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Naomi Karten: Chaos is normal with change

Author and speaker Naomi Karten delivered the Wednesday morning keynote at this year’s STAREAST conference, and talked about managing and embracing organizational change.

She opened her presentation by telling us that “most of the great wisdom in the world comes from greeting cards,” followed by one of those witty greeting-card aphorisms: “I know I can be a difficult person to get along with, but don’t worry… You can change.”

Karten stepped us through the difficult feelings of change — something we all experience both in our personal and professional lives. When we’re going through transition, we are in a state of “chaos,” but Karten reminds us that we’re not crazy! Those crazy feelings are normal. With every change, even good changes, we are giving up something familiar, and often that loss brings on feelings of anxiety or grief. We need to be aware that we’re going through a transition and be kind to ourselves, recognizing that acceptance of a change doesn’t happen overnight.

Karten’s presentation included many 140-character tweetable reminders for managers who are dealing with organizational change. Advice included:

  • Acknowledge success and progress when going through changes.
  • Recognize the power of listening and empathy as change management tools.
  • Don’t forget about the messy stuff as change is taking place. Change takes time.
Karten’s most recent books include Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals: Achieving Excellence and Changing How You Manage and Communicate Change: Focusing on the Human Side of Change.
For more videos, tips and interviews with industry experts, check out the STAREAST page on

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