To Create Change: Think Corals, Chimpanzees (and their Project Leaders)

From the Servant Leadership: Serve to Be Great Blog
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This blog is about leadership as it applies to projects and project management, but also as it applies to society in general. The bloggers here manage projects and lead teams in both business and volunteer environments, and are all graduates of PMI's Leadership Institute Master Class. We hope to bring insight into the challenges we all experience in our projects and in our day-to-day work, providing helpful tidbits to inspire you to take action to improve—whether in your personal life, your business/work life or on your projects. Read, comment and share your experiences as we share ours. Let’s make the pie bigger! Grab a slice!

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Cameron McGaughy
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Films are so powerful in telling stories via visuals and narratives. They create change by telling stories that reach the heart and inspire action from within.

Recently, my friends and I attended a documentary film screening of CHASING CORAL at New York City because of Victoria Orlowski, a friend from work. Her son Jeff Orlowski is the young director of CHASING CORAL and CHASING ICE (2014 Emmy Award Winner). We are super proud of him!

Today, I would like to share with you (to state the obvious) some of his awesome project/servant leadership!

  • First of all, Jeff listened to Richard Vevers regarding the “Third Global Coral Bleaching” event and had the foresight to make the critical decision to start the project.
  • I love Richard’s favorite quote: “With a small motivated team, there is almost nothing that cannot be achieved.” Agile mindset!
  • Jeff had brought together scientists, filmmakers and engineers who work expertly together with TRUST for the same goals.
  • There was no mention of passion in the film, but we witnessed it throughout. They inspired a shared vision.
  • The team was cool under pressure when the first set of filming camera failed.
  • The empathy and competence (technical expertise) were evident by the extreme images and narratives: coral stunning beauty beyond words and coral “death” beyond imagination.
  • There are a lot of creativity and innovation in the film under Jeff's directorship! Do you know that Jeff did not major in film making? They have "invented" the deep sea camera to capture the images as warranted. They were able to connect with best of the best and be fast learners in challenging scenarios, but shine through out the ordeal in simplifying the most complex phenomena and become the perfect translator of the complex science to the world.
  • Project leadership in problem solving and decision-making is crucial. Hats off to Jeff for his strong leadership when he made the tough call to move on to the coral-bleaching site when they could not rely on technology due to many constraints.
  • Kudos to Jeff and his friend Zack for their stewardship and commitment to work hard despite harsh conditions!
  • Jeff and his team crowd-sourced from the globe and built the community that contributed to the film and its success.
  • I am absolutely impressed and inspired by the Corals transformation and stress response (in order not to spoil the fun, need to keep it in suspense for you to experience it yourself :-)
  • Nature and human resiliency are truly amazing!
  • New projects that started at the end of the film shared the power of healing and gave us hope and optimism to move on and work towards a better tomorrow.

Mentors are very powerful in our lives and in our leadership journey. I learned from Victoria that Dr. Jane Goodall had a great influence on Jeff. It started when Jeff attended one of Dr. Goodall speaking event while he was in high school and he chose Anthropology major in college because of her. She is one of many mentors in Jeff's creative journey.

Dr. Jane Goodall devotes her life to the chimps and she is one of the instructors for MASTERCLASS. Dr. Goodall demonstrated and taught us Love and Compassion always. Empathy is critical to observe behaviors and to help us know the right questions to ask. Her unwavering teaching is all about Hope, how human brains solve problems, the resilience of the nature and our indelible human spirit. It is very touching to see the chimps embrace Jane. It is Love! She pointed out that the difference between humans and chimps is our sophisticated language and we are encouraged to use it well!

I now understand that Jeff drew his strength from his mentors as well as his Mom and family and the community. Jeff also shared during his Q&A that he simply does not use disposable plastics. We all can make a simple change every single day in our lives that would have immense impact to our environments.

Suzan, Nelson, Lucy, Victoria and Jeff Orlowski (who took the selfie)

CHASING CORAL is a film directed by Jeff Orlowski. It was a 3 1/2 year project, filmed with 500+ hours underwater, included footage from over 30 countries and was made with the support of over 500 people around the world.

Coral and Chimpanzees: Their project leaders told us amazing life stories and taught us incredible lessons! Now, it is up to us to make simple changes every day that will have long lasting impact. The decision is ours!

FYI – Film Review (CHASING CORAL will be available via Netflix on 7/14/17)

http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/chasing-coral-review-sundance-1201979770/

Posted by Suzan Cho on: June 21, 2017 08:38 AM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Thanks for sharing, good.

I am looking forward to the release of the movie on Netflix. Thank you for taking the time to share.

Thanks, Suzan, for highlighting servant leadership attributes in projects conducted in an industry with which most of us are probably not familiar. They say telling stories is a great way to capture the attention of your audience. When it is film, I'm sure it is exponentially true!

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