Message From Our Founder

Message From Our Founder

Welcome to the 105th issue of CEE News!


At the beginning of each summer, I like to share curated lists of new books that provide diverse perspectives to help our readers grow both personally and professionally. This year, I’m switching things up. With close to 4 million new books being published each year, I’m prioritizing quality over quantity, and sharing six engrossing books about the dynamics between power and leadership that I’ve read in the past year. I hope you’ll find this list helpful if you’re looking for something to read this summer that will bring you to think more deeply about the way power has shaped modern American history, and what can be learned to build a better future.

In 2022, I watched the documentary, Turn Every Page, by filmmaker Lizie Gottlieb about the 50-year relationship between author Robert Caro and his editor Robert Gottlieb, the filmmaker’s father. In the 1970s, Caro started writing The Power Broker (Book No. 1, below). In the documentary, the author/editor pair are knee deep in the fifth and final volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Gottlieb died last June at the age of 92, leaving the then 88-year-old Caro to finish their monumental collaboration.

“What I’m trying to do,” said Caro, “is to show not only how power works but the effect of power on the powerless: How political power affects our lives, every single day, in ways we never think about.”

As a student of the impact of power on leadership and culture, I started reading Caro’s, The Power Broker and went on to devour the four completed volumes of his magnificent works on Lyndon Johnson. If you’re also a student of the dynamics between power, leadership, and culture, these six books below will easily last you all summer and will resonate with you for a lifetime.


  1.      The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert Caro (July 12, 1975)

One of the Modern Library’s hundred greatest books of the 20th centory, Robert Caro’s monumental book makes public what few outsiders knew: that Robert Moses was the single most powerful man of his lifetime in the City and State of New York. In telling the Moses story, Caro both opens up to an unprecedented degree the way in which politics really happens – the way things really get done in America’s City Halls and Statehouses – and brings to light a bonanza of vital information about such national figures as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fiorello La Guardia, and Nelson Rockefeller. 



  2.     The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, by Robert Caro (February 17, 1990)

The Path to Power, Book One of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, reveals in extraordinary detail the genesis of the almost superhuman drive, energy, and urge to power that set LBJ apart. Chronicling the startling early emergence of Johnson’s political genius, it follows him from his Texas Hill Country boyhood through the years of the Depression, to the triumph of his congressional debut in New Deal Washington, to his heartbreaking defeat in his first race for the Senate, and his attainment, by any means necessary, of the national power for which he hungered. 



   3.      The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent, by Robert Caro (March 7, 1990)

Here, Johnson’s almost mythic personality—part genius, part behemoth, at once hotly emotional and icily calculating—is seen at its most nakedly ambitious. This multifaceted book carries the President-to-be from the aftermath of his devastating defeat in his 1941 campaign for the Senate-the despair it engendered in him, and the grueling test of his spirit that followed as political doors slammed shut-through his service in World War II (and his artful embellishment of his record) to the foundation of his fortune (and the actual facts behind the myth he created about it). 



  4.      The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate, by Robert Caro (April 23, 2002)

In this winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, Caro takes Johnson’s story through one of its most remarkable periods: his twelve years, from 1949 through 1960, in the U.S. Senate. Once the most august and revered body in politics, by the time Johnson arrived, Caro shows how Johnson’s brilliance, charm, and ruthlessness enabled him to become the youngest and most powerful Majority Leader in history and how he used his incomparable legislative genius – cajoling and threatening both Northen liberals and Southern conservatives – to pass the first Civil Rights legislation since Reconstruction. Brilliantly weaving rich detail into a gripping narrative, Caro gives us both a galvanizing portrait of Johnson himself and a definitive and revelatory study of the workings of legislative power. 


  5.      The Lyndon Johnson Years: The Passage of Power, by Robert Caro (May 1, 2012)

The Passage of Power follows Johnson through both the most frustrating and triumphant periods of his career—1958 to 1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark. 

If you’ve already read, or don’t have the appetite for the 4,888 pages by Robert Caro, I highly recommend this Pulitzer Prize winner and my favorite book of 2024 so far . . .


   6.      An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s, by Doris Kearns Goodwin (April 16, 2024)

Doris Kearns Goodwin, one of America’s most beloved historians, artfully weaves together biography, memoir, and history. During the last years of her husband, Richard (Dick) Goodwin’s, life, the couple unpacked over three hundred boxes that Dick had squirreled away during his 50-year career. His unique speech-writing voice propelled him to the front row of 1960s America, Forest Gumpian-style, penning some of the most memorable political speeches, including John F. Kennedy’s Latin American speeches, Lyndon Johnson’s most famous civil rights and Great Society speeches, Robert Kennedy’s famous “ripple of hope” speech in South Africa in 1966, and, later, Al Gore’s presidential concession speech in 2000.  An Unfinished Love Story takes you along on the emotional journey that gave the couple the opportunity to make fresh assessments of the central figures of our time and revive the hope that the youth of today will carry forward this unfinished love story with America.

