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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Kreisman

Providing Healthcare in a VUCA World

Editor’s Note: Thank you all for your kind words of appreciation regarding both the first and second issues of this “Intel” newsletter.  The response has been tremendous – both from a reader’s perspective as well as from those of you who are suggesting/contributing story ideas. Though much of the material presented here focuses on DU EMBA alums, my intent is to move out from the core of our network to include other organizations and individuals I am closely associated with—like: Wish of a Lifetime; DU’s Knoebel  Institute for Healthy Aging; the DU Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) and itsInstitute for Human Animal Connection (IHAC); the Urban Farm at Stapleton; theColorado Feminist (Authors) Luncheon group; Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies (GRRR); US National Parks; Denver Hospice; the Denver Kabbalah Center;the International Women’s Forum; the Colorado Business Roundtable (COBRT), and last but certainly not least, the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado (ULFC).  Ironically, I became affiliated with most of these organizations via student EMBA Social Impact projects.  For years, I listened to your final project overviews, and I knew that when I retired, I wanted to contribute more in the non-profit space ... and that is exactly what I am doing.  These organizations are all part of my current “network” and at times will be highlighted in this publication. As I’ve mentioned before, this is not a DU sponsored initiative; it is something I enjoy doing as a means of giving back to those who’ve touched my life over the years. This particular issue is dedicated to physicians who’ve completed the EMBA program at Daniels, most of whom have been on the front lines of the COVID crises in some manner or another. They deserve all the credit they can get in this Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic and Ambiguous (VUCA) environment.  I also want to recognize Dr. Michael Wasserman, a Geriatrician in Woodland Hills, CA who has been a voice for the California Association of Long-Term Care Medicine and spokesperson regarding COVID.  Formerly of CO, Michael continues to serve on the Wish of a Lifetime Board of Directors, along with myself, Dr. Dianne McCallister, Cohort 42; Kent McGlincy, Cohort 69 and Dr. Eric Chess, faculty member in the DU Institute for Heathy Aging. Eric is both a physician and lawyer with a focus on prevention and wellness and has over a decade of experience as both a hospitalist and a primary care physician in internal medicine. Prior to his medical work, he was an attorney and economic consultant. Included too in this issue is an item written by Buie Seawell, DU College of Business Professor Emeritus. So many individuals ask about Buie, I am honored that he has agreed to be a regular contributor to this newsletter. Dr. Dianne McCallister has written the introductory feature item to set ‘the tone’ of this issue.  She is an alum of Cohort 42, the very first group of students Scott and I had the privilege of working with. Due to the length of her article, I am holding all other content until the next issue which will be distributed in early August. -Barb Kreisman, PhD


Dr. Dianne McCallister, Cohort 42 Dianne is a Senior Executive Physician Leader and Wellbeing Expert, Author, Speaker, Media Health Expert. She has conducted extensive research and has published on the subject of Physician Wellness. Dianne served as Chief Medical Officer for the following hospitals: The Medical Center of Aurora/Centennial Medical Plaza, Porter Adventist Hospital - Centura Healthcare.  She is now a surge physician for COVID and owner of Diagnosis: Well 

