Nadine Hack & Angela Shaw deCockBetty King, Jerry Dunfey & Gay McDougalThe most profound relationships form and sustain when someone connects deeply and then continues to nurture those connections.  At IMD in this last week 300 international leaders gather for a women’s leadership conference, hundreds of executives from virtually every country participate in executive education modules – Advanced Strategic Management ASM, High Performance Leadership HPL and Program for Executive Development PED –  for several of which I led sessions. 

In this same time frame, my school friend of nearly 50 years who has lived, worked and raised her multi-racial, multi-national children, multi-lingual around the world visits our home in Lutry.  We share an evening with two friends we’ve known for over 25 years, now respectively the US Ambassador to the UN Geneva and the UN Indpendent Expert on Minority Issues at the residence of one outside Geneva.   While the latter relationships first were formed around professional connections, they deepened into personal friendships: conversely, the former that started personal has opened doors to professional opportunities. 

I see the parallels of what I experience in my professional and personal life and how interconnected they can be if and when people initially connect on a deep level or sustain a relationship that grows in depth over time.  For those who just met or possibly reconnected at the various IMD gatherings, they can choose to maintain the powerful bonds they’ve created during the programs with their fellow participants and with those who led sessions.  I bear the same responsibility if I want to stay connected to any of the extraordinary people I’ve just met and with whom I sense I’ve begun to develop a budding relationship. 

Just as with these professional relationships, friendships of a quarter to a half a century don’t just spontaneously sustain even if the initial point of connection was – as it usually is – a strong spontaneous recognition, almost visceral, of someone who has a kindred spirit.  To keep that initial spark alive, you must flame it with efforts to stay connected.   In the case of my high school friend, we might only actually physically cross paths once a decade but in between we keep each other informed of where we are, what we’re doing and how we’re feeling. 

These and the other relationships I’m referring to must have a two-way street dimension: someone extends the invitation for connection and someone else accepts it; sometimes alternating the initiating and receiving roles.  As long as both keep a level of emotional connection the relationship can deepen over time and it’s that much more rewarding when you actually catch up in real-time whether in person or on Skype/other social network format. 

As I continue developing my body of work about engaging internal and external stakeholders all of this has relevance for what I think about and how I present it.  I welcome your thoughts about creating and sustaining relationships.

{ 16 comments… add one }

  • Farai Chideya March 13, 2011, 7:55 am

    Dear Nadine:

    Great to hear you are THRIVING in your position and as a person. I agree wholeheartedly. A couple of things from my experience:

    You can’t draw from a bank you don’t put into. So if you are always asking for things without reciprocating; or, conversely (as is true for many lovely people), constantly fulfilling others’ desires without them aiding you, it makes for an imbalance that really hampers friendship and/or collaboration. I’m not talking tit-for-tat, but open and shared resourcing. I have one friend, for example, where she and I help each other a lot with what is essentially pro-bono consulting… a very even relationship. Both of us have other people who constantly ask us for things without having the remotest idea that it’s an imposition.

    Also, I find that if a relationship isn’t working, sometime you have to let it die and be reborn. Some of the best relationships I have, for friendship and work, go through hard times and separations and then rekindle and become stronger than ever. So while you have to nurture, sometimes it’s also okay to take a break.

    Enjoy your journey, Nadine!

  • Paul Fitzgerald March 13, 2011, 10:29 am

    Dear Nadine,

    We’ve been enjoying your messages and the tales of your incredible adventure during these times of transition. The world is changing so rapidly now it must seem electric to be in the vanguard of change. But then you guys have always been cutting edge. All the best and hello to Jerry.

    Paul and Liz

  • Sherry Roth March 13, 2011, 11:14 am

    Thinking of you with love and hope we continue to fan the flames of our long standing connection.

  • Harry van der Velde March 13, 2011, 3:06 pm

    Hi Nadine,
    Thanks for reminding me. I’ll learn…

  • Loren Jones March 13, 2011, 3:17 pm

    Hi Nadine:

    Thanks for connecting with me. I look forward to taking the time to read your blogs on human rights empowerment, which is also a topic that U.S. Positive Women’s Network is focusing on.

    Loren Jones

  • sharon March 13, 2011, 3:35 pm

    Hi Nadine,

    I agree about connecting and reconnecting with relationships — its like plants, relationships need care, water and feeding in order to thrive. Seems like real relationship building went out with the 80’s — I find people are so superficial and opportunistic. We are all trying to make a living so yes, we can share the love and support for each other at a minimum. My problem is when people ask for help and its like an unrequited love affair — you are met with “who??” “what??” like former colleagues who are now deaf, dumb, blind, etc.

