence has been used for years to design packaging that has sold millions of units of products over decades. Proctor and Gamble doesn’t just exist because of fancy investments.

The peace builder who wants to sell a workshop, seminar, or coaching, should examine closely the impact of influence in three areas, if they want to have a successful sales career selling solutions to conflicts to a conflict comfortable, and peace process skeptical, public:

When selling an intangible product (peace, health, stress relief) or service (legal help, social work, therapy) it’s important to remember that rationality ceases to be a driver of the decision making process to buy: Potential clients may claim that rationality drove their decision to pursue peacemaking as a process, but typically what drove their decison making was the rise of their emotions around their conflict, that encouraged them toward your workshop, seminar, or coaching offer.

The same emotional content that drives conflict escalation (and encourages de-escalation) drives product (peace, health, stress relief) or service (legal help, social work, therapy) purchases: This fact makes it hard for the peace builder to sell, which is why their marketing efforts must be robust, always on, and always human.

No one remembers what you told them, but potential clients will remember how you made them feel: This statement sometimes reads as facile, but the fact of the matter is, potential clients are searching for a feeling—of trust, professionalism, confidence, security, competency, etc.—before they even see your marketing materials or hear your sales pitch online. This is why the rise of video (and live streaming) for the peace builder is such a critical tool for driving and converting sales. All of the emotional content comes through in a personal appeal via video.

Packaging a product (peace, health, stress relief) or service (legal help, social work, therapy) is more a matter of determining the “emotional tone” a peace builder would like to strike with the market, and then championing that tone to close sales.

And all without being unethical.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Advice] Leadership Through Pitching and Presenting

There are two times a leader has to be persuasive, has to pitch and present and leaders are typically good at one and poor at the other:

In a small group: Small groups (anywhere between 2 people and 10 people) are groups where leaders can either shine or fail based upon their own personal hang-ups, tics, and character traits. If a leader connects warmly with a handshake (increasing cooperation) and makes eye contact (in the Western world at least) they tend to be able to navigate the small group interactions and can easily dominate the conversation.

In a small group though, the delicate balance is between speaking too much (pitching) and not listening enough. This is a discipline that bears out its presence in the ultimate small group presentation, the meeting. Most meetings represent a poor use of organizational resources because the same traits that guided the leader in even smaller groups, fail when the group grows larger.

In a large group: Large groups (anywhere between 10 people up to massive stadiums of people) are the places where leaders (like many other folks) sometimes try to “scale up” the skills that make them formidable in a one-on-one environment and they fail. This is also the place where leaders lean in on using tools to mask their inexperience, their nervousness, or their lack of knowledge/interest/passion about a subject. The reason that political leaders do well at presenting to large groups and many corporate leaders don’t is that political leaders are naturally able to “fake it until they make it” and project that passion onto the crow. Whereas hard charging, revenue-generating executives are secretly wondering why they have to do this “presenting thing” at all in the first place.

In a large group, the delicate balance is between presenting with passion and rambling on about a point. Presenting with passion is a discipline that can be coached, but the real problem is getting the leader’s ego out of the way, getting the leader into a stance of learning and then preparing the leader to succeed. And letting the props, the slides, and the crutches fall by the way side.

Ever manager, supervisor, and even employee should be taught how to connect in a small group to other people, by using the skills of active listening, active engaging, eye contact, and paraphrasing. Every manager and supervisor and even employee should be taught how to connect with a much larger group (either a meeting sized group or a larger group) by using the skills of tapping into their passion and energy, knowing their subject inside and out and using tools like Powerpoint as aids, not crutches.

But too many organizational leaders don’t spend time preparing for presentations, don’t think that such preparation is necessary (except at the point of actually having to present) and many organizational leaders look at such training as another “nice to have” but not a “critical to succeed.”

In a world of instant information (and sometimes instant wrong information about organizations) leaders need to change their thinking, or someone else will change the audience’s thinking about their organization, for them first.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

HIT Piece 08.25.2015

I am a live streaming video fan in general and a Meerkat partisan in particular.

