Season One Learnings

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Rob and Karyn riff on each of the past season’s episodes and their takeaways. This will be the last episode for Season 1. The first episode for Season 2 will be released in Mid-January 2020. 


[00:00:08.160] – Rob Brodnick

Welcome to the Positive Turbulence Podcast, Stories from the periphery. Here we journey to the edge to talk to turbulators about their experiences creating positive change. Hi, I’m Rob Brodnick, your co-host for the podcast. In this episode, we’re going to wrap up Season One. It’s been a great ride. And Karyn and I are going to share our learnings, perspectives, and thoughts about the season that was.

[00:00:30.180] – Karyn Zuidinga

I’m Karyn Zuidinga, your other co-host. As we’ve progressed through the interviews, the editing, and production of each episode, we’ve been seeing some common threads emerge. Thinking about the concept of positive turbulence and how it can be applied and generally really loving each and every moment of it. Stick around; there are some great insights coming up.

[00:00:47.530] – Karyn Zuidinga

But before we launch into it, I want to take a moment for a message from our sponsors.

[00:00:52.590] – Sponsor Message

The positive turbulence podcast is brought to you by AMI, an innovation learning community that is celebrating 40 years of supporting innovation and creativity for organizations and individuals. Learn more at Also, we’d like to thank Mack Avenue music group as a contributing sponsor. To hear our theme song, Late Night Sunrise, and other great music, visit

[00:01:19.690] – Karyn Zuidinga

The thing I want to talk to you about is that that thing that you call that AMI Magic, where the threads just start coming together. Right? Or that positive turbulence magic where the threads just start coming together. I kept hearing as we were going through each interview, the same themes coming back over and over again but from all these different perspectives. Like when we were talking to David Culton [A Master Class in Positive Turbulence] and how we’re getting this really cool view of the mountain, that is positive turbulence because we’re climbing up all of these different paths with these different people. And the idea of being in the moment and how that came up with Donna Del Rey [Feeding the Community With Positivity] and her experiences with Relish Culinary and it came up also with John Cramer [Generating Positive Turbulence in a War Zone] when he was in Iraq. You couldn’t imagine more different circumstances. My mind kept being blown all the way along.

[00:02:13.090] – Rob Brodnick

Yeah, every episode, even the music that was between the notes, was pretty incredible. Just contacting people and having conversations about having a conversation leads to pretty amazing things.

You know I have a viewpoint on this, and it comes back to being in the flow state. I think that when people are really engaged with their systems, the things that are happening all around us, the systems are too complex to see or articulate clearly. But when you begin to experience it — you know there are two kinds of ways that I think people can get to that point — one is they’re just doing it they’re totally unconscious about it. They’re doing the thing that they’re either passionate about, or they’re driven to do whatever it is, but they hit that magic moment in some kind of way. And they’re doing the right things. They are taking in the data about the world around them unconsciously, they’re processing it. they’re responding to it, they are in the flow. They’re in the moment as agents of change, as leaders, they’re doing it. So that’s one way to get there. It’s kind of like you know you have a passion, and you just trip into it, and all of a sudden, you’ve fallen into positive turbulence. I think the other way is just the opposite. It’s very conscious. Imagine a moving meditation where you are living present moment continuously. And you bring that beginner’s mind. You’re kind of there just open to the world. But very consciously open to it, and you can achieve that same state in response to your organizational systems or the larger systems of the world around you. And so there are probably other pathways, and other people could describe it in different kinds of ways. But, you know, for me thinking about change in that perspective. They’re the two pathways that I’ve observed. I think, you know, across our Season One guests they probably divide pretty evenly into different camps about it.

[00:04:12.610] – Karyn Zuidinga

I think that Dr. Mary McBride [Making Meaning with Mary] is probably more in the deliberate camp. I keep hearing her say that creative leaders are meaning makers and where she started that interview about how, when organizations merge, the meaning-making function goes silent. Nobody knows where they’re going to and why that has such an impact on organizations. And I keep hearing her say it because I keep encountering exactly that in the world. And so where I was going with my thing with you though was that for people who are unfamiliar with positive turbulence or you know tuning into the podcast and enjoying the episodes but not really seeing how they fit in, where they go, I think that your observation about either being in the flow because you’re in the flow and you’re passionate. Or deliberately saying OK, I’m going to flow now. To me, that second option that deliberate this is a path forward for people who are stuck in a place, whatever that place may be, whether it be my boss is a jerk. I don’t like what I’m doing. Or I’ve got to lead this team, I’ve got to innovate, and I don’t know how.

[00:05:32.440] – Rob Brodnick

I think Rick Sheridan [Joyfully Making Tech Better for Us All] probably lived both worlds at one point in time. When he was with his former programming company and mindset, he was probably experiencing negative turbulence. That caused him to become very conscious about creating a new company that did it differently. And so there was a lot of deliberate approach to him creating the (positive) turbulence that he created within his teams. John Cramer [Genertating Positive Turbulence in a War Zone], I see him with his white knuckles on the airplane seat as that plane began to take its spiral descent into Erbil so it could avoid missile detection and potential explosions. At that point, I’m guessing he entered a state of beginner’s mind. As he was living through the next three or four weeks — however long he was there — working with kids and the musicians, he was experiencing moments as they unfolded in front of him. I can only imagine. What an amazing journey.

[00:06:31.020] – Karyn Zuidinga

What an amazing lesson about giving up control. He says at one point he was reminded of the Eisenhower quote “planning is everything, but the plan is nothing.” And that whole idea of that balance between having a plan but also giving up control. And what an experience that was for him in doing that. How both uncomfortable and beautiful at the same time.

[00:06:59.490] – Rob Brodnick

I think Dan Buchner [Turbulating Design Thinking] is a wizard. And I imagine that he plays it both ways continuously. He has an amazing talent. He has a way to see the world and understand things. I think he sees each moment as a fresh moment unfolding in front of him but at the same time, has several designs in mind for where it could go.

[00:07:21.260] – Karyn Zuidinga

Do you think he was a chess master in a past life?

[00:07:24.810] – Rob Brodnick

At least.

[00:07:28.590] – Karyn Zuidinga

And one of the things that came from him actually was this idea of serious play. That story that they went out and they got all this water spraying equipment, and they experienced water in different ways. How that changed (how they saw things). That mind that’s willing to dig in? We need more of that in the world.

[00:07:50.490] – Rob Brodnick

That’s pretty incredible.

[00:07:51.080] – Rob Brodnick

Any big takeaways for you, Karyn, from Season One? I mean not just simple facts but things that you kind of internalize? Things that maybe change what you do or the way you see the world.


When I when I started this, I would say, “I’m working on this podcast. It’s called the Positive Turbulence Podcast.” People go wow, cool… what the hell is that? And then I would say well you know it’s a concept and a framework blah blah blah. And on the surface, it’s really simple stuff. For instance, look to the periphery. Yeah OK. Got it. Not that hard, right? There’s nothing in there that’s “hard” to understand. And even the concept, Positive Turbulence. Oh OK. Positive change. Really easy to understand. But the more we dig, the simpler it gets, and the more complex it gets at the same time.

I can see how in own life I’ve been hanging on to stuff I could stand to let go of. Oh but I haven’t been. Why? Why am I hanging on to that stuff? Why did I hang onto that stuff? I don’t need to do that anymore. And so for me the example is okay let go some more, chill out, but also with that same thing that you were talking about that same flow state. Look at positive turbulence and the elements of it both for their simplicity and complexity at the same time.

[00:09:20.740] – Rob Brodnick

Yeah, I think they coexist and that that is both a beauty and a conundrum. Think about great singer. Let your mind go wherever you want. And I’ll pick Pavarotti not because he’s my favorite singer but because he’s in the first guy that popped into my head. You pick Ella Fitzgerald. Good. So at one point you think OK I’m here watching this performer live. It’s just a dude or a gal on stage singing. It’s the simplest thing in the world. But yet what they’re doing, and they’re doing it from different training backgrounds, one of precision and notes and singing something that’s been written and sung a thousand times and Ella you know she’s she’s singing the blues and she’s improvising on the spot but it’s just incredible. There’s a complexity there that’s hard to even wrap your arms around. But there’s a simplicity there that makes it beautiful.

[00:10:15.580] – Karyn Zuidinga

That’s a beautiful metaphor actually and that really helps me understand that feeling of simplicity and complexity at the same time. That’s a very useful metaphor for me.

[00:10:26.350] – Rob Brodnick

It’s the role of the arts. We always talk about artistic approaches and artistic thinking and creative thinking and all those kind of things. I think there’s a reason that the arts are so simple but they’re so sophisticated at the same time. And I saw a recent news article where someone at M.I.T. had gone back and taken one of Da Vinci’s most earliest drawings about a bridge. Yeah which they thought was just crazy. You know engineers saidthis wouldn’t make any sense. Then they said wait a second there’s some genius in this. There’s an artful creativity that the Da Vinci stepped into this space and created something that for hundreds of years wouldn’t make any sense, and all of a sudden, that intuition when people began to think through the complexity of it proved to be something that was extreme complexity. It was brilliance in some kind of sense. And so the simplest things becoming some of the most sophisticated.

[00:11:19.600] – Karyn Zuidinga

And it’s mind boggling when you start to start to dive down. But again when you think about simplicity, one of the episodes, it touched me so deeply, was the one we did with William Anderson [Standing in Love With Teaching] talking about teaching. His line about standing in love with what you do as his model for success. For him success isn’t about how much money you’re making, it isn’t about you know how far you get in school, or anything like that. It’s about connecting deeply with who you are and being that person all the time. And grounding in that and standing in love with it. And that episode, and the one with Emilia Wiles about Turbulating College with Confidence. I refer all the young people I know and anybody under 30, well everybody really, should listen to those [episodes] because there are lessons in there for all of us. Both of those episodes speak to that sense of connecting with who you are and really just being ok with that. And again that’s the simplest thing in the world. And people tell you that all the time how you should just be yourself. But it’s much harder and more complex than it seems.

[00:12:37.300] – Rob Brodnick

It’s a challenge for leadership I think. To lead a group, an organization, a culture, a society through turbulent change and end up in a better place it takes leadership of many different kinds. The leader that approaches a new role or a new challenge or a passion from the perspective of scripted leadership –here’s the things a leader should do, here’s your position, here’s your boundaries — versus a leader who approaches the same kind of change as an authentic leader where they are exactly who they are and whether or not they’re the right person for this, you know sometimes they are. Who they are is a world changing kind of effort. I think every leader needs to be able to step into being more authentic.

[00:13:24.770] – Karyn Zuidinga

And a person who really embodies that for me is Dave Krepcho, Banking on Positive Turbulence.

[00:13:31.230] – Rob Brodnick

Talk about an authentic leader!

[00:13:35.770] – Karyn Zuidinga

The kind of things he talks about in that episode. Like about how he wanted a community room in their new facility and how people pushed back saying you don’t put a community room in a food bank. And he’s like “no no no, what’s our vision?” Who are we? And really grounding in their vision and moving from that point. What an inspiration! Because the things they’ve been able to do, the kind of impact that they have been able to have, all comes from that really grounded place. Dave is more successful because he’s really himself. What a beautiful lesson that was.

[00:14:08.630] – Rob Brodnick

Lots of inspiration over the last several months. So where do you want to go with this Karyn. We’re going to we’re going to be searching for some Season 2 and Season 3 guests and interviewees. What are some of the things you’d like to do in the seasons that follow?

[00:14:24.350] – Karyn Zuidinga

Well, I started this with the idea that Positive Turbulence is this really cool magical thing that that when you are in it and when you connect with the flow things start to flow and that message of abundance and there’s enough and things will find their way to you if you’re really grounded in your own purpose has proven to me to be true through the course of this. But I feel like in the rest of my life, in the other places I encounter, — I’m doing a bit of work for a couple of projects in the film industry and here’s a super-creative place where people make magic on screens both big and small and they do cool, cool creative stuff. And as it’s gotta be the least creative work environment I have ever encountered. The most negatively turbulent space — Hopefully one day we influence somebody to try it a little bit differently maybe. If we can do that… I do think that what I’d love to see as we progressed through this is to create those moments of inspiration. Enough of them that people feel okay to just let go and to ground themselves into who they are and take on riding that positive wave because it’s there to ride. And that’s really my goal.

[00:15:54.290] – Karyn Zuidinga

What kind of things that I love to do next? Well you know as you know Rob, we’ve got Joe Tankersley, futurist, innovator, former Disney Imgineer on deck for Season 2 and he’s cool as beans! His whole concept about the way to look at the future through a positive lens, not a Pollyanna lens, not a lens that is false, but to craft a positive vision for your future. Because like Andrew Bennett says: what I speak I create. And Joe is just doing that on a big scale. And boy if we could get more people thinking about positive change in all sorts of ways. Wouldn’t that be crazy cool?

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[00:17:01.960] – Karyn Zuidinga

One of the themes that a lot of our guests keep bringing back is Pay Attention to the Periphery. It’s an idea that seems to be really resonating with a lot of people including Vicki Sullivan [The New Thought Leadership With ickie Sullivan]. She spends all her time scanning the periphery and what she sees when she’s talking to people is that from her perspective, they’re just not [scanning the periphery] and they could really help themselves if they were. Because they get stuck in their lane, whatever that that lane is. And I think that we all will struggle with that.

[00:17:37.450] – Rob Brodnick

Over the course of recording the first season I have to say that when Vicky started to give us her list of these things, the new thought leadership, it was probably the first and only time that I started writing down furiously what she was saying. Even though we were recording it, right? I’m like okay yeah. We’re going to be able to play this. It didn’t matter, I still had to take notes for some reason. I just got so many insights and tips from her counting down the list of the things and yeah, so that that was a moment I recall thinking back over all the interviews that we did that stood out for sure.

[00:18:14.190] – Karyn Zuidinga

She’s a unique individual for sure. Even one of her tips shows up as one of the things she did while talking to us. She talked about giving a recipe, that people love DIY so give them a recipe. And she did that for us which I thought was amazing. That’s really neat kind of circular way of approaching that.

[00:18:34.690] – Rob Brodnick

Like holding a mirror up to a mirror and you see infinity

[00:18:40.510] – Karyn Zuidinga

That was a really fun interview! I think that the other one that stands out for me in terms of that connectedness to those 10 ideas the chapter on positive turbulence was the interview we did with Jim [Albert], Flooding Insurance With Positivity. He paid real attention to communication on his team and with his investor. They kept talking and talking and talking to people until they figured they had it right. And then they went and went and sat with Lloyd’s of London and said okay, this is our thought, what do you think? They were willing to put their idea on the line over and over again until they really felt like they had something that was going to fly. And you know, sure enough, it did.

[00:19:41.170] – Rob Brodnick

As opposed to a lot of people’s idea of you know the great innovator sitting in a dark room with a bright light oncoming up with a brilliant idea. This was just the opposite. This was a really really smart person with a lot of experience and data information and and then jumping into a new industry in the insurance world and going wow I just discovered the intersection of two amazing things that I don’t think anyone else has done. But then saying I’m just going to talk to a thousand people about it until we figure it out and then emerges this brilliant company. I was amazed at that.

[00:20:17.140] – Karyn Zuidinga

All of the discussions we had have been amazing in their way. The humbleness that comes across from all these amazing innovators and turbulators that we talk to. Each and every person, there’s no big ego, anywhere.

[00:20:29.390] – Rob Brodnick

Like, hey thanks for inviting me to the podcast I’m here to turbulate you. No one approached the interview that way. It was more like I will tell my meager story maybe it’ll be interesting. Great stuff flowed from that.

[00:20:41.710] – Karyn Zuidinga

That was not a surprising thing. I wasn’t surprised by that but I was really touched by that humility that we kept encountering along the way.

[00:20:50.260] – Rob Brodnick

And you know so much of that I think emanates from the culture that Stan [Gryskewicz] created when he was going through his own explorations in the early 90s and as the ideas for what positive turbulence is and how the bookcame together the first time. That’s the tone that he brought in so many kinds of ways [has influenced] some of our guestsand many people within our community have learned from that and are really appreciative of it.

[00:21:15.070] – Karyn Zuidinga

Is there a particular element of positive turbulence that you feel like either came back a lot for you or didn’t come upasmuch as you expected? We were just talking about how Pay Attention to the Periphery came up over and over again as a thing. Was there one that was either surprising or didn’t come up enough or you thought oh hey I thought we wouldhaveheard more about that but we didn’t?

[00:21:42.070] – Rob Brodnick

Well, I think one of the ones that Stan and I wrote about was bringing positive turbulence to teams and and I think you know everyone has done that or is doing that. Whether they know it or not, or whether they’re doing it intentionally, or it’s just intuition — but a single person, it’s difficult for a single person to create change, or survive turbulence, or create turbulence — and one of the tools I think that’s really useful is sharing that. And even if you’re a lone manager inanorganization and you have three people that report to you, how can the four of you create turbulence within your world? And then how can that spread across the organization to the point where you just have a lot of people engaged in it? And so I think that’s an insight that I knew about, but that listening to our interviews over the course of season one, it kind of hammered that point home that the translation from both the mind of a single individual then to the consciousness of a team and eventually to the entire organization or a culture or society is a key element for change.

[00:22:52.150] – Karyn Zuidinga

Yeah, I certainly see that even beyond the podcast, when when I’m out in the world doing other kinds of work. The places that I go where there’s a strong team culture of positivity do better. Places that are really heavily top-down, and I’m sure you see that too, don’t do as well.

[00:23:21.680] – Rob Brodnick

One of the other tips that stood stood out for me was embracing change in terms of diversity and inclusivity. If we’re exclusive we create artificial boundaries and that does not allow for the flow of things from the periphery. The more that you open up to change and diversity and perspectives — I mean this is a lifelong practice that every individual, I think, needs to go through because there’s always a place or there’s someone we can encounter that thinks radically different than we do and if we build up opposition to these different kind of thoughts you just reduce the ability of turbulence to have a positive outcome — but the more that you are open to that and let ideas exchange and flow, and things that you may be even directly opposed to or don’t believe in, it’s really useful and helpful to make our environments as inclusive as possible and just tear down those barriers. That’s a huge driver I believe.

[00:24:25.610] – Karyn Zuidinga

I was just I was thinking about that, we all think that we’re okay. You know? “I’m fine. I’m so open minded.” But yet we do it, [put up barriers] right? And so, what I was wondering is do you have a tip or an idea, or something maybe that you’ve heard along the way in season one that you feel that’s a way to help me open up some more? A way to help me drop some of the barriers?

[00:24:54.910] – Rob Brodnick

One of the other really important tips for becoming a turbulator, or creating turbulence, in the experience of turbulence and making sure it comes out to be positive is how we use things like the arts and technology. The arts create a different mindset. It’s a playful space where creativity is just embedded, and everyone has access to it. So, the more that we can bring, maybe, what some people might consider these unnecessary, things into our work world [the better]. And the more that we think something is unnecessary the more that we really need it because it’s going to shift the mind to see the world a little differently and apply a different lens. And even with new technologies. I get really frustrated when I work with organizations and individuals in innovation, and everyone just says oh well it’s the latest app it’s gotta be about technology. Technology is important, and it shows progress over time but I don’t think technology is necessarily innovation. New technologies can really radically change the way we see the world, and it shifts thinking until it becomes a commodity. And then we’re throwing away.

[00:26:11.420] – Karyn Zuidinga

While you were talking the feeling I got I was trying to imagine going into a meeting, maybe with my clients, and talking to them about, I don’t know that the latest show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, or maybe a piece of theatre I’d seen, or you know some music that I was listening to and I immediately saw the backs kind of stiffen in my mind’s eye. I tend not to talk about the arts in that professional setting. Even though you want to try to stimulate new ideas and change because there’s that immediate push back. Oh that’s not cool music. You know the weird shit you listen to Karyn. That’s just weird stuff. Who spends her time in an art gallery? This is the feedback I get when I’m out there. So when you’re when you’re talking to people about opening the flow to arts and technology, when you’re out in the world do you have a sense of how maybe you’d pull people into that? Or is there maybe something you’ve heard along the way? Like oh there’s a there’s a cool thing?

[00:27:22.150] – Rob Brodnick

People approach different world views with a critical eye and we train people in critical thinking and it’s all good. But there is a quote that I really like that just puts that all that aside and says you need to be open to experience. I think it was said by a famous musician could have been David Byrne or or Frank Frank Zappa or someone else. “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” [It’s not 100% where the original quote came from but Quote Investigator links it back to an article in the New Repulic in 1918]

It was probably written to some critic [by some musician] saying you can’t experience music through writing about it and surely don’t review my album, you know, with your lens of critical because while architecture is a great form of artistic expression, I’m not sure we can understand it through dance. I don’t know. I’d love to try. So when I suggest something off the wall or someone comes up with an idea [the trick is] to force yourself not to let your biases take over what you’re going to say next. This is really really important. Just step back and, you know, say “what if” and give it some space and you’ll take something out of it. It might not be what the the person wanted you to take out of it but you’re gonna take something ou tthat has some kind of meaning. So give yourself the space and then shift to meaning making mode. I think that’s where all the brilliant stuff comes from.

[00:28:46.200] – Karyn Zuidinga

Back to Meaning Making with Mary McBride!.

[00:28:53.890] – Rob Brodnick

You know that I was thinking back that. It was our first interview after we did our sound testing, and other things, and got our technology worked out. It was somewhere over the winter break between Christmas and New Year’s, and that was our first podcast recording. As Mary does with everyone she meets, she touches you in a very slight and subtle way and changes your life forever. Having the opportunity to record that that first podcast interview with her really, I think, set you and I in wonderful motion.

[00:29:23.980] – Karyn Zuidinga

I get a little shiver down my spine when I think about it.

[00:29:26.230] – Rob Brodnick

Well, it’s been an amazing journey, and we’ve only done one season. It’s going to be great to think back after five years. Where is all this going to go?

[00:29:34.210] – Karyn Zuidinga

You asked me what’s changed for me. Has something changed for you?

[00:29:38.310] – Rob Brodnick

I think so. It’s a little bit of letting go in the sense of we want to have certain outcomes. We want this to be a wonderful thing. But the more that we try to make that happen is probably decreasing our chances of success. And one thing I’ve learned is the more that we let go and listen to others, and maybe poke and prod every once in a while, but for the most part, let them find a way to help them tell their story. It’s that letting go. It’s been a really good learning for me.

[00:30:09.060] – Karyn Zuidinga

Yeah, it has been [for me too]. Absolutely. That’s another thing that keeps showing up, doesn’t it?

[00:30:19.380] – Sponsor Message

Thank you to AMI, who have nurtured us in developing this podcast, is the source of so many of our guests, and of course, the founder Stan Gryskiewicz is also the author of the original book, and dare I say… the Prime Mover of Positive Turbulence.

[00:30:32.950] – Sponsor Message

AMI as a pioneering non-profit organization comprised of committed individuals who foster and leverage creativity and innovation in organizations and society. AMI identifies leading-edge innovation, shares experiences, sponsors research and recognizes innovation and creative processes. Find out more at

And thank you to Mack Avenue Music Group, our contributing sponsor, for providing our podcast soundtrack Night Sunrise.

[00:31:02.720] – Karyn Zuidinga

That brings us to the end of Season One. We’ll be back with Season Two in early 2020. We loved connecting with you and look forward to doing so again in Season Two. In the meantime head over to We’re launching a Positive Turbulence Publication, called Pub; soon, there’s a very cool and very diverse reading list, more info about each episode so far, not to mention more about us!

Until next season, keep the turbulence positive!