Opportunity in the Midst of COVID By Dianne McCallister, MD, EMBA Cohort 42   It would be hard to find anyone for whom the pandemic has not altered life as we know it. One of the growing concerns in the health world regarding this unprecedented time is the loneliness, stress and PTSD that many have experienced through the rapid changes that have occurred in our lives.  We reduced our lives to smaller spaces, protected our loved ones by staying apart, changed our work and educational lives, experienced uncertainty in multiple dimensions, and for those on the front line, literally went to work knowing that our lives may be endangered by that journey. The sudden change provided an opportunity to thrive and learn new skills, reach out in compassion, and take time to assess our own needs and desires. However, we cannot minimize the toll of the stress: children to educate while keeping our work life going, concern regarding how to keep our businesses going, fear for the health of our relatives and friends, deaths in our families or communities from COVID,  and most difficult to deal with is the limbo of uncertainty regarding the virus – treatment, death rate, how it is spread, or not, and how long it will be until our lives are “normal” again.  A mentor of mine once told me that we are like train engines, and we always have our wheels on two tracks; one is the good things going on, and the other is on the track of bad things happening. We have all; experienced it – we achieve a goal we’ve worked for over years, and at the same time our parent gets cancer.  “Uncertainty is one of the most difficult of all situations for us to deal with…it leaves us feeling powerless” Uncertainty, referred to as “liminal space” is one of the most difficult of all situations for us to deal with because it leaves us feeling powerless. Or, rather, it reveals in clarity the reality of every day – we are not in control. As a practicing physician, my patients would often ask me, after I had done their annual exam, “So, doc, am I going to live another year?”.  I so wanted to give them an affirmative answer – their labs and EKG were normal, their exam was normal, and they appeared vibrant. However, I never told them yes; ever. I would say with some humor, “well everything looks normal, but I’m not in control of Mac trucks.”  The meaning of course, was that the unpredictable happens.  We literally had a patient die in our reception area on his way out from a perfectly normal yearly exam. Liminal space, such as we are experiencing now, can and will make us feel vulnerable, anxious, and for many we have predictably seen the Kubler-Ross stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. To compound this, each person will be in a different phase of grief for what was in the same household.  While loss and uncertainty feel uncomfortable, it can also be the largest source of creativity and personal growth.  When we suspend our belief that we are in control, (and the reality is that we are never really in control of everything that can affect us), we can set aside our perfectionism and the defense mechanisms we use to create an illusion of control, and move into better clarity, creativity and that which most fulfills us. Personally, I moved out of an administration role late last year to start my own company doing what I love most – clinical research, writing and speaking. March 10th, I was literally boarded onto a plane on my way to speak on physician well being at an international conference in Turkey when my colleague, also speaking there, showed me an email that had just arrived telling us that the conference at which we were keynote speakers had been canceled due to COVID concerns. “The Physician Well-being Conference at which we were to be keynote speakers was cancelled just after boarding the plane” Fortunately, boarding was not completed, and we were able to disembark. While our baggage had a round trip on the first leg of our journey, we were able to go to our homes.  It was incredibly disconcerting to have prepared talks and travel plans for over a month, packed and planned for a 24-hour airplane journey, and then suddenly find myself in my own home, wondering what to do with the sudden change of plans. I was in “liminal space”.  Since then, the other speaking engagements and conferences that were the framework for my year have dissipated. Has this been good or bad for me?  Probably both– but it has most certainly been different from what I could ever have imagined. And I had a 20-year career that involved pandemic planning!  How very disconcerting for all who had never had to plan or drill or even consider the possibility of a pandemic and what were the scientific plans should one occur. For all of us, this pandemic has created stress, which has physical as well as emotional repercussions. What are the experts saying that can help us preserve our health while we work through vaccines, the correct formula for being together?  “International medical experts on the front lines meet to discuss what has been learned” Weekly a group of international medical experts on the front line of patient care in viral epicenters such as China, India, Britain, Italy and New York meet to discuss what has been learned the past week to assure rapid improvement of COVID patient care and prevention of spread. Data shows that divorce, depression and suicide are rising during the stress and loneliness of isolation, fear and lifestyle change. The conclusions of what to do improve your health: Develop Your Emotional Resilience: 1. Reach out to those you trust and be honest about your feelings -  Research shows that the most courageous among us are also the most transparent and vulnerable.  If you feel afraid, find a trusted friend to share your fear and talk it through. Your courage is on the other side of the fear. Likewise, sharing your victories, happiness, stress; your emotions are going to vary, and whatever they may be, sharing them improves your resilience. 2. Be grateful – scientific research has shown that those who write down five things for which they are grateful every night has the same improvement in depression as those who are prescribed Prozac or other antidepressants. A bonus – if you share your gratitude to those you love, you improve the resilience for both parties. 3. Look for the opportunity in the chaos – your disrupted life will reveal new opportunities for meaningful work or solutions to problems. Necessity is the mother of invention 4. Do something nice for someone else – without expectation of return – it will improve your wellbeing 5. Take time to get to know what is most important to you – and imagine how you can integrate that into your life moving forward. It is work-life integration, not balance, that should be the goal. 6. Assume good intent on the part of others in your interactions, particularly at home – it will reduce unnecessary friction. One exception– if you are experiencing abuse – physical or emotional – seek outside help immediately.  Improve Your Physical Resilience: 7. Move – you don’t have to do a huge workout; taking a walk, doing house chores can improve your resistance to disease and your overall health, as well as decreasing stress.  8. Wash your hands – often – it is a proven disease prevention technique 9. Wear a mask – it is a sign of respect for those around you. It does not guarantee your own protection from others, but it does prevent you from unknowingly transmitting the virus. If we all wear cloth masks and stay 6 feet apart, transmission is decreased 70%.  An N-95 grade mask will prevent both your transmission and your exposure to the virus, and these are becoming more available. 10. Antibodies – the tests for antibodies are becoming more accurate, however, there is emerging data that this may not provide protection from reinfection. While this is being sorted out, it is prudent to assume that all recommended precautions are still needed to prevent re-infection. 11. Seek medical attention – if you are ill, immediately if you are having shortness of breath, chest pain, stroke symptoms, severe depression or any suicidal thoughts. Medical facilities are using proven methods to prevent spread of COVID, and the studies are showing these are effective. You need and deserve attention. Things will get better, and we want you with us when that happens. “I felt enormous frustration that I was not helping the world fight the virus” After I got off the plane, back at home instead of at an exciting and intellectually stimulating medical conference, I found myself immediately quarantined to protect family members who are high risk. Given my training and experience, I felt enormous frustration that I was not helping the world fight the virus, when I had knowledge and talent that could be used to help. So, I contacted a telemedicine company, 98point6, at which I had contacts. Within a week, I was working as a surge physician for patients with suspected COVID. From my home office, I cared for patients across the U.S. through telemedicine.  In caring for them, I soon realized I was caring for myself. I was humbled and astonished as those who were quite ill and isolated and clearly afraid shared their concern for their families and co-workers as the reason, they were seeking medical care and information. Their gratitude to me for providing care and their concern for my personal safety was inspiring. In the midst of stress, pain and all the media coverage of what was not working, I had a bird’s eye view into the lives and homes and witnessed compassion, courage and good in my patients. In the end, in trying to help, I received payment through the kindness and courage of my patients, gifts we all have available to share with those around us.

