What Happened to The Skid Row School?

We have divided our four-day in person training, Skid Row School, into four separate six-week online courses. Breaking up the training this way allows us to go deeper into the Model For Unleashing principles and bring in other experts. It also opens up an opportunity for you to tailor your learning to fit exactly what you need.

Here are the four courses.

Exponential Impact

If your solution works in one community – let’s add a zero and bring it to 10.

If your solution is being implemented in 10 school districts – let’s add a zero and bring it to 100.

If your solution is being used in 100 health care settings – let’s add a zero and bring it to 1,000

Course period is closed for 2021. Enroll in 2022 cohort

Course Dates:
Jan 4th, 6th, 18th, 20th
8:00 – 10:00 a.m. PT

Unapologetic Genius

A step-by-step journey for social change leaders

to maximize your impact without burning out.

CTRL + ALT + DEL “business as usual”

This course will help you find the courage to let go of what you suck at and free you up to embrace your purpose, talents, natural enthusiasm, and joy.

2022 course dates TBD 

Impact With Integrity

How to Repair the World Without Breaking Yourself

even if you feel overworked, overwhelmed, exhausted, and afraid right now.

“In addition to learning about (and putting into practice) a radical shift to approaching social change internally and externally, this course also enables deep connections with folks all over the globe.” – Jessye Kass

Course registration period is closed for 2021. Add your name to our waitlist and we’ll let you know when enrollment opens in early 2022.

Solutions Worth Scaling

A step-by-step journey to help third sector leaders determine if their solution is ready for spread/scale and if not, how to get there.

We’ve partnered with Dr. Christine Ortiz Guzman, Founder of Equity Meets Design, to bring together the disciplines of equity and design in an absolutely genius way.

Course registration period is closed for 2021. Add your name to our waitlist and we’ll let you know when the next session is open for enrollment in 2022.

Coaching Community

We have a membership program called the coaching community for people who’ve graduated from our courses.

Join to get support in implementing and course correcting as you go.

Everyone in that community is leading social change of one kind or another and we believe friends don’t let friends lead social change alone.

And as Selena likes to say, it’s cheaper than therapy.

Course has been updated to a la cart 1:1 coaching 


Can’t Decide? Want it all? 

And if you just can’t decide where to start – you can get an All Access Pass. For less than what it would have cost you to come to the Skid Row School in person, you can get all four courses plus the coaching community for an entire year. 

Really Want to Come in Person?

We will still be offering the Skid Row School four day intensives through our partnerships with groups within the national health service in the UK. These will be hosted in England or Wales. We have several of those planned for this fall and next year. If you are interested in taking your team, please contact us!

Thanks for taking a minute to hear what we’re up to! We look forward to seeing many of you in our upcoming courses.

Parents, how are you doing?

The New York Times published an article a couple days ago that America’s mothers are in crisis. More than 1 million have left the workforce. For nearly a year now, most of our kids have not been in school so many of you have been simultaneously managing kids at home while struggling with pivoting your organizations and keeping them afloat. Are there enough hours in a day? In my family, we’ve got 4 kids: a high schooler, a middle schooler, a third grader and a newborn. I just returned to work last month. How do we maximize our presence with our kids in times like these? I’ve told Becky many times I never give parenting advice unless asked. She asked, so here I am! I have a lot I would love to share with you (even mapped to the Impact with Integrity course!), but for now I know you’re busy so I want to give you just 3 quick parenting tips that take under 15 minutes. I’m not saying your kids only need 15 minutes, but 15 great minutes is better than hours of broken promises.

1) Does your face light up?

First thing is, what do your kids see when they walk into the room. Do they see you wondering if they’ve done their homework? Or that they’ve interrupted your Zoom call? Or does your face light up? How someone responds to you when you first walk into a room can mean so much more than the care you think you’re giving when you’re asking what they need or staying on top of their schedules. Toni Morrison explains it so beautifully with Oprah. So the first thing is, show them you are glad to see them!



2) Instead of breaking hours of promised time, how about a 3 minute dance break?

I talk to many parents who feel guilty that they’ve promised their child an outing or several hours of play time that they end up having to cancel due to work emergencies. There were years when I was a 100% single parent supervising 3 programs (all in constant crisis mode) with no family nearby. Sometimes my toddler son would bat the phone out of my hands before he could talk. Then there was the time I was at a restaurant taking care of an emergency placement of a foster child when a stranger scolded me for being on the phone instead of enjoying dinner with my son. That stranger didn’t know what my work emergency was, but I felt terrible nonetheless. When I got home, my son and I took three minutes to dance to Sara Bareilles’ Brave.


