What is cultural capital?

June 5, 2010

Academically, cultural capital is defined as “forms of knowledge, both tangible and intangible, that have value in a given society in relation to status and power.” However, I would like to offer a more practice-oriented definition of cultural capital: the rules for engaging other types of capital (human, economic, social).

Cultural capital defines how people (human) engage each other (social) and their resources (economic). Whether the culture of an organization is good or bad – cultural capital is created when values, traditions, beliefs and language become the currency to leverage other types of capital.

For actionable leaders, cultural capital is the most important type of capital. It is the difference between creating an environment to maintain the status quo or building the foundation for making change.


Education is not about being close.

April 28, 2010

Today, I overheard a woman chatting on the phone with a colleague. She was seeking counsel to find out how to appeal a school district’s decision to send her daughter to her fifth choice and the school farthest from her home — so much for school choice programs.

What really irked me was that the mother said “I don’t need the best school, just something close to the best.” This was said in the context of her desire to find the best learning conditions for her daughter so she would succeed!

Attention educators and administrators — close only counts in horseshoes!

Social justice matters. God bless Sr. Dorothy!

April 14, 2010

Northeast Ohio has watched this case since the documentary “Who Killed Sister Dorothy” was featured in the 33rd Annual Cleveland International Film Festival. Social justice will happen when many, many, many people get together to raise awareness and object to the status quo. Thank you Daniel Junge for bringing this film and injustice to our awareness. This is why Cobalt Group sponsors the “Women of the World” sidebar at the Film Festival. . . knowledge is power!

God Bless Sr. Dorothy!

Conviction of rancher in murder of Ohio nun Dorothy Stang lauded by Brazilian activists, officials



Diversity and Democracy must start now.

February 8, 2010

In her autobiography, Reconciliation, Benazir Bhutto “tried to trace the roots, causes and potential solutions to the crisis within the Muslim world and the crisis between the Muslim world and the West. Theology, history, economics, democracy, and dictatorship have all played significant roles in bringing the world to this crossroads.” Her premise from the beginning has been “that extremism thrives under dictatorship and is fueled by poverty, ignorance and hopelessness. The extremist threat within the Islamic world and between the Islamic world and the West can be solved, but it will require addressing all the factors that breed it.”

Today it was reported that India has successfully tested a long-range nuclear missile capable of reaching Pakistan and major Chinese cities.

Let’s start now. Our future depends on it.

People and food. What matters most.

January 9, 2010

Roger Ebert shared a very heartfelt update with the public this week. It inspired me to think differently about the new year and new year’s resolutions.

After battling cancer and enduring many medical procedures that have taken their toll on him, he misses the human aspect the most.

“What I miss is the society. Lunch and dinner are the two occasions when we most easily meet with friends and family. They’re the first way we experience places far from home. Where we sit to regard the passing parade. How we learn indirectly of other cultures. When we feel good together. Meals are when we get a lot of our talking done — probably most of our recreational talking.”

To view Roger Ebert’s blog post in its entirety go to:


May we all remember why people AND food are important components of daily living.

Change happens when . . .

January 6, 2010

. . . the status quo is unacceptable.

Effective civil discourse requires leaders to listen, not just promote.

December 14, 2009

A few days ago I ran into a local leader who directs an important public sector initiative. Upon mentioning that I had tried to contact him to discuss a potential investment in the community (related to his area of responsibility) he abruptly stopped the conversation because he did not believe it was a good idea.

After reflecting on this interaction over the last few days, I have concluded that if a leader chooses to listen or engage in dialogue only when they happen to like the topic, they aren’t leaders, they’re promoters.

Understanding Immigration.

October 24, 2009

As I was talking about wanting to visit the White Horse Tavern in the West Village in New York City yesterday, I remarked to my partner that I finally realized why I never read the awesome books of Frank McCourt in high school or college — going to Catholic Schools for 16 years probably had something to do with it given his reflection of growing up a poor Catholic in Ireland and returning to the United States in young adulthood.

Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis A Memoir should be required reading for every man, woman and child in the United States today!

Before anyone decides their position on immigration reform, health care for immigrants, etc. they need to see that the human condition knows no country boundaries. People are people and how we treat others less fortunate than us says a lot about who we are.

Happy reading!

A call to action that is priceless.

October 9, 2009

One trait that effective leaders possess is knowing when and how to call people to action. Regardless of what a leader is “calling people to act on” they must understand when and how to build widespread support. They also must be able to seamlessly engage simultaneously at the individual (micro), organization (meso) and community (macro) levels of society.

Like many competencies of effective leaders, this competency rarely manifests itself early in a leader’s life experience. In fact, it is usually the trait of an experienced, successful and more senior leader. Engaging the average person, building consensus across organizations, and taking the time to understand the wide diversity of perspectives which people hold is no easy task. And, the value of using this competency to act and make change  . . . priceless!

Giving back . . .

October 8, 2009

I am not sure who said this first, but it is a great quote to remember, especially for leaders.

“For those who have been given much we have a responsibility to give back.”