Many people forget that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s work in the Civil Rights Movement was only about 50 or 60 years ago. King was assassinated in 1968 after working to gather the Black community, people of color and other allies to heal the nation’s traumas of 400 years of slavery. King fought against segregation and his influence helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed unjust voting practices. But many people forget that King’s work still continues today with those fighting for the dream he spoke of in his famous “I Have a Dream” Speech. In that speech, King said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” While King’s mounting work made a stride towards a just society, the fact is that systemic racism still persists today, and rather than viewing the Civil Rights Movement and his work as a panacea moment in history, we can honor his legacy by listening to the voices of the Black community and the current Black Lives Matter Movement to continue to build the […]

Read More

Blog Posts

In a post pandemic world, leadership and what it entails are ever changing. Curiosity must be used to combat change in the workplace as evidence suggests that cultivating curiosity helps leaders adapt to such different challenges. This relationship is greatly emphasized in the interview by Jeannette Lang, General Manager for HR Partners, with our very own research fellow, Dr. Alison Horstmeyer.

Read More

The USC Annenberg School has organized and launched several meaningful high school programs meant to introduce lower-income and disadvantaged students within the greater Los Angeles area to the broad media landscape, an in-depth college experience, and professionals from diverse industries and backgrounds who communicate and convey their expertise and experiences. Earlier this year, 12 students and two teachers from the Merced Union High School District immersed themselves in a customized program of digital storytelling, video production and soft skills development.  I had the wonderful opportunity to connect with and interview Oscar Perez, a recent Merced Union High graduate and former participant in a USC Annenberg high school program.

Read More

More than 1,000 women leaders tuned in Nov. 5-6 for workshops focused on this year’s theme, “Leadership for a Lifetime”. The event provided networking opportunities, panel discussions, and workshops for current military leaders and veterans from around the world. The speakers ranged from leaders in the military to leaders in the public and private sectors who offered their support and advice for advancing their careers. Shellee Smith, executive director of the USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking and Executive Education led a presentation titled, “Third Space Thinking: Building Soft Skills Critical for Leading in Today’s World”. Smith covered the center’s five core attributes of Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity and 360-Degree Thinking and how women can utilize these soft skills to become better leaders and colleagues.

Read More

While the topic of death carries feelings of sorrow and loss, some cultures have found ways of making peace with this final stage of life and honoring those who have passed on. One particular tradition which is celebrated in Central America is Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). You may have heard of Dia de los Muertos from the popular Disney movie “Coco,” which takes place during this holiday. Dia de los Muertos  is a two-day festival held on November 1st and 2nd, however despite being situated so close to Halloween, the two are actually unrelated in origin. During this Latin holiday, people pay tribute to those who have died and look at death with an optimistic lens, not as something to be afraid of.  Dia de Los Muertos is frequently associated with Mexico, however, it is observed widely throughout Central America and even in the U.S in places where there are large Latino populations such as Los Angeles. There are so many traditions and customs related to this holiday. For example, families generally create altars for their deceased family members. They fill them with photos, Marigold flowers, food offerings, candles and some of the favorite items of […]

Read More

On October 5th, USC Annenberg hosted another special guest as part of its “Annenberg Intelligence” series. Dean Willow Bay, as the host, welcomed NBA All-Star point guard and National Basketball Players Association President, Chris Paul.  Considering I’m a former collegiate basketball player who admires Paul’s basketball genius and sought to once emulate him, I was star-struck at the outset of the discussion. Nevertheless, what made the conversation, and its encompassing topics, so marvelous went much deeper than basketball and athletic competition.  During the conversation, Paul repeatedly stressed and underlined the significant role particular soft skills have played throughout his various, on and off the court, endeavors which have allowed him to thrive. Paul drew our attention to adaptability and effective communication which he identified as key elements for successfully persevering through a year with many adversities. No choice but to adapt In the midst of this horrific and dreadful virus, entire livelihoods have shifted, and everyone has had to adapt. For Paul, his resiliency and discipline allowed him to adapt and thrive in untreaded waters.  Considering the countless challenges and obstacles Paul had to shoulder and overcome, one can only applaud his perseverance. For Paul, adaptability to a “new normal” […]

Read More

Right now the world is plagued with big issues that oftentimes seem unsolvable. Those who wish to right the wrongs of the world may feel hopeless or intimidated by the scale of these issues. During the closing celebration of Latinx Heritage Month on October 13, USC Annenberg held a Zoom discussion between USC President Carolt Folt and labor activist Dolores Huerta. Huerta reminded students and attendees that the answers to these seemingly unsolvable questions can be found within our own humanity: “We are one human race,” Huerta stated. It is Huerta’s strength in soft skills like empathy and her 360-degree thinking, that have helped her become a powerful organizer and activist for human and civil rights. Dolores Huerta is best known for her community service activism in co-founding the United Farm Workers, formerly known as the National Farmworkers Association, with late labor activist Cesar Chavez. She is also founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. At an early age, Huerta started lobbying, organizing farmworkers and negotiating contracts for laborers. Throughout her life, Huerta’s organizing skills originated from her strength in contextualizing her passions into soft skills and rejecting the status quo, while believing in the power of individual and collective action. Huerta’s […]

Read More

This virus or, as I like to call it, the stubborn beast known as Covid-19 has obviously destroyed and completely altered livelihoods for individuals across the globe. It has been especially arduous for those with young children. Parents have had to be teachers, cooks, housekeepers, psychologists, and overall multifaceted individuals throughout this horrific pandemic.  Not to mention, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, America saw a staggering and frightening 14.2% unemployment rate in April. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “How Many U.S. Workers Have Lost Jobs During Coronavirus Pandemic? There Are Several Ways to Count”, there is some data suggesting upwards of 40 million jobs were lost in the midst of this pandemic.  Whether parents are employed and have the responsibility of remaining at work while also executing every other task, or whether they’re unemployed and have the compounded anxiety of lost wages, the overarching takeaway is that things are hard right now. We all may lie in the same seastorm, but everyone has different boats and distinct modes of security.  One of the overwhelming predicaments for parents and children has been the transition to online learning. School sessions will obviously not be halted, […]

Read More

“Soft skills” is a term that gets thrown around quite often these days. It is one that most people have come to understand. Soft skills encompass “ interpersonal, analytical, and communication skills” which are necessary for working effectively in teams and independently (Hypolite, 2020). Soft skills have been increasingly highlighted by employers as the most essential skills that they look for in new hires. However, while most people now grasp the importance of these skills, what they may not understand is how to improve them. Here at the USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking, we are committed to helping others learn and develop the five core soft skills which our research has shown are most valuable to employers and employees. (Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity, 360 Degree Thinking).  While we love sharing our knowledge with students of all ages who are eager to grow their soft skills, we also want to teach our model to educators so that our efforts to prepare youth for success in all of their future endeavors may be compounded.   Dr. Liane Hypolite, a research fellow at the Center, recently published a paper where she discusses how Third Space Thinking offers a useful paradigm […]

Read More

We have always believed the five attributes that make up our ACE-IT model are essential for any leader to master no matter what your profession. Recently we were able to share how those five attributes can be used to solve problems and navigate challenges, even in the military.

Read More