El dolor que te llevas

Cuando no entiendan los hijos de tu hija, recién nacidos que te aman.

Memorias de un pesado pasado, con familia, falta de trabajo

Pero como reina de la calle que te había crecido, y acostumbrada de ella.

Tal vez repleto de violencia, pero sin carecer la lengua que sufició chismear sobre ello,

Después de las lagrimas.

Decidiste – salir. Y llegaste, pero a casa no dirías.

Todo duro, sino con cariño merecido.

Lejos atrás tu andas, atrás de los que nunca entiendan cuando tu miras a la ciega distancia,

Pensando en lo que hubiera sido.

Y acá como ahí,

La vida continúa, difícil.

Pero por un razón que ya has perdido años procurando, nunca entenderán.

Sigues andando, en Chicago.



What is Rheumatic Heart Disease, why is it so Prevalent in Uganda, and how could its Treatment Lead to a more Sophisticated Primary Healthcare System in Eastern Africa?

The reason I was in Africa, was to document the untold relationship between Case Western Reserve University, its teaching institution University Hospital in Cleveland, and a string of medical institutions throughout Uganda. The focus of my work concerns answering the question:

Why has CWRU been so successful in Uganda? – building a case for dealing with Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in Eastern Africa.

RHD is an illness citizens of the United States know relatively little about. In order to understand the breadth and scope of this project, we must understand the basics of the disease, Ugandan history, the power of relationships, the necessity of sustainable development, and how research and investigation play a role in the future of Uganda.

To be short for now, RHD is a heart condition that results from multiple cases of untreated Strep Throat. It is easily treatable, but because it affects those living in extreme proximity without access to medical care, it is stereotyped as a disease of the poor. This brings with it a stigma by which parents may not seek medical attention for their young ones until the heart’s valves (pipes that bring and expel blood from the heart) are too damaged for a child to live a long, healthy life. A simple series of low-cost injections, easily accessible penicillin can treat the disease.

In the 1940s, Ugandan medical infrastructure was seen as some of the most sophisticated in the world. Surgeons from all over the region of Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia were traveling to Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda for serious treatments, surgeries and care. But with the war-torn decades of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s during Uganda’s third president Idi Amin, Ugandan medical infrastructure suffered greatly. Idi Amin killed between 100,000 and 500,000 of the country’s populous. He fled to Libya, and died in Saudia Arabia in 2003. As a result of his horrendous crimes against humanity, the most prominent doctors took refuge in the United States, Europe and parts of Asia, never to return. Buildings were physically destroyed, and professors of medicine were not able to continuously educate their pupils. As a result, Ugandan medical infrastructure fell into decline and lost much of its noteworthiness.


In the 1980s, ’90s and early 2000s, HIV ravaged Uganda. Prevalence was as high as 30% among adults. Transmission from pregnant mothers to their children was a given, and the stigma of the disease made it extremely difficult to educate the public about preventative measures and treatment, such as Retro Viral regimens.

In 1986, Fred Robbins, pioneer of the polio vaccine in Africa, introduced his student and now Case Western professor of infectious disease, Dr. Robert Salata to institutions of Kampala, Uganda. Uganda was an opportunity to do research, and improve the outcomes in the country.

It was not long after that Case Western Reserve University and its teaching institution University Hospital created a partnership to study HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Kampala, Uganda in partnership with the country’s premier university, Makerere in Kampala.

Over the years, the HIV, TB and Malaria outcomes have improve tremendously. HIV among children is now as low as 6% (down from 30%). Transmission of HIV from parents to children is almost 100% preventable. TB is treatable. Malaria takes under 25% of the lives it did thirty years ago, and is now thought to be commonly understood throughout the public. These diseases have less and less stigma associated with them every year.

So why is Rheumatic Heart Disease such an issue in Uganda?

We must understand what Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is, why it is so prevalent in developing nations like Uganda, how people interact with healthcare, and why at the improvement of HIV outcomes in Uganda is improving RHD outcomes a link to developing a primary healthcare system in Uganda?


Above are the educational posters placed throughout Uganda. They are the result of research that has led to understanding RHD, and also to undemanding the importance of the Ugandan government investing in such community awareness.

RHD is, simply put, the result of untreated Streptococcal infection. 10% of the population (worldwide) will have an unnatural reaction to Strep, whereby their own body begins fighting itself. Overtime, untreated Strep leads to irregularities in the way heart valves function. This causes shortness of breath, heart attacks and other illnesses. It affects the productivity of the people it affects, as they feel sick and cannot work. This is a easily treatable disease, but like HIV treatments, it requires a continuous, prolonged care treatment program that can last as long as 10 years.

Below is a basic echocardiogram. This uses a transducer wand to create ultrasound waves (like sonar) that effectively make an image of an organ. In our case, a heart. The magic lies in the equipment, which costs at minimum $65,000 (USD). The computer seen here receives the waves and constructs an image that can be viewed from multiple angles.

The echocardiogram is the most reliable way to detect RHD. The power of the echocardiogram is that nurses trained in a basic skill set can use it.


Medtronic, which grants money to the University Hospital to do the work it is doing, is partially responsible for this, and several other machines, throughout Uganda.


The echo records registry was developed over the past ten years in order to make a data-driven case to place resources in the treatment of this easterly treatable, but often misunderstood disease. While this book looks basic, and it is – it is a pen-and-paper record system, it is the fundamental background to the RHD campaign. By checking patients, especially children, throughout Uganda, the records are being used to make a greater case for future funding of treating this horrible, unnecessary disease.


RHD testing.

That’s where Dr. Emmy Okello, Dr. James Kiyama (Below) and Case Western come into play.




Because of issues of class, and pride, patients often do not discuss important topics like HIV status, where they live, their diet, and other important factors in making diagnoses – especially for children. While Drs. Okello, Kiyama and several at Mulago are able to build real relationships with their patients, and create a sense of trust, many doctors cannot say the same. As a result, Dr. Chris Longenecker has worked with Okello and Kiyama to train nurses. Nurses are the ones who create a sense of calm among patients. The Ugandans I worked with feel safe and are open and honest with nurses, explaining the crucial details to their medical history that allows for proper diagnosis and treatment.

More on nurses’ work in future articles.

Below is Justine Ngumo, the administrator of the CWRU programs in Uganda. Another challenge is working with administration to account for procedures, resources, training, staff and employee payroll, and other accounting measures we may take for granted. Changing the system of operations at Mulago plays a major role in determining whether or not future grants are awarded to Uganda. Justine has quite a bit of work on her hands.


Dr. Juliet Nabbaale, seen below, will be the next in a growing series of cardiologists arriving at Case Western/University Hospital for training. Arriving in January, she will be specializing in heart failure treatment – specifically designed to combat issues of RHD.



(Above) Doctors like Dr. Grace Mirembe from the Joint Clinical Research Center originally were staffed to control pediatric HIV/AIDS, and mother-child transmission of HIV. In the 1990s, rates of HIV in children were as high as 30% in urban areas of Uganda. Thanks to the help of doctors like Grace, the advantageous delivery of PEPFAR dollars (over 1 billion) from President George W. Bush’s administration, and countless other organizations contributing to the cause, Uganda (And many other nations of Africa) secured and developed physical infrastructure, trained nurses to do what only doctors were knowledgable of, and educated communities in several organizing campaigns. All of this, of course, was in light with campaigns run by the Ugandan Ministry of Health.

