Walking the Talk: Shift Starts Here

The Evolution of Salon 360˚

Our initial intent for Salon 360˚ was to mimic the Salons of Enlightenment that sprang up in 18th-century France. People came together in those salons to discuss topics ranging from science and literature to politics and religion without fear of persecution.

Walking the Talk: Time for Shift to Happen?

We also had in mind Chautauqua, a movement in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that was similar in some ways to the Salons of Enlightenment, named for Chautauqua Lake in New York State, at which the movement originated.

Robert Pirsig wrote this of the kind of inquiry he desired to conduct in his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

“What is in mind is a sort of Chautauqua … like the traveling tent-show Chautauquas that used to move across America … an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer … In this Chautauqua, I would like not to cut any new channels of consciousness but simply dig deeper into old ones that have become silted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale and platitudes too often repeated … “What is best?” [is] a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream … Now the stream of our common consciousness seems to be obliterating its own banks, losing its central direction and purpose, flooding the lowlands, disconnecting and isolating the highlands, and to no particular purpose other than the wasteful fulfillment of its own internal momentum. Some channel deepening seems called for.”

In our initial attempt to deepen the channel, we now realize we attempted to run before we could walk. We took on a topic — racism — that is, in fact, symptomatic of a more fundamental topic — ineffective communication. We learned, especially through your feedback from the last Salon session, that we need to address causes before we can remedy effects.

We’re Listening & Learning

Here’s some of the more instructive and telling feedback:

  1. This subject was a struggle. I couldn’t figure out how to apply what we got out of learning more about each other to what we can/should do to address the challenges and the changes we want to make in the world.
  2. People in 360°/HumansFirst share values. What do we do outside of these safe circles?
  3. How do we approach people who may not share our values or think like us?
  4. How do we ask questions that don’t seem judgmental or offensive?
  5. When something that hits our core is expressed, what to do at that moment?

This is great feedback for five reasons:

  • #1 indicates the problem we have with communication.
  • #2 suggests we’ve created something of an echo chamber. It also suggests we need to break out of safe circles to make meaningful progress.
  • #3 implies good news (a willingness to approach others) and bad news (assumptions about their values and/or a failure to recognize shared values).
  • #4 indicates the need for mindfulness in both parties to a conversation: Questioners need to be mindful of refraining from judgmental or offensive language. And listeners need to be willing to consider what they find judgmental or offensive and why.
  • #5 proves the truth of #4.

Shift Starts Here

With all of that under our belts, we’re going to shift our approach starting with our next Salon session. Rather than going into breakout rooms, we’ll remain in one room together. We’ll ask specific questions and give specific examples of situations that illustrate the points above. We’ll come to know each other better. And we’ll come to know ourselves better by our responses to what transpires.

Please register below to join us for our next Salon 360˚, where Shift Happens.



Dennis Pitocco
Dennis Pitocco
DENNIS is the Founder & Chief ReImaginator of 360° Nation, encompassing a wide range of multimedia enterprises, including BizCatalyst 360° —the award-winning global media digest; 360° Nation Studios —dedicated to reaching across the world in an effort to capture, produce, and deliver positive, uplifting messages via blockbuster global events, and; GoodWorks 360° —a pro-bono consulting foundation focused entirely on providing mission-critical advisory services to nonprofits worldwide. Collaborating with his Chief Inspiration Officer (and wife), Ali, everything they do is "for-good" vs. "for-profit". Their mission over the past decade-plus has been to rediscover humanity at its best, influencing and showcasing it every step of the way. Together, they do their very best to figure out what the world is trying to be —then using all their resources to help it to be better every day in every way. They understand and embrace the notion that it’s not about me or you; it’s about caring for the people we serve and more responsibly stewarding the precious resources in our care. And they believe it’s about showing up, being present, and intentionally giving our invaluable gifts of time, talent, and treasure "for good". Dennis is a contributing author to the Best-Selling Books ♦ Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational ChangeJourney Well, You Are More Than EnoughThe Four-Fold Formula For All Things Wellness: True Stories of the Heart, Spirit, Mind, and Body.

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  1. The spirit of the Time feels the vibes of a spontaneous change at every click of its travel . If the moment of start of a change exists , it’s now and now only . The waves of change require fine tuning by way of contemplating the thoughts with a speed and evolve a change.
    Thank you very much for sharing your Wisdom here for evolving goodness on the Globe and Spreading it for continuity in the path of evolving greater Goodness

  2. Dennis, I think the feedback you have gotten is interesting as is your interpretation of it.

    Now, Interesting is a good word, isn’t it? It covers all sorts of sins. To me it signals a willingness to engage more with the subject – deepening the river.

    When I see a feedback like “People in 360°/HumansFirst share values. What do we do outside of these safe circles?” I yell Hurrah!!

    What I saw in the Salon was a shared value of “respect for the idea that we could learn more by listening to each other.” Not that everything we otherwise believe in could be cloned from one person to the next. Not at all. But we could find common ground IN SPITE of having different values BECAUSE we listened.

    And I guess that sort of answers the question in the feedback and addresses some of the other feedback points as well.

    But to me, that is not an echo chamber.

    And that leads me to a parallel to your reply to point 4, Dennis. Why did you jump to “echo chamber” based on one person’s unqualified feedback. With this I don’t say that the person was unqualified to give feedback, but that the feedback didn’t qualify which values that person felt were generally shared. (Just to illustrate that words can have many meanings and it is very easy to default to believe they are judgmental.)

    In my experience, the safety of the circle is not because we all think alike but because we don’t have a lot of shared history outside the circle that creates wrong assumptions. It does make it difficult to take the experience out to our close connections – testing relatives and friends with frictions – but the only behavior we can control is our own. And the Salon is as good a practice field as any.

    So thank you to the whole team for creating this space and to the participants for being willing to listen.

    See you there.

    • First and foremost, thank you for investing time in this discussion, Charlotte as your candor is precisely that which we hope to evoke from all Salon participants. And ideally – not because of a post-Salon Survey, but as part of open, honest, and candid feedback in the midst of the gathering. Another learning over the course of the 3 past Salons is that far too many folks are more comfortable on the sidelines versus on the frontline of real dialogue and far too many folks expect a kumbaya session, where agreement is the objective versus focusing on adult conversation where it’s OK to agree to disagree so long as the exchanges are respectful and so long as the objective is to seek understanding (and perhaps an opportunity for enlightenment). And as mentioned within the article, we need to be equipped to swim constructively before we “deepen the river” with all those elephants that should be invited into the room for timely, topical, and forward-looking discussion. It’s not about how we got here, but rather what each of us is going to do when we leave here, one voice, one action, one conversation at a time. Ripples of change, indeed. Grateful for your commentary and for joining us at the Salon, my friend.

  3. Thank you for this, Dennis. I appreciate the transparency of your/our efforts in this area. Here are some questions that come to mind when it comes to making a difference in the realm of social justice, racism and breaking barriers.

    1. What have you seen someone say or do that you felt made a positive impact? – What was it about their approach that you think mattered most?

    2. What kind of well-intended efforts have you observed that didn’t land well? What can we learn from that?

    3. As we start a new year, what are three things that you believe everyone in this group could/should consider doing each month to make a meaningful difference.

    4. What is the single most important takeaway you’ve had from our time together?

    Sadly, when I registered for the next session I saw that I have a scheduling conflict that I can’t change. I am sorry I won’t be with you all. I do hope that someone will send out some key takeaways for those of us who can’t make it. I know nothing replaces being there… but I will take what I can get.