Zooming out on Zoom with Leaders

Young Filipino leaders of Software and IT industry, working from home for 4 months and delivering services to foreign clients.

Holding a Safe Space of Dialogue among Young Leaders of a Company

“Zooming out on Zoom” is a 1-hour online meeting I facilitate for young leaders of my client company (a Philippine based software development, testing and solution company primarily providing both offshore and onsite services for foreign market.)

This session, as many online sessions are, started in response to Work From Home (WFH) in COVID-10 pandemic.  The session offers a space for honest dialogue among people working in many different teams of one company from different locations, on topics that may not be discussed in any other meetings in the company. I consciously design the topics of dialogue to alternate between global issues and inner works. 

Today, in our 7th session, I used one of the Theory U introduction videos in which Dr. Otto Scharmer from MIT discusses the iceberg model with three divides (ecological  divide, social divide and spiritual divide) as symptoms manifesting on the surface level, the tip of the iceberg. 

After watching this less than 6 minute video and spending 3 minutes in reflective silence, they did journaling on 2 questions. 

  • Q1: What resonated most in the video?
  • Q2: What do you feel is ending and what do you feel is wanting to be born around us?

Do Such Sessions Make Any Impact?

It is so hard to measure in any quantitative manner to prove if something meaningful for my client company’s leadership development is happening, by running such session every other week. But I am hoping, as I continue such sessions, something in them is shifting. 

Here are some of the output I harvested from the session, as they shared during the session.

What’s Ending

  • U.S. as Super Power
  • Physical Dependency / Physical Collaboration
  • Waterfall model
  • Selfishness / Ego
  • Growth chasing
  • Capitalism
  • 2 phases of major change (1 Poverty to a better life, 2 Electronics and technological)

What’s Emerging

  • Virtual World, Virtual Country
  • Virtual Presence
  • Scrum
  • Self-Organization
  • Looking after other people. Taking care of the weak.
  • Attention to the well-being of all
  • Strongest generation

What Resonated

• Disconnect between current self and future self

  • More people die from suicide than war
  • A few people owning most of the resources. 
  • Intention
  • Self
  • We spend too much time creating unwanted results
  • We are collectively creating the end results that nobody wants — this is deep
  • Results nobody wants
Mentimeter helps real time online sharing of participants’ comments.

And as we checked out today’s session they said the following as there feeling…

  • Now I have a lot of questions in my mind!
  • Relaxed to be able to express my thoughts
  • Relaxed and happy
  • Enlightened
  • Happy to see you all.
  • Happy to talk to someone else (being stuck at home and working 16 to 18 hours per day)
  • Feeling philosophical because of today’s discussion. 
  • Hopeful 

Trusting that continuing having such space could slowly cultivate the soil from where the future leaders of the company emerge.

GAIA GAYA at GAIA Journey Week 13 Arrival Session and Presencing Institute Global Forum

GAIA GAYA was Presented to the Global Community

SpiceWorx is one of the founding members of GAIA GAYA, a Philippine based initiative that raises awareness, triggers action and catalyzes collaboration for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). GAIA GAYA is a platform of making SDGs everybody’s business. SpiceWorx worked with other core members from TRAIL and Human Capital Asia to bring GAIA GAYA to presence in May 2020. As of now it is a biweekly online gathering of anybody interested in SDGs.

GAIA GAYA was born as a result of a project under U.Lab 2x by the Presencing Institute lead by Dr. Otto Scharmer and his colleagues. U.Lab 2x is a four month program for Theory U practitioners around the world to actually apply the Theory U (the U process) in real transformation projects, bringing the prototype stage initiative to the next level of making impacts.

GAIA GAYA was one of the 3 projects given an opportunity to present the Presencing Institute #GAIAjourney Week 13, the arrival session on June 19, 2020. We are truly honored to be able to introduce GAIA GAYA to the global community! I presented GAIA GAYA’s and it starts from around 1:19:00 as the host Antoinette Klatzky introduces the speaker.

The picture below presents our journey of ‘presencing’ GAIA GAYA. The points I would like to make by using this very crowded picture are only two.

First, our 4 months journey was cradled and empowered by U.Lab 2x program, GAIA journey and U. Academy.

U.Lab 2x was the platform which gave us process, tools, guidelines, practices and community as we applied Theory U in creating change we intended, which was to raise awareness and trigger action for SDGs in the Philippines.

GAIA journey gave as deep questions to contemplate, and the sense of connectedness with the global community.