However, as HIV has decreased to as low as 6% in pediatric cases, and mother-to-child passage of HIV is almost 100% preventable, capacity is down at this established and trained facilities. Case Western and University of Hospital of Cleveland are now working to ensure that these facilities do not go to waste, as they easily could. As a result, Case Western have re-trained doctors like Dr. Mirembe to focus on issues of RHD, the number one cause of debilitating heart disease in Ugandans – especially in pediatric, or childhood, cases.

Why is this so unique? Part of the reason is that Case Western’s relationship goes far beyond the money supplied in the 1990s and 2000s, PEPFAR and the HIV donations that came during that time. Many organizations moved in because strategically there were opportunities for money, and opportunities for infectious disease research in the developing world – a very important set of populations to study.

CWRU has been connected to Makerere University, Mulago Hospital and other institutions throughout the country since 1986 when Dr. Robert Salata began engaging with his colleague and mentor, the world-famous Dr. Fred Robbins who essentially pioneered the eradication of polio via medicine, cultural understanding, community organizing and most importantly, sustainable training of medical staff in Africa, specifically in Uganda.


Some of the earlier facilities from the 1990s still exist to this day. They run research programs on Malaria, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, RHD and more. The first photo is the first research collaboration building operating at the top of a small hill above Mulago Hospital. Once, CWRU was merely a name; now it is almost completely integrated with Makerere University Medical School’s teaching programs, the Heart Institutes work procedures, guideline creation and in shaping the business processes that account and raise money for future operations.


It may all look simple, but inside these walls innovation is taking place out of both necessity, and out of passion for the future. Keep an eye on Uganda. Not only is it beautiful, but it has an energetic population already leaps and bounds ahead of where others may be with such a past.

Edward Mugerwa, and the Privilege of Travel


Lake Victoria, from Such Great Heights

There is something significant about ascending in an airplane, traversing clouds high above automobiles, roads, bridges, buildings and even large bodies of water that seem to shrink below into perfectly colored and organically ordered shapes and colors. It helps me return back to myself, as I truly am.


Perhaps It is the ability to look at the world, almost in retrospect; as if to see the posturing and false-desires that help me fit in with society down below, and realize that often those below whom I try to impress or win over, know little about myself in particular.


It is also in these privileged moments of reflection and vision from above that help source and grow new ideas that improve the life I will lead when my plane lands. Taking a step back and looking down is a great way for my brain to re-comprehend something I thought I understood, and now undersetand better.

My father adores the adage that we must take time to sharpen the saw, or the blade will grow dull. Unfortunately, that time for many is a privlege not often afforded.


Being high above in an airplane flying from Philadephia to Cleveland after a thirty-six hour series of drives with new South African friends coming from Murchison National Park in Northern Uganda, south-bound six hours on bumpy roads in safari jeeps to Kampala capitol city – Africa’s “Pearl” as Churchill named it – on Airbus rides in and out of Doha, Qatar, and on then to the United States, allows me the priviledge of not being connected to the electrostatic plasma of society in which standards are localized, desires and norms regionalized and aspirations often swayed by marketing campaigns. From up here, I have a few moments to breathe deeply into who I am as I look out the plastic-thick window and better understand what I am good at, who I am, and what I want.

This is a privilege not afforded to all, and I recognize that.


Perhaps it can be compared to moving away from home to discover and go through a metamorphoses of truth, and become truer to the self. Then, upon returning to family and friends months or years later, the pulling and re-molding by our societal groups of that lived past with their desire to return us to the “old self,” as if the new one be the farce. That free self one can become away in new settings is part of that reflection.

Though, moving away from home is in itself, another form of travel privilege.


Edward Mugerwa from Mulago Hospital Transportation Logistics wing of the Administration Offices, became both a friend and a sage of advice for navigating the wildly overcrowded streets of Kampala and its neighborhing cities like Lubowa where the Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC) is located and Case Western works on both HIV/AIDS and Rheumatic Heart Disease research, among a myriad other things. Edward’s jovial laugh and nods assure mutual understanding of any given subject, and his language and culture lessons, I would find to be a sort of a Uganda-norm. Warmth, welcoming, hospitality, free rides given just because Dr. George Abongomera or Dr. Grace Mirembe were going in that “general direction.” After truly convincing Edward I wanted to learn phrases in Luganda other than to speak the beautiful Muganda women and merely use it to my own advantages, and that I had an growing desire to better understand culture, business, and how to deal with the agreeability of people who denounce firing employees, infrequently say “no” and respecting the idea of ego and family to the greatest extent possible, he began to convey to me a sadness that I believe lies nascent in many who work with foreigners.

Not an anger, but a sadness.


Edward spoke to me several times on our trip about such matters of the luck of our birth that I refered to earlier in this article of Airplane travel – because international travel is exactly another one of those privileges. It is though perhaps that the ascent in an Airbus is a metaphor for the mere concept flight confers: the opportunity for advanced learrning and new perspectives many will never come to know.


Edward asked me why I thought other Ugandans did not travel north of Kampala six hours and deep into the natural wildlife preserves of Murchison National Park, located on the Nile River in Northern Uganda near Sudan. He knew his answer to the question had everything to do with economics. However, it was more of a style of conversation that exposed both hapiness that foreigners could see his country for more than just being linked to dieseases like HIV or West Nile, and to culture above and beyond Banana-Matoke and singer-songwriter Chamelon (who is by far my favorite travel re-discovery); Edward expressed sadness that only well-to-do foreigners ever get to see some of the beautiful things in their own backyards.

It is reminiscent of transportation-related projcts I worked on in Detroit – many Detroiters never have the true opportunity to leave the city, much less the region. Major reasons include issues of economics, but also that of experience and understanding how to fall into the world of exploration that some of us have had the privilege of being encouraged by family, friends, teachers or others with opportunities to unfold onto us. Taking Detroiters just to neighborhing Cleveland for one single day in 2010 – pastors, legislators and citizens, on a bus my last organization, The Metropolitan Organizing Strategy chartered – showed them the power of Cleveland’s Regional Bus Rapid Transit Authority and was enough to excite and galvanize a small team to organize, grow and eventually lobby and pass legislation in 2012. Detroit is now already laying ground for a rail line, receiving the federal grant money it deserves for new buses, and according to plan should see bus rapid transit lines in the next five to ten years spur throughout the city, and soon the four-county region.

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A galvanized group of Detroit Transportation Advocates I organized with, from 2012. Having traveled and seen another working system, met with Detroit/Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano to move policy forward in the region. After travel, it was so much easier because mindsets were changed, and energy was high.

But it required the luxury of travel. The opportunity. The privilege to reflect, and see how others design their circumstances and lives differently, if they can.


It is a fundamental piece of the research project that took me to Ugandad in the first place. Case Western has trained over one hundred doctors in Uganda, from the village-cities of Mbali, Mbarara and Gulu to the massive metropolis of Kampala. More importantly, it has flown Ugandan to Cleveland tens of doctors including Dr. Emmy Okello, Dr. James Kiyama, Dr. Isaac Ssambulya who is on campus now and in January, Dr. Juliette Ngarwa. Evidenced in my qualitative research, part of the most important thing they take back to Uganda when they return beyond a surgical cardiovascular expertise, is the new perspective of how another country does interventional cardiology, runs reasearch programs, writes grants and fastidiously accounts for strategic planning and strategic budgeting.