Dr. Bruce Evans, Cohort 62  Dr. Bruce Evans, Cohort 62, writes: “Another week has flown by. If nothing else, C-19 has kept me busy.” He says he is "in the trenches" as an Emergency Medicine physician at SJH and at multiple Kaiser Urgent Care clinics. My training in the Emergency Medicine Residency at Denver Health and subsequent work at UCH prepared me well for my profession and for disaster management, which unfortunately has included multiple mass shooting events.”  Bruce was the Senior Medical Director of Emergency Services at UCH at the time of the Aurora Theater Shooting when his team saved 22 of 23 critically injured patients in the span of just a few hours.  He also witnessed and worked through multiple infectious epidemics, such as HIV and multidrug resistant TB. “These are insidiously disproportionate killers of the underprivileged which rarely make news headlines. But just like gun violence, these infections are known quantities that could be largely mitigated by effective, compassionate and fiscally responsible legislators.” “I got COVID while treating others and brought it home to my family” According to Bruce, “C-19 is a hybrid of the other big issues we've confronted on the front lines of healthcare, all the more disconcerting for its unknowns.”  He himself got COVID while treating C-19 patients at work, and unwittingly brought it home to his family before becoming symptomatic. “Each of our week-long flu-like illnesses were capped with a welcome turning point, when fear of the unknown quickly gave way to optimism about feeling better from day-to-day. But even before getting sick, I was overwhelmingly impressed by the bravery of my co-workers on our teams. Housekeepers, pharmacists, nurses, resident physicians and paramedics kept coming to work, despite how little we knew about C-19 back in March, and despite inexcusable shortages of PPE. These behaviors were not well executed reactions to mass casualty training drills. Rather, they were and remain conscious decisions to keep doing what we signed up for when we joined these teams. “ Bruce, who earned his Medical Degree at CU Boulder, goes on to say, “Unfortunately, bravery is difficult to sustain physiologically and intellectually over the long haul, which is why the hybrid quality of C-19 as a disaster has so much potential to change our cultures and economies. It seems reasonable to argue that the national reactions to George Floyd's murder and the BLM movement were inflamed by C-19 related social stressors, including record-breaking unemployment. (We have not seen this level of civic engagement on race issues for decades, despite multiple law enforcement and gang-related murders, so why else would we see it now?)” Continuing he adds: “I don't habitually predict the future, but the levels of economic hardship I see coming down the pike are unprecedented. It's right there in the ED for any economist to consider. For every newly unemployed person who now must choose between their prescription medications and feeding their family, we will see exponential increases in the cost of healthcare. This bug may be harder to mitigate than anything we've been up against before, which is not being accounted for in stock markets or by our President. I predict we are in for a sustained economic depression.” “I am worried about mental depression for front line healthcare workers” Bruce says he is worried about mental depression for front line healthcare workers. “Our families have missed graduations, high school sports and weddings, just like everyone else. And we've seen people dying from C-19. But our teams have not beaten the bug, the resurgence of which directly correlates to national trends of relaxing precautions. To paraphrase what Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week, ‘America may be done with COVID, but COVID is not finished with us’. We are still rationing PPE in our treatment areas, and the CEO of KP still makes around $16 million dollars in annual salary. Bravery will wear away and the impersonality-imposed face masks will become the new normal in health care.” His social impact project with the EMBA program, Helmet Heads, “was put on hold this year and lost $8000 in promised State funding, and future grant payments are on hold. Anyways, back to work...  Bruce