I’ve got videos since I married in 2018, of me, my husband and stepkids and son dancing in the kitchen. Just one song at a time. Our newborn gets a 15 second song we made up sung to her whenever we’re taking a breather. It’s not a lot of time. But it is happy, makes memories and makes our kids feel we’re still here. Dance parties don’t have to be all night long. A few minutes at a time can do a world of good! Here’s an oldie but goodie of my son making up a laundry song and dance.



3) In the time you do have together, do something you actually enjoy!

We have a rule in our house. We don’t read books to our kids that we don’t like. If you actually can’t stand Barney or that game your child loves, don’t spend the precious 15 minutes you have on something you don’t enjoy! I know this may seem counter to loving your child by not entering the world they are in, but quality time is not quality when you hate it! My family gets a smiling mom when playing a card game or a few rounds of Connect Four vs frustrated mom who can’t figure out the controls or the ground from the sky in a video game. My mom never played board games. Some of my best memories with my mom were joining her to watch Dallas and Dynasty! Those hours of nighttime soaps for her were huge reliefs not only because she was teaching middle school all day but her commute was sometimes up to 2 hours through ice and snow each way. These breaks should feel like breaks for you too.
Perhaps some day in the future we’ll have more in depth tips on how to not spend your days nagging or reminding your kids and raising them up to take 100% responsibility as we at the Billions Institute teach in the work environment. But in the meantime, we hope your family is healthy and well and that these tips may have been helpful because we’ve still got a few months at least to go getting through this pandemic. If you’d find it helpful, maybe Becky and I can talk about these in an upcoming podcast!

Want More? Help us Help You!

We are cooking up season 4 of Unleashing Social Change. I have been fielding many concerns circling around burnout and balancing a work/life balance, which has been exasperated by the pandemic. Please fill out the survey we have created here for a sneak peak and a chance to contribute!

The Enemy Within

Hi Friends!

We would like to begin this blog, which posts on Martin Luther King Day, sharing an opportunity to sign up for SVP’s “Anti-Racism for White People” course. It is a year-long learning community for people interested in showing up as agents of racial justice.*** Registration closes January 20th, 2021. Enroll today to secure your place! ***

Last week,

We shared our self-assessment quiz with you, to help you face into what is holding you back from making your big dent in the Universe. Depending on your answers, you were prompted to consider one of the four most common toxic dynamics that we’ve encountered when working with change leaders: blame/criticism, overwork/overwhelm, indecision, or micromanagement. By the way, if you haven’t taken the quiz, we encourage you to take a minute and do so now. 

Regardless of which dynamics are holding you and your organization back, though, it is all too easy to come to the conclusion that the problem is “out there.” And you would be correct to do so. There are real problems that need to be solved. 

Today, we confront…

…that’s only part of the story. 

If there is anything toxic in our context – and we’re aware of it in any way – then we are also engaging with it – consciously or unconsciously. 

When we’re consciously engaged with our challenges, we have a much better chance of actually changing something. We are able to step into 100% responsibility for all our choices and actions. 

When we’re unconsciously engaged, despite our best intentions, our problems might morph and shift, but they will persist. The key is to notice when we’re unconsciously reacting and shift ourselves back into presence. 

Shifting from our unconscious reactive mind into conscious presence is easier said than done, and we will be going into more depth about this in our facebook live later today, (10:30 AM Pacific Time), but for now I want to give you a quick overview of the three primary ways leaders avoid responsibility on the Drama Triangle so you can get curious about how these patterns show up in your life. 

When you think about the biggest organizational challenge you’re facing right now – whether or not it was reflected in our quiz results – are any of these postures familiar to you? 

  • I’m at the effect of somebody or something else. 
  • I can’t believe all of this is happening to me.” 
  • This shouldn’t be happening. And it’s not my fault, it’s theirs. 
  • Or – equally problematic – it’s all my fault. 
  • I must do something about this right now. 
  • This isn’t fair! And it’s never going to change. 
  • I need to stick up for the people who can’t stick up for themselves! 