Sheri Nasim | President & CEO

Message From Our Founder

Message From Our Founder

Welcome to the 103rd issue of CEE News!


For the past few weeks, everything around us has been changing. The days are getting longer. Birds are building their nests. Flowers are bursting with new blooms. There’s no denying that winter is over and spring is here. As humans, we’ve learned to adapt to the inevitability of seasonal changes. When it comes to organizational change, however, we often resist being open to new ways of thinking and behaving.

If you’re engaged in the effort to set a new direction, orchestrate innovation, or mold a culture, here are six universal truths that can guide you along the way.

  1. People don’t resist change. They resist being changed. As management guru Peter Senge suggests, resistance is greatest when change is inflicted on people. If you can give people a chance to offer their input, change is more likely to be met with enthusiasm and commitment.
  2. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Big goals can seem overwhelming and cause us to freeze. This simple truth, attributed to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, is a reminder to get moving. Take the first step, however small it may seem, and the journey is underway.
  3. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Many change efforts fall short because of confusion over the end goal. In the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice asks the Cheshire cat which road she should take. The cat’s response reminds us to focus on the destination first, then choose the best path.
  4. Change is a process, not a decision. It happens all too often. Senior executives make pronouncements about change, and then launch programs that lose steam. Lasting change requires an ongoing commitment to the process reinforced by constant communication, tools, and rewards.
  5. Do not declare victory prematurely. In his book, The Heart of Change Field Guide, author Dan Cohen suggests that short-term wins do not necessarily equal long-term success. Cohen writes, “keep urgency up and a feeling of false pride down.”
  6. Be the change you wish to see in the world. These famous words attributed to Gandhi remind us all — executives with associates, political leaders with followers, or parents with children — that one of our most important tasks is to exemplify the best of what the change is all about.

Any form of change requires an adjustment period, and some take longer than others. While seasonal changes are predictable and tend to go over smoothly, organizational changes tend to be met with resistance and confusion. If you’re trying to implement changes in the workplace, consider which of these truisms might help you get unstuck and achieve the results you’re looking for.

Sheri Nasim | President & CEO

Message From Our Founder

Message From Our Founder

Welcome to the 102nd issue of CEE News!


If there had been Three Wise Women instead of Three Wise Men, they would have:
– Asked for directions
– Arrived on time
– Helped deliver the baby
– Cleaned the stable
– Made a casserole
– Brought practical gifts

That’s a joke shared by Susan Packard, Cofounder of HGTV, in her 2015 book, New Rules of the Game:10 Strategies for Women in the Workplace. I picked up Packard’s book when I attended the San Diego Women’s Week annual Leadership Conference in recognition of Women’s History Month that year. This year, I had the honor of speaking at the conference as a panelist to discuss the topic of Mastering the Art of Building and Leading Teams.

Since I’ve been in the management consulting industry for nearly twelve years, I chose to approach the subject wearing my consultant’s cap. One of my favorite ways to help teams achieve peak performance is to use an assessment developed by The Table Group to complement Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

I’ve used the assessment with several teams at Yale University, a senior leadership team with a communications manufacturing company in Salt Lake City, and a team at the Port of Long Beach. Each team member responds to a set of questions that measures collective performance in five key areas: Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results. The resulting report displays the team’s aggregated responses in the shape of a pyramid, where each of the five areas are shown in a red/yellow/green schema. The results for Trust is at the base of the pyramid for an important reason.

As Lencioni explains, “trust is the willingness of team members to be vulnerable with one another, to admit their mistakes, weaknesses, and fears, and to rely on one another for support and guidance.”  Teams that take the time to build vulnerability-based trust with one another are more likely to engage in constructive conflict, focus on their commitment to collective goals, hold themselves and one another accountable, and achieve results.

In the competitive, power-based, often cutthroat world of business, admitting mistakes, weaknesses, and fears, and relying on others for support and guidance are not common behavioral styles. Entire organizations are more typically led by senior leadership teams where bravado, politics, and power-grabbing are the norm. In turn, the workforce finds itself struggling with gaslighting, mental health issues, and imposter syndrome.