It is the luxury of travel for these doctors, paired with six-to-twelve month periods of the most greulling medical education you could imagine alongside Drs. Daniel Simon, Marco Costa, Robert Salata, Chris Longenecker and others at CWRU and University Hospital in Cleveland, that allows these Ugandan medical professionals to think differently, strive for above average results, and reconsider their own standards and work ethics.

To reflect, in a new setting of international travel, learning and growth.


Edward sat on a bench with me and CWRU’s Dr. Steve Morris, and stared out almost blankly into the Nile river on which we had set up camp just oustide of the Murchison National Park ferry that took us into Northern Uganda. He expressed his confusion with the world, and how some have everything and others have so little. He laughed at times that those with everything often spend less time smiling and typicaly do not dance as well! But he said, “I wish my family and friends could see the Nile like I am, and like you are, Mike. But they have neither the time nor the money to do so. Mzungo (white foreigners) that come here just seem to have it so easy.”


He was not complaining one bit, but stating a fact.


Edward became a friend, but he was first assigned to Dr. Steve and I as a driver. He was truly shocked, and even expressed it, that we wanted him to join us on all of our outings, be it on a day-long boat ride to Murchison Falls, or on several safaris where we saw Lions, Antelope, Elephants, Giraffes, and my favorite, Warthogs. He was supposed to eat on another campus of the camping area, but I could not accept that class-stratification that many foriegners enjoy about the expat-life. And it was not necessary. We ate together, and he taught us more in those three days in Northern Uganda than we had learned about detailed, cultural Ugandan life in the week before.


 I never would have met Edward had I not had the privilege of travel.

While there was a strong sense of communication with us by the end of the week, having driven just Edward and I, and occassionally Dr. Steve or Dr. Chris Longenecker, close to thirty hours over the south and the north of Uganda, Edward reassured me both loquatioiusly and in his subtle responses, that I must continue taking this privelge of travel and reflection, and never forget how powerful it is. It must be used for good, and reinvestment.

The Nile River, Uganda

I missed a week of classes, countless Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lessons, study time and preparation for the mid-term examinations I will be taking tomorrow and Wednesday, but to whine or complain about being overworked could not come close to accounting for the learning, growth, reflection and better understanding of myself I have had with the privilege of travel.

I could take pictures of trees all day.

Kampala, Uganda: The Pearl of Africa

Oli otya ssebo/nyabo! (hello sir!/ma’am!)

The name, “the Pearl,” actually comes from Winston Churchill. When he touched down in the capital city of Uganda during a foreign relations parade, he spoke out that Kampala was truly a pearl to the eyes. Nature shines on all sides of the city, from Lake Victoria to the south, to the beautifully ever-green forests to the north, west, and east.

If Churchill saw Kampala in the morning, then as prime minister he likely saw this at night: the sunrise on the equator.


When you enter Entebbe airport you cannot help but be humbled by the world-famous Lake Victoria and the many curves and cuts it takes into the earth of Eastern Africa. “Entebbe” means “seat” in Uganda’s Luganda language – this was the place where the Buganda king last to enforce legal decisions.


Several other reasons he may have called it the Pearl: Lake Victoria


The perfect sunset for trees


Year round green fields, trees and nature


Below is Godfrey, the leader of the entire parish districts laity, and a Rotary International Peace Fellow Alumnus and member for over twenty years. In fact, he met his wife at Rotarac, a group for younger Rotarians-to-be. When he and his wife, Catherine, met, they were working on Peace Building in the Kampala district, something Godfrey has dedicated his entire life to. In fact, he travels the world both speaking about his work, and training people in places of conflict. His job is fascitinating: he meets with leaders of conflicting groups, be they tribal leaders, business elite, religious leaders, government officials; and he figures out from each persons’ perspective what the problem began with. His emotional intelligence is as high as one could offer, and rivals what Dan Goleman or Richard Boyatzis (developers of the idea of Emotional Intelligence, from Harvard and Case Western) would even call “Emotionally Intelligent!”

I had the opportunity to meet Godfrey because of Rebecca Holloway’s Rotary International connection – possibly one of the most connected, influential non-governmental organizations world wide. In fact, they have been partially responsible with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and UNICEF for the eradication of polio, among many business relationships that have changed and influenced the world. 

World Polio Day is October 23 – http://www.endpolio.org/worldpolioday

In merely the course of two emails, he agreed to meet with me just on her recommendation. Without question, from day one, this relationship changed my experience here in Kampala. Hands down, it shaped my first day, which led to better interactions with people in the days to come so far. Thank you Holloway.

Below is his son, Michael, who at six-years-old speaks three languages. English, Swahili, Luganda and a few phrases Luo, the northern Ugandan  province’s language, which President Barak Obama is said to speak.

Behind us is the church that Godfrey and his parish have been raising money to construct. The sounds reverberating from the 10:00am choir’s mass were extremely beautiful.


This is Godfrey’s church, different from the one above. He welcomed in a new priest from Tanzania, who did not yet speak Luganda, the language of Kampala, and the Buganda tribe. So Godfrey is pictured here translating. It was amazing how Godfrey interpreted the calm English and livened it up in Luganda. The choir at this mass was also stunning.


On the left is Andrew, my first Lugandan language teacher! In the middle is Frank, who asked me, “I cannot identify your tribe, Michael, of what tribe are you?” In many parts of the world, “tribe” represents a mixture of region, language, culture, family name and basic familial values. Most in Kampala are o the Buganda kingdom, or tribe. Below that is their clan, which could be related to my major extended family, and then family, which is your last name, “and the dad who yells at you when youo want to sleep in on Sundays and skip mass” said Frank. Andrew agreed. That’s how you know whose family – if they can yell at you to get you to church on Sunday! Brilliant young men, who also spoke three languages each. To my right in the back is Lauren. She knew all about Michigan and the great lakes, because the rival Lake Victoria.


Just the occasional cattle grazing outside of mass.


The construction of Godfrey’s church on the reddest, most beautiful earth I have ever seen.


Next up, after mass, we drove the visiting priest into the district to where he resides. We went back to his home where his niece Ester and wife Catherine prepared for us MATOKE! Matoke is a steamed, not fried, banana. But the method is where the magic is. Instead of steaming the banana just over water, the banana or plantain is placed inside the leaves of a plantain so that the banana flavor and sugary sweetness does not leave. Catherine told me many Mzungo (foreigners/white people!) fail to do this because it requires a little more time, but is well worth it!

After, we headed to KCCP Kampala Annual City Fair! It was estimated that over 3 million Ugandans attended the festival throughout the day. We left as it got dark because the crowd was getting too intense as everyone prepared for the arrival of world-famous Ugandan singer/songwriter, Chameleon! Check out an OLD CLASSIC hit of Chameleons, Jamilla.

Below you can see a crowd of people waiting in a slightly chaotic line for the first 10,000 seats to see Chameleon.


Below is the midday of the festival, where we saw some quite impressive booty shaking. A taltented group of both women and men were grooving to Ugandan beats and singing in both Swahili and Luganda languages! And the best part was that six-year-old Michael, Godfrey’s son, was singing the songs in both languages! He wouldn’t dance though, until I got shaking a bit. At one point, he mentioned I was doing it wrong, but that I was almost there!


When I spoke with Doctors on Monday at Mulago hospital where I am working, they were quite amazed that I went to KCCP Kampala Festival – “it’s a little bit too wild, Michael.” I found the event crowded, but great vibes, people dancing, smells of barbecuing meat and lots of public awareness campaigns for hiv/aids, sexual contraception, heart disease, anti-smoking campaigns and information about pre-natal care.

