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Movie Review: Blizzard of Souls * A Cinematic Masterpiece and Oscar Submission from Latvia

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Movie Review: Blizzard of Souls * A Cinematic Masterpiece and Oscar Submission from Latvia

Based on true events and the novel by Aleksandrs Grins, which was forbidden in the USSR, the film follows a coming-of-age story of a sixteen-year-old Arthur. After the loss of his mother, he enlists to fight in WWI with dreams of becoming a hero, but after surviving the brutalities of trench warfare and the loss of his family, he wonders if his efforts in battle were futile and if hope is only to be found in rebuilding a family and a home as Latvia itself is born from the atrocities of war.

Blizzard Of Souls was directed by Dzintars Dreibergs and written by Dreibergs and Boriss Frumins. The film was produced by Inga Pranevska and Dzintars Dreibergs for KULTFILMA, and associate produced by Gatis Sniedziņš. Ilona Bičevska serves as International Producer. It was edited by Gatis Belogrudovs and composed by Lolita Ritmanis. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A cinematic masterpiece and the Oscar submission from the Baltic nation of Latvia, Blizzard of Souls will take you through a rollercoaster of emotions while providing you with a thorough history lesson!” See his full review below.

Blizzard of Souls

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

A cinematic masterpiece and the Oscar submission from the Baltic nation of Latvia, Blizzard of Souls will take you through a rollercoaster of emotions while providing you with a thorough history lesson! With echoes of 1917, Blizzard of Souls has masterful editing and cinematography, incredible sets and locations, and a talented cast, but falls a bit short on explaining major events in the First World War.

KULTFILMA took inspiration from true events and the novel by Grins to create Blizzard of Souls, which follows a teenage boy named Arturs Vanags in Russian-controlled Latvia (around the 1910s). Arturs’ father was a highly decorated commander of a regiment of the Latvian army, and his brother Edgars is focused on carrying on that legacy. He’s not exactly a fighter, but when his mother is killed by the Germans, Arturs, his brother, and his father conscript in the national Latvian Riflemen battalions of the Imperial Russian army in hopes of getting revenge and finding glory. He experiences many loves and losses in battle, after which he, among other soldiers, grows weary of the Tsarist cause and feels forgotten. Arturs must decide whether to stay with his regiment or defect and join his comrades in fighting the Latvian War of Independence and start his life all over again. As you can see, there’s a lot happening in the film, and it’s an intriguing plotline. Though I am a history buff, I’m not at the top of my game when it comes to Latvian war history, so I was really hoping for some time or battle markers; all of the battles seemed to blend together, save for the final conflict Arturs is involved in – the Battle of Cesis.

The cast and crew shine in this Baltic beauty. Oto Brantevics and Raimonds Celms play the brothers Vanags, with Oto as Arturs and Raimonds as Edgars. Raimond is a more experienced actor, but Oto really shines in his performance, with perfectly toned emotions and dialogue. Their on-screen father is played by Martins Vilsons, whose cerebral, tough personality gives way (at the perfect time) to paternal love. And the Vanags’ friends in the film, Mikelsons and Konrads, are played by Jēkabs Reinis and Gatis Gaga, who excel in their supporting roles with pointed humor and emulating the characters’ focused, yet free personalities. Behind the scenes, Dzintars Dreibergs directed the film meticulously, with a keen eye on historical accuracy and believability. The music in the film, which majestically introduces and drives the action in each scene, was composed by Lolita Ritmanis. The soundtrack is definitely one of my favorite parts of the film. Another beautiful element of Blizzard of Souls is the cinematography by Valdis Celmiņš; viewers can tell that each shot was thoughtfully planned out. There is a large part of one battle sequence that was shot and edited in one take, which really helps the speed of the film.

The message of Blizzard of Souls is one of growth; Arturs grows from a young boy to a mature hero throughout this film and has to make many tough decisions along the way. It’s a positive and relatable message, as we all grow as people throughout our lives. There are some scenes for parents to watch out for though; there’s a lot of blood and gore, some nudity and profanity (given the culture of trench warfare).