If any of these stances are familiar to you, what they have in common is they’re all coming from the Drama Triangle. And taking action from this place has zero likelihood of making things better. One of the most important things we can do as leaders is notice when we’re on the Drama Triangle and take steps to get back into full creative presence. We’ll be talking about some ways to do that on our facebook live later today, and if you can’t make it, you can catch the replay later. We hope you can join us there!

Want More?

We are also offering a free Webinar ‘The Five Secrets to Becoming a Happy and Effective Change Leaders: How you can do the most good with the least drama, during a global pandemic, and still find time for yourself and your loved ones, too.”

There will be two sessions, the first on Tuesday January 26th @ 10:00AM PT and the second on Wednesday, January 27th @ 8:00AM PT. When you register you can choose which time works best for you. 

I hope to see many of you there! 


What’s Holding You Back from Making Your Big Dent in the Universe?

Hi Friends!

Last week,

We invited you to join us in creating a dream board for 2021 – a visible reminder of your strongest values and your wildest aspirations for this new year. Dreaming and opening up to new possibilities is absolutely essential for creating a new world together. A lot of people don’t even give themselves permission to dream big, so I want to give a shout out to those of you who did just that. If you want to revisit our live session that helps guide you through this process you can check out “Creating A Dream Board That Works” on our Facebook page. 

But there’s a big difference between dreaming and doing. Today we shift gears and square off with our current reality. Today we face into the challenges or obstacles that will stop us from making our big dent in the Universe. 

I dedicated an entire section of my forthcoming book to this notion of facing your challenge because it’s that important. 

As James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” 

We’ve learned from working with hundreds of social change leaders that it’s the seemingly small things that can add up to big things if they’re not addressed with our full attention and care. 


We invite you to bring your attention to those little corners of your world that aren’t quite in alignment with your intentions. Those little wobbles that veer you off course. Those energetic drains that if left unchecked will prevent you from making your big dent in the Universe. 

We encourage you to visit “Overview of the Four Most Common Dynamics Which Hold Teams Back” to get some actionable tips on how to get rid of these common types of toxicity.

Next week we will pick up where we left off and turn our attention from what’s wrong “out there” to what’s going on “in here” with you. You can register for our Facebook Live event here where we’ll be diving deep into the drama triangle and personas. This will be the last session of our series “Starting The New Year Right” so be sure to tune in! 

Lastly, if you take the quiz and come to the conclusion that you might need more help than originally thought, I’m offering a FREE MASTER CLASS: The Five Secrets to Being a Happy and Effective Change Leader which addresses organizational toxicity and MUCH more.

We hope you’re enjoying this exploration with us.

Most warmly,


Setting Yourself Up for an Awesome 2021

Hi Friends!

Last week we invited you to join me in a journaling practice that I’ve done every New Years Eve since the year 2000. Some of you even joined us on our inaugural Facebook Live to complete these questions together. I did this exercise again with my wife, Christine, this New Years Eve, then we took turns sharing some appreciations of one another and all the ways we grew in 2020. 

Today I want to share with you what we do to build upon those reflections and sharpen our commitment to what we want to create in 2021. Starting January 1st, we pull a big piece of flip chart paper into our kitchen counter and plenty of bright markers. Over New Years Day, we co-create our dream board for 2021. As our kids have gotten older, we’ve begun to include them in the process. Here is our dream board for 2020.

Once this feels complete,

We hang it in our kitchen and we refer to it often. We also take a picture and have a catalog of dream boards from years past. I’ve also done this with teams as a way to punctuate our strategic planning retreats. Dream boards are a great way to visualize your commitment, your vision, your values, and your intentions. I invite you to give it a try and share yours on our Facebook page

All of us at the Billions Institute wish you a safe and healthy 2021, and may we all shift our attention from surviving to thriving as we step into all the possibilities ahead. 


I’ve Done this Every New Years Eve Since the Year 2000

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” – the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland

One of the most important things we do as social change leaders is to create reality. Think about it. We see what’s missing and we commit ourselves to filling that gap. We dream up whole new systems and structures and then we bring them to fruition. We craft and pilot innovations that we hope will make the world a better place. Then, we endlessly tinker and improve our approach. Eventually, we attempt to spread them to everyone who could possibly benefit. Indeed, the work of social change leaders is literally to create reality. 

Between you and me, I think it’s the best part of the job. 