Dr. Kent Bradley Cohort 54

Kent Bradley, M.D., MPH, EMBA Cohort 54, is the Chief Health and Nutrition Officer at Herbalife Nutrition and chairman of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board. Kent is responsible for nutrition and product education and training for the Company, including developing educational tools and learning platforms for distributors to ensure they receive ongoing training to deliver a best-in-class customer experience tailored to each individual’s needs. Kent says he pursued his advanced degree at DU to gain a better understanding of the private sector and to develop connections with colleagues.  As outcomes of his education at DU, Kent acknowledges he gained an important  ”understanding of the complexity of the world in which we live and the power of a team based approach “ “The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology to more effectively communicate with patients”

According to Kent, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology to more effectively communicate with patients and others.  “As an executive I have curtailed my travel but accelerated my contacts with individuals on my various teams as well as directly to a much larger audience.  For example, a portion of my work involves teaching about health and wellbeing in a train-the-trainer program.”  The largest group Kent ever trained at one time was 15,000, but now with technology he says he is consistently training groups of 30,000 to 50,000. Kent serves on numerous boards, including the Board of Directors for CommonSpirit Health – one of the largest healthcare systems in the United States with revenue of over $33 billion, and the Board of Directors of Concentra Health – the largest occupational health provider in the U.S. with over 400 clinics. He is actively involved in multiple community health and wellbeing initiatives and founded Core Communities, a nonprofit supporting healthy communities, by creating compelling content that encourages conversations on important issues. He has served as a strategic advisor to multiple health technology companies with a special focus on consumer engagement.   Kent is a retired Army Colonel, graduate of the United States Military Academy and has a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Minnesota, and his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.  He is board certified in Public Health and Preventive Medicine.  He also holds a certificate in Corporate Governance from INSEAD. Links to articles written and published by Kent: Why there is hope: The stress response and practical tips to reduce stress: The power of social connections: The Importance of Mental Health focus in the workplace:

Dr. Tina Johnson Cohort 68

Dr. Tina Johnson, Cohort 68, has moved from practicing full-time Emergency Medicine to full-time hospital administration.  The last two years she has served as the CEO of Longmont United Hosptial, and though she has not actually continued to practice medicine, Tina “feels connected every day to serving our community’s healthcare needs. “ It is extremely rewarding to provide an essential service and it has been gratifying to see how the community views our healthcare providers as Heros for what they do.” During the COVID crises Tina spends additional time every day “rounding on our employees—allaying fears, providing information and thanking them for their work.”  She says she has heard the nurses tell heart-wrenching stories about spending time with COVID patients who could not have visitors and participated in weekly local, system and state level incident command activities.  “The Pandemic has caused us to re-address Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for employees—safety first.” Tina pursued her EMBA because she wanted the business education and skills to complement her medical background in her new administrative roles.  “Every day I use the skills that I learned, but in this recent crisis the following have been especially important:

  • Leading in a VUCA World—no one could have adequately anticipated this crisis

  • Prioritizing the customers and their needs--assurance of safety when visiting the hospital; ability to meet their COVID and non-COVID needs, develop telehealth and virtual capabilities

  • Innovation--models of care delivery, supply access points, mask re-processing, emergency credentialing

  • Making smart financial decisions about costs

  • This was a global crisis—what can we learn about how international health care facilities managed with better or worse outcomes?

  • Human resource management-who needs to be present to fulfill healthcare duties on site and who can work more safely from afar.  How do we communicate effectively in this “new normal?”

  • Addressing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for employees—safety first.”

During this pandemic, Tina “proudly wears a mask made by one of our pet therapy dog owners and has become a ‘zoom mistress’.”  Tina received her medical training at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed residencies at the University of CA-San Francisco and Denver General Hospital in Emergency medicine

Dr. Dale Varner Cohort 56

Dale Varner, MD, FACS and Cohort 56, is a full-time general surgeon at Kaiser Permanent with a subspecialty in breast surgery. During the COVID crisis Dale continues to work five to six days per week, much of the time in ICU.  He notes that most of his “elective practice” was put on hold for two months.   Dale says the most satisfying thing about being a physician “is caring for people and helping them work through, not only their illness, but also their pain and fear around the illness.” “No question the nurses are the heroes” Dale, who obtained his medical training at UCLA and did his residency at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver, acknowledges the “biggest thing I learned from the EMBA program was to solve for the acute crisis yet at the same time think further out in time to set up stronger contingency options.”   He enjoys working in small teams and innovating solutions, two other elements of the DU program.   “The most incredible thing during the pandemic has been the many ways that the community came together to support the healthcare workers. No question the nurses were the heroes!” concludes Dale.

Dr. Wayne Guerra Cohort 47

Dr. Wayne Guerra, Cohort 47, pursued an advanced business degree because found himself working in the business aspects of medicine, with the hospital administration to introduce more quality and efficiencies into emergency rooms, training paramedics and helping manage EMS operations and their interactions with Centura hospitals.  Wayne, who was an emergency room doctor for much of his career, became an entrepreneur and has retired from practicing clinical medicine.  He is an adviser and investor to healthcare start-ups and sits on three non-profit boards.  He also frequently lectures at DU (MBA’s and EMBA’s) on raising start-up capital and innovation. “In medicine, failure appropriately is not encouraged, but it is inevitable while being an entrepreneur.” Wayne credits the EMBA program with helping him start two successful organizations—one that is still a ‘growing concern” and the other which he and his partners sold to Aetna allowing him to retire from clinical medicine and pursue other opportunities.  “The EMBA gave me confidence to step out and implement ideas and not to be discouraged or stop trying if something failed.  In medicine, failure appropriately is not encouraged, but it is inevitable while being an entrepreneur.” Wayne continues by adding, “As you know there are plenty of good ideas, but execution is the hard part.  Having different lenses to evaluate problems and more tools to use helped me be more successful.  The EMBA removed some of the ‘not knowing’ what I didn’t know and provided more license in my entrepreneurial endeavors.”