I give Blizzard of Souls 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Adults will enjoy this film as well. Blizzard of Souls is out in theatres and on DVD now!

‘Presilience’ Part 2 – w/ Dr. Gavriel Schneider

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Variety
‘Presilience’ Part 2 – w/ Dr. Gavriel Schneider

Join me August 12, 2021 at 9am EST!

Part 2 of my talk with Dr. Gavriel Schneider on Presilience. Presilience is a different way of viewing resilience, in individuals and organizations. Join me as I talk with acknowledged subject matter expert on human centric and Integrated Risk Management, Safety and Security, Dr. Gavriel Schneider. Dr. Schneider has extensive senior level management and leadership experience, and talks to us about how the current compliance-based resiliency approach of organizational leaders needs to change. Presilience is about the ongoing use of skills in a way to better your response to risk, whether it is an opportunity, crisis or emergency. It’s not just the commonplace way of utilizing risk management to create a ‘response plan’; it allows you and your organization to be better positioned even after you’ve experienced an adverse situation. It’s another real eye-opener of a chat, so don’t miss this episode and don’t forget to check out Part 1 which aired 2021-07-08!

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A Practical Guide to Building Supply Chain Resilience w/ Paul Raw

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A Practical Guide to Building Supply Chain Resilience w/ Paul Raw

Join me September 16, 2021 at 9am EST!

Supply Chain Management and building resiliency within your supply chain is more than thinking about finding alternate suppliers. I talk with recognized Supply Chain Management industry expert Paul Raw, about what really makes up a good Supply Chain Management system and the considerations that organizations often overlook – or don’t even know about. We’ll touch on how the supply chain can be managed effectively using risk identification and risk management practices. Paul will also talk about he Resiliency Cycle (Prevention, Mitigation, Preparation, Response, Recovery) using real-world examples and some personal experiences. Paul takes Supply Chain Management and Resiliency into a much more detailed world.

Don’t miss it!

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Floogals: Season One * Mini Aliens Help Preschoolers Discover How The World Works

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Movie Reviews
Floogals: Season One * Mini Aliens Help Preschoolers Discover How The World Works

Join the Floogals on a mission of discovery as they explore Earth and the funny hoomans who live there! The show centers on three three-inch tall extraterrestrials called Floogals who have come to Earth to study its inhabitants. Upon landing, a human boy, thinking their spaceship is a toy, hangs their craft onto the ceiling of his bedroom. The Floogals, however, don’t seem to mind as they carry on with their studying. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Giana N. comments, “The DVD Floogals: Season One is a collection of episodes from the animated children’s TV show that teaches kids about new things in a fun way. The characters are colorful and fun, and they never run out of new things to explore. This show is entertaining and interesting, which is perfect for a younger audience. Kayla A. adds, “The theme song of the show is very catchy. I could see myself listening to it multiple times. My favorite character is Boomer, voiced by Hugo Harold-Harrison, because he is funny, caring and kind of silly and that makes him even funnier.” See their full reviews below.

Floogals: Season One

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9

https://youtu.be/Ww1KKmS3ad8

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The DVD Floogals: Season One is a collection of episodes from the animated children’s TV show that teaches kids about new things in a fun way. The characters are colorful and fun, and they never run out of new things to explore. This show is entertaining and interesting, which is perfect for a younger audience. The show is about tiny aliens named Fleeker, Flo and Boomer who are from the planet Floog. After coming to Earth, they observe and learn new things every day. As the aliens roam around the “hoomans” house, they learn about things that people use, such as a balloon, flashlight, and a trumpet. After the aliens are done investigating and learning all about the new objects, they send a report back to their home planet Floog. If the other aliens like their report, the aliens get a sticker. The aliens go to sleep and get ready to learn something new the next day.

