Inspiration in the Time of COVID

Last week was set to be auspicious as ABD celebrated Black History Month, the Lunar New Year, American Heart Association’s “Go Red Day”, Presidents’ Day, and Valentine’s Day – even the sun was even shining in the Bay Area.  Amidst all that, we hosted the “Play” segment of our Work, Love, Play, LEAD Speaker Series with guest Fred Dust author of “Making Conversation, Seven Essential Elements of Meaningful Communication”. Having a conversation with Fred was not just a highlight of our already active week, but the perfect denouement to our series.

We truly did not want our conversation to end.

In this time of “living at work”, fatiguing on zoom, and trying to stay connected with colleagues, clients, and community, Fred made time fly with references to his book, words of wisdom, and exceptional stories.  (One of his words of wisdom was – in fact – to be or become a good storyteller.)  He laid out his conversation design strategy in an actionable way while comfortably chatting as though we were all life-long friends. And there was much more to our conversation. We created a bit of joy: Fred had us break into rooms with 3-4 colleagues and share our favorite Disney song (and why) as well as our favorite song that could be a Disney song.  That “play” led to enjoyable conversations and to our own playlist of 80 or so songs that are both musical inspiration and a memento of the day. We heard many “nuggets” from Fred regarding conversations:

  • He gave us reasons to feel optimism about the future of conversation – and given the importance of conversation – the future in general.

  • He discussed the value of setting rules and how rules help – not hinder – the flow of creative and collaborative conversation.

  • He introduced the concept of a “Wild Card Day” – which we wholly intend to borrow. Anyone can take their Wild Card Day or time – and do with it whatever they need!

  • He shared the value of 45 seconds of silence in a conversation.

  • Many of us noted when he said “say divide, see divide” as an especially timely consideration.

  • He advised that we tell our perfect story: one that is personal, short, surprising, and clarifying. In his book, he recommends asking for a story as well as a way to make conversations.


With communication on the forefront of everyone’s minds in these changing times, there has never been a more important, yet challenging, time to talk with one another. ABD has really worked to put this into practice – and particularly in living our Work, Love, Play ethos.  Last week, we heard from a master of conversation how to design conversations to communicate now and into the future.

We sincerely thank Fred Dust for sparking inspirational conversation for The ABD Team and we recommend Making Conversation to everyone as we all stay connected and talking. ABD’s has been developed in partnership with Grace Migliaccio of PipelineHC and Karin Copeland from CreateXChange with whom we love to converse!

Amy Steadman
The Author
Amy Steadman

Chief People Officer

Amy Steadman is the Chief People Officer at Newfront, encouraging every employee to fill their buckets of Work, Love, and Play their way.

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