Thinking Ahead

Wisdom for Modern Workplaces©

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

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Wisdom For Modern Workplaces© is sponsored by the Academy of Culture Ambassadors. Learn more about the Academy of Culture Ambassadors at

The Retreat

We call it “retreat” to help differentiate it from the standard conferences. You form lasting friendships and professional relationships with speakers and other participants. We cap the number of people attending to insure this happens.  You will be one in one hundred and not one in thousands. You will meet everyone and not become lost in a crowd.  All speakers and workshop leaders are with us all the time also as participants just like you .

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 who “have done it”.

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, 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.

See more about Santa Fe.

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. Lot’s of ways to know one another – participation workshops, speakers with fun exercises, each speaker has Q&A time, group “food around’s” and coffee breaks with planned interaction.
  4. 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”.
  5. The audience is a “how to” group.  So, they are presented with ideas they can implement back home.
  6. All speakers are present as participants both days.
  7. The format for speaker presentations is a combination of two approaches. There are interactive conversations not found in other conferences. 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.
  8. A wealth of important wisdom will be shared during a panel with remarkable presenters.  Each will share how to institutionalize tools that have been proven in great workplace cultures.  This panel by itself is worth making the trip to Santa Fe. An abundance of wisdom will be shared. The entire conversation will be captured by a graphic recorder.

  9. There is a diversity of topics presented.
  10. Presentations are purposefully thought provoking blended with practicality.
  11. The place and space support creativity.
  12. Participants amplify the value of the Retreat’s experiences by sharing highlights with their workplace colleagues when they return home.  Here is a way to do that:    

    1. After the WISDOM Retreat prepare to give a workshop covering the most important takeaways. 
    2. Hold one-hour workshops for workplace colleagues using the prepared materials.
    3. Send materials to Culture Ambassadors.  A panel of Culture Ambassador professionals evaluates materials and reviews the evaluations from workshop participants. 
    4. The winning presentation receives an all-expense paid trip to attend a future Retreat.  This award can be transferred to a colleague.
    5. Second, third, and fourth place winners each have their registration fee waived to attend a future Retreat.  These awards are transferable to colleagues.
    6. All submissions are posted on the Culture Ambassadors website with credit given to authors. 

Speakers and Their Takeaways

Mouseover for More. Photos are in the same order as the actual agenda.

Pre-Conference Workshop

On August 6, Gayle Van Gils will facilitate her workshop ENGAGE with Mindfulness. Gayle is the author of Happier at Work: The Power of Love to Transform the Workplace. Her half-day workshop will focus on the 6 benefits of integrating mindfulness into the business culture. Fee is only $129.

Learn More.

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.

University and College Teachers

A high priority for us is that University and College teachers attend the Retreat.  What they learn and who they meet can result in great value for their students as well as for themselves.  As seen in another section, students are invited with the entire fee waived.  For teachers the registration fee is one-half.  Send Jerry Wagner a note that you would like to attend and he will send you the promo code for the discount.

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. The hotel physical address is 750 North St. Francis but the GPS address is 744 Calle Mejia, Santa Fe, NM 87501.

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 many delightful Airbnb accommodations in Santa Fe at great prices.  This includes several guest houses and casitas that will have the feel of New Mexico.  Here too you would want 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:

Family Friendly

Santa Fe has numerous activities to enjoy with your loved ones, if you want to extend this time into a family getaway. Suggestions of activities include hiking, rafting, historic tours, Canyon Road gallery walk, and cooking classes.

Register & 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

August 7-8, 2018

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

August 6, 2018



Register Now!


Gerald R. Wagner, Ph.D.

I Have a Question


We are accepting $1000 donations from sponsors to cover modest speaker travel expenses, graphic facilitator, 2 lunches, and a happy hour. Sponsor logo’s will be shown on our web site and prominently displayed at the conference. Each sponsor will also be asked to introduce a speaker at the conference.

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.