The theme song of the show is very catchy. I could see myself listening to it multiple times. My favorite character is Boomer, voiced by Hugo Harold-Harrison, because he is funny, caring and kind of silly and that makes him even funnier. For example, at the end of each episode, after the aliens send their report to Floog, Boomer either makes a joke or does something funny to make the audience laugh. The storylines are easy to follow because they help kids learn about basic things, such as a doll, a cast, and a tent. Also, the aliens don’t use big words; they use words that young children will know and understand. Many animated kids’ shows don’t show a contrast between cartoons and humans, so that part is pretty cool.

The message of Floogals is you can learn something new with everything you do. There is always a way to learn something, even if you don’t notice it. This is totally kid-friendly.

Floogals: Season One is a great DVD to watch! I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. The DVD releases on January 19, 2021. Go check it out!

Floogals: Season One

By Kayla A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

https://youtu.be/T71dK-_Qt7w

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The DVD Floogals: Season One is a collection of episodes from the fantastic animated TV show Floogals. It is perfect for young children with its fun, playful storyline. It’s very kid-friendly and enjoyable for other family members to watch as well. I like how short each episode is. Parents don’t want their young children watching screens all day, and these short episodes combat that problem.The storyline follows the Floogals, a team of intergalactic alien explorers named Captain Fleeker, Junior Boomer and First Officer Flo, who travel to Earth to learn more about its wonders. In each episode, the Floogals find different objects that the “hoomans” use, learn more about them and report back to their planet.

This voice-acting in this show is very enjoyable. Ramus Hardiker (Captain Fleeker), Jules de Jongh (First Officer Flo) and Hugo Harold-Harrison (Junior Boomer) perfectly portray explorer aliens on a whole new planet. Their voice-acting really brings life to the characters in this show. Also, I love the animation, which is full of bright colors and perfect for young kids. Lastly, I love the theme song. It’s really catchy and has a memorable tune.

I think the message of this film about exploring. The show really encourages kids to ask questions and be curious.

I rate Floogals: Season One 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 4 to 6. This DVD is available January 19, 2021.

Cyber Resilience and Leveraging AI in Business Continuity

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Variety
Cyber Resilience and Leveraging AI in Business Continuity

Join me September 30, 2021 at 9am EST!

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming a key component in many components of our daily lives and that includes Technology Plans and Business Continuity Management. I talk with longtime security expert Agnidipta (Agni) Sarkar about how AI can help the BC industry in the future and what AI is doing for us now. Agni will also talk to us about Cyber Resilience, and how it differs from Cybersecurity. He will provide an overview of what organization’s need to have in place to address Cyber attacks (e.g. Ransomware) prior to any actual instance occurring.

An informative chat about AI and Cyber Resilience you don’t want to miss!

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Three Problems of Power—Problem Three: Distance and Dehumanization

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Business
Three Problems of Power—Problem Three: Distance and Dehumanization

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This blog is provided by Margaret Heffernan, author of the book, “Uncharted: How to Map the Future Together.”  Margaret’s interview is also part of the International Leadership Association Interview Series.   It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled “Uncharted: How to Map the Future Together” that aired on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021. The past two weeks have featured the first two problems.  Problem one was Pleasing and problem two was Silence and Blindness.  This is the final week of the series.

 

Problem Three: Distance and Dehumanization

When CEO of Lehman Brothers, Richard Fuld was driven from his home to a heliport, then helicoptered into Manhattan, driven in another limo to the bank’s offices where a private elevator sent him up to his office. This ornate commute ensconced him in a physical bubble that no weak signals or accidental encounters could penetrate. This physical manifestation of power may look like luxury but it comes at a cost. The bubble of power seals off bad news, inconvenient detail, hostile opinion and messy reality, leaving leaders free to inhale the rarefied air of pure abstraction. Like the cave dwellers of Plato’s parable, the powerful risk mistaking shadows for reality.  Power inserts distance between those who have it and those who do not. It determines whether you fly in the peaceful isolation of a private jet or the middle row in economy, next to the mother who needs help with her restless child. Power lets you, like the Google founders, arrive at meetings via paraglider, not stuck in San Francisco traffic.

