Thinking Ahead

Essential Elements for Great Workplace Cultures

The Retreat
Wisdom for Modern Workplaces©

Santa Fe, New Mexico. August 7-8, 2018.

Celebrating Humanistic Workplace Cultures as a Business Priority

Find Out More


Wisdom For Modern Workplaces© is sponsored by the Academy of Culture Ambassadors. Its web site give full details:

The Retreat

We call it “retreat” to help differentiate it from the standard conferences.

The retreat is for the wisest, brightest and most passionate workplace culture practitioners. The quality and diversity of speakers are exceptionally great. You learn “how to” from those on the front lines and “who have done it”. You form lasting friendships and professional relationships with speakers and other participants.

The retreat is for you if you want to be a part of kindred spirits who want to push the boundaries of the modern workplace and face the challenges presented by environment, economy, and societal sustainability; if you believe that humanizing workplaces is the right thing to do, and that happy employees have a positive effect on business performance, their families, and their communities; and if you are committed to creating and cultivating joyful, supportive, fulfilling work environments.

We wanted a location without glitz, glass, marble, high prices, and traffic jams.  We wanted a place that exudes creativity and calmness.  So, we chose Santa Fe. Santa Fe a city steeped in centuries of stories, philosophy, sustainability, and creativity.  It is a place that opens minds and invigorates imagination — a mindset that will guide the retreat and its innovative approach.

Family Friendly

We love for participants’ families to be with them in Santa Fe. Examples of activities include hiking, rafting, historic tours, Canyon Road gallery walk, and cooking classes.


Finalizing details for WISDOM '18 agenda are well along. When finalized they will be posted here. You will love it and maybe even be surprised. In a good way.

Hold A Seat with No Obligation

This is a first come first served event. You can hold a seat with zero obligation until February 1, 2018. You will not receive an invoice. On about February 1, 2018 you will be asked to register or give up your seat. Participants from WISDOM ’17 do have first right at available seats. If you missed WISDOM ’17 look at its agenda. Complete details for WISDOM ’18 will be posted by January 1, 2018.

Save Me A Seat

Retreat Highlights

Here are some highlights that makes this event great and different.

  1. The retreat emphasizes:
    • Forming personal friendships and professional contacts.
    • Leaving with specific action items.
    • Pride of being a retreat alumnus.
  2. Participant bio’s including their reasons for attending will be available online before the retreat starts.  You get to know your fellow attendees ahead of time.
  3. Speakers have original presentations (not something used over and over previously). They tailor their presentations on the theme “Looking Forward – Essential Elements for Great Workplace Cultures”.
  4. The audience is a "how to" group.  So, they are presented with ideas they can implement back home.
  5. All speakers are present as participants both days.
  6. The format for speaker presentations is a combination of two approaches. These formats do not overlap one another, i.e., there is one at a time.
    • A speaker presents for 25-30 minutes followed by 10-15 minutes of interactive conversation with the audience.
    • Two speakers each give a 5-minute summary of their presentation content. Then participants choose which to join in a breakout room. This is in contrast to the usual “tracks” approach where participants are asked to make choices with little information about a presenter or their content. Breakouts are interactive workshops.
  7. There is a diversity of topics presented.
  8. Presentations are purposefully thought provoking blended with practicality.
  9. The place and space support creativity.

Speakers and Their Takeaways

Mouseover for More.

More speakers will be published soon.

University Students

Do you know a University student? Does your company have student interns?  We love to have students at the retreat.  Everyone benefits from their presence and registration fees are waived. They use the promo code “student” while registering. It would be nice if you or your company would help them with their travel expenses.

Meeting Place

The meeting will be at the Lodge at Santa Fe. That is where the 2017 conference was held and it worked very well. This also where it is suggested that participants book their lodging. It is simpler to have everything in one location.


Please notice this about lodging. It is strongly suggested that you make lodging reservations early. July and August are busy months in Santa Fe. You can cancel or change later if you need to. There are no rooms reserved for the retreat so it is first come first served.

