Alan Webber is the cofounding editor of Fast Company magazine and was the editorial director and managing editor of the Harvard Business Review. He has worked in federal, state, and local government, writing speeches and focusing on innovative policy initiatives, and is the author of Rules of Thumb: 52 Truth for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self.
Question: What do we need to be talking about as a people?
Alan Webber: I am a huge advocate, an apostle for a new national conversation. You can make that sounds so somber and so austere that it’s a big turn-off, “Oh, we need a new national conversation, we must all be beard strokers.” That ain’t it.
I’m talking about people sitting down in their own neighborhoods, their own communities, and talking about making sense about what’s going on around us. And not being willing to settle for eco-chamber sound bytes from major media news platforms that are preaching a particular point of view or that’s okay, take that as a point of departure.
I’m taking about individuals, communities, families, business groups, professions, sitting down and using the opportunity for a cup of coffee on a regular basis or a web cast on a regular basis to stage their own talk show where they ask a new question, why are we doing this? Do you we know what we’re doing? Does it matter? Are we achieving something that contributes? Do we have the right questions here? Are we even plugged in to the right questions? That conversation, if America--and America is still the most powerful country in the world--engages in that question, exercise, that’s got a real power to it and real urgency to it. So I opt for finding a way to get that to happen whether it’s through a book project, a video project, a web engagement, however you do it, don’t be too serious, don’t be self-important, try to relax and take a breath and enjoy the ride but get into the game of talking about the future you want to create and then how would you do it, how would you go about creating it.
Recorded on: April 23, 2009