The physical distance experienced by the powerful is amplified by the psychological distance of hierarchies. Frances Miliken, who helped to pioneer the research into organizational silence, also studied how those in power communicate differently from those without it. Her language analysis showed a more common use of abstractions and a tendency to over-optimism. Experimentation showed that people given power demonstrate more stereotyped thinking. Further from the action, reinforced by a sense of their own capability, the combination of power, optimism and abstraction made them more confident of their own judgement. The more cut off from others, the more certain they were of their decisions about people and detail they did not know.

That it is a problem is obvious in catastrophes like the COVID pandemic and Hurricane Katrina or, in the UK, the fire at Grenfell Tower. In each case (and there are many more) big decisions are made by confident, optimistic people who think largely in abstraction. Some even regard this as an asset, as when one executive recently suggested to me that it would be better for layoffs to be decided by leaders too far from the action to know the people impacted by their decisions. Distance, dehumanization were seen as assets.

This is the third problem of power. Its status and rewards erode judgement. This isn’t wholly inevitable; a few leaders I’ve known have had the humility and tenacity to fight it, to reach into, rather than over, the crowd. But it is phenomenally difficult to disbelieve the worship of the crowd. If the world chooses to throw all these goodies my way, it must be because I’m worth it — mustn’t it?

I retain a visceral memory of this from the 1990s. Running tech companies, I saw many of my friends and colleagues get rich fast. They went from pretty humdrum individuals in January to exhilarated millionaires by June. And most of them believed the money.

It confirmed that they were special. They’d always thought that might be true, but here was proof. The rare few just put the money away and carried on before. When I asked them, saying they’d been lucky. They didn’t believe the money, seeing it instead as a market fluke. But most got sucked into a reaffirming circle: more money, more power, more confidence, greater distance from the crowd.

They make — and we make — the same mistake: an attribution error. It’s logical, but not necessarily true, that the success of an organization owes something to its figurehead. But how much? Did GE flourish because of Jack Welch or has it failed because of his legacy? Did Apple succeed after Steve Jobs’s return because of his unique magic, or did his hapless competitors’ lame innovation play a role? In the statistically implausible 41 quarters out of 42 that Microsoft met or beat its market forecast, was that the genius of Bill Gates or of his accounting team? If Johnson & Johnson is so well run, how did its role in the opioid scandal occur? If Fred Goodwin was, as celebrated by a Harvard Business School case study, the “master of acquisition,” why did the Bank have to be rescued by the U.K. government?

You can’t run the experiment. It’s impossible to cut the company in half and run half with one leader and half with another. So it is beguilingly simple to attribute success to the powerful individual at the top. And it is supremely difficult for most people, at the height of their power, to see how much their success owes to circumstance, the talents of others, the weakness of competition and to sheer luck. Easier to believe the money. Easier to believe the power.

Such attribution errors flourish in part because we feed them. Believing that a company or a country succeeds or fails because of one mighty person is simple and alleviates our anxiety. It turns a complex world into a simple narrative: we have only to change the person to change the story. Context, apparently, counts for nothing.

The problems of power are damaging not only for those with power — but for the rest of us too. The more we believe in the leadership myths, the more we absolve ourselves of responsibility and action: just wait for Superman or Superwoman to turn up, and everything will be fine. The costly investment in leadership training (said to be over $300 billion) is a sign not of its effectiveness but our urgent desire to simplify and to believe. Critics argue most of this money has no effect. The reality may be worse than that: worshipping leaders may exacerbate the problem it pretends to fix. As long as we believe in leaders, we need not examine our own failure to act on our values and insight.

Of course, all three problems of power feed each other. Failure to learn to think for oneself makes us more credulous of leadership, and it can paralyze those given power. Absence of conflict and debate perpetuates the problem. And if we make it to the top, years of passivity and conventional wisdom make it likely we will believe in our own celebration. This risks making us more aggressive; it can also make leaders justifiably afraid.