Dr. David Karli Cohort 57

Dr. David Karli’s medical practice focuses on developing and applying minimally invasive surgical and non-surgical innovations for treating problems with joins, muscles, tendons, ligaments and other Orthopedic conditions.  He maintains a full-time medical practice and also serves as CEO of Greyledge Technologies, a biotechnology company he founded over 10 years ago.  Greyledge is an early stage biotherapeutics company focused on development of quantitative point of care autologous biologics for sports medicine, orthopedic and wound applications. David is also a partner in the Steadman Clinic, located in Vail. When asked why he pursued an EMBA, David, who attended Medical School at the University of Maryland and completed his residency, Chief Residency and Fellowship at Harvard Medical School, says:  “In entrepreneurial ventures - crises are often daily occurrences, only differentiated by the severity, duration and type of response necessary to resolve and strengthen a company from them. “Knowing how to systematically and quickly figure out what to do is a skill that can be developed” A formal and comprehensive educational approach via EMBA creates a framework of knowledge, collective experience from peers and faculty and high-level discussions from the curriculum, producing a foundation of preparedness to react intelligently to crises in a solution-oriented mindset. Reacting without that foundation is aimless, inefficient and likely ineffective, which can be detrimental to instill confidence within your organization as the figurehead and leader that people look to for sound navigation during challenging times. No one can always know what to do - that requires adaptability. Knowing how to systematically and quickly figure out what to do is a skill that can be developed like any other. A sound EMBA program can identify that framework for reference and adaptation that is enhanced on the job with experience and application.” David describes medical practice as a “unique privilege, with unique challenges. Modern practice life has become progressively more complex due to the pace of scientific advancement, a cumbersome medico-legal landscape and the necessary adaptation of technology into practice administration. Physicians have been challenged as never before to not only practice their art with empathy and sound judgement, but to engage in the business of medical care, for which we historically did not receive any formal preparation. The convergence of the business of medicine with the practice of medicine has created unique pressures on providers to which we must adapt or prove to be suboptimal in our delivery of care. As with any challenge, great opportunity exists to adapt and thrive under such conditions. The reward and satisfaction in maintaining health for our patients remains at heart the most satisfying part of being a physician despite changing times.” He says, “Like all business in the face of pandemic, elective, non-emergent healthcare delivery effectively shut down for an extended period during the COVID crisis, going basically to zero revenue overnight. As leaders of our respective small businesses, we had to react quickly to address the finances of the situation in an effort to maintain jobs for our employees, ensure financial sustainability of the practice and be prepared to quickly and safely resume operations as restrictions lifted. “Maintaining communication during the crisis is most important” I think what was most important was remotely maintaining communication during the crisis while under quarantine - between our leadership and our organization at large. Given the speed of an unprecedented shutdown, there was high risk for fear, anxiety and panic which required leadership to perform effectively to prevent emotional and irrational decision making. Managing the same with our patient populations and coordinating to understand and adhere to Federal, State and local expectations in re-establishing care for our patients took focus and adaptability to change. Healthy organizations must embrace change and constant readiness to adapt to external and unexpected challenges. That happens as much prior to a crisis culturally and systematically as it does during the crisis.”