I did not see a single person smoking a cigarette. Not a single one. Incredible.

After several hours at the festival, and dance moves like I had never seen on multiple stage – not even on JT, Usher or MJ – we headed back once again to Ndejje neighborhood where Godfrey lives for some dinner, a few Bell beers and a few episodes of Uganda Music TV’s Country Music Station! That’s right, Earl Scruggs, Willie Nelson, the original Jack Johnson and  Dolly Parton playing loud and clear on the TV! Godfrey and I discussed the north/south differences, and laughed at the size of the Stetson hats of our country musicians. “You know what they say about a man who needs to wear a big hat!….” – Godfrey

We ended up at the Uganda Kampala Serena Resort, owned and operated by a Saudi Arabian family, based off of Italian architecture overlooking Lake Victoria.


Clearly a colosseum-style design. Inside was an Ethiopian family playing soccer against a southern Indian (kerala) family who were both there on vacation after a business trip. After watching for a few minutes, lets just say I know India is more a cricket nation!


The unrivaled views of Lake Victoria, Kampala.


Godfrey, about the most amazing tour guide someone could have in a foreign city. Proud of his city, and rightly so, and proud of his life’s work of peacemaking and international relationship building.

Webalee nyo,  chiroonji nyo, Godfrey. Thank you so much.

Another 22 hour flight as a Global MBA: University Health in Kampala, Uganda


And so again it begins…

Another 22 hour flight across the world, to a new continent as a Global MBA student at Case Western’s Weatherhead School of Management.

Except this time, it’s a bit more of my own accord, working with University Health’s Director of Strategic Innovation, David Sylvan…

 …and world renowned Drs. of infectious diseases  Marco Costa, Chris Longenecker, Robert Salata and Dan Simon in “The Pearl of Africa: Kampala, Uganda.”


David Sylvan, Director of Innovation at University Health


David has mentored and coached some of our brightest Global MBAs, and encourages real-world, hands-on experience as the best way to learn. I already know that time in Kampala will be more learning than I can even imagine…

uganda_map_thumb 041212060005--Uganda Map

In July of 2015, David Sylvan, then associate professor of Innovation at the Weatherhead School of Management, approached me to take on a project that would pair my developing background in writing about business strategy and my now demonstrated ability to navigate cultures that are, at first glance, different from my own. The project he could not clarify at the time, but he assured me it would combine all of my passion for community-driven organizing, the learning that Global MBA had prepared me for, and my desire to deconstruct enormous projects to the micro level via one-on-one interviews and relationships, all with an enormous challenge to discover and publish an article to answer the following question:

 “Why have University Health and Case Western’s Medical Program been so successful in developing a sustainable model of medical education and care in Uganda?”


Kampala, Uganda – known as “The Pearl of Africa”

On Friday morning, I set sail for a twenty-two hour flight to Entebbe, Uganda, where I will then move toward the capital city of Kampala, as well as Lima and wherever the hospitality of the “the Pearl of Africa” may take me.

I will be conducting research interviews with the Ugandan Ministry of Health, healthcare workers in Kampala, as well as Ugandan medical workers who have engaged with Case Western and University Health over the past twenty years to develop what is being termed as one of the prominent, successful, sustainable medical relationships of its kind.

Our goal is to detail and explain the cross-cultural qualitative and relationship-based interactions that have happened over the course of the project over the last several decades. What is it that is so different about this engagement than other projects?

My hypothesis at this point is that long-term relationships are built by Case and University Health by understanding the problems of sustainability from the perspectives of Ugandan medical workers. Secondly, their interaction with local communities to develop “Community Action Boards (CABs)” that drive the trust component beyond the primary relationship between Case/UH and Ugandan medical practitioners.


Detroit will always be my pearl, but Kampala, Uganda is known as the official Pearl of Africa.


For my birthday, my sister designed for me a cap. It says Detroit, on the front, in an Asian-themed font. On the side it says, “Quad:” the name we call my family. I’m taking this cap with me.


This is the quad – motivation and love.

This first picture of this article was taken in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood by Rebecca Holloway. Pilsen is known for generations of tremendous fights for the rights and equality of all, with a strong foundation of immigrant families, many of whom are Spanish speakers.



As rigorous as it was, I would do it all over again without hesitation.


Originally, Sarah Wells of the Weatherhead School of Management commissioned me to write a piece conveying the feeling of the general experience I had returning to Weatherhead in June of 2015. After all, my batch of the 2015 Global MBA had been in Asia for one year at XLRI’s School of Management studying and working with the Tata Conglomerate in India, and at Tongji University in China, immersed in the fascinating world of business, networking and overall entrepreneurship of Shanghai. Naturally, returning to the States can feel a bit strange, and seeing my jiaxiang, or “hometown” from a different perspective warrants reflection.


I tried to piece together memories of the foreign feeling I felt after being abroad so long. I conjured memories of cars driving on the right side of the road rather than the left; of few open air markets; of set prices in stores not requiring bargaining. I thought of the blandness of un-spiced, curry-less dishes. I thought of the lack of public transit in America – but none of that seemed to really flow from my mind, nor did it serve to express my honest experience.


What did strike me powerfully was today: my first day of courses without my XLRI and Tongji classmates. They had been my colleagues and business partners throughout the last year. I felt at a loss without my GMBA friends. You see, in our final semester, each cohort returns to their respective university to complete their Global Master of Business Administration.


Walking the halls at the Frank Gehry-designed Peter B. Lewis Weatherhead building today was a foreign feeling, even after spending an entire summer semester there almost seven days a week. The chairs were filled with students I had not yet met; the halls flowing with energetic bodies I had never seen. While they also hail from all over the world (as Weatherhead does a fantastic job at immersing its classrooms in incredible talent from all over the world), I found myself looking for Soumy Singh, my best bud and Bollywood-connoisseur from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India– the oldest city in the world. Or Akshay Chaudhary, a great artist from Jamshedpur, Jhakrhand whose inventor capabilities have only just begun to blossom. I hear a voice speak Mandarin, Chinese and consider Yi Wen, the woman who shyly guided Sammy Bandy and me through Nanjing, China one weekend. I miss Pranai Devulapalli, my first friend in the program with whom I read Sun Zi’s Art of War before arriving in China. I miss Rishabh Jain, co-founder of the Global MBA consulting club who would push me to always keep my cool and to become a better “resonant leader.” I missed the people in whom I had invested, and who had invested in me so profoundly for the past year.

Today, I felt it.

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I looked around for the faces from the Global MBA program I knew well, but with whom had not spent the most time. I wondered if I would ever get the chance to talk about Vietnam and the oil business with Adhithya Gugan Ravi, who lived in Vietnam with his family for a time. I missed Vishakha Maliwal, from whom the great fountain of financial knowledge flowed, all one had to do was politely ask her. I missed Vivienne Zhang, likely the smartest mathematical mind and sweetest, most compassionate woman in our class. Vivienne was the first to devote as much time as needed to any of us who had failed to understand a statistical or financial concept.



I realized today, walking the halls of PBL that those friends (and likely future business partners) I had made throughout the previous year of the Global MBA really meant something to me. It was more profound than just a graduate program – I had learned to ebb and flow with those from India and China; I had learned to feel as they felt, and see the world evolve throughout their eyes. In that, we had created our own language of understanding.