You probably haven’t heard of the mobile application Meerkat, though its two more popular cousins, and are getting a lot of attention from tech bloggers and online magazines. The Meerkat app “blew up” at SXSW this year because of some shenanigans with the Twitter API, which you can read about here[link]. Part of this is because live streaming video is popular right now as a way to immediately connect with public events and personalities. The other part of this is because live streaming video is the next step in the continuing disassembling of television as a content delivery mechanism.

I like the Meerkat app for many, many reasons. The top two are:

  1. The app integrates seamlessly with Twitter and you can publicize your Meerkat streams to your Twitter followers to grow your audience on two platforms.
  2. The app also allows you to invite others onto your stream to either “host” a show with your viewers or to be interviewed by the host of the “show.”

Now, if you are a peacebuilder in any of the conflict management spaces—from facilitation to coaching to mediation to negotiation—you can probably already see the benefits of live streaming video to grow your business practice, develop a niche following and to grow your brand.

Here are a few thoughts I have around this new intersection between peacebuilders, marketing and technology:

Live streaming a mediation or coaching session to your Twitter/Facebook followers and fans might not be the best way to ensure client confidentiality and build trust, but you might have some clients who would be willing to have their lives placed on view for you to showcase what you do in real time. This would work particularly well if those clients are connected to you as a peacebuilder online.

Live streaming samples of you working (i.e. “This is what a session looks like,” “This is me explaining my philosophy and approach to peace,” etc., etc.) would be a way to immediately get feedback from potential clients and customers around tone, approach and other areas, rather than the one sided bubble of blog writing. There’s already a person on Meerkat who streams his Tai Chi sessions and talks to followers as he’s performing.

Live streaming to build a brand presence requires maintaining the same habits that you have to in order to blog daily: Show up on schedule, on time and engage effectively. This is easier (and harder) with live video than with the more controlled spaces of Youtube, Vine, SnapChat video or any other service that allows you to edit your presentation before uploading the content. With live streaming, it happens as it happens. However, this can be a way to schedule time with another peacebuilder and build an “Oprah” type show via Meerkat that goes on the air everyday and builds a sense of consistency and relationship with viewers.

These are just three ideas I have after messing around with the Meerkat app and researching live streaming video for the last few months. I am sure that some enterprising and entrepreneurial peacebuilder will use this platform (or Blab or Periscope) to begin to explore the possibilities of live streaming for peace.

If not, maybe I’ll host my own show on Meerkat….

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Advice] On Preparing for a Podcast

Choosing equipment, editing the sound, uploading the audio file and choosing the distribution platform are not the hardest decisions to make when starting podcasting.

On Preparing for a Podcast

The hardest parts of the podcasting process are two-fold:

Finding interesting guests


Making the guest interesting.

Finding interesting guests does not mean finding guests who are personally interesting to the host. Finding interesting guests means thinking of the demographic, the audience and the listener to the podcast. Radio broadcasters and TV hosts have struggled with this throughout time.

Making guests interesting does not mean manipulating the interview, the questions, the conversation or the process, to transform the person from an audial scullery maid, into an audial Cinderella through some form of spoken magic. Making guests interesting means thinking of the questions to ask that will cause the guest to engage in conversation with the host (us) to get to a larger point.

Getting caught up in decisions around equipment, distribution systems and platforms, uploading processes, and on and on, is thrashing and avoidance, based in fear.

Engaging with the podcasting process requires the same internal capacity to go for it and abandon the fear of performance and perfection that curating, blogging, speaking and presenting require.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Opinion] Training Day

There is a problem with the way that training is used to develop employees in the workplace.

CRaaS In the Workplace

The problem is not that the employees fail to attend the trainings and workforce development offerings on a regular basis.

The problem is not that employees fail to implement the things that they learn and use those lessons to innovate the organization forward even more.