Three Wise Women would have asked for directions. It’s not hard to imagine that they would have used their collective resources to show up on time, quickly assess the situation, and provide valuable support.

Women’s History Month is an opportunity to study, observe, and celebrate the vital role of women in American history. It’s also a time to reflect on what leadership styles are more likely to result in predictive team success, and what styles are about as useful as myrrh was to Mary.

Sheri Nasim | President & CEO

Message From Our Founder

Message From Our Founder

Welcome to the 101st issue of CEE News!


“What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?” If you were a fan of “Inside the Actor’s Studio” hosted by the late James Lipton, you’ll recognize that as one of the ten questions taken from the Proust Questionnaire that Lipton asked his guests at the end of each show. Both Cate Blanchett and Dave Chappelle, “Architect.” Michael J. Fox and Eddie Murphy would have liked to have been teachers.

If I could choose any other vocation, I would want to be the Librarian of Congress. Reading, writing, and sharing stories have always been a large part of my personal and professional life. Some of my most treasured childhood memories were of loading my arms with piles of free books from our local library. I loved the adventures, marveled at the prose, and empathized with the protagonists – the antics of Pippi Longstocking, the determination of Francie Nolan’s, Jo March’s bravery.

Since September 2016, the role of Librarian of Congress has been held by Dr. Carla Hayden. Dr. Hayden is the 14th person to be named to the position, and notably the first woman and first African American to lead the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections.

Her remarkable journey was captured in this October 2023 interview at Mount Vernon. In it, Dr. Hayden shares how, as the Director of Baltimore’ Enoch Pratt Free Library in 2015, she made the decision to keep the library open following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. Although the streets of Baltimore roiled in protest, the Pratt Library kept its doors open and served as a respite. While the streets burned and protestors marched, the library offered food distribution, restrooms, and internet service for all – with Dr. Hayden standing front and center.

In celebration of Black History Month, we’re recognizing notable Black Americans – both historic and contemporary. In addition to this story of one of my personal idols, Dr. Carla Hayden, we’re sharing an infographic about Black explorers, scientists, and activists like Pauli Murray and Matthew Henson.

I invite you to take the opportunity to be especially mindful of the lived experiences and influence that Black Americans have had in the world – this month and beyond. If there is a Black American who you especially admire, take a moment to share the impact they have made on American culture and the influence they have had on you personally. 

Sheri Nasim | President & CEO

Navigating Budget Season During Uncertain Times: 5 Questions Budget Managers Should Ask

Navigating Budget Season During Uncertain Times: 5 Questions Budget Managers Should Ask


It’s budget season for organizations on a calendar-based fiscal year. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or first-time budget manager, submitting a budget for approval during times of economic uncertainty can be a confidence shaker. Being a budget manager isn’t just about creating a wish list and bracing for a 30% cut. It’s about being a strategic thinker and a persuasive communicator. These five questions will help you win the hearts of senior leaders and get your budget approved, even when times are fiscally fickle.

1.     What are the organization’s strategic goals? Before diving into the nitty-gritty of spreadsheets and numbers, take a step back and grasp the bigger picture. Understand the organization’s strategic goals and how your budget aligns with them. When you can clearly articulate how your financial plans contribute to the overall success of the company, you’ll earn the respect and support of senior leaders.

2.     Who are the key decision makers? Knowing the lay of the land is crucial. Identify the key decision-makers in your organization, especially those with the final say on budget approvals. Take the time to understand their priorities and tailor your budget proposal to address their needs, where possible. Winning hearts can be just as important as crunching numbers.

3.     What are the major cost drivers? As a budget manager, you’re not just a number cruncher. You’re also a detective. Dive into the data to identify the major cost drivers in your organization. Understanding where the money is going will help you make informed decisions and justify your budget allocations to senior leaders. It’s all about making your case with solid evidence.

4.     Where can we save money? Let’s face it – everyone loves cost-saving superheroes. Channel your inner superhero and negotiate with vendors and suppliers for better pricing on products and services. This can result in significant savings over time and demonstrate your dedication to saving the organization’s resources.

5.     What’s Plan B? Life is unpredictable, and budgets are no exception. Senior leaders appreciate budget managers who are prepared for unforeseen circumstances. So, create a Plan B – a contingency plan that outlines how you’ll handle unexpected challenges or changes in the financial landscape. Having a backup strategy shows your ability to think ahead and adapt to any situation.

By asking these five questions and incorporating the answers into your budget proposal, you’ll improve the odds of getting the resources you need and help your organization meet the challenges of the coming year.

Question: What are some of the budgeting tips in your management toolkit?