Dr. Dan Perlman Cohort 51

An infectious disease specialist, Dr. Dan Perlman, Cohort 51, writes: “Thanks for reaching out. I’ve used my new skills to be a leader in healthcare. I have been on several boards to improve our global healthcare systems and I have used my critical thinking skills to develop policy and strategies.”  Dr. Perlman is currently on the board of directors of RMP (Rotarian Malaria Partners) and “we have been awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that will take me back to Africa soon. I also am on the Aspen Brain Institute board and this group promotes improved global brain health” “I have used my critical thinking skills to develop policy and strategies.” Dan’s expertise has included Infectious Disease Management including public health, policy – creation and executive health care leadership. He is considered an industry opinion leader and innovator with accomplished background in education, pharmaceutical trial leadership, and leadership in corporate / non-profit advisory roles. He has an extensive background in non-profit, public, and leadership roles including being on the Board of Directors for multiple medical community programs. Dan earned his Medical Degree from University of Maryland and did his residence at Johns Hopkins University. He recently decided to retire in Aspen and has been “really enjoying the mountains.”  He says, “I am now doing some volunteer work and went to Zambia to work on malaria this past October.” 

:: PERSPECTIVE :: Leadership in The Midst of Crisis

Buie Seawell JD and Professor Emeritus and long-time EMBA faculty member. Buie’s courses cover(ed) business ethics, law, and international business law. Buie was honored with the University’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award and was the architect of the EMBA sailing experiential. By Buie Seawell Need I even point out, our country is going through a uniquely difficult time?  WTF! Pandemic on top of massive demonstrations for racial justice in the wake of police shootings, and an economic collapse rivaling the Great Depression -- and all simultaneously, with little or no national leadership. Our politics have failed and the pressure on business to fill this social, economic and political vacuum is unprecedented. You might say, as well, unfair. But history is not fair.  “And unto whom much is given; much shall be required.” Business as usual is over. Once it could be argued (as Milton Freidman so famously did) “The business of business is business.” The triteness of that cliché cannot now be more obvious.  The business of business is the very survival of our species. And it is not a management problem.  We cannot manage our way out of this calamity. As Auden once wrote, “Nothing that is possible can save us.  We who must die demand a miracle.” Short of a miracle, we need courageous, competent leadership. And speaking of our species, we’ve humbly named ourselves Homo Sapiens, “The Wise Men.” How’s that looking on the two hundredth and forty-fourth birthday of our nation? Perhaps we should wise-up. It is no secret, leadership in the midst of crisis fundamentally requires three things: Truth, Trust and Courage. And these are top to bottom necessities, virtues against the virus. It is not just the tone at the top, it is the resonant reality at all levels of the society and of all organizations. The good news is that in this environment being straight-forward, bluntly truthful, is a powerful weapon. And the business community has the capacity to be that radical voice. How do you tell the truth? Just do it! And then there is trust, the essential glue that holds both democracies and economies together.  Democratic Capitalism relies on trust not just to thrive, but to function at all: trust of elected representatives; trust of business agents; trust of colleagues and partners. And the deadly enemy of trust? Deceit! The first responsibility of a leader in the midst of crisis is to never deceive. Trust lost is trust dead and buried.  In a time of existential crisis, Germany with the Third Reich and Hitler emerging, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “This is a time for straight-forward men.” Now is such a time. Finally, courage. The failure of courage in our political leadership is embarrassingly obvious to the whole world. Aristotle thought courage was the first of all virtues, because without courage no other virtue: honesty, patience, carefulness, generosity, humility could be exercised. In this frightening world courage is a fundamental necessity, not just the courage to act boldly, but also the courage to be, to be present; to be mindful; to be patient. It is not a world for the faint of heart. It is a world for those with the force of truth, the confidence of trust, and the heart of courage to step up.


Exactly 10 years ago, EMBA Cohort 54 was preparing to leave on their global trip—to Cairo, Egypt and Istanbul, Turkey.  None of us knew in advance how challenging and educational that trip would be.

Pictured above is the entire EMBA cohort 54 (including Dr. Kent Bradley and Lowell Miller, now a DU faculty member), accompanied by Amanda Cahal, Buie Sewell, Kerry Plemmons, Scott McLagan and myself, Barb Kreisman.  Below are students and Buie.


It is with regret that we acknowledge the death of Steven Clagg, Cohort 48, who passed away June 17th.    Steve was the Chief Information Officer at Aurora Public Schools. Steve was instrumental in helping to establish an EMBA Alumni organization at DU and served as the its treasurer for several years.   At the time of his passing, Steve was also the Managing Director of Clarkson Properties, LLC. Past places of employment and titles include:  Adjunct Professor at Midland University (Fremont, NE), Director of Practices and Tools at MWH Global, Inc.  and Senior Consulting Manager at JD Edwards. Steve volunteered at Cancer Foundation and Wish for Wheels. He was very involved in Sand Volleyball, Snowboarding, and was an avid cyclist with Wish For Wheels and Racer X.


Information provided by the Daniels College Business Department of Executive Education, University of Denver:

The Accelerate Webinar Series is powered by Daniels Executive Education at the University of Denver. The webinar series launched this April and so far has covered emotional intelligence, the brain’s reaction to stress, being a virtual team, artificial intelligence, coaching/feedback and team resilience. We hope to provide you with quick-hitting and immediately applicable business, leadership, and technical tips. These webinars will be less than 30 minutes, are free and open to all, occur every other week, and will accelerate your capacity to deliver positive results in this quickly changing and uncertain time. Please send us your input and ideas at Upcoming webinars: July 16, 2020 – Accelerate Webinar Series: Doing More with Less with Derek Bennington July 23, 2020 – Accelerate Webinar Series: Why Voice Search Should Matter to You with Michael Myers Upcoming Programs with Daniels Executive Education July 17, 2020 Emotional Intelligence through Insights Discovery August 31, 2020 Accelerated Leadership Experience (5 days through Oct.)


Send information, story ideas, updates, etc. to Barb directly at and they will be published as space permits. If you do not want to receive monthly information in this format, you can unsubscribe from the newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to not reflect the views, values or opinions of the College of Business or the University of Denver. Past newsletters can be found on our website: - Barb

Our July 4th celebration in Fraser, CO.  The little pup on the right is a "Turkey Dog" -- one who came to us after our visit with Cohort 54 to Istanbul 10 years ago.  While there, many of us noticed the large number of dogs on the streets—all running free, and many purebred Goldens.  When we got home, I (Barb) began to volunteer with the Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies.  The organization has helped transport nearly 175 Goldens from the streets of Istanbul to Denver.  Little Brushy, above with Scott and Kili, was in the first cohort to arrive from Turkey.  Brushy and Barb are now a trained Hospice care-giving team. Once considered a status symbol by the wealthy in Turkey, Golden Retrievers have become more common and less valued, and hundreds end up being released onto the streets. With few shelters available, dogs of this good-natured breed frequently starve or become prey to the thousands of feral dog packs in the forests around the city. Life is hard for these mostly young dogs. Few live to be senior Goldens in Turkey.  Several EMBA students worked on a strategic plan for GRRR several years ago. See: and for more information on the dog dilemma in Istanbul.

VUCA Thrive The acronym VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) was originally introduced in the US Army War College in the early 90’s to describe the shift to asymmetrical and multilateral challenges for the military following the Cold War. Since then, it has been used more broadly to help describe the challenging context many organizations are facing today—one of accelerating change and disruption.

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Intergistic Solutions Intergistic Solutions is a unique Management Consulting firm. Our partners have extensive and diverse real-world backgrounds coupled with significant consulting and coaching experience. We have a broad range of tools and methodologies to facilitate more efficient and effective engagement. Visit Intergistic Solutions

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