After my first class today with Dr. Rakesh Niraj – Marketing Metrics – I walked around the classroom and said hello my new classmates. While I did not yet know them as I had my previous Global MBA Cohort, I found myself more seamlessly interacting with them than perhaps I would have a year ago. My language skills instantly connected me with several folks from Delhi, India and from Anhui province in China. All I needed to say was “Namaskar, Supra bhat! Mere naam Michael hai!” or “Zaoshanghao!, Wo de mingzi jiao Michael!” meaning “Good morning! My name is Michael!” in Hindi and Mandarin, respectively. I looked around the classroom with a different eye; I used my Global MBA experience to better open conversation with my new classmates, also from all over the world. I even met a guy, João, from Recife, Brazil and a woman from Potsdam, Germany – speakers of languages I had learned and practiced while abroad in the Global MBA.

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I knew that it was the Global MBA program that prepared me for this day. It was the way that the Global MBA shapes and molds us into truly resonant leaders who grow, listen and learn to engage others in a more profound way than I ever could have imagined. I look back and wish only I could struggle through one more project at 11pm in Jamshedpur or Shanghai, complaining about how unrealistic the challenge of a certain due date we would eventually overcome was.


                  While today was our first class on our own here at Weatherhead, I check my WeChat messages (WeChatt is an App from a company called TenCent reminiscent of WhatsApp). I see posts from wo de pengyou, from mere dosts – “from my friends,” and I think to myself:

“I now have a network throughout the entire world – I have extremely talented friends in the most powerful, growing economies and countries on Earth. This is the beginning of the power of Weatherhead’s Global MBA.”



Few will argue that Sammy Bandy

possesses the strongest resonant leadership and cultural adaptability skills – it is something in his true nature that listens, evades judgment of others and finds a sincere interest in the passions and thoughts of others. The XLRI batch coined him respectfully as, “one of their own,” and I’m honored and proud to have him as a friend and a colleague. He has started an international business with other MBAs in the program and learned Mandarin Chinese with me from the start.

The Following is an excerpt from an article written by Sammy Bandy, a fellow Global MBA classmate, colleague and friend.


Sammy Bandy, presenting ideas and concepts to the Global MBA class of 2015. Sammy is a master public speaker – clear, concise and knows how to break his English down so that no matter how basic your language skills, Sammy can explain it to you.


Co-founders of Drago Allure Company, an enterprise that designs fashionable clothing and contributes proceeds to local communities in need (Not Pictured, Ali Akil).

While our goodbyes were emotional, I didn’t really feel the impact of not having our GMBA classmates around anymore until this week. Walking into PBL, there were crowds of people, way more people than had been there over the summer, and there was not one person I knew. My usual routine in the morning was to find one of my Indian or Chinese classmates and say what’s up, but they weren’t there. Things were going to be different from now on for sure.


Sammy, in an altercation with my mother. Likely pertaining to their mutual upbringings in the South.


While it was a sad realization, over the course of a few classes, I noticed how much the GMBA actually did prepare me for this moment, for this semester, and for the rest of my life. Most of my classes are filled with foreigners who I easily connected with. I spit out a few Chinese phrases (zao shang hao, ni duo da le, wo zai tongji daxue xue xi, etc.) and got the usual giggles. Nonetheless, my new Chinese classmates really were curious about my experiences living in Shanghai. Instantly, we had something to bond over and I even got a few WeChats. Thanks Global MBA. I was even able to push one of my Chinese classmates sitting next to me to speak up in class when he had a question, a skill that I had practiced during my program.


Sammy and Joseph Tasse, Sr.

During my Social Entrepreneurship course, an Indian classmate started his presentation in class with “Customer is God” and how, in India, you put others before yourself. I instantly knew what he meant by my interactions with my XLRI bros and how they and their families treated me with so much hospitality while I was abroad (Faheem in Mumbai, Akshay in Ghatshila, & countless others).   I even enjoyed impressing my new Indian classmates with naming the capital of their home state in India, something that Pranai and Siddharth had helped me learn on our spring break trip in India. The knowledge that I thought would be useless instantly connected me with these classmates; they were really excited to see that I had at least some knowledge of India.


Soumy, Sixty, Catherine, Amber, Faheem, Akshay, Sammy and I at Belle Isle, Detroit, USA

Old Article, From my Return to the U.S. from Norway-


I entered Norweigin airlines #7081 on Sunday, April 26, 2015 after having been gone since August  or so of the previous year. Having spent the past week in the tranquil, yet lively city of Berlin, and the previous three hours in the most beautiful harbor city I think I could never even have dreamed [Oslo], I had an amazing calm all over my body. I was thrilled about life, and these new places I had come to experience; the different cultures and different ways of reacting and interaacting to and with people in public in different lands; speaking different languages and really being in a constant state of langage learning- that every moment was an opportunity to learn something new that I was passioante about, a new German word for something I never knew could have a word; a new Hindi phrase that showed respect to elders or was specifically meant for your closest friends, or perhaps a sentence in Chinese that explained how hot water is the cure to all ailments, from sickness to sadness; maybe evne some Thai with my most highly respected bro, Dave Cain.


But the anxiety, or the light tension I should put it, took over in the waiting room at Oslo Internatioanl Airport. In the boarding cube which we waited, finely laid Norweigen wooden panels lined the floors, chairs looked as though no gum or dust had ever covered their original furnishing, people made use of the garbage cans – but then I felt it. I felt it as soon as I could hear others with American accents speaking in a language I completely understood. There was no secrecy to their words, there was no mystery to their articulations, tonality or body language as there had been so intensely for the past year. It was painfully familiar, yet strangely confusing.

It’s hard to explain, because I know that I understand, but in a way I felt as though I saw it though a very different lense. Painfully so, I was reminded of some of the feelings I had perhaps run away from that my own country stirred in me, though I could more easily digest those feelings, for that brief moment at least, and that actually felt quite powerful; matured.


I was not sad or happy to be around my countryfolk, I was neutral. I thought I would be more excited. A few times, I saw some loud Los Angelos younger guys talking about Norway being “strange” and “we could never live here, bro.” I connected with them in a way, and felt comfortable in their language, but cringed my mouth to one side and flexed my lips at their lack of awareness, or perhaps attempted alphaness. It was, for some reason, confusing.


I boarded the plane, and looked back in the cage that carried us to the beautiful and clean red and white Norweigen 787 Dreamliner Eco-friendly Air Taxi with electro-chromatic dimming system, equipped with Androidtouch screen monitors in front of each seat. Nice. It really does have the “coolest 3d inflight map of any plane in the sky.” Behind me I saw all of the colors of the rainbow that you find in the United States. An Asian-looking businessman, with a squint in his eyes all to familiar to the older gentleman of Shanghai, who was holding his left wrist in his right hand behind his back, resting above his belt. It reminded me of the long walks that older folks in China took daily. I saw a group of young white and black guys with flat midwestern accents, slapping hands like bros do, making me happy to see American guys broing out one again. I smiled to myself, and thought of returning to those handshakes, back pats, half hugs, friendly slang that I had since removed from my vocabulary and manerisms. I saw a young latino couple, reminding me of a part of the US that I love. I saw an older white couple with grey hair and old lips that just hung open, and that found themselves zoning out often, but quite fit and with it. He was wearing a handsome brown stiched jacket that was clearly American, and I knew because of the way it fit him. And she had sneakers, track pants and an Underarmor high-tech plastic looking pink and black jacket on. And I saw no one with jeans that hugged their thighs and calves like the Euro gentleman seem to adore so. My flannel, black jeans, grey tshirt and sneakers underneath my Gothic D Detroit hat seemed to click. My own accent within the bounds of the local culture. The non-conforming conformist move, safe for international traveling.