I’ve always been wary of the concept of leadership. In part, this was a language problem: when translated, the words duce and fuhrer had unpleasant connotations. We used to talk about bosses or managers but in the late 1970s, that started to change. This is also the period when American economic inequality began to increase markedly. Since then, the clamor for leadership has grown louder as inequality has become more pronounced. The expectation that a sole individual can, singlehandedly, alter complex realities has inflamed faith and guaranteed disappointment.

It’s time for a reset.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Margaret Heffernan is the author of the best-selling UNCHARTED: How to Map the Future Together, nominated for a Financial Times Best Business Book award. She is a Professor of Practice at the University of Bath, Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute’s Responsible Leadership Programme and, through Merryck & Co., mentors CEOs and senior executives of major global organizations. She is the author of six books and her TED talks have been seen by over twelve million people.

Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash

Know Yourself, Know Your Stuff, Know Your Systems (Dr Aart Anhal)

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Variety
Know Yourself, Know Your Stuff, Know Your Systems (Dr Aart Anhal)

Join me September 9/21, at 9am EST!

Do you want to be better at what you do? Do you want stronger Organizational Resilience? Do you want stronger Risk Management practices? Join me as I talk with Dr. Aarti Anhal about how we can use personal reflection to help us increase our personal resilience, reach our optimal performance, and increase organization resilience. Dr. Anhal will also provide some insights and tips for how managers and leaders can use feedback – often seen as a negative thing – to help their team members focus on and play to their strengths. Dr. Anhal helps us understand how these psychological aspects helps organizations deal with crisis situations, and to help build strong crisis team leaders and members.

An enlightening episode you don’t want to miss.

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6 Useful Applications of AI & Machine Learning in Your Business Processes

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Business
6 Useful Applications of AI & Machine Learning in Your Business Processes

As human intelligence continues to progress, we see new and more sophisticated technologies, and AI is its latest manifestation. Artificial intelligence (AI) has gained a lot of recognition in the past few years. AI is one of the greatest technologies developed by humanity. Many businesses were quick to grab it because of how many opportunities it offers them for significant development.

AI machines are quick to produce accurate answers to any question in the company via data analysis. AI machines also save time and money. Because they can work for more than 24 hours without feeling tired, needing to rest, or getting bored with the repetitive tasks they must perform.

Interesting Facts about AI:

  • The global AI market is expected to have reached a revenue of 118 billion dollars by 2025, according to the market research firm, Tractica.
  • Servion Global Solutions stated that AI would facilitate 95% of customer interactions in 2025
  • The global AI software market is expected to reach a staggering 22.6 billion dollars and grow approximately 54% year-on-year based on a recent 2020 report from Statista.

Here are 6 useful applications of AI & machine learning in business processes:

1.     Use of AI in Ecommerce

AI is used when providing recommendations for your customers based on their browsing history and interests. AI’s ability to remember consumer preferences will allow your company to attract the right audience and convert them into loyal customers.

E-commerce companies have a lot of trouble in dealing with credit card frauds. AI eases their troubles and decreases the number of credit card frauds by checking if the transaction matches with the cardholder’s profile; if it doesn’t match, then the card is blocked.

2.     Use of AI in Navigation

AI is commonly used by logistics companies for examining roads, optimizing paths, and improving operational efficiency. Based on research by MIT, GPS technology uses a mixture of Graph Neural Network and Convolutional Neural Network that allows detecting the number of lanes and roads behind obstacles. It also provides users with properly researched information to improve safety.  It can help delivery service providers to reduce their shipping times and costs.

3.     Use of AI in Healthcare Departments

Healthcare departments use AI to examine different chronic conditions to ensure early diagnosis with lab and other medical data. Based on this research, they will be able to create medicines to treat these chronic diseases. For example, a renowned AI tech company PathAI leverages machine learning to help pathologists diagnose and treat cancer.

Virtual nurses were also made using AI. Their job is to monitor patients, assist in the daily activities, and deliver medication. They can interact with the patient and give information and solutions without the need for a doctor.

An AI-based symptom and cure finder, Buoy Health, uses algorithms and deep learning to treat ailments. It applies a chatbot that listens to a patient’s health concerns, then guides that patient for the correct treatment based on that diagnosis. Harvard Medical School is one of the various medical centers that use Buoy AI.

4.     Use of AI in Social Media Marketing

Businesses are incomplete without digital marketing in 2021, and social media is an essential facet of this modern promotional strategy. Brands depend on social media to keep in touch with their targeted audiences. With machine learning in social media platforms, businesses can target the right niche with their marketing strategies.

Below are a few examples of Social media platforms that use AI:

  • Instagram

AI on Instagram focuses on what kind of posts you’ve liked and searched. Based on this data, the software uses algorithms to customize your explore tab with similar posts.

  • Twitter

Twitter uses AI to recommend tweets that users would enjoy reading, judging by the type of tweets that they like to interact with and accounts they follow. It is also used for fraud detection and removes hateful and inappropriate content.

  • Facebook

Facebook implements AI, along with an application called DeepText. This software reads and understands textual based content such as comments, posts, and messages. It can report instances in which bad language was used and can translate content into different languages.

5.     Use of AI in Farming

Various metrics need to be recorded for crop growth. Farmers can easily analyze various conditions such as weather, temperature, water usage, and soil quality with the use of AI. AI will help them make better decisions for the growth of their crops.

Usage of AI in improving the quality of crops is called precision agriculture. This aids in detecting diseases in crops, pests, and poor plant nutrition. It helps in the detection and killing of weeds with the use of the right herbicides.

6.     Use of AI in Marketing

With machine learning, AI systems can recognize search request patterns for streamlining advertisements according to the target audience’s interests. It will enable businesses to send advertisements at the right time, preventing customers from getting irritated.

Many businesses implement chatbots to aid customers if they require assistance in conducting transactions, placing an order, or asking brand relevant questions. According to Intercom, businesses using chatbots saw an average 67% hike in their sales, with 26% of all sales beginning from a chatbot interaction.

 Conclusion

With AI’s ability to collect and learn from large sums of data, they are revolutionizing how businesses run. Small companies are using simulations to achieve their business goals. Large enterprises are supporting this technology to solve arising problems. Research in Data Sciences is driving this machine learning tech to allow organizations to grow and face challenges on a global level.

Future Proof Business Continuity Audits

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Variety
Future Proof Business Continuity Audits

Join me September 2, 2021 at 9am EST!

Audit is not the bad thing many would believe. Audit can actually help us with our Business Continuity Management (BCM) programs to develop stronger response plans and incident investigations. I talk with IT Audit expert Mark Fenech, who will provide insights on how BCM – and an organization in general – can leverage Audit practices and personnel. We’ll chat about recommendations vs observations, where Audit can get involved with incident investigations, and even the differences between auditing documentation and applications. Mark will also help us prepare for an audit by providing some tips on what kinds of documentation and information Audit seeks. Make the Audit department your ally, and listen in to learn how Audit can help bolster your BCM programs.

Enjoy!

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Diversity & Inclusion: How to be an Ally for Org. Resilience

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Variety
Diversity & Inclusion: How to be an Ally for Org. Resilience

Join me August 19/21, 9am EST!

Organizational Resilience is so much more than what we think. Have you ever thought about Diversity & Inclusion (D&I), as being a contributing factor to creating a sense of resiliency? Join me as I talk with award-winning diversity and inclusion expert Lucile Kamar, as we chat about D&I; what it is, how you can contribute to it, and how to recognize it. We’ll also learn about how our unconscious biases contribute to creating a non-inclusive environment, hindering an organization’s ability to create a resilient environment. Lucile provides some incredible insights in how D&I contributes to resilience, with tips and suggestions you don’t want to miss.

Enjoy!

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