We suggest the Lodge at Santa Fe for your lodging. It is not a glitzy type place but very suitable and affordable. The Lodge is not walking distance to the down town square but they have a free valet van to take guests to and from where they wish to go. It is a 5-10 minute ride.  We have a rate of $135. To make a reservation call 505-992- 5850. Let the operator know you are with the Academy of Culture Ambassadors Group or use the code B04R17.

There are excellent hotels downtown close to the square. The Lodge at Santa Fe will pick up people to go to the meeting hotel and return them. There are many other options on Cerrilos road and St. Francis street but for them you will need a car.


There are some flights directly into Santa Fe but flying into Albuquerque gives more options. The distance from the Albuquerque Airport to Santa Fe is about 60 miles and is all on interstate highway. Rental cars are at the airport but you might want to take a shuttle.  There are several shuttles each day and you do not have to deal with renting and returning.   Shuttles will also take you back to the airport. Here are two shuttle possibilities:

Register and Pay

Upon completing registration, you will be sent a PayPal invoice. You can pay using PayPal or credit card. There are no refunds. Substitutions are OK.

The Main Two-Day

Early Bird up until May 1 $595
Advance from May 2 – June 1 $695
Standard after June 1 $795

Separate One Day Workshop
with Gayle Van Gils



Gerald R. Wagner, Ph.D.

I Have a Question

The Academy of Culture Ambassadors supports workplace cultures where there is a relentless passion for kindness, empathy, dignity, trust, transparency, sharing, happiness, compassion and love.

© 2017 The Academy of Culture Ambassadors, LLC. All rights reserved.

Michelle James

Improv for Team and Community Building in the Workplace

CEO The Center for Creative Emergence. Michelle lives in Charlottesville, VA.

A long-time practitioner in the fields of Applied Creativity and Applied Improvisation, Michelle James, CEO of The Center for Creative Emergence, has been working with organizational leaders, teams, and entrepreneurs since 1998. She founded the Applied Creativity Network in DC, creating over 150 events, including two business creativity conferences. She is an 18-year performer of Improvisational Theater, and a charter member of the Applied Improvisation Network. Her original programs that have been featured on radio, television, podcasts, and in books and other publications, and she was recognized for Visionary Leadership in Fast Company’s blog, Leading Change. She is adjunct faculty for the Federal Executive Institute, teaching ongoing Improv for Leaders and Teams to the nation’s top gov’t leaders and policy makers. Clients have included Panasonic, Deloitte, Microsoft, Dominos, HandsOn Network, PepsiCo, John Deere, GEICO, World Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Clean Air Institute, NOAA, PBS, Teach for America, and Search for Common Ground among others. She’s currently writing a book, Pattern Breaks: A Facilitator’s Guide to Cultivating Creativity.

Effective team members in fast-paced work environments and improvisers both have to make spur of the moment decisions, synthesize information, make others look good, build on other’s ideas, create and innovate on the spot, make relevant connections and serve the good of the team and whole organization. Improv takes us out of our habitual interactions keeps us in the present moment where more creative possibilities open up.

In this dynamic, fun(!) and highly experiential workshop, participants will explore Improv-based Team/Community Building principles, mindsets, and practices; engaging methods for co-creation; and applying these improv-based methods for enhanced workplace collaboration. Improvisation helps team members feel comfortable with using their own inventiveness, putting ideas out there, taking more risks, adapting quickly to mistakes, and supporting others.  

Participants will leave with:

  • Focused Improv-based Team Building approaches and activities for enhanced collaboration and co-creation.
  • Approaches and mindsets for interacting with each other to generate a freer exploration and generation of ideas for more novel ideas
  • A greater understanding of how to build on other’s ideas, and bring out the group creativity.
  • An Increased ability to think on your feet by yourself and with others.
  • Principles and practices that can be applied outside of the workshop setting and in the workplace with groups and teams.

Note: Applied Improvisation (applying it to something practical) is different than Performance Improvisation (for entertainment purposes). This session is designed for those who have no improv experience, and no one will have to perform in front of the group. All activities are with the whole group, small groups, or in pairs.


