We’re knee-deep into the new year, friends. It’s the season of new initiatives, new goals, new habits, new intentions. In this season of changing for the better, some aspects of our lives remain stubbornly similar — especially the ways in which we connect with others.

Take a minute to reflect: when was the last time you had a thorough, meaningful, impactful conversation with someone different from you? Chances are, it wasn’t this week. Perhaps you have yet to have that kind of conversation this year. And you’re not alone. Research shows that we typically avoid having face-to-face conversations despite the fact that connecting with people makes our experiences more enjoyable.

As we step into 2019 and reflect on our social and economic environment, it is more important than ever to employ the power of conversation. Conversation is an often underestimated tool we use to negotiate meaning, define strategic direction and largely make an impact on the world around us. The words we say to each other have the power to bring us together and lift each other in incredibly empowering ways.

Starting conversations is how we begin to turn the tide of our society to hear and heed the voices of women. As Maya Angelou famously said, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

At Central Exchange, we’re making 2019 the year of conversation!  It’s our goal to make CX a safe place for healthy conversations that will ultimately lead the charge for change in Kansas City. So, how will we make it happen? We’ve designed several programs to foster powerful conversation surrounding today’s most critical issues.


With the new Courageous Conversations series, CX is creating a safe and intentional place for people to talk about the issues that spark genuine curiosity and an authentic desire to better understand, but yet can sometimes be uncomfortable to discuss.It’s the platform to take conversations that are normally uncomfortable to start and create unity through guided conversations. Through guided conversations, we’ll raise tough topics to the surface in order to create greater unity.

Our society has encountered many difficulties by unintentionally creating offense. In Courageous Conversations, we’ll determine how to replace these failures with a new unified level of understanding. We’ll work to lay a glossary of terms in areas which are difficult to understand, tackle topics like conscious vs. unconscious bias and uncover how to give our words the power of positive impact. Central Exchange will offer an environment to practice the conversations that we all need to initiate — so we’re equipped to communicate with both confidence and grace.

Hey, changing our world calls for courage above all else. Conversations that are authentic and bold will amplify our ability to create a better environment for everyone.

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How do we create a conversation that’s organic and real? With Fishbowl Conversations, CX members will have the opportunity to connect with me and have a conversation that comes without an agenda or any preconceived notion. We’ll never know what we are going to discuss until we get together and we draw a topic out of the fishbowl.

This authentic, transparent dialogue is what conversation is all about. Participants will have the chance to write down their thoughts, questions or ideas and drop them in the fishbowl to discuss with me and our group of CX members. It provides space for transformative, face-to-face connection and the potential for positive impact on the group involved and all those they influence.

When we engage in genuine, unrestrained conversation, we will open doors into new areas of growth and togetherness, create a stronger sense of connection and truly allow ourselves to celebrate and tap into our authenticity.

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Often times we genuinely want to help others, but we just don’t know what others need. The Wheel of Reciprocity program series facilitates valuable connections that help people achieve their personal and professional goals. Participants will bring their business cards and any question on their mind from “Where can I volunteer with my kids” to “Who has a business accountant referral”? Be a part of this transformative giving-and-receiving exercise that will empower you and those in the Central Exchange community.

My challenge to you is to become a part of these conversations. Worried you don’t have much to contribute? Come anyway. In the words of Brené Brown, “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.” We need you to show up for these conversations. Share your voice, listen to others and change our world. Choose one issue that is most important to you and begin by starting a conversation with a trusted friend or colleague. Be curious about their point of view. Seek to come to a mutual understanding. As you develop the skill of fostering conversation, you will empower yourself and those around you to achieve unity.