August 2020

Some time ago I began inviting people to subscribe to a monthly newsletter, and several thousand of you signed up before I realized that I didn't have the capacity to launch a new project. But this Fall I'm taking a break from teaching at Stanford for the first time in 5 years, so I decided to revisit the idea, and this is the result. (If you've changed your mind in the interim, I apologize for the intrusion, and there's an Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page.)

I'm writing this from a restored barn in the countryside west of Petaluma in Sonoma County--it's on the same property as the lane of cypresses in the video below. Amy and I have been visiting for over a year--we discovered it after she retired a horse to a nearby ranch--and we've been spending weekends here since social distancing began in March. And after 30 years in San Francisco, we're about to relocate here on a full-time basis. The pandemic didn't cause the move, but it has pushed us down this path much faster than we'd ever anticipated, and it's both exciting and a little unnerving.

We know enough about the area to have some idea of what we're getting into: Rolling blackouts and the occasional evacuation during fire season, windstorms loud enough to wake you up from a sound sleep, and rounding up escaped sheep on a regular basis. But we also know that we can't possibly know everything about life on this farm, and we expect to be surprised.

I see something similar happening in the lives of many of my clients. Some have done what Amy and I are about to do and have relocated from an urban center. Others have taken even bigger leaps, moving vast distances around the globe--for some this has involved leaving the U.S., while others have been prevented from returning. But even those who haven't changed their address are finding that so much is changing around them, and they can't possibly know everything they need to know, and they expect to be surprised.

By the time I send out next month's edition we'll have begun to settle in here. It won't be a weekend retreat, but a new home. Wherever you are, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.

~Ed Batista

1. From My Archives:
Open Space, Deep Work and Self-Care

My coaching clients are typically senior leaders with rapidly growing or very large organizations who are responsible for hiring a management team, identifying a winning strategy, and building a culture that supports their goals. A theme that emerges consistently in my work with them is the importance of open space, deep work, and self-care. What do I mean by these terms, and what’s their significance for effective leadership?

2. Recommended: Amy Edmondson

Research by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson on psychological safety has heavily influenced my perspective on organizational life and my approach to coaching. A great introduction to Edmondson's work is this 2018 interview with Martha Lagace: Make Your Employees Feel Psychologically Safe:

What makes a workplace psychologically safe or not?

Individuals feel they can speak up, express their concerns, and be heard. This is not to say that people are "nice." A psychologically safe workplace is one where people are not full of fear, and not trying to cover their tracks to avoid being embarrassed or punished.

What I am advocating is candor. Being open. And sometimes that might mean being direct to a fault, knowing that you have a right and a responsibility to ask hard questions about the work: "Is this the right decision? Are we collecting the right data? Do we know the impact this might have on others?"

To learn even more:

3. One Minute of Calm

We need moments of calm now more than ever, and every day I post a short video of the natural world from Marin, Mendocino or Sonoma County. Visit for daily videos, or get them via email or Twitter.

4. Miscellany: SFJAZZ & Fridays at Five

The need to cancel indoor events has been devastating to musicians and a profound loss for music lovers. One way to support some of our greatest artists while continuing to experience the beauty of their art is through Fridays at Five, a series of pre-recorded streaming concerts offered by SFJAZZ. A digital membership costs just $5 per month, which is an unbelievable bargain.
  • August 7: John Santos
  • August 14: Bokanté
  • August 21: Dianne Reeves
  • August 28: Wayne Shorter
On a related note, Jazz at Lincoln Center maintains a periodically updated list of free jazz livestreams!

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