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“Coro is the gift that keeps on giving.”

walter paulsenWhat is your connection with Coro?

FPPA (Los Angeles), class of 1986

What is a memory from your Coro experience and training that you still think about today?

I have many memories from my Coro training – of being in the room with our trainer and working through things, and a diversity of opinions from other Fellows coming into play in ways that I didn’t expect. The Coro model of thinking was different for us. During Sacramento Week, we were in a meeting with a state legislator, and someone walked in and said “Challenger blew up.” I’ll never forget that moment.

A few other memories come to mind that shaped my growth. We were doing a logic study of the city of MexiCali in Southern California, which was a fascinating and challenging trip. The area has a large Chinese immigrant community and is a border town of Calexico. During the trip, some of my thinking was challenged. I leaned into the experience, contributed, and learned a great deal amid some feedback that I felt put me into a box at times. It was an intense learning experience.

What is one of Coro’s leadership principles, frameworks, or tools you continue to apply to your leadership practice today? 

A couple that stand out:

  • During Selection Day, in one activity, the person speaking needed to reflect on what the person before them said. This was a classic Coro move, and offered a strong lesson of needing to stay present and not get too far ahead of myself in preparing an answer. The focus was to listen more powerfully, and to understand the other person first.
  • I vividly remember learning about the “load – design – working parts – fuel” for problem solving, which is an engineering concept. For any problem, you explore the questions: what’s the load the system has to deal with, what’s the design, what are the working parts, and the fuel to energize the working parts? It’s another version of a SWOT analysis that I apply to situations today. As a hint, a lot of times the problems stem from the fuel and the motivation.

What are the two most important leadership qualities that you believe people need to create our shared future?  

  • Empathy. Understand the positions and principles of others.
  • Courage. There’s places where we have to make a stand to defend democracy.

Remember this! The leadership training and principles that Coro trainers provide are extremely relevant to the private sector, as well as to the public policy. I’ve worn many hats in my professional life – I’ve worked in the private sector, as a leadership coach and more – and I call on Coro principles everyday. Really, the things I do, and try to remember not to do, were really shaped by my Coro experience. The experience humbled and empowered me. Coro is the gift that keeps on giving.

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