A three day Digital Leadership Training by U.Academy enabled our 4 member core team to facilitate our journey digitally as in-person meetings became no longer possible during the project due to lockdown.

 U process helped us let go of our pre-COVID original plan, although we invested significant amount of time and money to prepare ourselves.

My second point is that in hind-site, COVID-19 was positive contributor in ‘presencing’ GAIA GAYA. In the past 4 months, our core team members shared about 200 hours together, mostly online. It was possible largely because we were under lockdown, we were not going anywhere, our usual business was down and we had plenty of time to allocate on U.Lab 2x project.

Since May 20, 2020 to the date of the GAIA presentation, we had four GAIA GAYA sessions. Our first 4 sessions of GAIA GAYA invited speakers addressing Poverty & Education, Deforestation, Disaster relief and Saving children from online sexual abuse and exploitation.   I am truly grateful to Mr. Arcie Mallari, the founder of Silid Aralan empowering academically underperforming students from marginalized community, Mr. Raf Dionicio, the co-founder of MAD Travel who is fighting against deforestation through sustainability conscious tourism, Ms. Sarah Queblatin, co-founder and executive director of Green Releaf Initiatives who is creating disaster resilient community with regenerative practices, and Ms. Chi-Chi Sangil, who is passionately fighting against online sexual exploitation of children.

And I would like to note that Sarah and Chi-Chi are also U.Lab 2x initiatives from the Philippines.

GAIA GAYA Booth at the Presencing Institute Global Forum on HOPIN

Three weeks after I presented GAIA GAYA to the global community for the first time, we had another big opportunity to let the world know what GAIA GAYA is doing, by joining the annual Global Forum of the Presencing Institute, organized online for the first time.

Originally, this Global Forum was scheduled to be held in Berlin, Germany. If it were not for COVID-19, GAIA GAYA would not have been born and our team would not have been able to join the Global Forum by flying all the way from Manila to Berlin. It was because the event was done online, GAIA GAYA team was able to be a part of the event and we presented our short introduction video at our virtual event booth on the platform of HOPIN.

At this Global Forum, GAIA GAYA even hosted a session for dialogue with the global community of Theory U practitioners. The theme of our session was “Dialogue on Measuring Indirect Contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals”.

I will write about this bold attempt in another blog.

Presencing GAIA GAYA to the World

GAIA GAYA has taken its first step towards a long journey of making SDGs everybody’s business on May 20, 2020 with 40 people from the Philippines and Japan on Zoom.

GAIA GAYA will be a biweekly gathering of anyone who is interested in contributing to the fruition of any of the 17 SDGs by 2030. It is an open space for deep listening, conversation and dialogue, raising awareness and triggering action that addresses the SDGs. 

Founders Team Brought Together by Theory U

It was organized and facilitated by #uLab2x 2020 Philippines Learning Nation team, namely Dada de Leon-Salud of Human Capital Asia, Chenny Galano and Abby Galias Rosal of TRAIL and Tae “Abbie” Abe-Abion from SpiceWorx (yours truly), the core members and founders of GAIA GAYA. These four professional facilitators and coaches came together to hold a container for deep listening, conversation and dialogue with an aspiration to make Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) everybody’s business.  

In facilitating change initiatives, we use Theory U, an awareness based systems transformation approach developed by Dr. Otto Scharmer, the Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management. Theory U is what brought the four of us together. We are part of the uLab 2x Program of the Presencing Institute, which was founded by Dr. Otto Scharmer and his colleagues, with the belief that it is possible to create results that serve the wellbeing of all. Our team joined uLab2x with an intention to raise awareness and trigger actions towards achieving the SDGs in the Philippines. GAIA GAYA is our prototype for this intention.

Our invitation to everyone is to join GAIA GAYA and:

  • Listen to inspiring real stories of sustainability initiatives;
  • Engage in conversation and dialogue with people with common interest in creating a sustainable future;
  • Sense and see the system we collectively enact;
  • Reimagine sustainable future of our planet;
  • Be inspired to start your own action;
  • Be inspired to sustain your sustainability journey.

For our very first GAIA GAYA on May 20, 2020, we invited a guest speaker Arcie, the founder and Chief Motivation Officer of Silid Aralan, Inc. Silid Aralan gives power to academically under-performing students from the underprivileged community to decide on their own. What I so deeply admire about Arcie is his compassion and empathy to the people he wants to empower, and his dedication and commitment to help them by truly understanding their perspective. He lived for 3 years in the community beside the garbage dump site in Manila, where people make living by scavenging. He said, “I tended to think only from the perspective of the giver. I needed to really understand the perspective of the receiver.” Having experienced the life of the receivers, this is what he has to say: “There is no rich person who cannot receive, nor a poor person who cannot give.”

