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If you were asked to give a graduation speech

Sheryl Sandberg gives emotional speech at UC Berkley about resilience and loss (Credit: Facebook via Business Insider)May is the season of the graduation speech. Recently, Sheryl Sandberg, executive at Facebook and author of Lean In, gave the graduation speech at University of California at Berkley, while President Obama spoke to the graduates at Rutgers University. Their speeches took on different topics, with Sandberg speaking about lessons learned from her personal life and Obama addressing a variety of cultural and political issues. Laced through both, however, were threads of advice, dispensed wisdom for the next generation.

Chances are, you are not one of the limited number of people who will be giving a graduation speech this month, but what if you were asked to give one? What would you speak about? What distilled sagacity would you offer?

As we march through the month of May into the summer months, we're well into 2016. It's a good time to stop and reflect on what you've been learning and what challenges may lie ahead. The habit of reflection is important for leaders, because the crush of appointments and deadlines often obscures our ability to consider all the myriad things happening around and within us.

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Why you need to know Obama's Right Hand Man, Ben Rhodes

In this Feb. 16, 2016 file photo Deputy National Security Adviser For Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. The White House is working to contain the damage caused by a magazine profile of one of President Barack Obama's top aides. In a blog post published late Sunday, May 8, 2016, Rhodes said the public relations campaign he created to sell the Iran nuclear deal was intended only Max DePree famously argued that the first task of a leader is to define reality. Now, it seems, we live in an age where most believe that task to be to create reality. The New York Times Magazine recently ran a lengthy feature on President Obama's chief foreign policy advisor Ben Rhodes, and the leadership implications are striking. Rhodes, we find out, grew up wanting to write fiction. He did not go the traditional route to politics. No master's degree in international relations or prized internships on Capitol Hill. In fact, he has no background at all in foreign policy, yet, as the article explains, he is "the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy aside from POTUS himself."

The entire article is worth your time to read because it so accurately describes the cultural shift that's taken place in leadership. We find ourselves now thoroughly immersed in a postmodern climate that blatantly rejects the idea that there is an objective reality but rather encourages everyone to create their own story because, of course, there is no overarching story. The Times Magazine feature relentlessly reminds the reader that we're in a new world.

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Institutional Leadership

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Finkenwalde Seminary in GermanyInstitutions play a formative role in every aspect of our lives. We are all impacted by institutions, whether we like it or not. Government, church, business, schools, hospitals, even sports: these are all institutions. They get painted in the media and popular imagination as monolithic, massive, labyrinthine places where good things go to die. We often associate red tape with institutions, or think immediately of the dreaded word "bureaucracy."

Right now, our political climate in America is decidedly anti-establishment. This political climate, though, is mirrored in other areas of life as well: there is now less participation in civic groups than in previous generations, we see changes in denominations and church affiliation, and in the business world the term "disruptive innovation" has taken root in both theory and practice. We as a nation are wary and weary of our institutions, but intrinsically we know that we still need them. The great question before us is this: what will our institutions look like in the future? In a more specific way we can also ask: what kinds of institutions will our current leadership climate produce?

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The Implications of Live Streaming for Leaders

Man on his iPhoneBy now you've probably heard of Periscope or seen a live video stream on your Facebook timeline. They are taking over social media. Our timelines are becoming increasingly littered by these live videos, with anything from scenes from your friend who is traveling abroad to your neighbor's daughter's 6th grade ballet performance. Celebrities are getting into the act too, checking in with fans from their glossy homes or promoting their next venture.

Gone are the days when most videos were slickly produced, heavily dependent upon high-dollar camera equipment and hours of behind-the-scenes editing. Now anyone who owns a smartphone can instantly stream a video from just about anywhere in the world.

Tech companies are fueling this growth, as a report championed by Cisco predicts that by 2020, 75% of the world's mobile traffic will be video. Facebook has launched its own live video function as a part of its service. Twitter recently bought Periscope, an entire app devoted to live video streaming. Google, not to be left out, is reportedly finalizing its own standalone app for live video. What does all of this mean for leaders? Let's look first at what this craze with live video says about our culture.

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A Storm is Coming

Seismic activity graph (Credit: destina via fotolia)On Monday, the Pulitzer Prize Board awarded Kathryn Schulz a Pulitzer for her New Yorker article "The Really Big One." Schulz's article, topping out at over 6,000 words, is a gripping description of the threat and potential damages of a large earthquake happening in the Pacific Northwest. She highlights the fact that most Americans only know about the San Andreas fault next to Southern California, but that the Cascadia Subduction Zone to the north is actually more dangerous.

As she explains, the Cascadia Zone is more dangerous because scientists have only recently discovered its patterns of movement. You probably remember from elementary earth science class that the world sits on giant tectonic plates, and these plates jut up against each other at specific points, creating subduction zones:

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