    I think you are a breath of fresh air Nadine, because you get it and you understand in order to be empowered and go to the next level we have to not only work within the structure but you also have to reach out to others to bring them along. Perhaps I am too myopic with my opinion, I have just found that since the turn of the millenium we are living in a way too opportunistic environment that is constantly seeking new hosts.

    Best of luck Nadine and others for your continued success down this path.

  • Angela Shaw March 14, 2011, 9:35 am

    Dear Nadine,
    This particular combination of the personal and the professional has a special resonance for me, inasmuch as our re-connection bridges 3 generations. The way that you framed our experience was more than American, more than transatlantic, it is global and international. After having sent an earlier email to you, I had further thoughts that I want to share.

    I watched the second video on the hyperlink to Gay McDougall in your blog. Then, I realized that as a founding member of the “Black European Women’s’ Council” in 2007, in Vienna, I knew Gay in that context as well. Moreover, as a board member of FOCUS-Brussels in the early 90’s, we sponsored an annual event entitled “Women on the Move”. In that context, I’ve known your IMD partner in the Women in Leadership program that you wrote about called “WIN” for over 10 years at least.

    This coming weekend, my husband and I will meet our son from Shanghai in Dublin at an event sponsored by the OACAC (Overseas Association for College Admissions Counseling) , which he belongs to. Five years ago, Lister Hannah, the former headmaster of the Geelong Grammar School (which Prince Charles attended in Australia), hired Karel to become the university counselor of the private international boarding school in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Prem International . From Prem, he joined another privately run international school in Shanghai, Yew Chung,which is a second generation family enterprise.

    Professionalism within privately held family international institutions may be the internal aspect of more external public international institutions. I began to follow the activities of the FBN (Family Business Network)-summit in 2006 , while I attended the annual ECIS(European Council of International Schools) conference in Nice that year. It might be worthwhile for us to develop a multi-media web platform through which we can extrapolate more exchanges and research based upon our combined public and private international experiences, specifically as they involve “visible” difference in inclusion and diversity agendas.

    While our inter-racial family has been fortunate enough to thrive in both the arenas of the private family business models as well as the public corporate business models, we have done this through international/multi-national institutions and not through local entities. Modernity which embraces racial equity and parity can’t merely be the birthright of expats exclusively. We might want to examine how our expat lessons might be applicable to “local” first world economies as well.

    Subj: I can’t believe that you also know Gay McDougall Date: 3/13/2011

    Hi Nadine, Thanks so much for the photo and for your blog posting. Not until I clicked on your links did I realize that one of the two women pictured with Jerry was a woman that I met at NYU’s Yari Yari conference, Gay McDougall. One of her dear friends, Ronnie Walker (Higgins) was my houseguest here in Toulouse last September. Lots of love, Angela

    PS: June Cross is sending me a copy of the DVD of her documentary on her book Secret Daughter.

  • Vicky Kente March 15, 2011, 3:23 am

    Dear Nadine

    We really hope to have you and your family back in South Africa. There are educational and orgazantional projects that we would be interested in introducing you to.

    The importance of communicating with internal stakeholders first before you engage with external stakeholders is vital to understand. Most companies do not understand why there is not buy-in in their organizations. They spend thousands of rands/dollars to bring in experts to assist them. The reality is that if they could just engage more effectively with their internal stakeholders. They would even get more ideas from their own people without having to pay a cent/dollar. External stakeholders are also very important but then if your internal communication is in tact then it is easy to begin a business developing discussion with your external stakeholders because you know and understand your companies business and communications strategy.

    You must enjoy your stay there and remember whatever you need in South Africa we will assist you in every way.

    Warmest Regards
    Vicky Kente
    Producer: IMANI MEDIA
    President and Founder of Kente Productions in South Africa

  • Nancy Fellinger March 16, 2011, 4:55 pm

    Nadine, attached is the TEDx link for Dr. Brené Brown in which she discuss her extraordinary research and findings on vulnerability – and how it challenged and changed her own life. Her work was first brought to my attention a couple of months ago by Fr. Tom Gallagher (a gifted Franciscan Friar, the Pastor of St. Patrick-St. Anthony parish and Director of the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry in Hartford, Connecticut) when he shared this with a small study group at church. I’m delighted that you enjoyed it so much and hope that you and Dr. Brown are able to connect soon – my warmest wishes to you!