The sound system on the plane in Oslo breaks from Bjork to a woman with flat vowels and sharp “Ps” who starts talking, and it’s so easy to understand, I feel like I have been wearing weights on my shoes for a year and just took them off to burn Sammy Bandy and Sixto Torres in basketball…

I’m glad they don’t tell us to turn off all appliances, but now only suggest airplane mode. Finally, the world of airline directions and “safety comliance” came around to that. I’m typing this as we make our way to the runway, and Norwegian early Spring, slightly winter-burned trees and bluest skies above with dreamlike, mountain clouds are just oustide. It’s hard to say goodbye to that. In fact, when the stewardess walks by, I’m going to confidently and snidely continue typing, not even looking at her, knowing that shes not going to demand, “sir, I ..need.. you to____…” Soon, humanity will be eliminating the requirement to place my tray in the upright position, because I dont like squeezing my thighs together to make a small table. It pushes my bladder in.


I  worked my way to the seat, saw a lot of very heavy people squeezing around blonde-haired Norweigen stewardesses on the airplane. 33G was far at the back, my second bathroom-area seat today, though this time far enough that it shouldnt give off any stench that my earlier flight had. I saw guys with just enormous muscles showing off their ripped tattoos, with backwards caps helping some of the older folks lift their bags into the overhead storage compartments. I judged them, considering they must be from the Midwest, and I was kind of silently proud of that.

Regardless, I felt very strangely out of place, as though again I was the stranger. Though surely that was in my own head.

I saw some of my American brothers and sisters looking around the air-taxi, kind of sizing themselves up against other people, as I and many Americans do. As I do. Who’s who? Are that bro’s biceps bigger than mine? I saw lots of Underarmor, again. I laughed. I thought of Sixto eating Chipotle for some reason.


I sat at my seat, which luckily was an aisle-boy, and noticed there was even a space between me and the petite woman at the window. I wished I had had the window, but I was happy I was able to spread my knees apart.

Anyway, I thought about how great this flight would be, and that I would soon see my great friend, soon to  be father, and absolutely fantastic jazz pianist Christopher Lucas Wilson (Check out his latest ablum here). I would be seeing Rebecca soon, and my family, and though my dog had passed away at Christmas, I would be able to finally bring some closure by having a few cries with my mom and sister, and talks about “the circle of life” with my padre.

I took out my Der Spiegel magazine, and my Ipad to type, and in order to put my backpack under the seat in front of me, as instructed, I placed my passport and phone with headphones on the middle seat that remained unoccupied. How great it is to have that extra seat…


Out of nowhere, the silent antisocial woman to my right, seemingly not enjoying enough her window seat, eyeballs me. I can feel it. She doesn’t even wait to speak her mind, as she calls out to me,

“you better not be leaving yo stuff on that seat all flight,” accenting heavily the ST sound in stuff.
I was shocked, but not confused. I knew exactly what she was thinking, and through the wrinkled crease between her two beating eyes I could see her territorial march had begun. Her jugular vein throbbed in her throat through her white turtle neck sweater as I made intentional deep, slow, stern eye contact with her, didn’t say a word, cocked my head to the side, and squinted back.

I didn’t move my phone. I didnt bow to her territorial wandering. I deliberately moved my head back even slower than I had cocked it to look at my backpack, funneled my things into it even slower than before, zipped it up loudly, gave her one more look in the face as she watched me, and even more slowly and confidently rested my backpack under the seat in front of me. She was eager for my verbal response. I made a coughing noise, to ensure her that her demand was at best my third priority at the moment. I got conmfortable, looked around the cabin, and then without turning my head past my seat, slowly approached my phone with my hands and considered just moving it to the center of the seat to tease her.

But I didn’t. I picked up my phone and passport, locked my tray in the upright position, silently smiled to myself, and realized I was on my way back home. A warm confidence and familiarity gave me shivers. I almost felt like hugging this woman. Then I felt like eating an entire classic pan crust pineapple Hawaiian pizza from Buddy’s on McNichols and Conant with my dad.

Moments later, a thirty-somthing woman with dark, Spanish hair taps on my shoulder several times, somewhat incessantly over the period of 1.2 seconds, and says,

“disculpe, me lo pueda señor prestar el lapiz?”

I take a second as my heart warmed back up, looked at her face, and smiled without showing my teeth. “Claro que sí, no habría nigun problema.”

I sit back in my chair, smile at the seat in front of me, take a deep breathe, and sigh. The original woman to my right looks at me, and asks if I speak Spanish, in Spanish of course. Then says,

“ay, no lo sabía”

as if she would have never gotten territorial had she would have sabía’d.

“Always put on your own mask first, before helping others” rattled off in an Iowa-friendly American accent of an impressively clear surround sound speaker system. “Life vest… no smoking…one person a time in the lavatories…” and then some jarble about how high we’ll be flying, and how we’re advised by the captian to keep our seat belts fastened as we’ll be having some slight turbuluance as we fly over a small civil war taking place in…


Inclusion as a Journey, not a Destination

An excerpt from a term paper I wrote for a Strategic Thinking course in Global MBA – The idea of constant reflection and a never-ending journey of “learning to be globally inclusive.”

**Note: Sergio Garcia is currently the Chief of Staff in Office of the President at NeoMed (Northeast Ohio Medical Institute)
and simultaneous the Vice President, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – which he developed. Read more about Mr. Garcia here


Over the course of Strategic Thinking III, my most profound learning experience came from Sergio Garcia. Mr. Garcia alluded to the fact that even after all of his years of service in Afghanistan in the military and after having grown up in East Los Angeles in a multi-national, immigrant family, he too still had room for growth and learning with regard to inclusion and diversity. This impacted me profoundly because I often think I understand diversity and inclusion. However, after hearing Mr. Garcia talk about the necessity to always be learning about how to be more inclusive in the workplace, and in our personal lives, I realized that by no means is my journey to being an inclusive leader complete. Nor will it ever be.

I was born in Cincinnati, but grew up in Michigan. I attended church and high school in Detroit, a city that was at the time eighty-five percent African American. My friends were African, African American, Latino, Arabic, Sikh and white. My extended family is diverse with regard to class, race, nationality and geographic location. As a result of painful events of my childhood caused by racism, I developed my first career as a community organizer in Detroit working to bring together multitudes of people to create diverse populations to lobby for issues like immigration reform, better housing practices for low-income families by the federal government and the development of a public transportation system. I thought that I was one who truly understood the ideas of diversity and inclusion. However, when Sergio Garcia stepped forward and talked about how even he had a journey left working for Neomed in Ohio, I was humbled in my own rite.

This experience made me develop several feelings. First, I felt naturally humbled. Sergio has a certain commandeering presence in the classroom when he spoke, and I was charismatically drawn to it. I felt that he was honest, straight to the point and able to make an impact in the organizations in which he works as a result. I felt so much respect for a grown man who clearly understood the concepts of diversity and inclusion that could admit he too may have room to grow. Secondly, I felt ashamed. I had spent much of my life trying to convince others to be more inclusive. In fact, I had even led and been an organizer on a campaign to sue several cities in the metro-Detroit region for not being inclusive in their hiring practices! I had been asked to give guest lectures at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University on inclusion, organizing and the role of organizers in creating what the Bible refers to as “God’s beloved community on Earth.” It had caused me over the years to even condescendingly discuss the issue with others who did not understand these themes as clearly as I did. As a result, I thought about all of those instances over the last decade of my life in that one moment in class, and I felt a sense of profound shame. It was a great learning experience, and it is one I will never forget.