When I was a Captain in the Army, I had the good fortune of working for Colonel (Ret) Howie Cohen. Howie is one of those people who never stops learning, even to this day. And way back in 1997 he formed a book club for all the officers in his charge. Most of the books were what you’d expect – analysis of famous military battles and such. But he also kept us on our toes with some books you might not expect. Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills that will Unlock Your Hidden Power to Succeed by Brian Tracy was one such surprise. I remember when Howie announced we’d be reading that one, the rest of us made jokes about the “touchy-feely Ranger” book club, but I stopped laughing once I read the book. I underlined, highlighted, and dog-eared darn near half the pages. 

Somewhere in the middle of the book, Brian Tracy includes a handful of questions intended to help the reader get clear on the vision and the purpose for their life. I dog-eared that page and left it on the shelf for a couple of years. But, as the millennia came to a close, and Y2K loomed large, I pulled it back off the shelf and created a worksheet out of those questions. On New Year’s Eve, in the last few hours of 1999, I journaled my answers. Then, I tucked them away and went back to celebrating with my friends. 

The next year I did the same thing. Then again. And again. This year will mark the 21st year of doing this practice on New Year’s Eve. I introduced it to my wife, Christine, when we started dating back in 2010 and now we look forward to this meaningful time of reflection and dreaming up what’s next for our lives each year. 

Here’s the kicker. Every now and then I go back and look at what I answered in previous years. To questions like, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” or “What would you do if you found out you only had six months left to live?” And though I have not won the lottery, I have done most of the things I said I wanted to do. And I have this moving record of who I was, and what mattered to me most, over time. 

Here are some examples of things I wrote down years before they happened: 

Back in 2000, I was a closeted LGBT Captain in the US Army. The question was, “What have you always wanted to do, but been afraid to attempt?” My answer: Get out of the Army. Be completely “out.” Love someone completely. Check. Check. Check. Before the end of the year! 

To the question, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” I wrote: do a NOLS Semester in the Southwest course. So. ok. I didn’t get around to taking a NOLS course until 2012. And it was in the Wind River Range, not Arizona. And it was only two weeks, not a semester. But my instructor happened to be the director of the Southwest Branch of NOLS and remains a friend to this day. So…not too shabby. 

Also in 2000, in response to the question, “What would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?” I wrote, “become a teacher of social justice and empowerment/conscious raising.” 

This was in 2000, y’all. When I was a Captain in the Army. 

Here’s another example. In 2003, in answer to the question, “What would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?” I wrote, “an international women’s self-determination underground.” 

In 2004, I built on that theme, answering, “start my own kick-ass company with a merry band of followers leading the charge for social change. Eventually, move our headquarters to a mountain town.” I am laughing out loud as I write this because while I’m not 100% sure what a “women’s self-determination underground” is if you attended one of our fellowship meetings – in the shadow of Mt. Baldy here in the mountain-college town of Claremont, California, you might think I knew exactly what I was talking about! 

Bear in mind that in 2003, I was just getting started in my job as the Director of the Street to Home Initiative for Community Solutions in New York City. My answer to the question above was not one or two adjacent moves on the chessboard. It was a leap to a completely different game. And yet, here I am, 17 years later, doing exactly what I had dreamt up in my wildest imagination from my tiny apartment in the West Village on New Year’s Eve.  

So I’m not even sure what that’s about. I wasn’t tempering my answers. I was swinging for the fences. I was really going for it. And then I’d tuck the paper away in some file, and go about my life. And yet…so much of it came true. 

Kind of unbelievable, really. 

Or maybe this is exactly how it works. 

What I appreciate about my willingness to swing for the fences on New Years Eve is that I didn’t constrain myself by what was “realistic” or “responsible” or “mature.” I simply answered the questions with what felt true for me at the time. One important aspect of this seems to be that I answered them from a place of spaciousness versus scarcity. 

Part of doing the work we are all called to do as social change leaders is to envision a better system and then create it. To live in balance, it’s important that we do that for ourselves as well.

And I want to share this practice with you. If you go here (XXXX) you can get a worksheet with the questions written out. Just print this worksheet out, complete it yourself, and go about your business. See what happens. 

If you’d like some company, I will be doing a Facebook live on December 28th at 10:30 AM Pacific Time where we will work through these questions together as a group. If you’d like, you can share some of your reflections as we offer our encouragement and support to one another to create a new reality going into 2021.

Goodness, gracious – yes, please, let’s create a new reality into 2021!