  • Rick Awdas March 20, 2011, 3:17 am

    I think that having a commitment to help other people is the starting point for creating and sustaining relationships, this can of course leave you overburdened with requests for help. As Steven Covey said you must learn to say no to the unimportant so you can say yes to the important.

  • Marilyn Fried March 22, 2011, 6:46 pm

    One of the lessons I am learning about the kind of commitment to deep relationships built on trust is the need to listen. Really listen deeply. Ask questions–not to be polite but to explore the depth of the other person’s life experiences and feelings. Once, I was at a dinner meeting with my husband, a physician, where many people knew each other and I listened politely but had little to contribute and was largely ignored.

    One woman there, who was someone important in the organization, spoke to my husband, who she knew, then she turned to me and asked me about myself. She listened so deeply, as if I was the only person in the room. I was struck by the fact that very few people know how to listen this way. I felt drawn to her, and she radiated this amazing loving energy—all because she knew how to listen.

    In our day to day lives, it is easy to be superficial. Our minds are often elsewhere, but why? Why aren’t our minds focused on exactly who or what is right in front of us? It seems so simple but many people can go a lifetime never hearing or being heard.

    Marilyn Fried, JD
    Candidate for Master’s of Science in Nonprofit Management, Dec 2011

  • Yuri Tadesse March 23, 2011, 2:54 pm

    I have been following Nadine since I was a Managing Director & Senior Vice President for International Business Development at GoodWorks International, LLC. I am delighted to introduce her followers to the Global Information Network. This is a powerful organization that I recommend for like minded people should consider. Talk about relationship. This organization will provide the kind of relationship any one would one to have. Members are from all walks of life and from 120 countries. Come and check us out. You will be coming in for a treat.

    Here is the website address for those who care.
    If you need to contact me email me with my personal email listed above. With blessing, YT

  • Charles E. Smith April 5, 2011, 1:17 pm

    A colleague named Jose Stevens studied indigenous peoples all over the world and found that a common belief is that power comes from connection. This is equally valid in the modern technological world- the closer, more mutual and vibrant the experience of connection, the more power. I think that this has something to do with safety. When people feel safe, they are better able to think and contribute. When threatened and afraid to say what’s true for them, they don’t speak their mind, become careful and operate at a fraction of their capacity.

    To be responsible for people feeling safe, and knowing they are cared for, at the same time as you make performance demands, recognizes the fact that we live in two parallel universes at the same time. There is the world of technology, machines, objects and design, and the simultaneous world of people’s feelings, and relationships that animate their spirit and move them to cooperate.

    The relational world is always decisive.

    From 40 years of searching for the distinguishing element in what causes sustainable transformation, the difference has always come from the power of sustainable relationships in the face of whatever happens.

    Charlie Smith

  • Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo - GM,The Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square May 9, 2011, 8:32 am

    Dearest Nadine

    I truly appreciated your blog on relationships: connecting and reconnecting. I am constantly amazed at the platform social networking has provided for us, and I smile because your constant streams of messages sent via LinkedIn are exactly that – staying connected and re-connecting with all of us.

    I am reminded of how I first met Jerry your wonderful partner at the InterContinental Sandton Towers where I was introduced to him by John de Cahna my Operations Manager, then. I met so many new friends in South Africa, through your flamboyant husband! Years (2008) later I was blessed with a visit from both you and Jerry at my own, first four-star hotel, the Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square located in the historic township, Soweto. What a wonderful vibe you both brought together with Eleanor your sis-in law as we celebrated the Global Circle of Friends in Soweto with history all around us.

    Somehow this reconnection we are enjoying makes me believe we will be connecting very soon and rediscover our friendship at yet another level.

    Stay blessed and all my love to both you and Jerry!

    Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo
    Executive Director, General Manager
    Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square

  • Judith Schraemli May 12, 2011, 11:36 pm

    Do you have interships for young people. I have a son 15 in high school. He is bored by traditional school methods. However he has an ingrained enthusiasm for activism and community service. In addition to that he wants to be an entrepenuer.
    With the right mentoring I believe he will grow up to be a leader the 21st Century needs. A person with vision, compassion and an intellectual capacity to match the constantly evolving issues life presents.
    Members of my family currently support a school in Jamaal has volunterred for Habitat for Humanity, as well as worked with several homeless shelters.

  • Bill Batson December 5, 2011, 2:09 am

    It may sound counter-intuitive, but I believe that the strongest connections are often between people of so-called different backgrounds. When we realize how comfortable we can be with a person from a radically different life experience it confirms our commonality as humans and rebuts the simplistic notion that people who are of a similar background are more suited to co-exist. Your work and life story and of Jerry’s as well are my proof.


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