Robert Principe, SPHR, Education and Organizational Development Specialist
My professional background
My background includes a combined 13 years functioning as a Diversity and Inclusion Manager. In that capacity, I had direct responsibility for the full scope of diversity and inclusion work including assessment of organizational climate and culture, strategic planning, management coaching, support for the professionals of color and the LGBTQ population, cultural competency development, and the design and facilitation of all diversity and inclusion training and programming.
Over the last 20 years, I have presented workshops and seminars on this work at a number of national and regional conferences and professional meetings. As a consultant and coach, I have worked with a broad range of companies and organization across multiple sectors including (most recently) Aflac, Alzheimer’s Association, American Institutes for Research (AIR), Amherst Regional Public Schools, Big Sister Boston, Carbonite, Colgate University, EMC Corporation, Farm & Wilderness Foundation, Ferris State University, Flint Michigan Community School Board, Hack.Diversity, Lowell Community Public Charter School, Planned Parenthood League of MA, Rivier University, University of Denver, University of Missouri and Xerox Corporation.
My professional journey
I don’t know when I started doing so, but I’ve been using the following strategies in my personal and professional worlds for years:
When I need to define a new strategy to overcome what I perceive as a personal roadblock, I ask myself the question, “What is it that I don’t know, I don’t know?”
When I want to bridge a gap in communication or effectiveness in working one-on-one, or as part of a team or organization, I often begin by asking those involved, “Can you tell me more?”
There is something about intentionally reaching into the “discomfort of ambiguity” that is empowering. And sometimes, strangely enough, all sorts of new possibilities arise!
My first professional world was the world of music. Music afforded me many opportunities for enriching life experiences. It also affirmed the value of really good listening to any attempt to bring people from diverse backgrounds together successfully.
What I came to understand much later on, was that my privilege as a white male played a very significant role in my ability to readily access these life-enriching experiences. My “normal” was certainly not everybody’s normal. In the early 1990’s, I led a programmatic response to a racial harassment incident on a college campus. That started a new career path for me – modeling intentionally stepping out of my white male comfort zone and working to build honest, real and respectful spaces for people to ask themselves, “What is it that I don’t know, I don’t know?” Given that new information, we then looked to define new personal paradigms, reinvent relationships, even rethink culture.
I continue to apply this approach to building personal and organizational effectiveness – subtitled, deconstruct the word, “can’t.”
What does it take to devise strategies for getting beyond personal, professional, even organizational and systemic “roadblocks?” We all have our stories – times, situations, circumstances and relationships that just seem to repeatedly go nowhere and produce the same disappointing, frustrating results – you know, the proverbial, “Ugh!”
We’re smart, capable. Many times we even have resources readily available at our disposal. But despite our best thinking and efforts, we can’t seem to solve the problem. We just can’t seem to move that roadblock.
But what if, “the way we see the problem is the problem?” (Steven Covey, 1989)
And what if our feelings of disappointment and frustration are actually really important information that we can leverage to access the change we desire?
And what if not trying to do all this alone is actually a really smart strategy and a sign of incredible strength versus weakness? Oh my…
So this is my new professional direction. It is focused on using a strategy/model for both personal and organizational development that leads to “clearer” thinking even in the face of challenges, roadblocks and dead ends. Yes – clearer thinking that leads to better choices, smarter behavior, more effective leadership, and in the end, to an ability to make stronger value-based decisions.
This is basically how the 10 Principles of Value-based Decision Making were born. I use them as a centerpiece of my work providing life and professional and career coaching for individuals and for groups.
That’s my story. I look forward to hearing yours!
Robert has an amazing capacity to get professionals to think differently about their circumstances and help them realize success as it relates to their values.
Abigail Hurlburt, CFP, RICP
Summit Wealth Group
Robert has been instrumental in helping me recognize my core values and applying them in my career. He has me thinking differently about how I communicate and combat the challenges in a male dominated workplace and career. He has me thinking outside of my comfort zone and I affectionately call it my “Business Therapy.” Thank you Robert!
I have heard Robert speak to senior HR executives on the topic of how organizations can effectively position the work of diversity and inclusion as a core element of their ability to remain innovative and competitive. His passion for the work and his expertise on the subject is highly informative and engaging.
Joe Maressa, CMF
FS&F/OI Partners, Inc.
I have followed Robert’s work closely over the years. He has a very broad-based understanding of how organizations work related to issues of diversity and inclusion, recruitment, retention and management of diverse talent, and strengthening communication and cultural competency to positively affect team building, productivity and service. Robert has a great deal of passion and energy for what he does, and I do not hesitate to recommend him as a consultant or trainer to any organization wanting to make real improvements in any of these areas!
Maurice B. Wright
Former Special Assistant to the General Manager, Employee Relations Department
Massachusetts Department of Transportation