Three things I learned from this election

And how I know we we will rise to the occasion

Reflections by Steven Crane, Dean, Degree and Certificate Programs Managerial Finance, Interview by Tanya Weliky

AP Photo/ High Museum of Art, Gift of the Broffman Family, Morton Broffman
AP Photo/ High Museum of Art, Gift of the Broffman Family, Morton Broffman

November 10, 2016


How do you feel about the results of the election and what have you learned from it?


Well, I ended up trying to get to sleep last night and was hopelessly interrupted by deep disappointment and discouragement. How could the worst possible of outcomes have happened? Now what is in store for us?

Then, starting my morning routine to head off for a long commute to the Presidio, I found myself wishing for a voice to make me feel better. And then it came to me while listening to a segment of Kamala Harris’s speech on NPR (the second black woman to serve in the Senate and the first black politician to represent California in the Senate, and the first Indian-American to serve as a Senator). I heard her reference Coretta Scott King in her victory speech and say that despite America’s choice, she was unwilling to throw her hands up, and is more than ready to roll up her sleeves and fight.

In her newly elected senate role, Kamala is determined to fight for progressive causes that I believe in. She reminds us that in times like these, we must reaffirm our values: civil rights, justice, care of our planet, and equality and that whatever gains we have made, or will make, are not assured to be permanent. At the same time, it’s very clear that we are also not alone and have millions of allies.

That sentiment to not give up, and instead to fight harder together, suddenly restored a sense of purpose in the work that I do and grew the feeling that I need to raise the bar on my personal commitment. I became an educator to share what I’ve learned, my capacity for caring, and to do whatever I can to help the next generation of public and private sector leaders succeed. Here are a few takeaways that will guide what I do going forward.


1. Emotions are strong motivators for change.


This election outcome underscores the desire for change throughout the country and for us.  It’s stated in our mission that the change we want to see is to make the world more just, prosperous and sustainable. In order to move forward we need to take not only everyone’s needs, but also their fear and anger, into consideration. We need to do the work, and take the time to find common ground. People are complex and to communicate and collaborate for a better world for all, we need to learn how to understand and validate others holistically.


2. We can’t make progress from inside a bubble.

This also reminds us that we can’t make a difference from inside a bubble of like-minded people. We need to learn, teach, and practice how to understand and communicate with a large swath of people, including those with different value sets and life experiences from the typical Presidian. This communication with people with other viewpoints is particularly important and can be extremely challenging. By understanding others fear, anger and struggles with loss of power and privilege, we will better understand our own.


3. We must stay at the table to make a difference.

At PGS we emphasize the bilingual and trilingual ability to work across sectors, public, private, and the intersection of the two – this is critical to our teaching approach and in particular to any progress from this pivotal moment forward. We believe that we need to meet others where they are to effect sustainable and just change. We need to learn how to understand and work with those we don’t agree with while maintaining allegiance to our values and priorities.

At PGS, our sustainable management graduate program faculty is immensely passionate. We all came here to teach because we wanted to pass on our concern for the world and share the skills that can help others create value, build bridges, and make a positive impact. This election shows that America needed a paradigm shift, now it’s time to set the course into the right direction. I have strengthened my resolve to educate our students and give them the ability to thrive at the intersection across sectors both public and private.

Both in and out of the classroom, let’s get involved – all of us – and fight for the kind of world we want to see.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Presidio Graduate School.

Steven Crane, Presidio Graduate School Dean

Leave a Reply