The problem is more complicated than that:

The most critical employees in organizations (managers, supervisors, division leaders and others) are almost never in the room to add their perspective on the issues in the organization which led to the need for training in the first place.

The employees in the organization attending the training tend not to believe they have the courage, the authority or the power to affect innovations around the dominant issues they were called to train on resolving in the first place.

There’s no easy way out of this two-pronged, organizational trap.

And too often, the people who order, organize and even develop the training for employees also serve as gatekeepers buffering the employees in the training room from the people above them.

The difficult way out of this is twofold:

The managers, supervisors, division leaders and other higher-ups need to be seen in the room, endorsing the training and perspective of the development opportunity, the employees are being told to attend.

The statement “I’m too busy to attend” or “That training time doesn’t fit into my schedule” or “I already know all of this, so why do I need to be there” should be banished from managerial vocabulary and scrubbed from supervisory thinking.

Employees need to be provided with opportunities to innovate, such as the type offered to engineers at Google and other high tech companies, on clock time, rather than relegating the power to change to the venues of canned training or fancy bromides on the walls.

Would courageously implementing these to solutions cause organizations to have to do the hard work of shifting mindsets (both of shareholders and owners) toward a truly new conception of what productivity looks like?


Which is why the standard is here to stay, at least for a little while longer.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:
LinkedIn: https://

[ICYMI] On Being CRaaS in the Workplace

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the newest thing in the modern workplace.

But, in spite of cloud storage and web based computing, people remain sticky and unreasonable.

Conflict resolution skills are still considered soft skills, even in a workplace that requires deeply intellectually technical skills.

HSCT offers workshops, training and coaching sessions that can be purchased one-time (workshops), paid for via subscription (the HSCT Communication Blog) or offered as needed (coaching sessions).

We offer conflict resolution skills training in a variety of areas for our clients, including:

  • Active Listening
  • De-escalation Tactics
  • Anger/Frustration Control
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Effective Negotiation
  • …and many more.

Now, none of these skills will ever be offered via the cloud, automated, or robotized via nanotechnology.

HSCT is always face-to-face (F2F), always in person and always on.

Conflict resolution-as-a-Service.

Be CRaaS in the workplace with HSCT.

Originally published on June 23, 2014.

Download the FREE E-Book, The Savvy Peace Builder by heading to today!

[ICYMI] Mediator’s Own Rumplestiltskin

Poltergeists can present a problem, whether they are intending to come through your television or spin straw into gold.

Always Be Closing


Poltergeists these days come through social media, offering multiple spinning wheels, promising to turn the straw of engagement and trust, into the gold of long lasting revenues.

For mediation professionals, trust is the only currency worth having, whether at the table with conflicting parties, or blogging about strategies and approaches to conflicts.

Trust goes directly to relationship in the overall mediation process as well and the revenue generated from that trust should appear as referrals on the trusted mediator’s bottom line.

Or, mediators can just wait on Rumplestiltskin to show up…

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

HIT Piece 3.31.2015

What do you do when you’ve been asking the right questions in the wrong way?

And you’ve been doing it for two years.

I’ve been thinking about this project, Human Services Consulting and Training that I’m building. I have been thinking deeply about marketing, branding, connecting, publishing and—ultimately—scaling.

Continuing to do what got me here, isn’t going to get me any further than I already am. And when the right questions have been asked in the wrong way, two years is long enough for that kind of self-involved navel gazing.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve laid the foundations for the beginning of something else. Something great. Something enterprise-level, C-suite level and above. But to get there, it’s time to pivot.

  • Away from end-users and toward buyers
  • Away from social engagement and toward deeper relationships
  • Away from frivolity and toward more focus

And, if you’ve been paying attention, day-in and day-out, for the last couple of years, you will note that my approach has become sharper and narrower, even as my options have increased to do work that really matters in the space that I am building.

Conflict resolution doesn’t scale, but engagement, relationships and products do.

It’s time to start asking the right questions in the right way….

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: