Exploring Inclusiveness at University of Southern California

I don’t know what kind of a sign it is when you’re getting ready to leave for California and your plane is struck by lightning, but I chose to interpret it as a good one. Much better than a cup of coffee, Melbourne sent me off with a jolt of energy from the heavens! My destination? The University of Southern California and specifically, their superbly talented finance team. I had been fortunate to meet the Chief Financial Officer of USC sometime before at a Toronto Corporate Conference. He had mentioned that he’d love to have me come to the U.S. to meet with his team. The day had finally come and I was off to an electrifying start, so to speak!  

California, here I come! The beautiful Terranea Resort was the site of our workshop.

California, here I come! The beautiful Terranea Resort was the site of our workshop.

Feels Like Home To Me

Nothing could have prepared me for the beauty that awaited when I arrived at the university campus. There are certain places in the world where you just feel comfortable. Maybe the town you grew up in or your Aunt’s house on a summer holiday. Never did I expect a campus to feel as welcoming as home, and yet it did. The sun on my face felt like home. The people around me felt like home. And as if tossing an extra bonus, I learned that I would be co facilitating our workshop with a dear friend I had met in Cincinnati -- Charles Holmes. Charles and I had always wanted to work together and after agreeing our philosophies for group development were very similar, we set the intention that someday we would. Without knowing any of this, the Chief Financial Officer of USC had determined that we should partner and brought him in as well. What a wonderful turn of events!

Meeting the Dream Team

Prior to my departure both Charles and l had taken the time to reach out to each member of the finance team and learned a bit about the group dynamic-- this was an amazing collection of individuals. What interested me most was that they already had many common goals. Despite being interviewed separately, they resoundingly expressed the same desire. They were pretty much saying, “Let’s find out more about ourselves and each other.” I could not have been more thrilled with that discovery. Furthermore, they were all conscious of the desire to elevate their team performance and were very aware that their roles within the university had lasting impact on students, faculty and yes...the world!  What more could you ask for in a group? They were like the dream team!


As we settled in for the workshop at the beautiful Terranea Resort, I began to think about one of the key reasons I had been so eager to visit the University of Southern California. It was something in the USC President’s speech on the subject of inclusiveness:

“If we lose our inclusive spirit we lose ourselves.”

What a timely message. Here I was, wandering around a big university, yet I felt at home. How does that happen? It happens through the sincere willingness of others to offer a warm welcome to a stranger. I had been welcomed with a spirit of inclusiveness.


We all need to be part of a community. Whether it’s your neighborhood, your corporation or your finance team, communities are pathways to human happiness. And it just so happens you can’t just create strategies for economic growth without taking into account the needs of colleagues, faculty and students. Cultivating a warm, inclusive environment is a top priority. And here I was with a group who wanted to deepen and strengthen that skill-- wow.

I am so grateful to have had the experience of working with such a lovely and talented group at University of Southern California. Not long after our workshop I received a lovely message: 

"Thank you for providing our leadership team at USC a glimpse into a world where the scope of what can be created is limitless. Thank you for allowing us to imagine that we all have the ability to manifest everything and that our life can be the end result our highest dreaming, our highest intent!"

I’d like to thank USC for their spirit of inclusiveness and will certainly be thinking of how I felt in their care the next time I welcome a newcomer to my group.