Last night I attended the Southern California Chapter's Association of Corporate Counsel Association's Annual Event. I'll be honest, I did not expect to be "wowed" by the keynote speaker, Condoleeza Rice after hearing Bill Clinton speak at last year's event. But wowed I was. Rice is articulate, insightful, charming, honest and, in ways I never appreciated as she worked under President Bush, a brilliant thinker. She restored my faith in America, which my readers know was a bit shaken after last week's visit to Alberta. She reminded us that America was founded upon the "myth of the log cabin" and that she was proof that "it doesn't matter where you come from, it matters where you're going". She gave a few good lessons in leadership, my favorite of which was: "I'd rather be naive than cynical, because cynical people can't lead."

She reminded us that this country was built by and enhanced by holding promise that the best and the brightest from all over the world could rise to their full potential here. She sees the wisdom and value in education for our children that includes a central place for the arts and despairs that the new global economic leader, if the historic American capitalism loses it's edge, will be replaced by the worst of America if we don't begin to address critical issues including immigration (which she seems to support in accord with the old plan developed by McCain and Kennedy under Bush), education and poverty.

She set the audience on edge with respect to the threat by nations that are politically unstable, such as Iran and now Mexico, where the titular authority is unable to control a militant minority and where the government itself is subject to mis-dealings in ways that enhance rather than protect against the instability. As a former student of International Relations, I found her talk fascinating. I haven't yet found the thread which binds this to the work of a mediator--but I'm pretty sure it's there--perhaps sewn into the lining or between those logs, holding us all together.

Jan Frankel Schau. Problem Solver. Mediator. Author. Ally. Jan Frankel Schau, Esq. settles litigated cases arising out of employment, business and tort disputes and has mediated over 1,000 litigated cases throughout Southern California. Jan has been a Panel Neutral at ADR Services in Los Angeles since 2007 and is widely considered one of L.A.’s preeminent mediators. Jan is also a popular trainer, author and lecturer on topical issues related to Alternative Dispute Resolution, including her book, “View from the Middle of the Road: A Mediator’s Perspective on Life, Conflict and Human Interaction. Please visit: www.schaumediation.com