Rajkumari Neogy

The Neurobiology of Inclusive Culture

Founder, iRestart, Rajkumari lives in Lakspur, CA.

Rajkumari Neogy is the creator of the Disruptive Diversity framework and the author of The WIT Factor: Shifting the Workplace Paradigm by Becoming Your Optimal Self.

She is fascinated by workplace culture and team dynamics, especially in the tech arena. S/he believes that every individual brings a superpower that often isn't fully unlocked. S/he provides expertise in team culture cohesion, inclusivity & belonging, leadership development and organizational epigenetics.

Her unique framework culminates from 6 powerful methodologies that facilitates change within organizations swiftly, sustainably and permanently. S/he weaves humor and vulnerability into science and psychology to tell the powerful story of our basic human need to belong, especially at the workplace.

Over the last 20 years, s/he has worked with organizations worldwide, including Trumaker, Walt Disney Animation Studios, HopSkipDrive, Wells Fargo, Shuddle, Cisco Systems, Facebook, Sony, Adobe, JVC and Amazon. In 2013 s/he founded iRestart to address issues of team dysfunction, imposter syndrome, and feelings of exclusion.

Where is your team struggling? The first indicator of team dysfunction is judgment. Over time, dysfunction creates roles within teams that impact performance, culture, product and eventually ROI. Learn the neurobiology of why these roles organically surface and how to work with them. You’ll walk away with a robust handout filled with resources to better understand what’s going on and how address it in real time.

What Rajkumari promises as takeaways:

  • See in real time how the brain functions under duress.
  • Understand how the two hemispheres speak different languages.
  • Ways to create neurochemical drips for both you and your team.
  • What the 4 Dysfunctional Team Roles are and how to work with them.
  • What drives us to feel excluded.


Jill Lublin

The Profit of Kindness: How to Influence Others, Establish Trust, and Build Lasting Business Relationships

4x Best Selling Author, Radical Influence Expert. Jill lives in Novato, CA.

Jill Lublin is an international speaker on the topics of Radical Influence, Publicity, Networking, Kindness, and Referrals. She has more than 200 speaking engagements per year. She is the author of 4 bestselling books including Get Noticed...Get Referrals, Guerrilla Publicity, Networking Magic and her latest, The Profit of Kindness. Jill is a master strategist on how to position your business for more profitability and more visibility in the marketplace.  She is CEO of a strategic consulting firm and has over 20 years’ experience working with over 100,000 people plus national and international media.

When kindness becomes your primary goal, everything changes: how you look at life, what you get from it, and how others interact with and relate to you. In this presentation, Jill helps you master the art of building trusting, long-lasting relationships through open, non-adversarial interchanges that result in mutually beneficial outcomes. A basic adjustment in attitude and approach can substantially improve virtually every facet of your life. Jill will provide specific examples for improving skills such as communication, building integrity, team work, influencing others, and more. In order to connect with new clients or future business partners and transform your potential into success, you need to establish trust and build strong relationships. The key is to focus more on giving and working with others rather than simply on “winning.” Because doing so is guaranteed to help you actually win.

In Jill’s presentation you will:

  • Learn what is means to create lasting relationships built on authentic kindness.
  • Discover how kindness is at the root of communication skills, integrity, and team building.
  • Transform your success using basic adjustments in attitude and approach.
  • Focus on the kindness key to giving and working with others rather than simply on “winning”.


Claude Silver

Chief Heart Officer, VaynerMedia. Claude lives in New York City.

Claude is VaynerMedia's inaugural Chief Heart Officer–a first of its kind position created to scale the company’s people-first ethos. At VaynerMedia, she champions empathy-driven leadership as she oversees talent management, employee experience & retention, learning & development, coaching, culture, internal communications and recruitment for over 750 employees.

Claude promises these for WISDOM participants:

  • You will be inspired to push your company and culture into action.
  • You will have the know how to create a sense of belonging, cultivate purpose, and celebrate achievements.
  • You will feel empowered to not settle for an average culture.
  • You will have methodologies and essential elements to create strong teams who drive cultures forward with accountability, longevity and joy.