I think that others in the room felt somewhat similar feelings as I did, but perhaps not as profoundly. Sergio was such a great presenter that he captivated the entire audience that day. He was able to teach us the different levels of inclusion in the workforce, and seamlessly pair it with what we had learned in the class. He was familiar with LEAD, and resonant leadership, and he tied it all together in his presentation. I think that most others were somewhat shocked when he said this, and for them it was a learning experience also. With regard to my identity groups, I feel that it proved that my empathy is strong. I felt an instant emotional connection, and tried immediately to better understand Sergio, in turn, better understanding myself. Inclusion is important to me because I have such a desire to connect with others and try to put myself in their shoes. Sometimes almost painfully I put myself down because I know that I can only connect with people so much before I realize that my experience in the United States has been profoundly different with regard to privileges of my gender-identity, physical-sex, economic status of my family and the color of my skin. Upon reflecting on this instance for the purpose while brainstorming this paper, I also believe my empathy-identity was reaffirmed. I truly care about creating the “Beloved Community” wherever I am living, working and interacting. Interactions with people like Sergio Garcia reaffirm the identity group that keeps me passionate about securing a job after graduation that will keep me involved in making each place I am a more diverse and inclusive one.

This experience was meaningful to me in learning about inclusive leadership because it is symbolic of the exact reason that organizations have diversity statements, but fail to be diverse or inclusive. It proved that we can get caught up in our experiences and accomplishments at one point in our life, and slowly learn to become just a cog in the wheel of an organization and forget about how there are always different layers to these two topics. It also reaffirmed to me that sometimes it takes a long time for people to open up about the things that are bothering them, or keeping them from feeling included. Sergio himself admitted that he did not realize the lack of inclusiveness in his work with the federal government until he was in Afghanistan, and he realized how few people of minority backgrounds had mobility with regard to their careers.


This experience with Sergio also reaffirmed that two things must take place for real inclusion. First, the leadership must actively create an inclusive workplace or environment. Second, people must also feel included in the decision making process. These are two different concepts. The first refers to what I see as the creating aspect of diversity and inclusion: the leadership creates the opportunity for employees to voice their opinions and feelings freely, and to feel comfortable doing so. The second leans on the edge of the employee taking the active role to speak their mind and taking the risk to trust the leadership that they will not be penalized for trying to enlighten the company on how a certain level of inclusiveness may not be being met. Both are required, and both happen in a growing spiral of sorts, where small moves on both ends will create a stronger, more inclusive place of work.

In considering the insights gained regarding inclusion from Sergio Garcia’s presentation, I am reminded of “The Glass Ceiling Case.” It reminds me of how we can forget about diversity and inclusion at the top. With regard to a glass ceiling, especially for women (with regard to the case), we often think that just because we have brought women into the workforce, we satisfy the requirement or social standard to employ both males and females. But the Glass Ceiling Case we discussed in the classroom reinforces the idea that diversity does not imply inclusivity. Sergio Garcia was case and point: we must always be examining our understanding of inclusivity, or else we will get stuck where our greatest employees may feel the effects of a glass ceiling. If upper management is not creating a pipeline for all employees to rise, we are not truly being inclusive.

Secondly, I examined Gale’s 2007 Interview with Bernardo M. Ferdman, Ph.D., San Diego Psychologist, 22(2), 14-15. In this interview, Gale asks Ferdman about what diversity can be taken away for the purpose of consultants or personal psychologists. Ferdman responds that all beings have some form of internal understanding of these concepts; that “it all starts with ourselves” Ferdman iterates that we “must work on [our own] ability to behave inclusively and to work with people who are different from [us].” This is precisely what Sergio was referring to. We must be on our own spiritual journey of constant reflection and examination of how we are creating inclusive environments around us – in our work or personal lives. While I currently have no problem working with people who are different from me (in fact, I encourage it in my life!), I must continue this internal conversation and continue checking myself in my own actions and the organizations I manage and set up in order to keep evolving with the world around me. I am reminded of an example where I asked the XLRI group to speak Hindi in our free time so that I might learn this beautiful language. What I failed to examine was that several of our XLRI Indian students do not speak Hindi – they speak Canada, Bengali, Telugu or Gujarati! They were being marginalized because they were feeling left out of the conversations in Hindi! I am reminded of when Ferdman states, “a culture of inclusion recognizes, respects, values, and utilizes the talents and contributions of all the organization’s people—current and potential—across multiple lines of difference.” The key here is recognition: we must be in a constant state of reflection in order to recognize where it is we might not be being inclusive. In order to be successful, it must be a constant conversation, a constant “struggle” for excellence, as Sergio puts it.

Third, Sergio Garcia made a fantastic comment about how the size of an organization can easily spoil what was once a truly inclusive organization. As Sergio moved up the ranks in the state department, he noticed that it was becoming less and less diverse, and less inclusive. I am reminded of what Wooley and Malone stated in their 2011 article.

“Families, companies, and cities all have collective intelligence. But as face-to-face groups get bigger, they’re less able to take advantage of their members. That suggests size could diminish group intelligence.”

Wooley and Malone suggest that we can lose track of the importance of inclusivity when our organizations begin to grow large, and profit or fame becomes most important. We must always learn the best way to take advantage of the benefits of diversity of gender, sex, race, age, geographic location, language, economic status, etc. If we do this, we can also produce greater results.

Lastly, I would like to call on a reading from outside of the class, one that fits in with our LEAD work and the overall understanding of organizational behavior studies. Richard Boyatzis’, et. al, book Primal Leadership calls on the concept of “Setting Ground Rules” as a true resonant leader’s job. This book states,


“More than anyone else… the team leader… has the power to establish norms, maximizing harmony and collaboration to ensure that the team benefits from the best talents of each member.”

This concept pairs brilliantly with Sergio Garcia’s comments about the consistent and active search for developing an understanding for inclusion, and then taking it a step further: implementing it as the leader. No matter what position I will be in, whether manager or employee, boss or colleague, I can act as a leader who’s norm is to always be discussing with those in my group how inclusive they feel the organization I am a part of is. Then I can take it a step further by actively implementing the comments I hear, both in verbal communication as well as non-verbal communication, and as I grow in an organization, continue to implement my learning and growth.

There are several ways in which I wish to move forward with the learning from the class as I implement my inclusive leadership strategy in life outside of the classroom. First, I must be in constant reflection of my strengths as an inclusive leader. This will allow me to use my strengths as a toolkit for encouraging inclusion. Second, my ability to actively listen and question others about how they are feeling in a certain situation should work to my benefit. As long as I continue to always question in a child-like wonder and sincere fascination at how people interact, I will be able to build better relationships with those who may not feel included in the workplace. This will allow deeper conversations, and exponentially reinforce the idea of developing a better understanding of what is, and what is not inclusivity.

A third major strength I would like to identify, and continue to grow, is my ability to speak multiple languages. This allows me to communicate with others in the work place in a fundamentally different way than just in a “shared” language like English. By speaking with others in Spanish, Portuguese, German, Mandarin or other languages I will learn throughout my life, I am able to better understand others when they use the truly sentimental nature that they do in their mother tongue. This is a skill that others in management may lack, and I know that I can act to convey topics or information that simply cannot be translated word-for-word into English.