We were so blessed to also have Kent, one of the graduates of Silid Aralan who is now a public school teacher, to share his amazing experience. By joining Silid Aralan, Kent learned how fun learning was, and was able to see a world of more options, possibilities and opportunities. As a public school teacher, he is now giving back what Silid Aralan gave him to the next generation.

What Arcie was able to share in a 30-minute talk was inspiring and beautiful. But he also shared it has been very difficult. I am sure behind today’s beautiful presentation and amazing story there had been tons of struggles, conflicts, frustrations, tears and disappointments. But he was resilient. Silid Aralan empowered lives of over 7,500 Filipino children since 2007 and now has 8 learning hubs nationwide in the Philippines. And Arcie is even expanding this model to Indonesia!

GAIA GAYA asks participants, “What micro changes at personal level will you make after today’s session?

GAIA GAYA is not just a webinar. It is a space for deep listening, conversation and dialogue with reflective moments woven into the process. Our intention is to change personal and collective awareness to trigger actions for change. Here are what our participants wrote in the Zoom chatbox, as their own personal micro-changes after joining GAIA GAYA.

  • “To pause for a moment always and have more hope/trust in those who you may not expect much from at first”
  • “Start conversations and establishing meaningful relationships with future ‘educators.'”
  • “Get in touch with Silid Aralan and find ways to contribute in their vision.”
  • “Pause. I continue to engage in learning initiatives. Read and share the learning.”
  • “I will take bold steps in initiating SDG conversations with others — I sort of started and they said yes to this event ;)”
  • “look for and believe in others’ strengths more.”
  • “To be more mindful that each individual has a gift/talent that can contribute to society. So I should allow other forms of intelligence/talents.”
  • “To actually stay in the community that you want to help. Not just visit them. I think this will help them more. Thank you Arcie and Kent!”
  • “Share the inspiring stories so that people will start believing that there are people who work for the good in the world.”
  • “Be a believer of every child’s potential and be their supporter.”
  • “Taking positive steps towards achieving the improvement that these kids are more than capable of achieving. :)”
  • “Encourage and engage with the young ones. Thank you very much for this inspiring and insightful session Arcie and Kent.”
  • “Every person is good at SOMETHING let us do our best to help them find their something.”
  • “Start writing ideas the [sic] come around, meditate on how to do a step in doing so.”
  • “Thank you for this session, everyone. 🙂 Will take a note of the emails being left here.. I might have questions on how others will resume their educational journey in COVID19 times.The learning platforms are the biggest challenge and it’s difficult to determine how the children can continue effectively. :(“

Thank you Arcie, Kent, and everyone who attended and shared your thoughts and what micro-changes you will make at your personal level after the session. GAIA GAYA will be held every other week to make SDGs everybody’s business 🙂


GAIA GAYA came into presence as a prototype of transformation initiative by Dada, Chenny, Abby and Abbie, based in Manila, Philippines, under the uLab2x program of Presencing Institute by Dr. Otto Scharmer and his team. The four core members formed an intention of raising awareness and triggering action about the SDGs in the Philippines in November 2019, and started the project in February 2020, applying the philosophy, process, methodology and tools of Theory U.

With the participation and support of the extended team of this initiative, the four core members went through the co-initiation of the project, co-sensing of the context and the current system, hours and hours of training and live online sessions with the global community of the Theory U practitioners through various programs of Presencing Institute including GAIA (Global Activation of Intention and Action), a 14 week journey on a platform of profound personal and civilizational renewal, joined by over 9,000 people around the world.

Thus, the idea of GAIA GAYA was born on the morning of May 2, 2020. Inspired by the GAIA initiative by the Presencing Institute, GAIA GAYA follows the format of GAIA, with localized content and speakers with specific focus on SDGs in the Philippines. In less than 3 weeks, the first live session of GAIA GAYA was launched on Zoom on May 20, 2020 with 40 participants.

By the way, the naming of GAIA GAYA is a play of words.

GAYA GAYA in Filipino means copying, duplicating, mirroring, replicating and spreading. GAIA GAYA replicates the format of original GAIA by Otto’s team in PI with localized content and speakers with specific focus on SDGs in the Philippines.

In addition, GAYA GAYA in Japanese represents the sound of many people talking and discussing. GAIA GAYA is a place for many people to gather and engage in conversation and dialogue about sustainability of GAIA, our planet.