Through four years of in-depth research, The USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking uncovered five critical competencies, or soft skills for success in the workplace. To further our investigation of essential soft skills, we are recruiting engaged scholars and thoughtful practitioners with expertise in Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity and 360 Degree Thinking and problem solving.

If you would like to learn more about research fellow opportunities at the Third Space, please go to http://uscthirdspace.com/research-fellow/.

The USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking is pleased to announce our inaugural research fellow… Alison Horstmeyer who will examine the importance of Curiosity in talent development.

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Blog Posts

The Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking welcomes certified executive coaches David Bishop and Alison Horstmeyer to our next leadership development boot camp.  As leading experts in their respective fields of curiosity and effective leadership, they offer a unique and valuable set of skills for any emerging or executive leaders and are offering one free coaching session to each Third Space Boot Camp participant.

These free, one-on-one sessions will further equip our Bootcamp participants with individualized strategies to foster their success as leaders. Learn more about our executive coaches below and sign up for our bootcamp here.

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Long Beach, CA — On Monday, August 27, 2018 Dr. Ernest J. Wilson led a mega session on Third Space Thinking for HR professionals at the California Human Resources Conference.  More than 150 HR professionals participated in the session where they learned the five essential soft skills that can enhance their recruitment and development of top talent across various industries.  

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At USC’s Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking, “Intellectual Curiosity” is one of the five attributes essential to your success in an organization. Our newest Research Fellow, Alison Horstmeyer, shares practical tips on navigating challenges in the workplace. 
Check out her recommendations for leading with curiosity here.

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I recently facilitated a workshop at the USC Center for Third Space Thinking. TST focuses on developing five key attributes necessary for becoming a highly effective leader. These attributes – Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity and 360-Degree Thinking – are discussed in my previous blogs.   For me, empathy is at the fulcrum of these essential skills (notice I didn’t call them “soft skills”). I’ve already discussed how creating a culture of trust can actually have a positive effect on oxytocin levels, which results in high performance levels in the organization. However, to develop a trust-laden environment, empathy is key. Additionally, empathy is the connective tissue for each of the other four attributes. It’s hard to be adaptable, culturally competent and curious, or to think with a 360 point-of-view without some level of empathy.   The Center for Creative Leadership conducted a study that included 6,700 managers in over 38 countries. The results revealed that empathy in leaders has a positive correlation to high levels of job performance. It is important to note that having empathy is not the same as demonstrating empathy. Being empathetic is more than just having sympathy towards a situation. It’s about truly understanding. These […]

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Below is an article written by Eric Lindberg  for USC News about the Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement. This program is directed by our Fellow, Jaime Carias and during the four week program, Dr. Ernest Wilson III and Professor Chris Swain led a Third Space workshop to engage the promising storytellers. The next great young journalist or storyteller is out there somewhere in Los Angeles County. Maybe she is an avid high school newspaper reporter who dreams of writing for a major national news outlet. He might be a video whiz who wants to use multimedia to promote a nonprofit. Thanks to the Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement, those teens are gaining the tools needed to succeed in today’s fast-paced media landscape. The intensive summer training program at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is teaching many young scholars how to become journalists, web producers, digital videographers and more. The academy focuses on drawing participants from schools near USC to reach students who might not have envisioned a career in media. “I’m a firm believer that in these communities of South L.A., Compton, Watts, the next big reporter, the next big storyteller […]

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I begin with a confession. Oprah made me do it. For years audiences, close advisors and friends have urged me to tell the story behind the story — the story about the origins and evolution of Third Space Thinking. Third Space Thinking is a novel, communication-driven approach that empowers individuals to use ‘soft’ skills to make better choices in their lives, and ultimately to make the world a better place. So far, this idea has been a hit from Shanghai, China to Sand Hill Road in Stanford, California. Since it is ambitious, wide-angled and definitely a little weird, I designed Third Space Thinking to stand on its own – rigorous and disciplined as well as relevant to today’s topsy-turvy digital world. In other words, it’s designed to be scientific, based on lots of research and written in the third person. So when well-wishers urged me to make it more personal and ‘first person’ I shook my head no. I didn’t want to reveal my private side. Until I talked to Oprah. She had just finished an amazing speech to more than 1,000 graduates of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and their families. She was mesmerizing. Oprah called […]

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At the end of 2017, and looking forward to 2018 and beyond, Farhad Manjoo, the New York Times columnist who covers Silicon Valley and the digital world in general, wrote that the big tech corporations had reached a kind of tipping point. He wrote, “This year, for the first time, tech giants began to grudgingly accept that they have some responsibility for the offline world…The dawning realization that a tech platform comes with real-world responsibilities.” Barely a month later, the highly successful CEO of one of the largest legacy companies in the country, American Express, announced he was stepping down from his old job.  Faced with an enviable number of top job offers, Ken Chenault decided to leave the legacy world and switch his energies to the tech world. He will become chairman and managing director of General Catalyst, a hugely successful VC company with investments in Airbnb, Snapchat, HubSpot and others. Echoing Manjoo and other observers of the latest tumult around fake news, real surveillance concerns about Facebook and Google, and the boorishness of Uber and its leadership, Chenault told the press, “Given their age and the scale and impact they can have on our society, unless they make […]

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Many people and a host of commentators instinctively recoiled at the callous management practices described in a scathing New York Times article about Amazon. So did Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive. In a memo to Amazon employees, he wrote, “Our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.” He’s right, not only on humanitarian grounds but also for reasons that should appeal to a hard-headed businessman like him. At Amazon and other businesses, the “e-word” should be the watchword. For three years my colleagues and I at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism crisscrossed the U.S. and traveled to other nations asking business leaders what attributes executives must have to succeed in today’s digital, global economy. They identified five as critical: adaptability, cultural competence (the capacity to think, act, and move across multiple borders), 360-degree thinking (holistic understanding, capable of recognizing patterns of problems and their solutions), intellectual curiosity, and, of course, empathy. These so-called “soft” attributes constitute a distinctive way of seeing the world. Taken together, they create a kind of “Third Space” that differs sharply from the other two perspectives that have long dominated business thinking: the engineering and traditional MBA perspectives. Frankly, when empathy […]

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There are two big barriers to greater diversity in today’s digital economy. One is the absence of hard technical skills among those who are most highly underrepresented.  These are the skills typically associated with the acronym STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. And certainly these skills are in short supply among underrepresented groups.

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