Another important aspect of putting my inclusive leadership ideals into practice is that of working with a mentor to learn to encourage others to learn to communicate problems with inclusivity they may be experiencing in the workplace. I think I can best work with my mentor by learning to understand the feelings and emotions that I have when I experience interactions with others in my work-groups. By learning to examine and understand the emotional reactions I am having with those who may be struggling to participate, or those who are simply not participating in groups in the workplace (and in personal life), I hope to better learn to converse with those individuals. I also think that this places into the path of influencing others to lead inclusively. By understanding my emotions, I hope to learn to understand the emotions of others. When they interact with me, I want to be able to engage them around their emotions to help them pursue the very journey I am: trying to constantly reflect on the idea of inclusivity.

I would like to conclude this paper by discussing one of the topics of moving forward: leaving a legacy. In the beginning of this essay, the brilliant presentation and example of Sergio Garcia really brought home the idea that no matter how successful we are with people who may not look like us, we always have a journey ahead. With the simple truth that the world is always changing, and even more so in our globalizing world – Global MBA is case and point – Sergio presents the perfect example of that constantly reflecting and growing adventure into understanding how to make the space we occupy in life inclusive. The next part of the essay drew on the research presented throughout the class that serves to confirm the importance of being in state of constant reflection. Whether it is the importance of understanding the invisible glass ceiling for those who may not embody the physical or social features of the current executive leadership of an organization, or understanding the concepts in Primal Leadership that seek to explain to use that leaders can actually inspire these inclusive behaviors merely by acting them out in their own leadership positions, we can understand that our behaviors will be our legacy. In closing, I am reminded of a quote from Maya Angelou who proclaimed,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”

We have the opportunity now to leave the legacy of inclusivity by understanding how to be resonant leaders with our employees, friends, family, neighbors and even strangers; because our actions, and our legacy will truly be the way that others learn how to behave. If I can continue to connect emotionally with others based on my leadership strengths of listening and language/communication, I truly believe that I can have an incredible journey coming to understand inclusivity better and better every day of the rest of my life. As I began this paper, shall I end it: in that brilliant moment when Sergio acknowledged his journey, I realized that by no means is my journey to being an inclusive leader complete. Nor will it ever be.


I took a group of Global MBA students to my home in metroDetroit and showed them around the region – as they showed me  around theirs over the past year. By spending hours in a car driving around the world with people, those talks of inclusion are bound to come out. Listen carefully to them. This is the Global MBA.


Spartan’s Mantra Consulting Group – Taking Coursework to the Real World


Tasse, Goa, Akil, Xiao, Qi, Chardhaury: Spartan’s Mantra Consulting Group (SMCG)

PART 1: The Contract

June 12, 2015 :: Spartan’s Mantra Consulting Group :: Smart VM :: http://www.SmartVM.com

Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

The Spartan’s Mantra Consulting Group (SMCG) was hired onto a marketing project for Smart VM, an e-commerce company that sources difficult-to-procure tech supplies, including but not limited to KVM switch drawers, quartz screens, and abnormally lengthy amounts of VGA cable. While Smart VM is known among their current clientele and currently still profitable, they are not growing their customer base.


Mr. Ali Akil, guiding our client to understand the importance of a China strategy.

In brief there have been four segments to our work thus far: research, analyze, actively listen and build a draft framework solution for Smart VM’s internet-based marketing campaign. While over a dozen online marketing platforms were presented as options with which to work, SMCG strategically segmented Smart VM’s target audience with the guidance of Anand Bill Julka, CEO of Smart VM. Based on SMCG’s recommendations, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Blog, Slide Share and several Chinese marketing platforms have been selected and divided amongst SMCG consultants.


Mr. Akshay Chaudhary and Mr. Ali Akil also own a clothing line with a social contribution angle to it (Drago Allure). Here, Akshay and Ali listen intensively and actively, in order to hear what Mr. Julka is really struggling with.

SMCG met with Mr. Julka on Friday, June 5th, 2015 at the office of Blue Technologies in Cleveland. At first, SMCG struggled to ascertain the competitive advantage on which Smart VM operates. Mr. Ali Akil, Mr. Aaron Goa, and Ms. Bonnie Qi pushed Mr. Julka for clarity on the subject, and after sorting through the information, it was revealed to SMCG that Smart VM differentiates itself from other websites that sell the same products in several ways. First, they offer the highest quality products at the lowest prices in the world. Mr. Julka constantly travels, developing new relationships with suppliers and buying in bulk such products. Second, and most importantly, Smart VM offers industry known-how to their clients for these complicated systems and products they sell.


SMCG engaging with Smart VM CEO Bill Julka: developing the marketing framework

Thanks in part to a strong basis of preliminary research conducted by SMCG before their first meeting with Mr. Julka, the group now has a clear goal: develop a framework to drive customers to Smart VM’s website. SMCG will develop a series of templates to create content, including a methodology for blog, Twitter and Facebook posts which all seamlessly interact. SMCG will also create the very first Chinese marketing campaign for Smart VM. The metrics for this project will be the number of customers that visit Smart VM’s website. The over-arching goal for this project will be to develop the reputation of Smart VM as the place to go for industry knowledge, which will lead to increased sales.


Mr. Aaron Goa and Ms. Bonnie Qi, deepening the conversation by pushing the client to self-describe his own competitive advantages

PART 2: How We Got Here

Spartan’s Mantra Consulting Group (SMCG)


It doesn’t hurt that our office at 10900 Euclid has walls made of dry-erase material. It’s surprising how helpful it is to put our thoughts on the wall, and organize accordingly.


Mr. Akil – big picture thinking. 


Akshay and Ali, discussing the best way to allocate the clients resources in a marketing campaign.


Bonnie Qi asks tough questions about a possible China strategy, and how to present it to Mr. Julka

Diversity and Inclusion as Verbs, not nouns-

In definition, my idea of diversity is fairly generic; people from different backgrounds, class status, racial/ethnic differentiation, different sex, different gender and different age all participating together toward shared goals in organizations or society. Inclusion, to me, relates to the ability of a person to have a certain level of education, economic resources and experiences in any part of my country, in order that they can be successful in both the workplace and in society, and being accepted without having to change their personality.

But diversity and inclusion to me mean also something deeper; perhaps they serve more importantly as verbs than as nouns. In order to truly change the stratified and segregated world in which I live, I should find myself in a place of deep, diverse relationships in my daily life, and that requires action.

I think many times we look at these two terms from the wrong perspective, either trying to increase the economic reach into a certain market, or make a quota in order to be seen as a socially responsible organization (or person).

Diversity to me means that the people with whom we surround ourselves in our personal, religious and professional lives did not have to grow up with the same amount of money, have the same color of skin, or participate in the same religion. But I have to make that happen – actively.

The truth is, many do no have those sought after diverse relationships in our lives, and as a result, we find ourselves confused and perplexed by “how one should go about hiring a diverse staff.” Starting with myself: If I could start by reaching out to new communities and building relationships with people who come from different backgrounds, I will not only solve the problem of creating an inclusive environment transitively, but over time the ability to connect to different markets (financial) based on a shared background of such relationships will take care of itself.

Part of me is driven by my humanity to change the world; to care about my fellow man who was not afforded the luxuries of education, food and exposure to the professional elite; the other part of me is driven by the plain fact that the world is too global to not diversify my personal world. Not taking the time to understand my brothers and sisters who I now see as ‘different from me,’ is only going to keep me from the growth required to stay ahead of the curve.

Diversity and inclusion as a leadership strategy, for Michael Tasse, are an active must.